Thursday, April 22, 2010

Draft Tebow, or Pass on Him? NFL Teams Answer Tonight

Those of us that follow college football closely have marvelled at the accomplishments of Tim Tebow at Florida over the past four years. The Gator quarterback became the first sophomore ever to win the Heisman Trophy. He won two national championships. He broke the record for rushing touchdowns in the SEC.

However, to hear some NFL personnel people talk about Tebow, you'd think that they had never seen him play.

Or maybe they have.

At Florida, Tebow was not a prototypical NFL-type quarterback. He did much of his damage on the ground, rather than through the air. His throwing motion was long, which NFL folks frown upon. And the fact that, when facing a severe rush Tebow would tuck and run, does not bode well with NFL people.

This is a fact: Tim Tebow will be drafted over the next three days. But where he will be drafted is the big question mark. That, and the question of which position he will play in the NFL. Will he be a true quarterback? A "Wildcat" specialist? An H-back? Even a fullback?

Tebow is not the best NFL prospect in the draft, that's for certain. He's probably the fourth or fifth best quarterback in the 2010 class. But my guess is that some team will bank on his "intangibles", and draft him earlier that Mel Kiper or Todd McShay think he should be drafted.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Couples, Watson, Woods Create Memories at Augusta

The primary storyline for day one of the 2010 Masters was bound to be the return of the world's number one player, Tiger Woods. How would he fare after a 144-day layoff? Would his game show signs of rust? Could he play well enough to be in contention on Sunday?

However, Woods was in the next-to-last group to tee off on Thursday at Augusta, so there was plenty of time for other stories to develop. And boy, did they develop.

First, it was 60-year-old Tom Watson shooting a 5-under par 67, tying his best round ever at Augusta National and grabbing the lead. After nearly winning the British Open at Turnberry, Watson is once again in contention at a major on the young guys' tour.

But later in the day, Watson was done one better by fellow Champions Tour player Fred Couples, who shot a 6-under par 66, good enough for the lead after round one. In the process, Couples became the oldest player to lead the Masters after the first round.

And finally, at 1:42 ET, Woods hit his tee shot on the first hole, and his round was underway. Woods put together a 4-under par 68, his best-ever first round score in the Masters. He also recorded a pair of eagles, at No. 8 and No. 15, the first time he'd ever had multiple eagles in a Masters round.

The "patrons", as the gallery is called at Augusta, could not have been more supportive of Woods. He got a wonderful ovation on the first tee, and the crowds were cheering for him on nearly every hole.

The leaderboard is littered with big names. Couples leads the way, and is followed by a group of six golfers at 5-under par. In that group are Watson, Phil Mickelson, Lee Westwood, Y.E. Yang and K.J. Choi. Among those at 4-under par are Woods, Anthony Kim, Ian Poulter, Nick Watney and Ricky Barnes.

It was a good day for players over 50. In addition to the stellar rounds by Couples and Watson, Sandy Lyle shot 3-under par 69, while Bernhard Langer shot 71.

2010 Masters Preview

The most magical of golf's four majors gets underway on Thursday when PGA Tour pros tee it up at Augusta National for the 2010 Masters.

The story of the week, without question, is the return of the world's top player, Tiger Woods, who hasn't played in 144 days while dealing with a sex scandal that rocked the golf world. Woods is sure to be rusty upon returning to the tour, but he is perhaps the greatest player ever, and even when he doesn't have his "A"-game, Woods could still make some noise.

Here's a look at the top 10 contenders to win this season's first major, and the coveted green jacket.

1. Tiger Woods - Never count him out. He's won here four times, although none since 2005. If he's in the hunt on the weekend, nearly everyone will be watching.

2. Ernie Els - The South African has won twice already this season, and appears to be back on top of his game. The Big Easy has played well before at Augusta, and seeing him near the top of the leaderboard this week will not be a surprise.

3. Phil Mickelson - The 2004 and 2006 Masters champion, Mickelson has been plagued this season by bad rounds. One awful round has taken him out of contention in two of his last three outings. But Lefty loves this course, because he can be agressive with his driver and let his short game make up for any mistakes.

4. Padraig Harrington - Many seem to forget about Harrington, who has won three majors in his career. Harrington has been playing well lately, and he's a clutch player who, if in contention on Sunday, has shown that he can close the deal.

5. Retief Goosen - Like his fellow countryman Els, Goosen has also been resurgent this season. He has made six cuts in seven events, and has five top 10s. The former U.S. Open champ should be in the mix this week.

6. Lee Westwood - Westwood has played well lately in majors, finishing third in last season's British Open and PGA. He's off to a fast start this year as well, and has played well at Augusta in the past.

7. Jim Furyk - After winning earlier this season, Furyk has proven he's got his game back. He certainly knows the Augusta National layout, and has finished in the top 35 there for five straight years.

8. Mike Weir - The Canadian lefty won at Augusta in 2003, and he's off to a great start in 2010. It would not be a surprise to see him in contention on Sunday.

9. Chad Campbell - The Texan was a part of the three-man playoff last year, but was eliminated on the first hole by eventual winner Angel Cabrera and Kenny Perry. Campbell has played well thus far in 2010, and could be back near the leaders in this event.

10. Steve Stricker - At the end of last season, Stricker was one of the best players on the tour. He's continued that momentum this year, although he didn't play well at Bay Hill. Stricker has a ton of experience, although he's never won a major.

Calipari, Kentucky See Mass Defections

The 2009-10 season was a magical one for the Kentucky Wildcats. After suffering through two seasons of the Billy Gillispie error (um..era), the Cats were back among the nation's elite this season.

However, news came on Wednesday that five Kentucky players, including four freshmen, would enter the NBA Draft. Freshmen John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe and Daniel Orton have all submitted their names, and junior Patrick Patterson is widely expected to do the same, although he may not have done it just yet.

All of the players are projected to go in the first round by

Add this to the loss of seniors Perry Stevenson, Mark Krebs and Ramon Harris, and Kentucky only has five players left from last year's team. And it's not a star-studded bunch. Darius Miller, DeAndre Liggins, Josh Harrelson, Jon Hood and Darnell Dodson are the projected returnees, although there is some question about whether Dodson will return.

So Calipari must now do another magical recruiting job, just as he did last season. Some of the nation's best players are still considering UK, and it's Calipari's task to bring in another crop of super recruits to keep the Big Blue momentum.

Among those still considering UK are the nation's top player, according to, point guard Brandon Knight from Florida, the No. 4 player in the country, guard Josh Selby from Maryland, the No. 13 player, forward Terrence Jones from Oregon, and the No. 14 player, forward C.J. Leslie, a high school teammate of Wall from North Carolina. The 21st-ranked player, guard Doron Lamb, is also considering the Cats, who already have committments from forward Stacey Poole (No. 27 overall) and Turkish big man Enes Kanter.

The next few weeks will determine Kentucky's fate for the 2010-11 season. Big Blue fans are hoping Calipari can work his recruiting magic one more time.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Monday Brings Multiple Huge Stories

Monday, April 5 could be one of the biggest days of sports news ever. Simply put. There are a plethora of gigantic stories taking place on this first Monday of the month.

First, the Major League Baseball season really gets underway today, after Sunday's opening game. For many people, the beginning of baseball marks the start of Spring. Every team, even my beloved Cincinnati Reds, has hope for the new season on Opening Day.

The NCAA Mens' Basketball National Championship Game is also tonight, pitting the Cinderella Butler Bulldogs against the powerhouse Duke Blue Devils. Can the Bulldogs pull off a "Hoosiers"-type upset in their own backyard?

What could be the most interesting story of the day is Tiger Woods meeting a full throng of media for the first time since his sex scandal began shortly after Thanksgiving. Can the unflappable Tiger keep his cool in the face of some questions that he surely doesn't want to answer?

As if that weren't enough, late on Sunday night, the Philadelphia Eagles traded All-Pro quarterback Donovan McNabb within the division, sending him to Washington for a pair of draft picks.

Today has to be one of the biggest days for sports in a long time. It should be interesting.