Today is the day the media has been fawning over for months. While I favor League Championship Weekend over Super Bowl weekend (four great teams and two games that are typically jam up instead of the one game with all the other crap that goes along with it), tonight's matchup is definitely an interesting one and is highly anticipated. Clearly the headline is Peyton Manning vs. the Seattle defense and that will be the focal point for most watching tonight. I also have interest in a Denver defensive backfield that has been good and bad at times. The Seahawks definitely want to line up and run the football so Denver will clearly want to take that away and make Wilson throw the ball. Percy Harvin is the guy who comes in with the most question marks. Harvin has played very little this season due to various injuries but is a guy who can take over the football game unlike any other player on Seattle's offense. In the Divisional game, Pete Carroll was adamant that he'd see the ball quite a bit...and he did until a first half concussion eliminated him from play in that game and the next.
Many of the advertisements that viewers anxiously await during tonight's game have already been released. I'll give credit to these ad folks. I have no clue how they come up with a lot of these ideas (Anheuser-Busch annually comes to mind) but they definitely grab your attention and make you wonder how someone/group of people thought of these commercials. I guess when 30 seconds of airtime costs you $4 million a clip, you don't exactly put an intern on that project. Nevertheless, we'll be talking about these spots at the water cooler for quite some time.
Clemson was able to pull out a big victory down in Tallahassee yesterday afternoon. Each time I watch Clemson play I repeatedly say that it is some of the ugliest basketball I've seen. The Tigers' offense is disastrous and tough to watch. I often think the goal is to dribble around aimlessly then throw up a prayer as the shot clock approaches zero.
Clemson and the rest of the college football world are focused on Wednesday. This highly anticipated day is often described as more exciting than the actual football season. NSD is a big one for Dabo Swinney (particularly given his expertise in landing top talent here at Clemson), Jeff Scott, and the rest of the staff. Recruiting good athletes is essential to build a great football team. This year's class will rank favorably amongst the national pundits. While getting these accolades is nice, I'd encourage you to evaluate the class based on need and skill. Personally, I'd always like to see us take a few more linemen, for example, so that is one item I look at when all is said and done. Anyway, recruiting classes are the starting points for football teams. You can't teach talent (which makes pulling it in through the recruiting process so important) though skills and discipline can be developed over time-hence the need for off-season sessions, nutritional programs, S&C, Spring ball, etc...
The golf this week/weekend has been great. First off, Boom-Boom made the cut over in Dubai. Dude is nails, can't wait to see Freddy tear it up again this Spring. There were big tournaments over in the Middle East and Stateside here in Phoenix. This allowed golf fans to watch the world's best nearly all day for four days. Over in Dubai (European Tour action), Rory completely choked on the weekend and Sunday in particular. Stephen Gallacher to prevail for the second consecutive year and in spite of a leader board that was extremely crowded for most of the final round. Gallacher was shaky early but had a flurry of birdies down the stretch to claim victory.
The PGA Tour made its stop in Scottsdale for the Phoenix Open. This tournament is an annual thrill for both players and fans. If you haven't given this one a shake, I'd highly encourage tuning in to watch these guys in action. For those not familiar, the 16th is the hole everyone discusses. It is a rather simple Par 3 that became one big party over the years-starting with Arizona State students setting up camp there to follow Phil early in his career and evolving into the raucous atmosphere you see today. Now the entire hole is surrounded with stadium seating and luxury suites. Players are jeered for poor shots and the atmosphere is something unusual for a PGA tournament. This is also the most highly attended tournament of the year as crowds approaching 180,000 were recorded for a single day at last year's tournament.
Defending champion Phil Mickelson had a tough opening to this year (ailing back issues) and begins play today 12 shots behind tournament leader Bubba Watson. Watson is looking for his first win since Augusta a couple years ago. Watson really is a fun player to watch and, despite his connection with the University of Georgia, I really can't help wanting to watch him play and pull for him. Kevin Stadler and Ryan Moore are right behind him on the leaderboard. Stadler is obviously the son of the legend they call the "Walrus." He has his father's figure, no doubt, but also has great touch around the putting surface. Ryan Moore, you'll recall, was anointed by most as the next big thing in golf following a tremendous college career and earning a Tour Card without heading to Q-School (Moore became a professional following the US Open back in '05 and was able to finish high enough on the money list playing on sponsor's exemptions to land a full card for '06). This should be a great battle and one that hopefully ignites two good months of golf heading into the year's first major championship.
Since we are headed into NSD, I'll leave you with a bit of Motley (who will be going back on tour one last time this year) to set the tone for the week.