Greetings and welcome to 2013, which, in true Ron Santo-fashion, I’m proclaiming “Our Year”–at least until it becomes unavoidably evident that it’s not (the early over/under on that opened at mid- to late-March, and it’s expected to move up).
Most of you probably spent Tuesday in a bit of a fog, either stuck to your couch watching Bowl games or scrambling to wrap up a vacation to-do list before you headed back to work today. Hopefully I can help make the transition from sweatpants and naps to shoes and productivity a little easier this morning.
As part of their annual Black Monday festivities (?), NFL teams passed out a staggering amount of walking papers earlier this week. Seven head coaches (headlined by Lovie Smith, Andy Reid, and the heretofore unfireable Norv Turner), at least four GMs, and several assistant coaches (including Buffalo’s entire staff) were fired after unsuccessful seasons. You can find ESPN’s coverage here.
Lovie Smith’s firing didn’t come as much of a surprise to Bears fans. A defensive wiz, he never was able to field an offensive scheme that complimented the team’s strengths on defense and special teams, and early Tuesday, Bear’s GM Phil Emery admitted it was that perpetual weakness and a spotty playoff record that cost Smith his job. But don’t cry for Lovie, Argentina–of the coaches fired Monday, he’s perhaps the most widely-respected and well-thought-of, and should have no trouble finding a new gig. Same goes for Andy Reid, who may be the leading candidate for the Cardinals job in the wake of Ken Wisenhunt’s firing. Also on the coaching carousel as potential replacements are Mike Holmgren (perhaps hoping to wash the Browns stink off his legacy) and Oregon’s Chip Kelly.
Of course, there is still NFL action to look forward to–specifically a Vikings vs. Packers rematch, a faceoff of rookie wunderkind QBs from Seattle and D.C., and whatever the AFC has to offer (sorry, but Bengals vs. Texans and Colts vs. Ravens don’t really have me gripped with anticipation–wake me for the AFC’s divisional series). You can see the whole playoff schedule here. Most of the predictions I’ve seen have the Broncos beating the Niners to win the Super Bowl, and I think I can buy that. Convince me otherwise with your picks below.
In college football action, Stanford was able to grind out a 20-14 win over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. Northern Illinois proved to be no match for Florida State, losing the Orange Bowl 31-10. Georgia overwhelmed Nebraska 45-31 in the Capitol One Bowl. And my beloved Oklahoma State Cowboys smoked Purdue 58-14 in a laughable and poorly-attended Heart of Dallas Bowl.
Finally, there was a noteworthy controversy in South Carolina’s 33-28 win over Michigan in the Outback Bowl. Michigan was awarded a first down they clearly didn’t earn, but South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney righted the wrong on the next play from scrimmage with a bone-rattling sack and fumble recovery. As a result of the victory, Outback is giving away free Bloomin’ Onions today, so maybe you can postpone your New Year’s diet at least one more day.