2. A couple of thoughts on the Stupor Bowl. I am staggeringly indifferent to the outcome of this game. I expect the Colts to win big, and for Peyton Manning to be rapidly anointed as the Best Ever. But the two weeks' layoff works wonders on the media. I expect that around Thursday or so, the only available story will be the "counterintuitive" one that goes, Hey, maybe the Bears have a chance in this thing! Don't buy it. Indy has been consistently favored by about a touchdown, and those Vegas folks know what they're doing.
Actually, I'm sort of interested in this proposal -- move the Super Bowl to Saturday night. As a college football fan, I'm more used to watching football on Saturday, and it does make sense not to force people to stagger home from parties late on a work/school night. I was born on a "Super Bowl Sunday" (SB X, Pittsburgh over Dallas), but I don't have any great attachment to the concept. Of course, the problem with this idea is that the NFL has become a religion, and America practices its religion on Sundays.
3. Bobby Ross retired from his perch as head coach of the Army football team. Ross brought the team a measure of respectability, but the Black Knights aren't all the way back yet. As an aside, I'll note that Ross was almost Duke's choice for its last coaching vacancy. I think he would have been a decent choice, certainly more of a "name" than Ted Roof. But there's no reason to believe he would have stuck around at Duke any longer than he did at West Point, and Duke would be right back in the same spot. I routinely heap criticism on Duke A.D. Joe Alleva, and he has made some bad decisions, including bad football coach hires and fires. But I guess I have to reluctantly give him credit for choosing a coach who didn't lose the fire after three years.
4. Sticking with the Duke theme for a moment, controversy continues to swirl over the Devils' win last week over Clemson. In short, Duke won on a buzzer-beater after the officials had a timing error. And so the conspiracy theorists have more fodder. The best take I've seen is from Winston-Salem reporter Lenox Rawlings, one of the best out there (link via DBR). I'm not going to dwell on it, except to say that (a) these things happen, (b) the main error was that the clock didn't start when Clemson stole the inbounds pass before its tying shot, and that could very easily have worked to the Tigers' benefit if they had missed the shot, because they would have had extra time to tie the game, and (c) none of this would be a big deal if Clemson was able to stop Duke from going the length of the court in 4.4 seconds for an open layup. But if the Duke-haters need some proof that the universe does not always bow to the will of Coach K, Dave McClure, who hit the winner against Clemson, hyperextended his knee against Boston College and will miss at least one game. So live with that on your consciences, you voodoo-doll using Clemson fans!
5. The Montreal Canadiens retired Ken Dryden's jersey last night. You could argue that Dryden wasn't the best goalie in NHL history, and that he didn't play on its greatest dynasty...but you'd have a tough argument to make. He was certainly among a small handful of the very best between the pipes. Even if you're not a hockey fan, I would recommend Dryden's book The Game. You could skim the parts about how the sport had changed from the days of the Original Six to the late 1970s at the end of the Canadiens' best run. But the book is a beautifully written portrayal of what it's like to be part of a team, written from the sort of inside, sort of outside perspective of a goalie. Anyway, congrats to Dryden.
6. Also, congrats to Warren St. John for his great story about a soccer team in Georgia made up of refugees from various countries. Warren's going to turn the story into a book. Via Deadspin, here's the word that the story led to a movie deal. And via Dan Shanoff, more inside dope on the film project. Hey Warren, don't go all Hollywood on us!