The Jock

by Tom Weppel

MARCH MADNESS
As you all know, the NCAA Basketball Tournament cranks up. Sixty-five teams will be playing for the right to become Champions of Division I college basketball. By the end of the weekend, we will be down to sixteen, with 49 teams having lost and hence, being eliminated.
In the last few days, we’ve heard so many people talk about who got in, who didn’t, who’s better than the other, and who will be upset, its gotten to be total overkill. There’s too much talk, discussion, and analysis. Don’t get me wrong…I don’t have any problem with some good dialogue on what the deal is. Hell, I have been broadcasting now over sixteen years! But seriously, I say this, as a member of the Media…the analyzing of each team, each Regional, and who will do what in making predictions is ridiculous! Thank God I don’t have to produce any type of bullsh*t bracket!
Last year, all four #1 seeds made it to the Final Four. I say the chance of that happening again is slight. The Carolina Tar Heels are most vulnerable, especially without the starting PG, Ty Lawson. Even if he plays, he will not be 100% (toe), and they need his services.
So, I’ll go ahead and totally contradict myself!
I’ll give you a couple of ‘watch outs’. Watch out for Memphis, which is carrying a little chip on their shoulder. Also, watch out for Duke, which is on a nice roll after their ACC Tournament win. They also have a huge advantage in playing their first two games in Greensboro, NC, oh so close to their home campus in Durham. If there were some major schools that are weak, I’d say its Illinois, Arizona, Tennessee, and Boston College.
Now, having blurted out all this mess, I’ll say there are no clear favorites at all in this tourney. The week before, 19 out of the Top 25 teams in the nation had all lost at least once during the week. So, for our Sweet Sixteen, I’ll guess we’ll have all four #1 seeds remain, along with three #2’s, four #3’s, a couple of #4’s, one #5 seed, and two ‘cinderellas’ (9-12 seeds). No 13-16 seeds will survive the first weekend.
Like I said, just a guess. Enjoy the games.

NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE
We have a new ‘saga’ on our hands. On the heels of Terrell Owens trading places, we now have a ‘situation’ in Denver, with QB Jay Cutler wanting out. Seems as if he and new HC Josh McDaniels have not had the greatest of discussions. Cutler doesn’t like the way he’s been handled, and so he thinks he would be better off starting for another team. Of course, this makes Bronco owner Pat Bowlen a not-too-happy camper. That said, the issues now are: a) where can he go, and 2) what can the Broncos do to find a good starting QB to fill Cutler’s shoes. Trading him will not be the easiest deal in the world, especially when other teams know the deal. On the other hand, there are a couple of teams that do not currently have a QB as good as Cutler, including the Bucs, the Jets, the Bears, and the Vikes. It will be interesting to see how this whole ordeal shakes out, as we get closer to the Draft in late April.
Meanwhile, the New England Patriots are doing their best to stock up on older veteran-types to come on board and support Tom Brady when he returns from the knee ACL. The Pats went out and got WR’s Greg Lewis and Joey Galloway, and TE Chris Baker, along with RB Fred Taylor. ON Defense, they got veteran CB’s Shawn Springs and Leigh Bodden, along with DT Mike Wright. So, the perception now is that the Pats will be a venerable outfit. We shall see how the veteran additions play in this situation…

JAGUARS
And so the Jaguars have been able to dump three WRs since the end of the season. Jerry Porter, Reggie Williams, and now Matt Jones all are off the roster, leaving Jacksonville with some needs, for sure. It will be interesting to see how Jack Del Rio and Gene Smith go about finding the talent needed to give David Garrard some help. They will almost have to go out and find at least one quality free agent receiver, then perhaps draft one or two guys to see if they can step right in and perform. Otherwise, we’re looking at Dennis Northcutt, Mike Walker, and Troy Williamson for Garrard to throw to.
NOTE: This past week, former Jags Fernando Bryant (CB/Steelers), Renaldo Wynn (DL/Redskins), and Paul Spicer (DL/Saints) all found jobs in getting signed. They all did their deals, by the way, on the same day! However, Byron Leftwich is STILL a QB without a home…

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