I’m cleaning out a jam-packed notebook, filled with storylines and overflowing with opinions:
There is nothing but positive reviews on the hiring of Mike McCoy as the Chargers’ new head coach. His work record with the Broncos, Tim Tebow and Peyton Manning is tremendously impressive. He’s added a trusted veteran in Ken Whisenhunt, the former Cardinals head coach, as his offensive coordinator. They also hired highly-regarded Ron Milus to coach the secondary. At Denver, the Broncos fired him after their playoff ouster, but his Denver defense gave up just one 300-yard passing game all year and that is in a quarterback league.
A good move by San Diego State head football coach Rocky Long. In need of a passing game architect, now that Andy Ludwig left for the University of Wisconsin offensive coordinator’s job, Long reached out to former UCLA head coach Bob Toledo. Yes, Toledo failed miserably at Tulane, but that was in the post-Hurricane Katrina era. But remember the Toledo-UCLA-Cade McNown record-setting offenses and national rankings. He is a bright light.
Lane Kiffin is under fire everywhere. Getting beat up in the Sun Bowl by (6-7) Georgia Tech did not go over well. Getting rid of his father Monte as defensive coordinator did go over well. So too did the hiring of former NFL coordinator Clancy Pendergast to run things on that side of the ball. But he loses QB Matt Barkley, has just 15 scholarships to use and is not held in very high esteem outside of Heritage Hall. He’d better get something done next fall.
I never bought for one second that Jim Mora would leave the Bruins after just one year as football coach, though he was rumored as a candidate for the Chargers job for about 15 minutes. A contract extension and another strong recruiting season means even better days are ahead in Westwood.
A major meltdown looks as if it is upon us. Team president Jim Buss is getting booed at home; the fans chant “We want Phil;” Kobe cannot carry the team; Dwight Howard is hurt again and feuding with teammates; Pau Gasol is pouting coming off the bench; and coach Mike D’Antoni is pounding square pegs into round holes with his playbook. So, how do you like your $2,500 courtside seats? Look for a major implosion roster-wise in the next couple of weeks.
Boy, are they good — big, athletic, shooters, defenders and a tough bench bunch. The Clippers are still the second team in town and still an afterthought in terms of conversation. They may just have to get to NBA finals before they get respect. I assume owner Donald Sterling’s history has lots to do with that. But imagine what it will be like if the Clippers get to the finals and the Lakers don’t even make the postseason?
It is hard to understand how a major school with a beautiful facility cannot be more productive in basketball. The Trojans, with the Galen Center still half empty, need a name coach to build basketball equal to football. Athletic Director Pat Haden faces a real challenge.
Where are all the critics right now? Ben Howland has UCLA basketball highly ranked and rolling with a really young team. Shabazz Muhammad drives this bus, and he is really good and may stay here more than one year. Pauley Pavilion looks spiffy and the Bruins are winning again, after two years of bad basketball and bad attitudes.
So much is expected every winter now from Steve Fisher’s basketball program that back-to-back losses set off alarms. They have the player of the year in the Mountain West Conference in the sleek-slick Jamaal Franklin. But the MWC is really tough. Just ask SDSU, UNLV, Colorado State and Wyoming — each got hammered in early conference games. And all are ranked right behind (16-2) New Mexico. When conference play opened last week, the top six schools in the league had a combined (76-10) record. Not bad.
It’s been a silent winter as they head to spring training. Fans are not happy with new ownership and the only acquisition was Oakland A’s pitcher Tyson Ross. The Friars go to the Cactus League next month with 11 potential starting pitchers, but five of them coming off surgeries and injuries. Not good news when the Giants are wearing a World Series ring and the Dodgers lead all of baseball in spending.
All the excitement of the off-season spending spree has to be tempered now. Slugger Matt Kemp does not appear to be fully recovered from late season shoulder surgery and may not be ready opening day. And these Andre Ethier trade rumors won’t go away. The Blue may be good, but they may not be a complete team right now.
They let go of a lot of pitching, but then they got hitting with slugger Josh Hamilton. Maybe they won’t need many arms beyond Jered Weaver and his pitching friends, because they will score nine runs a game.
They got their Stanley Cup rings, raised the banner, then lost games and two key players in the first week of the season. Losing defenseman Matt Greene with a possible fractured back and blueliner Willie Mitchell, slow to come back from knee surgery, is not a good way to start a 48-game, 90-night schedule.
Lost in the expanse of all things sports in So Cal, Anaheim is almost a forgotten franchise. But they are good. Teemu Selanne, 42, defies age and keeps scoring goals. All their other young guns are back and they added defense with former first round pick Bryan Allen and big shot defenseman Sheldon Souray. This might not be a bad team.