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Tuesday, 29-Mar-2011 03:22 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Musings on the Quarterbacks in the Upcoming NFL Draft


Profootballtalk.com reported today that Arkansas Quarterback Ryan Mallett is scheduled to visit Cincinnati for a private workout with Bengal coaches and scouts at the end of the week. PFT had this to say about Mallett:

Mallett has an outstanding arm, but he’s awkward on his feet and there are questions about his mental makeup.

They went on to point out the obvious: That the Bengals are likely not considering Mallett with the fourth overall pick, but are more interested in him at the 2nd round or later. However, John Clayton of ESPN feels that if Florida State signal-caller Christian Ponder is still on the board when the Bengals pick in round two, he’ll be their guy:

Florida State’s Ponder isn’t going to fall below Cincinnati’s pick in the second round

Either way, it looks less and less likely that the team will take their QB of the future in round one, especially considering that Cam Newton is now looking like the number one overall pick to Carolina, or at worst, to the Bills at three.

Nonetheless, PFT thinks the team will still go QB in round one, even with Newton long gone. They tab Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert to the Bengals in their latest mock draft:

If Carson Palmer skips the season (likely) and there’s no pre-draft free agency (also likely), who’s going to play quarterback in Cincinnati? Palmer is in physical decline anyhow, so even stubborn Bengals owner Mike Brown can’t afford to pass on perhaps the highest-rated passer in the draft.

Personally, I still say the team should upgrade the WR, DL, or DB positions with the fourth pick, and address the QB of the future situation in round two.


Friday, 25-Mar-2011 07:43 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Cody Pickett looks back after retirement from football


Cody Pickett will watch the NFL draft next month as a fan.

Having played football most of his life in almost every arena possible — high school, college, NFL, NFL Europe, CFL — he recently decided to hang up his cleats for good at age 30.

The leading passer in University of Washington history has settled in Boise, where he helps run an insurance company and is married, with his first child (a son) on the way in May.

"Things are going good," he said in a phone interview.

He'll also watch the draft, with a hopeful eye on Washington quarterback Jake Locker.

Pickett was the last UW quarterback who faced the decision Locker did last year — to leave early for the NFL or return for a senior season.

In fact, there was a brief moment, when Locker was still undecided in the fall of 2009, that Pickett thought about grabbing the phone and dialing Locker.

"I felt like I should call him and let him know that, 'Hey, those senior years can be tricky sometimes,' " Pickett said.

Ultimately he didn't call Locker, and he says he's glad that it looks like Locker — despite a senior season that had some rough moments — will likely be drafted high.

Pickett, though, is the poster child for tricky senior years.

And while he doesn't necessarily express regret, the coming of another NFL draft — as well as his decision to end his playing career — has brought it all rushing back.

"My whole career was great," he said. "I loved it up there. Hindsight is 20-20, and if you could come back and do things a little different you might. But ultimately I wouldn't change it (his decision to return)."



Still, he says, "you look back and think of things that could have happened different."

After throwing for a Pac-10 record 4,458 yards as a junior in 2002 (a mark that still stands), Pickett says he was told he might be taken as high as the late first round if he made himself available.

He says he was also told that only Byron Leftwich and Carson Palmer were rated ahead of him, with Pickett lumped in a group behind that also included Kyle Boller and Rex Grossman.

His father, legendary rodeo champ Dee Pickett, encouraged him to go pro, he says.

But UW coach Rick Neuheisel, Pickett says, told him he wasn't ready and thought he'd be a second- or third-rounder, and that the Huskies would make it to the Rose Bowl if he returned.

Pickett said he also simply liked UW and wanted to stay, all else being equal.

But from almost the moment Pickett recommitted to UW, things began to unravel. Neuheisel was fired in July 2003 for lying about his involvement in an NCAA basketball tournament betting pool, with Keith Gilbertson taking over.

Pickett suffered a pectoral-muscle injury in the second game of the season, against Indiana, an injury he didn't discuss in any detail at the time.

"I was always raised that if you are playing, you are playing," he said. "So I played through a lot of things like that, that some people didn't really know about.

"Against Indiana, I got hit by the safety and my left pec swelled up and was black and blue all through my arm pit. I could barely throw all week in practice. But it was my team. I wasn't about to not play."

Later, he suffered a knee injury in a game at Oregon State that UW won, a week after losing at home to Nevada. He then was knocked out of the second half of a win against Oregon with a head injury.

The saving grace was an upset in the Apple Cup of a Washington State team that came in ranked No. 8. Pickett threw the winning 21-yard touchdown pass to Corey Williams with 1:10 left — one of the most dramatic plays in Huskies history.

Pickett, though, doesn't lay all the blame for a lost 2003 season on the coaching chaos.

"Coach Gilby was great," Pickett said before rattling off a list of other maladies that helped derail that season, including injuries to two offensive linemen. "It was just a combination of things. Kind of when it rains, it pours. But being able to come back and throw that final pass in the corner of the end zone and kind of leave Husky Stadium on a high note, as frustrating as it was, at least (we) made that happen."

But a 6-6 season that resulted in UW's first winter without a bowl (other than probation) since 1978 helped take the shine off Pickett's NFL hopes. He says now the injuries, and the fact that no one talked much about them, didn't help.

So instead of being drafted in the first few rounds after the 2002 season, he was selected in the seventh round of the 2004 draft by the 49ers.

And once there, he was met with more coaching instability and a quarterback carousel. Coach Dennis Erickson, who drafted him, was fired by the 49ers after the 2004 season. Pickett also was asked to play receiver on scout teams and on special teams in games. That earned him a small modicum of local fame, but also, he says, helped derail his quarterbacking career.

"What a lot of people also don't realize is when I finally did get a chance to play quarterback, I hadn't played quarterback," he said. "All through training camp and the first five, six weeks of the season, I was a scout-team receiver, I was a scout-team defensive player and I was playing on special teams. The only time I threw any balls was in warm-ups."

He got two starts in the 2005 season, but notes those came against the Giants and Bears, two of the best defensive teams of the era, which he calls "not the best recipe for success. I'm not trying to make excuses, but that's just the reality of it."

He ended up starring one year in the now-defunct NFL Europe, resulting in short stays with the Texans and Raiders. In 2007 he went to Canada, first to Toronto, where he says, "I had five different coaches in three years," and later to Montreal and Calgary.

Pickett had some success here and there in the CFL, and says he had offers to return this season.

But with a growing family — and other activities filling his days, such as coaching a fifth-grade boys and girls traveling basketball team — he decided to call it quits.

"I've just kind of been bouncing around all over," he said. "It's kind of taken a toll on me."

And finally having some free weekends this fall, he plans to make it back to UW to take in a game. He hasn't been on campus since leaving shortly after the 2003 season. Such a visit might elicit a few more brief yearnings of "what might have been," though Pickett says it's more out of reflection than bitterness.

"I don't want it to sound like a pity party," he says. "But it was just that after my junior year of college, it was hard to catch a break. But I'm totally happy now. Happy with my life and where everything is."


Tuesday, 22-Mar-2011 09:23 Email | Share | | Bookmark
NCAA basketball tournament bettors suffer as Notre Dame, Pitt, o



Bleary-eyed bracketologists were sucking air Monday after the first full weekend of March Madness left more lamenting misses than cooing over upsets.

While lowly seeded teams like Virginia Commonwealth University and Richmond emerged as Cinderfellas of the NCAA men's basketball tournament, beasts from the Big East like Pittsburgh, Notre Dame and Louisville were trampled by dark horses.

"I had St. John's going to the Elite Eight, being from New York," said Eddie Brown, 35, of the lower East Side, of the Queens university that was done after one lousy game against Gonzaga.

His bracket busted with tough-luck losses by Louisville, Georgetown and his Final Four pick Syracuse, Brown found himself Monday in 1,844,144th place in the ESPN Men's Tournament Challenge.

Meanwhile, upper West Side physical therapist Mike Ventele, 31, was beaming over his bracket, particularly his long-shot choice of Virginia Commonwealth upsetting Georgetown.

"They're playing with a chip on theirshoulder because people were saying that they didn't belong there," Ventele said of the VCU Rams, who also knocked off Purdue to make the Sweet 16.

Three more rounds remain before the April 4 National Championship game in Houston, but Evan Abraczinskas, 24, of Hoboken, N.J., said his chances of winning his bracket pool are already shot.

"I had Syracuse and Pittsburgh in the championship," the beer salesman said. "I had Syracuse winning it."

Shanese Brannon, 34, of the upper West Side, was pouting over the Cincinnati Bearcats' third-round defeat Saturday to the Connecticut Huskies.

"They played their hearts out," said Brannon, adding that a friend's son - Sean Kilpatrick of White Plains in Westchester County - is a member of the Bearcats squad.

Eric Langlois, 47, of Manhattan, sounded impressive, boasting he accurately picked underdogs like Butler and Florida State to move on to the regional round. Then he said he filled out six different brackets online, with six different winners. "I'm a fanatic," Langlois said.


Friday, 18-Mar-2011 08:59 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Terriers Head to March Madness and Frozen Four


Tonight the national spotlight shines on two Terrier teams, and the excitement is high. After last weekend’s stunning postseason home wins, the men’s basketball and women’s ice hockey teams take on tough opponents this evening.

Entering the second round of the NCAA tournament with the nation’s third-longest winning streak, at 11 games, the 16th-seeded men’s basketball team meets top-seeded Kansas for the first time ever tonight at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla., with tip-off set for 6:50 p.m.

NBA commentators Marv Albert, Steve Kerr, and Craig Sager will provide live national coverage of the game on TBS. Boston-area fans can also follow BU radio announcers Doug Brown and Brian Maurer on WWZN 1510 AM.

Just over an hour later, the number-three Terrier women’s ice hockey team faces off against number-two ranked Cornell in the NCAA semifinals at Tullio Arena in Erie, Pa. Opening faceoff for the Frozen Four matchup is set for 8 p.m. Fans can watch free live streaming video of the game at NCAA.com. It is the team’s first trip to the Frozen Four in their six-year history.

Appearing in their seventh NCAA tournament and their first since 2002, the men’s basketball team (21-13) wrested a thrilling 56-54 come-from-behind victory from Stony Brook last Saturday at Agganis Arena. John Holland (CGS’09, COM’10), who earned 2011 America East Player of the Year honors at the end of the regular season, was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, recording his 10th career double-double (27 points, 11 rebounds).

The Terriers could make history tonight. No 16th-seeded team has ever defeated a top-seed. BU will try to earn the program’s first win over a ranked team since 1959, when the Terriers advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight. The winner of tonight’s game advances to the third round, facing either the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, or Illinois on Sunday.
In six short years the women’s ice hockey Terriers have gone from being the new kids on the block to the NCAA Frozen Four. Not bad for a team whose men’s counterpart has been BU’s claim to athletic fame for decades. Tonight’s matchup with Cornell (31-2-1) is the first-ever between the two schools’ women’s programs. The Terriers (26-6-4) punched their ticket to Erie with a 4-2 win over Mercyhurst in the NCAA quarterfinals last Saturday at Walter Brown Arena.

Adding to the excitement of playing in the national title series is the possibility of a BU–Boston College championship matchup, as the first semifinal pits number-one Wisconsin against the fourth-seeded Eagles. The national title game will be held on Sunday at 2 p.m. in Erie.

The women’s ice hockey Terriers may end the weekend by joining men’s ice hockey and women’s rowing as the only BU sports to have claimed a national crown.


Friday, 11-Mar-2011 07:07 Email | Share | | Bookmark
NFL labor talks head south as new deadline arrives

he twice-delayed bargaining deadline in the labor negotiations looms again today amid heightened concern that talks between the league and the players' union are on the verge of falling apart and a labor confrontation could again be at hand. Tensions rose Thursday as the sides remained far apart. The union reportedly said that an expanded 18-game schedule is a deal-breaker unless the owners back off their demands for a larger share of the overall financial pie.

COLLEGES

Pac-10 shopping hard

Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott said he's "laser-focused" on negotiating a new TV deal that will result in greater national exposure for the conference and starting a Pac-12 network. "There's a sense we've fallen behind,'' he said. "The Pac-10 is fifth in TV revenue.''

NHL

Police probe started

Montreal police started a criminal investigation into the on-ice hit by Boston's Zdeno Chara that left the Canadiens' Max Pacioretty with a severe concussion and cracked vertebra.

Elsewhere ...

Brian Boucher made 27 saves and Claude Giroux's second-period goal stood up as the winner in Philadelphia's 3-2 win over Toronto.

Joel Ward and Martin Erat each had a goal and assist, and Nashville strummed Minnesota 4-0.

Defenseman Erik Karlsson scored twice in the last 8:48, and Ottawa beat Florida 2-1.

LONGHORNS

Softball downs Houston

Torie Schmidt banged a two-run double in the fourth inning to spark Texas to a 4-1 win over Houston at McCombs Field. Blaire Luna (11-2) threw a three-hitter for the Longhorns (18-3). The Cougars (16-6) scored in the first on a home run, and that was it off Luna, who struck out 10.

MOTORSPORTS

Busch tries drag racing

With NASCAR taking a weekend off, Kurt Busch will make his NHRA debut in the Pro Stock event of the straight-line sport. "I'm excited, although I'm not sure when our (Cup) schedule will allow me to try it again.''


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