January 24, 2006
Duke women's hoops:
No. 2 Devils rout No. 1 Tennessee. Five Dukies in double figures, but more impressively, they hold the Lady Vols to their lowest point total of the season (53).
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:

Time for another edition of "My Bad," a recurring feature where I rethink, revise, restate (or defend) a position from the day before after hearing from readers.

Was I wrong Monday to claim low interest in the Super Bowl matchup -- perhaps by projecting my own biases?

The reactions from some of you bode well for the NFL.

With the majority of backlash e-mails coming from Steelers Nation (Why so angry? You're favored!), here's a sample of reasons why Quickie readers felt this XL matchup was worthy of the Roman numerals:

Bettis' chance for a ring!
(Response: Point taken, but this isn't exactly John Elway in '97. And stop saying "Detroit homecoming" -- most of you didn't even know he came from there until yesterday.)

NFL MVP will be showcased!
(Response: It's not Shaun Alexander's fault, but he isn't exactly the most dynamic player in the league. And now there's a trendy notion that he's not even the MVP of his own team.)

Supersized QB battle!
(Response: The only thing funnier than the comparisons of Hasselbeck to Favre are the comparisons of Big Ben to Brady. Ease up, people!)

The chance for "firsts!"
(Response: First SB title for Seattle? Anyone not a Seahawks fan care? Lowest seed to ever win a SB for Pittsburgh? Whee -- the regular season is officially exposed as meaningless!)

WBC: No Bonds
Cynics will snort that Barry Bonds dropped off the U.S. team for the World Baseball Classic because of the tough, Olympic-style steroids standards. But -- in my usual Bonds blind spot -- I think it's legit that he doesn't want to jeopardize his MLB season by straining his newly rehabbed knee.

More on Kobe's 81
Wasn't it just a couple years ago that Kobe was radioactive? A punch line? And wasn't it just the past year that he was selfish? A ball-hogging team killer?

What a difference "81" makes.

Because literally overnight, "new Kobe" exploded into the NBA's biggest must-see attraction -- the only player who might put up 50 points ... in a half.

Now the debate isn't about Kobe's "me-first" attitude; it's about whether his "81 game" was the greatest individual scoring game in NBA history. (Yes, even more than Wilt; Hollinger made a must-read numbers-based argument.)

Let's review the old criticism and the new, modified perceptions:

Old Kobe: Ball-hog!
"81" Kobe: L.A.'s only option!

Old: Shoots too much!
"81": 28/46 FG shooting!

Maria Sharapova: Advances to Aussie semis (d. Petrova)
Adam Morrison: College's Kobe scores 41 in Gonzaga win
U.S. Skeleton coach: Reinstated. But will he be in Torino?
Lindsay D.: No. 1 seed bounced from Aussie by Justine H-H
Jeff Bagwell: Astros file insurance papers; release next?
Dom Capers haters: Fins to hire ex-Texans coach to run D
Old: Can't win by himself!
"81": 7th playoff seed!

Old: Radioactive endorser
"81": New shoe coming soon

Old: Most selfish player ever?
"81": Best scoring game ever?

NFL Job Board
Dungy returning to Colts: And only the most callous of you would suggest that Colts fans can already reserve their seats on the sofa to watch two other teams battle for the AFC title game next season.

Jauron: It's official. Buffalo's AARP all-stars Levy and Wilson flash Hall of Fame tone deafness in hiring a coach who inspires nearly unanimous griping from Bills fans. (The young ones, at least.)

Gibbs: Hands-off? Skins coach will give up offensive play-calling to new assistant Al Saunders. Between Saunders and Gregg Williams handling the D, what's left for Gibbs to do besides count his Snyder money?

Theo's Future
The Red Sox will announce Theo Epstein's new job title today. Current odds:

2-1: Exec VP, Baseball Ops
5-1: Special Advisor to Owner
7-1: VP of "Didja miss me?"
10-1: Groundskeeper Theo
15-1: Boss Hogg
100-1: Larry's Cabana Boy

XL Story Line: Ford
There's a fascinating juxtaposition in Detroit: Just as the world arrives to celebrate with an XL-sized tribute to the largesse of the NFL and its deep-pocketed sponsors, the city's backbone company -- Ford -- announces a painful restructuring that will include sacking 30,000 jobs. Unhappy Lions fans might note that none of the cutbacks included Lions GM Matt Millen.

CBB Top 25 Watch
Big East rules: 7 of the Top 25, including new No. 1 UConn, No. 6 'Nova and Quickie fave WVA vaulting to No. 9. If the Big Ten and SEC merged, they still wouldn't be as strong as the new B'East.

More Big East: Think Pitt was scarred by its first loss of the season this weekend? Hardly: They worked over struggling Syracuse last night behind career-best 32 points from PG Carl Krauser.

Top 25 Debuts: Earned it! Tennessee made its debut at 19 (wow, not even a stop in the 20s) after edging Florida; G'town entered at 21 after that shocker win over Duke.

Aarrrgh! Moment of the Week: Not even a single "Also Receiving Votes" nod to North Dakota State for winning at Wisconsin? Come on: No one had a No. 25 spot to spare?

NASCAR and Toyota
NASCAR purists may not like the presence of a Japanese auto company in their sport's top level, but apparently the owners have a different issue:

In the Craftsman series, Toyota used centralized engineering and financing across several teams to win; at the Nextel level, owners worry Toyota will use a similar tactic to pull a Yankees and simply outspend them.

Meanwhile, if the Camry will be Toyota's signature NASCAR car, can a prototype soccer-mom driver be too far behind?

Steelers, Um, Mania
Too strange to not be true: Have you heard about this crazy story from the Pittsburgh area?

On Friday, a high school teacher allegedly didn't like that one of his students was wearing an Elway jersey, so he made him sit on the floor in the middle of a circle of his classmates who pelted him with balled-up sheets of paper before making him take a test there. (tip via Deadspin)

See DQ'ed for the highly ironic conclusion.

John Kelly:
Controversial Big Beaver Falls Area Senior High School teacher runs an honor class on "ethnic relations." Don't send this genius to the Middle East.
Today on ESPN.com
Quickie: Live!
Super Bowl XL
Page 2 Index
NBA's Must-See Players
Can he top the 81?!
Knee injury not serious
What does he think of 81?
Dwyane Wade
New Human Highlight Reel
Earl Boykins
Come on! He's 5-foot-5!

And after all that commotion last week, Antonio Davis, his wife and that Bulls fan all decided to make nice and let outbursts be bygones.

Jackie Robinson's daughter, Sharon, will spark a debate after saying that Clemente's No. 21 shouldn't be retired across MLB like her dad's No. 42 was.

You could say that Melo scored 37 in a Denver W over Toronto. But isn't it more fun to say that he combined with Kobe over 2 games to score 118?

Shawn Marion reportedly will be named to the USA hoops team. Will they offer a fantasy league for Olympic hoops? Because the Matrix is an FBL god.

Aussie: If you haven't been paying attention, it's time to start with the must-see quarters match between a revived Hingis and 2-seed Clijsters.

New Reds owner fires GM Dan O'Brien (no, not the "Dan vs. Dave" Dan O'Brien). If Bob Castellini were smart, he'd find a savvy blogger to take over.

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