neuheisel2.jpgIt’s official now. UCLA has hired Rick Neuheisel as its next football coach.

I’m happy with the hire. Not thrilled and jumping for joy, but not annoyed or frustrated either.

The good: Rick Neuheisel went 66-30 at Washington and Colorado. In four years at Washington, he went to one Rose Bowl, two Holiday Bowls and one Sun Bowl. The best UCLA’s done in the last seven years is going to the Sun Bowl once — clearly Neuheisel is a huge upgrade over Karl Dorrell. Huge upgrade. At Colorado, Neuheisel had two-straight 10-win seasons, including a Holiday and Cotton bowl berth. Also, he’s spent the last few years in the NFL, and has probably learned a lot from that experience.

The bad: There were those troubles with the NCAA, but I’m not worried about the ones at Washington because he won the wrongful termination lawsuit against UW and the NCAA. Besides, those incidents were a long time ago (10 and 5 years ago). I’m not as worried about Neuheisel being a dirty coach anymore as I am about the NCAA holding a vendetta against him and making up reasons to punish Neuheisel and UCLA. Also, from years 1 to 4 at both schools, there was a slight dropoff, but it’s a small sample size and he’s had success, so I’m not too concerned.

My verdict: Neuheisel is a good to great hire (but not a home-run hire). UCLA could’ve done a lot worse. I’m happy with the announcement and look forward to seeing UCLA football actually matter in the Pac-10 and nationally.

These are just my quick thoughts, I’ll probably have more on this later, but it’s a holiday weekend and it’s nice outside — I like to pretend I have a life sometimes.

(Hat-tip to Bruins Nation)

erstad.jpgThe Houston Astros just signed Darin Erstad.

Don’t get me wrong — as an Angels fan, I love Darin Erstad. I will never forget his incredible 2000 and 2002 seasons. He’s just been really, really bad ever since.

His yearly OPS+ marks since 2000: 82, 86, 72, 97, 87, 57 and 68. Not good.

Voros McCracken (yes, that Voros McCracken) sums it up much better than me:

As much as some folks like to say that since all the teams now know all this “sabermetric stuff” no teams have any advantages. Jason Lane has a higher career OPS+ than Darin Erstad. Wake me up when some teams actually believe that a guy can hit .210 and out hit a guy hitting .285. That someone is there giving them that information is pretty useless if they ignore it.

I really enjoy watching Darin Erstad play and want him to do well. But I’m smart enough to know that’s not likely and be glad he’s not on my favorite team anymore.

prior.jpgI know that it’s an extreme longshot that Mark Prior ever regains his old form. But the Padres only had to give him a $1 million contract to take that chance?

As scarce as the free agent pitching market is, I would figure that taking a chance on Prior would be worth it even with a few more million. $1 million in baseball is virtually nothing, and even with incentives, the most Prior could get is $3 million — I would think some savvy GM could at least match the $1 million and offer more in incentives, or offer a couple more million not including incentives. It’s only a one-year deal and not a ton of money in baseball terms.

The stories say Prior is targeting a mid-May comeback date, but even if Prior gives the Padres a couple of quality starts late in the year, he could be worth it. The Padres are a team that just missed the playoffs last year, and any little push could get them back in the postseason.

Links of the Day

December 27, 2007

A statistical look at the grittiest players ever. No, really. (Flotsam Media)

Football Night in America showed an old video of a much younger Cris Collinsworth showing off his Super Bowl ring (from a losing team) to an Australian model. (Either Relevant or True)

I love the NFL tiebreaker scenario that has led to Cleveland not having any sort of impact on their playoff chances — they’re in if Tennessee wins, out if the Titans lose, what the Browns do doesn’t matter. (Vegas Watch)

Larry Brown Sports is back from vacation. (Larry Brown Sports)

Taking Tony Kornheiser to task for thinking people don’t know who LaDainian Tomlinson is. (Signal to Noise)

A list of the different types of fantasy football losers — perfect timing with a loss in the finals of my league. I’m some combo of 6, 7, 9 and 10. (Epic Carnival)

A look at the BCS controversies that have happened each year of its existence. (Year 2)

One of the problems with those Best of the Year lists you see at the end of every year is that people tend to forget about things that happened very early in the year, because it seems like it happened last year.

Boise State beat Oklahoma in that epic Fiesta Bowl game this year, back on January 1, 2007.

ianjohnson.jpg

Remember that when you make your Best of 2007 sports lists.

Have a wonderful Christmas

December 23, 2007

christmasbaseball.jpg

I’m going out of town for the Christmas holiday and won’t be updating this blog again until probably Dec. 26.

I want to wish you all a Merry Christmas. And for those of you who don’t celebrate Christmas, I hope you have a happy Dec. 25th.

I know, I know, it’s trendy now for the media to bash or make fun of UCLA’s coaching search. But I’m still optimistic. Why, you ask?

If UCLA really wanted to hire Rick Neuheisel, DeWayne Walker or Al Golden already, they could’ve already. There’s no reason to wait and there’s nothing stopping them. Neuheisel’s team is out of playoff contention, Walker is currently employed by UCLA, and Golden’s team doesn’t have a bowl game to prepare for.

All of that leads me to believe that Dan Guerrero is still looking for a big name with head coach experience, probably someone who he can’t really interview until after the bowl games are over in the next week or two. Because if he wasn’t waiting for someone, there’s no reason to delay in hiring any of the three already mentioned as candidates.

Don’t give up hope yet people. You can’t evaluate a coaching search until it is over.

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