Friday, March 7, 2008

Two steps forward, two steps back

On the heals of IU football potentially turning the corner with a successful Pro Day, the team suspended quarterback Kellen Lewis.

No specific reason was given, according to various media reports, other than he violated team rules. Lewis is gone indefinitely and will not participate in spring practice. After losing their best offensive player, James Hardy, to the NFL draft, now the team's second-best player is now gone.

It seems Hoosier football can't get a break. They take a step forward, followed by another back.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Turning the corner?

The NFL season never truly ends. After the final gun sounds at the Super Bowl, talk begins about the upcoming free agency period and the draft. Since coverage of the draft and the preceding NFL Scouting Combine has become so intense, media now are descending on college "Pro Days" where players can work out for scouts at the practice facilities where they had spent so much time during the previous three or four years.

So it's no surprise at this time of year to read about the Ohio State, Michigan or USC Pro Days, where future millionaire running backs, quarterbacks and wide receivers run through drills for drooling NFL scouts and coaches.

But I was really surprised to read today that IU had a Pro Day yesterday in Bloomington. Coverage from the IDS is here. The football program may have scheduled them in the past, but I don't remember them. It seems the day was mostly about receiver James Hardy, who has been mentioned as a first-round pick, but for other graduating players it was a nice opportunity to maybe get on some teams' draft boards for the later rounds.

Does this mean IU football is turning a corner toward long-term respectability? I'm not sure yet. I would like to see some sustained excellence first.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Enjoy your non-Packers life Brett

As most of you now know, Green Bay Packers Quarterback Brett Favre, who torched the Chicago Bears on seemingly every occasion, decided to retire.

As everyone is giving their favorite Favre moments, I'll toss in mine. It was the re-opening of Soldier Field on Monday Night Football. The Bears were fully expecting to finally beat the Packers after what seemed like forever. But alas Favre, once again was better. The all-telling image from the game was the 99-yard touchdown bomb. He just wound up and heaved it, hit the receiver in stride, who promptly scored. UGH. I said that too many times during Favre's career.

I suspect the rebirth of the Packers in some ways drove the Bears get out of the NFC basement in the late 90s and early 2000s. Lovie Smith's first of three priorities was to beat the Packers. As the Bears improved in the last few years, it actually seemed like a rivalry again.

Favre was known for his durability. He had started every Packer game since late September 1992, while the Bears had seemingly every college quarterback that was healthy starting opposite him. This is a great post from the Rumors and Rants blog. They combined all the Bears starting QB stats during Favre's tenure and found they didn't measure up.

Enjoy your retirement, Brett. You were one of the best, there's no question about it. But speaking as a Bears fan, your departure couldn't come soon enough.