Friday, February 6, 2009

Signing day grades

Signing Day came and went this week. The Hoosiers signed 18 players for the 2009 season. They are expected to fill holes left on the squad, but were not highly rated.

In fact the class was rated 11th in the Big Ten by The team signed 10 offensive players, five defensive players, one special teams player and two "athletes." None of the commitments were in the ESPN list of top 150 players. Northwestern and Purdue also managed to sign no top 150 players, but Ohio State and Michigan signed seven each.

These ratings are not a definitive indication of greatness in college, but why is it you hear more about good players who flew under the radar than those who were high recruited?

The Big Ten had the third most commitments, 22, in the top 150 of all the major conferences and independents. The SEC had the most, by far, with 52. The ACC had 23.

The Chicago Tribune also rated the Hoosier class last in the conference.

The best player in the Hoosier class is the kicker, according to one rating I saw. That should seem worrisome for the future. But the recruits also include a couple quarterback/wide-receiver prospects that could provide some offensive firepower. I maintain the secret to winning is on defense. Is it a concern that some of the new recruits could compete for starting spots?

Monday, February 2, 2009

The longest day

I continue celebrating the Steelers' Super Bowl victory, but I am also reminded that today is the longest period before the NFL returns.

Now talk turns to expectations and the future as the latest crop of college players is graded and soon drafted.

Amid all that is IU football, coming off a dismal season and equally dismal prospects. Another sign that the past season was sub-par -- the number of IU players invited to the NFL Scouting Combine later this month in Indianapolis.

The Big Ten had 46 players invited to the combine. Indiana is sending one. Just one. Wide-receiver Andrew Means was the only player considered NFL material.

Michigan had one of its worst seasons ever and still is sending four players. Ohio State and Penn State are sending eight each. Wisconsin is sending seven players.

Surprising, the Hoosiers' poor showing in the upcoming combine is not the lowest in the conference. Minnesota isn't sending anyone.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Greatest Super Bowl Ever Played

The Steelers won their sixth Super Bowl, 27-23, in what arguably was the greatest Super Bowl ever played.

Ben Roethlisberger cemented his place as the best big-game quarterback in the NFL, leading the team on the game winning drive with about 2 minutes to go. It came after the Cardinals went on their own touchdown drive to take the lead.

The Cardinals offense came alive in the fourth quarter, scoring two touchdowns and a safety to go ahead 23-20. But Big Ben hit Santonio Holmes four times on the final drive, including a spectacular catch in the corner of the end zone for the gaming-winning touchdown. After forcing a Kurt Warner fumble, the game was secured.

I was ready to drop over when the Cardinals took the lead. I couldn't believe a game the Steelers dominated for three and a half quarters was slipping away. Even when the winning drive began I wasn't optimistic. I was getting consoling text messages. But Big Ben gave me hope once again.

The Steelers have six championships now, the most of any NFL franchise. Congrats the Holmes, the MVP, Coach Mike Tomlin, Big Ben and the rest of the team. They deserve it.

I'm still flying high. I don't know how I'm going to be able to watch an hour-long episode of The Office.

Note: The Coke commercial with Troy Polamalu was pretty good. Surprisingly, the Cash4Gold ad also was kind of funny, which included an appearance by Hammer. I still liked the Doritos snow globe commercial the best.

Steelers increase lead after third quarter to 20-7

Not much going on in the third quarter, but the Steelers managed a field goal to increase their lead to 20-7.

Three huge personal foul penalties helped keep the key drive alive, which lasted 16 plays and went 79 yards. The only downer was that it stalled inside the five yard line after three shots at a touchdown. The Cardinals offense was not able to get much done again, despite finding some holes running the ball and hitting short passes.

Stats are here. Fourth quarter coming up.

Steelers lead at halftime 17-7

Just when I thought the Steelers were going to be trailing at halftime, defensive player of the year James Harrison made the play of the game. A 100-yard interception return for a touchdown not only stopped what was the Cardinals go-ahead score, it put the Steelers up 10 points at halftime.

An unbelievable turn-around to retake control of the game.

The Steelers defense has to figure out how to stop the passes into the flat to Edgerrin James. That seemed to be the only play that was working for the Cardinals. When the defenders began covering James, the field opened for Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin.

Halftime stats are here.

So far my favorite commercial still is the Doritos snow globe ad. The 3-D ad at the end of the first half was very cool, but I don't think it used the 3-D technology enough. I liked the image of the characters flying out of the screen and that only happened a few times during the couple-minute ad.

I'm going to step away from the computer now and listen to The Boss.

Steelers lead 3-0 after first

Good first quarter for the Steelers. It was hard to tell how well the Cardinals offense was playing, because they only ran a few plays.

Big Ben and the Steelers offense are clicking.

My favorite ad so far is the Doritos ad with the snow globe.

That extra phone call

Every Sunday I get a call from my father. He was born and raised in Pittsburgh and for a long-time was a Steelers season ticket-holder.

Usually we talk about sports and during football season, we talk about the Steelers and occasionally, the Bears. On special Sundays, I get two calls. Those are reserved for football championship games.

After Super Bowl XL, I made the call. The Steelers had just beaten the Seahawks 21-10.

"Hey, Derrick?" my father said.

"We did it!" I said excitedly into the cell phone.

That is the attitude in my family, and I suspect others, when it comes to the Steelers. They're our team. It's we win, not they win. That is why the Super Bowl is so special. We all take a piece of a victory ... and a loss.

Tonight I will be stuck to my coach for maybe five minutes before I start pacing. I will yell at the TV, because they're my players as much as they are Mike Tomlin's. I will hope for great plays just as hard as the players work for them.

I think the Steelers should win this game. My prediction is 27-17. Let's hope the late night phone call I will get tonight is a good one.