The problem with being a sportswriter is that you have to make predictions. The NCAA Basketball brackets, who do you have in your Final Four? Who's going to win the World Series? Who's going to win the Kentucky Derby? The guy who reviews movies doesn't have to deal with this (except before the Oscars). He reviews a movie after he has seen it, not before. (Ideally.)
My Big Fat Greek Wedding will be lucky to make a Big Fat $10 bucks. Look at the stats: a female lead who's not named Gwyneth; the dude from Northern Exposure and Sex in the City is the only recognizable name; and it will obviously have too many jokes only Greek people will understand. Thumbs down!"
Heading into this pro and college football season, everybody could seem sure of a lot of things. Much like Mike Martz of the St. Louis Rams or John L. Smith of the Louisville Cardinals, it was easy to believe in one's own hype. To be a sports genius. No, wait, a sports mastermind. Yeah.
The funny thing about sports is, just like when it comes to women, you do not know nearly as much as you think you do. It's easy to look smart before the season, when everything is just on paper. But that is why they play the games.
Before the season, the University of Kentucky was a football afterthought. An untalented bunch with a fat quarterback who would probably cost their head coach his job before the end of September. Now, the Cats are 3-0 and sold out a game against Indiana when everybody KNEW a long-awaited downpour was coming. In fact, scalpers were still selling tickets for $40 after the rain delay. Now, with a victory over Middle Tennessee State they would be 4-0 and probably crack the Top 25. That is why they play the games.
Prior to September 1st at about 6:05, the University of Louisville Cardinals were a Top 20 team with a Heisman Trophy candidate at quarterback and dreams of crashing the Bowl Championship Series. Then Dave Ragone got pounded into the Papa John's Stadium turf by the aforementioned Wildcats; they got beat by Conference USA rival Colorado State; and now the Cards are 1-2. Instead of crashing the Fiesta Bowl, they are hoping to make it to the Liberty Bowl. That is why they play the games.
Notre Dame was in a downward spiral. Everything that could go wrong did. They were a far cry from the traditional powerhouse that dominated college football for so long. Then Tyrone Willingham stepped in, and even then expectations were low.
"Give him a few years," everyone said. They were unaware of the quiet determination of the Irish and their new head coach. "Return to Glory" was a nice theme, but most saw it as a pipe dream. Now, the Irish are 3-0 with an upset of longtime rival and Top 10 team the University of Michigan. That's why they play the games.
The Houston Texans were a nice story. Wealthy owner brings new team to Houston, Dom Capers gets second chance as a head coach, and they even drafted All-American David Carr, who wears his wedding band even during games. Now, of course, nobody thought they would be any good, which is why Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones graciously volunteered to open the season at Houston's new stadium. The final score, Houston 19 and Dallas 10. Number of embarrassed owners in Texas? That would be one. And that is why they play the games.
If you went to espn.com or any major sports website, the most consistent picks for the Super Bowl were the St. Louis Rams and the Pittsburgh Steelers. "No one can stop the Rams offense! Martz is a genius!" read the hype for the Rams. "The Steel Curtain will fall across the AFC!" screamed those picking the Steelers. Two weeks into the season, we now learn why Rams receiver Eric Crouch retired, and Mike Martz's ego had gotten so big it now had its own roster spot. The Rams are 0-2 and the genius of Mike Martz cannot figure out that maybe running Marshall Faulk more than 12 times a game could be a good idea. Meanwhile, the rest of the league has figured out that if you cannot go through the Steel Curtain, you can always go over it. The Steelers cannot stop the pass at all. And as long as Kordell Stewart is at quarterback, the opposing team is always in the game. These teams were supposed to be great, and at this point they are not even good. That is why they play the games.
There's no way to have absolutely any idea what is going to happen this weekend in either college or pro football. None.
UK may win, they may lose. Notre Dame could win, or maybe not.
It's a fairly safe guess that the Rams and the Steelers might win a game at some point. But then again, they could go 0-16.
As for Louisville, well, who really cares?
Football is a funny game with a funny shaped ball. No one knows which way it's going to bounce.
That is what makes it exciting; that's why they play the games.
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