December 28, 2005
No. 4 Memphis:
Put a gold star next to the young Tigers' decisive win over No. 8 Gonzaga at home. They gave up 34 to Morrison, but held him scoreless in the final 9 minutes.
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:

Some people get in a hoo-hah when I use the word "TANK" to describe how a team vying for the No. 1 NFL draft pick should act. So let me make it more politically palatable:

Is it in the Texans' best interests to lose this weekend's season finale with the 49ers to secure the No. 1 pick?

(The alternative, a Texans win, would leave up to five teams in a tiebreaker for the worst record and top pick.)

Absolutely, they should lose.

Why? Reggie Bush. And even if Houston thinks Dom Davis makes drafting Bush unnecessary, Bush will command a booty of picks and prospects in a draft-day trade -- the type of package that can turn a team around.

Plus, given the NFL's tiebreaking procedure -- based on WEAKNESS of schedule -- that single win could shuttle the Texans out of the No. 1 spot and as far down as No. 5.

(Of the five contenders, the Texans have the second-strongest schedule through Week 16. The 49ers have the toughest, so that won't help much. Both will bring the other team's strength of schedule down -- but down enough? The Saints currently have the weakest schedule.)

But don't you "play to win the game"? Bah: To those who would say tanking is fraudulent, what really shows more competitive integrity:

Winning this single game? Or losing a single game, but eventually winning more games down the line because of it? I'd argue it displays more integrity to take the long view.

I leave it to the fans, who I suspect agree with me overwhelmingly. Even if you're not a Texans (or 49ers or Jets or Saints or Packers) fan, take today's poll and put yourself in their position:

If you were a Texans fan, would you root for your team to lose to secure the No. 1 overall pick for next year's draft?

Nice slogan: Just lose, baby.

T-Mac Chooses
This is a no-brainer: You take supporting in-person the mother of your child while she's giving birth over playing in a regular-season NBA game.

Tracy McGrady had 21 points at halftime and the Rockets were leading the Jazz. But he left at the half to be with his pregnant fiancee, who was going into labor at the hospital. Without McGrady, the Rockets lost.

I can't imagine how any fan -- even the most hard-core Rockets fan -- could begrudge T-Mac for leaving. Was the timing bad for the team? Sure, but you have to put family first in that case. (In the playoffs? Yes, again. In the Finals? Ehh ... which game?)

Dungy's Eulogy
From the reports, it sounds like Tony Dungy used his son's funeral as a platform to try to affect as many other kids as he could.

Rudy Carpenter: AZ St. QB has 678 all-purp. yards in bowl W
Wayne Gretzky: Grieving Coyotes coach set to rejoin team
Nets: End Cavs' 6-game W streak to win 7th straight
Chad Pennington: Jets' O.C. not sure QB will be ready in '06
Colorado: Ends ugly year ugly, loses to Clemson in Champs
JaMarcus Russell: Injured LSU QB out vs. Miami in Peach
He told his players to be better role models, he told parents to hug their kids as much as possible, and he had this poignant observation for teens:

"I know if you're 13 or 14 or 15 or 16, maybe your parents are starting to seem a little old-fashioned with some of the things they're saying. They won't always let you do the things you want to do.

"But just know, kids, that when that happens, they still love you, they still care about you very much. And those old-fashioned things will start to make sense pretty soon."

Raffy Speaks
End-of-year reactions from one of the most intriguing athletes of 2005 (for better or worse). Raffy Palmeiro in today's NY Times:

"I wish I could pinpoint exactly what happened. I would think it was the B-12. I'm not certain of that; I can't prove it.

(Translation: More denial.)

"I wish I could have turned in the vial for testing, but when I found out, it was long gone and I couldn't come up with it. If something happened that I'm not aware of, an intentional act by someone else, I don't know. I can't rule out anything.

(Translation: Not my fault.)

"I'm going to take the responsibility, me being careless and taking something I wasn't knowing if it was clean, having full trust in what I was getting. It was careless, stupid, na´ve of me to think it was safe."

(Translation: More posturing.)

Keep reading for my top 10 most intriguing names of 2005.

USC vs. ...
Can USC be stopped? The 2005 team continues to run through the top 11 teams of all time in the entertaining ESPN poll survey.

Over the long weekend, fans voted, and '05 USC clocked:
No. 7: '99 Fla St (67 pct)
No. 6: '55 Oklahoma (73 pct)
No. 5: '88 Notre Dame (56 pct)
No. 4: '94 Penn St (55 pct)

Next up: No. 3 '79 Alabama. Given the fans' average age and short, Quickie-esque memories, I expect another USC victory. '79 Bama has about the same relevance to them as '55 Oklahoma (which is to say, nil).

But am I the only one that argues the 2005 USC team couldn't beat its own 2004 edition? Where is the Trojans' '04 team on the all-time ranking? Now THAT's a snub.

(Chat today with Kirk Herbstreit at 2 p.m. ET and Chris Fowler at 4 ET. And, as you can every weekday, with me at 9 a.m. ET.)

Bowlin': MPC, Alamo
MPC Computers (at Boise)
Boise St vs. Boston College
Coach Dan Hawkins' swan song on the blue turf before he bolts for Colorado; B.C. fans realize that Boise isn't much different than Boston this time of year. Brr ... (4:30, ESPN)

Alamo (at San Antonio)
Michigan vs. Nebraska
Remember the Alamo when Michigan and Nebraska were New Year's Day bowl staples? Yeah, their fans do, too. (8, ESPN)

Quickie Year in Review
Top 10 Most Intriguing Names:
10. Steve Nash
9. Danica Patrick
8. Michelle Wie
7. Joe Paterno
6. Larry Brown
5. Rafael Palmeiro
4. Charlie Weis
3. Ozzie Guillen
2. Matt Leinart/Reggie Bush
1. Terrell Owens

No name dominated the year like T.O., from the drama leading up to the Super Bowl to his holdout in the fall, then ultimately to his banishment as a pariah. Let's just hope he doesn't repeat in 2006.

Coming tomorrow:
Top 10 Most Intriguing News

Uh-oh: Loss at home to Sacto is 6th L in the last 8 Gs. LA is still 16-11 thanks to that fast start, but the L dropped them out of 1st in Pacific.
Today on
Quickie: Live!
USC vs. history
Page 2 Index
Ranking the NFL's Worst
Don't they deserve it?
NFL-low 210 pts scored
2nd weakest S.O.S. of 5
They're still trying
1-game win streak!

Good news for the Yankees, bad for Japan: Hideki Matsui won't play in WBC, because he feels it would intrude on his prep for the '06 season.

Jeff Reardon update: Reliever released on bail after alleged robbery attempt. And mid-'80s Strat-O-Matic players around the world still weep.

NBA: Carmelo's career-high 45 was no match for AI's 36 (plus the game-winner); the Spurs topped the Pacers in a battle of contenders.

Perhaps the Seahawks will take a cue from the Patriots' unhappy experience with Tedy Bruschi's special-teams injury on MNF and rest all sorts of players on defense in their meaningless finale.

Just asking: If the Giants didn't get that extra home game against the Saints, would they still be in the playoffs? Bit of an unfair advantage.

Happy anniversary: On this date in 1958, the NFL enjoyed its tipping point when the Colts beat the Giants 23-17 in OT to win the NFL title.

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