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Tuesday, September 6, 2005
Page 2 Quickie: September 5, 2005

The Lead Item
Two Words For You:

"We're all Saints fans."

That's an appealing notion and a fine fundraising slogan. It also might help to justify NFL consideration of putting the Saints on the road for its entire slate of home games.

I have no doubt the Saints would be received as ambassadors of the embattled region; opposing fans couldn't possibly boo.

And let's not forget: Heartless calculation is at the heart of the NFL's success. The salary cap. The contracts. The blackout rule.

The NFL already put logistics first by announcing that the Saints would play their Week 2 home opener vs. the Giants in New York.

Is this an indication that they'll play every "home" game in the other team's stadium, rather than somewhere geographically relevant like Baton Rouge or Texas?

Should the NFL do what's best for the NFL... or its fans?

The league can spin the idea as a 16-game, feel-good road show, but it turns the Saints into a twisted refugee reflection of its fan base.

Pity cheers from opposing fans just isn't the same as cheers heard in Baton Rouge or anywhere else where Louisianians or Mississippiians or Alabamians live.

It's not the same as allowing emotionally, financially and physically shattered people to cling to something fantastical like football.

NFL and team leadership must do what's best for the fans. That means keeping the Saints local.

We all might be Saints fans, in some larger existential sense, but not nearly as important as real Saints fans.

New Word: "Soonered"
Word of the Day: "Soonered."

Definition: To blow your CFB national title hopes in the very first week of the season, at home, on national TV, to an unranked foe.

Used in a sentence:
"Oklahoma was Soonered."

Coming Tuesday: My first official rant of the season about the rankings system, which I'm sure won't punish OU enough.

Coll. FB Wrap
VA Tech nearly "Soonered":
But, unlike OU, they were on the road against an underrated N.C. St that had proven in '04 they could beat the Hokies. (But that was pre-Vick.)

Sunday BCS Watch: Louisville
My pick to face USC in the Rose Bowl had an inauspicious debut, as the Cards had to rely on bruising RB Michael Bush to hold off Kentucky, 31-24.

Tonight's Make-or-Break Game:
Miami at FSU (8, ABC): Both team's fans must be thrilled their title hopes are in the hands of untested QBs Wright (UM) and Weatherford (FSU).

Bandwagon Watch:
On! Notre Dame: Weis rules! Off! Boise St: I was fooled!

Next week: Texas at Ohio St.:
Someone's title hopes end.
Top plot: OSU QB controversy

Heisman Watch
Three rules, let's be clear:

1) Best player/most talented
2) Forget rep (05 perf. only)
3) This week > Last week

See "Big 5" for my ranking, and "DQ'd" for a preseason contender now all-but-eliminated from the Heisman watch list. (Hint: A.P.? Ugh-ly!)

Katrina Watch
"Trying to loot my players:" U. of New Orleans hoops coach Monty Towe got my attention with his vivid description of attempts by unsavory folks to woo his star player, Bo McCalebb.

Which big-time programs' boosters might be this soul-suckingly evil? On a hunch, I checked out prominent teams that McCalebb lit up. (Oh, you know who you are....)

NFL Notes
Rice considering retirement: Made Broncos' roster, but won't be a Top-3 WR. As always, my position: He can do whatever he wants.

Frerotte to start for Fins: Nick Saban might as well name Matt Leinart the starting QB for Miami at this point.

Cowboys sign Peerless Price: Over/under on the number of weeks until they realize this isn't 2003: 3.

(Hey, Tuna: FYI, Pats castoff David Terrell is suddenly available. You seem to have an interest in overrated "name" WRs.)

Giants release Bachelor: At least Jesse Palmer can fall back on that reality-TV career. (Wait: He can't? Aha: Worst. Career Move. Ever.)

MLB Wknd Wrap
Carpenter wins No. 20: When Clemens left the game in the 5th with the hammy strain while Carp went the distance, the Cards ace sealed his Cy.

Dontrelle wins No. 19: Does anyone actually think the Phillies or Astros will hold off the Marlins for the NL Wild Card?

AL Cy Watch: Why not Bartolo? Angels ace Colon gritted through back pain to win his 18th (and 7th straight dec.) before leaving in 5th.

AL Wild Card: Yankees win 2/3 in OAK, but not content. "We're still in a race for the A.L. East, so that's what our approach is." (Jeter)

Wells wins in comeback from suspension, then re-iterates the "I was wrong" programming he was given at MLB offices last week.

Open: Blake Mania!
Who needs Roddick's mojo? The best story of the U.S. Open is James Blake's surge, especially his win over Nadal. The "J-Block" has become Blake's version of "home-court advantage."

Quickie 50/50: DC
Call it "51/51." Impressions? "Hail to the Redskins"; "Hoya Paranoia"; Bullets' "Fat Lady" in '78; Nats (April-June 2005).

Life is a closed road to me.

Quickie On Campus
GAINESVILLE, FLA. -- Memo to College GameDay: When you next roll up to the Swamp, be sure to enjoy the hospitality of the guys at Delta Tau Delta. I didn't end up in a Tigger suit like Caple, but a tailgatin' good time was had by all before the game on Saturday.