Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Page 2 [Print without images]

Monday, August 31, 2009
Page 2 Power Rankings: Choice edition

By Patrick Hruby
Page 2

Welcome to another edition of Page 2's weekly Power Rankings, where the confusion of a world in which Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez's alleged additional practice time violations seem to have made his team worse is replaced by the clarity of making a list:

1. Rick Pitino

The nerve of some people!

Ubiquity Intrigue Amusement Absurdity Trending
6 6 8 10

Credentials: After police release audio and video recordings of phone calls and an interview with Karen Cunagin Sypher, the woman accused of attempting to extort Pitino via a sex scandal, the Louisville basketball coach calls an (unironic) news conference in which he (unironically) lambastes the media for airing the recordings, saying, "Everything that's been breaking in the news on the day Ted Kennedy died is 100 percent a lie." Right on! How dare anyone waste time on trivial, salacious stuff when important, serious matters are brewing? Just imagine if some basketball coach -- talk about an unimportant job -- did the following:

1997
Meaningful news: Bill Clinton begins second term; Timothy McVeigh sentenced to death; Steve Jobs returns to Apple; Princess Diana dies.
Petty sideshow: Coach releases clichéd self-help book entitled "Success Is a Choice" ... with picture of self on cover.

March 1, 2000
Meaningful news: Finland's constitution is rewritten.
Petty sideshow: Coach whines that Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish aren't walking through the door.

March 23, 2003
Meaningful news: United States-led invasion of Iraq is three days old.
Petty sideshow: Coach leads team to second-round NCAA tournament exit at the hands of Butler, never mind that we're at war.

Aug. 1, 2003
Meaningful news: North Korea agrees to multilateral nuclear talks.
Petty sideshow: Coach has sex with woman who is not his wife on table/floor of Louisville restaurant.

Aug. 12, 2009
Meaningful news: AARP denies endorsing President Obama's health care reform efforts.
Petty sideshow: Coach publicly apologizes for having sex with woman, says determination to remain employed.

Aug. 26, 2009
Meaningful news: Sen. Ted Kennedy dies.
Petty sideshow: Coach declares his actions have "not hurt recruiting a bit. We will still bring in top-10 players."

Anyway, good thing all of the above is purely hypothetical.


2. Derek Jeter

Even the Dalai Lama has to be a little jealous

Ubiquity Intrigue Amusement Absurdity Trending
5 4 6 7

Credentials: On the field, beloved New York Yankees captain making a late-season push for MVP; off the field, rumored to be engaged to longtime girlfriend/hottie actress Minka Kelly. Sigh. When everyone else thinks you're Tom Brady with a baseball bat, who cares whether stat nerds can prove you're the worst-fielding shortstop in the majors?


3. Jim Harbaugh

Suggested bathroom reading: Modern Luxury, Way Better Homes and Gardens, anything about Marie Antoinette

Ubiquity Intrigue Amusement Absurdity Trending
7 5 9 9

Credentials: Stanford football coach reportedly given a booster-funded office bathroom and shower costing between $50,000 and $70,000, infuriating members of an athletic department facing a multimillion-dollar revenue shortfall that has produced layoffs, team budget cuts and the potential elimination of the school's fencing team. With all due respect to intercollegiate sword fighting -- and wouldn't it be cheaper to just play "Wii Sports Resort"? -- we don't understand the furor here. After all, anyone who refi'ed into an adjustable-rate mortgage and used the cash-out equity to fix up his house in the past few years can tell you that 50K is nothing when it comes to a new bathroom. In fact, Harbaugh's little boy's room shopping list probably looked something like this:

Handcrafted wooden toilet throne inspired by Dagobert, the last ruler of the eighth century French Merovingian dynasty: $14,000

Hand-painted burnished gold luxury sink: $2,800

Luxury steam shower: $12,500 ($6,500 on sale)

Red Diamond bathtub with Swarovski crystals and two built-in waterproof HDTVs: $47,000

Gold-and-burgundy-patterned shower curtain: $6,000

Luxury toilet paper: $280 for 24 rolls

Magazine rack: $12

Our point? Stanford is getting a bargain.


4. Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre

The gift that keeps on giving -- to us, at least

Ubiquity Intrigue Amusement Absurdity Trending
10 3 9 14

Credentials: Pop quiz! Sharpen your pencils:

1. Which of the following is actually made up?
(a) Mechanics at a Minnesota tire shop found a goat in the trunk of a customer's car
(b) The customer announced plans to butcher the goat
(c) The goat was tied up, painted purple and gold and had Favre's No. 4 shaved into its side
(d) The car was driven by Tarvaris Jackson

2. According to Minnesota sources, the Vikings' locker room is:
(a) Split between supporters of Jackson and Sage Rosenfels, with little support for Favre
(b) Brett Favre can be divisive?

3. Promising in a news release not to mention Favre, Sports Illustrated:
(a) Placed a logo reading "100% Favre-Free" on the cover of this week's magazine
(b) Subsequently had the word "Favre" on the cover of this week's magazine
(c) Just got Favre'd!

Answer key: 1, d; 2, a; 3, all answers valid.


5. Houston Texans

Where are those angry town hall screamers when you really need them?

Ubiquity Intrigue Amusement Absurdity Trending
4 6 2 8

Credentials: As part of NFL-wide effort to reduce heavy drinking at games, team reduces serving size for the $7.75 beers sold at Reliant Stadium from 24 ounces to 20 ounces ... but does not reduce the price. Attention, Texas sports fans (and all right-thinking patriots): It's time to water the tree of liberty! With those missing 4 ounces, of course.


6. Jessica Biel

Hazardous to your health. Like "Stealth"

Ubiquity Intrigue Amusement Absurdity Trending
7 7 6 8

Credentials: Online security company McAfee claims that Web searches for the actress/megababe are more likely to lead to spyware and viruses than any other celebrity, making Biel the "most dangerous celebrity on the Web." In related news, McAfee cybercops apparently have not seen the YouTube footage of Heidi Montag's performance at the Miss Universe pageant.


6a. Jessica Simpson

Because the pink jersey wasn't enough bad luck

Ubiquity Intrigue Amusement Absurdity Trending
5 5 9 9

Credentials According to the National Enquirer, Berlin cover-butchering pop starlet paid a witch she met online -- we'll pause to let your exploded brain reform -- to put a curse on ex-boyfriend Tony Romo, using a candle, incense and incantations to prevent him from falling in love again. Silly, right? Yet notice: Simpson cursed Romo's romantic life, as opposed to his chances of winning a playoff game, which would be a sorry, pointless waste of a perfectly good curse.

In other words, Jessica Simpson is not as dumb as she seems.


7. Isiah Thomas

Welcome back!

Ubiquity Intrigue Amusement Absurdity Trending
6 8 10 6

Credentials: Former Page 2 Week In Review Quiz MVP/nouveau Florida International basketball coach's team threatens to pull out of November's Coaches vs. Cancer tournament if it has to play North Carolina instead of Ohio State in the opening game, even though FIU reportedly is contractually obligated to play either opponent. After his tenure with the New York Knicks, you'd think Thomas would know his way around regrettable-but-binding contracts. (And really -- you're going to bail on an event that's anticancer? We missed you, Zeke.)


8. Gunther Cunningham

Next lecture: How "Bowling Alone" relates to improper three-technique

Ubiquity Intrigue Amusement Absurdity Trending
3 4 6 9

Credentials: Detroit Lions defensive coordinator-cum-amateur sociologist explains team's poor tackling with short dissertation on wussified state of American youth sports, saying, "Our social makeup right now is, you tell the young kids, 'Don't worry about who wins and loses.' Well, when you get out on this level, that team on the other side is not there to lose. They want to beat you. I think it's how they grow up sometimes." How true. If there's one thing that's de-emphasized in youth, high school and college sports, it's winning and losing.


9. Brazilian soccer

Smith & Wesson > Pacino's "inches" speech

Ubiquity Intrigue Amusement Absurdity Trending
6 8 7 10

Credentials: After second-division squad Portuguesa loses a match, two armed team officials accompanied by bodyguards reportedly burst into the club's dressing room and threaten players. The wonder isn't that something like this could happen in sports -- it's that something like this involved second-division Brazilian soccer and not the Oakland Raiders.


10. Vince Young

Rushed to judgment

Ubiquity Intrigue Amusement Absurdity Trending
6 9 2 3

Credentials: Now a seemingly confused backup quarterback, the former "Madden" cover boy has been ripped and dismissed far and wide entering his fourth NFL season. Is the Sturm und Drang really warranted? Maybe if you're bored, or have airtime/column inches to fill. Otherwise, consider the following:

Statistics, first three pro seasons
Vince Young: 4,694 yards, 22 TDs, 32 INTs, 57.3 percent completions
Quarterback A: 3,787 yards, 21 TDs, 21 INTs, 53.2 percent completions
Quarterback B: 2,845 yards, 18 TDs, 14 INTs, 54.1 percent completions
Quarterback C: 5,556 yards, 31 TDs, 58 INTs, 46.7 percent completions

Quarterback A is Steve Young. Quarterback B is Roger Staubach. Quarterback C is Terry Bradshaw. All three are in the Hall of Fame. Is Young destined for Canton, as he recently predicted? Nobody knows. Everyone ought to stop pretending otherwise.


11. Lenny Dykstra

Dude, where's my bedroom?

Ubiquity Intrigue Amusement Absurdity Trending
6 10 10 10

Credentials: Discredited-but-defiant stock market idiot savant tells CNBC his bankruptcy filing and pending divorce have left him living out of his car. In related news, Lenny Dykstra still has a car.


12. New York Mets

Battered but unbow -- actually, utterly bowed

Ubiquity Intrigue Amusement Absurdity Trending
5 7 4 9

Credentials: New York ace Johan Santana and reliever J.J. Putz are shut down for the season with elbow injuries. The next day, Oliver Perez is sidelined for the year with a bum knee. Two days later, DJ AM is found dead in Manhattan apartment -- after a final public appearance throwing out a ceremonial first pitch at Citi Field -- and a financial writer predicts that Mets owner Fred Wilpon will be forced to sell the club after losing roughly $700 million in the Bernard Madoff investment-fraud scandal. What's next? Mr. Met tearing his ACL? A Mookie Wilson steroid confession? Chemical weapons dump/Indian burial ground discovered under Citi Field? At this point, anything seems possible. And sadly probable.


Also receiving votes:

• The NFL ruling that Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones can keep his sun-eclipsing, punt-thwarting, Galvatron-shaming video boards right where they are. Can EA Sports please include punts-off-the-JumboTron in the next downloadable "Madden" update?

• The Denver Broncos suspending pouty, petulant, I'm-a-Diva, Get-Me-Out-of-Here! receiver Brandon Marshall for two preseason games. If the Broncos were really serious, they'd just throw Marshall into the briar patch already.

• Vanderbilt basketball coach Kevin Stallings reportedly sacrificing a $100,000 pay raise to fund his team's 10-day trip to Australia earlier this month -- an underhanded, dastardly-by-example blow to office bathroom-coveting college football coaches everywhere.

• Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco earning a $5,000 NFL fine for wearing an orange chin strap during a preseason game, then joking on Twitter that he is "color-blind" and planning on suing the league for discrimination, very nearly creating the perfect postmodern nonfootball football news item. Sir, we salute you!

Never receiving votes:

• The WWE announcing plans to eventually launch its own network. If this gets Hulk Hogan's "Rock 'n' Wrestling" back on the air, sign us up.

• Former Kentucky basketball coach Billy Gillispie being charged with driving under the influence, making him the second-most embarrassing former Wildcats coach this week.

A shirtless man hijacks and crashes an Atlanta school bus, Former Mets executive Tony Bernazard, Matthew McConaughey unavailable for comment.

Patrick Hruby is a columnist for Page 2.