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Extra Points

Jerry Brewer explains the thinking behind his columns and invites readers to express their views on the sports world.

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December 5, 2008 12:56 PM

Banking on Steve Sarkisian's potential

Posted by Jerry Brewer

We don't know about him for sure. There's no way to know. The Huskies have hired a newbie as their football coach, an intriguing newbie, but still a newbie.

If you hate the pick, you could be right. If you love the pick, you could be right. Athletic director Scott Woodward chose Steve Sarkisian on the strong feeling of what he could become, not what he is currently.

Who is Sarkisian? He's the 34-year-old USC offensive coordinator, a coach who's learned under some of the finest minds in college football (Pete Carroll and Norm Chow in particular). He knows what championship football looks like. Sometimes, he's performed to mixed reviews as the Trojans offensive coordinator, but USC has a very good offense. He's done a solid job in that role, not as spectacular as Chow, but Sarkisian is a good offensive mind.

The hope is that he's an even better head coach. I'm excited about this pick. The upside for Sarkisian is incredible. But without question, he's a risk, too.

Sometimes, you must be willing to take that risk to be great.

Continue reading this post ...

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December 4, 2008 1:45 PM

Husky coaching search: Don't worry about the big names balking

Posted by Jerry Brewer

I've had some pretty good e-mail discussion with people about today's column, so I figured I'd say a few words about it here.

Despite the tone of the headline, which I didn't write, the message of the column is a hopeful one. I'm simply saying this: If the big-name coaches balk at this job because the Huskies are winless, that's OK. The reality that the Huskies may have to take a chance on a coach just might open the door to find the right candidate. A fresh face (coordinator) or an established head coach leading a non-BCS program might wind up being the best hire.

It's been a weird coaching market so far, and this coach-in-waiting trend isn't doing the Huskies any favors. Two good candidates, defensive coordinator Will Muschamp of Texas and Chip Kelly of Oregon, were eliminated because their schools promised them the head job in the future. And, of course, Jim Mora has the biggest coach-in-waiting situation that hurt the Huskies. This new trend is just another layer that makes finding a coach more difficult. It's making it near impossible to get the best assistants in the game, especially if the head coach has been around for a while.

Nevertheless, I'm still hopeful the Huskies will make a good hire. It won't be a sexy hire. It won't be someone that the public immediately knows will win, but I think that athletic director Scott Woodward and president Mark Emmert have a good feel for what the program needs and will make a sound decision.

Now that Mike Leach is out of the running, I'm leaning toward favoring USC assistant Steve Sarkisian for the job. If anyone wished the Huskies had pursued Lane Kiffin, think about this: Kiffin wasn't a candidate for the Oakland Raiders job until Sarkisian turned it down.

Hate to use Al Davis logic to make a point, but he certainly considered Sarkisian a better candidate than Kiffin at first. If Sarkisian had taken that job and failed like Kiffin did, no one would be talking about how inexperienced he is.

So, if you were intrigued by Kiffin, you should be just as intrigued by Sarkisian. He might even be better. And Kiffin was good enough to land at Tennessee. I think Sarkisian is a legitimate, solid option for the Huskies.

But even if he doesn't get the job, expect someone like Sarkisian, someone that you have to look at based on potential, to get the job. It seems there's no surefire, big-name choice available. But it doesn't mean the Huskies are out of good options.

I'm optimistic this will work out.

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December 3, 2008 10:35 AM

Powerless Rankings: Stress, duress and Plaxico Burress

Posted by Jerry Brewer

Excuse the break in action this week. I've been ill, but not too sick to ignore the craziness in sports over the past week or so. Let's start up the blog again with the Powerless Rankings.

Our weekly tracking of the 10 most hapless stories in sports:

10. Andre Miller
There's an ankle breaker, and then there's what Derrick Rose did to Miller last week. In this YouTube era, Miller will never be able to live it down. (Be sure to listen to the color analyst; he's hilarious.)

9. UW coaching search
You nervous yet? Right now, the way some sitting coaches are gluing themselves to their current jobs, it's hard to know who Mark Emmert and Scott Woodward will try to present as a savior.

8. Tracy McGrady
By now, his middle name should be Out For Three Weeks.

7. Allen Iverson
PRAC-TISS?!?! We're talkin' about PRAC-TISS! On Thanksgiving? No thanks.

6. Stephon Marbury
And to end the NBA gauntlet, presenting the most overpaid, do-nothing in sports.

5. Texas Longhorns
Whipped Oklahoma in October; whipped by the BCS rankings in December. Computers are so darned strange.

Excerpt From Coach Greg Robinson's Last News Conference

4. Greg Robinson
If only Willingham would go out in this manner, telling the media a children's story. If only! Check out Robinson, the outgoing Syracuse coach, defending himself with "The Little Engine That Could."

3. NFL players and diuretics
Six players, including Minnesota defensive lineman Kevin and Pat Williams, have been suspended for using a diuretic, which sometimes doubles as a veil for steroids. Sadly, it's not even the most unfortunate NFL story of the week.

2. Sean Avery
The NHL suspended the bad boy for making a raunchy joke to the media about other players falling for girls he'd dated. Two words: pompous idiot.

1. Plaxico Burress
Hate it when my gun goes off in my sweatpants. Just hate it.

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November 27, 2008 1:46 AM

Crystal Helmet, Week 14

Posted by Jerry Brewer

First of all, let me wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving. I'm very thankful to be in this community, with so many wonderful readers and generous human beings. You inspire and challenge me every day.

Now, how about some prognostication to go with your cranberry sauce?

NFL picks

Dallas 27, Seahawks 17
Despite all their drama, the Cowboys are starting to get right at the right time. Terrell Owens will have a big game against the smaller Seahawks cornerbacks, and the Seahawks' offensive woes will continue.

Philadelphia 34, Arizona 28
New York Giants 19, Washington 10
Pittsburgh 20, New England 17
New Orleans 27, Tampa Bay 23

College picks

Hawaii 38, Washington State 28
After a double-overtime victory over Washington, the Cougars will play loose in their season finale. But Hawaii quarterback Greg Alexander, who has thrown for at least 200 yards in three of the last four games, will continue his steady play. In the end, the Cougars defense just isn't good enough to get a victory.

Oklahoma 49, Oklahoma State 21
Florida 50, Florida State 28
USC 42, Notre Dame 17
Oregon State 35, Oregon 30

Last week's record: 5-5
Season to date: 88-42 (67.9 percent)

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November 26, 2008 11:02 AM

Life could be worse: Notre Dame fans pelt their team with snow

Posted by Jerry Brewer

So the Huskies are primed to go 0-12, huh?

So the Seahawks are 2-9 and trying not to make a turkey of themselves on Thanksgiving Day, huh?

And you think that's as low as it can get?

Well, check this out. Notre Dame played so poorly in its home loss to Syracuse last Saturday that fans threw snow at the team. Here is an excerpt:

Fans at first threw snow in the air, but then quickly switched to tossing snowballs toward the Notre Dame sideline. Defensive lineman Ian Williams got hit in the helmet, defensive end Ethan Johnson was struck on the left cheek and a St. Joseph County police officer on the sideline looking into the crowd got hit in the chest. An NBC camera man also was a frequent target and several snowballs reached the field, although none landed near where play was occurring.

I poked fun at the Cougars fans who stormed the field after beating the winless Huskies, but you know what? I'll take that kind of exuberance over turning against your team any day.

Being upset over a bad performance doesn't give a fan the right to turn into an idiot. I have no problem with booing, but Irish fans are supposed to be better than maniacs who hurl objects at unsuspecting people.

Yeah, yeah, I know: A tiny percentage of the crowd -- a few bad apples among thousands -- participated. But that's enough to damage the reputation of the whole.

So, now I can appreciate the excitement of Washington State fans who got lost in the joy of a thrilling comeback victory -- regardless of their team's record or the opponent's record. I still chuckle a little at the thought, but I respect their passion.

And I leave bereaved Seattle sports fans with my weekly reminder: Life could be worse.

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November 24, 2008 3:46 PM

Powerless Rankings: Drops, firings and an embarrassing new peer for our state's woebegone teams

Posted by Jerry Brewer

Our weekly tracking of the 10 most hapless stories in sports:

10. Koren Robinson
Mr. Drop's much-discussed second chance with the Seahawks might be coming to an end soon. With all the errors Robinson makes during a game, why not just lean on the young wide receivers? It's not like the Seahawks can avoid a losing season anymore.

9. Eddie Jordan
If you still care about the NBA, then let it be noted that Jordan, after leading the Wizards to four straight playoff berths, was only given 11 games this season. The hot seat is a vicious animal.

8. Rich Rodriguez
First, RichRod told rabid Michigan fans last week to "get a life." Then he lost to Ohio State by 35 points Saturday to conclude a 3-9 season. If he doesn't improve dramatically next season, Wolverines fans will be saying, "Take a hike."

7. State of Michigan athletics
Speaking of Michigan, the state is fast becoming Washington's competition for futility. Michigan football just finished its worst season ever. The Detroit Lions are 0-11. And the auto industry is struggling so much that General Motors Corp. can no longer afford Tiger Woods. What's next? The downfall of the Pistons? Well, they did lose by 26 to Minnesota at home Sunday.

6. Matt Hasselbeck
He's entering bless-his-heart territory, which is no place for a competitor to be. Clearly, he's trying to grind through his back problems. It's quite admirable, but you fear he might never get back to his Pro Bowl level.

5. Charlie Weis
Syracuse? Really, Syracuse? Even Tyrone Willingham could handle the 'Cuse. Here's guessing Weis won't be around past the 2009 season.

4. Tyrone Willingham
Washington State? Really, Washington State? Here's guessing Willingham won't be getting any head-coaching offers after he leaves the Huskies.

3. Bad field-storming etiquette
Not to belabor the point (OK, who am I kidding?), but c'mon, who storms the field after beating a winless team? I can't get over that. I'm sorry. Just can't.

2. Donovan McNabb
No doubt, his Philly career needs to end after this season. Eagles coach Andy Reid, his most steadfast supporter, benched him Sunday. There's no turning back.

1. P.J. Carlesimo
He was stopped before he could board the team plane Friday night and told he was fired. Clay Bennett is now 2 for 2 in awkward firings. Remember when he canned Bob Hill on the same day he had surgery? You'll be better off with having to deal with Bennett, P.J. Trust us.

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November 24, 2008 10:19 AM

Weekend recap (if you dare to look)

Posted by Jerry Brewer

This is a not-so good videotaping of a television showing the end of the Apple Cup. I'm only posting it because it captures Paul Wulff's goofy, galloping celebration at the end. He acted like he had just clinched a Rose Bowl berth.

And I still can't get over the students storming the field after beating a winless team. After improving to 2-10, for that matter.

I've seen it all now.

Continue reading this post ...

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November 21, 2008 11:43 AM

Crystal Helmet, Week 13

Posted by Jerry Brewer

College picks

Washington 21, Washington State 20
What happens when bad meets worse? A great game, of course. The Huskies win a contest of big plays and big goofs, with the Cougars making the ultimate mistake -- botching an extra-point to seal their rival's victory.

Oklahoma 49, Texas Tech 45
Oregon State 34, Arizona 31
Stanford 28, California 24
Utah 27, BYU 17

NFL picks

Seahawks 17, Washington 16
The Redskins are fading, mostly because they can't protect quarterback Jason Campbell. The Seahawks have accepted that they will miss the playoffs this season, and it should translate to them playing more freely and angrier. I smell a trap game for the 'Skins.

Tennessee 24, New York Jets 13
Miami 20, New England 17
Philadelphia 23, Baltimore 17
New York Giants 35, Arizona 14

Last week's record: 9-1
Season to date: 83-37 (69.2 percent)

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