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The BCS Championship Had Points After All

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Batting Around is BC Sports' look back at the week's happenings in the world o' sports, presented in a lineup card format for some undisclosed reason.

The Lineup Card

1. QB Matt Flynn
2. LB Ali Highsmith
3. QB Eli Manning
4. C Shaquille O'Neal
5. DF Joleon Lescott
6. 1B Carlos Delgado
7. G Manny Legace
8. Andy Murray
9. SP Roger Clemens
Coach: June Jones

1. QB Matt Flynn — Preview columns die quickly, and for good reason. Ninety percent of what's written is usually torn to shreds by what actually happens in the game. Sort of like this BCS Championship Game preview on Monday.

"The quarterbacks wouldn't make an impact," and such. Phooey. Flynn threw four touchdowns to just one interception and completed 70 percent of his passes in LSU's 38-24 pasting of Ohio State. Hey, Flynn may not be an NFL quarterback, but he was the leader of a national championship team on this night. In a man's heart, sometimes that's all that matters.

But sometimes being right is nice too. Maybe next year.

And on the other side, Ohio State put up 24 points. Really? The same team who couldn't score more than 20 against Akron at home? All right then.

2. LB Ali Highsmith — But I can't depart this game without mentioning someone on the defense. Ricky Jean-François won the defensive MVP Award, and well deserved at that, but Highsmith (Ooh! One of the guys I mentioned in the preview!) had eight tackles and a key 4th down fumble-slash-sack on Todd Boeckman that really quashed a potential comeback. Sure, Ohio State shot themselves in the foot worse with that roughing-the-punter penalty in the third quarter, but in terms of plays LSU made to protect the lead, Highsmith had the defensive play of the game.

For what it's worth, Ohio State linebacker James Laurinaitis had 18 tackles — 12 solo. No other cool stats, though. Just cool tats.

(I have nowhere else to put this couple of pence into the debate, but why is the Big Ten all of a sudden being wet upon by everyone? Didn't Ohio State just make the national championship game in it's rebuilding year? Didn't Michigan, a team that lost to a I-AA school, beat defending national champion Florida in a bowl game? Didn't LSU, this year's the national champion, lose to two unranked schools? I'm not here to say the Big Ten is better than this conference or that conference, but wow. Huge shot at the Big Ten out of nowhere.)

3. QB Eli Manning — Speaking of quarterback performances I didn't expect. Hoo, boy. I think Manning's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last weekend finally grew some hair on his chin, not to mention other areas of male the anatomy where stubble ought flourish. Now he can use that razor Peyton Manning got him for Christmas. And not the Lady Bic gag gift Usi Umenyiora got him his rookie season. (Note: this is a contrived story.)

Manning's 20-for-27, 185-yard, 2 touchdown performance didn't exactly silence the unforgiving New York media, but they are a few decibels quieter. They still need to beat the Cowboys next week for that to happen, at which point they'll continue to be quieter. This is dangerous territory. Any more silence over the city and we'll actually be able to hear people urinating on the subway.

4. C Shaquille O'Neal — Rumors are so much fun. (And easy to spread!) Apparently Shaq is handling his divorce pretty well:

"Every time Shaq is in town, I get the call, and let me tell you: He's got more women leaving his hotel room then any celebrity I've ever seen. Every time he stayed at the Marriott in South Beach, he had a blonde or a brunette with him."

That's from a cab driver who often drives Shaq around. Or at least used to drive him around Miami.

I can't imagine being Shaq's mistress would be all that fun. First of all, if the chick is any shorter than 6-feet tall, it's like sitting in the handicapped stall of the public bathroom. (Unnecessarily oversized.) And because of his toe, what should normally last an hour would be limited to 21 minutes.

5. DF Joleon Lescott — The sports photograph can sometimes capture the human condition at the most vivid moments of a match. In this case, you can see Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard (in green) looking at his white-clad teammate Lescott, the one about to head the ball back toward his own goal, muttering in his head, "What the HELL are you about to do?"

Because after Chelsea quickly built a 1-0 lead in the semifinal of the Carling Cup, only for the Gunners to fall to 10 men after a red card, allowing Everton to tie the game up, Howard was unable to block Lescott's header well into the second half's injury time, allowing Chelsea to escape with a 2-1 victory.

The term "own goal" seems, on the surface, like a warm, fuzzy term that doesn't belong in sports. My very own goal! I can cuddle it can give it a name and feed it every day, I promise! But they're nothing but embarrassing. Probably as humiliating as being curiously proficient at describing how to tend to a fictitious imaginary friend. Boy, I'd hate to be that guy.

6. 1B Carlos Delgado — The New York Mets first baseman earns our Batting Sixth Quote Of The Week after speaking out about how it felt to lose 12 of their last 17 games, missing the playoffs by a single game:

"It was very disappointing because we know that we had the best team."

Aw, that's adorable. They had the fifth most wins in the NL, but hey, they were the best team. Similarly, Milwaukee is disappointed they didn't win the World Series, even though they were the best team based on number of triples after the All-Star break.

7. G Manny Legace — I had to check if he's still one of seven aging goalies still with the Red Wings. Nope. St. Louis Blues.

Legace had two shutouts in a three-game span, earning the NHL's first star for the week. That's a hell of a week. In fact, he's had a hell of a career already. He's been in the league for ten years, and won a Stanley Cup with Detroit in 2002. I wonder what kind of thing he'll leave behind. You know … how people will remember him. A lasting image. Um, a … I can't think of the word.

8. Andy Murray — I've yet to name this feature, but I'm tentatively going with This Week In Honest Dubious Portrayal Of Reality.

While addressing the media at the Kooyong Classic tennis tournament in Melbourne, the Scottish tennis player was asked what his favorite scene was from the movie Wayne's World. So he demonstrated for the audience.

Camera one … camera two. Camera one … camera two.

Bold choice, but I must disagree. It's with the Ed O'Neill soliloquy to the camera in the first scene. Good thing he wasn't the one who got a gun rack for his birthday.

9. SP Roger Clemens — After watching his press conference and catching an audio snippet of his telephone conversation with trainer Brian McNamee, a scary thought went through my head.

What if he's right? What if Clemens never took — or even unknowingly took — steroids or human growth hormone? What if Clemens' full-out denial isn't merely posturing for the court of public opinion?

That means that McNamee lied for some reason. And Clemens' spurts of anger weren't the result of roid rage, but just him being a genuine dick. A dick who doesn't care about the Hall of Fame.

That was the one quote from the press conference that got me. He said he didn't give a rat's ass about the Hall of Fame. Well, if he doesn't care, then he doesn't get enshrined. Them's the rules. Here, Bert Blyleven. We have room for you now.

Coach: June Jones — On the surface, it appears that the outgoing Hawaii coach is making the biggest blunder of his coaching career by accepting the Southern Methodist job. Jones has created a program using his own unique run-and-shoot passing system, and it's gotten results. Home games are almost always wins, and … well, there are other tempting reasons.

But Jones is respectfully declining all of that majesty any longer and opting for leading a program which so far is only famous for getting the "death penalty" in the 80s after paying football players while their football program was already on probation.

This is actually the perfect job for Jones. No, really! SMU's a football program with nothing, just like Hawaii was when Jones took over in 1999. The five seasons before he helmed the Warriors went: 3-8-1, 4-8, 2-10, 3-9, and 0-12. SMU's record in recent years are equally abysmal.

This time around, Jones has two clear advantages which will ease this rebuilding process, and they both pertain to location. Texas is one of the most prolific high school football states in our nation, so he won't have to drive far to seek out some of America's best talent. Plus, most of it is in Dallas. Secondly, SMU is in the Central time zone, which means they have way more potential for TV exposure. Hawaii may be a heck of a program that just happens to be in a tropical paradise, but any team that has to travel five hours and play a football game at the equivalent of midnight Eastern is going to tire in the late quarters. (Not to mention alienate several casual sports fans.) Hell, relocate Notre Dame's team to Guam and even LSU would probably blow the game in the fourth quarter.

June Jones already has the reputation of being an offensive pioneer, so recruiting on that side of the ball won't be too hard, even if a similar football program is in the same state. ("Oh, you want to play for Texas Tech? Yeah? How many BCS games did they play in this decade? Yeah. Oh, and try a bite of this steak. Now find something that tender in Lubbock.")

Also, Jones is reportedly going to make $2 million a year. Yeah, can't imagine why he left the islands.

(Photo Credits: Chuck Burton/AP, Walt Disney Video, Reuters, William West/AFP/Getty, Amy Conn-Gutierrez/AP)

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