Friday, November 30, 2007

Aztecs can't draw flies (or fans)

A local radio station recently went out to a restaurant/bar in Little Italy with 200 tickets to give away to a San Diego State football game.

It came back with 200 tickets.

Another radio station has a program where it gives listeners “points” in an Internet contest for such things as typing in the Word of the Day.

A $25 gift certificate to Jack in the Box or McDonald’s normally goes for 40,000-50,000 points. Four SDSU football tickets can usually be had for less than 1,000 points.

Does anybody care about SDSU football?

Apparently not, according to the radio station promotions and the number of empty seats at an Aztec home football game.

Athletic director Jeff Schemmel would have you believe that his department – and especially the football program – is able to carry its own financial weight.

If that’s so, then why does President Stephen Weber keep borrowing from a “one-time fund” to give millions to the athletic department?

The Aztecs conclude their season Saturday at home against No. 19 Brigham Young. Unless there are thousands of Mormons in the stands supporting BYU, expect another virtually empty stadium.

This week’s predictions:

BYU 38, Aztecs 20

Chargers 20, Kansas City 17

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Union-Tribune can't hide its 'business deal'

What’s the big secret behind the “business deal” between the San Diego Union-Tribune and radio station XTRA Sports 1360 AM?

The Union-Tribune has its sportswriters on a daily (Monday-Friday) show from 10 am-noon, but here’s what you won’t read about in the supposedly tell-all Union-Tribune:

The newspaper is paying $1,000 an hour to have its sportswriters on The Sports Page with Josh Rosenberg. As part of the deal, the Union-Tribune is selling ads for the show.

Also, the sportswriters on the show do not receive any compensation for their time. That’s sure to build morale in the already-deteriorating newspaper business.

The next time you hear (or see) the Union-Tribune collectively beating its chest for thinking it blows the whistle on others, just ask why the paper doesn’t blow the whistle on itself.

This “business deal” is an example of the U-T thinking it is above the rules it sets for others.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Chargers will clinch AFC West on Christmas Eve

As poorly as they have played much of this season, the Chargers will clinch the AFC West by beating Denver on Christmas Eve.

Neither team has an overly difficult schedule between now and then … but both are capable of losing to anybody.

The Chargers (6-5) travel to Kansas City and Tennessee the next two weeks before hosting Detroit and Denver back-to-back.

The Broncos (5-6) travel to Oakland, host Kansas City, then are at Houston prior to meeting the Chargers.

When the Chargers and Broncos meet on Christmas Eve (Monday night) in San Diego, they will likely be tied or the Chargers will have a one-game lead.

Since the Chargers already beat Denver earlier this year, they would own the tiebreaker over the Broncos with a second win.

In Sunday’s 32-14 win over a hapless Baltimore Ravens’ team, at least the Chargers showed a little bit of their 2006 form.

Philip Rivers didn’t turn the ball over, Antonio Gates caught two TD passes and LaDainian Tomlinson surpassed 10,000 career rushing yards.

The defense also showed its old tendency with four sacks.

Although this Sunday’s game at Kansas City (4-7) may seem like a lock, two things must be taken into consideration.

The Chargers are just 1-4 on the road, and they suffered their only regular-season home loss in two years back in September against the Chiefs.

With this team, nothing can be taken for granted.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Chargers doing OK in spite of selves

At one time, the next four weeks looked very difficult on the Chargers’ schedule:

Baltimore; at Kansas City; at Tennessee; Detroit.

All of a sudden, the schedule does not look quite as imposing.

Baltimore comes here Sunday on a four-game losing streak. Kansas City is out of running backs, among other things.

Tennessee has lost two straight. Detroit is a 6-5 team in a tailspin.

Of course, the biggest thing the Chargers have going against themselves is themselves.

They are the NFL’s worst offense over the last four games. They have the second worst defense in that time span.

Even so, they are 2-2 in their four games.

So it looks like – even in spite of Norv Turner, A.J. Smith and Ted Cottrell – the Chargers may be well on their way to the playoffs.

Weekend Predictions:
Chargers 23, Ravens 14

Texas Christian University 37, San Diego State 20

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Local college basketball worth watching

College basketball isn’t going to be so bad in San Diego this season.

San Diego State has its most balanced team in years. The University of San Diego is only going to get better under the great coaching of first-year mentor Bill Grier, a former assistant at West Coast Conference powerhouse Gonzaga.

Both San Diego teams are young, which is another remedy for future improvement. The Aztecs have only one senior; USD has none.

Lorrenzo Wade leads an SDSU team that is 5-0 and is 8-9 players deep in able contributors.

The Toreros (2-2) do not have any seniors. Junior center Gyno Pomare has two straight double-double games against Nevada Las Vegas and SDSU.

USD hosts the WCC postseason tournament each of the next two seasons. Don’t be surprised if the Toreros win that tournament by next year.

Coach Steve Fisher has brought the Aztecs from horrible to mediocre during his tenure on Montezuma Mesa. His team is likely looking at another NIT-type season, which is about as high as Fisher appears capable of taking this team.

But in the long run, at least local college basketball fans shouldn’t be too disappointed this season.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Chargers start pointing fingers

So now the Chargers are starting to point fingers.

Shawne Merriman and LaDainian Tomlinson are saying some guys on the team are interested in collecting paychecks; not winning.

Such was the locker room tone after Sunday’s 24-17 loss at Jacksonville.

Sure, they probably have a point with the finger-pointing.

But if they want to get directly to the point, blame team management.

A.J. Smith is the general manager whose sour personality caused the team to lose coach Marty Schottenheimer, who’s a better head coach on his worst day than Norv Turner is on his best day.

Dean Spanos is the guy who twice in 10 years couldn’t solve a coach-general manager feud. Thanks to his ultimate decision to fire Schottenheimer, the Chargers’ have taken huge steps backwards.

The sad part is that if Denver loses at home Monday night to Tennessee, the Chargers will be alone in first place in the AFC West.

This dysfunctional team deserves much worse.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Will Jaguars take bite out of Chargers?

OK, so this much we know about the Chargers:

Norv Turner is a horrible head coach.

Philip Rivers can’t pass – or hold onto the football – any more.

LaDainian Tomlinson has forgotten how to run.

But there are the positives:

Antonio Cromartie is a big-time playmaker.

Darren Sproles has suddenly remembered how to run back kicks.

The Chargers were good enough to beat the Indianapolis Colts’ junior varsity when they were missing seven injured starters.

Now come the Jacksonville Jaguars.

They may be a non-descript team, but all they do is win.

With a 6-3 record, the Jaguars should be even more potent this week when quarterback David Garrard returns from three weeks on the injury list with a high-ankle sprain.


Jaguars 23, Chargers 20

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Poinsettia Bowl: Aztecs out, Utah in?

Would you like to see San Diego State play in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl this year?

Keep dreaming.

First of all, the Aztecs (4-5) would have to win two of their final three games to become bowl eligible.

Where do you find two wins with games at Air Force (Nov. 17) and at home vs. Texas Christian University (Nov. 24) and Brigham Young (Dec. 1)?

Even if the Aztecs finish 6-6, the Poinsettia Bowl would have to choose a Mountain West Conference team with seven wins over SDSU.

The best that can be said for the Aztecs at this point is they’re on a two-game winning streak and have surpassed last year’s victory total of three.

“We’re excited to play,” SDSU coach Chuck Long said. “We have an upbeat practice tempo going. Guys are really starting to gel and really enjoy being around each other. We've had a great time with this team all year.”

But after nine years of the Mountain West Conference, they are still the conference’s only team never to appear in a bowl game during that time.

As for the Poinsettia Bowl, look for a match-up between Navy (6-4) and Utah (7-3). Navy has already accepted a bid to the game.

BYU (7-2) will win the Mountain West and go to the Las Vegas Bowl. That leaves Utah and New Mexico (7-3) as the leading contenders for the Poinsettia Bowl, but Utah has a much better “name” than the Lobos.

The Aztecs will be on the outside looking in, but what’s new?

This week’s prediction:

Air Force 27, SDSU 23

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Chargers' win is a kick

Adam Vinatieri won two Super Bowls for New England with last-second field goals.

He made a long field goal in a driving snow storm to beat Oakland in a memorable playoff game.

But he couldn’t even make a 29-yard attempt with the game on the line Sunday night as the Chargers scored an improbable 23-21 win over Vinatieri and the Indianapolis Colts.

"I should make that kick every time," Vinatieri said. "There are no good excuses. I just missed it."

There were no good excuses for the way the Chargers’ offense played, either. Quarterback Philip Rivers had arguably his worst game as a pro and the offense could muster only 50 yards in the second half after San Diego raced to a 23-0 lead by midway in the second quarter.

But who would have thought that Peyton Manning would throw a career-high six interceptions, and Vinatieri would miss a 42-yard field goal attempt as the first half expired to match his second half futility?

This game belonged to San Diego’s special teams and two special players.

Darren Sproles returned two kicks – a punt and kickoff – for touchdowns.

Antonio Cromartie, the man many thought should be returning kicks instead of Sproles, intercepted three passes in his first career start.

The Chargers have a lot to feel good about. They just beat the defending Super Bowl champs, and they lead the weak AFC West by one game over Denver and Kansas City.

Even so, the win left many with an empty feeling. They know that unless the offense starts to really pick it up, the Chargers once again won’t be playing deep into the playoffs.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Chargers facing another lost weekend?

You think the Chargers’ loss was bad enough last week at Minnesota?

Just wait until the Indianapolis Colts come to town for Sunday night’s match-up on NBC-TV.

Peyton Manning has spent a lot of time on his back in his last two games against the Chargers, but he’ll probably be spending much more time in the end zone this week.

As if San Diego’s defense wasn’t horrible enough last Sunday, it will spend this week’s entire game without injured defensive end Luis Castillo and (most likely) cornerback Quentin Jammer.


Can you smell 400-plus yards for Manning?

Offensively, the Chargers couldn’t run or pass against Minnesota (does that mean they didn’t do anything right?)

Indianapolis? It has a better defense than the Vikings.

Yes, these are the same Chargers who two years ago went into Indianapolis and spoiled the Colts’ bid for a perfect season when they were 13-0.

But there was a major difference: Motivator Marty Schottenheimer coached them in 2005; motivation-less Norv Turner is the current coach.

If San Diego State wins this weekend at Nevada Las Vegas, the Aztecs will be 4-5 on the season. The Chargers will have the same record if (when?) they lose to the Colts.

Who would’ve thought?


Colts 31, Chargers 20

SDSU 24, UNLV 21

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

USC-Texas rematch in Holiday Bowl?

Two years ago, USC and Texas played for the college football national championship.

How about a rematch this year in the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl?

It won’t be the Trojans of Matt Leinart/Reggie Bush vs. the Longhorns of Vince Young.

But it would still offer coaches Pete Carroll of USC and Mack Brown of Texas, leading two of the most heralded teams annually in college football.

Let’s face it: The Holiday Bowl is only going to get USC on a down year for the Trojans. This may be the year.

Texas was here in 2001 and 2003 for the Holiday Bowl, but the Longhorns would probably welcome a rematch of their title win over USC two years ago. (USC has never played in the game.)

The Dec. 27 Holiday Bowl matches the Pac-10 runner-up against a third selection from the Big 12.

The game could certainly match a pair of current Top 10 teams if Arizona State were to face Missouri. But let’s face it: Those teams don’t have the national appeal of USC and Texas.

Kansas and Oklahoma are other possibilities from the Big 12 if they slip late in the season. Ditto for Oregon in the Pac-10.

But all things considered, the Holiday Bowl can’t do better than a match-up of USC vs. Texas.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Charger apologists will have tough time apologizing

Boy, isn’t A.J. Smith of the Chargers the best general manager in the NFL?

Reminds you of John Wayne, doesn’t he?

Boy, Norv Turner sure can coach; can’t he?

You know, he’s going to be the next Bill Belichick and win three Super Bowls in four years with the Chargers.

Pardon me for daydreaming and being among the apologists for the Chargers.

We’ll leave that to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Joe Tutino of 1090 AM Radio and Tom Shanahan of (Thank goodness for Coach John Kentera, who went on 1090 this past week and said he wasn’t impressed with the Chargers because they had not beaten anybody this year.)

To put it more bluntly, they still haven’t. What an embarrassment Sunday’s 35-17 loss was to the Minnesota Vikings.

Did you see that awesome Chargers’ rush defense? All they did was allow rookie Adrian Peterson to rush for an NFL record 296 yards (including 253 in the second half.)

He only out-rushed LaDainian Tomlinson by 256 yards, meaning that perhaps he is about ready to surpass LT as the NFL’s most-feared runner.

Sure, Antonio Cromartie did a wonderful job for the Chargers by returning a missed field goal an NFL-record 109 yards for a touchdown before halftime. But that was supposed to give the Chargers momentum; not be their final highlight of the game.

At mid-season, the Chargers and Cincinnati Bengals may be the biggest underachievers in the NFL. Luckily for the Chargers, they are in a horrible division and are tied for first with Kansas City at 4-4.

Come next Sunday, the Indianapolis Colts come to town for a night game.

Don’t be surprised if Charger fans are again chanting "Mar-ty" for former coach Marty Schottenheimer before that game is done.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Chargers can't afford to look ahead

Sometimes, a team gets a welcomed break in its schedule.

For the Chargers, it has been consecutive games against Oakland, Houston and this Sunday at Minnesota.

Do you think the Vikings have a chance of winning? Then name five other players on the team besides running back Adrian Peterson.

Talk about a non-descript team.

The Chargers better get out of Minnesota with a victory. Their next six games are against teams over .500 in Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Baltimore, Kansas City, Tennessee and Detroit.

This week would be a great time for LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates to pile up the numbers offensively. It’s also a chance for Shawne Merriman to finally get some sacks and the secondary to further make an impact.

With what’s ahead, the Chargers better not stumble this week.


Chargers 23, Vikings 10

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Aztecs trying to make friends

San Diego State is to be lauded for donating 4,000 tickets to firefighters, police, American Red Cross, military and others who protected San Diego County during last week’s fires.

The Aztecs are also selling field level tickets for $5 to this Saturday night’s home game against Wyoming.

All told, hopefully this means the Aztecs will have more than 20,000 people actually in the stands for the game.

As much as SDSU is reaching out to the community in some ways, it still isn’t winning football games. And that’s why people are not coming, no matter what the discount.

Chuck Long is just 5-14 in his first 1 ½ seasons on Montezuma Mesa. Since he’s in the second year of a five-year contract, SDSU isn’t going to buy him out anytime soon.

This team just isn’t making an impact in the community. The Aztecs haven’t had a winning season since 1998 … and it doesn’t appear one is on the horizon.

They will make some friends this weekend with the free and discounted tickets.

But to make friends in the long run, they will need to win more than once a month.


Wyoming 27, SDSU 17