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Buy the hype (cont.)

Posted: Wednesday September 7, 2005 12:52PM; Updated: Wednesday September 7, 2005 1:56PM
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3. Meanwhile, what's up with Miami and Florida State?

Let me put it this way: College football fans are creatures of habit. We see tomahawks on a gold helmet and orange and green on a white background and think we're seeing yet another game in an unforgettable series between Miami and Florida State. But nobody tuning into the Monday night fiasco between these once-great powers was going to think they were watching any of the epic '90s games on ESPN Classic.

Miami came into the game as a top-10 team, Florida State was in the top 15. Not a bloody chance of that. Monday's game was an embarrassment. Miami quarterback Kyle Wright looked competent at times and tight end Greg Olson looks like the goods, but the Hurricanes' offensive line couldn't have protected Mike Vick. And there is no excuse for botching two field-goal snaps, whether it's September or December. Meanwhile, Florida State's defensive front seven seems to have some athletes, but quarterback Drew Weatherford is scarcely an upgrade from Chris Rix and Wyatt Sexton and fellow redshirt freshman Xavier Lee didn't get enough of a chance to show he's better.


I realize recruiting experts insist Miami and FSU are getting as many blue-chip recruits as ever. Maybe the gurus are creatures of habit, too, and they assume a kid who signs with either faded power must be good. If the players are as good as ever, then Bobby Bowden and Larry Coker need help. Neither of these teams, based on Monday night, is a title contender.

4. Do you really think Lance Armstrong will launch a comeback just to spite L'Equipe?

Maybe he will, maybe he won't. I am appalled by the American media's rush to shoot the messenger in this affair and its blind assumption Armstrong would never cheat. Armstrong beat a deadly cancer and trained hard while revolutionizing the Tour de France. That doesn't mean he didn't use any performance-enhancing substances.

I'll stick with what I said last week: I don't fully trust any great performance. Not Barry Bonds'. Not Justin Gatlin's. Not Lance Armstrong's. Anyone who does has been asleep for five years.

5. The impact of Hurricane Katrina towers over anything sports-related. But sports are affected, right?

I wrote in this week's Sports Illustrated about an 18-year-old high school football player from outside New Orleans named Jamarr Thompson. Thompson's family fled their home in LaPlace, La., in St. John the Baptist Parish, the day before Katrina's arrival. The youngest of his older sisters is a pre-med student who was attending Xavier University in New Orleans. The family left 13 people and three vehicles strong and landed at a church shelter south of Shreveport, La. Six days after leaving New Orleans, Thompson suited up and played for Evangel Christian High School. He's a recruit and he needs a good senior year, but I can't imagine where the young man's head was after a week such as that. And he's just a tiny snapshot.

In reporting that story, I will remember talking to Jamarr's mother, Jacquelyn. I text messaged her 504 area-code phone and she called me back. She explained they always evacuate. I asked her why and she said, "You can always go back.''