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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Weekend from Hell II: Why am I tortured?

It began and ended with coaches fighting for their jobs, these two days from hell. Never has a weekend held so much promise that four of my teams would all be playing significant matchups in a 30-hour period.

Rich Rodriguez led an underprepared Michigan football team to the Gator Bowl, potentially with his job on the line. Although athletic director Dave Brandon may have decided Rodriguez' fate after a resounding loss to Ohio State, if not sooner, it would not have hurt for the Wolverines to beat nationally-ranked Mississippi State to end the season.

Alas, an incompetent, if not apathetic defense allowed more points (52) than the school's basketball team has done on three occasions this year. Here's to hoping the Jim Harbaugh wants to coach at his alma mater.

With the Michigan game scheduled for 1:30 p.m., I was elated that the Winter Classic was delayed until 8 p.m. due to rain. This meant no choosing between my favorite college football team and my favorite hockey team – the Pittsburgh Penguins.

As it turns out, I would have much rather they played simultaneously. Watching Michigan get trounced before the Penguins failed to score more than once on what seemed like 60 shots on goal (actually 33) was like have my wisdom teeth removed then going back a couple hours later for a root canal. Couldn't they just get it over with?

No reason to worry, though, as the Mount's men's basketball team played a marquee matchup at Virginia Tech and the Philadelphia Eagles hosted their bitter rival, the Dallas Cowboys, in a season finale – both on Sunday.

It was only two years ago that I watched as the Mount squandered a six-point lead with two minutes remaining in Blacksburg. Surely this season we could come just as close. But the more I checked the score, the more I believed that there must be a malfunction with my iPhone application.

Halftime score: Virginia Tech 50, Mount St. Mary's 11.

The Mount had four players not make a single shot from the floor on four or more attempts. As a team, the Mountaineers shot 17 percent while the Hokies made a smooth 69.2 percent of theirs. It's not the way I envisioned Jean Cajou making his season debut. And it's certainly not a team I would have recognized had I been watching.

I'll leave it at that, though I will point out that there are still 16 Northeast Conference games remaining, and the Mount is 1–1, a game out of first. There's no time to waste, though, as St. Francis (Pa.), who beat the Mount once last year, visits Thursday, before Robert Morris goes to Emmitsburg on Saturday. Can you say defining games?

My final hope, then, laid in the hands of the Philadelphia Eagles. Although Jason Garrett had been unofficially named Cowboys head coach before the game by everyone but the organization, he certainly wanted to beat the Eagles. And Kevin Kolb certainly wanted to prove that he could win, too, even with a slew of second string skill players around him.

But just like Mike Vick the week before, a sack-fumble for a touchdown by the defense tied the game at 7, and sparked an upset. Not as key, though, as the Eagles failure to execute in the red zone, or stop Dallas from staging a late-game touchdown drive to go ahead 14–13, even with the refs botching the spot on a Jason Witten reception that should have been ruled a first down.

So Michigan could very possibly begin a search for a new coach within 24 hours, the Penguins are suddenly not so hot after winning 12 in a row, the Mount has zero momentum going into conference play, and likewise for the Eagles heading into the playoffs.

This Saturday, the Mount, again, hosts Robert Morris. The same day, if not Sunday, the Eagles host the Packers. And wouldn't you know, Michigan's season is over and the Penguins don't play either day. So already it can only hurt half as much as it does right now.

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