The Chat House With Michael Wilbon: The BCS shake out, Redskins, Tiger Woods, Wizards, NBA and more

Michael Wilbon
Washington Post Sports Columnist
Monday, December 7, 2009; 1:15 PM

Welcome to another edition of The Chat House, where Post columnist Michael Wilbon was online Mon., Dec. 7 to discuss the Redskins, the BCS's bowl shake up, the NFL, the Wizards, the NBA season, World Wide Wilbon (which is Not Just Another Sorry, No-Account Sports Blog) the latest sports news, his columns and anything else on your mind.

A transcript follows

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Suburban Cincinnati, Ohio: Michael,

I know you know more than a little about the University of Virginia, since your wife is an active and significant alumna.

I was sorry to see Al Groh leave; I felt he is a good coach who had some "circumstances" (to use his favorite word) run against him. What is your opinion of Mike London as the new coach? He won't have to commute more tban 70 miles to his new job from Richmond? I have to say the search had none of the drama and suspense that hiring Tony Bennett for basketball had.

Michael Wilbon: Hi Everybody ... We've got soooo much to get to...Redskins-Saints, BCS, other NFL stuff, and even the University of Virginia hiring a new football coach...We'll start there, with Mike London. He seems to have all the credentials and then some. The testimonials coming from players he coached, like Chris Long, are impressive. After excelling as a position coach and coordinator he went and won a championship, for crying out loud, at the University of Richmond ... Seems like a very smart hire, right? Seems like. Knows the recruiting ground. Coached at another school where kids expect to graduate...not just graduate but are academically inclined even more than they are athletically inclined...I like it from where we are now...I hope it works. Truth is, I root for schools that are (more or less) like my own. I root for Stanford, Vanderbilt, Duke, Rice, Virginia, Cal ... so I'm more curious about a hire at Virginia than I would be at most of the other colleges and universities.


Silver Spring, Md.: OK, what's the deal with Jason Campbell? I think he is getting better and I think it would be a shame to lose him and then start up again with a seems that "great" college QB's are a crap shoot ... with Jason with a decent amount of time and the right people he can win. Remember Mark Rypien?

Michael Wilbon: Yes, and I agree with you totally. The culture now doesn't believe in patience, in working and getting better (which is true of both the Redskins and Campbell), of things taking time to get right, of sticking with a group of people and working with them over a reasonable period of time (which doesn't mean five games or in basketball 15 games). I think Campbell should be the QB next year, too, but that of course depends on the new coach and his system of offense.


Chevy Chase, Md.: So after seeing the BCS shake out, I must say I am quite disappointed (and laughed at the television) that the Fiesta bowl is TCU v Boise State. This is not a case of my dislike for either team nor is it the not wanting to see each team play but rather I really wish I could see these teams (especially TCU) up against Florida or one of the teams from a so-called "Big League" conference.

Its almost like having two teams from small conferences (not to say anything about the teams performance) play each other in the opening rounds of March Madness.

What are your thoughts here?

Michael Wilbon: My thoughts are identical to yours, that it's understandable and perhaps even really smart that the Fiesta Bowl chose the two schools it chose, but that we have ever right to be disappointed to not see Florida vs TCU or Florida vs. Boise State. And once again the bowl season is a complete disapopintment (other than me seeing my alma mater, Northwestern, play on New Year's Day against Auburn). Think of how great a playoff would be now with the top eight teams...The first-round games would Alabama vs. Ohio State, Texas vs. Oregon, Cincy vs. Boise State and TCU vs. Florida. ARE YOU KIDDING ME! How great would that be. We could be looking at national semifinals of Alabama vs. Oregon and Boise vs. Florida ... How great would this be? The people in the College Football Cartel are cheating us again for their own financial gain, and it stinks.


Fairfax, Va.: NBA Question,

Is Greg Oden the most unlucky guy ever?

I seriously feel sorry for that kid.

Michael Wilbon: Yes. He has to be the unluckiest guy since Bill Walton when it comes to NBA players and health, or lack thereof. It's so, so sad to me that it seems Oden has no real prospects of a career. It's even worse than Yao Ming, who at least is able to hold up for 75 games a year quite a few times. I think Portland, if Oden has continued on his path to become a 14 pionts, 11-rebound a night player, could have helped Portland win the NBA Championship in, oh, 2012 or 2013. Now, I just hope the kid can play five or six healthy seasons ...


Suffering D.C. Fan: It seems like the Wizards are doing their Redskins underachievement role and Flip Saunders appears as befuddled as Jim Zorn.

Other than the Caps, is D.C. the worst city in the U.S. for sports? Think about it:







DC United

Have you ever seen a city with so many losing teams at once?

Michael Wilbon: Yeah, many. Cleveland, Chicago at certain times. Yeah. Stop the pity party. What's bad about Georgetown? They're ranked. Are you kidding?


Washington, D.C.: It seems as if some people are relishing the chance to bash Tiger Woods on his alleged infidelity, as if he was THE MOST HORRIBLE husband and father in the past 25 years. I wonder why these same people didn't rake someone like Rick Pitino over the coals for his "transgressions"? Or Tom Brady for his "transgressions"? Thoughts?

Michael Wilbon: People have their agendas that are driven by whatever personal prejudices they have. Who knows? I try to ignore most of this talk. Surely, Tiger Woods has sold his image for hundreds of millions and that allows people to hold him to a higher standard of personal behavior if they want. But we won't go into all of my theories, and I have several and they speak to personal prejudices people have that are pretty transparent if you care to look. Millions of people are guilty of awful, awful personal behavior, and while this doesn't excuse whatever Tiger did, it doesn't excuse what THEY did and still do either. My point is that Tiger's behavior is no worse, no better than many, many others, quite a few of whom are athletes and coaches and politicians and actors and people who also make a living benefiting from the public's trust.


Sterling, Va.: Just a comment. Thanks for the support for the academically good but sometimes athletically challenged schools. I went to both Rice and Vandy, so I thought it might be a sign of the apocalypse when they both won bowl games last year but the world has returned to normal this year. But still I also root for the Duke's, Northwestern's, Stanford's, etc. of the country whenever I get the chance. (U-Va. is a special case because my brother went to Va. Tech but I'm good with them winning every game except when they play Tech.) Again, we appreciate your support.

Michael Wilbon: Thank you ... The big schools with all the athletic history have their supporters. We need to expand our little club.


Is G. Oden the most unlucky guy ever? : Not if you ask Sam Bowie.

Michael Wilbon: Yeaaaaah, I'm afraid you're right. Yep. Bowie's in that club, isn't he. Walton, Bowie, Oden. And what do they all have in common? The Portland Trailblazers, boys and girls. Wow. What did the Blazers do to offend the Gods of Basketball?


Exeter, NH: Mike, I wanted to get your take on all the bowl games are come after New Years Day. I used to love that I could flip between 3 games on New Years Day. I find that I usually have little interest in the games after Jan 1.

Michael Wilbon: I counted this morning and found there are 14 games played on or after January 1. That's unreal. Used to be four -- Rose, Orange, Cotton and Sugar--until the Fiesta elbowed its way into the lineup with a Penn State-Miami game that brought rebellion to the college football bowl system. And now we've got 14 bowl games on or after New Year's Day! It's insane ...


Winston Salem, N.C.: Did you see the look on Zorn's face when Suisham pushed the kick? Complete disbelief. I would have paid to see him get fired up. When can we see him get into a player's face? When can we see him throw his headset or even show an ounce of emotion in a post-game press conference?

Michael Wilbon: It's not who he is. I don't know that he's capable of that. He seems totally Pacific Northwest-at-peace-with-nature.


Ballston, Va.: Are Cooley and Portis team cancers. The Redskins seem to playing a lot better since Cooley and Portis went out.

Michael Wilbon: Team cancers? I don't want to say that. Are they better without the two of them? Apparently so.


Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.: You think the past month or so of 'Skins games (even though they're losing, they're showing a bunch of fight, gosh darn it) will have Danny thinking that he and Vinny are only 1-2 more players away from going to the Super Bowl? Or do you think Danny will finally give in, and blow it up and start over, the correct (Philly/Indy/New England) way?

Michael Wilbon: I think he'll try and hire ONE MORE celebrity coach and do it the exact same way. So, yes. Celebrity coach, a couple of new players. Bang. They win the off-season Super Bowl acquisition contest and go from there to ... 7-9. Seen the movie already.


Bradley Beach, NJ: All of a sudden, the "W" I had next to the Raiders game on the Skins schedule looks a little shaky. Is Jemarcus Russell one of the biggest busts ever?

Michael Wilbon: Oh yes. The biggest problem is he didn't seem to get ANY better. If Gradkowski had played the entire season what would Oakland's record be. Can the Redskins go all the way out to Oakland and beat the Raiders now that they feel so much differently and so much better about themselves? I don't see it. Then again, I'm not sure why you had it as a "W" in the first place.


Scottsdale, Arizona: Wilbon,

I disagree with you about the TCU-Boise State match-up in the Fiesta Bowl. The alternative was for both teams to play teams ranked lower than they are -- how would playing lesser ranked opponents prove anything? TCU already played and won at Virginia, at Clemson, and at BYU. And undefeated Boise State makes sense for them. Boise State really didn't play anyone after their first home game of the season against Oregon. They're lucky to be in a bowl the caliber of the Fiesta Bowl. And they should consider using some of the bowl money to get a real football field. One that doesn't match their uniforms. It's a little hard to take the blue camouflage seriously, especially on televised games.

Michael Wilbon: It's a little hard to take you seriously. What angered you so much on a Monday morning. I know it's raining (or supposed to) in Scottsdale today, tomorrow. Is that it? When I'm there and it rains, even for a day, I'm ticked ... I mean straight-up angry. Hey, don't rain on our parade here!


Sacramento, Calif.: Since you opened the door to Duke football, as an alum, I was completely for scraping the team. However, I have been happily surprised by new(er) coach David Cutcliffe.

Regardless, how would you feel if schools that had unique recruiting "challenges" formed their own football conference?

We could have Duke, Northwestern, Stanford, Navy, Army, Air Force, Rice, and Vanderbilt? (Perhaps Notre Dame if they were realistic about football...). Excluding the money, wouldn't it be better for these schools to be in a conference where they could consistently compete?

Michael Wilbon: Yes, and I agree. I have for awhile. Look, I LOVE the Big Ten. I grew up with the conference before I went to Northwestern...I don't want to see us leave it. It makes sense geographically, makes sense in terms of what midwestern people feel and believe in. But if we're talking about being completely selfish and looking only to the interests of the schools, yes I could make a great case for those schools making up one league. My athletic director, Jim Phillips, will cringe if he hears of this. I could be put on probation for awhile. But that list of schools does have a certain romance to it, right?


Washington, D.C.: I think Jason Campbell is backup material, but man he was great yesterday. Great! He deserved that win, if just to shut up jerks like me.

Michael Wilbon: So shut up already!


Or Tom Brady for his "transgressions"?: What are you talking about? The child he had with his ex-girlfriend before getting married? Is that a transgression? Or did he cheat on his Giselle for 31 months with a cocktail waitress?

Michael Wilbon: Are you making suggestions? Defending? Explaining? Excusing?


Ref: Tiger vs. Pitino: There's a difference between the press coverage between Pitino and Woods. For Pitino, it was only reported in the sports world (, Woods press coverage includes this PLUS all the tabliods that non-sports people follow. I would actually say and were tougher on Pitino than Woods. It seems that a lot of sports outlets are almost under-reporting Woods.

Michael Wilbon: What are you reading? Every sports columnist in the world has written about this. Me? Twice. Sally Jenins. That's three columns in The Washington Post sports section alone. Web-sites. Larry King had sportswriters on...Rick Riley and Christine Brennan, my friends, I know were on. All talking about Tiger. What?


Gods of Basketball: Anybody who drafts Bowie over Jordan and Oden over Durant deserves what they get. And Walton's injury helped the Bullets win that championship, right?

Michael Wilbon: Well, if you presume Portland would have made it back to the Finals, then yes. Although, Seattle and Portland had such a rivalry back then. I'm not sure I'd say that. Jack Sikma could probably play Walton better than just about anybody back then except Kareem ... Remember, Moses wasn't yet Moses. And Dennis Johnson, nobody knew, was a Hall of Fame-caliber player.


BCS Bummer: For as much football as I watch during the regular season, I think I'll probably only watch a handful of the bowl games, and probably NOT the "national championship." The standards: those with a personal rooting interest (i.e. your Northwestern - Auburn), those that look like neat matchups (Oregon - Ohio State, Oregon State - BYU), those with great non "big six' schools (Boise - TCU), and those with bodacious talent. Nebraska's defense. I'm sure I'll peek at others ... but there are always ESPN highlights. The BCS can "crown" someone as champion, but there will be at least a few schools that can make a claim ... and I'll have respect for them all.

Michael Wilbon: Very fair point ... thanks for making it.


What did the Blazers do to offend the Gods of Basketball? : Maybe it's Portland's doctors rather than any godly influence. Didn't Halberstam touch on this in his book?

Michael Wilbon: Yeah, it's time to go back and re-read at least parts of the greatest sports book ever written: "Breaks of the Game" by David Halberstam. If you love basketball, or even the way teams function, read it. It's pure genius.


Wait a sec, while I tie my shoe: Care to explain how the Bulls let me hold the ball while I tied my tie and brushed the dust off my shoulders?

Michael Wilbon: Oh, the LeBron dancing while the Cavs beat the Bulls was far, far, far worse. If we're in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and LeBron had done that to any team -- ANY TEAM -- he would have been slammed to the floor the very next time he went down the lane. No exceptions. I totally understand that LeBron thinks he owns the Bulls, because he does. But if you're the Bulls you can't let him dance on you. Jokim Noah ain't exactly the right guy to deliver the message because all he did in college was clown ... but he did the right thing. The Bulls don't have an enforcer, but this is Exhibit A as to why you need one. You don't let anybody in sports dance on you, and a division opponent at that...


Ref Scandal: I know with your close ties to the NBA, this must be a tough story. As the NBA helps put food on your plate. However what do you have to say about the FBI's finding that the convicted felon was correct that the NBA refs are so horrid, the games are pretty much determined before anyone steps on the floor. Us college fans have been saying this for years.

Michael Wilbon: You must not have read--nor would I expect you to have -- the columns I wrote from Sacramento on the Lakers-Kings Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals, the night the game was played, which I covered, in 2002. Google up, man man. Read what i wrote and then tell me how reticent (which is what you're implying) I was to rip the NBA for its officiating. Find it and submit a question next week...There were back-to-back columns. Get 'em both. And you can find the follow-ups if you want.


AFC: Will the Patriots or the Steelers make the playoffs? I know the Patriots are rebuilding their defense, but what's the deal with the Steelers? They basically have the same team as last year.

Michael Wilbon: Steelers no (look at their schedule). Patriots, yes. I think the Pats will make the playoffs by winning the division. But both are struggling, clearly. I'm surprised more at the Steelers than the Patriots. But I think the Pats will rebound and get this done. Okay, gotta run and study up for PTI ... Thanks everybody ... See you next week.


Re: Tiger vs. Pitino: Okay, I see your point. I stand corrected.

Michael Wilbon: Oooh, you mean I sorta won that one? Thanks. MW


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