washingtonpost.com
The Chat House with Michael Wilbon

Michael Wilbon
Washington Post Sports Columnist
Tuesday, September 7, 2010; 1:30 PM

Welcome to another edition of The Chat House, where Post columnist Michael Wilbon was online Tuesday, Sept. 7, at 1:30 p.m. ET to discuss the Redskins, Nats, all the latest sports news and his recent columns. 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.

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Bethesda: Thursday: Vikings-Saints

Saturday: Penn State-Alabama, Notre Dame-Michigan, Miami-Ohio State, Florida State-Oklahoma

Sunday: Packers-Eagles, Patriots-Bengals, Cowboys-Redskins, Mens US Open Final

Monday: Ravens-Jets

Next week will be a hectic one for divorce lawyers!

Michael Wilbon: Hi Everybody...hope you all had a great Labor Day and start to the new football season. This is such a great time of year for sports fans. Pennant races are bubbling (sorry Padres fans), the U.S. Open is in full swing up in New York. Tiger has made things interesting again in professional golf, and of course there's football, college and pro. I was neck deep in it this weekend because my alma mater began the season and won a game on the road, in Vanderbilt, against an SEC team...Okay, Vandy ain't Alabama...then again, Alabama is going to Duke for its only non-conference road game, so I feel great. Maryland folks ought to feel good about holding off Navy...I spent the holiday weekend in the midwest where Notre Dame and Michigan were HUGE stories, but got back here to D.C. in time last night to watch three-quarters of Boise State-Virginia Tech, which was a road game for Boise realistically. Even if the game was sloppy at times, the theatre was fabulous...And since I have Boise going to the BCS Championship game I was thrilled to see them go down the field and win it at the end...Seems Boise always wins its big games; seems Va. Tech always loses its big games, though I thought the Hokies played pretty darned well to come back from 17-down...As for this weekend, the prime time games (Saints-Vikes, Redskins-Cowboys, Ravens-Jets) are simply A-list...I've told my wife I cannot be reached for comment fromm Saturday afternoon at noon until Monday at around 1 a.m.

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Arlington, Va.: Buck Showalter is ridiculously good, how was this guy on the shelf at ESPN for so long?

Michael Wilbon: He had some successes and some failures as a manager. I've been told by some coaches/managers that they get better after some time away from the bench/dugout/sideline but while they're still connected. Sometimes they get better, developing some new perspective with a little bit of distance. This wouldn't be the first time a guy has gone to the booth/studio and come back even better.

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Alexandria, VA: Being the worst WR group in the NFC East, why did Allen and Shanahan not go hard after TJ Houshmandzadeh?

Michael Wilbon: No idea. Maybe they think their receivers are going to be better than most folks are predicting. I would have, for sure. But I think Mike Shanahan has earned the benefit of the doubt when it comes to putting together an offensive football team. BUT, if this receiver corp comes up short the questions will have been legit.

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Rob Dibble: Hi Michael, regarding Rob Dibble, you said: "People like to hear Rob Dibble." I was wondering how often you watch Nats broadcasts, because I was shocked that you think people like him. I don't think the guy should have been fired for the Strasburg comment, but Dibble is roundly considered somewhere between awful and incredibly awful by every Nats fan I've encountered.

Michael Wilbon: I don't watch many Nats games at all; I was going on the reactions to him I'd gotten from some friends who watch a lot of games and liked Dibble quite a bit. Where did I even say that, on Tony's show? I was only passing on comments from people who didn't like him being fired, so I don't know the overall reaction from Nats fans...I can sample some more and see what we come up with.

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Blacksburg, VA: With football back, a safety question for you. Correct me if I'm wrong, but you are vocal about your opinion that the protection of the quarterback has taken away a lot from the game, the hard hits etc. With research ever mounting that these hard hits cause further brain damage later in one's life, how can we expect any different but using penalties to protect players on offense (who are getting hit)?

Michael Wilbon: I have been especially critical of football for protecting the QB to levels I find absurd. I'm fine with penalizing hits to the head...But what about hits to the strike zone, the area between the knees and shoulders? You want the QB to not be hit at all, then it's not football. If all you want to see if the QB throw the ball without being hit then you can go to a local college and ask the head coach to let you watch 7-on-7 passing drills. I'm not interested in that at all. It's not football. Football is dangerous, by design, and the QB should not be expempt from the mayhem. Hits to the head can be legislated out, but hits put on the QB should not be.

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Props to Durant: All the other big stars of the NBA opted not to play in the FIBA World Championships. I have no idea what Durant could gain professionally from this. If anything it could hurt him if he's tired come playoff time. I guess he still has this childish notion of pride for playing for your country. The more I see him the more I like him.

Michael Wilbon: Kevin Durant's stock has gone up more than any other athlete in team sports in America, in my opinion, over the last six months. he does everything, so far anyway, quietly and with restraint, never looks for fanfare. I, like you, am impressed to no end. I would NOT, however, conclude that he'll get nothing fromm this professionally. He's still only played two NBA seasons. I think he and D. Rose and Rudy Gay, among others, will be HUGE winners, in that the practices and games of international competition will help them immeasurably...I acknowledge your point about getting tired late in the season, but remember, Durant and Rose are, what, 21 years old? He'll they're five years younger than LeBron...I don't know that fatigue will be a question for them. If Chauncey Billups was playing big minutes HE'D be tired come mid-season, but those guys are pups.

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Baltimore MD: Mike: Were you surprised that the Cards cut Matt Leinart? Does he simply not have all the tools to succeed as a starting QB? Thanks.

Michael Wilbon: No, I wasn't surprised becuase since I spend a little bit of time with several Cardinals players I knew that team officials there DO NOT think he has all the tools to succeed as a starting QB. And if you read some of the stories coming out of Arizona, you'll see that few people there have a whole lot good to say about Leinart's time there or what they think of his prospects of becoming a player of impact in the NFL. It's a shame because he was such a great college player. I like him tons personally, but I find it difficult to refute the criticism coming out of Arizona. The Cardinals, by the way, have no QB. They've gone from a future HOF in Curt Warner to nothing, to backups. Wow.

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Arlington: Think Albert Haynesworth will be a Redskin next Sunday?

Michael Wilbon: No. The writing seems to be on the wall, doesn't it? And the Redskins need to stop with these stupid shenanigans (no pun intended)...Either dump him or play him and shut up. It's past the time to make a point, which was already made over and over. If you think he can play stop trying to humiliate him and put him on the field. If you think he's a load and now a waste of time, get rid of him. I'm tired of the dance and the drama, which is what the Redskins, regardless of who has been calling the shots, have been about exclusively over the last 10 years...Drama.

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Still not feeling the Redskins: Admittedly, I'm not a die hard fan, but I live in the area and get to see them enough to know what's going on. And I don't see how this adds up to a winning team. Better offensive line but a weak receiving corps and backfield puts too much pressure on a QB who has trouble staying healthy. Defensively, they could be very good but that may not be enough to pick up for the offense. Special teams also look average. I think Haynesworth is a time bomb waiting to go off.

If somebody other than a former Super Bowl winning coach like Shanahan was putting this together, I'd think they were borderline clueless, but I respect his accomplishments. Maybe too much so, because he wasn't as effective as a coach with more control over player personnel, such as he has now.

I think they're lucky to get to .500 this year. Tell me why I'm wrong, Mike. Thanks.

Michael Wilbon: I can't tell you that you're wrong. In fact, you probably offer the most reasoned analysis I've seen. Very nice. I, too, have given Shanahan the benefit of the doubt...because he's earned it. I've been thinking for the last couple of weeks that if the Redskins stop goofing around with Haynesworth and get on with their business they can go 9-7, maybe evenn 10-6 in what I think is a very, very weak NFC East. The Eagles have a new and unproven QB, the Giants are trying to prove they're the 5-0 team that started last season and not the 3-8 team that finished it...

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Falls Church, VA: If the Redskins are all about drama, wouldn't they be the perfect candidate for Hard Knocks?

Michael Wilbon: Yes. Oh yes...Except, does anybody outside Washington care about the Redskins? I'd guess no...

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DC: Why did so many stars decide not to play in the FIBA World Championships? Wouldn't David Stern want them to participate? It's not as if you can grow the sport by only playing domestic league games. Why not have less NBA games and more international ones where not only nations play against each other but also various teams, much like football (aka soccer).

Michael Wilbon: I LOVE the second part of your suggestion. LOVE it...I don't, however, think that the U.S. would be well served this summer by having Wade,LeBron,Kobe, whoemever playing in the world championships instead of the guys we have their now, who WANT to play and who are passionate about it. Everybody doesn't have to play in every tournament. But I like very much your suggestion about having club teams play one another, internationally. I think it falls on deaf ears (not mine) but I like it.

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FIFA: In watching some of the games, it looks as though the US team could have real trouble going against teams that (a) aren't intimidated and (b) actually play like a team. All I saw in about three halves of watching was a lot of 1-on-1 and waiting for a bailout call that isn't coming.

Michael Wilbon: I think Spain can beat the U.S. team, even without Pau Gasol. That other Gasol (marc) is pretty impressive and that's a real team that's been playing together for awhile...I'd like to see that game, really.

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DC: Don't you just love it how all of the Boise State haters love to criticize their schedule, but NEVER acknowledge how nobody wants to play them?

Michael Wilbon: And who, exactly, is hating the Boise State schedule? Let's be honest, we're talking mostly about SEC people, and their best team, Alabama, plays one non-conference road game this season, at DUKE! Their second-best team, Florida, plays one non-conference road game this season,

at Florida State...Isn't that game state mandated or something? These schools play seven and eight home games all the time. So Boise had the guts, at least, to go 2,000 miles from home and play a road game against a team that's ranked in the top 10 or just outside of it...Boise's criticis, especially after last night, can shut up.

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Two questions: First, what tools was/is Leinart lacking to be a starter in the NFL? Was he a "system-QB" for Carroll that only looked good because USC is neck-deep in talent? Second, Boise beat VT. What's your take on the championship talk, aside from it being premature?

Michael Wilbon: It is premature. It's September. Why do we need to talk BCS title game now? Can we just enjoy the regular season. Boise has to play Oregon State, which began the season ranked in the top 15 in most polls, and a conference season where everybody will gun for the Broncos. I don't need to fast-forward the season to January. Why? We've got Michigan-Notre Dame this week, Alabama-Penn State...There's good stuff on the table. Stop talking about January, for crying out loud. AND, the players and coaches in that Cardinals building simply don't think Leinart has what it takes to be a QB of impact in THEIR system...Wonder why Pete Carroll didn't jump at getting him, given the Seahawks don't exactly have a young Jim Zorn under center.

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Nick Saban: People seem to hate this guy. As a Tide fan, I LOVE him. I've never seen a guy so adept at recruiting in my life. Heck, the Tide's 3rd string RB would be a star on almost any other top 25 team. So, my question is this: will Saban eventually break my heart and leave Alabama on terrible terms, like he has everywhere else?

Michael Wilbon: Saban is a GREAT coach. Not a good one, not a very good one. He's GREAT. Maybe the best in the country today. He'll also lie to your face, sneer, a hypocite...I wouldn't want to have dinner with him because he simply, to me, seems icky...but he's a tremendous coach and yes, he'll likely break your heart to run off and win somewhere else where he's paid more money, which seems fair. He doesn't cheat anybody where he works. They get his best and it's damn good...

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re: Showalter: He is also known as a guy very adept at developing young talent. As a franchise the O's young talent has almost entirely fallen flat the last 5 years, so Showalter's presence is a MUCH needed change. We're already seeing the difference.

Michael Wilbon: Okay...

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Cubs Fan in Arlington: I'm right with you about Boise State - couldn't stop laffin' last night - the BCS cartel must be beyond miffed.

That said - who you got for Cubs manager next year? Is Ryne going to be "brought up"?

Michael Wilbon: I'm fine with Ryno...but you think we'd turn up our nose at Joe Torre? We wouldn't.

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Re: Safety: I agree with you that it is taking a lot out of football, and it is tough to watch. I just have trouble standing up for the right of defenders to hit the QB hard, when most of the head injuries that occur are a result of the QB's head hitting the ground, not a defender hitting a QB's head. In other words, "Strike zone" hits are deleterious to a player as well.

Michael Wilbon: Then play or watch golf...or basketball...or something else. You want flags on their waists? RBs hit the ground, too, but you're not crusading for them. DBs hit the ground, too, right? Their heads aren't to be worried about, just QBs? See, that's the part I don't get. And again, it's football. That's why I'm banning it in my house, in terms of participation at the organized level...These are serious injuries, and I don't think the general fandom cares or is even paying attention. But if you're going to tell the defense its players can't it, then it's another sport...and perhaps that's exactly where we're going...I fear that anyway, that what we're learning about football and head injuries means football is going to gradually diminish in America...Imagine how much more we'll know in 10 years about head injuries than we know now...It's scary.

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Dibble: As a Nats fan, who watches a solid percentage of the games, or at least has them on as background noise, I have to say I couldn't stand Dibble.

He made me roll my eyes numerous times. I did not mind his homer-stuff, that is fine with me.

I did not mind his sexist rant about female fans behind home plate-I'm a woman and used to it.

What I could not stand is how uninformed he was.....he would say things that were untrue, wrong, uninformed and he would sound so aggrieved by it all....like the world was against him. I remember one time he got so annoyed that the trivia question of the night had a answer that dated back to the '60 or 70s. He of course was wrong, and was annoyed and outraged when the answer came up "come on! You gotta give us stuff from this decade!" - something close to that type of response.

I started listening to the games on the radio just like I had to in 2005. So anyway, I'm glad he is gone, would have preferred he just was not re-upped for next year, but he went too far with his Strasburg comments. So alls well for this fan.

Michael Wilbon: Okay, thanks for that. Happy to entertain opposing viewpoints.

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DC: Mike,

I go to around 20 nats games a year, and watch at least part of most others on TV if I'm home. I liked Dibble. He's the sort of announcer that makes losing baseball a bit better.

Michael Wilbon: Thank you...

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Dallas, TX: Your boy, Donavan F. McNabb, ESQ, says that Skins can't win without Big Albert. Do you concur?

Michael Wilbon: I thought he played pretty well...when he was out there. I wouldn't get rid of him...but it looks like that's where this is going.

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washington, dc: Mike,

If, as possible Boise and TCU are the only undefeated teams at the end of the season and ranked 1 and 2, and the NCAA is forced to put them together again, but this time in the BCS championship, will that be the tipping point for football playoffs?

Michael Wilbon: Oh yes...And don't think I'm not, as a playoff proponent, rooting for that. I'd love to see TCU and Boise run the table, Alabama and Florida and even Ohio State (I am a Big Ten guy, remember) all lose...In other words, I'd love to see TCU and Boise as the only undefeateds with a string of blowout victories to their credit. You watch the big conference commissioners scream bloody murder and all those lame university presidents at the BCS schools start screaming for a playoff.

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"why Pete Carroll didn't jump at getting Leinart": He probably doesn't want to be reminded of his "institutional mismanagement" every time he talks to his QB.

Michael Wilbon: Ha! Very funny...

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Washington, D.C.: Do you think Navy put more pressure on themselves than they really should have? I mean you don't have to score touchdowns everytime you are in the red zone to win. Kudos to the Maryland defense but the Navy made some decisions.

Also Micheal did you think that FedEx was a neutral site last night -- not in my mind?

Michael Wilbon: Navy could have kicked some field goals and won the game, yes, and there was nothing "neutral" about Fed Ex Field last night. That was a home game for Virginia Tech.

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Anonymous: Would Reggie Bush have to give back the actual trophy? How does that work? Do repo men come by and take it?

Michael Wilbon: I just think his name is taken off the roster of winners, but I don't KNOW that...I'm anxious to ask and get some answers to that as well.

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GP, MI: Who ya got right now: Federer or Nadal?

Michael Wilbon: Nadal...I don't have Federer getting to the Final.

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Ocean View, DE: Count me among those who love Dibble -- who cares if he was an unabashed homer? I've watched a LOT of bad baseball over the last couple years, and he always kept the game interesting even during a blowout. I love the Nats, but this was a shortsighted move. Great, now we get some plain vanilla announcer to lull us to sleep next season.

And good luck finding any other announcer on God's green earth to get so fired up about a back-to-back 100+ loss team!

Michael Wilbon: Thanks for that...See, Dibble haters...I told you there was a split out there and some people do love Dibble. Again, I don't know what the percentage split is, but it's not 90-10.

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Richmond, Virginia: I really like your no-tie look on PTI, Michael- --who makes those shirts you wear?

Michael Wilbon: I've only been not wearing ties on PTI for 9 years now! You must be just tuning in; thanks for watching. Some are made, some are purchased...I shop a helluva lot.

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Woodbridge, Va.: I'm already sick of hearing the complaints about why the Post would give Virginia Tech so much coverage because it's so far awaaaaay. Did they watch the game last night? Did they see all that maroon and orange in the stands? I'll bet money that the VAST majority of those people were local alumni. I know this because I'm the only one of my Hokie friends that live in the area that couldn't go.

The Post will cover teams in Maryland, DC, and Virginia, and the amount of coverage will vary depending on how prominent the program is in that sport and the number of Post readers that want to read about them.

Michael Wilbon: Very, very well said. Thanks. Maybe Steinberg will quote you.

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Columbia, MD: TCU beats a top 25 Oregon State. Boise State beat a top 10 VT in what is essentially a home game. And people are already discounting the value of these wins (e.g. they didn't win "big enough"). No matter what these teams do, BCS defenders find ways to discount their accomplishments. How can these teams ever prove themselves when the bar keeps moving??

Michael Wilbon: The BCS apologists are pathetic and I try to avoid having conversations with them. They're zealots who double as hypocrites and bad sports...and to think this includes university presidents.

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FIBA 2010 World Championships: Of the top 100 basketball players in the world today how many would you say are American? 80? 60? 40?

Michael Wilbon: Great question...80...I'd ahve to make a list, which would take awhile and the assistance of some international baskeetball experts. Is Kobe in the U.S. column, or Europe since he grew up there as much as he did the U.S. A healthy Yao and Pau Gasol are in that number. Hmmm...Very, very intriguing question.

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Chris -- New York: Mr. Wilbon, Longtime fan still reading your column years after leaving DC! Regarding the current World Basketball Championships in Turkey: Why can't the powers that be in basketball put together real World Cup-like event that everyone can get excited about in the basketball world.

I just perused the local foreign newspaper shop (a shame there aren't more but hey the internet is here!) here in New York and looked at the papers from Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Argentina etc to check out the coverage of the tournament.

Surprisingly, this tournament really is not getting that much ink here in the US or anywhere. I know you were in Spain during the lead up, but looking at the print edition of Marca (Spain's #1 sport daily) you see pages and pages of futbol before any mention of this thing.

It seems that the stars from many countries are sitting this one out making it a lessor event for such a global game, which basketball truly is, much more than baseball, or football of course. And once the Olympics come around the basketball tournament is a big deal but still just one of many Olympic events/sports competing for attention. How can the powers that be in basketball fix this situation and produce the global event global basketball deserves?

Michael Wilbon: Oh, they ARE sitting it out. They're gearing up for the Olympics in 2012 in London. No question about it. You've got an increasingly number of people, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban included, who think the NBA players should NOT be participating in the Olympics. I aggressively disagree with Cubes on this one...anway, basketball whether it's domestic or international is a star-driven sport and when the big names are absent the coverage is, too.

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Ellicott City, Md.: TJ Houshmandzadeh signed with the Ravens a day after the Post reported that he might sign with the Redskins. Why would he choose Tinytown when he could have joined one of the NFL's most revered franchises.

signed, A Typical Redskins fan

Michael Wilbon: Yeah, you sound pretty typical. Why would be join a potential Super Bowl winner instead of a dysfunctional mess of a franchise that has won two playoff games the last 10 years?

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Portland, OR: Mike, you are a man of fashion, what was your take on those VT uniforms last night?

Michael Wilbon: Hideous. Simply hideous. Most football uniforms are, these days, because people try too hard. Keep it simple. I love Penn State and Oklahoma and Texas and Notre Dame and Michigan...Stop goofing around. I usually love my school's uniforms but sometimes we go a little far, too...Simple. Virginia Tech raised the bar on ugly last night.

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Chevy Chase, MD: Michael,

Do you agree that Floyd Mayweather went beyond the most extreme ways of hyping a potential future fight to being racist? Do you think there should be a Pacquiao/Mayweather after this incident?

Michael Wilbon: Mayweather, in addition to being a coward (which I've told you all before) is crass and a bigot...just comes off as a moron. He's objectionable on so many levels.

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Silver Spring, Md.: I just wanted to say that you are very right to say that the NFL shouldn't expand to an 18-game schedule. In fact, if anything, it probably should have fewer games. It seems to me that the players are too big and fast to undergo the kinds of collissions that they take. No amount of money they get or the owners and the television networks get justifies condemning a lot of them to early graves or to Alzheimers.

Michael Wilbon: I wonder where the person who was going on and on about heard injuries is on the 18-game schedule, which certainly opens up players to more health risks.

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Philadelphia, PA: Hi Mike -

I'm wondering what you thought was the biggest college football related surprise this weekend? Maryland winning? Kansas losing? Boise State winning? Michigan once again looking like a respectable football team? Thanks for your insight.

Michael Wilbon: I didn't think there were any huge surprises. Ole Miss lost, which was an upset. Michigan looked really, really good...If North Carolina, with so many players suspended, had pulled off that comeback civtory over LSU that would have qualified as a BIG surprise, but the Heels couldn't quite do it...Nothing was shocking, but this weekend has the capacity for something juicy...Okay, gotta run and prepare for PTI...Back to Monday this coming week, after Week 1 of professional football!!! See you then. have a great weeek everybody and thanks for chatting. MW

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