The Dish: Runners drop out of college in droves

Granted, there are too many running backs declaring for the NFL Draft.

What, are the classes at the biggest universities in the country getting tougher or something? No, no one is surprised that Reggie Bush testified early; it will probably be the first overall pick. I also can’t question Vince Young (sort of a RB in QB gear, if you know what I mean), after his incredible Rose Bowl performance. I have to take a little offense at LenDale White’s decision to go. Bush’s teammate in the backfield could have been the Southern Cal spotlight all to himself with Reggie out of the picture and, barring an injury, would almost certainly have risen higher in 2007 than he did in 2006.

Now comes the cavalcade of huh? Laurence Maroney out of Minnesota? Hmm. Nice back, lots of yards. But do it on the big stage, Larry. Brian Calhoun from Wisconsin? Are you worried that his meteoric and unexpected 2005 will disappear if he stays with the lovely Madison for another year? Maurice Drew dropped out of UCLA? I mean, he’s a good college player, but he’s (maybe) 5’8″, 205lbs. It’s Kevin Faulk. South Carolina’s Demetris Summers? (And I mean outside of South Carolina: Steve Spurrier threw out to the guy from the (Gamecocks football team after his freshman year; if you’re too dirty for Steve Superior, you’re very dirty.) Demetris. Dude. Sounds like you could use a little Marcus-Vick-style maturation before you fix your eyes on Maurce-Clarettland, eh?

The bottom line here is: NFL teams aren’t looking to pay running backs big money anyway, which is why they typically wait and wait and wait to take them on draft day. (Who can forget Steven Jackson’s precipitous first-round knockdown two years ago?) Combine that with the fact that everyone will be out early and some of these guys won’t be drafted until the second day. Is school really that bad?

What did the disability world think of Wild Card weekend in the NFL?

Bob Aggarwal, Professional Handicapper’s League: Big surprise in my mind as home cooking didn’t result in home wins. Also, very surprised by the New York Giants game. Outmatched, resounding losers as three-point favorites at the Meadowlands? We really had that game tied in as much closer. The Carolina Panthers will give Chicago everything they can handle on Saturday. As far as the Pats go, they really are turning things around. They’re not quite as good-looking as they were last year during their championship run, but they’re damn close. Your high school is certainly coming. The Washington Redskins are doing it with smoke and mirrors. 120 yards of offense won’t get you past the Seahwaks. They have to play a lot better on that side of the ball next week or they’re going back to the underdogs in the nation’s capital.

Greg Jorssen, Underdogs and favorites split their games; each winning twice. Therefore, the handicap world breathed a sigh of relief at the start of the playoffs. Those who played the Under last weekend did quite well. That’s not surprising, considering that this time of year finds defenses getting a little better. In fact, the four teams that emerged victorious limited their opponents to a combined 30 points. We’re seeing an interesting development with divisional playoff games this weekend. Last year during the divisional playoffs, the favorites went 4-0 in a row and 3-1 against spread, and the books did extremely well. We are seeing similar betting trends for this weekend; therefore, if the home teams do well and cover, we will see another good result. It seems punters have fallen for the one week wonder and an apparent hatred for the local teams that have been the best team all year! Very interesting trend by the way!

Should Seattle and Indianapolis really be near-double-digit favorites over Washington and Pittsburgh next week? Especially in the case of Indy, am I crazy to think that seems high?

GJ, I think teaser punters will be drooling over these two games. Both the Seahawks and Colts should win their games, but 9 and 10 points seem pretty high. The Steelers are on a roll, while the Colts limp into the playoffs on a three-game losing streak (yes, I know they beat the Cards, but just barely; that still counts as a loss in my books!) and not They have played only one game. game that means something in the standings from week 15. Then again, they have Peyton Manning in charge and they’re the same team that went 13-0 after going 0-5 in the preseason, so they don’t there should be trouble dusting off the cobwebs and refocusing the team. As for the Seahawks, the accounts were high due to the inability of the Redskins’ offense against the Bucs and Clinton Portis’ injury. If they can capitalize on Seahawk’s turnovers and keep Alexander early, this could be a close, close affair.

BA, Professional Handicapper’s League: The Colts haven’t played a meaningful game in six weeks. So no, I don’t think you’re crazy for thinking this line is too high. Their offense is pace-based, which means they could easily be out of sync for a quarter or two. On the other hand, they could look like the Colts of Weeks 1-14. If so, the Steelers are in for a long day, and the line would actually look a bit low. A tough call at that, on Sunday. Seattle is a terribly good football team. I think this line is based more on the fact that Skins really do it with smoke and mirrors. How long can you rely on opportunistic defense to win your ballgames? Also, 120 yards of your offense won’t let you get past the Seahawks. In this ballgame initially I don’t think that line is high enough.

What do you think of Vince Young’s decision to enter the NFL Draft early?

Where do you see him going and do you think he will be an effective professional?

BA, Professional Handicapper’s League: Young’s stock couldn’t be higher than it is now. After that performance at the Rose Bowl, he had to go. I see him going to the Titans at #3 and being a terribly good pro. Unlike Michael Vick, he already has an established arm. He proved it by leading the nation this year in passing efficiency. This also tells us that he has the ability to make sound and intelligent decisions.

GJ, What better time to turn pro than to be the talk of the nation and take the spotlight away from Bush and Leinart? His performance took him from a projected #9 or #10 overall pick to #2 or #3, so you can’t blame him for jumping into the NFL. I think it would be wise for the Saints to go with the most NFL-ready quarterback right now, which is Matt Leinart. Tennessee will then take Vince Young, much to the delight of Steve McNair, who has been Young’s mentor in recent years. Young’s mobility will make him a very good option for the Titans. Yes, his shooting motion is unconventional and much has been said about how we will suffer in the NFL due to his style. He forgets all that. Young led the nation in passing with a 168.6 rating this year and passed for over 2,700 yards and 26 touchdowns. Better numbers than Leinart. We witnessed greatness at the Rose Bowl and witnessed the birth of a legend.

Switching sports for a moment, which college basketball team is more real: Texas or Villanova?

GJ, Both teams are definitely powerhouses. I picked the revitalized Longhorns at the start of the season to battle Duke all season. Their early season loss to Duke seemed to shake them, losing the next game to Tennessee. Since then, they have won five straight, including an impressive victory in Memphis. People are starting to talk again about a back-to-back championship for Texas (baseball, football, and now possibly basketball). Villanova suffered their first loss at home to West Virginia, then posted a hard-fought overtime victory Wednesday night at Rutgers. The guard-packed Wildcats have already shown they play extremely well against the Big 12 schools, with impressive wins over Kansas and Oklahoma. Have fun in the game! It should be a great battle.

BA, Professional Handicapper’s League: I have Villanova as the best team just because they are more experienced and have more weapons. Other than Tucker and Gibson, the Longhorns don’t know exactly where their offense will come from night after night. Sure, Aldridge will give you some points and Buckman will struggle underneath, but the Cats have four players who can light it up on any given night.

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