Shanoff's WUC: Saints, Weis, Bowden, Tiger

Today's Calls: Saints vs. Patriots, Charlie Weis vs. Bobby Bowden, Tiger Woods vs. Pressure, Joe Mauer vs. the Twins, Florida vs. Alabama, John Wall vs. DeMarcus Cousins, Brandon Jennings vs. Derrick Rose, Monta Ellis vs. Carlos Boozer, Serena vs. the US Open, Grady Sizemore vs. the Internet and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: "Who dat say they gonna beat them Saints?" ↵

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↵Um, no one, actually. ↵

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↵Last night was the signature moment in what has become the best NFL story of the decade: The Saints, unbeaten, seemingly on a laser for Super Bowl glory -- to close out a decade in which no U.S. city had it worse. ↵

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↵The Saints didn't just survive the Patriots, like the Colts did. The Saints throttled the Pats, more of a measure of just how good the Saints are this season than any other win of their 11 straight to start this season. ↵

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↵And they are really good. ↵

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↵The offense averaged 9.6 yards per play. ("Ridiculous," said Drew Brees.) ↵

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↵Clearly the NFL's MVP this season, Brees had a perfect passer rating, after throwing for 371 yards (18/23) and 5 TDs. (Any peeps from the "Favre for MVP" bandwagon? Didn't think so.) ↵

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↵Everyone knew the Saints could score. It was the Saints D that put on the best show, blanking Tom Brady in the end zone and picking him off twice. ↵

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↵There's a lot of schadenfreude across the sports landscape this morning: In South Bend. In Tallahassee. In Isleworth. ↵

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↵The Saints are the antidote -- the perfect team having a perfect season in what would be a perfect ending to the decade in sports. ↵ ↵

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↵Notre Dame fires Charlie Weis. It's about time, and most of us have already moved on to "Who will they hire?" (Or is it "Who CAN they hire," which is how they got into the Weis mess in the first place.) ↵

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↵I wouldn't even bother with Bob Stoops -- whether he doesn't want the job, is just playing coy or whatever. The obvious target should be Cincinnati's Brian Kelly: A big personality who can recruit and -- more importantly -- coach Xs and Os as well as anyone in the country. He would have ND in a BCS-level bowl next season. Why isn't this a done-deal already? ↵

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↵However, if Notre Dame is looking for a defensive specialist, they should consider making a play for TCU's Gary Patterson, who is to defense today what Urban Meyer was to offense five years ago. ↵

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↵Speaking of Stoops: His "I fully intend" denial (or "denial") is classic coach-speak to leave themselves wiggle room. I've never understood why coaches use language like this. Just say "I am not a candidate! Do not pursue me, because I will say no!" -- either you mean it, or you're lying to your fans, who will hate you for leaving, no matter what you said. ↵

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↵Bowdenfreude: Bobby obviously has been out of his depth for a few years now -- any one of which could have been his swan song, on his terms. Instead, he selfishly chose to abuse his status and hang on. This is the trade-off: Today's awkward ending, one that he forced on the program. I hope he chooses to stay on at FSU as an empty figurehead. But if FSU fans want to rebuild the program to prominence, Bowden can't remain the coach. ↵

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↵Tiger Watch: As discussed yesterday, this is not your ordinary sports scandal, because Tiger isn't your ordinary superstar athlete. And so he can do things like jilt his own tournament because he doesn't want to deal with the media frenzy. (You'd be forgiven for asking What media frenzy? It's not like the golf "news" media is actually covering this story.) ↵

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↵Bama-Florida: Mark Ingram will play. But it remains to be seen how effective he will be. He had only 30 yards against Auburn and left the game with a hip pointer. And Florida's D is much, much, much nastier than Auburn's. ↵

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↵I'm not quite sure Alabama's offense will be the key to the game: Last year they got 112 yards out of Glen Coffee and 124 receiving from Julio Jones and still managed only 20 points, not nearly enough to keep up. The bigger question: Can Bama's D contain Florida? ↵

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↵NBA Talking Points ↵

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↵• Jennings vs. Rose: Bucks win. ↵

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↵• Monta Ellis goes nuts with 45. ↵

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↵• Stud: Boozer (24p, 15r, 7a, 3s). ↵

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↵• AI to 76ers? Make it happen! ↵

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↵John Wall Watch: 12 pts, 14 ast and 6 stl in Kentucky's rout of UNC-Asheville. (Fellow frosh DeMarcus Cousins was a load: 24 pts, 10 reb. He and Patrick Patterson make a really tough combo up front.) ↵

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↵Portland cracks the Top 25 for the first time in 50 years. (Mike D appreciates UP, but not the poll.) ↵

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↵MLB Hot Stove: Joe Mauer is already positioning his abandoning Minnesota as the Twins' fault. That's the value of the early "deadline" to do a deal. I know the Twins want to keep him, but they have two problems: (1) They can't pay him market value, and (2) they aren't going to win any championships in the 7, 8, 9, whatever-number years of the deal he signs. ↵

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↵Derek Jeter is SI Sportsman of the Year: Oh, meh! It's up to you SN! Tim Tebow in his rightful role as 2009 Athlete of the Year! (He HAS to be SN's college athlete of the year, right?! Psycho-T is a solid runner-up, but not quite Superman.) ↵

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↵Serena: Fined $82,500 for US Open outburst, a record. Worth every bleeping penny. ↵

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↵Media: Chip Caray is out at TBS, about 8 weeks too late. He leaves with at least one unintended legacy in baseball broadcasting: Fisted! ↵

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↵Scandals: Handy rule of thumb: If you take racy photos of yourself, they will -- WILL -- make their way onto the Internet. ↵

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↵The Last Word: "That's what we're trying to be." -- Drew Brees, about the Patriots, after being interrupted by Bill Belichick for a respectful hug during Brees' postgame interview with ESPN. ↵

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↵Dan Shanoff writes The Wake-Up Call every weekday morning for SportingNews.com and blogs daily at DanShanoff.com. Got any comments, questions or feedback? Email Dan at shanofftsn-[at]-gmail-[dot]-com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/danshanoff. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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