Shanoff's WUC: Wall, Suh, Edsall, Bonds, LAL

Today's Calls: John Wall vs. Ndamukong Suh, Randy Edsall vs. Brian Kelly, Barry Bonds vs. Retirement, Lakers vs. Jazz, Mark Ingram vs. Toby Gerhart vs. C.J. Spiller, Mack Brown vs. Andy Reid, Steelers vs. Browns, Hines Ward vs. Randy Moss and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: John Wall. John Wall. John Wall. ↵

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↵Maybe he is one of those players that is so good, he doesn't need a nickname. But I'm going to try, in honor of the pop star of the moment: "Ga-Ga." ↵

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↵Because that's what people go when they watch Wall play. ↵

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↵It's not hype. It's reality. The kid is the best player in college basketball. Heck, he is a better player than anyone in the NBA rookie class of 2009. Or 2008. He makes former Calipari one-and-done PG Derrick Rose look unathletic. ↵

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↵Wall is 9 games, perhaps 25 percent, into his one-year college career, and no college player since Allen Iverson has captivated the attention of hoops fans as quickly and comprehensively as Wall. Not Carmelo. Not Durant. Not Beasley. ↵

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↵The sick thing is: Wall is just getting better. As explosive as he was against UNC last weekend, he was even better last night in Kentucky's win over UConn at the Garden -- scoring at will down the stretch and finishing with a career-high 25 points, which is just a place-holder. ↵

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↵There was one play that seems to define what makes so many fans so obsessed about him: UK up 51-47, Jerome Dyson tried to flip the ball to Kemba Walker, and Wall leaped out of the gym to pull a normally uncontested pass out of the air, sprint down the court with the ball and finish with a dunk, while getting fouled. The game remained in the balance to the end, but it illustrated Wall's impact. ↵

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↵That it happened on national TV on the floor of Madison Square Garden against a very good opponent only heightens the mania. ↵

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↵Forget Brandon Jennings. John Wall is the most must-see player in basketball right now. Yes, I'm going ga-ga. ↵

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↵Notre Dame Coaching Search: Hmm. No confirmation yet that ND has hired Brian Kelly -- anyone starting to wonder yet if it's going to happen at all? I am. Especially when you hear that ND is as interested in talking to UConn's Randy Edsall as Kelly. ↵

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↵Tennessee Scandal, Cont'd: The school acknowledged that the NCAA is looking into the "Orange Pride" group. As much as I would love to pin this all on Lane Kiffin, I do wonder how much enthusiastically rogue behavior goes on with groups like that beyond the scope of control of the coach. Then again, it has to be the coach who says, "Do your best to convince them (wink-wink)." It's still Kiffin's ultimate responsibility. ↵

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↵Heisman Watch: 25 percent of submitted ballots have been confirmed, and StiffarmTrophy.com is still projecting Mark Ingram as the winner, edging out Gerhart and Suh. That said: Suh continues to claim a lead in 1st-place votes. ↵

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↵Remember: Tebow had the most 1st-place votes in '08, but still finished 3rd because so many voters in Big 12 country left him off their ballots, to help their guys McCoy and Bradford. In this case, I think voters are leaving off Suh out of ignorance, not design. Which is even worse. ↵

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↵Suh wins Lombardi as the nation's top lineman. He just keeps racking up the hardware. But wait ... ! ↵

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↵Jerry Hughes wins Hendricks Award for best defensive player. Then again, Ndamukong Suh wasn't even a finalist, so how legit could the award be? Still: Hughes is an outstanding player, and TCU's sick defense deserves to be honored like this. ↵

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↵CFB Awards Season: Picking tonight's winners ... ↵

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↵•Maxwell (Most Outstanding): Mark Ingram ↵
↵• Bednarik (Best Defensive): Ndamukong Suh ↵
↵• Biletnikoff (Best WR): Jordan Shipley ↵
↵• Groza (Best K): Leigh Tiffin ↵
↵• Ray Guy (Best P): Chas Henry ↵
↵• O'Brien (Best QB): Colt McCoy ↵
↵• Outland (Best Lineman): Ndamukong Suh ↵
↵• Thorpe (Best DB): Joe Haden ↵
↵• Walker (Best RB): Toby Gerhart ↵

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↵But I will say that whether it goes to Gerhart, Ingram or C.J. Spiller, you can't go wrong. All three were stellar this season. ↵

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↵Barry Bonds' career is over: And it's a shame -- yes, a shame -- that it had to end this way, with him being blackballed by teams into oblivion, when he clearly could have helped a contender, particularly as a DH. It's very hard to maintain a high-horse of moralism towards Bonds when it is so clear that the PED epidemic in baseball was pervasive, even common. To pin that all on Bonds, just because you don't like him personally, is unfair. Roids or not, he's still one of the greatest hitters in baseball history. I would have liked to see what he could have done in a contender's lineup the past two seasons. ↵

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↵MLB Hot Stove: Are the Angels close to landing Roy Halladay? They are willing to give up on the potential of SS Erick Aybar, whom the Jays supposedly covet. The real coveting here is the Angels and Halladay: They are serious about catching the Yankees; Doc will help. ↵

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↵NBA Talking Points: The most glaring detail from last night's slate of games? The Lakers held the Jazz to 6 points -- 6 -- in the 4th quarter of the Lakers' win, their 10th in a row. All these other teams' subplots are nice, but the defending champs remain the team to beat. ↵

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↵TNF: Steelers at Browns. If there's anything good for what's ailing the struggling Steelers right now, it's a trip to Cleveland to play the hapless Browns. Consider that 4-game losing streak snapped. Hines Ward is still questionable, but do the Steelers really need him to win this game? ↵

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↵Pats disciplinary problems? Hard to read too much into Moss and the others being sent home for being late to a morning meeting yesterday. Is it a symptom of the discombobulated state of the Pats right now? Mind games from Belichick? Here's the funny thing: In four weeks, they will be in the AFC playoffs, and everyone will be hedging, "Well, you better watch out for those Pats ..." ↵

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↵Coaching Deals: ↵

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↵• Mack Brown gets a raise: $5 million, up from $3M, now through the end of his contract in 2016. He becomes the highest-paid coach in college football ... ↵

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↵... And a reminder that elite college coaches remain the biggest bargain in sports. (Let's compare: The Yankees just paid Andy Pettitte nearly $12 million to pitch a single season. For that, you could pay a 20 percent premium over what Mack Brown is making and lure the best coach in the country -- Meyer, Brown, Saban, Carroll -- for two years, more than enough to get your team into a BCS bowl.) ↵

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↵Here's the thing about Brown's new deal: Isn't defensive coordinator Will Muschamp the "coach-in-waiting?" Well, how much longer is he going to have to wait? Would Brown really walk away early from $5M a year? ↵

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↵• Andy Reid gets a 3-year extension: Dan Levy brings up a good point -- would you rather have a coach that consistently wins, but never wins a championship? Or one that wins a championship, but otherwise is an inconsistent winner? Reid is the former, and Levy makes a good case that beats being a fan of a team coached by the latter. But still: Ask Alabama fans if winning a title -- at all -- matters. ↵

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↵BCS vs. Congress: Congratulations, Subcommittee! You passed your bill, getting us one step closer to ... no, not a playoff, but simply some weird superficial world where the BCS can't call itself the "championship." Umm ... woo? ↵

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↵Tiger Watch: Blissfully, it feels like a day without any new substantial Tiger gossip. But you never know. ... ↵

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↵The Last Word: "He's no freshman. -- UConn coach Jim Calhoun, about John Wall. ↵

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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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