Shanoff's WUC: Tiger, FSU, SECCG, ND, UNC, AI

Today's Calls: Tiger vs. Tabloids, Bobby Bowden vs. History, Carlos Dunlap vs. Urban Meyer, John Swarbrick vs. Brian Kelly, UNC vs. Michigan State, Allen Iverson vs. Philly and More. ↵

↵Tiger WoodsThe Opening Pitch: And now we enter the ludicrous phase of the Tiger story. ↵

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↵Oh, the driving charges have been cleared up with a $164 fine. But we've got that freaky Chinese re-enactment. ↵

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↵And, now, US Weekly, with the bombshell accusation: ↵

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↵Superstar athlete might — just might — be ... unfaithful. ↵

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↵Stop the presses! (Or the Internet! Or Twitter! Whatever!) ↵

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↵It's not that the gossip-industrial complex digging up could-be/would-be Woods’ mistresses is out of bounds — that's their job, people obviously really like to read about that stuff and, yes, if you're a mega-celebrity and you do something titillating, it's going to come out. ↵

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↵It's just ... well, who cares? ↵

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↵Again: "Star cheats on wife" isn't exactly "man bites dog." ↵

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↵We will listen to the leaked voice mails and read the saved text messages (or "sexts") — because you can't NOT read them — but there is no schadenfreude. ↵

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↵Instead, I feel an emotion for Tiger I have never felt about him before: Pity. ↵

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↵He is the greatest athlete of our generation, and he is reduced to TMZ-fodder with Z-list wannabe celebrities. It is pathetic. ↵

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↵We can argue about whether this kind of coverage is fair or foul, but it doesn't matter: It's happening, and people are curious. (And don't try to blame new media: Sex scandals have been a staple of journalism since the beginning.) ↵

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↵However, it hardly puts the "new" in "news." ↵

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↵"Athlete cheats with mistress" is even more predictable than "athlete cheats with steroids." ↵

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↵Florida suspends Carlos Dunlap for the SEC Championship Game. Dunlap is the linchpin of Florida's ferocious defense, one of the best in recent memory. It will hurt. Replacement Justin Trattou is a future NFL DE, and the rest of the defense is still world-class. But missing the best defensive end in the country can't help but diminish Florida's D. So instead of holding Alabama to, say, 15-20 points, the Tide will score, oh, 20-24. Still won't be enough to out-score Florida. ↵

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↵Bobby Bowden retiring: We can dwell on the unseemly way things ended — Bowden effectively forced out — but his legacy is the 14 straight seasons of Top-5 finishes, a streak that will never be matched. ↵

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↵Notre Dame Coaching Search: Brian Kelly said, amazingly, that no one from Notre Dame had contacted him yet (and he isn't talking about it). Not sure what ND is waiting for, unless they inexplicably aren't interested in Kelly. ↵

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↵If they don't watch out, Kelly is simply going to sign a lucrative extension with Cincinnati — where he can continue to earn automatic BCS bowl bids as long as he's there, same as if he was in South Bend. TCU's Gary Patterson did just that. Then ND will be left with Weis-like scraps. ↵

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↵(Meanwhile, ND lost their top recruiting commitment, DE Chris Martin.) ↵

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↵Concussion Watch: Big Ben will reportedly play Sunday, after sitting out last Sunday's game with those recurring concussion symptoms. (The Steelers should consider deploying Dennis Dixon on 5-10 plays.) ↵

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↵NFL Must-Read: Michael Tunison's Designed Rush. They actually let him sit in a press box. (Was he wearing his Steelers jersey?) ↵

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↵NBA Talking Points: AI's Philly homecoming. As soon as Monday? What a terrific move by the Sixers, a team going nowhere and with nothing to lose this season by re-signing the franchise's most popular player of the last quarter-century. If you're not going to make the playoffs, you might as well be entertaining. And no player in the league is more fun to watch on the court than AI. ↵

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↵Nets Watch: 0-18 could come tonight. Either they break the record for the worst start to a season in NBA history ... or they don't. What more of a reason would you ever have to check in on a team that is 0-17? (Speaking of checking in: You must read Bethlehem Shoals' alternate history of NY/NJ basketball's future, which starts with Frank's firing.) ↵

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↵Did not see this coming: Knicks routing the Suns. ↵

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↵MLB Hot Stove: Joe Mauer ultimatum? What Mauer ultimatum? ... The Braves seem to think that Billy Wagner still has it as a closer. ... Still scrapping against the big spenders, the Rays would like to keep Carl Crawford. ↵

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↵CBB Mania: UNC is still very, very good (per Mike DeCourcy). Don't be fooled by the way they were schooled by Syracuse a few weeks ago. UNC is still a contender — and they still dominate Michigan State, their opponent in last year's B10/ACC Challenge and, of course, the 2009 title game. ↵

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↵Northwestern Dance-Wagon ... is back on! First, they beat Notre Dame. Then Iowa State. Last night, N.C. State. Three games. Three major-conference unbeatens. Three wins. Something special is happening here. ↵

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↵The Last Word: "It's a carousel of calls." ↵
↵— Chris Cooley, detailing the farce that is the Redskins' offense. ↵

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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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