Shanoff's WUC: Cards, Carroll, Pats, Vols

Today's Calls: Cardinals vs. Packers, Kurt Warner vs. Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady vs. Mark Sanchez, USC vs. Seattle Seahawks, Skylar McBee vs. Legend, Tennessee vs. Kansas, Chris Bosh vs. Andrew Bynum, Aroldis Chapman vs. Vlad Guerrero, Tim Tebow vs. Senior Bowl, Derek Jeter vs. Minka Kelly and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: How do you know yesterday's Cardinals win over the Packers was epic? ↵

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↵• A Wild Card weekend that was 7/8 of the way to forgettable, with some really lame games -- including the Cards-Pack game itself! -- suddenly was eclipsed by a game that qualifies as all-time memorable. (What I still can't get over is that a third of the way through the 3rd quarter, it was a 21-point game and just another Wild Card rout.) ↵

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↵• The scoring. Oh, yes: The scoring. And more scoring. And more scoring. ↵

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↵• Of all of the "career" days in Kurt Warner's career, this performance was arguably the best yet. (If Warner is retiring this offseason, it's a hell of a memory to go out on.) ↵

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↵• Tweets and texts were flying, all on some variation of "OMG." ↵

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↵• If last season's run to the Super Bowl alone didn't do it, the Cardinals' legacy in the NFL was just altered again, with the first thing fans thinking of when they hear the franchise name is "That Game." (Or whatever it's going to be called.) ↵

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↵I've got a better shorthand: "51-45." Everyone will know what you're talking about. ↵

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↵Patriots trounced: "I'd have been booing us, too." That's not coming from a Pats-hater. That's Tom Brady, who can thank Kurt Warner for diverting fans from a weekend top story line of "Patriots stink!" to "What a game!" ↵

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↵Yet this was the worst playoff loss of the Belichick/Brady era. We were all shocked at how supremely the Pats were trounced -- at home, no less -- because there is always this idea in the back of your head that the Pats will find a way. ↵

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↵But that's distant history. 2005? Feels like a generation ago. Would the Pats have done any better with Welker? Hardly, because he doesn't play defense. This ending was foreshadowed weeks ago, when the Pats lost to the Colts. No D = early exit. ↵

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↵Lost in yesterday's crazy? The Cowboys (and Romo and Phillips) getting off the postseason schneid for the first time in a decade and a half. (The new question: Will Donovan McNabb be back in Philly next season, or is he the new Favre?) ↵

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↵Division Round Look-Ahead: ↵

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↵• Cards at Saints: Warner vs. Brees ↵

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↵• Ravens at Colts: Peyton beware ↵

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↵• Cowboys at Vikings: TV bonanza ↵

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↵• Jets at Chargers: Clone Revis? ↵

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↵Pete Carroll to Seahawks: Friday's shocking rumor slow-rolled to today's likely announcement. ↵

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↵• It's a good move for Carroll. He finally gets the control he has craved ... and gets out of USC just ahead of the better-late-than-never NCAA posse. (The rest of college football must also be thrilled, knowing that one of the country's leading juggernauts has lost its soul. You can as good as hand the Pac-10 title in 2010 to Oregon.) ↵

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↵• It's a good move for the Seahawks, who need the buzz, the wholesale new direction and injection of Carroll's enthusiasm. ↵

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↵• It is a terrible move if you are a USC football fan or one of the recruits Carroll has brought in over the past two years. USC has got to get a new coach in place in the next 24 hours to stanch the recruiting blood-letting that is already in progress. (That USC wouldn't have already been looking, starting Friday, is crazy to consider. But if so, why wouldn't they have a new coach in place as soon as today?) ↵

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↵CBB Mania: Wow. What lesson can you learn from the stunning loss by Kansas to a Tennessee team playing 6 scholarship players? GET RID OF YOUR STARS AND PLAY YOUR WALK-ONS. (Skylar McBee is the king of college hoops.) ↵

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↵What about Purdue? Or Duke? Or West Virginia? Or Kansas State? Or New Mexico? Or Washington? Or FSU? (Or near-loss by Kentucky?) Simple: If you thought you could pinpoint a team to win 4 straight in March to make the Final Four, think again. ↵

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↵NBA Talking Points: LeBron scored 41 in a Cavs win over the Blazers, but Knicks fans shouldn't get too excited about LeBron's orange and blue sneakers -- they were a tribute to throwback Cavs colors, not foreshadowing of next summer. ↵

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↵Trade talk: Andrew Bynum for Chris Bosh? It's just a rumor, but it would be terrific for both teams. Bosh is at his best as a running mate, not a top dog; Bynum gives the rebuilding Raps a young big in the East to rival Dwight Howard. ↵

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↵Tebow Watch: Big weekend, including signing with agent Jimmy Sexton and announcing he'd play in the Senior Bowl. Sexton's job is not to worry about getting Tebow in the 1st-round money; that'll happen anyway. ↵

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↵No, Sexton's job is to get the best fit for Tebow: A team that is committed to developing him into a full-time QB, while committed to deploying him creatively until he gets there. ↵

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↵Meanwhile, Tebow's decision about the Senior Bowl shows that he isn't intimidated by the NFL scouts -- and really is committed to doing whatever it takes to be prepared for the NFL. He'll be coached by the Dolphins staff – hmm ... Wildcat, anyone? ↵

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↵MLB Hot Stove: Aroldis Chapman to... the Reds? Didn't see that coming, given that the Reds are hardly known as a big spender ($71M payroll in '09, with the Chapman deal rumored to be $25-30M total) and hardly a contender in the NL. ↵

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↵That said, I fully support any team that wants to spend big to try to compete. Chapman is an X-factor, but mid-market teams won't break through if they don't take a few calculated risks (even expensive ones). ↵

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↵Vlad Guerrero to the Rangers. Yes, Vlad's stats in Arlington have been impressive -- but that's with the Angels' stacked lineup around him. I'm not saying the Rangers lineup around him is flaccid, but is it the same? ↵

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↵CFB Coaching Carousel: Tommy Tuberville to Texas Tech, where he says they will maintain the Leach offense but certainly stiffen up the defense. (Conventional wisdom is already that he will tone down the Air Raid offense.) ↵

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↵Isn't it a little bit more interesting to think about who might replace Pete Carroll at USC: Mike Riley? (Nope. Signed an ext w/ Oregon St.) Steve Sarkisian? (Only a year in at Washington.) ↵

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↵Curtis puts NFL coaches near the top of his list, and nothing would be a dumber move for USC; as a rule, pro coaches are entirely unprepared for the recruiting grind of the elite programs. (Obviously, there are exceptions, including Carroll himself. But Fisher and Del Rio are not Carroll.) ↵

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↵And, besides, does ANY decent coach want to inherit the potential NCAA mess? ↵

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↵CFB Recruiting: Florida hits a weekend trifecta (DE Powell, DT Floyd, DB Elam) and, if it can hold onto its haul (and maybe wrangle even a few more 4- and 5-stars) will have the No. 1 recruiting class in the country. Hmm: What was that Urban Meyer leave-of-absence impact on recruiting supposed to be again? (Actually, it allowed Meyer to focus even more on it.) ↵

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↵The Last Word: Save the date! Apparently, on November 5, Derek Jeter and Minka Kelly will get married at Oheka Castle in Hungtington, Long Island. The paparazzi have already RSVP'ed. ↵

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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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