Sports Beat, 11-25-07

--I was at the Rose Bowl for UCLA's 16-0 shutout win over Oregon yesterday. It was easily the worst offensive game I've ever witnessed by two teams combined. Bruin fans were begging Karl Dorrell to kick a field goal any time the ball happened to be inside the 35, so as not to risk negative yardage on any play.

UCLA is technically in the Rose Bowl race, but Ben Olson is going to have to get healthy in a hurry if the Bruins want to have any shot of getting there. Unless UCLA upsets USC (something that is always possible) Bruin fans should be prepared for a trip to either the Las Vegas Bowl, the Emerald Bowl, or the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth.

--In the meantime, pundits on ESPN Radio are now saying that the USC Trojans might have the best team in the country now that they're healthy. The Trojans looked great in dispatching Arizona State 44-24 in Tempe on Thanksgiving Day. It's a longshot, but USC does have a very distant chance of winning an AP National Title. How? If West Virginia and Missouri (or possibly Ohio State) play a lousy mistake-filled BCS title game, one or two other teams lose (like LSU in the SEC title game and Virginia Tech in the ACC title game), and USC throttles both UCLA and their Rose Bowl opponent (not a guarantee at all), then it is conceivable that the Trojans will win an AP title like they won in 2003. Don't bet on it though.

--The Rose Bowl is guaranteed to have a Pac-10 team, but not necessarily a Big Ten squad. ESPN's Brad Edwards predicts that the Rose Bowl will select Illinois if Ohio State goes to the BCS Title game. But I'm not so sure. If the BCS title game is Ohio State-West Virginia, then the Rose Bowl would get the first pick of at-large teams, and they could very well select Georgia. The Bulldogs are currently ranked No. 4 in the BCS, they would setup a compelling Pac-10/SEC matchup, and Georgia's only Rose Bowl appearance came in 1943 when they beat UCLA 9-0. Illinois has had a nice year, but few think they're as good as Georgia.

--Kevin Roderick points out the varying opinions on the Angels signing of Torii Hunter. This type of reaction would be expected when a player like Hunter signs. Hunter is the prototypical player who would be slammed by sabermetricians and praised by scouts. His on-base percentage is routinely below league-average, but he plays great defense. He's considered a "high-character guy", but he's never won a World Series. His power isn't Manny Ramirez-esque, but it's still above league average. And he's entering his mid-30s, meaning one of his most valuable skills, his speed, will only decline.

No matter how you slice it, $90 million is a ton of money to give any baseball player over five years. It's one of the largest annual contracts in the history of the game. However, Hunter's power and defense will make the Angels a better team, especially considering their strong need for offensive help. Is he worth the money though? Well, baseball is going through unprecedented economic prosperity, and we probably have to evaluate the market differently from how we would have even two years ago. It could very well be true that a player with Hunter's skill set is worth $18 million a year. The Twins evidently didn't think he was worth re-signing, but the Angels apparently thought he was worth bringing in. Both teams have smart front offices. At the end of the day though, it's Arte Moreno's money, and he's Angels fans' gain.

--On Saturday night, I was at the Coliseum broadcasting the USC Women's Soccer team's NCAA Tournament victory over Florida. The Women of Troy now advance to the Elite 8, where they will take on West Virginia. UCLA will play a home game on Friday night in the Elite 8 against Portland.

--For real this week, I will be on KSCR 1560 AM on Wednesday from noon to 1 PM. You can also listen on

November 25, 2007 8:56 PM • Native Intelligence • Email the editor

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