Welcome to March Madness—not just talkin hoops here. With our apologies to St Nick, its the most wonderful time of the year folks. You have the brackets, Spring Training baseball, and mock drafts—who could ask for anything more?

You know everybody wants to be liked but its rare when everybody likes you. This week I have a few hot topics which are the exception to the rule. Who do you know that dislikes Billy Donovan? (ok maybe FSU Fans) or who isn’t a fan of Ronde Barber —-one of the classiest athletes I have ever covered. Two more for ya—who hates the Eagles—no not the Iggles, I’m talking Hotel California, and who doesn’t like Matt Damon—hard to find many who raise their hands??? Nice guys finish first this week in the Naborhood…..

BILLY BALL: With apologies to Bobby Bowden, Steve Spurrier and Jimmy Johnson—no college coach has “ever” done a better job in the Sunshine State than the Gators Billy D. He has won two national titles (back to back by the way–something that may never be done again in this one and done world we live in) three national title game appearances, five out right SEC titles and he is still only…….47 years of age. Beyond all the winning, I have covered Donovan for years and never seen a coach of his stature handle himself any better. He always comes up with a thoughtful response to a question from the media whether its good or bad and despite Roy Williams accusing him of questionable recruiting practices with Mike Miller a few years ago–haven’t heard any animosity from his peers.

Donovan has also amazingly been able to keep his kids in school. Last year Bradley Beal was only his second one and done player—think about that–with all of his success. This season he enters March Madness with a team built on upperclassman including two of his best players in Kenny Boynton and Eric Murphy who have stayed four years. Much like their head coach, they are a rarity in college hoops these days. Billy stayed away from the Magic and now has 445 wins and counting–it will be interesting to see how long he stays in Gainesville and if he will ever leave?

BARBER SHOP TALK: The big storyline in the land of the Buccos these days surrounds the future of its Energizer Bunny, Ronde Barber. It appears retirement has been picked off again where the better news is the ball “seems to be” is in Ronde’s court. Unlike the other heads of the pewter version of Mt Rushmore in Sapp, Lynch and Derrick Brooks, Barber seems to have the chance for a happy ending. He came into the league with less hype than all of the above not to mention his twin brother who has now been out of the league nearly seven years?!  Ronde will turn 38 next month and if he sticks around would be a Buc for 16 seasons—that is crazy. What’s crazier is that the move to free safety makes it work and I believe he needs to be back to provide leadership to a Tampa Bay secondary which was awful and after the upcoming Draft will have lots of young players who could use a dose of Barber before he lets it go. I predict this will be his last season where he’s a Hall of Famer—not many outside Tampa Bay understand how good he’s been but one day he will be in Canton—this fall he’ll be wearing pewter though.

EAGLES DOCUMENTARY: Caught up on my Oscars list recently watching Silver Linings Playbook and Argo—both very good —-will take Silver Linings over Argo by a nose though. Still the best thing I’ve seen on TV of late was Showtime’s lengthly documentary on The Eagles. I haven’t met many who didn’t like this band—much like Jimmy Buffett they gave us several timeless songs that  my Dad and my seven year old daughter can both enjoy. I would encourage you to check this out—many interesting anecdotes on how Kenny Rogers of all people spurred Don Henley’s career and how Glen Frey’s earliest mentor was none other than Bob Seger. Linda Ronstadt helped both Frey and Henley who remained friends while the Eagles were a revolving door of moving parts around them save Joe Walsh. Great documentary—yet another Eagles hit.

FLACCO VS THE FIELD??: The highest paid player in NFL history is now Joe Flacco—let that sink in. Its what the market bears and give credit to the Super Bowl MVP for turning down the Ravens preseason offering, rolling the dice and coming up huge. Flacco helped himself and other QB’s in the process. Personally I like Flacco a lot. He’s only been in the league five years—had to start right away , has been durable and  should only get better. Right now I would only take Rodgers, Brady, and Brees over him (Peyton if he was younger and healthier)—yeah I think he’s the fourth best QB in the league with several young guns on his heels. For perspective check out the numbers of the best QB’s numbers in their first five years of being starter compared to Flacco’s 1st five seasons in Baltimore.

(1ST 5 years in the NFL)   TD   INT

Rodgers                                 170    45

P Manning                          138     100

Rivers                                   135      57

Brady                                    123      66

E Manning                          119      79

Brees                                     105      64

Flacco                                   102      56

Rothlisberger                      101     69

As you see by the numbers Flacco may be the highest paid but Aaron Rodgers is waiting in the on deck circle and will soon lap Joe Cool and the field in expensive walk off fashion. Flacco though while  7th on the list in TD passes has the lowest INT total. Impressive when you consider unlike Joe, Rodgers, Eli and Rivers had the luxury of holding a clipboard for their first few years.  Flacco is still on the upward slope while Rivers seems on the decline. Brady and Peyton are past their prime  and Big Ben can’t seem to stay healthy. Brees’ numbers are lower than you might have thought but after being in and out of the Chargers lineup—his first five seasons in New Orleans he threw 155 TD and 79 picks. With all that said,  Flacco is elite and its not his fault that he collected big bucks–its what the market demands.

TAMING TIGER: I’m not gonna say Tiger Woods is back but we should all never doubt that he will be. I’ve never said he wouldn’t be back but certainly had my doubts the past few years. It shows his greatness when he’s on the cusp of retaking the title as Number One ranked golfer in the world and has won 5 times in the last 50 weeks and many are still wondering if he’s back. He “may” never be the old Tiger but honestly do you feel better about any other golfer entering a Major. After dominating Doral he’s now a 4-1 favorite to win the Masters where I believe once he gets one Major under his belt—many more will follow. The big question–when will he finally get that Major?

NOBODY ASKED ME BUT: We all have one—a movie we love that received no respect from either the critics or the box office or in some cases—both. Well mine is one I stumbled into the other day and could’t turn off—Rounders. The poker movie starting Matt Damon and Edward Norton (love the Worm) might make my top five of all time but was a box office bomb. Thanks to the surge of the World Series of Poker it redeemed itself on rental and to my surprise they may make a sequel but it took awhile to gain traction.  “I mean, it bombed when it came out, and everybody…I remember seeing something on TV where…after the opening weekend they were like, ‘Matt Damon’s new movie is a bomb! It’s official! ‘Rounders’ is a bomb!’ said Damon recently. ” And I was like, ‘Wow, that’s harsh! I thought it was a pretty good movie!’ But it worked out, you know?” Hopefully you can check it out if you haven’t—let me know if you have any Rodney Dangerfield movies of your own!

EXTRA POINT: Memo to North Korea’s Kim Jong Un—forget Dennis Rodman—what you really need is Metta World Peace…







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