AROUND THE SPORTS WORLD

Turmoil in New York, the college football playoff and Herm hits Arizona

Eli Manning is back. SBNation

You can listen to my radio show, The Sports Bosses, Monday thru Friday 10 a.m. Eastern on SB Nation Radio. Follow me on Twitter @mediarodriguez

Another curious drive around they sports map this week. While I always say that I never let the facts get in the way of a good story, this week’s nuggets tell me that truth is always stranger than fiction:

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.

The Geno Smith era began and ended for the New York Football Giants with a 24-17 loss to the Raiders Sunday.

While Geno didn’t actually play bad he will forever be linked to the buffoonery that was the Ben McAdoo era in the meadowlands.

At 2-9, I get what the Giants were doing. But the logic of looking to Geno Smith to see what he can do is like saying .. I have a Rolls Royce but I want to drive something different this week. Oooh that Toyota Corolla looks interesting. All the while the “future” of the team, Davis Webb was inactive for the game.

After the loss New York fell to 2-10 on the season and quickly fired McAdoo and GM Jerry Reese. Eli Manning is back as the driver of Big Blue as New York shakes themselves.

As far as McAdoo...I always thought that he looked like first guy killed in every mob movie. Well, congrats. You just earned Fredo Corleone status. And Monday, the Giants took Fred ah, Ben.. fishing. Good riddance.

TUSCALOOSA, ALA.

The College Football Playoff committee announced that Alabama would join Clemson, Oklahoma and Georgia as the four teams vying for the sport’s National Championship leaving Ohio Stare on the outside looking in. Bravo. They got it right. Bama should be there.

What is the CFP? A business. A show. They hav an obligation to their shareholders ( TV, sponsors, partners) to deliver the most interesting storylines and games.

Clemson vs. Alabama is a better story line. It is two southern teams playing in New Orleans. It is a better game. It is better... business.

CINCINNATI, OHIO

Whoa was that Steelers/Bengals game uncomfortable to watch. Two players taken off in stretchers and a vicious helmet to helmet hit.

While the commissioner may be lighting cigars with hundred dollar bills after getting a contract extension, the Monday nighter pulled back the curtain on the NFL. A violent, cruel game that leaves the players discarded like palm husks on the side of the road.

The league can try to put in all the education, equipment and safety to make the game safer. The players need to give a damn too. No more cheap shots. No more targeting. It just ain’t cool.

TEMPE, ARIZ.

Finally thank you to Herm Edwards. I hope he has a long run as head coach of the Arizona State Sun Devils. The press conferences are going to be epic. He’s graduated to “old man shouting at cars” status. Bless his heart.
 

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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