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Monday, December 1, 2008

Robinho: City can emulate Manchester United

By Soccernet Staff

Robinho believes Manchester City can emulate neighbours United as the teams prepare to meet at Eastlands on Sunday.

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Robinho thinks City are destined for glory.

The Brazilian also claims Chelsea messed up a potential switch from Real Madrid which instead saw him make a shock move to the north-west for a British record £32million at the end of the summer transfer window.

The 24-year-old has already made an impact at City, scoring eight league goals including an audacious chip against Arsenal last week.

Now Robinho believes the team can become as big as the Red Devils following their takeover by the Abu Dhabi United Group, which has seen the likes of Kaka show interest.

He said: "In football, nothing is impossible. Manchester City might be classed as a small club but in two or three years' time, who knows?

"Three or four years ago Chelsea were considered a small club, but now they are a big club. Anything can happen. The project here is very ambitious and Manchester City will grow very quickly over the next few years.''

The forward pledged his future to the club, saying: "The only thing in my mind is to stay here for many years. Next year we will try our best to reach the Champions League.''

Robinho had been expected to move to Stamford Bridge but he claims they undermined the move by putting a picture of a shirt bearing his name on their website before the deal was finalised.

"It was Chelsea's own fault,'' he continued. "Everything would probably have been okay but Chelsea put that picture of me on their website and Madrid were upset about that.

"They didn't want to sell to Chelsea because they are in the Champions League and with me they would have been even stronger.''

Robinho claims he was badly treated by Real after reports he would be a makeweight in the deal to take Cristiano Ronaldo to the Bernabeu with the Brazilian going in the opposite direction.

"Things didn't end well in Madrid because the directors didn't behave properly,'' he added.

"I know what I'm worth and I don't feel I should be talked about as currency for someone else. Once a player finds out that he is seen as the bait in a part-exchange, how else can they feel? It's not the way to treat people.''

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Driver hits 7 cars in 13 minutes


By Associated Press

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) - Police say a man driving away from a Spokane bar hit at least seven cars within 13 minutes, including one driven by an off-duty detective, before they arrested him for drunken driving.

Jason G. Cross, 32, was booked into the Spokane County Jail on Saturday on a charge of driving under the influence and seven charges of failure to leave information at the scene of an accident.

Police said they were alerted by someone at a bar in Browne's Addition, who told them a drunken driver was leaving in a pickup truck at 3:28 p.m. Saturday.

Cross was arrested at 3:41 p.m. after his pickup struck cars and then wedged between two vehicles stopped at a red light. Off-duty detective Neil Gallion was in one of the cars and followed Cross' pickup. Officials said the pickup hit other cars before they caught up to Cross.

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Resolution at last as Burke is introduced as Maple Leafs' GM

TORONTO -- Brian Burke took over as president and general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.

"You're talking about the Vatican if you're Catholic, you're talking the center of the hockey universe, you're talking about one of the most important jobs in hockey running the Toronto Maple Leafs," Burke said at a news conference. "It's a dream job."

Brian Burke

Brad White/Getty Images

Maple Leafs fans are hoping GM Brian Burke can work some of the same magic he did with the Anaheim Ducks.

He got a six-year deal, worth a reported $3 million annually, to replace interim general manager Cliff Fletcher after John Ferguson was fired in January.

Burke spent the past three-plus seasons managing the Anaheim Ducks, leading them to a Stanley Cup title in 2007.

He stepped down from the post Nov. 13 after declining to sign a contract extension that would take him beyond this season.

During previous management stops in Hartford, Vancouver and Anaheim, the 53-year-old has been unafraid to make bold moves, though he has no plans to make any immediately.

"I don't think players should get traded at Christmas time unless they ask to get traded," Burke said. "So for me to evaluate this team, make some judgments and do something before Dec. 9, is probably going to be hard to do. So anyone who's waiting with bated breath for that first deal might wait past that deadline. Because I believe players deserve to spend the holidays with their families."

There were no timetables offered for turning around a club that hasn't been in the playoffs since 2004 or specifics on how he planned to get the city its first Stanley Cup championship since 1967.

"We require as a team proper levels of pugnacity, testosterone, truculence and belligerence," he said. "That's how our teams play."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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Why College Football BCS Rankings Are So Mysterious

Alabama's Mark Ingram (22) runs on a 14-yard touchdown as Auburn's Josh Bynes (17) and Sen Derrick Marks (94) defend during their NCAA college football game at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Saturday, Nov. 29, 2008. Alabama, which is just one win away from a likely BCS birth, won 36-0. AP Photo/Dave Martin

By Dan Peterson, LiveScience's Sports Columnist

As the new President-elect, Barack Obama faces one of this country's most vexing problems.

Obama has promised the American public that he will bring change to a stagnant system that is controlled by a few wealthy men that control the millions of dollars at stake. During a Nov. 16 "60 Minutes" interview, Obama elaborated on his plans: "Eight teams. That would be three rounds to determine a national champion. I don't know any serious fan of college football who has disagreed with me on this. So, I'm going to throw my weight around a little bit. I think it's the right thing to do."

That's right, fixing the college football post-season is on the national agenda.

Prior to 1998, the collective wisdom of football coaches and sportswriters decided the fate of college teams by ranking them in two weekly polls, with the final lists deciding the season's champion. This led to problems when the media poll did not agree with the coaches poll, and dual champions would have to be named.

The Bowl Championship Series (BCS) was created to finally provide a national championship game so that at least the No. 1 and the No. 2 ranked teams could play each other at the end of the season.

Of course, working backwards, how are we sure that the two teams selected are indeed the No. 1 and No. 2 teams? Should we fall back on the polls or should we use the other four BCS bowl games to provide an eight team playoff, as our next president suggests?

Sea of rankings

Since the playoff system seems to be an uphill battle, let's focus on the current BCS polling solution and why it has so many doubters.

The weekly BCS rankings consist of three components: the Harris Interactive poll (114 writers); the USA Today coaches poll (60 coaches); and the infamous "computer" rankings (6 independent systems averaged together). Each component counts for one third of the total, with the average point value of all three determining the rankings from 1 to 25.

The human polls are self-explanatory but come with an opportunity for bias among writers and coaches, as well as varying methods of ranking. This uncertainty and frequent lack of logic helped support the use of automated ranking models. Just feed in the data from previous games and have the rankings derived according to the embedded algorithm. Human emotion and bias are eliminated, but the focus is now on the correctness of the model.

Unfortunately, of the six models used by the BCS, only one, by astrophysicist Wesley Colley, provides all of the mathematical details, while the other five claim proprietary rights and keep their methods shrouded.

In a Nov. 19 interview with the Birmingham News, BCS administrator Bill Hancock admitted, "We don't have the formulas and that's by design. The commissioners are not in the computer business and don't want to be. But on the other hand, they want to know that the computer rankings they hire are the best they can be. Because we're hiring the service, we don't have any control over the math."

Even the coaches are in the dark. "I don't know how the computer thing works," USC coach Pete Carroll said earlier this month.

Typically in science, a hypothesis is proposed and then checked against observations to find out if it's valid. However, in college football or any sport there are no definitive observations, as each team does not play every other team. So, the best we can do is compare a model's results with other human polls or other computer-based rankings. Since there is no final "right" answer, any system's output is going to be open for disagreement.

SOS!

Wins and losses seem to be the simplest statistic to use to compare teams. Within conferences, teams typically play every other team so a winning percentage (wins divided by games played) provides a reasonable ranking. However, comparing teams across conferences becomes the challenge, as we can't assume that each conference has equally strong teams.

So, a "strength of schedule" (SOS) variable is added to each model. The algebra fun begins in knowing how deep to take this SOS factor. If Team A beats Team B, we need to know how good Team B is by analyzing its previous opponents. But, how good are Team B's previous opponents? This backward chain needs to stop somewhere.

Thankfully, when trying to rank only the top 25 teams, the iterations can stop when there is only a negligible change in ratings. A team that plays weaker teams in their non-conference schedule not only runs the risk of an upset, but also lowers their SOS. The NCAA has also prohibited the use of margin of victory as a factor to prevent unsportsmanlike run-ups in the score.

Its not a perfect system, but that's OK with the BCS' Hancock. "We know that there's no one computer ranking that can adequately tell you who's going to win it on Saturday," he said. "We just need something to add a little science and that's what we have."

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Sooners edge 'Horns in BCS standings, headed to Big 12 title game

CBSSports.com wire reports

NEW YORK -- A week before the final standings are released and the Bowl Championship Series is already ticking people off.

Oklahoma -- not Texas -- is headed to the Big 12 Championship Game with an inside track to the national title game by moving ahead of the Longhorns in the BCS standings Sunday.

Texas' victory against the Sooners in October wasn't enough to give the Longhorns the advantage in a three-way tie between the Red River rivals and Texas Tech atop the Big 12 South. And that's sure to leave many in Austin dismayed -- at the least.

"Going into the last couple of weeks, we knew that a good team was going to be left out of the Big 12 championship. Unfortunately, in this situation, it was us," Texas coach Mack Brown said in a statement. "It is what it is. We don't like it, we don't agree with it or think it's fair, but, like anything else, we'll handle it and move forward."

The Big 12 had to use its fifth tiebreaker, best BCS rating, to determine which team will play North winner Missouri on Saturday in Kansas City, Mo.

The Sooners (11-1), who lost to Texas 45-35 in October, barely edged the Longhorns. Oklahoma has a .9351 BCS average. Texas' BCS average is .9223.

Oklahoma was a point ahead of Texas in the coaches poll and six points behind the Longhorns in the Harris Interactive. The computer ratings preferred the Sooners and that made the difference.

"They don't have agendas, they don't have loyalties, they don't have opinions. They don't have all the bias that everyone else does," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. "And if you say no one else does, then I don't think you're really being truthful."

So the Longhorns will be watching two teams they beat play for the conference title, rooting for Missouri.

Oklahoma is second in the BCS standings behind unbeaten Alabama. Texas is third and Florida is fourth.

The winner of the Southeastern Conference Championship Game between the Crimson Tide and Gators is virtually guaranteed a spot in the BCS national title game on Jan. 8 in Miami.

Oklahoma would earn the other spot by beating Missouri. If the Sooners lose, it could open the door for Texas to go to the national title game, despite not playing for its conference championship.

If voters are squeamish about letting a team that didn't win its conference play for a national championship, maybe Southern California could get a shot at the SEC champ in South Florida.

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Texas passes Oklahoma in AP poll

NEW YORK (AP) -- To earn a national championship, Alabama or Florida will have to win two games matching No. 1 vs. No. 2.

The top-ranked Crimson Tide and second-ranked Gators held their spots in the AP Top 25 Sunday, setting up the 40th game matching the highest ranked teams in the AP Top 25.

Alabama (12-0) and Florida (11-1) will play Saturday at the Georgia Dome in the Southeastern Conference title game. The winner is virtually guaranteed a spot in the BCS national championship game in Miami on Jan. 8.

No. 3 Texas slipped past No. 4 Oklahoma in the latest rankings, a week after the Sooners had jumped over the Longhorns.

The Crimson Tide received 62 first-place votes and 1,620 points from the media panel. The Gators received three first-place votes, up one from last week, and 1,516 points.

Texas had 1,488 points, eight more than Oklahoma.

There was little movement throughout the poll after a weekend when most ranked teams either won and were off.

No. 5 Southern California and No. 6 Penn State held their spots. No. 7 Utah jumped a spot ahead of No. 8 Texas Tech, after the Red Raiders had to rally to beat Baylor 35-28 at home.

No. 9 and unbeaten Boise State and Ohio State round out the top 10.

The 1 vs. 2 matchup in Atlanta will be the fourth in which Alabama has been involved, but the first not played in a bowl game and the first in which the Tide will be No. 1. The Tide are 2-1 in games matching the top two teams in the AP poll.

Florida has also appeared three times in a 1 vs. 2 matchup, going 2-1.

In 1 vs. 2 games, the top-ranked team is 23-14-2.

No. 11 is TCU in the poll, followed by unbeaten Ball State, Big East champion Cincinnati, and Oklahoma State, which slipped three spots after losing 61-41 at home to Oklahoma.

No. 15 is Georgia Tech and No. 16 is Oregon. Both the Yellow Jackets and Ducks had big wins against their in-state rivals on Saturday.

No. 17 Georgia lost to Georgia Tech 45-42.

No. 18 Boston College will play unranked Virginia Tech in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship in Tampa, Fla., on Saturday.

No. 19 Missouri dropped seven spots after losing 40-37 to Kansas and will have to wait for the BCS standings to come out later Sunday to find out what team it will play for the Big 12 title in Kansas City, Mo.

Texas, Oklahoma and Texas Tech finished tied atop the Big 12 South standings and the spot in the conference championship game will go to the highest rated team in the BCS standings. The BCS uses the coaches and Harris polls, along with computer ratings, to rank teams.

No. 20 BYU is followed by Michigan State, Mississippi, Pittsburgh, Northwestern and Oregon State, which dropped eight spots after losing 65-38 to Oregon.

Florida State was the only team to drop out of the rankings.

Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Pierce, hospital probed in Burress shooting

Image: Burress
Seth Wenig / AP
New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress, second from left, is escorted from a police station in handcuffs Monday.

NEW YORK - Plaxico Burress was led out of a police precinct in handcuffs Monday after surrendering on a weapons possession charge, and authorities said that teammate Antonio Pierce is being investigated over his role in an accidental shooting at a Manhattan nightclub.

Burress was silent but held his head high as he was led out of the police station, where a crowd that included Giants fans hovered nearby with cell phone cameras. Burress planned to plead not guilty to the charge during a Monday afternoon court appearance, said his lawyer, Benjamin Brafman.

The New York Giants star wide receiver accidentally shot himself at a nightclub Friday night and was treated at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. He was released Saturday.

The episode set off a frenzy that showed no signs of letting up Monday: Police said the case could expand beyond Burress, with authorities investigating Pierce and whether the hospital failed to report the shooting. The NFL is closely monitoring the developments as well.

A more detailed timeline of the evening also emerged. Police said Pierce, Burress and running back Derrick Ward arrived at the club with two other people around 11:30 p.m. Friday.

Burress had been allowed to bypass security, even though they knew he was armed, according to a law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity. The club is said to be fully cooperating in the investigation.

Around 12:05 a.m., as Burress was being escorted to a VIP area with a drink in one hand, he somehow ended up fumbling his gun and it discharged, hitting his thigh. Pierce was with him when that occurred, police said.

It’s believed Pierce helped retrieve the gun and take Burress to the car, and then left with him, police said.

It’s unclear what occurred during the two hours that followed.

Burress showed up at the hospital around 2:20 a.m. and was discharged at 1 p.m. Saturday.

The gun was eventually recovered at Burress’ house in New Jersey, authorities said.

Brafman refused to respond to media reports about an alleged coverup, other than to say: “I think a lot of what’s been in the press is not accurate.”

Burress arrived at a police station early Monday in a black Cadillac Escalade wearing jeans and a black coat. Burress, who was not visibly limping, did not speak to the media.

“He is standing tall. He is a mature adult,” said Brafman, a well-known defense lawyer who represented hip-hop impresario Sean “Diddy” Combs on a bribery and gun possession charge in 2001. “I think any professional athlete in this situation would be concerned.”

He said Burress is feeling OK. “If they let him play, he will be able to play. ... I think he will be a superstar for the rest of his career.”

“My hope is that it plays out well and he can continue his career, because he’s a good person I think, with a brilliant athletic career. And it would be a terrible sadness if an isolated incident could ruin a life,” said Brafman.

The case also drew the wrath of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has waged a long fight against illegal guns during his time in office. He called for a full prosecution of state law that requires mandatory prison for carrying a loaded handgun.

“I don’t think anybody should be exempt from that, and I think it would be an outrage if we didn’t prosecute to the fullest extent of the law, particularly people who live in the public domain, make their living because of their visibility — they’re the role models for our kids,” Bloomberg said.

He also lashed out at the hospital, based on the allegation that officials may not have properly reported the shooting.

“It’s just an outrage that the hospital didn’t do what they were legally required to do. It’s a misdemeanor, it’s a chargeable offense, and I think the district attorney should certainly go after the management of this hospital. The lame excuse that they didn’t know — this is a world class hospital,” he said.

Pierce deflected several questions after Sunday’s game against the Washington Redskins. He wouldn’t say whether he has a lawyer and when asked if he is concerned about his own situation, Pierce replied: “No. I’m fine where I’m at.

“I am not answering any questions about the incident that happened Friday night. If you have anything to say about the Washington Redskins, this game and moving forward, I’ll answer it. Anything else, I’m not answering.”

Giants coach Tom Coughlin said he spoke to his players about Burress’ situation but wouldn’t get into specifics.

“We all are upset about what happened with Plaxico, and hopefully he’s going to be fine and so on and so forth. That’s our first concern,” Coughlin said.

Reese and Giants president and CEO John Mara said they hadn’t spoken to Burress, who hurt his hamstring two weeks ago. “I reached out to him,” Reese said. “I did not get a return phone call.”

Mara repeatedly said the Giants would cooperate with the police and the NFL in their investigations.

“This is a law enforcement matter and we are continuing to cooperate fully with the police,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in a statement. “In addition, it will be reviewed under our league policies.”

Burress caught the go-ahead touchdown pass in the Giants’ Super Bowl victory against the New England Patriots in February, following a regular season in which he scored a career-high 12 TDs. He was rewarded with a $35 million, five-year contract.

Burress has 35 catches for 454 yards and four touchdowns while constantly drawing double coverage this season.

Off the field, he was suspended for a game against Seattle in October and fined $117,500 for missing a team meeting and failing to notify the Giants of his absence. He said he had a family emergency.

Giants running back Brandon Jacobs said he spoke to Burress on the phone after the game.

“I called him and made a few jokes about the situation and his laugh is what I wanted to hear,” Jacobs said, according to Newsday. “If he didn’t laugh I knew he was going to be down, which he shouldn’t be down. It’s a mistake that happened, something that shouldn’t have happened and that’s that.”

© 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Burress Accidentally Shoots Himself in Leg

Washington Post Staff Writer

New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress was released from a New York hospital yesterday after suffering a leg wound in a shooting Friday, according to the Giants.

According to several reports, Burress accidentally shot himself.

The Giants indicated in a written statement that Burress, 31, had suffered a wound to his right thigh in "an apparent accidental shooting." The Giants indicated in the statement that they were gathering facts about the incident and had been in contact with NFL security officials, and added that the shooting "could become a matter for law enforcement officials."

The team did not provide further details and did not indicate how seriously Burress was hurt or when he might be able to play football again. Burress already had been declared out of today's game against the Washington Redskins because of a hamstring injury.

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"Obviously, our primary concern is for Plaxico's health and well-being," the Giants' statement said, "and given the circumstances, we are relieved to say he was released from a New York City hospital at approximately 2 p.m. . . . At this point, we are attempting to gather all the facts surrounding this incident. This incident could become a matter for law enforcement officials, and because of that, we have no comment on any of the details."

Reports by Fox, the New York Daily News and other media outlets indicated that Burress suffered a non-life-threatening injury when he accidentally shot himself in the leg Friday night, hours after the Giants had announced that he wouldn't play against the Redskins.

The incident occurred at a nightclub on the East Side of Manhattan named the Latin Quarter, according to an ESPN report. A report by Yahoo! Sports indicated that Burress was not seriously wounded and he could be able to resume playing in a couple weeks.

League officials indicated it was too soon to know if the incident could produce disciplinary action against Burress under the NFL's personal conduct policy. Police were investigating the incident and Burress reportedly could face charges if he was not properly licensed to carry the weapon.

Burress caught the game-winning touchdown pass from Giants quarterback Eli Manning in last season's Super Bowl upset of the previously unbeaten New England Patriots. He was involved in an offseason contract dispute with the Giants but got a new five-year, $35 million deal just before a season-opening victory over the Redskins at Giants Stadium.

The Giants have a record of 10-1 and are regarded as the NFL's top team this season, but Burress has been involved in a series of controversies.

He was suspended for one game without pay by the team after reportedly missing a team meeting in late September. He was fined $45,000 by the NFL for three separate incidents during an Oct. 19 game against San Francisco in which he was penalized for complaining about an offensive pass interference call against him. He was benched at the outset of an Oct. 26 game at Pittsburgh by Coach Tom Coughlin after missing a treatment session the previous day.

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Notre Dame players tussle with USC players during pregame warmups

By Pat Forde
ESPN.com

LOS ANGELES -- Notre Dame's nickname is the Fighting Irish. USC's catch phrase is "Fight on!" Both sides lived up to the words before kickoff Saturday.

About 45 minutes prior to the game between the 6-5 Irish and 9-1 Trojans, players from both teams had a brief but spirited skirmish on the field. As Notre Dame's players exited the tunnel and entered the playing surface, they began jawing with the USC players who already had begun their team warmups. Players from both sides came together in a confrontation that began as nothing more than jumping and jawing but escalated. As coaches and police officers vainly attempted to separate the rivals, a few punches appeared to be thrown and a couple of players appeared to be wrestled to the ground. It was unclear from the press box which players were involved in the punching and wrestling. By the time the two teams were sequestered on their respective sides of the field, a gauntlet of 15 uniformed police officers stretched across the 50-yard line to keep the two teams apart. Both teams settled down quickly from there and the officers dispersed. When Notre Dame left the field jogging past the USC players with roughly 28 minutes left before kickoff, there were no incidents.

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Teams plug in to video game to evaluate talent in NBA

Diane Pucin

Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey doesn't play video games for fun or fantasy.

Morey uses the EA Sports NBA game for professional reasons. He uses it to help evaluate talent. Morey says he is a statistical junky, an admirer of Oakland Athletics General Manager Billy Beane and a mathematical nerd. "I've always loved numbers," Morey said. "I don't play EA Sports as a game. I use it as a tool."
While the kids plug in NBA 08 to "ooh" and "aah" over how real it looks when Kobe Bryant dunks or LeBron James runs the court and finishes, Morey plugs in for more serious purposes.

"Say if you're thinking about acquiring Ron Artest," Morey said from Hawaii, where he was evaluating talent in person at the Maui Classic college tournament.

"On the game, you can see how adding Artest can change the dynamic of your team. You can program it to run offensive sets with Artest and any combination of your players."

Morey said that even this early in the season, there are enough statistics available to evaluate rookies such as Minnesota's Kevin Love (from UCLA) and Memphis' O.J. Mayo (from USC)

"For example, you can tell how often, if Love throws an outlet pass, how often his team scores on the possession," Morey said. "You can tell how often Mayo goes right versus left, how effective the team is with Mayo pulling up and shooting versus when he pulls up and passes instead."

According to the NBA, about half the teams are using the video game as part of personnel evaluation. In the quiet of his office, Morey said he can see how often a player posts up and gets shots on cuts to the basket as well as about defensive and offensive tendencies.

So what is Morey doing in Maui? Just sipping mai tais on the beach?

"Simulation is great and will have a bigger and bigger place in the process," Morey said. "But at the end of the day you can't simulate a player being out too late the night before or his body language on the bench or how he interacts with teammates. Some things you have to do in person."

Especially if the games are in Maui.

Digital fun

If you are a fan of shows such as "The Office" (British and American versions), the Ricky Gervais sitcom "Extras" of a couple of years ago or Larry David's "Curb Your Enthusiasm," then you will appreciate Kenny Mayne's new project called "Mayne Street."

It's an ESPN digital production and totally a creation of Mayne's skewed, cynical and very funny mind.

The loose plot is that the episodes, which debut each Tuesday and Friday on ESPN.com, are a fictional and digital diary of a guy (Mayne) working for a network (gee, wonder which one?). The episodes are three to five minutes long.

On the first installment, Mayne is anchoring a "SportsCenter" segment and he has trouble coming up with an exit line. "Even for those of you who use this only for background during sex, thanks for watching 'SportsCenter,' " Mayne says.

Scott Van Pelt is playing Mayne's co-host. Van Pelt's look of dismay is priceless.

Mayne said he had proposed the idea originally to run on television. "It got put on a back burner," he said. "When my contract came back up, I proposed it again. We decided to try it online only first."

The first couple of episodes have drawn an average of 2.5 million web hits. Mayne said future episodes will feature Boston Celtics guard Ray Allen and celebrity chef Bobby Flay.

What to watch today

It will be a little like taking medicine, this UCLA at Arizona State football game at 6:30 p.m. on ESPN2. The Bruins need a win to keep slim bowl hopes alive (hopes that will most certainly be crushed next week against USC . . . and, yes, I do remember 13-9, I've seen the T-shirts). Arizona State was in early-season conversations as a possible Pacific 10 and national title contender. The Sun Devils are 4-6.

What to watch Saturday

It's a college football buffet, and so many games matter. Kansas at Missouri at 9:30 a.m.; Auburn at Alabama, Baylor at Texas Tech and Florida at Florida State all at 12:30 p.m. (national title hopes could be affected by all three games); Oregon at Oregon State at 4, Oklahoma at Oklahoma State and Notre Dame at USC at 5.

What to watch Sunday

In women's college basketball, No. 4 Oklahoma is at No. 1 Connecticut at 5:15 p.m. on ESPN. Yes, I know about the NFL but sometimes it's nice to mix it up a little.

diane.pucin@latimes.com

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