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Wake-up Call: Pete Carroll, Michael Phelps, Plaxico Burress, Jean-Sebastien Giguere

December 2, 2008 | 11:25 am

Pete Carroll, right, congratulates safety Will Harris in the closing seconds of the Notre Dame game on Saturday.

First things first: So, my first day back from having taken a few days off and that question rears its ugly head again: Will Pete Carroll bolt to the NFL? Sam Farmer, if nothing else, gives the story a fresh approach in that the BCS system this year would have turned Pete's hair gray if it weren't already gray. It's tiresome to deal with this question every year, but Pete is such a big personality and so successful year after year in a system where you can't buy talent that his every move becomes worth watching.

Michael PhelpsVote, vote, vote: Olympic swimming great Michael Phelps today was named SI's Sportsman of the Year. The next question is, if Phelps is No. 1, who is No. 2? (A side note:  Mark Spitz, whose medals record Phelps broke, did not get the SI honor in 1972. It was Billie Jean King and John Wooden.) Phelps is the first swimmer to win the award and was picked from 39 nominations that included fellow Olympic standouts Kobe Bryant and soccer goalkeeper Hope Solo.

Phelps wasn't the only swimmer on the nomination list, though.  So was Dara Torres. And for Phelps' fans, SI offers this:  SI VideoWatch Behind the Scenes video of the Michael Phelps SI Sportsman cover shoot. Now, here is your chance to weigh in. We came up with a list of a baker's dozen -- all athletes who accomplished great things in 2008. You have until 1 a.m. Thursday to vote. I'll write about the results in Thursday's Wake-up Call.

Shot in the dark: In trying to catch up on the case of New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress, in which he accidentally shot himself in the leg, I came across the latest news. Burress, who faces handgun charges, has hired Benjamin Brafman as his attorney. Now, Brafman is the real deal. A former assistant Manhattan district attorney, he may be best known for winning an acquittal for rapper Sean “Diddy” Combs after a 1999 shooting inside a Manhattan nightclub. If found guilty, he apparently would face 3 1/2 years or more in prison. But here is the question. Just how long is Michael Vick's prison term?

Up and down: After Saturday's game against the Chicago Blackhawks, and last night's game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, it's clear the young Kings are playing well despite some mistakes. They still need Erik Ersberg in goal more often than Jason LaBarbera, though, and Ersberg needs to keep improving. He has a 2.29 goals-against average (11th in the league), which means he keeps the Kings close more often than not. While the Kings are on an upward trend (some might say anything is up compared with last season), the Ducks are struggling despite heroic goaltending. The Ducks were outshot, 47-16 in last night's loss in Detroit. Jean-Sebastien Giguere was in goal and stopped 37 of 38 shots through two periods.

-- Debbie Goffa

Photo: Pete Carroll, right, congratulates safety Will Harris in the closing seconds of the Notre Dame game on Saturday. Credit: Mark J. Terrill / AP