First things first: Matt Millen, the recently fired director of football operations and the architect of the history-making 0-16 Detroit Lions, showed up without fanfare Saturday as an analyst on NBC's studio show "Football Night in America." To be fair, Millen is a good analyst because he speaks frankly and obviously is fearless, and he did win four Super Bowls (Raiders, 49ers, Redskins) because he was a great linebacker. I was still in shock, though. At first I thought, what gall to hire Millen! This is a guy who made so many bad calls over the years (especially in rating football talent). But then Millen made some good comments in his analyst role. Here is the interview Dan Patrick did as co-host on that NBC show Saturday. I guess it just goes to show you that being fearless and tough like Millen has its advantages, especially when it comes to football and television.
Add NFL: The most interesting playoff matchup will be Chargers at Pittsburgh, with the Steelers probably without LaDainian Tomlinson and a tired Darren Sproles. These teams sure have a history, especially this season. The only question I have is this: Will Ed Hochuli be the referee for Sunday's game?
Wake up time: USC quarterback Mark Sanchez was on the Dan Patrick radio show this morning and the two joked around a bit at first because Sanchez was a little late getting on their air but was in good spirits despite what is, for him, an early hour (8:40). Sanchez teased back: "I heard that Millen interview ... I don't know if the Millen interview was your very best one. ..." Said Patrick: "I was going to bring up the Oregon State game with you ... ." Asked if he is anxious for the Lions to draft him, Sanchez laughed, then said: "I still haven't figured out what I plan to do for now. But I'm still going to investigate a little further and see if there is a compelling reason to enter the draft." And yes, he said he has sent in the required initial paperwork. Patrick added: "On a neutral field I would take USC over anybody in the country." Replied Sanchez: "Oh, I agree." But when asked if Oklahoma quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford or Tim Tebow are better than he is, Sanchez demurred. "That's for people like you to debate." There is still time to vote in our 3 polls on whether USC would beat Florida, Oklahoma or Texas.
Bad USC: A video of Rey Maualuga is getting the "All Things Trojan" blog some attention. Blogger Adam Rose, who posted this over the weekend, calls it a "dance" with sideline reporter Erin Andrews. Uh, no. A dance with someone means both people are involved. This looks like the sexist Maualuga (surprise, surprise) showing disrespect for a woman reporter, who didn't even know that he was behind her. Besides, it looks like something far different than a dance. You have to wonder who taught Maualuga that it's OK to be vulgar in public. I would hope the school extracts an apology from him on Andrews' behalf, because this video made it to YouTube.
Good USC: Santa Ana Mater Dei quarterback Matt Barkley showed why USC is excited to be getting him. He was the star in Sunday's All-America High School Football Game. Barkley, orally committed to USC, threw for two early touchdown passes to lead his White Team to a 27-16 victory over the Black Team. "It really felt good out there," he said. "It was a fun game with a lot of great players."
Will he or won't he? Be fired, that is. Boston College coach Jeff Jagodzinski reportedly has been told he will be fired if he interviews for the New York Jets head coaching job. That's according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen, citing (as usual) unnamed sources. Here's a question: Has Mortensen ever broken news where his "sources" are willing to go on the record, for attribution? The interview apparently is today and apparently Jagodzinski is going ahead with it. If fired, Mortensen says, Boston College would promote offensive coordinator Steve Logan to head coach. Stay tuned. Meanwhile here is an ESPN interview with Jagodzinski from earlier in the season.
Do and don't: Brian Cazeneuve of SI.com has 2009 resolutions for the NHL. It's a fun read. Meanwhile, the Ducks played a strong game Sunday against the Phoenix Coyotes. As Helene Elliott points out in her column, it took great goaltending and a strong penalty-kill.
-- Debbie Goffa
Photo: Detroit Lions owner and chairman William Clay Ford, left, talking to Matt Millen before a game last season. Credit: Paul Sancya / AP