Wakeup Call: We won't hold it against you, New Orleans

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Wakeup Call: We won't hold it against you, New Orleans

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Tuesday, February 5.

BASEBALL
Yankee fans may have turned on Alex Rodriguez, but Mariano Rivera says Yankee players haven't. (AP)

While you're enjoying today's parade, Baltimoreans, Adam Jones wants you to start preparing for another one in November. (CSN Baltimore)

Oakland made the Astros an offer they couldn't refuse . . . (CSN Houston)

. . . and, as a result, Jed Lowrie is now an A. (CSN Bay Area)

Pressure's on, Donnie Baseball. (NBC's Hardball Talk)

You may know Hawk Harrelson as the cheerleader in the White Sox broadcast booth. History will know him as the only man who ever fired Tony La Russa as manager . . . and he regrets that. (CSN Chicago)

Sergio Romo's in the clear. (AP)

Next stop on the Jonathan Sanchez Reclamation Tour: Pittsburgh. (Hardball Talk)

If you haven't pitched in going on four years, can you actually retire? (AP)

The Mets are talking to Scott Boras about Michael Bourn. Or not. (Hardball Talk)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
One day after one of his brothers-in-law won the Super Bowl -- same day another one lost it -- Tom Crean's Indiana Hoosiers regained the No. 1 ranking in the AP poll. (AP)

In the women's poll, that honor still belongs to Baylor . . . (AP)

. . . though the UPS Team Performance Index continues to think UConn's the best. (AP)

The Ivy League season has barely begun, but the Princeton women are already looking ahead to the NCAAs. (AP)

Back on the men's side, No. 9 Syracuse put the clamps on No. 25 Notre Dame. (AP)

Remember that horrific fall North Carolina's P.J. Hairston took last week at Boston College? It's going to keep him out of tonight's game against Wake Forest. (AP)

Tragic news: An assistant coach on the Cal State Fullerton women's team and her fiancee were found murdered in their car outside their upscale condominium complex in Irvine, Calif., and police say they have no suspects or motive. (AP)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Guess that Auburn tattoo wasn't such a good idea after all. (AP)

Bret Bielema trots out his Brother Love Traveling Salvation Show routine for the good folks at Arkansas. (AP)

Cal agrees to pay Jeff Tedford 5.55 million to not coach the Bears. (AP)

Boise State suspends safety Lee Hightower and tight end Hayden Plinke for violating university rules. (AP)

HOCKEY
Looking forward to the Shawn ThorntonMike Rupp rematch? You'll have to wait awhile; the Rangers traded Rupp to the Wild, whom the Bruins don't play this year. (AP)

Caps' GM George McPhee shoots down the Roberto Luongo-to-Washington talk. (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk)

So why, then, was Canucks GM Mike Gillis at the Capitals' game on Sunday? (CSN Washington)

The Sharks suffer their first regulation loss of the season. (AP)

It took a day, but Chris Kunitz finally got his fourth goal from Sunday's game. (AP)

The Red Wings will be without rookie Brendan Smith for the next 2-4 weeks, further depleting their defense corps. (AP)

PRO BASKETBALL
This is why they say "Buyer beware" when it comes to DeMarcus Cousins. (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

Memo to Michael Beasley: If you plan on driving a) with a suspended license and b) without plates or registration, don't go 71 in a 45-mph zone. (AP)

The Clippers, without Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, lose to the Wizards, but Washington coach Randy Wittman is shedding no tears for L.A. (AP)

The Pacers beat the Bulls for their 14th consecutive home victory. (AP)

California native, and 49ers fan, Tyson Chandler lost his bet with teammate, and Ravens fan, Carmelo Anthony. So when he spoke to the media after his third straight 20-rebound game in the Knicks' win over the Pistons, he was wearing a Baltimore Super Bowl championship hat. (AP)

Talk about a lose-lose night: The Magic drop their 10th straight -- and become the only NBA team with multiple double-digit losing streaks this year -- in Philly's 78-61 victory, but the Sixers may be without leading rebounder Thaddeus Young, who strained his left hamstring, for the next two weeks. (AP)

Happy birthday, Linsanity. (CSN Houston)

PRO FOOTBALL
Turns out the power outage came as no surprise to Superdome officials. (AP)

But Roger Goodell says he's not going to hold it against New Orleans when it comes to scheduling future Super Bowls. (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

My apologies, Beyonce, for suggesting otherwise. (Pro Football Talk)

Here are the five plays that turned the Super Bowl in the Ravens' favor. (CSN Baltimore)

Say what you will about Bernard Pollard, but playing most of the season with six cracked ribs? Wow. (Pro Football Talk)

MVP Joe Flacco starts hitting the late-night talk-show circuit. (AP)

The Ravens and 'Niners didn't have quite the ratings power of Patriots-Giants or Packers-Steelers. (AP)

As soon as the 49ers finish the 2013 season -- and then move into their new Santa Clara home -- the city of San Francisco is going to blow up the 'Stick. (Yahoo! Sports)

Our only question to the Lions: What took you so long? (AP)

But not to worry, Thaddeus Young. If this guy can find work in the NFL after getting out of jail, there's hope for you yet. (AP)

R.I.P., Walt Sweeney. (AP)

SOCCER
A match-fixing scandal is exploding in Europe, where 680 contests -- including some World Cup games -- are under investigation. (NBC's Pro Soccer Talk)

FIFA says greater cooperation between law-enforcement agencies and sports' governinhg bodies will be required in order to fix the problem. (Pro Soccer Talk)

Brady-Ryan marks rare case of NFL's top two quarterbacks meeting in Super Bowl

Brady-Ryan marks rare case of NFL's top two quarterbacks meeting in Super Bowl

For all the flack that Matt Ryan got heading into this season, he’s been a damn good quarterback. Is his career on the same level as Tom Brady’s? Of course not, but this regular season saw him stand as Brady’s peer, making him an MVP favorite.

One of Ryan’s biggest challengers for that hardware is the same man who stands in the way of him winning his first Super Bowl. Though he missed the first four games of the season due to suspension, Brady finished second in the league in passing yards per game and threw just two picks in 12 games while tossing 28 touchdowns.  

So Super Bowl LI will pin the quarterback with the best numbers overall (Ryan finished two touchdowns behind Aaron Rodgers for the league lead but threw for 516 more yards and had a higher completion percentage) against the quarterback with the best touchdown/interception ratio ever for a single season. 

In other words, this is a Super Bowl that puts what one could argue are the season’s two best quarterbacks each other. That’s pretty rare. 

Going back the last 25 years, there are four candidates for such meetings: Manning vs. Brees in Super Bowl XLIV, Favre and Elway in Super Bowl XXXII (this one is a stretch), Favre and Bledsoe in Super Bowl XXXI and Kelly and Rypien in Super Bowl XXVI.. 

Why haven’t the two best quarterbacks squared off in the Super Bowl more often? Because Brady and Peyton Manning played their entire careers in the same conference, silly. It’s taken other players entering their echelon to even set up such a scenario, and that’s why Brees’ Saints beating Manning’s Colts serves as the only example during Manning or Brady’s career. 

The strong performances of those who dominated the regular season have often carried over into their Super Bowl meetings, but not always. Drew Bledsoe and Jim Kelly (both throwing two touchdowns and four picks in Super Bowl losses) are examples of the wheels falling off in the final game. 

Here’s a breakdown of past occurrences. Note that all four of them saw the winning team score at least 30 points, something the Pats have done just once in Brady's four Super Bowl wins: 

Super Bowl XLIV: Brees vs. Manning

Brees led NFL with 34 touchdowns in regular season; Manning finished tied for second with 33

Final score: Saints 31, Colts 17

Brees: 32/39, 288 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
Manning: 31/45, 333 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT

Brees completed a postseason in which he had no turnovers and did so in a nearly exactly average game for him that season, as e averaged 292.5 yards, 2.26 touchdowns and less than one interception per game in the regular season. The two quarterbacks also combined for just one sack. 
 
Super Bowl XXXII: Favre vs. Elway

Favre led NFL with 35 TDs in regular season, Elway finished second in TD/interception ratio

Final score: Broncos 31, Packers 24

Favre: 25/42, 256 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT, fumble lost 
Elway: 12/22, 123 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT

Again, this is the forced one because Jeff George (3,917 passing yards, 29 touchdowns, nine interceptions) had the better regular season than Elway (3,635 passing yards, 27 touchdowns, 11 picks). Elway may have been the winning quarterback, but he didn’t have anything to do with the win. Terrell Davis carried the Broncos, playing through a migraine and rushing for 157 yards with three touchdowns en route to Super Bowl MVP honors. 

Super Bowl XXXI: Favre vs. Bledsoe

Favre led NFL with 39 TDs, Bledsoe third with 27

Final Score: Packers 35, Patriots 21

Favre: 14/27, 246 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
Bledsoe: 25/48, 253 yards, 2 TD, 4 INT

Both quarterbacks took five sacks in this game. For Bledsoe, it was the most he took all season. The game was the third four-pick performance of his NFL career. 

Super Bowl XXVI: Kelly vs. Rypien

Kelly led NFL with 33 TDs, Rypien second with 28

Final score: Redskins 37, Bills 24

Rypien: 18/33, 292 yards, 2 TD, INT
Kelly: 28/58, 275 yards, 2 TD, 4 INT, fumble lost

Turns out five turnovers (and being sacked four times) is not a recipe for winning the Super Bowl. Kelly’s 58 passes thrown set a Super Bowl record.
 

Dimitroff, Pioli the first Belichick defectors to lead new team to Super Bowl

Dimitroff, Pioli the first Belichick defectors to lead new team to Super Bowl

Working for the Patriots makes you attractive to other teams. Many have left, but Thomas Dimitroff and Scott Pioli are finally showing that major success can be attained in the process. 

Dimitroff and Pioli have built a team in Atlanta that will play for the franchise’s first Super Bowl title on Feb. 5. While many have been hired away from Bill Belichick's Patriots to lead other organizations, Dimitroff is the first of the defectors to get to the Super Bowl on his own. Adding an old friend in Pioli has played a part in that. 

Dimitroff served as New England’s director of college scouting from 2003 through 2007 before becoming Atlanta’s general manager in 2008. He hired Pioli in 2014 as an assistant GM after the longtime Patriots director and vice president of player personnel had a messy stint as the Chiefs’ GM. 

Executives and coaches (even Field Yates; yes, the fair-haired boy from the television) leaving the Patriots for better positions with other organizations has been common, but with the new positions have often come diminished success compared to New England. 

Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini, Bill O’Brien, Charlie Weis (in his brief return to the NFL in 2010) and Josh McDaniels make up the list of coordinators who have left winning with the Patriots to experience a dropoff without Brady and Belichick. John Robinson (Titans), Jason Licht (Buccaneers) and Bob Quinn (Lions) currently serve as GMs elsewhere, while former Pats secondary coach Joe Collier works with Dimitroff and Pioli as the Falcons’ director of pro personnel. 

It’s only fitting that Dimitroff and Pioli will have to go through Belichick in order to secure a title on their own. Winning without Belichick has proven hard enough for his former colleagues; winning against him will be even harder.