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November 2002

November 27, 2002

Fearless Rick's Football Picks - November 28 - December 1, 2002

posted by Rick Gagliano

Gobble down some turkey and in between bites catch the NFL with the usual holiday fare: Redskins at Cowboys and New England visits Detroit. The college season dwindles down this weekend, but there are important matchups leading to conference championships. The Bills look to squish the fish, while the Rams head to the city of brotherly love to take on the unfreindly Eagles. San Fran needs a win and they'll get it...

Last week: College 2-6; NFL 7-9

NCAA Football - Thursday, November 28

at Mississippi -8 (50) Mississippi St.
- Eli Manning has not had the pocket protection he needs to run the Rebels' offense effectively and the entire team has suffered, especially the defense. Ole Miss is slumping towards the end of a disappointing season and will get dealt the final ignominity by losing to their intra-state rivals. Pick is Mississippi St. in an upset.

Friday, November 29

at Texas -13 (50) Texas A&M - Texas' season was ruined by losses to Oklahoma and Texas Tech, but they are still a solid program. The Aggies have a shot at the big upset in the annual rivalry and they did upset Oklahoma three weeks ago, so despite their spotty 6-5 record, they can play with anybody. Gobble up the points in this turkey.

at Arkansas -5 (44) LSU - Overrated is the word for LSU. They've managed to survive in the SEC due to a weak schedule. In their last four games, the Tigers have gone 2-2, including a 31-7 loss to Auburn and a 31-0 crushing by Alabama. They managed to beat Kentucky by a field goal and Ole Miss by a point. The home field and solid defense makes the Razorbacks a winner by 10 or more.

Colorado -1 (55) at Nebraska - This looks like the no-brainer of the month. This is roughly the worst Nebraska team in 30 years and the Buffs should run over them in a big way. The Cornhuskers haven't been able to stop anyone all year, so why would they start making plays on defense now?

Saturday, November 30

at Pittsburgh -2 1/2 (46) West Virginia - Nice game for Big East fans between two solid and improving programs (watch out for both of these teams in bowl games). West Virginia seems a little more poised on offense, so take them for the win.

at Virginia Tech -7 (47) Virginia - The Cavaliers absolutely stunned Maryland last week, so look for somewhat of a letdown. The Techies are stronger than their record indicates and may be taking out some frustrations on their neighbors here.

Miami -20 (56) at Syracuse - Is Miami going to sleepwalk through another game? Can Syracuse even hope to compete here. Interesting scenario, but the SU defense is not up to major college standards and the Hurricanes are still #1. After last week's last-minute scare against Pitt, expect the Floridians to leave nothing to chance here.

at Florida St. -3 1/2 (50) Florida - The line moved from -6 to where it currently sits, so loads of dough went down on Florida. Looks like a sucker move to me, as the Seminoles may have something to prove here.

at Southern Cal -11 (46) Notre Dame - The Irish present probably the best defense USC has seen all year, so throw out SoCal's rout of UCLA last week in comparisons. Notre Dame could easily tip the balance of power and beat the Trojans straight up. Carson Palmer, the USC QB, is having a spectacular year, but he's up against it in this one. Fun game.


NFL - Thursday, November 28

New England -5 1/2 (43 1/2 ) at Detroit - Gosh, don't you just hate those 5- 5 1/2 lines? Nevertheless, Detroit is simply a horrible team and if they get behind early, they'll probably quit. New England needs to cover a game, so this turkey is it.

Washington -1 (35) at Dallas - The Dallas players will be up for this one after they stuffed Jacksonville last week. Washington will be stoked as well. In the short run, bet on Dallas' defense to carry the day. Should be plenty of hitting here, but the Cowboys play as physical as it gets. Like the over here as well.

NFL Sunday, November 30

Miami -2 1/2 (42) at Buffalo - This is a very important game for both teams and Ray Lucas will start at QB for Miami, though Jay Fiedler did practice this week and is available. If Lucas struggles, Fiedler may get in. Buffalo is beginning to wither, and their defense is ragged. Look for Ricky Williams to have a big day in a Miami win.

at Green Bay -9 1/2 (39 1/2 ) Chicago - The Packers may be a hurting bunch after last week's pounding by Tampa Bay and it doesn't get any easier against the Bears. One would have to believe, however, that the Pack will simply outscore the Bears who have struggled offensively all season. Packers will win and cover.

Baltimore -3 (39 1/2 ) at Cincinnati - Ugly game of the week. Take your pick. I'll take the Ravens.

at Cleveland -7 1/2 (37 1/2 ) Carolina - Cleveland is in the playoff hunt and their offense seems to be starting to click. They have the players, they have a solid defense, and with a little dose of desire, they'll extend the Carolina losing streak to 9.

Pittsburgh -3 (43 1/2 ) at Jacksonville - The Jags just don't seem to have enough of anything to compete effectively, while the Steelers are hot. Kordell Stewart will likely start at QB, but Maddox will be there if needed. Steelers should win this by a TD.

at Kansas City -9 1/2 (46) Arizona - Upset special. Arizona may not win but they won't lose by more than seven. KCs defense is sloppy.

Atlanta -3 1/2 (48) at Minnesota - Michael Vick on a carpet, indoors? Wow! Atlanta is red hot. Their defense is overlooked, but has been a big reason why they are vying for a playoff spot. Take them big over the hapless Vikes.

at N.Y. Giants -3 (34 1/2 ) Tennessee - Sorry, but the Giants suck. No match here. Titans will pound them.

Denver -3 (41) at San Diego - The AFC West is up for grabs here, with both of these teams at 7-4. After going cross country to get killed by Miami, the Chargers return home where they are 4-1. Got to like their chances here especially if Denver doesn't start Griese.

at Indianapolis -11 1/2 (40 1/2 ) Houston - If the Texans can do one thing well, it's play defense but they will be put to a severe test on Sunday at Indy. The Colts are on a tear and may be the best team in the AFC. Barring a letdown after Monday's miracle in Denver, the Colts should hammer Houston.

St. Louis -2 1/2 (38 1/2 ) at Philadelphia - Sure enough, the Rams are favored because the Eagles have QB problems. Not to worry. Philly rolls on with another shocking win.

at San Francisco -9 (43) Seattle - The 49ers really need a win and getting Seattle right now looks simply delicious. San Fran will rock to a hearty win.

Tampa Bay -1 (40) at New Orleans - After losing to the Saints in overtime to open the season, the Bucs have improved dramatically while the Saints weaknesses on defense are being exploited game after game. This looks like a pure rout. Tampa Bay is the best in the NFC and will get sweet revenge.

NFL Monday, December 1

at Oakland -6 (48) N.Y. Jets - The Jets have a dismal record in Oakland but are playing at a playoff level. Problem is, the Raiders are playing at a Championship level. Big game, as both teams are in position to capture their division. Should be a whale of a contest and a big test for Jets' OB Pennington. He's been solid thus far, and a win over the Raiders would be convincing. Having a healthy Curtis Martin is BIG. The points just look too good to overlook. J-E-T-S JETS!


November 22, 2002

Fearless Rick's Football Picks for November 23-25

posted by Rick Gagliano

Bills at the Jets - Whoo Hoo! The Battle of the Bays in Tampa! And it's rivalry week on college gridirons across the nation. Miami survived a scare on Thursday night as they sleepwalked through their game with Pittsburgh. Will the Buckeyes be able to handle Michigan and play for the National Championship? Can Oklahoma fend off the Red Raider offense? And whose season will Alabama be ruining this week? These and other burning questions will be brought into focus in this week's picks.

Last week: College 3-5; Pros 11-5.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL, SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 23

Maryland -9 1/2 (51 1/2 ) at Virginia - Like I've been saying for the past three weeks, Maryland is playing at the top level of their game. Virginia is NO MATCH. Terps roll here and if they get help from NC State, they could be ACC champs.

at Ohio St. -4 (41) Michigan - Michigan is seriously looking to ruin Ohio State's season and they just might. The Buckeyes haven't looked very convincing their past few games offensively and the defense has had to make big plays. They do play MUCH better at home, however, and their response to the crowd may give them an edge. As much as I'd like to see OSU play Miami in the Fiesta Bowl, I don't think it's going to happen. The 4 points look very tasty and Michigan has gotten their offense together. Wolverines may blow up the place.

Southern Cal -5 1/2 (53 1/2 ) at UCLA - Carson Palmer will rule in this one. USC has an explosive offense and Palmer wants to go out a winner. The Trojans can ply with anybody and they'll win this and cover nicely.

at Alabama -10 1/2 (47) Auburn - The Crimson Tide, ineligible for bowl or SEC Title consideration, has gone about their business of ruining everybody else's season with considerable aplomb, knocking off Tennessee and LSU, and losing by two to Georgia. Auburn is not the same without Cadillac Williams in the backfield, so it looks like it will be a long day for the Tigers as Alabama take out all of their frustrations in this one. The Tide will roll big here.

Florida St. -6 (53) at N.C. State - The line on this game moved from -3 to -6 since Monday, so there's lots of action on the Seminoles. Be a wise guy and take the six. The Wolfpack has nothing to lose here and may put a can of whupass on their deep South brethren.

at Oklahoma -13 (61 1/2 ) Texas Tech - The Red Raiders did the unthinkable last week, beating the Longhorns in an awesome shootout. Kliff Kingsbury may win the Heisman if he wins this one. the winner of this contest will clinch the Big 12 South title and play Colorado in the conference title game on December 7 in Houston. Take the points because the OK defense can get touched up by Tech's wicked aerial attack.

at Washington St. -8 1/2 (60 1/2 ) Washington - No contest. Washington State is clearly the class of the PAC-10 and will put up big numbers here.

NFL, SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 24

at New England -7 1/2 (46) Minnesota - The Pats play better at home and despite their spotty play, they are still only a game out of first in the AFC East. The Vikings have lost an astonishing 15 straight road games. I like New England to stuff the run, shut down the passing game, and put up a 40-spot on one of the worst defenses in the league.

Tennessee -2 (37 1/2 ) at Baltimore - The Titans should be more than a 2-point favorite here. Sure, Baltimore plays nice D, but the Titans have won six straight. End of the line here for the Ravens.

Atlanta -3 1/2 (37) at Carolina - Atlanta is the surprise team of the year to some, though those more astute analysts (self included) picked them to make the playoffs preseason. They have a solid defense, Michael Vick and plenty of attitude, which goes a long way in this league. They are a solid pick here.

at Chicago -5 1/2 (38) Detroit - Ouch! The Bears a favorite coming off a Monday night loss? Detroit looked listless in the second half against the Jets and they may be falling apart too, but I call this game a toss-up probably decided by turnovers, so go with the points.

Jacksonville -2 1/2 (34 1/2 ) at Dallas - This could be a very entertaining game, though you'll have to like defense to enjoy it. Dallas can stop the run and cover well, but Jacksonville is still in the playoff hunt and will probably be able to generate just enough offense to win this one. A close call, like 17-13 Jags.

at Miami -3 (36 1/2 ) San Diego - Sorry, fish fans, the most complete team wins this one and Miami still doesn't have a solid QB. The Chargers are coming off their biggest win of the season, and will follow up with a well-executed game plan which includes ball control and plenty of blitzes on defense. Another win for the Bolts.

at New Orleans -5 1/2 (47 1/2 ) Cleveland - The Browns just don't have it this season and going into the noisy dome in NO is going to be a big problem. The bigger problem will be stopping Aaron Brooks and Deuce McAllister. The Saints need to keep pace with Tampa Bay and they should come away with a tidy home win.

at N.Y. Jets -3 (45 1/2 ) Buffalo - After a nice start, reality is setting in for the Buffalo Bills. The Jets beat them in a wild one on opening day in Buffalo, but the truth of the matter is that the Bills' defense is very spotty and the Jets have found an answer in Brad Pennington. Like the Jets to continue winning here.

at Pittsburgh -11 (43 1/2 ) Cincinnati - Kordell Stewart gets the start as Tommy Maddox will sit this one, and maybe more, out. It's a good time for Stewart t come in, as the Bengals don't really have much to hang on to this season, and he's had all week to practice with the starting squad. Just a hunch, however, that Kordell may be a little rusty, and the Pitt defense is a little shaky. I can see the Bengals keeping this one close. Take the generous spread.

at Tampa Bay -3 (39) Green Bay - Game of the week. It being in Tampa Bay, one must go with the Bucs. They have the ideal defense with which to stop Brett Favre and the offense has perked up recently. Quietly, the Bucs have become a very solid contender for the NFC Title and could be heading for the Super Bowl. I like them by a touchdown here.

Kansas City -3 (43 1/2 ) at Seattle - Kansas City should be able to dance all over the Seahawks, who have proven that you can't win football games without a competent quarterback, receivers who can run routes and a defense. Cal this one the stomping of the week. Chiefs to put up some serious numbers here.

Oakland -8 (44) at Arizona - Just when you think the Raiders are back, they stroll into Arizona to take their annual beating. Happened last year about this time. Deja Vu all over again.

St. Louis -4 (42 1/2 ) at Washington - St. Louis will start Kurt Warner and continue their roll towards a season-ending showdown with the 49ers. The Rams have reeled off five straight wins after dropping the first five. They may struggle a bit with weather and the turf in DC, but the Redskins cannot stop them. They will win and cover.

N.Y. Giants -5 1/2 (34) at Houston - Some fat former NFL lineman called this the lock of the week. Note to him: You cannot use the words "lock" and "NY Giants" in the same sentence. Expect the unexpected. Giants have trouble on offense. Houston, if anything, can play a little defense. A turnover here, a strange play there and you have an upset. Take the Texans.

at Denver -6 1/2 (44) Indianapolis - Here's a hot one. Both teams are probably playoff-bound, though Denver needs this one more. I have to think that the Colts are putting it together nicely and Denver is no longer invincible at home. That's an awful fat spread they're laying out there. Manning may be able to slice and dice the secondary because the Denver pass rush may not lay a finger on him all night. Indy certainly should be considered to win this outright and I wouldn't call that an upset. They are probably the better team.

NFL, MONDAY NIGHT, NOVEMBER 25

at San Francisco -7 (37) Philadelphia - Philly is going to be looking for answers on offense without Donovan McNabb, and while that may play into the hands of the 'Niners, the Eagles' defense will be fired up to win this one. San Fran has looked pretty average in their last few, and blew a ten-point lead last week to San Diego. If they can get a lead - which will take some doing - they may be able to keep Philly out of the end zone. On the other hand, the opportunistic Philly defense will make plays. Seven is a lucky number here. Take the points and see why the Eagles were a preseason pick to win the Super Bowl. They are still a very solid team even without McNabb.


November 15, 2002

Fearless Rick's Football Picks - November 16-18

posted by Rick Gagliano

The Buffalo Bills are in first place, Green Bay can clinch their division if they win and the Jets beat the Lions. Big games are set in Oakland and Tennessee and the Giants face the Redskins. The top college tilts include Maryland at Clemson, Georgia at Auburn and Ohio State looks to remain on track for the National Championship when they travel to Champagne, Illinois.

Last week ATS: College 5-4; Pro 7-6-1

College - Saturday, Novermber 16

at Boston College -9 (52) Syracuse - The Orangemen have won three in a row, their last against Virginia Tech, a team many thought would challenge Miami for the conference. Coach Pasqueloni has done a wonderful job with this team though many are still not believers. For BC, their season may have ended with their upset over Notre Dame, as that, in the minds of many a BC player, is the ultimate goal. On top of just beating the Irish, the Eagles beat them when they were undefeated. After that, it's just tough to get up for any other opponent. Look for the Orangemen to be a little more motivated here than their hosts.

N.C. State -5 1/2 (55) at Virginia - The Wolfpack have dropped two straight close games and need to rebound to stay in the Top 25 and hope to get a major bowl bid. They're banged up after the Maryland loss and they have Florida State next week, so they may be looking past the Cavaliers, who were humbled by Penn State last week. This figures to be a competitive contest, so go with the points and the home team.

Maryland -4 (53) at Clemson - Maryland's win streak is at seven and the Terps are playing at a very high level, despite being ranked only 19th (should be higher after this game). With star running back Bruce Perry back in action, the Tigers don't stand a chance here. Maryland will roll it up in one of the most impressive scores of the day.

Ohio St. -8 1/2 (47) at Illinois - The undefeated (11-0) Buckeyes have won their road games by an average score of 6 points, including last week's nail-biter at Purdue. While that stat may scare some off this game, don't allow it. Ohio State is going to win this one comfortably. The real deal is next week, when Michigan visits. My preseason pick to win the National Championship, the Buckeyes are the real deal and will prove it convincingly.

Iowa -8 1/2 (56) at Minnesota - Lots of early money went down on the Gophers, pushing the line down from -10 1/2. Something's definitely up when that kind of move takes place and I'll go with the flow, but lightly, taking Minnesota to hang tough against the #5 Hawkeyes.

Alabama -2 (45 1/2 ) at LSU - Here's a super match up that's got to be on your *must see* list. While the Crimson Tide cannot play in an SEC title game due to probation, they can certainly determine who does. This is what their season has been all about and crunching LSU would be right at the top of their agenda. It won't be easy, however, as the Tigers lead the nation in total defense and are playing well despite almost losing to Kentucky last week. Figure that the way the SEC usually goes (not according to plan), Alabama will come out on top here. The kids will leave everything on the field in this all-important clash.

Georgia -2 1/2 (47 1/2 ) at Auburn - Another superb SEC tilt as the Georgia Bulldogs look to clinch the SEC East title with a win in the deep South's oldest rivalry. Both teams have injuries to key starters: the Bulldogs will be without both starting wide receivers and Auburn lost the services of Carnell (Cadillac) Williams back on October 19 against Florida. While Georgia has been getting all the type, ranked #7 nationally at 8-1, Auburn has put up nice numbers, going 7-3 and still in the hunt for the SEC title game. The Tigers have won the last three against Georgia and the Auburn defense will ensure the streak's continuance with a nice win at home.

Texas -6 (59) at Texas Tech - Call this one the Light 'Em Up Bowl as two of the best throwers in the college ranks - Kliff Kingsbury of Tech and Chris Simms of Texas - go at it. Can't believe this line is so short, as the Longhorns are simply a superior squad. Their defense will be the difference as they hook 'em good.

NFL - Sunday, November 17

Green Bay -6 1/2 (50) at Minnesota - Last season, the Packers strolled into the Metrodome with a 4-1 record, favored by 3 1/2 and promptly got hammered by Minnesota 35-13. Later in the season, they were 13 1/2-point favorites and won 24-13 but didn't cover. Take the Vikes, who barely lost to the Giants last week.

at Atlanta -3 (51) New Orleans - Both teams are playing well and this could be the game of the week. New Orleans has had a habit of fading late in the season - maybe this is the beginning of a slide. Falcons to soar on the arm of Michael Vick.

Cleveland -3 (40 1/2 ) at Cincinnati - Cleveland somewhat stinks, but Cincy is downright awful. Not a great game, but Cincy should be able to exploit a shaky Browns' defense and win another game. Bet this one at your own risk.

at Indianapolis -6 1/2 (40) Dallas - Indy is playing at a championship level right now and the Cowboys won't be able to put up enough points. Being on the road doesn't help. Could be the blowout of the week.

at Kansas City -3 (51) Buffalo - This is your game if you like lots of offense. Buffalo has arguably one of the worst defenses in the league but one of the most potent offenses. KC can score from anywhere on the field as well. Take the over and take the Bills because this one could easily see OT.

at Miami -3 1/2 (35) Baltimore - Miami is just average without a quality starting QB (Feidler remains out), but the Ravens still play heady defense and have managed to etch out some semblance of offense. Both teams are hungry for a win, but the defenses will prevail. Play this one under and take the Dolphins to get back into a winning way.

at N.Y. Giants -4 (37) Washington - The Giants are extremely depleted at wide receiver due to injuries and the Redskins should be able to shut down their offense. Getting a TD or two is another question as the Skins' O is very fickle. This one should be close and low-scoring. I like the Redskins to win it 17-10.

at Philadelphia -11 (37 1/2 ) Arizona - Arizona shocked Philly 21-20 last season in Philly, but the Eagles came back to win 21-7 in 'Zona. No repeat this time, as the Eagles haven't lost two consecutive games since 2000. Cardinals to get outflown by Eagles in a big way.

Pittsburgh -3 (44) at Tennessee - In what could be the game of the week, two old AFC Central rivals square off. Now in separate divisions, both are looking at playoff positioning, so this one is critical. The Titan are on a 4-game roll, while the Steelers had won four straight before last week's tie with Atlanta. One just gets the feeling that the Steelers are really putting it all together and have the Titans outgunned. Look for Tommy Maddox to continue his red-hot play.

San Francisco -1 2 1/2 (43) at San Diego - Chargers have come back to earth, but continue to be well-prepared for every game. Being a home underdog is a bit of a slap and despite the strong play of the 49ers of late, San Diego may be able to control the ball and the clock, get a turnover or two and win this outright.

at Tampa Bay -8 1/2 (34 1/2 ) Carolina - Panthers' LB Julius Peppers has be sentenced to miss four games for violating the league's substance abuse policy and that puts extra pressure on the whole team, which is reeling, having lost their last six. Meanwhile, Jon Gruden has molded the Bucs into a model of efficiency, tied with New Orleans for the top spot at 7-2. Looks like a long day for the Panthers as the Bucs don't stop here. A romp.

Denver -4 1/2 (42 1/2 ) at Seattle - Don't let Monday's loss to the Raiders fool you. Denver ran into a buzzsaw, and nobody was going to beat Oakland that night. Denver is much better than Seattle in nearly every aspect and at almost every position. Take the Broncos with confidence.

N.Y. Jets -3 (43) at Detroit - Jets can get to .500 with a win over the 3-6 Lions, and they will. Their defensive players have begun to understand each other, and after a rough beginning are eying the playoffs. A win here is fundamental to their season. The Lions are still searching for consistency on offense and a stopper on defense. Jets win again.

Jacksonville -6 1/2 (37) at Houston - Houston has covered more than their share of games this season, but the wheels are coming off a bit. Despite being at home, Jags' QB Mark Brunell and WR Jimmy Smith will hook up often in this one and make it a laugher. Jacksonville's better than their record and will prove it here.

at Oakland -4 (47 1/2 ) New England - Here's a pretty big grudge match. These teams last met in the playoffs, in the snow, in New England, in a very controversial game which was decided by instant replay. The Pats won that one, 16-13 and proceeded to the AFC Championship and a bunch of Super Bowl rings. Oakland's veterans remember and will need no coaching to get up for this. However, psyiologically-speaking, it's tough for humans to get sky-high emotionally on a regular basis. Oakland was in the clouds (figuratively and literally) at Mile High last week and a repeat performance is doubtful. Besides, the Pats have a better secondary. Take New England, the points and a win.

Monday night, November 18

at St. Louis -10 (44) Chicago - The way the Rams have been going lately, it's tough to bet against them, though they had to come from behind and did not cover last week as they beat the Chargers. For the Bears, this year is a complete reversal from 2001. Every break seems to be going the other way, every bounce a bad one for the Bears. This is a chance for the Bears to take something away from this season. A Chicago win would almost certainly take the Rams out of the playoff picture and that would please many in Chicago-land. The points are just too tempting to pass up here. GO BEARS!


Is Jack Doyle Finished?
Rick Gagliano
posted by Rick Gagliano

The surprise cross-party compromise in the County Legislature on the budget this past week may have marked a turning point in the political career of County Executive Jack Doyle.

The budget compromise, which provides for a small tax increase (2.75% by most estimates) and restores over $7 million of funding for non-essential - but high profile - programs such as Lift Line and the Public Library, was a watershed event. It marked the first county tax increase in a decade, accomplished by Republican legislators crossing over to join with their Democrat brethren to pass the measure and override a Doyle veto.

Some local analysts argue that the coalition was a result of displeasure with Doyle's leadership on the budget process, while others maintain that Doyle's power and grip were actually enhanced, as he showed the willingness to stick to his principles in the face of mounting opposition.

Either way, the resulting budget shifts the pain from service providers and employees - many of whom feared program cuts and layoffs - to the backs of the taxpayers, county-wide property owners who arguably can handle a small property rate hike.

Doyle's insistence on keeping taxes level underscores his fiscal and political outlook. Keeping taxes in line keeps voters happy. Cutting services and laying off employees harms a few scattered individuals. The service cuts would likely not be felt by the bulk of his voting block - suburban landowners - and would impact most the needy, the aged and the underemployed.

It will be interesting to watch developments through next year's election, one in which Doyle will either run for County Executive again or step aside. If the party is still sold on him as its leader, he will run. If there there is indeed a split, it will be a tough choice to run in a primary and face the potential of a splintered Republican party come November. Doyle will make that choice, along with party leaders, and it is likely that he will run again. It is also likely that he will win again because the opposition is not on solid footing, though there are some delicious scenarios which could develop.

Of those potential outcomes the one which has the most explosive potential is City Mayor Bill Johnson's run at the office. Johnson would likely run a campaign focused on the promise of metro government - folding the county and city into one governmental entity. Johnson's been touting the idea for the past two years and has accused Doyle of sidestepping the discussion - which he has.

A campaign for metro government by Johnson would be refreshing but risky, but the pluses outweigh the negatives in the end result. Doyle would be hard-pressed to counter or debate the Mayor's position and any candidate could attack Doyle's record as inefficient, politically-motivated and stagnant. Failures such as the delays in the Fast Ferry, the downtown bus terminal, harbor and shoreline development, the soccer stadium, and the county's missteps on projects at the Seneca Park Zoo and the Chili Thruway exit could be attacked vigorously, and rightfully so.

Another name that keeps popping up is Bill Nojay, head of the RGRTA. Nojay would likely attempt a run as a Republican, but he is seen as a political animal with ambition, without much support. Nojay is also adept at making enemies. Most notably is how he has squared off against Mayor Johnson on the Fast Ferry debacle. He would be a thorn in Doyle's side.

The wild-card in the whole county scheme is Tom Golisano, who just completed his third consecutive losing campaign for Governor. Golisano carries a lot of weight in the county and would run as an independent, though insiders say it's a long shot that he would even consider running. Some may be urging him to look into the County Executive seat because it makes political sense. Being the top dog in Monroe County would give Golisano considerable cache in Albany and provide a power base should he decide to run for Governor again in 2006. He could run as an independent and win; he could also receive the endorsement of either party.

In the coming year, Doyle will face opposition from many diverse and focused rivals and factions. He will have to make a decision to step up decisively or bow out gracefully. Judging by the constitution of the political landscape, anything in between will be his undoing.


November 07, 2002

Fearless Rick's Football Picks for November 9-11, 2002
Rick Gagliano
posted by Rick Gagliano

The NFL has reached the midway point and some teams that looked good at the start - like the Raiders - have fallen on lean times. Others are improving. In the college ranks, Miami is looking for respect in the BCS while the conferences are looking for new champions. Confused? Read on...

College Football - Saturday, November 9

at West Virginia -3 1/2 (49) Boston College - BC knocked off Notre Dame just a week ago and now they face another tough test against and improving WV team. A bounce is in order for the Eagles. The Mountaineers have lost three, all to quality opponents - Miami, Wisconsin and Maryland - against six wins. A win here keeps them in the conference title hunt. BC is 0-3 in the Big East. Take WV in a well-played game.

at Maryland -6 1/2 (53 1/2 ) N.C. State - Phillip Rivers, the NC State QB, had an off day against Georgia Tech and the Wolfpack suffered their first loss, and a conference loss, to boot. The Terps, after a 1-2 start, are at the top of their game, winning their last 6 straight, and 3-1 in the conference, thus, they are favored. I can see the Terps continuing their roll here, but NC State should be able to nearly match them offensively. Take the points.

Virginia Tech -13 (48) at Syracuse - this line looks unfair to the bookies because VT is ranked #1 in the nation in rushing offense and #17 overall, without any semblance of a passing attack. If you believe in numbers, this is the blueprint for a statistical mismatch. The SU defense in ranked #108 overall, 88th against the run, 111th against the pass. They allow an average of 179 yards rushing per game. VT will run over these guys all day. 13 points is not even close to being enough. Don't say lock. There is no such thing as a lock. This looks close to it. Not a lock, though.

Ohio St. -6 1/2 (44) at Purdue - The Buckeyes are clearly thinking beyond the Big Ten championship at 10-0, and rightfully so. Maurice Claret has shattered rookie rushing records for the school and may set a Big Ten record as well. The Ohio State offense has jelled and Purdue is just ordinary on defense. Even on the road, Ohio State could win this big.

Florida St. -6 1/2 (52 1/2 ) at Georgia Tech - Florida State was supposed to be improved this year, but they are only 6-3 and not looking so hot. Problem is that Chris Rix is not outstanding at QB. Meanwhile, Tech has surprised with a 6-3 record of their own. They are only 3-3 in the conference, so they may have upset on their mind. Grab the points in the upset of the week.

Miami -8 1/2 (49 1/2 ) at Tennessee - Hard to believe, but this Miami squad may be even better than last year's National Championship team. Strolling into Tennessee is never easy, but the Vols are a pretty banged up bunch and no match for Miami. The Hurricanes need to put in a solid performance because they are only 3rd in the BCS standings right now. It's put up or shut up for Miami and the money says they put up big here. Solid win by two TDs or more.

at Washington St. -5 (59 1/2 ) Oregon - Jason Gesser has led the Cougars to an 8-1 record and 5-0 conference run to lead the PAC-10. Oregon has been tarnished by home losses to USC and Arizona State and a loss here puts them out of the title picture. The Cougars are on a mission and will not falter here. Besides, Cougars eat Ducks, don't they?

Michigan -6 1/2 (51) at Minnesota - A touch game to call because both teams are not consistent. The Badgers will have a tough time running against Michigan, and the Wolverines should be able to put up a good number. Michigan has won the Little Brown Jug thirteen straight times and are staring straight at another win, keeping them within striking distance of Ohio State, whom they play to close out the regular season on November 23.

at Penn St. -15 1/2 (51) Virginia - Penn State has been a pleasant surprise this season, though Virginia can sneak up on people, like they did beating South Carolina, North Carolina and Clemson. The Cavaliers sport a nice balance on offense, and only Florida State really embarrassed them, 40-19, but that was back in August. This is a big game for both teams and Penn State hasn't proven much, with losses to Iowa, Michigan and Ohio State. This line is out of whack and is the upset play of the week. Virginia may not win the game, but they won't lose by two TDs either.


NFL - Sunday, November 10

at Philadelphia -9 (42) Indianapolis - fat line here and neither team has been playing very well. Take the Colts to cover and maybe pull off the upset. Believe it or not Indy is 2nd in the AFC in total DEFENSE! Hard to believe, but Tony Dungy has done a nice job. If the Colts get untracked offensively, look out!

at Baltimore -5 1/2 (37 1/2 ) Cincinnati - So now the Bengals are for real? Not so against one of the league's toughest defenses. Baltimore may pitch a shutout here.

at Green Bay -10 (41) Detroit - Can the Packers play any better? League's best record, at home, divisional rival. A letdown is overdue, plus they have the short week after their nice Monday nighter over Miami. I like Detroit to keep this one close, though it's a shaky pick.

N.Y. Giants -1 (44) at Minnesota - Giants defense will shut down the Vikes. That's it. Maybe the best bet of the week. Minnesota can't stop anybody. Defense wins.

at Pittsburgh -5 (42 1/2 ) Atlanta - Tough call, but Atlanta will keep this one close and has a realistic chance to win it. Both teams playing pretty good defense right now so go with the under.

at St. Louis -6 (44 1/2 ) San Diego - San Diego is going into a death spiral and are meeting the Rams at the wrong time. St. Louis may blow this one out in three quarters.

at Tennessee -10 (40) Houston - The Titans are on a mini-roll right now and can compete with the best teams. Houston is, after all, still an expansion team in its first year. Titans will roll it up.

New Orleans -4 1/2 (41) at Carolina - The Saints have just too much everything for the Panthers. Could be a banner day for the NO offensive unit, and their defense (ranked 2nd last in the NFC) will step up and keep Carolina in the teens. Possible blowout of the week. Saints and over - something like 38-17 would be no surprise.

at Jacksonville -2 1/2 (40 1/2 ) Washington - Spurrier in Florida, big deal. Jacksonville is an up-and-down unit, but they should be able to handle the Skins. Turnovers could be the difference here. Jacksonville is +4, Washington is -6.

at Arizona -3 1/2 (37 1/2 ) Seattle - Stumblebum bowl. Neither team has a snowball's chance of making the playoffs, but Seattle is simply horrific on defense. Maybe Plummer can get a few of his receivers to actually hold onto the ball.

New England -3 1/2 (40 1/2 ) at Chicago - Are the Bears back? Not really. Playing at Champagne instead of Soldier field has taken its toll on last year's surprise team. This could be an exciting game as both teams really need the win, but the Pats may run wild here.

at San Francisco -6 1/2 (51) Kansas City - If you like high scoring games, this looks like the ultimate on the surface. But if Frisco gets into the running game - and you know Priest Holmes will get 25 carries - this could turn into a close, hard-fought long drive kind of affair. Great under bet. San Fran wins but doesn't cover.

at N.Y. Jets -3 (39 1/2 ) Miami - The wounded Dolphins stay north and now Ray Lucas may be out. That would put the ball in the hands of Sage Rosenfels, who probably would be an improvement, the way Lucas has been going. For the Jets, Brad Pennington is on fire and the offense has found new life. Gotta go with the J-E-T-S Jets.

Monday, November 11
at Denver -5 (46 1/2 ) Oakland - The Raiders are skidding badly, having lost 4 in a row. To make matters worse, Denver head coach Mike Shanahan has a 12-2 record against Oakland and is 7-0 at home. Denver is also coming off a bye week. Sorry to say, but the Silver and Black is going to be Black and Blue after the Broncos completely demolish them. The Raiders' porous defense, ranked 12th in the AFC (Denver is #1), has no pass rush and trouble stopping the run. Big trouble. Big win for Denver. Cash in.


November 05, 2002

Election Night Report - Republicans Rally, John Race Too Close to Call

posted by Rick Gagliano

Corrected: 11/6/02 9:15 am EST

In the most stunning outcome of the local elections, incumbent Democratic State Assemblywoman Susan John (pictured at right), who has represented the 131st Assembly District since 1991, was caught in a virtual dead heat by challenger Michael Slattery. As the district reports rolled in, Slattery held a 55-45% edge over John, but late in the evening, John overcame the early deficit, and by morning was declared the winner by some media outlets

Downtown Magazine had declared Slattery the winner as of 1:00 am, but early this morning learned that the outcome was in serious doubt. Neither candidate has conceded nor claimed victory. Specualtion is that the losing candidate will move for a recount.

Political pundits blamed John's liberal leanings and lack of clear policy for the close race, in addition to Slattery's grass-roots-positive campaign as reasons for the surprise surge. The overall success of the Republican party in this year's elections may also have had some impact.

In statewide races, Democrat Elliot Spitzer, who has championed consumer and stockholder rights in various investigations and prosecutions, easily distanced himself from challenger Dora Irizarry.

Governor George Pataki easily won a third term, fending off the challenge of former Comptroller Carl McCall and local businessman Tom Golisano. Golisano, CEO of Paychex, Inc., who waged a campaign nearly 100% self-funded, showed strength in many upstate districts, though McCall was the clear runner-up statewide. Golisano reportedly spent $60 million of his own money in his second consecutive losing effort.

Golisano did score a phyric victory of sorts, outpolling the Governor and McCall in his home base, Monroe County.

In one of the more heated and nasty races of the campaign season, former NYC Comptroller Alan Hevesi (D) narrowly defeated John Faso (R) and his Albany power base.

In key Senate races, Wayne Allard (R) held his seat over former U.S. Attorney Tom Strickland (D) in Colorado; In Missouri, (R) Jim Talent defeated (D) Jean Carnahan. In New Hampshire, (R) John E. Sununu squeezed by Democratic Gov. Jeanne Shaheen, while Democrat Mark Pryor won a convincing victory over (R) Tim Hutchinson. In Minnesota, Republican Norm Coleman was looking like a winner with 52% of the vote over Walter Mondale though only 65% of precincts had reported as of this writing.

In one of the closest and most intriguing races of the evening, incumbent Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson was leading GOP Rep. John Thune by less than 4000 votes with 61% of precincts reporting, but as the results came in from the Western reaches of the state, Johnson's lead dwindled and by early morning Thune was leading and will likely be declared the winner.

With the victories in Minnesota, South Dakota and Missouri, the make-up of the Senate will change with the next term, making the Republican party the majority. A special election will be held in Louisiana, as no candidate received 50% of the vote, as required by a quirky state law.

In a related story, SEC Chairman Harvey Pitt resigned his post as the nation's top public company regulator. Democrats in Washington had been calling for Pitt to step down for well over a year, citing conflicts of interest and close connections with powerful CEOs - the same people he was sworn to regulate, investigate and potentially lead to prosecution.

Pitt's resignation came as a surprise to some, though news anlysts saw the announcement - coming on election eve - as a way to minimize its impact. While the Bush-led Republican party was scoring numerous victories in key elections, changes were taking place behind the scene, such as Pitt's resignation.

Other local winners:

129th State Assembly District: (R) Brian Kolb
130th State Assembly District: (R) Joe Errigo
131st State Assembly District: (R) Michael Slattery
132nd State Assembly District: (D) Joe Morelle
133rd State Assembly District: (D) David Gantt
134th State Assembly District: (R) Bill Reilich
135th State Assembly District: (D) David Koon

56th State Senate District: (R) Joe Robach
61st State Senate District: (R) Mary Lou Rath

24th US Congressional District: (R) Sherwood Boehlert
25th US Congressional District: (R) James Walsh
26th US Congressional District: (R) Thomas Reynolds
28th US Congressional District: (D) Louise Slaughter
29th US Congressional District: (R) Amo Houghton

Monroe County Court: (R) Alex Renzi defeated (D) Rick Dollinger


November 04, 2002

Election Eve Notes

posted by Rick Gagliano

Monday evening, November 4, here in the East - a day before what may be an historic election night - or maybe not.

After all the mudslinging and nudging of swing votes are over, what will be the net effect? Will the Republicans have full sway over the Senate or will the Dems hold their slim one-vote margin (thanks to a lone independent who sides with Democrats routinely). That seems to be the critical question all the pundits have pondered, and most of them - no, all of them - are puzzled.

There are six Senatorial races upon which there has been a great deal of focus, time and money spent on winning by both sides. They are Colorado, Missouri, South Dakota, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Arkansas. In each state, the races are seen as too close to call. Rubbish. I'll go out on the limb in each of these races and call them right now.

Colorado: Six years ago Wayne Allard narrowly beat former U.S. Attorney Tom Strickland for a Colorado Senate seat. With the two waging pitched battle in the rematch, I think we can count on the certitude of public uncertainty to pass the baton to Strickland. Score one for the Democrats.

Missouri: Jean Carnahan is trying to hold on to the seat to which she was appointed when her husband died three weeks before the election in 2000 and still beat John Ashcroft from the grave. Ashcroft, despite the loss, got the not for US Attorney General. Jim Talent, the Republican challenger, has waged a strong, vigorous campaign, but the Mizzou will keep Jean Carnahan in her post. Score another for the donkey party.

Arkansas: Sen. Tim Hutchinson will squeak by despite the flak over his very public divorce and quick remarriage. Mark Pryor, the state's attorney general, has put on the heat, and Bill Clinton was stumping for him on Sunday. George Bush put in an appearance for Hutchinson on Monday. Last man in wins. It is Arkansas, anyway, and they have spurned the Democrats - something about Clinton and his relatives. This one goes to the Elephants.

New Hampshire: Republican Rep. John E. Sununu will squeeze by Democratic Gov. Jeanne Shaheen in the quirkiest of elections. In case nobody noticed, this one is about the local economy and it's not good. Usually, the incumbents get booted. Another close win for the Republicans.

South Dakota: Bush beats Daschle. Ooops, they're not running? Both of them spent so much time in state - Daschle is one Senator from SD - that this race looked more like a proxy fight than anything else. The real candidates are incumbent Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson and GOP Rep. John Thune. Really! They are! There are something like 262,000 voters in South Dakota and Daschle knows every single one of them. How many will risk a nasty phone call from the majority (possibly minority) leader? Johnson and the Democrats win this one in a waltz. We won't even have to wait up until after midnight.

Minnesota: Could matters get any worse after Minnesotans elected former pro wrester Jesse Ventura governor? Sure. When Tom Wellstone died in a plane crash just 10 days before the election, up popped former VP Walter Mondale - and you thought you'd seen the last of him - to carry the torch. Republican Norm Coleman is a strong candidate, but, alas, a Republican, but he should prove to be too much for Mondale to handle. Mondale's main claim to fame is that he knows his way around Washington, D.C. Big deal. So did the suburban snipers. Another win for the GOP.

So that's it. In the six closest races, we come up with three for either party, so the make-up of the Senate remains the same. Unless, of course, there's a surprise or two. Or maybe a hanging chad. But I do think this is much ado about nothing.

Here in New York, I'll just be happy I don't have to see any more Alan Hevesi or John Faso ads (sorry about the spelling if I'm wrong). Since when was the Office of the Comptroller such a hot spot? Since Carl McCall decided to run for Governor.

And speaking of the Governor's race, has anybody seen McCall upstate in the past week and will boy governor Tommy G. even carry his own county? I was commenting the other day that the only person I really felt good about voting for was George Pataki. Not because I agree with his policies or think he's a great governor, but I just get the feeling he's a decent guy. He comes off that way, and that's about as close as I'll ever come to an outright endorsement.

Other than those races, there's not much I really care about. In fact, I barely care about those races. A few of the incumbents should be dumped only because they look like they haven't missed a fund-raising dinner or award banquet during their term and need to spend a few months at a day spa. Talk about feeding at the public trough! Oink!

Despite all the hype, I don't think very much will change because we elect a few different rogues to a few positions of power. Call me a cynic, but it'll only be a tweak, and, hopefully, all the results will be in well before December.

By the way, Al Gore isn't running for anything.


Merger Will Boost City's Stats

posted by Wire Reports

Merger Will Boost City's Stats


November 03, 2002

Publisher Sets Ad Rates Too Low
Rick Gagliano
posted by Rick Gagliano

November 2, 2002

ROCHESTER, NY - Publisher Rick Gagliano, after spending the 90s out of the publishing business, returned to action this week with a webbified reincarnation of his former flagship newspaper, Downtown, The Unbound Magazine. Unfortunately for Mr. Gagliano, he has apparently learned little from more than a decade away from the rigors of publishing, as he once again set his advertising rates TOO LOW, disproving the adage that wisdom follows age.publisher hits himself in head

"Advertising is just TOO expensive," cited the mercurial publisher. "I set my rates at well below the norm because of this. In fact, that's the reason I got into the publishing business years ago. I owed a small used bookstore and wanted to advertise, but after checking out the prices, I was aghast. I was able to publish my own newspaper for the cost of a 1/2 page ad in another paper. It was somewhat amateurish, and the facilities at my disposal were antique compared to what's available today, but it worked, and, as they say, the rest is history.

I actually sold some ads in that paper to defray my costs... I think I made a profit on it. I distributed the paper - it was a freebie - at restaurants and shops in the area and before you knew it, people were calling me to advertise. I was kind of surprised. Of course there were the chores of writing stories and laying out ads, but somehow I got it done. My ad rates were really cheap, so it flourished and eventually became Downtown Magazine.

Today, with the help of computers and the internet, the publishing process is much easier, but I don't think the publishing community really gets it. Most of them have a vested interest in their own medium and the internet is an afterthought. TV stations have a huge investment in broadcast equipment, newspapers and magazines have to keep their presses running, and so on. The costs are real, but they get passed on to advertisers when there's an entirely new medium that can produce solid results for much less, and it's there 24/7/365.

The price of advertising is relatively absurd. I spoke to a rep of a small town shopper. A quarter-page ad is nearly $200! OK, they get to every home in the town, but two-hundred bucks is still a good sum of money. And that's in a pennysaver-type publication.

Don't even talk to me about the big local paper - those prices are not bordering on absurd, they are beyond absurd. TV and radio are the same - big money - and where are the results? I spoke to a couponer the other day. You know, the ones who mail to every home in a zip code. This lady told me they don't like to talk to their customers about redemptions, because they're so low. She said a restaurant got back 30 coupons on a 10,000 mailing and they weren't happy. Well, I wouldn't be either! That's less than a 1% return. Not very good for almost $400.

It's the same all over. The providers are charging more because they don't have the volume. The little guy - the mom and pop operations - are getting squeezed out because they simply cannot afford to advertise. The smart ones use non-traditional methods - fliers, self-promotion, and yes, the internet. Use of the internet by small business is growing at an amazing rate and it's going to continue to grow.

That's why I set my ad rates so ridiculously low. There's value for the dollar. Downtown Magazine is just starting up and we don't have a ton of traffic yet, so I can't overcharge. But when those traffic totals start getting into the tens of thousands per day - and that's all local traffic, there will be a tremendous value for the ad dollars.

And the internet offers so many possibilities! Not only is there the opportunity to advertise a business or service for really little cost, there's email marketing, informational marketing and e-commerce potential. I mean, it's out there and it's pretty much untapped.

People who are doing TV, radio and print are paying top buck right now and they'll pay even more as the internet steals market share. Take a look at the classifieds in most newspapers. Twenty years ago, when I was in the newspaper end of the business, it was common knowledge that if you killed the classifieds in a newspaper, you pretty much killed the whole business. I'm telling you, newspapers are DEAD. They just haven't told anybody yet and the publishers are scared to death of the internet.

TV and radio are another set altogether. They're HOT mediums, because they can broadcast instantly without much lead time. But they're also pretty transparent. The image or sound in front of you is gone in a heartbeat. And unless you're recording, it's gone for good. Not so with the internet. Words and images stay put and can be retrieved at will. It's better.

So, yeah, I set my ad rates pretty low, maybe ridiculously low. But, hey, that's business, isn't it. When the results come in, the advertisers will happily pay a little more because it will still be the best value out there. I don't have to pay a sales force, I don't have to pay rent on a huge building, I don't have licensing fees, broadcast rights, a press, ink and paper to buy. It's cheaper on the net, and I don't mind people saying that my advertising is CHEAP, because it is.

Yes, internet advertising is CHEAP! There, I said it. Happy?

For more information on Downtown Magazine's absurdly low rates CLICK HERE.


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