So, the question is, “How much football can you watch?” The answer is, “A lot.” But if the gridiron scene is starting get a bit old like this week’s Christmas turkey leftovers, here are a few events that are certainly worth a look if not a watch.
1) The NHL will play its annual Winter Classic hockey game as the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks meet at Wrigley Field. It’s a great show—a little bit of pond hockey (although there are heaters on the benches) and a lot of great play as over 30,000 fans will watch live. Catch it on Thursday, January 1 at 1 pm on NBC.
2) In college hoop, #3 Pittsburgh takes on #8 Georgetown in an early but massive Big East match up. The Panthers are presently 13- 1 overall and 1- 0 in the conference, while the Hoyas are 10- 1 overall and 1- 0 in the Big East. Pitt is coming off a 78- 72 win over Rutgers today and Georgetown beat UConn 74- 63 on Monday. They meet on January 3 at 7 pm. You can catch it on ESPN.
3) The Miami Heat and Denver Nuggets will battle on January 7 at 9 pm. The Nuggets are one of the top clubs in the Western Conference’s Northwest Division. The Heat are presently in third-place in the Eastern Conference’s Southeast Division. This will be a good test for Miami as they try to get back to the playoffs after a disastrous season last year. Both teams do look to be playoff bound this season.
4) The time for Major League Baseball players to file for salary arbitration runs from January 5- 15. The Hot Stove has been boiling recently with some players who had been offered arbitration by their clubs deciding to go the free-agent route. Owners get first dibs on offering players arbitration. That happened in December. In January, it’s the players’ turn to hand their fate over to an independent evaluator who may reward them with more, less or the same amount of money that the team has offered them.
5) In women’s college hoop, the #1 UConn Huskies will meet the #2 North Carolina Tar Heels. Both teams are presently undefeated as the Huskies are 12- 0 and the Tar Heels are 14- 0. The game will be played on January 19 and carried on ESPN2 at 7 pm.
6) On Friday, January 9, FRIDAY FIGHT NIGHTS will premiere on ESPN2. The entire fight card has not yet been determined. This first of a long list of quality offerings will come from Primm, Nevada, and will feature Yuriorkis Gamboa vs. Roger Gonzalez, 12 rounds, featherweights; Odlanier Solis vs. TBA, 10 rounds, heavyweights and Erislandy Lara vs. TBA, 4 rounds, welterweights. Gamboa is 12- 0 with 10 knockouts. His opponent, Gonzalez, is 27- 2 with 18 knockouts. This looks to be Gamboa’s fight to lose. Gamboa, who may be given a title shot in 2009, is an amazingly skilled and sometimes reckless fighter. He’s a lot of fun to watch.
7) The PGA will premiere the 2009 season with the Mercedes-Benz Championship, which is held at the Kapalua Resort in Kapalua, HI. You can catch this first of 47 PGA events on The Golf Channel from January 8- 11.
8) Men’s college basketball gets into conference match ups this month. So, scout out the offerings in each league. There will be a lot at stake in the Big Ten, Big 12, SEC, Big East, Pac-10 and ACC.
That’s what the first month of 2009 looks like. Of course the primary thrust is football as the Bowl season builds towards the BCS National Championship game between the Florida Gators and the Oklahoma Sooners on January 8, 2009 at 8 pm on FOX and the pros push towards the Super Bowl on February 1, 2009 at 6 pm on NBC. Enjoy it all!