Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sports columnist Aaron McFarling: Broncos have a hot new concept

This week's Q&A-Mac is brought to you by saunas: finally serving a purpose after all these years.

Q: Saunas?

A: Yep, saunas. Never understood those things. So let me see if I have this straight -- you want me to put on a towel, go inside a wood box, crank up the heat and ... sit there. And other dudes can waltz in at any time? That's not relaxation. That's torture. Hard to imagine many things less desirable than that.

Q: And you're bringing this up because?

A: Because Boise State has, at long last, discovered a good use for saunas. According to an article in Friday's Idaho Statesman, the Broncos have been funneling hot, sticky air into their indoor practice facility, trying to get the players accustomed to the humidity they'll encounter at FedEx Field in their Sept. 6 opener against Virginia Tech.

Q: Good idea. Anything else they should do to get ready?

A: Buy some earplugs.

Q: What should Tech fans look for in today's open scrimmage?

A: Keep an eye on redshirt freshman Logan Thomas. The coaches still are grooming him as a backup quarterback, but they've started using him at tight end a little bit this week, too. Seeing him at media day on Saturday -- where we learned that he had a 39.5-inch vertical leap in recent testing -- he looked every bit the part physically. Tech needs somebody to step up behind starting tight end Andre Smith; perhaps Thomas will be the guy.

Q: Anything else?

A: Could be interesting to see if the Hokies trot out any formations that include tailbacks Ryan Williams and Darren Evans on the field at the same time. I'm sure they'll do it at some point this season, but probably not under these circumstances.

Q: Chipper Jones' career could be over after he tore his ACL . If he hangs it up, he'll finish with 17 years spent entirely in a Braves uniform. Are there any young players today that will stay with a team that long?

A: Not many. Maybe Joe Mauer. He's signed with the Twins through 2018, and they're a strong organization that won't be holding fire sales any time soon.

Q: Who wins Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Michigan?

A: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Nah, just kidding.

Denny Hamlin will complete the season sweep.

Q: Has Junior really become a punchline?

A: I wish it weren't so; he seems like a good guy, and he's a fascinating interview when he's in the right mood (Jeff Gordon, Jeff Burton and Clint Bowyer are among my other favorite drivers to listen to, for what it's worth.) But yet again, it looks like Earnhardt won't be part of the Chase. Three straight finishes outside the top 25 have dropped him to 16th in points with only four races left before the cut.

Q: What's his excuse?

A: He has none. All those issues with crew chiefs and speculation about inferior equipment merely deflected attention from the only logical conclusion: He's just not as good a driver as his rivals. Perhaps that somber disposition he had at the end of last season coincided with his realization of this fact. I thought the move to Hendrick Motorsports would make him a contender. He did, too. We were both wrong.

Q: NASCAR officials say they want to tinker with the Chase next year. Will one of the changes be that anyone driving a car numbered between 87-89 automatically makes the cut?

A: If they want to boost attendance, they'll do it. And to ward off complaints, they can call it the "Joe Nemechek Rule."

Q: Speaking of rules, Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez is scheduled to meet today with the NCAA Committee on Infractions to defend the program against five major violations stemming from illegal practices and workouts. What's the worst thing committee members can do to punish him?

A: Stuff him in a sauna. Let West Virginia fans control the heat.

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