Got questions? The Oracle has the answers

Philip Consuegra

There were a few things missing for yours truly this New Year’s holiday. No Dick Clark, no SEC team (Auburn) in the Orange Bowl and no NHL. But despite the absences of these particular establishments, we must admit that the New Year began with quite a bang.

The bang wasn’t just in football this New Year’s, folks. USC dominated Oklahoma, and the playoffs have been more than entertaining this season. There were bangs in college basketball, with Georgia Tech and Kansas going down to the wire, and in baseball Randy Johnson being signed by the Yankees. Leave it to Steinbrenner to try to steal the spotlight.

With all that said, while the New Year arrived, so did a whole crop of questions that must be answered this year. The sports world will be anxious to find out just how each of these respective organizations will answer each conundrum given to them. Without any further ado, here they are:

6. Will the NHL ever play again?

The NHL and the NHLPA need to realize that they must come to a compromise in this no-one-wins lockout. With NHL players trying to keep their games up in Europe, soon you’ll have to catch a plane to Moscow to see the best hockey in the world. Even if hockey does come back, fans may have to say goodbye to teams like the Nashville Predators, Carolina Hurricanes (maybe they should have stayed in Hartford) and Florida Panthers. This problem needs to be remedied – and quickly.

5. Will Kobe Bryant ever be the same? The young cornerstone of the Lakers’ franchise can’t seem to catch a break. After the accusation of rape, the storm kept coming for Bryant, who then took attacks from former coach Phil Jackson and former courtmate Shaquille O’Neal. Jackson claims he couldn’t coach Kobe any longer – which is saying a lot when you’re dealing with Phil Jackson – and O’Neal continued to talk smack. Add that to Bryant’s recent accusation that former NBA star Karl Malone “made a pass” at his wife, and you’ve got some major problems. To top it all off, the Lakers are in third place and will be lucky to get into the playoffs in the West. Problems, dude. Problems.

4. Will the Eagles finally win the Super Bowl?

I had to throw this one out there. For me, the answer is this. They have to get there first. With T.O. out, it seems as if the Eagles have an uphill battle. Whenever a player that important goes down, the whole picture gets a little more blurry. An offense tailored to T.O. isn’t the same offense, and while the Eagles looked good on Sunday against the lowly, hapless Vikings, the Falcons present a challenge that the Eagles haven’t seen in a while: a solid rushing game. Couple that with the most electrifying player in the NFL and the league’s leading pass rush (48 sacks) and you’ve got one heck of a squad. The Falcons pull off the upset and make it to the big game. I’m sorry to say it, Philly, but not this year either. Even if they do make it to the Big Game, they’re going down to the AFC.

3. Will the Patriots repeat?

Personally, I’m rooting for the Steelers, but the Pats own the playoffs. It’s what they do. They go to the playoffs and win. They play team football, and they never make the same mistake twice. They won’t make it again in Pittsburgh, and while I’d love to see a Steelers-Falcons Super Bowl, Bill Belichick will make sure I’m wrong. This year is different from all the other years, however, as the Patriots have added quite the formidable rushing game, i.e. Corey Dillon. Add Mr. Playoff Consistency Tom Brady into the picture, and you’ve got to like the Patriots’ chances.

2. Will College Football get rid of the BCS?

God knows it needs to. With the emigration of the AP poll from the BCS equation, the validity of the process will come under even more ire. After this year’s problem with Oklahoma going instead of Auburn, and last year’s problem of Oklahoma going instead of USC, maybe the solution is that the Sooners should just not be allowed to make the championship game. Wouldn’t that make our lives easier?

1. Will Major League Baseball stick by its policy, and punish players who use steroids?

I think they will, but they need to address the Barry Bonds situation. A player who is near the all-time home run record and could pass the legendary Hank Aaron needs to be tested for steroids and punished if he has ever used them. For far too long, players have gotten away with this, and it’s time for the league to step in for not only the league’s sake, but the players’ sake as well. The harm steroids cause in the long-term is more than frightening; they give a black eye to America’s former pastime (it’s football now, folks).