Trial for Aqib Talib scheduled for March

There is going to be nothing speedy about the legal process for Aqib Talib.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback, who is facing a felony charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, will stand trial in Texas beginning March 26, according to Rick Stroud of the St. Petersburg Times.

Talib is accused of firing shots at the boyfriend of his sister. He’s reportedly said it was his mother who was firing shots. She also faces charges.

Some have speculated the Buccaneers will cut ties with Talib before the season begins. The NFL is expected to attempt to discipline players who have run afoul of the law during the lockout. Talib is a previous offender, and he could face stiff discipline from commissioner Roger Goodell.

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

Tuck says Tiki started to turn teammates off before retiring

Justin Tuck weighed in on LeSean McCoy, the least favorite running back of the New York Giants, and he’s also shared his opinion on another back that isn’t so popular in his locker room – Tiki Barber.

Yes, there are some players remaining there that still like Barber, but Tuck doesn’t sound like one of them. Visiting with “Mike and Mike in the Morning” on ESPN radio, Tuck explained that Barber did a credible job of burning bridges after he retired. The comments were transcribed by the fine folks at

“I think Tiki burned some bridges as he left the game. He said some things that maybe he shouldn’t have said,” Tuck said. “You know things of that nature. If you look back when he talked about Eli Manning and Coach Tom Coughlin and we won the Super Bowl right after that, so it was just something he probably shouldn’t have said. It’s unfortunate because I think a lot of people forget the fact of how well he played the game when he was here. You go to Giants Stadium and they put up highlights of old players. When they put up highlights of Tiki Barber they boo him, but it’s tough.

“Like I said, he said some things leaving the game that kind of left people with a sour taste in their mouth and they don’t forget that, but honestly for me I wish the guy all the luck in the world. I don’t hold grudges. I don’t wish anything negative on him, but like I said he said some things that maybe he shouldn’t have said and that’s kind of coming back to bite him right now.”

It certainly seems that way. Barber is attempting to re-start his career and it will be interesting to see where he lands. How will Barber fit in with his new team? As Tuck explains, he really started to turn teammates against him before he left the game.

“A little bit,” Tuck said. “Tiki has always been the kind of guy that has been to himself. He kind of led by example. He kind of let his play lead by example. He was never the kind of the guy who would get in the huddle and be ‘rah-rah,’ and things of that nature, which is fine, but he did kind of turn some people off with some of things he did the year he was leaving. He kind of knew he was leaving. I don’t know what his reason was. I don’t know if management said something. I don’t know. Yeah he did kind of turn some guys off.”

Can Barber turn people on to him again? Time will tell.

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

Louisville officially lands Missouri transfer Gabbert

Louisville has officially landed Tyler Gabbert.

Cardinals head coach Charlie Strong announced on his Twitter page that he is “excited to have Tyler Gabbert officially join our football program.” The former Missouri signal-caller will be eligible in 2012 and have three years of eligibility remaining at the Big East school.

The 6-0, 190-pounder, who is the younger brother of Jacksonville Jaguars rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert, was unable to win the starting job in Columbia, falling short in his competition with James Franklin.

Former Nebraska offensive coordinator Shawn Watson, who is the Cardinals’ new quarterbacks coach, is a friend of the Gabbert family, so his presence in The 'Ville likely played a large factor in Gabbert's decision. However, he will face stiff competition for the starting job in 2012.

Teddy Bridgewater was a big Class of 2011 “get” for Strong and the program, especially because everyone thought the dual-threat signal-caller was headed to Miami. He is going to be hard to beat out for the starting job in 2012, especially with a full year of experience in Mike Sanford’s offense.

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Packers hawking replica Super Bowl rings to fans

Green Bay Packers fans have a chance to get their hands on a Super Bowl ring without paying the big bucks it’s going to take to win Fuzzy Thurston’s Super Bowl II ring at auction.

Now, they can get their hands on replica Super Bowl XLV rings and other commemorative jewelry that the team will be selling, surely an effort to put a dent in the large market of unlicensed trinkets.

According to the Green Bay Press-Gazette, the Packers sent a letter to season-ticket holders this week informing them what will be available. Included is a 10-karat ring that identifies them as a season-ticket holder or shareholder. It costs $2,499. A more modestly priced replica is $399. Other fans can purchase a 10-karat ring that is an “Ultimate Fan Ring” for $1,999. The lustrium ring option is only $299.

The rings are made by Jostens, the same company that produced the championship jewelry for players, coaches and team employee.s Plenty of other items are available.

“This collection emphasizes affordability, but maintains the same heirloom quality as that given to the players and coaches,” Murphy wrote in the letter.

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

Heath Shuler reportedly considering leaving House for AD gig

Heath Shuler is reportedly considering stepping down from his position as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for the Western district of North Carolina in order to become the athletic director at the University of Tennessee, where he starred previously.

Tony Basilio of WVLZ radio in Knoxville, Tenn., reported that Shuler is considering the new job, according to the Asheville (N.C.) Xpress.

Shuler, a failure in Washington when he was a first-round draft pick by the Redskins, has served in the House since 2007 and has a prominent position on the House Budget Committee. But he faces a primary challenge looking ahead to the 2012 election and the district lines could be re-drawn.

Per the report, the school approached Shuler first and he’s since contacted Phil Fulmer and Johnny Majors, former football coaches, about the job. Both men gave him their blessing.

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

Former Texas quarterback to appear on Bravo reality show

He may not be as popular as former Florida quarterback Jesse Palmer, who delved into the world of reality television years ago with an appearance on ABC's The Bachelor before finding his niche at ESPN (See awesome video below).

But former Texas quarterback Matt Nordgren is on a quest to find “The One” as well. The ex-Longhorn will appear on a new reality TV show in August on Bravo called Most Eligible Dallas.

The description of the show on Bravo's website is fairly awesome:

They’re young, they’re hot, they’re single –- they’re Dallas’ Most Eligible. From beauty queens to pro-football players, this group of Texas socialites proves that everything’s bigger in Texas –- including the drama. Some are looking for true love while others have perfected the art of the one-night stand, and somehow their love lives have all crossed paths at one time or another. Dallas serves as the sexy backdrop for this jaw-dropping series that follows a group of successful friends living it up in the lone star state.

How can we not watch now, right?

It's safe to say that the 28-year-old Nordgren, who only threw 14 career passes in Austin, is finally getting his big break. And maybe he'll be able to put this folly behind him. Although, he did ultimately score a touchdown on the play.

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Erickson running out of chances at Arizona State

When Kerry Taylor took to Twitter and bashed Arizona State head coach Dennis Erickson recently, the former Sun Devils receiver echoed the sentiments of some fans in Tempe who believe the team has underachieved in recent seasons.

Shortly after conducting an interview with local TV station KTVK, Taylor posted the following comments on his Twitter page.

“Just did an interview about the problems of ASU football and why Dennis Erickson is NOT the right man for the job. I want ASU to win Pac12 Championships, all of us ASU fans do. But in order for that to happen we need a new Head Coach. That’s all I’m saying.”

Dennis EricksonICONDennis Erickson is just 15-21 in his last three seasons in Tempe.

While Erickson has not responded to Taylor’s comments — and reps at the station have said the interview with Taylor will not air until the head coach has an opportunity to respond — the veteran leader should only have one thing on his mind at this point: winning. And that's something that has not happened on a consistent enough basis during his tenure in Tempe.

Since leading the Sun Devils to a 10-3 mark and a share of the Pac-10 regular-season title in his first season at the school, Erickson has produced just a 15-21 record while failing to reach the postseason the last three seasons. Still, the Sun Devils are a popular choice to represent the Pac-12 South division in the league’s inaugural conference championship game in December, especially with USC being ineligible to participate because of NCAA sanctions.

But should we buy ASU as a Pac-12 contender?

Entering his fifth season, Erickson hasn’t elevated this Sun Devils program since taking over for Dirk Koetter and earning Pac-10 coach of the year honors in his debut 2007 campaign. The promising start to his tenure raised expectations for the program, especially considering that USC was the lone dominant team in the conference at the time. Despite having to look up at Pete Carroll and the Trojans sitting atop of the standings, the Pac-10 was a fluid league — and the Sun Devils seemed poised to seize the moment under Erickson.

Except, that hasn’t happened. And it hasn't helped on the recruiting trail.

While the momentum of that first season netted a recruiting class the following February that included seven four-star recruits, according to Scout’s rankings, many of those prospects already had narrowed their lists of schools and taken official visits. Sure, it helps to have a successful campaign the previous fall. But the real gains for Erickson should have been reflected in the 2009 recruiting class.

However, his 22-player 2009 class wasn’t very stellar. While five-star linebacker Vontaze Burfict was the obvious gem and defensive tackle Corey Adams was a must-have local product, the team didn’t land any four-star talent.

In 2010, four four-star recruits were brought in and this past cycle netted just one in quarterback Michael Eubank. While Erickson has been busy getting 11 commits for 2012, six three-star recruits lead the way as of now with no four-star talent. Could second-year assistant and new recruiting coordinator Steve Broussard, who took over recruiting duties after defensive line coach Grady Stretz left for the NFL in February, help the cause?

With the Sun Devils being outrecruited by some of their middle-of-the-road conference brethren and with the league now expanded to 12 teams, can Erickson survive continued mediocrity in Tempe?

While the depth of high school football talent in Arizona isn’t great, putting together a string of winning seasons will help the Sun Devils get more kids from California — and help recruits overlook average athletic facilities on campus. As fans of the college game know, recruiting is the backbone of building a successful program. And while perhaps too much is made of the grading systems and scouting systems associated with recruiting — not every five-star player pans out while not every one-star player ends up standing on the sideline — ultimately a coaching staff needs to develop good players in order to win. And not enough winning has occurred the last three years in Tempe.

Arizona StateWill Arizona State fans get to cheer a winning squad this fall?

Certainly, Erickson won’t be able to survive another bowl-less season. Based on the team’s ability to play tough in close losses to quality opponents last season, including nailbiters to Wisconsin and Stanford, one would think that ASU is poised to at least earn a minor bowl bid. But how bright is the future under Erickson’s leadership?

The team returns 19 starters, including stud middle linebacker Burfict and 2010 defensive freshman of the year Junior Onyeali at defensive end. Cameron Marshall has a chance to develop into an all-league performer at running back behind a veteran offensive line, and quarterback Brock Osweiler stepped in last year and helped lead back-to-back wins over UCLA and Arizona when Steven Threet went down to injury. Overall, the offense had better rhythm under new coordinator Noel Mazzone, who replaced Rich Olson and instituted the spread. However, can the unit — specifically Osweiler — be consistent on a week to week basis?

Erickson has not shied away from the expectations placed on his team. After all, he knows as well as anyone that he has to win to remain in Tempe. Will a veteran-laden team finally put it all together and help realize the lofty expectations? Or will the Sun Devils remain stuck in neutral — content to be a middling bunch in a conference filled with programs looking to take the next step?

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Could Seahawks make play for Tarvaris Jackson?

The Seattle Seahawks have done their homework on Tarvaris Jackson, the quarterback who will be a free agent when the labor situation is resolved.

Tom Pelissero of 1500 ESPN in the Twin Cities reports Seattle has done its “due diligence,” which probably required asking new offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell about him. Bevell was the offensive coordinator for the Vikings under Brad Childress when Jackson was there. Childress had hitched his wagon to Jackson up until the point the Brett Favre era was launched.

But Jackson can’t be considered a starter for the Seahawks, not immediately. He’s got a big arm and he’s mobile, but there is a reason why the Vikings were quick to abandon him for Favre. Wherever Jackson goes, it will likely be as a backup to start.

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

Who wants to race Detroit's Vanden Bosch? (video)

This week, I spent time up in Okoboji, Iowa at the LeVar Woods Football Academy coaching defensive backs. Plenty of teaching going on down on the field with former Iowa Hawkeyes such as Ricky Stanzi and Tony Moeaki, plus both current and retired NFL players.

Technique, footwork and the basic fundamentals of football. A great learning experience for the kids and for myself in the role of a coach out on the grass. I ate it up working the DBs through deep ball drills, press and off-man coverage, etc.

However, I also had a “race” on my hands. Line up and run the 300-yard conditioning test vs. Detroit Lions DE Kyle Vanden Bosch for the enjoyment of the campers. No stretch or warm-up, just get into a stance and run. And I got my butt kicked. Maybe I should have stretched out those hammy’s, huh?

Check out the video below…

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Justin Tuck: 'Social media has made people cowards'

Week 3 cannot come fast enough.

That’s when the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants, NFC East rivals, will square off for the first time. That’s when the Giants can ask LeSean McCoy face-to-face or facemask-to-facemask about his Twitter remarks when he said Osi Umenyiora was soft and overrated.

Umenyiora fired back, calling McCoy a little girl, among other things. Giants wide receiver Steve Smith posted a photo of the Giants most recent Super Bowl trophy and pointed out the Eagles don’t have one of those. And now Umenyiora’s teammate on the defensive line, Justin Tuck, has chimed in.

Yes, we will take that personally,” Tuck said on ESPN’s “Mike and Mike in the Morning,” according to Sheil Kapadia of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “He might want to watch some film before he starts talking about a defensive end of Osi's quality. I don't know where he would say something of that nature because obviously I think Osi's stats back up the fact that he's a pretty good NFL football player.

“I honestly think social media has made people cowards. Where I'm from, if you had a problem with somebody, you said it to their face and that was it. I think now people are hiding behind computers and smartphones to get out something they got on their chest…

“I don't know what's gotten into these young guys. It is what is is. I think Osi handled it the right way, and we'll handle it on the football field when we get the opportunity.”

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune