Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The NCAA Needs New Rules About Conferences

In light of Texas A&M informing the Big XII that they are looking at joining another unnamed conference (cough,cough) SEC (cough,cough), the NCAA should call a meeting of Conference commissioners and set out a few new rules for any conference under the NCAA banner.

1.  All conferences will have membership of no less than 8 schools and no more than 16 schools.  I do not want to see an 18 or 20 school league and that is where we are heading for.  Hell, the Big East has at least 20 members in different sports.  That is nuts.  And that brings me to rule #2.

2.  All conferences will have schools that participate in the same sports.  No more Big 12 hockey league that has 6 schools.  Either convince the other member schools to pick up hockey, or the schools that have hockey need to drop the sport.  No Notre Dame independence in football and a member in the Big East in other sports.

3.  Have the conferences and member schools sign contracts for 10 year blocks.  Once every decade, the conferences and schools have a chance to boot members or sign onto other conferences.  Start this process in 2015.  That way, we have stability for 9 years and then possible movement all in one year.  That gets rid of uncertainty for most of the time.  Independents sign a contract with the NCAA itself saying that they will be independent for the next decade.  It will make schools like Notre Dame able to stop answering questions about conference affiliation each year.

4.  Each 5 years, if a school wants to jump from D-II or from the FCS subdivision into the Big leagues, they will have a chance to join the conferences in football that are not members of the BCS.  Make 4 feeder conferences.  The Sun Belt, The WAC, The MAC, and the Great Midwest.  The Great Midwest can be formed from the schools that won't be able to join the Big 10, SEC, Pac-12, and/or the Big XII (if it is still around).

5.  In conjunction with #4, limit the number of schools in the FBS subdivision.  this year there are 120.  Next year, there are going to be 123.  Put the original limit at 160 schools.  You can have 10 conferences with 16 schools each, or more conferences with less schools per conference.  Doesn't matter.

Monday, August 29, 2011

College Football Predictions - Week 1

I am picking the same games that College Football Talk are.  Why?  Because I believe that I can beat them at prognostication.  Just look at how I did last year with the pros.  I won 50% (OK, so it was about 46%, but who can remember that).  So here are the games and picks.

1.  #3 Oregon (-1) vs #4 LSU (at Arlington, TX)   I believe that the turmoil around LSU and their starting QB being suspended indefinitely, is more than the recruiting turmoil that is surrounding Oregon.

2.  #5 Boise State (-3.5) at #19 Georgia (at Atlanta, GA)  Boise State has lost 1 game to a BCS opponent since 2006.  Look for that roll to continue.

3.  Miami at Maryland (+5)  Miami is the better team, but with all the distractions down in Canes country, I think that the Terps might stay in this game.

4.  South Florida at #16 Notre Dame (-10)  Skip Holtz goes into the school where his father got his legacy.  Expect him to come out with a big loss.  Notre Dame shouldn't have a problem here.

5.  BYU (-3) at Mississippi  I don't expect much from either of these two teams, but I will take BYU with the road win.

6.  Appalachian State at #13 Virginia Tech (-25)  Remember App. St. beating Michigan?  I bet that Frank Beamer does as well.

7.  SMU at #8 Texas A&M (-14)  A battle between a team wanting to leave the Big XII and one that has been talking to the Big XII about admittance for years.  Watch A&M destroy their replacements in the league.

8.  Tulsa at #1 Oklahoma (-24)  Really?  this game should be done by midway in the second quarter.

9.  #14 TCU (-6) at Baylor  Baylor has a good offense, but due to graduation, the Bears defense might not be up to par.  TCU reloaded and might get to November undefeated.

10.  Akron at #18 Ohio State (-33.5)  Even though Jim Tressel and Terrelle Pryor aren't there, the Buckeyes still roll.

Extra Games:

11.  Minnesota (+21) at #25 USC Jerry Kill as a head coach will make the Gophers better.  You will see it this week and they will not lose by 3 touchdowns.

12.  Northwestern at Boston College (-3)  I don't see Northwestern going to Massachusetts and beating the Eagles.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

He Said It

"All that said, her assent up the ladder of the sport thru various branding 'techniques' (swimsuit ads etc) only serves to undermine the ... future credibility of female races who wish to make it based on skill, mental toughness and a never give up attitude. That to me is wrong. Essentially, she has opened a pandoras (sic) box for all female racers. If she doesn't succeed, no female will get the chance for years to come.'' – NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski, via Twitter.

Danica Patrick“Bad” Brad Keselowski is one of my fave racing drivers. His racing style reminds me of former NASCAR driver Ernie Irvan and I was a huge Irvan fan twenty years ago when he became the first Californian to win the Daytona 500 and seriously challenge for the Sprint Cup. That being said, I think it’s fair to dissect Brad’s comments on the recent news that IndyCar driver Danica Patrick will move to NASCAR full time in 2012.

As much as I enjoy watching female race car drivers make inroads into racing series well after Shirley Muldowney lit up the quarter mile and became a multiple-time NHRA champion, I have to agree with Brad. It’s normally not a big deal when a driver takes advantage of their photogenic looks and popularity to market products. But when said athlete makes more appearances on my television set hawking products than they do in victory lane (Danica Patrick) or the end zone (Reggie Bush), then I wonder where their heart is. At this point, are they athletes? Or have they become highly compensated salespersons who dabble in athletics?

For most of her career Danica has had top notch race cars to drive, yet she’s only won one race in the past ten years she’s competed in the Barber Dodge Pro Series, Toyota Atlantic series, IndyCar, ARCA and NASCAR’s Nationwide series. And now she’s “ready” to move up to the Sprint Cup series part-time next year? Good luck with that.

If Danica does not succeed, and the odds are she won’t, this will be a huge setback for female racers like Simona de Silvestro and Ana Beatriz, two talented racers that have done something Danica hasn’t – win multiple races at the Atlantic Championship series and/or the Indy Lights series before moving up to the IndyCar ranks. De Silvestro and Beatriz deserve to be taken seriously as drivers. I would hate to see their hard work and accomplishments be overshadowed by a pretty driver’s money grab.

On the other hand Danica and NASCAR are made for each other. They are two entities that put more emphasis on brand marketing rather than the quality of racing on the track.

Time For The NCAA To Get Serious

Over at, Thayer Evans has an article about how the NCAA should put sanctions in against cheating programs by taking away the money that the school earns from their cut of the conference pie.  You can read that article here.  However, in my eyes, that does not go far enough.  I would also throw in some other penalties.

The first thing is Television.  I would ban the school in trouble, for example Texas, from a period of 1 to 5 years.  They would not be on any major network.  They would not be able to play on the Big XII network.  And the kicker would be that they wouldn't be able to play on the Longhorn Network.  Think that might irritate some people if they turn on the Longhorn Network and they couldn't see any Texas Longhorn games?  And the TV ban would be for the entire institution.  So if the Baseball team gets caught with rules infractions and gets a 2 year ban for TV, that means that each and every Longhorn team also gets the 2 year ban from TV.  I could see some troubles between the coaching staffs and players.  But if we are going to continue to say that these athletes are amatuers, and not professionals and that the academics are more important than the athletics, then this should be a good first step.

The second thing is the coaches.  If they are found to have broken NCAA rules and the infraction committee finds anything besides a secondary infraction, the coach automatically goes on a "show cause" review status for at least 2 years.  And if the school decides to retain the coach that is under the "show cause" infraction rule, then the school must pay the NCAA $2 Million for each year that the coach is retained by the school until the "show cause" penalty expires.  So if the LaCrosse coach gets a 4-year show cause penalty, the school will pay $2 Million each of the 4 years that he is there or until the coach no longer has a job.  All money paid by an institution will be divided up and given to the other members of the conference that the school that committed the infraction is in.

The third thing is the institutions themselves.  If you have a systemic failure like it looks like at Miami, then it is time to go nuclear.  All sports teams will receive the "death penalty" for 1 or 2 years, depending on how much corruption is found.  It might be a bad thing for the school and the conference, but let's get real here.  The conferences should be doing a better job of keeping their member institutions for cheating.  But they don't.  They look the other way and try to figure out how to keep the problems from appearing out in the open.  The athletes that are not involved in the scandal can transfer to any school of their choosing and do not have to sit out a year of eligibility.  Those athletes that are implicated in the problems at the institution will not be able to transfer and will be declared ineligible for any sport until the investigation is completed and the verdict handed down.

If a student-athlete is found guilty of any rules infractions that is more than a secondary violation, then that student-athlete will no longer be eligible to play collegiate sports for the rest of his or her life.  That is about all that you can do to the athletes.

These may sound tough and overly strong, but the NCAA needs to put a stop to this mess that we see each and every day.  There have been more than enough scandals to change things.  You have the following scandals that should spur the NCAA into action:  Reggie Bush-USC, Terrelle Pryor-OSU, The street recruiter that steered recruits to schools that paid him the most, Miami and everybody under the sun, UNC and the Assistant Coach/Agent, and others.  The NCAA needs to be a dictatorship and crush any school that decides that they will play by their own rules.  Yes, take their money, but also take the school's pride and legacy of sports.  Those are the things that the schools care more about than anything.  The money that they can make and the reputation that the school has.  And threatening to eliminate those things from a University might make the University more diligent in staying in compliance with the NCAA rulebook.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Changing the MLB Playoff format

This post is prompted by two things -- Little Cuz's Facebook post regarding his support of adding one team in each league with a one-game Wild Card playoff, which I vehemently dislike, and listening to Colin Cowherd on ESPN radio this morning suggest something radically different, which if there is going to be a change, I would prefer.
Cowherd expressed his idea in general terms and my intent is to take that general idea and add specific details regarding how I would prefer to implement it.  I will also briefly state why I dislike the one-game Wild Card format that is running around the MLB ethernet.
There is no arguing that MLB is struggling to find ways to maintain interest in the game during the long regular season but what they are proposing I would suggest would make a mockery of the game.  It is already possible for a nondivision-winning team to win more games than a division winner.  At least with the current format that team with the better record has a seven-game playoff series to prove who's the better team.  A one-game playoff proves nothing and I would argue it makes the regular season a joke.  Look at this year as an example.  The Red Sox or Yankees are going to be a Wild Card team, likely with more wins than the other two division winners.  People argue that this system would put more emphasis on winning the division but I would argue that adding another playoff slot would have the opposite effect.  If this plan is the only plan, then I say keep what we've got.
But the real problem with waining attention during the season is the length of the regular season.  Cowherd's suggestion was to cut as much as 1/4 of the regular season to add urgency to the regular season games because as it stands as of today only 10% of the remaining regular season games have any bearing on who will make the playoffs -- those being the games played by the Giants and the Diamondbacks.  I like Cowherd's premise, just not in love with the detail (cutting 25%) and lack of any other details.  So I'm going to take that premise and run with it.
Let me sidestep for a second and say that I love baseball history as much as I love the game itself.  So suggesting a drastic change like this is hard on my heart but the game needs something dramatic for its long-term viability.  The game will live, just like it did when the regular was expanded twice before.  We still manage to compare Ruth's 60 homerun season to Maris' 61, even though Maris played a longer season, and Bonds had a longer season than that. 
If you really want to make the regular season more relevant and have heightened interest from beginning to end, then I think you need to cut the length of the regular season to something like 140 games and add more playoff rounds.  It's been argued that you need to have a one-game playoff round of Wild Card teams if you're going to have byes.  Well, why can't a team sit for a week while other teams take as many as seven days to play a best-of-five first round?  My suggestion is to have six teams (three division winners and 3 wild cards) make the playoffs in each league with the two teams with the best records (regardless of whether they're division winners or not) sitting out the first round while the other four teams play a best-of-five first round.
What my plan does is overall shorten the season, add more interest in more markets and puts an emphasis on winning games without penalizing you for which division you're in.  I'd keep the 3 division just for the romance of raising a flag as a division winner but it becomes irrelevant for the most part.  Currently you have 162 game regular season, plus 21 games worth of playoffs (potential total of 183), running from the 1st of April into early November.  With my plan the potential total would be 159, resulting in a more exciting regular season, especially the last couple of months.
Go ahead and pick it apart but I contend it's much better than any other option and would add some much needed excitement to the game.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

2 Big FUs To Parties In The Fighting Sioux Mess

The University of North Dakota is going to have to change their nickname of the sports teams.  For the reason that the nickname, "Fighting Sioux" is racist and inflammatory.  The NCAA, The School's Board of Directors, and lawmakers met last week and the NCAA held firm that UND would have to change it's nickname or it would face sanctions against it's sports teams and would not be able to wear the Sioux name or logo in any competitions.  It shouldn't have gotten this far.  The nickname should have been allowed to stay with the University, but there are two groups of people that have made it impossible.

The 1st group is the NCAA.  The organization that makes our Federal Government look like a well-oiled machine.  These hypocrites have said that the nickname and logo furthers stereotypes and discrimination.  Really?  I suppose that the Utah Utes, Central Michigan Chippewas, Florida State Seminoles, and other teams that reference Native American Tribes in their name do not, but that the Fighting Sioux does.  And from the way that people in North Dakota hold the nickname of UND in reverence, there isn't a majority that sees the nickname as derogatory or racist.  It is being used as a symbol of recognition of the tribes that were here and the people whose ancestors were here before the Europeans.  The school cannot help if the cretins from NDSU use an indian mascot and have him 3/4 in a Buffalo's ass.  That shouldn't be held against UND, but it is.  That is one of the examples that the NCAA has given about how the nickname does further discrimination and stereotypes of Native Americans.  And yet, the NCAA did give us the University a chance to keep the nickname if certain requirements were met.  All were met, except for 1.  And that is where the second group comes in that screwed this thing up.

Group #2 is the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Leaders.  They were on of 2 Sioux Tribes here in North Dakota that had to say that they accepted the use of the name by the University.  The other Sioux Tribe held a referendum in 2010 when elections were held and an overwhelming majority said that they accepted the school using the "Fighting Sioux" nickname.  But not the Standing Rock Tribe.  The Tribal Leader didn't like the name being used, so he held up a vote by the tribe on the situation and to this day has held up the vote on what the tribe thinks about the nickname use.  And we know that the vote would be for the nickname, he has even said that in past interviews, but as long as the Council cannot bring it up to a vote, the tribe cannot give it's approval.  And even to that end, the Tribal Leaders has said that they would allow a vote for financial considerations by the state and the University.  However, the tribe is holding out for Hundreds of Millions of dollars each and every year to allow the University to continue the use of the name.  So, when they didn't get that, they have withheld their support.  Basically, they are trying to extort the government for the use of the name.  It isn't going to happen and the Fighting Sioux nickname will be retired.

Basically, all this has come down to money.  The state and University have decided that they are not going to be held ransom for using the nickname and will bow to the pressure put on them by the NCAA to change their nickname.  And being a small university, UND does not have the political clout to fight the NCAA any longer.  If it was Florida State, the NCAA would and has allowed it, even though there are some Seminole splinter tribes that do not support the use of the name by Florida State.  That is the case up here, and yet the NCAA is ramrodding their political correctness down our throats.

The University of North Dakota will always have the nickname "Fighting Sioux" to me.  But in reality, I want the nickname to be changed to something along the line of the "Roughriders" or "Cavalrymen".  Those nicknames also honor the heritage of North Dakota and the people that have come before us.  Instead of honoring the Native Americans that were living here, honor those soldiers and Army personnel that built forts and brought the civilization of America to the area and defended the people that came to the Dakotas to settle and make their homes here.  Make the school colors Blue and Yellow with 2 cavalry swords crossed with stylized UND letters above the swords for the logo.  To hell with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and honor the lives of those people that served in the United States military over 100 years ago.

UPDATE:  Well, it looks like the nickname won't go down without a fight.  The Spirit Lake Sioux Tribe is in the process of retaining legal counsel to prevent the nickname from changing.  The state is telling the tribe not to look at us, but go after the NCAA.  So much drama over what should be a non-issue.