Friday, September 30, 2011

You be the Red Sox GM

Red Sox fans, are you tired of the approach by this team in recent years; spend money to cut and paste, seemingly without an eye toward character and chemistry?  I'm not saying there's bad character guys on this team, other than Lackey; but they seem to be missing a special kind of character.  And I'll digress for a moment and complain that Theo seems to fall in love with players, seemingly at the expense of logic but certainly at a very high expense.  John Lackey is the poster boy for that but so is JD Drew.
But let's get back to the point.  You're given COMPLETE control over the Red Sox.  That means you can spend whatever you want but it also means you can cut whomever as well, even if that means you have to keep paying his salary.  What approach do you take?
I, for one, would be seriously tempted to take the clean-house approach and I would do it in this way:  I'd cut John Lackey and eat the contract.  I would not go out on the free agency market and replace JD Drew.  I would bring back Big Papi as long as the money and the years (2 at the most) make sense.  I wouldn't give up on Crawford just yet for obvious reasons.  I would only resign Papelbon if the money is right.  I'd also want answers to these questions by the end of next season:  Is Daniel Bard more valuable as a starter than a setup man?  As much as Salty is growing on me, I want to find out whether Lavarnway can handle the pitching staff?  So the catching position would be open next season.  I want to find out whether I have anything in the minor leagues, especially pitching.  If I have nothing down there, then I've got issues with the scouting and development people because that always has to be the backbone of any organization.  If the Rays can consistently complete with a payroll 1/3 of the Sox, then what does that say about their approach versus ours?
Finally, I think the Sox need to be much younger.  Look at the hunger and energy that teams like the Rays and the Diamondbacks play with.  That has been absent with the Sox all year, even when they were playing like the best team in baseball.
In summary, I would have no problem taking a large step back for a year or two and develop players, restock the farm system and somehow adjust the culture in the clubhouse and on the field; ie, fundamentals are the highest priority and every game is important.  We don't win just by showing up because we're supposedly better than everybody else.  I'm concerned about the foundation or underpinnings of this organization.  So I wouldn't mind losing and missing the playoffs for a couple of years if that's what it takes to fix it.
UPDATE:  Now that Terry Francona is no longer the manager and it seems it was as much his decision to leave, what's that say about the character of that team?  We don't know yet who the guys were who thought they could just show up and win but it's obvious there were enough of those guys to kill the chemistry of the team.  What do you do about that if it's several of the high-priced, long-term signings?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

No team does it "better"

I'm sure there are many, many out there who are very happy at the Red Sox collapse but you have to admit that the Red Sox franchise has no equal when it comes to high drama and higher tragedy.  I'd be willing to bet if you took a poll and came up with the 25 greatest baseball tragedies in the long history of baseball, half of them would belong to one franchise -- Buckner, Bucky 'Bleepin' Dent, Aaron 'Bleepin' Boone, Sept 2011, the '75 World Series, the '46 World Series and on and on.  (add to this list in your comment if I left out something comparable).  So while you revel in their demise, at least acknowledge what fun the BoSox have been for baseball fans of other teams.
Could you have scripted how last night unfolded?  Even the most jaded Red Sox fan in the midst of his worst nightmare could not have conjured the last half hour of the Sox season last night.  The Sox are up by a run and have the bases loaded in the 8th and cannot score an insurance run.  They have an insurance run gunned down at home plate on a perfect throw in the top of the 9th.  Leading up to this the Rays have erased a 7 run deficit against the Yankees by scoring 6 runs in the 8th and then getting a pinch hit HR from a guy who hadn't hit a home run since April to tie the score.  But then a few innings later, while the Red Sox are one out and then one strike away from at the very least living to play another day, the Yankees have a runner on 3rd base with no outs and fail to score.
It is very difficult for most Sox fans, even with two World Series championships of late and THE MOST memorable comeback in baseball history, to still not feel doom and tragedy around every corner.  So there I was last night channel flipping and seeing deliverance at our fingertips but not trying to get carried away because we just don't trust it.  Again, it's in extra innings and the Yankees have a runner on 3rd with no outs in a tie game at the same time the Red Sox have started the 9th with their closer on the bump and a one-run lead.  There was that moment when it looked like things would go our way, only to be viciously taken away in about a 10 minute span.  The Yankees can't manage to get a run in but then Papelbon has taken care of the first two Rays hitters.  Then all of a sudden with two strikes on the next hitter (a .240, #9 hitter at that), Nolan 'Bleepin' Reimold, hits a double, followed quickly by another double and a single -- Sox lose.  And while I'm still in the midst of my heart attack, Evan Longoria stabs me in that throbbing heart with a game winning homerun for the Rays against the Yankees.
So while Red Sox Nation is grieving yet again, be thankful baseball fans for the team that brings this entertainment to you better than any other.  If you have a heart though, root against the Yankees because them winning the World Series on the heels of the Sox collapse is the kind of cruelty we expect but don't deserve.

College Football Predictions - Week 5

After two weeks of only two losses each, we are up to a 72% win percentage against the spread.  The goal is 75%.  I believe after this week, I will be there.

1) #3 Alabama (-5) at #12 Florida - Florida has looked good this year, but they are going up against the Crimson Tide that is one of two teams that are the class of the SEC.  The Alabama defense should be able to hold the Gators in check.

2) #8 Nebraska at #7 Wisconsin (-8) - This is one of those games you want to watch if you love football.  Both coaches can become snarly if they believe that they are wrong.  They believe in the running game and stout defense.  A true Big Ten game.  I ook at the Huskers and are not sold on them yet.  I am sold on the badgers though.

3) #14 Texas A&M (-3.5) vs. #18 Arkansas (at Arlington TX) - To me, Arkansas is overrated.  We heard last week about them being able to visit Alabama and beat the Crimson Tide.  That didn't even come close to happening.  Watch the Aggies of A&M send a message to the SEC in this game that they can be competitive for the Western Division title.

4) #13 Clemson at #11 Virginia Tech (-7.5) - Now for the test of the Tigers.  They have beat two ranked teams, but in Death Valley.  I don't think that they can go into the Hokies den and come out winning.  I think that Virginia Tech wins going away.

5) Auburn (+11.5) at #10 South Carolina - Steve Spurrier is winning games, but I'm not impressed with the Gamecocks.  In fact, the fact that the Gamecocks are the Eastern Division favorite tells you how weak that division is.  Auburn is in the competitive SEC West.  I can see the Tigers showing the difference between East and West.

6) #17 Texas (-9) at Iowa State - The Cyclones are 3-0.  And yet, I don't see them as a threat to do anything good.  Look at Wyoming and what they did last week when they played a ranked team.  Watch Iowa State do the same thing, albeit to an overrated ranked team like Texas.

7) Kentucky at #1 LSU (-28) - I like what Joker Phillips is doing at Kentucky, but they do not have the athletes to compete with LSU.  Bayou Bengals win big.

8) Nevada (+28) at #4 Boise State - You don't know how much I want to pick Boise State.  They are by far the better team and they look back at last year and the upset at Nevada and will be seeing red.  I am playing the odds here, taking a 28 point underdog.  If I am wrong, then I need to bang my head against the wall.

9) Notre Dame at Purdue (+13) - This is the Purdue Bowl game.  Notre Dame hasn't looked like they know that they should be blowing people out.  I'll take the team that is looking forward to this game, not the team that is probably taking the opponent lightly.

10) Michigan State (+2.5) at Ohio State - This is the year that Ohio State takes some lumps.  The first lump from a Big Ten team comes from Sparty.  Michigan State should be able to control the ball, get some big plays and use their line play to win this game.

Additional Two

Air Force at Navy (-2.5) - Navy has the horses and the team play to handle the Option from Air Force.  The Commander's Cup should be going to Annnapolis.

UCLA at #6 Stanford (-21) - UCLA looks like a WAC team playing the big boys.  Stanford is one of the big boys of the PAC-12.  Watch for another blowout loss for Rick Neuheisel.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

College Football Predicitions Results - Week 4

Man, if I were in Vegas right now, I would be racking up money.  Of course, since this is just for fun, if I were betting it would be for M&Ms.  How about the Mean Green beating an overhyped Hoosiers team 24-21.

1) #7 Oklahoma State (+3) at #8 Texas A&M - Win.  Oklahoma State 30, Texas A&M 29.  The Cowboys came back from a 20-3 deficit at half to pull this one out.  A close call but still a victory.

2) #2 LSU (-6) at #16 West Virginia - Win.  LSU 47, West Virginia 21.  I look at LSU as the #1 team in college football at this point.  Of course that could change with games against Auburn and Alabama coming up.

3) #11 Florida State at #21 Clemson (+3) -  Win.  Florida State 30, Clemson 35.  This game wasn't that close.  Clemson should have won by at least 14, but mistakes by the Tigers made in this game don't extrapolate great things for the future.

4) #14 Arkansas at #3 Alabama (-14) -  Win.  Arkansas 14, Alabama 38.  All the blustering by Arkansas did nothing on the field.  Alabama is the better team and proved it on the field.

5) #10 Oregon (-11.5) at Arizona -  Win.  Oregon 56, Arizona 31.  I called for a 50 point game for Oregon.  I understand what the Ducks are doing.  This isn't just for fun, this is to impress the voters and trying to get the perception of that loss to LSU was a bad game.

6) Missouri at #1 Oklahoma (-20.5) - Loss.  Missouri 28, Oklahoma 38.  I don't understand what it is with trouble against Missouri for Oklahoma.  Chalk it up to lack of emotion or overlooking Missouri, but for some reason Oklahoma and Missouri play close games.

7) Notre Dame (-5.5) at Pittsburgh - Loss.  Notre Dame 15, Pittsburgh 12.  Ugh.  Lost on Notre Dame for the 3rd time this season.  They finally woke up on offense in the 4th Quarter.  You can see that the Fighting Irish were the better athletes.  Pittsburgh might have been the better team on Saturday.

8) North Carolina at #25 Georgia Tech (-5) - Win.  North Carolina 28, Georgia Tech 35.  The Rambling wreck offense from Georgia Tech was rolling.  Luckily, the defense could stop North Carolina once in a while.

9) #23 USC at Arizona State (-3) - Win.  USC 22, Arizona State 43.  The Sun Devils have a shot to win the PAC-12 South.  It will come down to them and Utah.  And comparing the outcomes of both teams playing USC, I give Arizona State an edge.

10) #9 Nebraska (-23.5) at Wyoming - Win.  Nebraska 38, Wyoming 14.  Covering the point spread by .5 is just like covering it by 30.  It is still a victory.  I am waiting for the Nebraska-Wisconsin tilt coming up.

The Additional Two

11) San Diego State at #22 Michigan (-7.5) - Win.  San Diego State 7, Michigan 28.  Brady Hoke built a winner in San Diego State, but has more talent with the Wolverines.  Watch for a resurgence from the Wolverines in the coming years.

12) Georgia (-10.5) at Mississippi - Win.  Georgia 27, Mississippi 13.  Even Mark Richt has won the 2nd game of the season for the Bulldogs, it won't lessen the heat on his seat.  And can you imagine the natives being impressed with Houston Nutt and another loss to a middle of the raod SEC team?

My Own Upset Special:

North Dakota State over Minnesota - Predicted Score:  NDSU 31, Minnesota 20 Actual Score:  NDSU 37, Minnesota 24.  The Gophers have had enough of the Dakota FCS schools for a while.  The next game against a Dakota school is 2015 with South Dakota State.  Minnesota ended their recent playing of the Dakota schools 2-3.  North Dakota State has decided to step up in competition of the Big 10.  They have signed a contract with Iowa for the 2016 season to play a football game at Kinnick Stadium.  I will be at that game.  As for Minnesota, maybe playing more of the New Mexico States of the world might help their record.

Week 4 Results:  11-2 Record.  3-0 Picking Underdogs.  8-2 Picking Favorites.  2-0 Road Underdog.  1-0 Home Underdog.  4-1 Road Favorites.  4-1 Home Favorites.

Season Results:  35-13-1 Record.  72.5 Win Percentage.  10-3 Picking Underdogs. 25-10-1 Picking Favorites. 7-2 Road Underdog.  3-1 Home Underdog.  9-6 Road Favorites.  16-4-1 Home Favorites.

Friday, September 23, 2011

A radical idea to improve the Big 12

Yes, I am blogging about college football again.  What?  You want me to write about baseball and the trouble I have staying awake past the 3rd inning.  I'd rather state that the players of the Lingerie Football League are better players than those in the NFL.  So anyways, I have brainstormed a plan to improve the Big 12 and possibly to expand it to 14 or 16 teams.

1)  Eliminate Missouri.  Yes, I know that Missouri has the markets of St. Louis and Kansas City.  But let's get real here.  Missouri is making goo goo eyes at every conference not named the Big 12.  So if they want to go so bad, let them go.  Let them be a third tier team in the SEC, let them become another Indiana in the Big 10.  Just let them go and do their own thing.

And the next steps are if we keep only 12 teams in the Big 12.

2)  Eliminate Iowa State from the conference.  In this makeup of the Big 12, Iowa State is out on an island.  Why do we need to have our teams going into Iowa where more than ever, the Big 12 doesn't matter much.  The King of the Big 12 North, Nebraska is now in the Big 10 and their following throughout Iowa is now looking at the Big 10 and the Big 10 alone.  The cyclones are irrelevant and the fan base isn't one that makes anybody envious.  So cut them loose so they can join C-USA or the Big East.  Either way, that problem is out of the Big 12's hair.

3)  Keep the split of the conference North and South.  Only the dividing line is the Texas-Oklahoma border.  You add 5 new teams to the conference which shouldn't be too hard since you still have an automatic qualifier in the BCS.  So here are the new divisions:


Oklahoma State
Kansas State
Tulsa (C-USA)
Colorado State (MWC)


Texas Tech
TCU (Big East)
Houston (C-USA)

And I can already hear the naysayers whining that you have a watered down conference.  Well, for all you brains out there, I understand but there is nothing that you can do about that in the near future.  Who do you go get that will cause your jaw to drop?  Louisville?  Why would you want that island in the middle of SEC country?  To remind yourself that the SEC can come and poach from your conference any time it wants?  I would give you Air Force over Colorado State, but the service academies are tough to have in a conference.  BYU?  Why would they say no to the PAC-12 and say yes to the Big 12?   

In this case, you have eliminated the distance between schools and might be able to start building the fan base slowly back to where the Big 12 thinks it should be.  You get Texas schools once again back together and battling each other.  You have Oklahoma and Kansas still paying attention to your conference and you bring those old school Big 8/12 people in Colorado back hopefully by having the Rams in the league.  You start with the goals in the 80's were for conferences.  Get the people around the towns and cities that you play in to take notice of the rivalries that spring up between schools that are a short distance away from each other. 

If we decide to go to 14 or 16 teams:

2) Keep Iowa State in the Big 12.  It is a long shot, but maybe try and keep the fans that populate the I-35 cooridor between Kansas City and Ames, IA Big 16 fans by trying to build a rivalry between Kansas or Kansas State and Iowa State.  Even though it is an island in a sea of the Big 10, maybe if the Cyclones can start a winning tradition, they can expand the fan base which in turn will bring more fans to the Big 16.

3)  Keep the same split from above.  The Border between North and South is the Texas-Oklahoma State line.  And now we have 3 more teams that the conference brings in.


Oklahoma State
Iowa State
Kansas State
Tulsa (C-USA)
Colorado State (MWC)
Air Force (MWC)


Texas Tech
TCU (Big East)
Houston (C-USA)
Rice (C-USA)

In the North, the only school that doesn't have a natural rival is Iowa State.  The South is just one big grudge match.  The good thing and the bad thing is that you are starting to run out of teams that would be halfway good fits in this conference.  In the North, about the only one goegraphically that might interest you is Wyoming.  In the South, the 2 New Mexico schools aren't appealing for any conference.  Tulane might be an option, but there isn't anything else close. 

With the news out there that the Big 12 is going to share the Teir 1 and Tier 2 revenues equally, the also rans in the conference will be able to improve their facilities and hopefully their teams.  I also hope that the Big 12 looks at the conference buyouts that schools have around the country and adopt some of those same standards for schools that are thinking about leaving after a short while.  Getting $20 Million for your conference if a team leaves won't solve all the problems, but it will help in the short run.  Also, if you look at the spread here in this scenario, you will have some of New Mexico watching because of UTEP.  The Des Moines-Ames market is still there.  Each member of the South Division has a natural rival.  And if you can parlay those rivalries all over this conference up into the national spotlight, the conference will appear stronger within a few short years.   

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Best News Coming Out Of Sports In A While

It is nice that he has finally started on the road to recovery.

San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow, severely beaten on baseball's opening day and in a coma since, had a major surgery one week ago. This week he's speaking to his family and asking to see his kids.
Progress is still slow going, according to the Stow family's blog, but, when showed a picture of his children Tyler and Tabitha, Stow said, "I would like to see them." 

Stow underwent surgery to install a shunt as well as a speaking valve. He has been able to move his left arm since that surgery, as well. When asked, he also recited his birth date. 

"We are blown away with all of this," the family's blog reads. "Literally, one day we got some facial responses and the next, he's talking. His voice is gravelly and you have to be close to hear him, but he is talking." 

Doctors continue to monitor blood clots that could migrate into Stow's lungs.

Stow, a paramedic from Santa Cruz, suffered a traumatic brain injury when he was attacked March 31 following the Dodgers' home opener against the Giants in Los Angeles. 

And according to the story, the medical bill for saving his life is probably going to reach $50 Million.  That is insanity.  I hope the Dodgers have to pay the entire bill and then pay the exact same amount to Mr. Stow and his family.  My hope is that Mr. Stow is able to go home and enjoy his wife and kids for many years to come without too much trouble from the injuries that he sustained.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

College Football Predictions - Week 4

Week 4 of the college football season is upon us and we are starting to see the better teams separate themselves from the pack.  I am taking 5 double digit favorites, but I can't make an argument for the underdogs to keep it close in any of those games.

1) #7 Oklahoma State (+3) at #8 Texas A&M - I am a big believer in this Oklahoma State team.  I will have OK State from now until the Bedlam game.

2) #2 LSU (-6) at #16 West Virginia - West Virginia is undefeated and ranked.  However, there is a big difference between the talent levels and the coaching staffs.  Les Miles has the Bayou Tigers roaring loud.

3) #11 Florida State at #21 Clemson (+3) - Clemson is coming off a win vs. Auburn.  Florida State is coming off a loss vs. Oklahoma.  I am taking Clemson due to the injuries that Florida State has suffered this season.

4) #14 Arkansas at #3 Alabama (-14) - Arkansas is the 4th best team in the SEC West.  Alabama is the 2nd.  And yes, there are 14 points separating the two.

5) #10 Oregon (-11.5) at Arizona - Watch for Oregon to continue to roll up the score in this game.  Expect at least 50 from the Ducks.  Arizona cannot keep up with that.

6) Missouri at #1 Oklahoma (-20.5) - Bob Stoops has this team looking like they want to win a national championship.  I don't think that Missouri has the horses to run with Oklahoma.

7) Notre Dame (-5.5) at Pittsburgh - Throughout the 1st 3 weeks of the season, Notre Dame has looked better than Pittsburgh.  If not for the 2 collapses that the Irish have had, they would be in the Top 10.

8) North Carolina at #25 Georgia Tech (-5) - The option from Tech will make the game real difficult for the Tar Heel defense.  Watch for 300 yards rushing from the Yellow Jackets and a big win.

9) #23 USC at Arizona State (-3) - The Sun Devils have a real shot at the win in this game.  USC has found their go-to receiver, but not much else.  If Arizona State doesn't continue trying to beat themselves, look for the upset.

10) #9 Nebraska (-23.5) at Wyoming - There is no question about who wins this game.  The question is by how much Nebraska wins by.  I am expecting by at least 30 points.  The Cowboys haven't looked like a dominant team, even though they are undefeated.

The Additional Two

11) San Diego State at #22 Michigan (-7.5) - The Brady Hoke bowl takes place in Ann Arbor, MI.  Watch hoke's new team and the better talent to win going away.

12) Georgia (-10.5) at Mississippi - Georgia is the 3rd best SEC East team.  Mississippi is looking like a disappointment and how long does Houston Nutt have as head coach when the natives are restless about not winning their division?

My Own Upset Special:

North Dakota State over Minnesota - It used to be where the Bison used to hope that they could put up a good fight against the Gophers.  Now they know that they can beat them and expect to.  This is probably their last chance for a couple of years.  Jerry Kill is getting the Gophers on the right path, but the Gophers need talent and that just comes with time.  NDSU 31, Minnesota 20

Sunday, September 18, 2011

College Footballl Predictions Results - Week 3

Well, I tried for two losses or less.  I achieved that goal.  And my win percentage went up by 8%.  Now the next goal to achieve is to have a 75% winning percentage.  Hopefully, I won't have to pick a team that is favored by at least 40 points for the rest of the season.

1) #1 Oklahoma (-3) at #5 Florida State - Win.  Oklahoma 23, Florida State 13.  A win is a win, especially when the entire state of Florida is waiting for the Noles to knock you off.  Jumbo Fisher has Florida State going in the right direction though.

2) #3 LSU (-4.5) at #25 Mississippi State - Win.  LSU 19, Mississippi State 6.  Les Miles is a miracle worker.  He might get ridiculed in the national press, but the man wins games.  That and he has LSU possibly in the National Title hunt yet again.

3) #17 Ohio State at Miami (FL) (-3) - Win.  Ohio State 6, Miami 24.  The original convicts win and in the process show that Ohio State isn't like the teams of the past decade.  I don't believe that the Buckeyes trouble are just a one year thing.  Watch for them to start sliding back into mediocrity.

4) Tennessee at #16 Florida (-8.5) - Win.  Tennessee 23, Florida 33.  Rivalry?  Yawn.  Even when Tim Tebow and Urban Meyer aren't at Florida, the Vols fall by double digits.  Get back to me when the Vols win or there is a benches clearing brawl at midfield.

5) #15 Michigan State at Notre Dame (-5) - Win.  Michigan State 13, Notre Dame 31.  Chip Kelly finally got his first win of the season.  The good thing for Notre Dame is that the Spartans couldn't find a way to make it close in the 4th Quarter.  Watch for an Irish winning streak starting up.

6) Utah (+6.5) at BYU - Win.  Utah 54, BYU 10.  If I were in Provo, Utah right now, I would be asking BYU, "How's the first year of independence coming along?"  Losing by 44 to your biggest rival has to stick in your craw.  And the bad thing is that Utah will get better in the years to come because of their conference affiliation.  BYU, not so much.  They will start to become Navy.

7) Washington (+18.5) at #11 Nebraska - Win.  Washington 38, Nebraska 51.  I would have never expected 89 points in this game.  The big 3rd Quarter by Nebraska made this into a high scoring affair with Washington having success in the 4th Quarter to make it look respectable.  I am starting to think back to the "Big Red Machine" days of Nebraska football and wondering if that is coming down the pike for Bo Pelini.

8) #18 West Virginia at Maryland (-2) - Loss.  West Virginia 37, Maryland 31.  West Virginia still looks shaky as a BCS Championship game participant.  The Maryland performance in this game proved that the Miami win was no fluke.  And an interception deep in West Virginia territory with about a minute left in the game was the fatal blow for Maryland.

9) #21 Auburn (+4) at Clemson - Loss.  Auburn 24, Clemson 38.  Clemson has done something that no other team has done in 18 games against the Auburn Tigers and that is win.  The hat is off to Clemson and let's see how Auburn rebounds from losing a game where it seemed that the luck had turned against them.

10) #24 Texas (-3.5) at UCLA - Win.  Texas 49, UCLA 20.  I think that Mack Brown is estatic with himself when he turned to Case McCoy to run his offense.  Ever since then, the Longhorn offense has looked good.  Of course, the opposition hasn't been the strongest in the world.  As for UCLA, turn the lights out, the party's over. 

The Additional Two

11) Pittsburgh at Iowa (-3) - Win.  Pittsburgh 27, Iowa 31.  This game was lots closer that I thought it would be.  I could have overrated the Hawkeyes this year based on what they have done so far.  Pitt might have a shot at beating West Virginia this year and making sure that the Mountaineers don't go undefeated in a very weak Big East.

12) Presbyterian at California (-42.5) - Win.  Presbyterian 12, California 63.  This is a game that the University schedules to let their fan base have a good time at the game and make sure that there is no chance for the opponent to win.  You know there are a couple of BCS conferences that can be used for games like these.  The WAC and Sun Belt come immediately to mind.

Week 3 Results:  10-2 Record.  2-1 Picking Underdogs.  8-1 Picking Favorites.  2-1 Road Underdog.  0-0 Home Underdog.  3-0 Road Favorites.  5-1 Home Favorites.

Season Results:  24-11-1 Record.  68.1 Win Percentage.  7-3 Picking Underdogs. 17-8-1 Picking Favorites. 5-2 Road Underdog.  2-1 Home Underdog.  5-5 Road Favorites.  12-3-1 Home Favorites.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

College Football Realignment About Ready To Explode

Up until now, I haven't been posting about college football realignment because it was mostly concentrated on the Big XII and whether it would survive and rumblings about the SEC expanding.  Well, now the entire nation of BCS football conferences is in turmoil.

A report on Saturday brings into focus the backstabbing and everybody for themselves that these BCS colleges and Universities are going through right now.  This report had 2 Big East schools applying for admission into the Atlantic Coast Conference.  Those two schools are Pittsburgh and Syracuse.  If true, it is the start of the conference deathmatch between the Big East and ACC.  Conventional wisdom has that both the ACC and Big East cannot survive this realignment and if two of the major programs of the Big East, located in the Northeast part of the country apply for ACC membership, then you have a feeling that the Big East is going to have to figure out a school or three to bring into the Big East that will make the conference stronger than it currently is.  I don't see how that happens, but that is what is needed unless the Big East eliminates itself as a BCS conference in football.

Down in Big XII country, all of the remaining 9 schools, besides Oklahoma, have agreed to equal revenue sharing for the conference.  Before Oklahoma and Texas received greater shares of the breakdown of money.  Speaking of the Longhorns and Sooners, their respective Board of Regents are meeting Monday to discuss conference affiliation.  It is thought that the chancellors of each of the schools will be given the power to decide where their respective schools will participate in athletics.  Texas A&M, who started this whole ball rolling is not free and clear of the Big XII yet.  That is because 4 schools have retained their right to sue the school for damages incurred if the Aggies leave.  Those 4 schools are Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, and Baylor.  If that was the end of the story for the Big XII, then it would be OK, but the reports of other mechanations for the schools down there are in the air.

Remember the 4 shcools that kept their right to sue A&M if they leave the conference?  Well, two of them, Baylor and Iowa State have looked at getting into the Big East, if the reports are true.  Talk about hypocrisy.  Trying by blackmail to keep Texas A&m in the conference to keep your spot in major college football, but also looking to leave yourselves.  Baylor did this when the Big XII was formed, so for a religious school, they would know how hypocrisy plays out.  If the Big XII does break up, watch for Oklahoma and Oklahoma State to join the Pac-12 immediately.  The most probable scenario is that Texas and Texas Tech also join the Pac-12.  If I were the PAC-12, I would not have the two Texas schools join the conference.  Instead I would bring in Boise State and the choice of Fresno State, Colorado State, or Hawaii.

Going back to the SEC, there are rumblings that Missouri, West Virginia, Clemson, North Carolina, North Carolina State and Florida State are going to join the conference.  The only one of those schools that makes sense to me is Florida State.  Missouri and West Virginia have different cultures than the states in the south.  Clemson, North Carolina, and North Carolina State are firmly entrenched in the ACC.  Florida State has only been in the ACC for a relatively short time compared to the others.  And if Florida State does go to the SEC, watch for the ACC to grab Central Florida.

And this is only the first wave of what is going to happen.  You still have the rest of the Big XII schools that aren't going to the SEC or PAC-12.  Where do they go?  The WAC?  The MWC?  What will the Big Ten do?  Does the Big East continue with football, and if so, do they stay a BCS Automatic Qualifier?  Do some schools join the MAC if the Big East folds?  Will another conference expand to 16 teams?  Will another conference form from the castaways of the Super conferences?  those questions and others won't be answered right away, but the answers aren't as far off as most people think.

Update:  The ACC is holding a vote to admit Pittsburgh and Syracuse according to multiple reports on Sunday.  You think that isn't going to cause upheaval?  Think again.  This will be the 4th and 5th teams that the ACC have poached from the Big East in the past decade.  And there are rumors flying that the ACC has decided to ask Texas and Kansas to be the 15th and 16th members of the conference.  If that is true, and I don't think that they are, that will take two major markets off the board in respect of major markets to add to your conference.  The problem with Kansas and Texas is that they are so far away from any other schools and each other.  Just imagine back to back road games for BC or Miami.  It makes no sense.

The SEC might find themselves squeezed here.  With the ACC landing a solid blow to the Big East, the SEC now might have a tougher fight to lure ACC schools to the SEC.  I am sure that both West Virginia and Virginia Tech are on their radar, but Virginia Tech has political problems if they aren't grouped with Virginia.  I still say that the SEC should go after Louisville which would help solidify encroachment from the Big 10 into SEC country, and steal two ACC teams, Georgia Tech and Florida State.  I know that there is a "gentleman's agreement" not to admit another school in a SEC school's backyard, but that was before Conference Armageddon was here.  That gets you to 16 teams and you have the 2 of the 3 major college teams from Florida along with natural rivals for Georgia and Kentucky built in.  

The PAC-12 is the one conference that doesn't need to worry about other conferences trying to take schools that are on their radar, unless Oklahoma and Oklahoma State surprise us all and join the Big 10.  The only suspense here is the 15th and 16th teams.  Texas can put a stop to that right away if they decide to follow the Sooners west.  That means that Texas Tech comes along as the little brother of the Longhorns.  If Texas decides not to go to the PAC-12, then the fight is probably between TCU, Houston, and Boise State, for teams 15 and 16.

The Big East could find themselves down to 4 teams after the alignment carousel goes around for them.  However, they have put out feelers to Conference USA teams.  The two most mentioned are Central Florida which brings that coveted Tampa-Orlando market and East Carolina.  Add that to Iowa State, Baylor, Kansas State and possibly Kansas and you are back up to 9 or 10 teams.  Add a SMU and a couple of other Texas teams and you are at 12 teams and remain a conference.    Hard to believe, but the Big East might survive.

The Big 12.  The eulogy should be a good one and I don't think "Amazing Grace" should be played at the funeral.

The Big 10 has to be shocked at the ACC additions.  After all, Pitt and Syracuse were rumored to be negotiating with those two schools last year.  So if the Big 10 doesn't surprise us all and sign the two Oklahoma schools in addition to the two Kansas schools, it looks like they will still be courting Notre Dame for inclusion.  And Notre Dame might finally decide that it is in their best interest to finally join.  After Notre Dame, look for Missouri to join the Big 10 and the St. Louis and Kansas City markets join in the Big 10.  Nice for that cash cow.  The Big 10 would also probably go after Rutgers, a Big East team.  Kansas and Maryland are still on the Big 10 radar and all the schools talked about are AAU members (Association of American Universities)

Summary:  In the next 48 hours, watch for the face of college football to be changed forever.  It might be good, it might be bad.  It will definitely be different.  And there will be some head scratching moves as well as some moves that you wouldn't even imagine before they happen.  The future for college football is interesting to say the least.

Quick Update:  The ACC is for sure holding the meeting on Sunday morning and they are considering Connecticut and Rutgers as teams 15 and 16.  There are also six other schools that have talked to the ACC about joining the conference.  

Thursday, September 15, 2011

College Football Predictions - Week 3

I have started slow this year.  I am only picking correctly at a 60% rate so far.  I need to pick up the pace, so let's see if this week I can keep the losses to 2 or less.

1) #1 Oklahoma (-3) at #5 Florida State - I am impressed with what Jumbo fisher has going on with the Noles.  However, the Sooners have the best roster of talent in the country.  I will go with that talent base and say the Sooners stay #1.

2) #3 LSU (-4.5) at #25 Mississippi State - Miss. St. is coming off a hard fought loss against Auburn.  Now they play LSU and a better team.  I'm taking LSU in a 7 to 10 point game.

3) #17 Ohio State at Miami (FL) (-3) - This should be called the Uncompliance Bowl.  Two of the biggest cheaters as far as programs go.  Let's go with the original convicts at home.

4) Tennessee at #16 Florida (-8.5) - This rivalry has gone from deciding the SEC East to one that no one really cares about because of the dominance of the Gators.  I see it staying that way.  Gators big.

5) #15 Michigan State at Notre Dame (-5) - Another tough game with Notre Dame in it to call.  Notre Dame should be 2-0 so far but has let the pressure of the 4th Quarter get to them.  Let's go for the trifecta and pick Notre Dame for the third straight week.

6) Utah (+6.5) at BYU - BYU has played two top 25 teams on the road and has covered on both of those games, while Utah played USC close last week.  I believe that the Utes come in and cover if not outright win this game.

7) Washington (+18.5) at #11 Nebraska - Steve Starkesian has brought the Huckies back from the brink of obscurity.  They lost to the Huskers last year during the regular season and beat them in the bowl game.  Familiarity breeds contempt and there will be bad blood in this game that adds to the mix.  I still believe that this is a close game.

8) #18 West Virginia at Maryland (-2) - West Virginia didn't look too good against Marshall.  Maryland overcame the ugly unis to upset Miami.  The all black unis that the Terps will be sporting this week make it a 2-0 record in alternate uniforms for the Terps.

9) #21 Auburn (+4) at Clemson - I thought about going with Clemson until I looked at the defense that they have played the first two weeks of the season.  They have given up an average of 400 yards per game against tow teams that aren't anything but creampuffs.  Go with Auburn.

10) #24 Texas (-3.5) at UCLA - The run of rick Neuheisel at UCLA is coming to an end if he can't get the ship rightened here.  Don't believe the hype that the turnaround is right around the corner.  Go with the overrated Longhorns.

The Additional Two

11) Pittsburgh at Iowa (-3) - The Hawkeyes should be fired up after the disappointment of last week losing to the dreadful Cyclones.  Watch the Panthers lose the game after stepping up in class to play this week.

12) Presbyterian at California (-42.5) - This game should be almost like a scrimmage for California.  I am probably wrong in going with this large of a number, but I am going with the Golden Bears.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Drew Bledsoe

As Drew Bledsoe is about to be inducted into the New England Patriots' Hall of Fame, I thought it a perfect time to revisit what has now become an overlooked and underrated career.  How many occasions can you think of where a player on the way to a professional Hall of Fame career was replaced by one of the greatest of all time at that position?  This is the situation for Drew, though you wouldn't know it from talking to him.  He's walked quietly away from the game without complaint.
I say "on his way to the HOF" because who's to say what kind of numbers he could have finished with had he played even a majority of his games for good teams or, better yet, had been given the opportunity to play for the Patriot teams Tom Brady played for.  No, he's not nor ever would be Tom Brady; but I argue Bledsoe would have been a clear Hall of Famer had he not spent much of his career either on his back or having to play quarterback much in the way that Dan Marino had to -- sling it for better or for worse and take lots of chances.  Look at Bledsoe's statistics when he was carrying the Patriots and Bills and then compare then to Marino's.  No, he wasn't Marino either but I contend he was well on his way...make your own conclusions.
Here is a great quote by Patriots owner Robert Kraft that says what I've been trying to say.
”Drew Bledsoe played such an integral role in our efforts to rebuild the Patriots brand,” Kraft said in a press release. ”He gave fans hope for the future and provided many memorable moments during his record-breaking career. I will never forget Drew’s record-setting performance in that come-from-behind victory against Minnesota the year I bought the team. It sparked a seven-game win streak and put the Patriots back in the playoffs for the first time in a decade. For a franchise that had only hosted one playoff game in its first 35 years, winning the AFC Championship Game at home in Foxboro and taking the Patriots to the playoffs for three consecutive years were unimaginable goals prior to his arrival.”
Drew could sling it.  Tom Brady's 517 yards passing this past weekend broke Bledsoe's team record.  You probably thought Brady already held that record.
UPDATE:  I'll come back to add more, as I lost my train of thought as I wrote this initially but here's a link to an opinion piece that I think is worth reading.  This writer argues that Bledsoe is worthy of enshrinement in Canton.  I think he needed a couple more good years and a playoff run to secure that but this writer makes very good points.  But the worth of a player is not all in the stats (see the Kraft quote for an example) and also just watching week in and week out over a player's career.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

College Football Picks Week 2 - Results

I want to claim two more wins this week, but monumental collapses in two games this week left me with a loss and a push.  And never ever bet on Kirk Ferentz's teams when it comes to Iowa state or Ohio State.  Lots of close games that could have gone either way and I am starting to think you have to put a stake in the heart of Auburn for them to lose a close game. 

1.  #3 Alabama (-10) at #23 Penn State - Win.  Alabama 27, Penn State 11.  I am one of the last ones to admit this, but the SEC is better than the Big 10 at the top of the conference.

2.  Notre Dame (-3) at Michigan - Loss.  Notre Dame 31, Michigan 35.  I said that it could have went either way, but I was wrong.  Notre Dame was the better team.  They just did a colossal choke job. 

3.  #12 South Carolina at Georgia (+2.5) - Loss.  South Carolina 45, Georgia 42.  This SEC game probably was the final nail in Mark Richt's coffin at Georgia.  The boosters have wanted his scalp for about 6 months.  If the donations start to dry, look for a new Bulldogs coach next year.  The Bulldogs outplayed the Gamecocks, but 3 defensive and 1 special teams touchdowns for South Carolina all but doomed Georgia this game.

4.  Arizona at #9 Oklahoma State (-14) - Win.  Arizona 14, Oklahoma State 37.  The Cowboys are playing like a Top 10 team.  I cannot wait for the competition to stiffen up to see exactly how good they are.  Arizona is rebuilding.

5.  #16 Mississippi State at Auburn (+6) - Win.  Mississippi State 34, Auburn 41.  Auburn has won by the skin of their teeth the first two games of the season.  Good teams win close games.  As for Mississippi State, they need to bounce back and improve their defensive play if they are going to be any factor in the SEC West race, because LSU is next.

6.  Oregon State at #8 Wisconsin (-17) - Win.  Oregon State 0, Wisconsin 35.  Apparently, I wasn't missing something.  Oregon State is a bad team at the current time.  Mike Riley is a good coach, but if the quarterback doesn't produce, you will not look good.  That is the case here.

7.  BYU (+7) at #24 Texas - Win.  BYU 16, Texas 17.  One of two things is true:  Either BYU is underrated or Texas is overrated.  I believe in the latter.  Lucky that Mack Brown decided to go with the reserves or the Longhorns would have went down to defeat.

8.  #21 Missouri at Arizona State (-7) - Push.  Missouri 30, Arizona State 37 (OT).  The Sun devils overcame 12 penalties for 110 yards, a missed field goal, and a blocked PAT to win this game.  And the Missouri coach iced his own kicker at the end of regulation calling two Timeouts in a row.  The Sun Devils also overcame the fashion faux pas with their all Black uniforms.   

9.  Nevada at #13 Oregon (-22.5) - Win.  Nevada 20, Oregon 69.  This game provides proof that size and speed will beat a quicker team.  After all, how do you explain Oregon destroying Nevada, but getting crushed by LSU?  Oregon will be a threat out in the PAC-12, but not a serious contender for the National Championship.

10.  Cincinnati (+7.5) at Tennessee - Loss.  Cincinnati 24, Tennessee 45.  Turnovers and the lack of finishing drives plagued the Bearcats this game.  I did underrate the Volunteers offense that looked masterful in carving up the Cincinnati defense.

Extra Games:

11.  Utah (+10.5) at USC - Win.  Utah 14, USC 23.  The money in Vegas late pushed the line closer, and those people are complaining about the corrected score.  Instead of a 14-17 score, it became 14-23 with the people betting on Utah losing.  Utah will finish middle of the pack in the PAC-12 South, but the future looks bright.  For USC, these games are all they have.  No postseason for them because of Reggie Bush and Pete Carroll.  At least it does take pressure off of Lane Kiffin.  Monte Kiffin is still a brilliant defensive mind.

12.  Iowa (-5.5) at Iowa State - Loss.  Iowa 41, Iowa State 44.  I should have went with the pattern of Kirk Ferentz and his games with Iowa State.  Win close at home and lose on the road.  Iowa is better than the Cyclones but under Ferentz, they haven't shown it.

Week 2 Results:  7-4-1 Record.  3-2 Picking Underdogs.  4-2-1 Picking Favorites.  2-1 Road Underdog.  1-1 Home Underdog.  1-2 Road Favorites.  3-0-1 Home Favorites.

Season Results:  14-9-1 Record.  60.4 Win Percentage.  5-2 Picking Underdogs. 9-7-1 Picking Favorites. 3-1 Road Underdog.  2-1 Home Underdog.  2-5 Road Favorites.  7-2-1 Home Favorites.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Thursday, September 08, 2011

2011 NFL Season Picks

This is the overview of how I see the NFL season shaking out.  No records, but I will give you my picks for playoff teams and who I think will be the Super Bowl Champion.


AFC East

1) New England Patriots  2) NY Jets  3) Buffalo Bills  4) Miami Dolphins

AFC North
1) Baltimore Ravens  2) Pittsburgh Steelers  3) Cleveland Browns  4) Cincinnati Bengals

AFC South
1) Houston Texans  2) Indianapolis Colts  3) Tennessee Titans  4) Jacksonville Jaguars

AFC West
1) San Diego Chargers  2) Kansas City Chiefs  3) Oakland Raiders  4) Denver Broncos

Wild Card Weekend
#3 Seed Baltimore Ravens over #6 Seed NY Jets
#5 Seed Pittsburgh Steelers over #4 Seed Houston Texans

Divisional Round
#1 Seed San Diego Chargers over #5 Pittsburgh Steelers
#3 Seed Baltimore Ravens over #2 Seed New England Patriots

AFC Championship
#1 Seed San Diego Chargers over #3 Seed Baltimore Ravens


NFC East
1) Philadelphia Eagles  2) Dallas Cowboys  3) NY Giants  4) Washington Redskins

NFC North
1) Green Bay Packers  2) Detroit Lions  3) Chicago Bears  4) Minnesota Vikings

NFC South
1) New Orleans Saints  2) Tampa Bay Buccaneers 3) Atlanta Falcons 4) Carolina Panthers

NFC West
1) Arizona Cardinals  2) St. Louis Rams  3) Seattle Seahawks  4) San Francisco 49ers

Wild Card Weekend
#3 Seed Philadelphia Eagles over #6 Seed Tampa Bay Buccaneers
#5 Seed Dallas Cowboys over #4 Seed Arizona Cardinals

Divisional Round
#1 Seed Green Bay Packers over #5 Seed Dallas Cowboys
#3 Seed Philadelphia Eagles over #2 Seed New Orleans Saints

NFC Championship
#1 Seed Green Bay Packers over #3 Seed Philadelphia Eagles

Super Bowl
Green Bay Packers beat San Diego Chargers

College Football Predictions - Week 2

Coming off a 7-5 week with a 2-0 record going with underdogs, I believe that I can improve to a .750 winning clip from now until the end of the season.  And I will go on record as saying that TCU will not allow another game that the opponent scores 50 points.  Without any further ado, the picks...

1.  #3 Alabama (-10) at #23 Penn State - Watch the Alabama defense.  In the opener against Kent State, the Golden Flashes had negative yardage in rushing for the entire game.  They won't hold the Nittany Lions to negative yardage but will shut down the running game and win going away.

2.  Notre Dame (-3) at Michigan - This game could go either way.  I believe that the Fighting Irish are still over-hyped, but Brady Hoke hasn't got the players yet to stiffle offenses.  I believe that Notre Dame and their pride show up this weekend.

3.  #12 South Carolina at Georgia (+2.5) - This pick will upset my good friend Jennifer who was born and bred in South Carolina, but Georgia hung around with a better Boise State team.  And playing in Athens will give the Bulldogs a boost.  That and all the rumors about Mark Reich will propel the Bulldogs to beat a Gamecocks team that didn't look like they wanted to play last week.

4.  Arizona at #9 Oklahoma State (-14) - Arizona fields an extremely young team, especially on the Offensive Line.  Oklahoma State looks like they want to prove that they are the team to beat in the state.  Look for these two future conference foes not to have a close game.  And a hint to Oklahoma State:  burn those fugly Grey uniforms.

5.  #16 Mississippi State at Auburn (+6) - I see a close game.  Mississippi State must be licking their chops with the way Utah State ran the ball last week against the Tigers.  However, the Auburn defense is way better than Memphis.  Also another factor keeping this game close will be a couple of players on the Bulldogs looking forward to next week's battle against LSU.

6.  Oregon State at #8 Wisconsin (-17) - How is it that a team that lost at home to that perennial power, Sacramento State is only a 17 point dog to Wisconsin?  Am I missing something here?

7.  BYU (+7) at #24 Texas - The road warriors of this season so far, the Cougars go into Austin and keep it close.  The Longhorns coming off a 5-7 season are ranked because of their name.

8.  #21 Mizzouri at Arizona State (-7) - This game shows why being ranked isn't the biggest thing in the world.  The #21 ranked Tigers are a touchdown underdog to an unranked team.  The reason?  Look at Missouri's win last week over Miami (Ohio).  That was putrid. 

9.  Nevada at #13 Oregon (-22.5) - Do you think that Oregon is going to be a little frustrated after their loss last week?  I do.  This game will show why the WAC and MWC aren't considered big boy conferences.

10.  Cincinnati (+7.5) at Tennessee - I am still trying to figure out why Tennessee is favored by over a touchdown here.  Maybe the boys in Vegas can't get the memories of the Bearcats last season out of their minds.  Take the Bearcats and the points.

Extra Games:

11.  Utah (+10.5) at USC - Those Trojans looked like world beaters last week with the 3 point win vs. Minnesota last week, didn't they?  Give me the Utes with Norm Chow and the 10.5 points.

12.  Iowa (-5.5) at Iowa State - A game near and dear to my heart.  The Hawkeyes of Iowa should be able to take down the Cyclones by 14 points at least.  It also might be the last time that the Hawkeyes ever play a Big XII opponent, seeing that the Big XII is melting down.  And this game isn't the biggest thing in Ames right now.  That would be Iowa State threatening to sue Texas A&M to keep the Aggies in the Big XII.  I see a big distraction.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Lokomotiv Yaroslavl

This is a tragic day in the hockey and sports world.
Rest in peace Brad McCrimmon, Pavol Demitra and the rest of the players and staff of Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the KHL who were killed in that plane crash yesterday.
Below is the complete list of those lost.  Read more here at

From the Edmonton Journal, The list of the people lost in this tragedy: UPDATE from Peter Adler: Herewith the list of those who were aboard the Yak-42 plane that crashed Wednesday, killing the entire Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team of the KHL … Igor Kuperman just told me he just yesterday wished his best friend Igor Korolev a happy birthday … Coaches: Brad McCrimmon, Igor Korolev, Alexander Karpovtsev, Nikolai Krivonoson. Goalies: Stefan Liv, Alexander Vyukhin. Defence: Pavel Tarkhanov, Karel Rachůnek, Robert Ditrich, Ruslan Salei, Karlis Skrastins, Michail Baladnin, Vitalij Anikeyenko, Marat Kalimulin, Jurij Urichev. Forwards: Alexander Galimov, Daniil Sobchenko, Jan Marek, Ivan Tkachenko, Alexander Vasiunov, Gennady Churilov, Nikita Klyukin, Alexander Kalyanin, Sergei Ostapchuk, Pavol Demitra, Josef Vašíček, Artyom Jarchuk, Alexander Romanovskyi, Andrej Kiryukhin. Crew: Andrei Solomentsev (captain), Igor Zhevelov (first officer), Sergei Zhuravlev, Elena Formatova, Nadezhda Maksomova

Monday, September 05, 2011

Treated Like A Woman

Tiki Barber

While 1,696 players plus another hundred or so practice squad players are taking the field for their first practices in preparation for this week’s games, former NFL running back Tiki Barber is not one of them.

I for one am not surprised at this development. During his last NFL season, Barber flirted with the broadcast gods over at 30 Rock. No, not the eponymous television show. The real one that poaches pretty bobble heads from regional markets, puts them on a fancy set and directs them to read the teleprompter with a smile. 30 Rock saw Barber as this generation’s Frank Gifford. Barber saw an opportunity in which he could maintain a public profile and make millions without sacrificing his body on game day.

A match made in heaven? More like a match made in hell.

After Barber left the gridiron, NBC placed him everywhere they could broadcast his million-megawatt smile. He had a spot on the Football Night In America pregame, the Today show as a correspondent, co-hosted the 66th Golden Globe Awards and did a star turn on an episode of Project Runway as a guest judge sitting beside Nina Garcia.

Barber had every opportunity to become a star but it was obvious to everyone who tuned in to NBC’s various programs that Barber was nothing like Gifford. He was the sport’s world answer to Alexis Glick, another pretty bobble head who was way out of her element when NBC network execs took her away from her financial background (CNBC correspondent) and forced her on us as an up and coming network star when she wasn’t ready or able to be one.

During this time Barber tried to establish himself as a football correspondent not afraid to tell it like it is, which meant throwing his former NFL team under the bus as they struggled through parts of their 2007 regular season. Specifically, he blamed head coach Tom Coughlin’s coaching style as contributing to his decision to retire and openly questioned Eli Manning’s leadership abilities.


Fast forward to 2011. Well after Barber’s broadcast career at NBC ended when his contract wasn’t renewed, he expressed an interest in resuming his NFL career, which in hindsight wasn’t bad. He was a Pro Bowl selection three times and led the NFL in yards from scrimmage every season between 2002 and his last season in 2006. You would think a veteran running back who was still one of the best in the game when he left would get a serious look after the NFL lockout ended but only the Miami Dophins kicked the tires on Barber and he left their camp without a contract.

What’s next for Tiki Barber? If he’s sincere about missing the game, he should consider playing in the UFL to prepare himself for a possible late-season acquisition by an NFL team looking to reach the Super Bowl.

Is the NFL black balling Barber? No. This has everything to do with Barber being treated like a woman. Why would an NFL general manager want a middle-aged player that hasn’t played in four years when they can get someone younger, hotter and at half price to play running back AND not rip their teammates and coach in the media after the game?

Being a middle-aged running back is hard. Being a selfish, middle-aged prima donna in an industry where you’re over the hill once you reach your thirtieth birthday is a career killer, and that’s why Tiki Barber is still waiting by the phone for the call that will most likely never come.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

College Football Picks Week 1 - Results

It looks like Week 1 isn't the best start, but there are some positive points from the weekend. The Biggest positive?  I am riding the Boise State bandwagon all year.  I do want a replica of the Boise State helmets they wore tonight.

1.  #3 Oregon (-1) vs #4 LSU (at Arlington, TX)   Loss.  Oregon 27, LSU 40.  Uncharacteristic turnovers by the Ducks and rotten QB play caused the rout by LSU.  Good thing for Oregon is that there is time to run the rest of the table and finish in the BCS title game.

2.  #5 Boise State (-3.5) at #19 Georgia (at Atlanta, GA) Win.  Boise St. 35, Georgia 21.  What can you say about Chris Peterson and the Broncos.  They are an upgraded version of Fresno St.  Don't care where they play, they show up and destroy the competition.  Kellen Moore for the Heisman, anyone?

3.  Miami at Maryland (+5) Win.  Miami 24, Maryland 32.  I feel sorry for Al Golden.  He brings Temple back to respectability and accepts the Miami job.  Then the controversy breaks out.  Miami has better talent than Maryland but the distractions are going to make it a long year for the U.

4.  South Florida at #16 Notre Dame (-10)  Loss.  South Florida 23, Notre Dame 20.  This is what I get when I believe the hype.  Instead of a 10 win season, the Fighting Irish might be looking at more like 7.

5.  BYU (-3) at Mississippi  Loss.  BYU 14, Mississippi 13.  By all rights, Mississippi should have won this game.  BYU with 14 points in the 4th Quarter shouldn't have happened.  You think Houston McNutt stays at Ole Miss if they have another losing season?

6.  Appalachian State at #13 Virginia Tech (-25)  Win.  Appalachian State 13, Virginia Tech 66.  It looks like Virginia Tech watched the App. St-Michigan upset and remembered last year's defeat at the hands of James Madison.  Looks like Virginia Tech might be gearing up for an ACC title.  And App. St. sees how hard it will become next year when they are a D-I BCS school member.

7.  SMU at #8 Texas A&M (-14)  Win.  SMU 14, Texas A&M 46.  Um, if the best school that the Big XII can recruit in football is SMU, then the conference should disband.  Texas A&M, on the other hand, needs to continue to improve for the SEC teams that they are going to play week in, week out.

8.  Tulsa at #1 Oklahoma (-24)  Win.  Tulsa 14, Oklahoma 47.  Landry Jones is another in the line of Okalhoma QBs that will be a finalist for the Heisman.

9.  #14 TCU (-6) at Baylor  Loss.  TCU 49, Baylor 50.  I know that Baylor has a good offense, but it isn't this good.  The TCU defense played with the urgency of a tree sloth.  How can you be ranked when the defense is this bad.  And no, I don't see Baylor even coming close to winning the Big XII.

10.  Akron at #18 Ohio State (-33.5)  Win.  Akron 0, Ohio State 42.  This game told me nothing except that Akron isn't good enough to be playing Big Ten teams.

Extra Games:

11.  Minnesota (+21) at #25 USC  Win.  Minnesota 17, USC 19.  Minnesota does not have a good offensive flow right at this moment.  However, they will be able to keep games closer than double digits.  Based on Week 1, USC is way overrated.

12.  Northwestern at Boston College (-3)  Loss.  Northwestern 24, Boston College 17.  I am going to have to recalibrate with Northwestern and Pat Fitzgerald.  They win when I pick against and lose when I pick for.  BC might have an off year if the defense cannot carry them.

Week 1 Results:  7-5 Record.  2-0 Picking Underdogs.  5-5 Picking Favorites.  1-0 Road Underdog.  1-0 Home Underdog.  1-3 Road Favorites.  4-2 Home Favorites.

The Five List: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

I am stealing from Robyn.  I liked how the five list looked for the Raiders, so I decided to steal it for the Buccaneers.

The preseason is over and the heckling of my team up here in the Great White North is continuing.  Apparently most Vikings fans cannot figure out that the preseason records mean nothing.  I haven't watched every snap of the preseason, although I did watch each and every horrible minute of the Pats-Bucs preseason game.  I have formed some opinions about the 2011 version of the Buccaneers and what could be a return to the postseason.

1.  Josh Freeman is the second best Quarterback in the NFC South.  He is better than Matt Ryan and is closing the gap on Drew Brees.  He is the key for this football team.  He has embraced the leadership role on this team and is looking like he could be a stud quarterback for the next decade.  Josh Johnson is an athletic backup who doesn't have the experience, but does have the raw tools to be a quality backup.  We kept those two QBs for the 53 man roster.  Look for a veteran backup to be signed in the next couple of days.

2.  The defensive line, once the weakness of the entire team is starting to look like it's going to gel into a strength.  The starting front four of Bennett, Clayborn, Miller, and McCoy, along with reserves Bowers and Okam are starting to impress me with their play in the preseason.  I would replace Miller with Okam in the starting lineup, because Okam is a space eating run stuffer, but that is just me.  Expect the Defensive line to get between 35 to 40 sacks for the season.

3.  Yet again, almost all of the draft class was good enough to make the 53 man roster.  Only a fifth round and seventh round draft pick were not able to hang around on the Bucs roster.  The fifth rounder, safety, Ahmed Black injured his ankle in the 1st preseason game and could not make it back to practice, so there is still a possibility for him to make it onto the practice roster this year to evaluate him.  Mark Dominic and Raheem Morris both deserve lots of credit for the drafting over the past couple of years.  There are young starters all over the Bucs roster that are at the most in their 3rd year of pro football.  The youth might make some mistakes, but they also have enthusiasm and the physical tools to overcome those mistakes.

4.  Watch the O-line improve over last year.  They are finally all healthy at the same time.  There are 9 O linemen on the roster and that is a great number because after the past 2 years, they all have versatility to play different spots, and that includes the starters besides Jeff Faine.  Resigning road grater Davin Joseph to a long term deal will make him happy and a productive guard.  This offensive line is set to do some great things if they can stay healthy.

5.  Pray that the starters at the skill positions on offense don't get hurt.  The reason that I say this is because the backups are inexperienced.  Here are the backups for the skill positions besides QB:

RB:  Kreig Lumpkin, Allen Bradford
TE:  Luke Stocker
WR:  Sammie Strougher, Dezmon Briscoe

Anybody know where these people went to college?  Anybody heard of them before if you aren't a Bucs fan?  Probably not.  They have skills, but are inexperienced.  A veteran or two would be nice to fans if we knew that they could still play.

My prediction?  10-6.  This year, all the so-called experts out there in TV land will be able to name a win by the Bucs that makes a statement.  We will be in the fight for the division, but will fall short to the Saints.  I do believe that the Bucs will make the playoffs as a wildcard but will be eliminated in the Wild-Card round of the playoffs.  That and Raheem Morris will be voted as the NFL Coach of the Year.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

The Five List: Oakland Raiders

Oakland Raiders PirateThankfully the NFL preseason has come to an end and my fave football team finished 0 for 2011 against their opponents. I didn’t get to see every play during the past four weeks but I’ve formed an opinion about how the Raiders will do this season:

  1. Jason Campbell needs to stay healthy – I was unimpressed with this year’s backup quarterbacks. It didn’t matter whether they threw the ball to a starting wide receiver or someone who will be bagging groceries at Albertson’s once the unionized workers call their strike, they were awful. Kyle Boller sucks and Trent Edwards is even worse. Terrelle Pryor? He didn’t get on the field and he won’t be eligible to practice with the team until his suspension ends after Week 5. If Campbell gets injured, I hope the Raiders plan on running the ball all day long.
  2. The running game is fierce – I can’t believe how talented the Raiders running game is. Darren McFadden is a breakaway threat every time he carries the ball. Michael Bush is a battering ram that comes at you with surprising speed. Marcel Reece is not only a fullback but athletic enough to play wide receiver. Taiwan Jones, a rookie, looks like he’ll make a great third-down back that can catch short passes and make something happen.
  3. The secondary needs help – I could stomach the departure of Nnamdi Asomugha to the Philadelphia Eagles but losing Chris Johnson, Hiram Eugene and Mike Mitchell to injury really hurts the Raiders chances of stopping the pass in third and long situations. Walter McFadden? Jeremy Ware? Are you kidding me? If either of them are in the game and the opposing quarterback throws at them, the odds are good it’s going to be six easy points.
  4. The offensive line isn’t bad – The Raiders lost Robert Gallery in the offseason to free agency and in the grand scheme of things it was no big deal. I didn’t notice him when he played and I don’t notice him now that he’s been replaced. Jared Veldheer and Stephan Wisniewski won’t remind anyone of Art Shell and Gene Upshaw but they’ll do a fine job opening holes for Raiders running backs.
  5. The receivers need help – I thought this team would miss Zach Miller every time they faced a third and long, but newcomer Derek Hagan looks like he’ll become Jason Campbell’s favorite possession receiver. Jacoby Ford should be ready to go next week in Denver, but Darrius Heyward-Bey isn’t called Darrius Heyward-Bust for nothing. He still runs routes like crap and doesn’t do enough before the catch to get open. What a waste of a first round pick. The good news is late round pick Denarius Moore has shown a lot more promise and effort than DHB.

My prediction? 11-5 is attainable but we’re more likely to see another 8-8 record. There’s too many questions regarding the secondary and wide receivers for me to believe they can challenge the San Diego Chargers and the Kansas City Chiefs for the AFC West division championship this season.