Wednesday, December 29, 2010

BCS Playoffs (revisited)

2010. The year that it seems the BCS has gotten it right. The two top teams made the BCS Championship game. Too bad it doesn't work every year. So let's take some time (and tweak) my post from over two years ago, of a potential system for a BCS playoff.

Ok here we go:

A) All BCS conferences should have conference championship games.

The Big-12 will lose it's conference championship next year, and I hate it. I don't care if some conferences have less teams, it is unfair to have some BCS teams win their league without a conference championship game. So let's make it happen.

B) Two AT-Large teams

I like the BCS rankings. I think 95% of the time, it gets it right. One gripe I have with it, is that the human pollsters are so dumb I wonder sometimes if they watch football. But we will keep the BCS standings as a starting point.

The two BCS at-large teams will be: 1) The highest ranked BCS team that didn't win its conference (This year would be Stanford); and 2) A non-BCS team selected by a play in game. The play-in game will be played on the Thursday night of conference championship weekend (typically the first week of December). It will be between the two highest ranked non-BCS conference teams. Should be exciting, no?

For example, this year we would have seen TCU play Boise on national television on Thursday. Then Friday night we get a double header: the Big-East championship game, then the Pac-10 Championship game. Saturday we get FOUR games (ACC, Big 10, Big 12, SEC). Starting at noon with the ACC, 300PM SEC, 6PM Big 10, and 9PM Big 12 (all times Eastern). Who isn't excited about those three days of football?

C) Rank the teams according to BCS rankings and place them in 8 team playoff with home games for Round 1.

Best ranked against the worst ranked. Second best ranked against the second worst etc....

Let's take this year's standings: #1 Auburn would host Big East winner UConn. #2 Oregon would host #13 Va Tech. #3 TCU would host #7 Oklahoma. And #5 Wisconsin would host #4 Stanford (at-large from BCS conference cannot host game).

D) Winners face off in 2 BCS bowls at pre-determined locations.

Lets say all of the higher ranked teams win. Auburn plays Stanford and TCU plays Oregon. These games are placed at the most geographically logical location. For example, if the Fiesta Bowl and Sugar bowl are the options. Oregon and TCU would go to Fiesta and Auburn and Stanford would go Sugar. Even if it is far for a team (in this case Stanford), the game MEANS something. They will travel to see their team with a shot to make the championship.

E) National championship is played during the weekend between the conference championships and the Super Bowl in the NFL.

Move the NFL Pro-Bowl (awful idea anyways) and play this game in the gaping hole of a weekend with no football.

This will be played in one of the remaining two BCS location. Just like the current system. The BCS locations will rotate each year. The only question is the 4th BCS location. Either a 3rd place game, or a completely at-large selection. Maybe if its the Orange Bowl they select Arkansas and Ohio State. I'm fine with either option but it needs to be decided on permanently for every year.

F) The schedule will work with school.

Quarterfinals: First week after school is out. (Weekend before Christmas)
Semifinals: (New Years week)
Championship: (Between AFC and NFC championship and Superbowl) This might be the first week of school but not a big deal.

So I think I covered it. BCS makes money, stadiums are filled, and the fans are happy. Less people will be upset because:

If you win your conference you are in the playoff. If you lose your conference but play in a tough conference (i.e. Stanford) you still have a good chance of making the playoffs if you are highly ranked. At large teams have a legit shot at making the playoffs and wont always be the last ranked team. If your argument is the other bowl games become meaningless... aren't they already meaningless? They don't count towards a national title.

With this year's set up, both Oregon and Auburn have relatively easy passes into the semi-finals and other teams still get a shot.

What say you?

Stay classy,


Monday, December 27, 2010

The Poster Child

I try to keep a level head when discussing sports. I try not to be a homer. I am a Sooner bred and will be a Sooner dead, so I hope this does not come across as homerism:

Blake Griffin is the best rookie since Lebron and he might be better.

Feel free to put me in my place but I think this to be true. There is no doubt that he is the most exciting player to enter the league since Lebron. People tune into the Clippers for the first time in a LONG time just to see what he will do next. His in-game dunking is the best since vintage Vince Carter, and as my friend Josh says "Blake is better because he looks better doing it than Vince." Josh is a Texas fan... he hates the Sooners... but he claims Blake is his second favorite player in the league. Just like Kevin Durant is from Texas and is my favorite or 2nd favorite player.

Sure, he is an amazing dunker, his career highlights through 2 months of being a professional rival many of the top dunkers in the past 20 years, but does that make him a great player? Check out his numbers.

He has improved every month and is averaging over 21 pts and 12 rebounds per game. That is top 20 in the league and top 5 in rebounding. Only Kevin Love and Dwight Howard can say the same. He is better in both categories than some of the best in the league (see Pau Gasol). Did I mention that he is a rookie? By the way his December numbers: 22.4 and 13.5.

Other stats:
BG32 has 24 double doubles, which ties Dikembe Mutombo for the most double doubles in a rookie season before January 1st. (He also has 18 straight)

He leads the league in dunks with 71.
He is top 25 in FG%

Also, Lebron had less than 21 pts per game as a rookie. Just sayin....

The Clippers are relevant again, and it is because of Mr. Griffin.
Blake Griffin, making posters for kids across America... everyday.

Stay classy,


Thursday, December 16, 2010

NFL Power Rankings

First off, everyone needs to try this game that AJ put up. I scored a 57 out of 64, see if you can top that.

Second, there are only 3 weeks left in the NFL regular season, which means: A) The bookies definitely know what they are doing now, so just put your wallets away (Did you see how many backdoor covers there were last week?) and B) There is no better time to start my NFL Power Rankings!

So without further ado:

1) New England Patriots: I don't think there is much question that they deserve this spot.
Most of these rankings will be one-liners but Brady deserves some stat love.
Tom Brady has thrown 29 TD's and only 4 INT's. He hasn't thrown an INT since week 6 (but HAS thrown 19 TD's) when he threw two against the Ravens, his Kryptonite. His other two interceptions came at the Jets in week 2. In that game he forced the ball to Randy Moss with TEN targets, and Rex Ryan's defense made him pay for it. They have looked unstoppable in the past few weeks against those same Jets and in a blizzard against a tough Chicago defense. They have home field all but locked up and they look untouchable in Foxboro.

2) New Orleans Saints: Why rank them ahead of Atlanta? New Orleans has survived many injuries to stars this year (Greer, Bush, Thomas). They are only one game back of ATL and they would be ahead of them and in command for home field if it weren't for Garrett Hartley missing a chip shot in their head to head earlier this season. Plus, Matt Ryan looks good but is unproven in January, while Drew Brees looks good and is proven in February. I'll take the Saints.

3) Pittsburgh Steelers: I don't care how bad that O-line is, Big Ben likes to have sex in bathrooms and also happens to be a beast of a QB1. Oh their defense is pretty good too. However, they got stomped on by the Pats in Pitt AND I am worried about the health of Polamalu down the stretch. (There may be a huge gap between NE and the rest of the AFC).

4) Atlanta Falcons: They will be tough to beat with home field, but I don't trust their defense or Matt Ryan until I can see them win a playoff game.

5) Baltimore Ravens: Ray Lewis and Ed Reed scare me, but Joe Flacco doesn't. I still think they have the best shot of knocking off the Pats, their defense always looks good against Tommy.

6) Philadelphia Eagles: Mike Vick and Desean Jackson scare me, but their defense has had some big injuries. Not sure they can play January football, but anything can happen if you put him in a game in Atlanta. THAT would be must see TV.

7) Chicago Bears: This team proved they can't play in the elements and they may have to with a divisional home playoff game. Their defense is good enough for this ranking. Julius Peppers can change a game by himself.

T-8) NY Giants and NY Jets: Both teams are too up and down for me. Jets have been flat as of late and won't have the aide of their strength and conditioning coach for the rest of the season, which concerns me. Giants have too many injuries and I am worried Brandon Jacobs won't be able to find his helmet for the playoff game.

10) Indianapolis Colts: Watch out for Peyton! Just when you counted him out. They are getting a bit healthier. Pierre looks like a WR again. They can make a run in the playoffs iffff......

11) Jacksonville Jaguars: MJD doesn't carry his team to a division title, which he can. I don't think this team can win two games in the playoffs, but they could win one, as long it's not the 2nd place AFC North team. It's funny that this team was desperate for a QB early in the season.

12) Green Bay Packers: Explosive at times, but they probably don't even make the playoffs. They picked the wrong time to lose their Pro Bowl QB and play the Patriots on the road. FlashOpinion: Isn't point differential the worst stat? +117 and might not make the playoffs. Jacksonville has a -36, but they WIN when they have to.

13) San Diego Chargers: Definitely better than Kansas City, with or without Matt Cassel. But too little too late. Antonio Gates where are you!

14) Kansas City Chiefs: See above. As Bill Simmons says, "I can't wait to bet against this team in the playoffs!"

15) St. Louis Rams: SAAAAAMMMMMYYYYYY! I rank them ahead of Tampa Bay because the Rams dominated that game. Damn you Josh Freeman! Sam Bradford has some pretty stellar numbers for a rookie QB.

16) Tampa Bay Bucs: Another team bitten by the injury bug. Another reason they are below the Rams.

17) Houston Texans: How is Gary Kubiak still employed? This team is loaded with talent on offense and the front 7 on defense. Yes their secondary is awful, but with their other strengths they should have more than 5 wins.

18) Oakland Raiders: If Al Davis was alive... I think he would be quite proud of this team.

19) Seattle Seahawks: Awful on the road. Either the Hawks or St. Louis will have a tough time against the wildcard team in the NFC. If Karma exists, then Pete Carroll's team should not make the playoffs.

20) Miami Dolphins: One name: Chad Henne. Run the wildcat every down and you at least have a chance. How does team have a winning record?

21) Dallas Cowboys: Well Jason Garrett has a job for 2011, I just don't know if that makes me happy or furious.

22) Minnesota Vikings: If Adrian Peterson doesn't get 40 carries with some guy named "Webb" at QB, then Brad Childress should be fired! Oh wait.... Fire him again!

23) San Francisco 49ers: Hey San Francisco! I think he has played well enough... yes, that is right, 2011 will be the year of Alex Smith!

24) Washington Redskins: Is there any doubt that McNabb is traded or cut in the offseason?

25) Cleveland Browns: Colt McCoy will eventually lead this team to the playoffs. It may be in 2015, but it will happen eventually. Don't worry Cleveland we still love you, even if Lebron doesn't.

26) Detroit Lions: Talk about bad luck. Will Stafford ever stay healthy? With any semblance of a QB, this team is close to .500. Instead they are the best 3-10 team in a long time.

27) Tennessee Titans: Randy Moss is a cancer (apologies to Charlie Villenueva). Oh and Jeff Fisher... you lost your team awhile ago.

28) Denver Broncos: I want Tebow to start so everyone can see how bad he is (sorry AJ).

29) Buffalo Bills: I'd rank them higher, but they play some games in Canada... so I didn't even remember they qualified for these rankings until now.

30) Arizona Cardinals: It is a bad omen when your QB's name closely resembles something associated with death.

31) Cincinnati Bengals: I just ran back a Carson Palmer interception for six. Can we nickname him "King TAINT?"

32) Carolina Panthers: If the Victoria Secret Angels were dancing in the Panthers End Zone I might watch this team play. Oh wait, they don't score, so I wouldn't even see the Angels. So ya, you couldn't pay me to watch this team. Just over one offensive TD a game.... beyond bad.

That's all for now. Stay Classy,


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Trivia Time: QBs and their Alma Maters

This is one of those trivia questions that requires three things: 1) time, 2) pen/paper, and 3) no peeking.

Name the 32 NFL teams, name the 32 quarterbacks who took those teams' first snaps on Week 1, and name where each of those 32 quarterbacks played college football.

Hopefully you can get the 32 teams on your own. See how many out of 64 you can get - 32 quarterbacks, 32 colleges. I'll post the answers on Friday.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Ups, The Downs, And The Insanity of Fantasy Football

I introduce to you: Fantasy Football Team A.

The starting quarterback was not drafted by the team owner. In fact, the starting quarterback was not drafted at all in this 12-team, 16-round keeper-style league.

The top running back was this team's first-round pick and only keeper. This running back, averaging just over 10 points per game, has recorded the 16th-most points at his position.

None of the other four running backs on FFTA's roster were drafted. In fact, none of them were starting running backs when the season began, and only two of those four have since started any games.

Six wide receivers are on the roster. The highest-rated one has scored the 23rd-most points at his position.

The tight end is actually third-rated at his position, but was just added to the roster two weeks ago via trade.

This team was among the first to draft a defense, one that scored the third-most points among defenses during the 2009 season. Amidst multiple disappointing efforts, this defense was dropped after six weeks, and FFTA's defense has been a rotating effort.

This team drafted a kicker in the final round who scored the fifth-most points among 2009 kickers. Due to lack of opportunities, he was dropped after six weeks, and FFTA's kicker has been a rotating effort.

The team's Week 1 quarterback, a third-round pick and the No. 6-best QB in 2009, completed five games in 2010 before getting hurt, and has not played since.

The team's Week 1 tight end, a fifth-round pick and second-best TE in 2009, completed five games in 2010 before getting hurt, and is on injured reserve.

The team's fourth-round pick, a running back, has scored two touchdowns this year. He is the 47th-best RB and is no longer on FFTA.

The team's eighth-round pick, a wide receiver, has had three catches since the end of week 1. He is no longer on FFTA.

The team's ninth-round pick, a running back, was ruled out for the season before week 1.

The team has made 29 acquisitions, second-most in the 12-man league.

And finally, of the team's 16 draft picks, only three have been on the roster from Week 1 until now.

Three. Out. Of. Sixteen.

I introduce to you: Fantasy Football Team B.

This team plays in an 8-man league, and the roster alignment is the same as FFTA's league, except 2 quarterbacks play instead of one.

The team's No. 1 quarterback was the top-scoring QB in 2009, and is the top-scoring QB in 2010. This team also owns the 10th-, 13th- and 21st-best quarterbacks, and No. 21 missed the first four games of the season.

The team owns four of the 11 highest-scoring running backs in the league.

The team owns four of the 17 highest-scoring wide receivers in the league.

The team's tight end situation has been fluid, with its original tight end going on injured reserve. But FFTB simply went to free agency to pick up the same tight end that FFTA traded for - the tight end who is third-best among TEs.

The team drafted a defense in the last round. This defense has started every game (except the bye week), and is the third-best defense in fantasy football.

The team has made 13 acquisitions, second-least in the 8-man league.

And finally, ten of the team's first 12 draft choices have been on the roster from Week 1 until now.


One final comparison:
FFTA has scored 1111.3 points - 8th out of 12 teams in a multi-year keeper league.
FFTB has scored 1482 points - 1st out of 8 teams in a league thrown together in late August with a few experienced players and a few inexperienced players.



Which team is more successful? Team A or Team B?

Team B, of course. Not much of a debate, right?


Men Your Men Could Smell Like (Team A) has 8 wins, 4 losses, and clinched the division title last week. Team A will receive a bye and has advanced to the semifinals in Week 15.

West Davenport Donkeys (Team B) has 6 wins, 6 losses, and with one loss in its final two games risks missing the 4-team playoff.

I rest my case.

Fantasy football is hella fun, but boy, does the game defy logic.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Final Big Ten Football Power Rankings

1) No. 5 Wisconsin (11-1, 7-1 Big Ten); Last week, 1

Last week: won vs. Northwestern 70-23
Apparently there’s some big game being played in Southern California on New Year’s Day. Something to do with roses? Anyway, in our final 2010 edition of Big Ten Power Rankings, let’s dish on the all-conference teams a little bit. I liked John Moffitt and Gabe Carimi both getting first-team nods on the line, and obviously J.J. Watt was going to be there too. But Scott Tolzien deserved a better fate than coaches’ 2nd-team and media honorable mention. Tolzien and Northwestern’s Dan Persa had stupidly similar numbers - 74 percent completions (outrageous), a heavily-slanted TD-to-INT ratio, and plenty of passing yards. Didn’t look like the fact that Tolzien beat 11 teams and Persa beat seven (with a combined record of 30-53) meant anything.

2) No. 6 Ohio State (11-1, 7-1); LW, 2
Last week: won vs. Michigan 37-7
Five Buckeye defenders on the coaches’ first team is not overkill at all. What a fierce unit once again crafted by Jim Tressel and his staff - OSU allowed more than 20 points just ONCE all season long. A rematch of Wisconsin’s offense vs. Ohio State’s defense would be fun, hypothetically. However, Pryor got stiffed with his relegation to honorable mention. He makes the Buckeyes tick offensively - he’s every bit of a force as Cam Newton without two things, the flash and the cash. (As far as we know.)

3) No. 8 Michigan State (11-1, 7-1); LW, 3
Last week: won at Penn State 28-22
An impressive, we-too-belong win at Penn State probably won’t be enough to push the poor Spartans into the BCS. But Mark Dantonio - a well-deserving honoree for the Dave McClain award - ordered up some sour grapes by campaigning his team should be higher than Wisconsin just because MSU beat them (not in a tight win, but not in a rout) a few months ago. It’s a body of work, bud. Don’t lose to an Iowa team that was clearly fraudulent. Still, the two-teams-per-league rule will shut out Sparty the same way it did Bucky in 2006. Seriously, BCS, enjoy 7-5 Pittsburgh (if a few things fall into place).

4) Penn State (7-5, 4-4); LW, 5
Last week: lost vs. No. 10 Michigan State 28-22
Anybody want this fourth spot? Anybody at all? The Outback Bowl doesn’t have a lot of great choices once the big three go Rose, BCS at-large and Capital One Bowl. PSU, as my boss Don Doxsie put it, finished the season doing the least amount of damage to itself. Not to portray too much love for Wisconsin and Ohio State, but one wonders how Evan Royster’s 4.9 yards a carry and six touchdowns warranted a second-team coaches spot over the 7.0 yards a lug and 14 TDs for the Big Ten Frosh of the Year, James White. Is being a senior that important?

5) Illinois (6-5, 4-4); LW, 7
Last week: Idle
Well, the trip to Cali should be fun to finish the year. Illinois could really use the win, not just for an impressive resume-builder against 7-4 Fresno State, but also to pull even with the other 18 teams in this conference that finished 7-5 overall and .500 in conference. Mikel LeShoure has already wrapped up the rushing title, and is working on three straight 100-yard games. Another one and he’ll probably get to 1,500 before the bowl.
Next: at Fresno State, Fri. 9:15 p.m. ESPN2

6) Iowa (7-5, 4-4); LW, 4
Last week: lost at Minnesota 27-24
You just have to wonder if a guy like Adrian Clayborn is glad he came back. Well, he’s healthy and a deserving first-team defensive end who should be drafted highly next April. Rick Stanzi’s a heck of a leader and talented quarterback, but it’s hard to complain with both the coaches and media not even giving him honorable mention because he simply didn’t finish games this season. The murmurs about firing Kirk Ferentz are preposterous, solely built on quick-hit emotion after a bad loss in Minneapolis. Breathe, Hawkeye fans. It’ll be fine. Remember those Oranges from 11 months ago.

7) Michigan (7-5, 3-5); LW, 6
Last week: lost at No. 8 Ohio State 37-7
Sooooo ... Denard Robinson is an honorable mention quarterback, but the coaches gave him Offensive Player of the Year. While feeling the need to make Persa a first-teamer. Good to know those coaches are spending about 7 or 8 minutes on their ballots. Between this and the Royster thing, why make the coaches vote on a team if they’re not going to do it right?

8) Purdue (4-8, 2-6); LW, 8
Last week: lost vs. Indiana 34-31 (OT)
Hey, remember when the Boilermakers were 2-0 in conference? Neither does anyone else. Six straight losses to end the year, and Purdue allowed 34-plus points in five of them (at least 27 in every one). When you have the Big Ten consensus defensive player of the year, Ryan Kerrigan, on your side, that shows how far Purdue needs to grow as a defense.

9) Northwestern (7-5, 3-5); LW, 9
Last week: lost at No. 7 Wisconsin 70-23
Okay, so Dan Persa might be more important to his football team than any other player in the Big Ten Conference. We saw that in the way Northwestern collapsed in the final two weeks (though a missing quarterback has little to do with allowing 118 points in two games). But coaches and media aren’t supposed to vote based on value. It’s a vote based on merit. Tolzien, Pryor, Robinson, and arguably Kirk Cousins and Ricky Stanzi were better for their teams from start to finish than Persa. First-team all-conference is a gift.

10) Minnesota (3-9, 2-6); LW, 10
Last week: won vs. No. 24 Iowa 27-24
Pig out, Gopher fans. Amazing how even Minnesota was able to take advantage of Iowa’s lack of desire for a final win. Two of the three non-bowl-eligible Big Ten teams finished with wins, something that any sports fan can appreciate.

11) Indiana (5-7, 1-7); LW, 11
Last week: won at Purdue 34-31 (OT)
I just can’t lift Indiana out of last place, even with the extra-period win at rival Purdue. Obviously, the fact that IU scraped together five wins wasn’t enough to save Bill Lynch’s job. He’s a good man who was put in a tough situation after Terry Hoeppner’s death, but how long can you really give an interim coach to turn things around? Looks like the Hoosiers are stuck in building mode for at least a couple more years.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Week 12 Big Ten Power Rankings

1) No. 7* Wisconsin (9-1, 5-1 Big Ten); Last week, 1
*BCS rankings used
Last week: won vs. Indiana 83-20

For years as a Badgers beat writer, I heard Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema offer an interesting take on his team: “we’re not the prettiest girl in school, but we’ve always got a date to the prom.” Meaning, UW consistently finds itself ranked highly and playing in esteemed bowl games, even if the Badgers don’t dominate the SportsCenter highlights with unbelievable play. The 2010 Badgers must have gotten one of those quick-fix makeovers. Hanging 70 on Austin Peay? EIGHTY-THREE POINTS against Indiana??? Don’t forget former Gophers coach Tim Brewster’s accusing Bielema of running it up. How different these Badgers are. If they end up smelling Roses, it’ll all be worth it.
Next: at Michigan, 11 a.m. ESPN

2) No. 9 Ohio State (9-1, 5-1); LW, 2
Last week: won vs. Penn State 38-14
Like Wisconsin, the end result was a rout. But like Wisconsin, it didn’t start out that way. The Buckeyes came out of the locker room down 14-3 for the second half before turning things around. OSU has to be careful going into an always-hostile Kinnick Stadium to play a team that may or may not be, for lack of better words, ticked off.
Next: at No. 20 Iowa, 2:30 p.m. ABC

3) No. 12 Michigan State (9-1, 5-1); LW, 3
Last week: Idle
Not a bad way to spend a bye week. Iowa’s loss probably meant the most to Michigan State, since that was the only conference contender who had been defeated by Iowa. Now if the Spartans - whose end-of-season schedule is easier than Wisconsin’s and OSU’s - can hang on, they just need either the Badgers or Buckeyes to lose once to be all but certain of a BCS bid.
Next: vs. Purdue, 11 a.m. BTN

4) No. 20 Iowa (7-3, 4-2); LW, 4
Last week: lost at Northwestern 21-17
Ricky Stanzi, you cannot make that throw to the end zone with a 10-point lead like that. Stanzi’s career has been marked with good, intelligent decisions, but that gave Northwestern full momentum to make the comeback. Things are pretty gloomy in the Heartland - the OSU game has lost much of its luster, at least to the locals. Who knows its effect in the Hawkeyes’ locker room.
Next: vs. No. 9 Ohio State, 2:30 p.m. ABC

5) Northwestern (7-3, 3-3); LW, 8
Last week: won vs. No. 13 Iowa 21-17
And we have yet another entrant to the “Fans Who Inexplicably Rush The Field After A Win” contest that apparently America’s college students have decided to stage this season. Iowa’s good, sure, but, uh, both teams now have identical records. And it was at Northwestern. And Iowa wasn’t even in the top ten. And the Wildcats have now beaten Iowa five out of six. Come on, NU kids. It’s not like a semi-attractive girl showed her face at the 50-yard-line.
Next: vs. Illinois, 2:30 p.m. ESPNU

6) Michigan (7-3, 3-3); LW, 7
Last week: won at Purdue 27-16
It has to be said: 19-0. That was the halftime score two seasons ago, in favor of Wisconsin, before the Wolverines stormed back for a shocking 27-25 win. UW has won just twice at Michigan Stadium in 48 years, and its current drought goes back to 1994. James White was 2 years old. Needless to say, the Badgers have some demons to exorcise on Saturday.
Next: vs. No. 7 Wisconsin, 11 a.m. ESPN

7) Penn State (6-4, 3-3); LW, 5
Last week: lost at No. 9 Ohio State 38-14
Matt McGloin has a promising future in white - and one heck of a name to go with it - but he can’t make mistakes like the one he made getting picked by Devon Torrence to let the Buckeyes take control. It’s odd to see a Penn State team with talent that’s still considered a total rebuilding project, but that’s what we’ve got.
Next: at Indiana, 11 a.m. BTN

8) Illinois (5-5, 3-4); LW, 6
Last week: lost vs. Minnesota 38-34
Let’s go ahead and call this a startling turn of events in Champaign, no? The monster win in Happy Valley was so close to igniting a 4-2 record in Big Ten play before the Illini scored 65 points in a loss ... followed by this. Losing to one of the worst teams in a BCS conference on Senior Day. Now it’s off to Evanston and Fresno to try and scratch out a win just for the right to play in a 13th game, if it means that much to the Illini.
Next: at Northwestern, 2:30 p.m. ESPNU

9) Purdue (4-6, 2-4); LW, 9
Last week: lost vs. Michigan 27-16
Well, at least the Boilermakers lost by just 11 this week. That’s a squeaker compared to Purdue’s last month. Its last shot at playing spoiler comes in East Lansing, not to mention any prayer of a bowl game shot.
Next: at No. 12 Michigan State, 11 a.m. BTN

10) Minnesota (2-9, 1-6); LW, 11
Last week: won at Illinois 38-34
Hey, perfect timing! Get the big win, and enjoy a week off! All is right in Gopherland again. You know, except those 63 problems that have dogged this football team all season long. Screw it, it’s bye week time!
Next: Idle

11) Indiana (4-6, 0-6); LW, 10
Last week: lost at No. 7 Wisconsin 83-20
Rock bottom. That’s what this feels like. Minnesota probably doesn’t deserve to be relieved of its guard duties in the cellar, but Minnesota hasn’t relinquished 83 points in an afternoon before. Any and all progress gained from narrow losses to Northwestern and Iowa have been wiped away. At least Indiana didn’t accuse of Wisconsin of running it up - it’s competitive football. If the Hoosiers had a problem with it, they probably should have done something about it between the lines.
Next: vs. Penn State, 11 a.m. BTN

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Season to Remember

After shaking off the disappointment of the World Series, I decided to reflect a little bit on the season. It was a fantastic ride from start to finish, but instead of walking you through the season step by step, I will throw out a few notes and then take things back to my favorite game of the year.

I know it has been said, but it needs to be said again: This team overcame great adversity. The manager admitted to doing Cocaine before the season. The team was bankrupt. The two "Aces" were out of the rotation by the All-Star Break. The franchise had won two playoff GAMES in it's history, yet this Texas Rangers team made it within three games of winning the World Series. The WORLD SERIES. Still doesn't quite seem real to have "World Series" and "Texas Rangers" in the same sentence. Unless of course the sentence is "The Texas Rangers will never make it to the World Series." Well they did, and even though they played poorly once they got there, they proved they belonged by beating the Rays and demolishing the Yankees. It was a season that I will never forget.

There were plenty of games to choose from as "my favorite game of the season." Any playoff win. Any display of Cliff Lee's dominance. Any victory against the Yankees. All of the walk-offs. My favorite game is a walk-off, but it is so much more than just that.... it twas the evening of August 13th.

This was not your normal August night at the Ballpark. The previous day was an off day for the players, but it was a big day in court. The Texas Rangers finally had new owners as the Ryan-Greenberg group finally won. The celebratory mood filled the evening air at the ballpark. I wish I had been there, but you could tell the atmosphere was different. Josh Lewin and Tom Grieve both seemed a little more amped than usual and there was a buzz in the ballpark.
The matchup featured one of the game's best in Josh Beckett against recently hot youngster Tommy Hunter. The Rangers scored once in both the 1st and 2nd and the crowd was going nuts. Nolan Ryan and Chuck Greenberg were shown cheering loudly, but the mood changed quickly. The Red Sox scored once in the 3rd, then hit back-to-back-to-back homeruns in the 4th to knock Tommy Hunter out of the game. They went on to score 7 runs in the 4th and the crowd was silent. A 6-run deficit against the Red Sox seemed to be too big of a hole to overcome, especially against Josh Beckett.

This was my favorite game for more than one reason. First thing, it was a microcosm of the season. Here was some major adversity and the Rangers would overcome it. Newcomer Mitch Moreland hit a two-run homerun in the bottom of the 4th and the lead was halved. Then Michael Young and Josh Hamilton went deep in the 5th to make it a 2-run game. After a JD Drew homer in the 7th, the Rangers added two in the bottom of the 7th to make it a one run game.

Then reason number two I loved this game, it showed our power but also our ability to scrap for runs the Ron Washington way. In the 7th we scored on a sac-fly and my favorite run of the night comes in the 8th to tie the game. After Josh Hamilton doubled with two outs, Vlad comes to the plate. On a ground ball in the infield, somehow Vlad beats out the throw and miraculously Hamilton rounds third and scores a run. Our slugger scored from 2nd on an infield hit to tie the Red Sox in the 8th. The place was going absolutely crazy, and I was running around my living room. We tied the game.

Reason number three, with the exception of the World Series, our Bullpen turned out the lights. After Hunter made his exit and Feldman (demoted ace) struggled, our Bullpen shut down the Red Sox, just like they did all season. Ogando in the 8th, Feliz pitched the 9th and 10th and O'Day kept them scoreless in the 11th. That set the stage for Mr. Nelson "Boomstick" Cruz. Pitcher number eight for the Red Sox and the last man in the bullpen only threw one pitch on this night. The knuckleball that Cruz was waiting for...

BOOM! Let the celebration begin. The Rangers made the World Series and under new ownership, the days of losing seasons could be over for a long time here in Texas. Get your Antlers up and Claw'em up. If you jumped on the bandwagon, stay for the ride next season.

Monday, November 1, 2010

BDubs 11 Spot

11 (because most people only turn things up to 10) musings about mostly sports coming straight from my mind....

1) Texas Rangers fighting for survival.
This is the team I have followed since I first knew anything about baseball. This is the team that had won two playoff GAMES in its history. Now they have won two series in one playoffs. No matter what happens it has been an amazing year. A few things before you count them out. The top two spots in the rotation from spring ball aren't even on the roster. The team was bankrupt. The manager admitted to snorting coke last year.... and now they are in the World Series. This team responds to adversity. Nothing would surprise me. Go Rangers!

2) I hate Cody Ross
Of course I hate him. I am a Rangers fan. He has a smug face. His beard/bald look is appalling. My girlfriend says "I just don't like him" when he is shown on TV. That's enough for me. He is in the Bdubs Hall of Lame.
3) Brad Childress lost the Vikings and should be fired.
Forget this whole Randy Moss debacle. Wait we can't not talk about this! He addressed the team after getting into it with Moss and told them that he is gone. He didn't talk to the front office or the owners before doing this. Now the entire team hates Chilly and the front office and owners want Moss back. Now let's rewind to last week against Green Bay. I watched the game at work and saw Adrian Peterson make a first down with about 25 seconds left to the Vikings 40 yard-line. Farve and Moss had just hooked up on a 50 yard bomb that was called back. With two timeouts Chilly decides to sit on it and just go to half up 3. Moss, Favre and Peterson (the core of your offense) look FURIOUS. At this point I posted on facebook: "WOW BRAD CHILDRESS. YOU JUST LOST YOUR ENTIRE TEAM'S SUPPORT"
And I was right. Add that to this Moss situation and the only solution is cut ties with Childress. If ownership picks Chilly over Moss, the rest of the team will be itching to leave ASAP.

4) I was still way too optimistic about my Cowboys in my last post
I said 7-9 at best at 5-11 at worst. This team could definitely win less than 5 games. I mean look at the remaining schedule... after losing at home to Jacksonville I see only 2 or 3 games that are winnable. They could go 1-15 for all I know. I really hope Jerry considers cleaning house with these coaches. The talent is there.... somewhere.

5) Watch out for the Detroit Lions.
I sent Adam Schefter of ESPN a message the other day on Twitter with this stat: Detroit 1-5 with a point differential of +6 and Tampa Bay 4-2 with a point differential of -30 (He used this stat in this week's ESPN article). At 0-4 I said Detroit might be the best 0-4 team ever. Now they get Stafford back and win a game. With a fairly easy schedule don't be surprised if they finish at 8-8 or even 9-7. Just sayin...

6) The Saints are still the best NFC team.
You can explain the offensive inconsistencies on losing both of the star RB's to injury. Bush is coming back soon and Thomas might come back soon too. Despite both of them missing, they looked great vs the Steelers. Their defense looked fantastic despite only having ONE cornerback on the roster. Give this team time to get healthy and they go deep into the playoffs again. If they get a home game or two in January... watch out.

7) Twitter is an excellent source for sports information
I have fallen hard. I love Twitter. I don't really care too much for following the celebrities and players. But the information and commentary you get from sports analysts and writers is fantastic. They are more off-the-cuff and it's more gut-reactions. I like reading what they first are thinking. It is a lot of fun.

8) Tiger Woods will be #1 again by the U.S. Open next year
At the latest. Michael Wilbon said it best today on PTI. When he practices all the time he will be #1 and will win majors. When he can't practice all the time (this past year) he will not be at the peak of his powers but still pretty good.

9) Cliff Lee will be a Ranger next year.
The Rangers signed a new TV contract worth $150 million a year. Largest contract for a MLB team that does not have it's own network (Yankees). That is a lot of money. If the Rangers offer anything close to what the Yankees do, Cliff will be a Ranger. His wife has been quoted that she loves Texas. Wifey is queen.

10) College Basketball is boring until Mid-February
The regular season is worthless to me. I love the tournament and I wouldn't change a thing about it. Let me repeat, I wouldn't change anything about it. Don't add more teams to the tournament. You will just water down the regular season more. This doesn't affect my opinion of College Football needing a playoff, because it would be small enough that every game would still matter.

11) Top Chef Just Desserts has been added to the DVR
Yes, this is partly because the girlfriend moved in... well... mostly. BUT, the show is very very good. I have to give it up to Bravo. Some of the best produced Reality TV I have seen. Perfect balance of not too much personality conflict and a good amount of competition. Not to mention the food they make looks amazing and gives the girlfriend some great ideas...

Stay Classy,


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Petek projects this January's BCS bowlers

We're halfway to bowl season, and it's time for Justin "Check, Please" Petek, resident Cheesehead, to gaze into his crystal ball and tell us who will be playing in which BCS bowl. Have at it, JP.

National Championship Game: Oregon Ducks vs. Texas Christian Horned Frogs

Oregon looks like a steamroller in the west. Hide your kids, hide your wife, cuz they’re beating everyone out there. The Ducks don’t have an easy path with road games at USC and bitter rival Oregon State, but they could win at Chuck Norris U. the way they are playing.

I project TCU to finish undefeated and use a high-quality road win at Utah to surpass undefeated Boise State and 1-loss Alabama to make the title game. This could come down to the thousandths place.

Rose Bowl: Wisconsin Badgers vs. Boise State Broncos

Wisconsin will land in the Rose Bowl as Big Ten champions via the head-to-head tiebreaker with Ohio State, who could also land here if Michigan State finishes 11-1.

After deep contemplation, the Rose Bowl will select Boise State with its at-large bid. They will not be obligated to the Broncos, since automatic-qualifier TCU is in the title game. An all-Big Ten Rose Bowl with Ohio State will tempt them, as will 1-loss Auburn, but Boise State’s undefeated record, high ranking, western location, and capable fan base will prevail.

Sugar Bowl: Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Ohio State Buckeyes

Alabama will valiantly climb the rankings and challenge for a national championship game spot, but ultimately fall short and head to New Orleans as 1-loss SEC champion after defeating Auburn and then Florida in the SEC Championship.

Ohio State will finish strong with one loss and get the at-large nod from the Sugar Bowl and another crack at a strong SEC opponent. Michigan State or Wisconsin could also land here if Ohio State wins a 3-way tie.

Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma Sooners vs. Pittsburgh Panthers

Oklahoma will represent the Big 12 in the Fiesta Bowl after a hard-fought win over Nebraska in the conference title game.

Pittsburgh will land in Arizona as Big East champion, followed by a trail of profanities from the likes of Missouri, Utah, and Stanford, sparking a debate about the merit of automatic qualifier by conference.

Orange Bowl: Florida State Seminoles vs. Auburn Tigers

Florida State will be headed down to Miami as ACC champions.

Auburn will carry their #1 ranking all the way to Tuscaloosa, where they will fall, but remain a very attractive at-large selection for the Orange Bowl.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Week 8 Big Ten Power Rankings


Aaron Brenner, alum

1) No. 8 Michigan State (7-0, 3-0 Big Ten); LW, 3
Last week: won vs. Illinois 26-6
Let’s just get this out there up front. I have absolutely no idea how to rank these top four. I sat here for a solid 15 minutes trying to figure it out. Do you go with prior results? How these teams look right now? How I project them to end up in the future? It’s the most difficult week of rankings I’ve had since I started doing these, for both football and basketball. I guess at the top, we’ll stick with the only undefeated team who has now beaten an on-the-map Wisconsin and a better-than-you-think Illinois. But pay heed to the fact that Sparty has not left the state of Michigan yet. Wins at Iowa and Penn State are far from a certainty.
Next: at Northwestern, Sat. 11 a.m. ESPN

2a) No. 11 Ohio State (6-1, 2-1); last week’s ranking, 1
Last week: lost at No. 18 Wisconsin 31-18
I came away very impressed with Terrelle Pryor, especially considering that, yes, his return to Camp Randall was not one of his best games. He’s an incredible scrambler, a guy that just makes plays on third down. Obviously, the vaunted Buckeye defense and special teams units have to be concerned with their effort in defeat. But on the rushing D front, OSU doesn’t have to see John Clay and James White again.
Next: vs. Purdue, Sat. 11 a.m. BTN

2b) No. 13 Iowa (5-1, 2-0); LW, 2
Last week: won at Michigan 38-28
Kept hearing on Sunday about how if MSU, OSU and Wisconsin run the table, the Badgers will get shut out of the BCS by the 2-team-per-conference rule. Ummmm ... we didn’t forget about the highly-ranked team that will host those three foes in October and November now, did we?
Next: vs. No. 10 Wisconsin, Sat. 2:30 p.m. ABC

2c) No. 10 Wisconsin (6-1, 2-1); LW, 4
Last week: won vs. No. 1 Ohio State 31-18
I’m sure that placing Wisconsin right where it was last week - below MSU, OSU and Iowa - will upset some readers. And that’s fair. Just know that the 2c notation is legitimate. The Badgers are tied for second with the Bucks and Hawks. At gunpoint, though, if I have to pick between those three, I’m just not completely sold on Wisconsin’s passing game and ability to get off the field on third downs. Wisconsin won that game Saturday on pure emotion, feeding off a frenzied crowd. Camp Randall will have nothing to do with what Wisconsin does for an encore in four days.
Next: at No. 13 Iowa, Sat. 2:30 p.m. ABC

5) Illinois (3-3, 1-2); LW, 6
Last week: lost at No. 13 Michigan State 26-6
Obviously, there is a Gabe Carimi-sized gap between the top four and the bottom seven in this conference. But if we’re evaluating the second tier, it’s worth pointing out the Fighting Illini don’t face another ranked opponent the rest of the way. An 8-4 finish is entirely possible for the Zooker.
Next: vs. Illinois, Sat. 11 a.m. BTN

6) Michigan (5-2, 1-2); LW, 5
Last week: lost vs. No. 15 Iowa 38-28
If there’s a Big Ten game the rest of the way I can’t wait to see (not including showdowns between any of the top four), it’s on the weekend preceding Thanksgiving, when Bret Bielema takes his boys to Ann Arbor. The Wolverines have been handing out wins like Baby Ruths on Halloween to conference opponents in Michigan Stadium, which has been a Big House of Horrors to Wisconsin.
Next: Idle

7) Penn State (3-3, 0-2); LW, 7
Last week: Idle
Since the rest of the conference is irrelevant, and there were no important games over the weekend, we’ll keep the rankings as is. For the optimists looking for possible threats to MSU’s perfect season - particularly if the Spartans escape Kinnick alive in two weeks - look no further than the season finale, when MSU has to deal with Happy Valley, never an easy place to win.
Next: at Minnesota, Sat. 11 a.m. ESPNU

8) Purdue (4-2, 2-0); LW, 8
Last week: won vs. Minnesota 28-17
Hey, don’t sleep on undefeated Purdue as Big Ten championship contenders! (Yeah, right.) If you’re keeping score at home, it was the Boilermakers who sent Tim Brewster on his merry way. It was a nice, balanced effort for Purdue’s offense, racking up just south of 400 yards.
Next: at No. 11 Ohio State, Sat. 11 a.m. BTN

9) Northwestern (5-1, 1-1); LW, 9
Last week: Idle
It’s a little baffling that Northwestern is the No. 1 team in the USA Today poll’s “receiving votes” portion. What exactly have the Wildcats done to inspire confidence? Was it the narrow escape act of a 1-point win at Minnesota, or the home loss to Purdue?
Next: vs. No. 8 Michigan State, Sat. 11 a.m. ESPN

10) Indiana (4-2, 0-2); LW, 10
Last week: won vs. Arkansas State 36-34
Hey, anytime you want two teams to combine for a 37-point fourth quarter, Indiana’s your team. Holding off Arkansas State for the win ... gotta love those Hoosiers and their non-conference scheduling.
Next: at Illinois, Sat. 11 a.m. BTN

11) Minnesota (1-6, 0-3); LW, 11
Last week: lost at Purdue 28-17
Here’s something to do with 15 seconds of spare time: imagine you were present in the NBC studios when Tony Dungy received a call investigating his interest in the Minnesota gig. Then imagine Dungy guffawing like Dom DeLuise in History of the World: Part I, and hanging up faster than you can say “Teach me how to Bucky”.
Next: vs. Penn State, Sat. 11 a.m. ESPNU


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Week 6 Big Ten Power Rankings

Aaron Brenner, alum

1) No. 2 Ohio State (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten); last week’s ranking, 1
Last week: def. Illinois 24-13
Hmmmm...did Ohio State show some vulnerability in Saturday’s win, which was closer than the final score intends? (The Buckeyes happened to score on a clock-bleeding drive in the final minutes, when it was still a 4-point game.) Don’t read too much into it. The increase in opponent quality was sure to affect Ohio State a tad, and this was Illinois’ (arguably) biggest game of the season.
Next: vs. Indiana, Sat. 11 a.m.

2) No. 15 Iowa (4-1, 1-0); LW, 2
Last week: def. No. 22 Penn State 24-3
Oh, hey, Adrian Clayborn, there you are. The top-ten draft candidate was invisible for most the pre-Big Ten slate, but punished PSU freshman Robert Bolden. Even though Clayborn college fantasy owners were getting restless due to lack of defensive stats (does anybody actually play college fantasy football with IDPs?), the Hawkeye defense has been consistently stellar once again in 2010. After the bye, a gauntlet awaits.
Next: Idle

3) No. 17 Michigan State (5-0, 1-0); LW, 3
Last week: def. No. 11 Wisconsin 34-24
My favorite reaction from the game in East Lansing was tweeted by Badger Herald alum Tom Ziemer: “Michigan State just outWisconsined Wisconsin.” That pretty much says it all. If the Spartans can bottle up that passion that has carried them to huge wins over Notre Dame and Wisconsin - and, you know, take it on the road, too - they’ll be BCS contenders this year.
Next: at No. 18 Michigan, Sat. 2:30 p.m.

4) No. 18 Michigan (5-0, 1-0); LW, 5
Last week: def. Indiana 42-35
Almost left the Badgers above Michigan, but early rumblings are Denard Robinson is the closest thing to a sure Heisman bet right now. The Indiana effort wasn’t pretty ... but, the point about OSU’s adjustment to better opponents resonates here.
Next: vs. No. 17 Michigan State, Sat. 2:30 p.m.

5) No. 20 Wisconsin (4-1, 0-1); LW, 4
Last week: lost to No. 24 Michigan State 34-24
Yes, Michigan State played with emotion for their hospital-stricken coach. But Wisconsin needs to get back to playing with that fire in their belly. If you think about it, through five games, you haven’t seen UW play with a real gusto, with the possible exception of the second half in Las Vegas. Two quarters out of 20? Not good.
Next: vs. Minnesota, 11 a.m.

6) Penn State (3-2, 0-1); LW, 6
Last week: lost to No. 17 Iowa 24-3
The record’s about right: beat three doormats at home, lose on the road to top-15 opponents in night games. But good teams score more than a field goal in each of those tests at Alabama and Iowa.
Next: vs. Illinois, Sat. 11 a.m.

7) Northwestern (5-0, 1-0); LW, 7
Last week: def. Minnesota 29-28
That point about adjusting, which served as excuses for Ohio State and Michigan? Doesn’t apply to Northwestern. The Wildcats have made things pretty interesting for themselves the past two weeks against poor opposition. They remain in this No. 7 slot only because there are seven decent teams in the conference. But they’re playing clearly below the level of the top group.
Next: vs. Purdue, Sat. 6:30 p.m.

8) Illinois (2-2, 0-1); LW, 8
Last week: lost to No. 2 Ohio State 24-13
So are the Illini worthy of consideration as a bowl contender? Their season has been fairly nondescript so far, though the Ohio State game has to serve as a confidence boost. But with road games in Happy Valley and East Lansing looming, Illinois could be behind the eight-ball quickly.
Next: at Penn State, Sat. 11 a.m.

9) Indiana (3-1, 0-1); LW, 9
Last week: lost to No. 20 Michigan 42-35
Boy, the Hoosiers better not look ahead to that Arkansas State showdown a week from Saturday. First they have to travel to Columbus. Indiana definitely doesn’t want to overlook its host.
Next: at No. 2 Ohio State, Sat. 11 a.m.

10) Purdue (2-2, 0-0); LW, 10
Last week: Idle
If the Boilermakers are going to make something interesting of their season, the time is now. October, to be specific. Three of Purdue’s first four conference games are on the road, but they include Northwestern, Minnesota and Illinois. Be on alert for an upset in Evanston this weekend.
Next: at Northwestern, Sat. 6:30 p.m.

11) Minnesota (1-4, 0-1); LW, 11
Last week: lost to Northwestern 29-28
Under big-mouthed Tim Brewster, Minnesota has lost nearly two-thirds of its games. How long will the Golden Gopher faithful put up with this? Helps that the Twinkies and the MLB playoffs are taking attention away from the most putrid team in the Big Ten.
Next: at No. 20 Wisconsin, Sat. 11 a.m.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Fun with College Football Announcers

Sometimes, you see the most random individuals calling college football games. I think if you quarterbacked an NFL game at some point in time, you are automatically qualified to talk about college football. Somehow.

Let's take a peek at some of the on-air talent this weekend, shall'nt we? We shall.

24 Texas A&M @ Oklahoma State, 7:30

ESPN: Rece Davis, Craig James, Jesse Palmer, Jenn Brown

Jesse Palmer: wearing shirts four sizes too small on national television, Since 1998. Oh, and Jenn Brown? We call her Erin Andrews-in-Waiting. You know, hopefully without the peephole and ensuing skankfest on Dancing with the Stars.

Northwestern @ Minnesota, 12:00

ESPN: Bob Wischusen, Brian Griese

Hey, look at that: Brian Griese's all grows'd up, providing color commentary just like his dad. A sweet touch for the family, I'm sure. Now if only they would give him a real game to call.

Louisiana-Monroe @ 11 Auburn, 12:00

ESPNU: Clay Matvick, Herm Edwards, Elizabeth Moreau

YOU PLAY! TO WIN! THE GAME! Never knew Herm did college stuff too. This is what happens when there are approximately 685 college football games to televise each Saturday.

Alcorn State @ Mississippi State, 12:00

SEC Network: Bob Rathbun, Tim Couch, Jenn Hildreth

"The Alcorn State quarterback comes in with a boatload of hype, but hasn't seemed to live up to expecatations. Tim, what's your take on that?"

Vanderbilt @ Connecticut, 12:00

Big East Network: Mike Gleason, John Congemi, Eamon McAnaney

I just wanted to type Eamon McAnaney. Apparently, he's a former college lacrosse player at Notre Dame. Something about Notre Dame grads and TV seems to mesh.

Navy @ Air Force, 2:30

Versus: Joe Beninati, Kelly Stouffer, Lindsay Soto

Wisconsin fans recall this trio from the UNLV game. The two guys in the booth were nothing to write home about (for good or bad), but Lindsay Soto? As the kids would say, 'she gettin it done'.

19 Michigan @ Indiana, 3:30

ESPNU: Pam Ward, Danny Kanell

Add Mr. Kanell to the Undistinguished NFL Backup Quarterbacks Now Working On TV All-Stars

Florida International @ Pittsburgh, 3:30 Dave Popkin, Jeremy Bloom

The former CU standout who had to choose between football and skiing, it looks like Bloom is staying active in the football world. Good for the guy, who had to face those unfair decisions. One of the great examples of our time of guys getting NCAA'd.

UTEP @ New Mexico, 6:00

Mountain West: Bill Doleman, Reggie Rivers, Toby Christensen

See, now Rivers of an example of a football player who KNEW he wanted to be a journalist, even during his playing days for the Broncos. He's written columns for the old Rocky Mountain News, and anchors sports for CBS (KCNC) in Denver.

Georgia @ Colorado, 7:00

FSN: Joel Meyers, Joel Klatt, Jim Knox

I recall watching a CU game at Folsom a few years back when Klatt was providing color, and coming away impressed not only with his knowledge of the game, but his ability to put aside his bias - you know, since he's one of the Buffs' finest quarterbacks in recent memory. See? I can say nice things about the University of Colorado-Boulder. I'm all grows'd up. Like Brian Griese.

Texas Tech @ Iowa State, 7:00

FOX College Sports: Steve Physioc, Yogi Roth, Samantha Steele ----------------->

We dub Ms. Steele ... Erin Andrews-Also-In-Waiting.

Louisville @ Arkansas State, 7:00 BJ Schaben, Curt Warner

Thought he was on Dancing with the Stars!
(Kidding. Kidding. I know how to spell Kurt Worner's name.)

Marshall @ Southern Mississippi, 8:00

CBS College Sports: Roger Twibell, Mike Leach

Mike Leach has many names. One of them is NOT Erin Andrews-in-Waiting.


Monday, September 20, 2010

The Dallas Cowgirls


All of you Cowboys sunshine pumpers on my facebook and twitter feeds need to shut up.

I know the Cowboys are my team, but for at least this season, we are done. I am going to take the next several minutes of your time to breakdown why the Cowboys are in fact doneskies. AJ, I'm sorry your Superbowl pick failed so miserably so quickly.

Here are three reasons the Cowboys are failing and will continue to tumble:

1) Jerry Jones continues to run this team into the ground.

Jerry Jones means well. He wants to win no matter what the cost. He is also a very loyal man. Ultimately that is what you want out of your owner. However, that is not what you want from your General Manager and unfortunately for Cowboys fans, he sits in both chairs.

Yes, we won three Superbowls with Jerry doing his thing. Most of that is because Jimmy Johnson was calling the shots and put together an unstoppable team. Jerry ran him out of town and a third Superbowl fell into Barry Switzer's lap when everyone stayed healthy and the Boys still had the core from the '92 & '93 teams. What has happened since then? One playoff win. Jerry buys the talent, but because of his ego and wanting to make all personnel decisions, the teams just haven't come together the way championship teams need to gel. He also has built the Cowboys into a brand, "America's Team," which only has made the target on their back even bigger. Thanks Jerry, the Cowboys now get the best punch from every team they play.

2. Jason Garrett is not a good offensive coordinator.

I mentioned Jerry is loyal, which is great as an owner, but not so much as a GM. For example, Jason Garrett called plays for a few games and was very good at it. Since he has basically been a Cowboy for life, Jerry decided to give Mr. Garrett a very, very nice raise and the position of "Assistant Head Coach." The problem here is that Jason Garrett is unimaginative, predictable and sometimes just downright stupid.
For example, in the opening game, there were several occasions when Romo threw a designed quick WR screen pass. The problem? Not only were these plays not to Miles Austin or Felix Jones (our explosive players) but some of them were to ROY WILLIAMS. It's fine if you want to try this play and see if it works, but to run it FIVE times in the first half and none of them gain any yardage, is just stupid. We didn't even mention that these plays were run against press coverage (the cornerbacks were playing only feet away from the WR's). In conclusion, Jason Garrett is not a good coordinator and the Cowboys won't be going anywhere but down with him at the helm. If you say otherwise, then well in the words of Lloyd Christmas "You are one pathetic loser."

3) The schedule is brutal

Before I get into the schedule, here is a generic statement that will define the season: The Cowboys did not get any better from last year, but overall the league improved. Think about the cupcakes from last year, the teams that you could circle a win. 5-11 and worse: Washington, Detroit, Tampa Bay, St. Louis, Seattle, Cleveland, Oakland, Kansas City. Only three of those teams has the same 0-2 record as your Cowboys and Detroit has looked much more impressive in their two losses (and should be 1-1). Yes St. Louis and Cleveland are pretty bad, but the Boys don't play them this year. Overall, there seems to have been a shift from bad teams to mediocre teams.

Lets break this thing down. Before I go game by game a few things to note. Last year the Cowboys had the benefit of playing the AFC West, an awful division and this year they got the AFC South in the draw. Also, last year they got the NFC South (went 4-0 against them) and this year they get the NFC North (already 0-1). Ruh Rowwww. That's not good. Let's go game by game.

At Houston: They have looked pretty potent through the air and judging by Cutler's performance Sunday, this looks like a tough win especially on the road. Loss.
Bye Week: Hey, they can't lose this week!
Vs Tennessee: Which Titans team shows up? The dominant team from week 1 or the team who can't beat a good defense in week 2? I'll give the Boys the benefit of the doubt just because they have two weeks to prepare. Win.
At Minnesota: Romo proved in week 1 that he needs time to throw and he won't in Minnesota. The Vikings are not THAT much worse than the team that crushed the Cowboys in January. Loss.
Vs NY Giants: I'm going with a split with all three NFC East teams. Let's just assume home wins and road losses. Win.
Vs Jacksonville: Could be the lone winning streak of the season. Win.
At Green Bay: Perhaps the Super Bowl Favorites on the road... Yikes. Loss.
At NY Giants: Loss.
Vs Detroit: Detroit has looked surprisingly good even without Stafford, but we have to win one game against the NFC North. Right?.... Right? Win.
Vs New Orleans:
The Saints remember last year and the Cowboys ruining the perfect season. It will be a sad Turkey day in Dallas. Loss.
At Indianapolis: Never bet against Peyton on his turf. Back to back games against last year's Super Bowl teams is rough. Loss.
Vs Philadelphia: Going with the split here too. Win.
Vs Washington: Could this be win streak numero dos? Win.
At Arizona: They can win this game. Derek Anderson is not very good. Win.
At Philadelphia: Loss.

Add it up. That is 7-9. SEVEN AND NINE! Some notes:

I purposefully set it up this way: 2-2 vs AFC South, 1-3 vs NFC North (Already lost to the 2nd worst team in that division), 3-3 vs NFC East, and 1-1 outside of those divisions. I think I am being reasonable with this breakdown, but it is the NFL and we all know anything can happen on any week. Could Romo throw for 450 yards on the Colts and the Boys pull it out? Absolutely. Could the defense step it up and shut down Houston this week? Sure. But it could go the other way as well. Could the Lions pull the upset when Javhid Best goes nuts? Yup. Could McNabb pull off a miracle on our turf? Yes he could. That is why you give some flexibility to our schedule. So my conclusion of the day:

I predict 7-9 for the Dallas Cowboys this season and the firing of Wade Phillips. The ceiling for this year's team with this start is 9-7 and the basement is 5-11. Either way, this is not a playoff team. The schedule is just too brutal, playing against the best division in the NFC (north), PLUS playing the Saints and Colts... the playoffs are not going to happen.

So go ahead all of you Cowboys fans that are still forecasting sunshine and butterflies next February on the field in Arlington... what say you?

Stay Classy,


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Are you Feeling Kind of Sunday? NFL 2010 Predictions

NFL MVP: Aaron Rodgers, Packers
Coach of the Year: John Harbaugh, Ravens
Fantasy MVP (LaDainian Tomlinson Memorial best player category): Ray Rice, Ravens
Fantasy MVP (Ray Rice/Miles Austin Memorial drafted in the teens rounds category): Devin Aromashodu, Bears

AFC Offensive Player of the Year: Ray Rice, Ravens
NFC Offensive Player of the Year: Aaron Rodgers, Packers
AFC Defensive Player of the Year: Tamba Hali, Chiefs
NFC Defensive Player of the Year: Patrick Willis, 49ers
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Dez Bryant, Cowboys
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Sean Weatherspoon, Falcons

Comeback Player of the Year: Brian Urlacher, Bears
Due for a Letdown: Chris Johnson, Titans
Currently unknown player who will be a household name by January: Jacoby Jones, Texans
Star player most likely to be linked to steroids in 2010: Jason Taylor, Jets
Current starting player who will not be an NFL player in 2011 (Brett Favre category): Brett Favre, Vikings. Let's try this one more time, Bretty-boy.
Current starting player who will not be an NFL player in 2011 (non-Brett Favre category): Well, I was gonna go Matt Leinart, Cardinals. But now, he's too easy. Let's say Cadillac Williams, Buccaneers

3 teams to make biggest jump in 2010: Titans, Dolphins, Bears
3 teams to make biggest fall in 2010: Cardinals, Chargers, Bengals
First team to change quarterbacks in 2010: Cardinals. Seriously? Derek Anderson? Seriously?
First team to fire coach in 2010: Jack Del Rio, Jaguars

Best Game of 2010 (divisional): Jets-Patriots, Week 13, Monday night. Redskins-Eagles, Week 4 as an honorable mention. (Obviously, Packers-Vikings games remain overhyped yet always exciting.)
Best Game of 2010 (in-conference): It's so soon, but I kind of like Vikings-Saints on Thursday night. Ravens-Jets to open Monday night is solid as well.
Best Game of 2010 (inter-conference): Steelers-Saints, Week 8. The last two Super Bowl champs? I'm in.
Worst Game of 2010: San Diego-Kansas City. Second straight year they send the Chargers to play one of the AFC West dregs to give Mike & Mike a Week 1 Monday nighter. More like Weak 1.

AFC East champ: New England Patriots
AFC North champ: Baltimore Ravens
AFC South champ: Indianapolis Colts
AFC West champ: Denver Broncos. 9 wins should be enough. You heard me.

NFC East champ: Dallas Cowboys
NFC North champ: Green Bay Packers
NFC South champ: Atlanta Falcons
NFC West champ: San Francisco 49ers. 6 wins should be enough.

AFC wild cards: New York Jets, Tennessee Titans
NFC wild cards: New Orleans Saints, Chicago Bears
Best four teams to miss the playoffs: Dolphins, Vikings, Steelers, Giants
Who will be on the clock for the 2010 Draft No. 1 pick? Bills. Good group of running backs, and the defense isn't horrible, but man, what a monster division Buffalo plays in.

AFC Championship game: Baltimore Ravens beat New England Patriots
NFC Championship game: Dallas Cowboys beat Green Bay Packers
Super Bowl MVP: Tony Romo, Cowboys
Super Bowl XLIV champion:
Dallas 27, Baltimore 13

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Preseason Big Ten Power Rankings

1) Ohio State (11-2, 7-1 Big Ten in 2009)
The Terrelle Pryor for Heisman train has officially reached full speed, and he certainly is the catalyst to the Bucks’ season. If he doesn’t play up to the hype, Ohio State will stumble once or twice. If the kid’s as dominating a passer as he is a presence, the Buckeyes are headed back to the BCS championship game.

2) Iowa (11-2, 6-2)
In a player poll by ESPN the Mag, the Hawkeyes were voted the likely conference champion. The defense continues to be regarded as among the best in the nation, and while the Adrian Clayborn-led unit is stout, losing LBs Pat Angerer and A.J. Edds to the NFL should not be overlooked. An improved offense could make Iowa BCS-bound even if the Hawkeyes can’t catch the Buckeyes.

3) Wisconsin (10-3, 5-3)
A long time ago, a certain student beat writer said that 2010 was the year Wisconsin won the Big Ten because of quarterback play. Well, Pryor’s better than ever, and the guy who looked like the Badgers’ quarterback of the future is sidelined for perhaps the whole year. But while Curt Phillips’ time will have to wait, Scott Tolzien has blossomed. Factor in that John Clay fellow for a high-powered offense, but the defense must improve after losing O’Brien Schofield.

4) Michigan State (6-7, 4-4)
Put me down for a bounceback year in East Lansing. You figure the Spartans should stop the ball better than that, especially with Greg Jones around for what it seems like his eighth year. Michigan State doesn’t leave home until Oct. 9, but road games at Northwestern, Iowa and Penn State make a .500 Big Ten record seem distinctly possible.

5) Penn State (11-2, 6-2)
Talk of the demise of the Nittany Lions is trendy, what with Darryl Smith out the door and the ageless Joe Paterno figuring to lose his recruiting pitch with each passing year. But much like Bo Ryan’s basketballers, Penn State just finds a way every season to be strong, so it’s hard to imagine PSU slipping out of the upper half of the conference.

6) Northwestern (8-5, 5-3)
It seemed egregious to place the Wildcats in the top four in anything pertaining to athletics. But darnit, Northwestern might do it this year. The schedule stacks up for NU to potentially carry eight or nine wins into Camp Randall for the season finale on Turkey weekend.

7) Michigan (5-7, 1-7)
Well, Rich Rod’s gotta put a quality product on the field one of these years, right? With the cheating and all. Seriously, the Wolverines’ brutal schedule won’t let Michigan reach those old days of double-digit wins. But the first bowl game in the Rodriguez regime isn’t a stretch.

8) Illinois (3-9, 2-6)
Put me down for a bounceback year in Champaign. And yet, sadly, for the Illini, it doesn’t take much to bounce back from just three wins. Ron Zook’s seat is hotter than the fire sauce at Taco Bell, but a Bounty-soft home schedule - you know, after hosting Ohio State to open Big Ten play - should help ease UI to an increased win total.

9) Purdue (5-7, 4-4)
What rhymes with Brett Favre and transferred to Purdue this year? Robert Marve, who gets to throw to Keith Smith this year. Hey, how come Marve isn’t spelled Mavre? Seems like it would be the logical thing to do for a quarterback. Looks like the Miami transfer wants to cavre his own path.

10) Minnesota (6-7, 3-5)
Adam Weber really should be better than this. But with Eric Decker gone to the professional ranks, it looks like the best receiver on the team might be MarQueis Gray, Weber’s stocky backup. Tim Brewster talks a big game, but his squad doesn’t look quite up to the task.

11) Indiana (4-8, 1-7)
The program has never recovered from being stricken with tragedy in coach Terry Hoeppner’s death. Tandon Doss is an exciting wide receiver to watch, but there’s not much else to cheer in Bloomington.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Kenny Chesney - "Boys of Fall"

Former colleague and fellow UW alum Eric Schmoldt posted this on his Wyoming blog last week, and with Week 1 of the high school football season beginning in a few days, I thought it'd be appropriate to follow his lead. This is an 8-minute video, but it is well worth your time, trust me, from beginning to end. I've never played a down of organized football, and now I wanna throw a uniform on too.


Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sportsman of the Month: July (not August. Duh.)

Sportsman of the Month: Kevin Durant

Pop quiz: Which organization allegedly received the financial benefits from LeBron James' one-hour ESPN special three weeks ago?

Quick! Which interviewer sat down with LeBron and asked him about 38 useless questions before asking him the only question that counted (where ya goin')?

Without hesitating, can you recite the exact words LeBron used to announce his Decision on where to play basketball for the next five years?

And one last pop quiz: what did Kevin Durant announce via Twitter on July 7, the day before LeBron's Decision?

Admit it. The answers to the first three questions sprung to mind automatically, in the same manner as "what is your birthday?" and "when's the last time the Cubs won the World Series?"

Admit this, too: you didn't immediately recognize that Kevin Durant signed a five-year extension with the Oklahoma City Thunder. That's because Durant's TV special took exactly 60 minutes less than Lebron's, ahem, one-hour circus.

Put it this way, folks: type "LeBron James signs" into a Google search. Then try "Kevin Durant signs". One of them yields 23.8 million results. The other gives you a smidge over 600,000. Guess which one's which.

Now, I'm not saying I like my athletes to be bland, boring, excessively married to the norm. I miss the days when athletes could say and do as they pleased without getting ripped for showing a little color.

But LeBron's Decision was Decisively stupid. There's not much left to say at this point, obviously, but the way he left Cleveland was shameful. And addressing himself multiple times in the third person that night? A pity to see a wondeful athlete and affable personality tear down his good-guy persona in just one night.

That only serves to make Kevin Durant look that much better. A man whose talent gap from James is smaller than you think, and a man who has won the same amount of NBA Finals games as James, showed humility and loyalty with "The Tweet".

So good for Kevin Durant. If Carmelo Anthony makes the hard Decision to leave Denver in 2011, and if I'm forced to make the impossible Decision of divorcing the Nuggets, I think I know which bandwagon I'm jumping on.


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Tom Lea's Soul Crushed By LeBron James

I would react to the LeBacle myself. But Tom Lea, a LeBron fanatic, said it better than I could. So here is his quick-hit reaction from the other night. Enjoy. -AJ

(Quick note: This puppy is about 2,000 words long. I just thought I'd warn you ahead of time.)

I'm not going to beat around the bush. I am upset.

But before I proceed, I want to make sure everyone that has any interest in reading my humble opinion doesn't take me being upset as me being irrational in the heat of the moment, or even something as harsh as being pissed off. Because it's simply not the case. In fact, upset really isn't the word I'm looking for. It's something in between being upset and disappointed. In essence, I feel like I was played for the past seven years.

I know I have no ties to LeBron and I probably never will (as much as I hate to say it). I know I am not one of his friends, his boys, his mentors or anything of that sort and I know all of you already know that I am nothing but a simple fan of his. So when I say I feel played, I say it knowing full-heartedly that nothing in my life is going to change because of his decision. Nothing he did is going to have any direct effect on my life other than the fact that I'll be watching a lot of Heat games in the coming years.

I am cognizant that there is a fine line between being a rational fan and one that gets carried away during major events (a devastating loss, bad coaching move, or in this case, a earth shattering free agent move), so I'm trying to offer a couple of thoughts that stem just from my fandom.

I don't want this to become a shouting match or anything along those lines. I just know my phone has been blowing up over the past hour and instead of texting everyone the same thing over and over, I am just going to type up my thoughts on this. Besides, it's much easier this way.

So here I go....

By packing up the bags and leaving Akron/Cleveland for the lovely beaches of Miami, I have learned a couple of things about my favorite player. And it's these things that have led me to be a bit disappointed. Since I don't feel like writing a book on the subject and knowing there are a million directions I could take this monologue, I'm going to limit my rant to just a couple of things that really hit me hard when he made the decision. Even though the fact that he's going to be in a different uniform, with different colors and a different surrounding hasn't really set in yet.

First of all, and I go back to my use of the word played, for the seven years LBJ has been in the league I have thought he was a man on the brink of accomplishing something special. He led an absolutely horrid team (the 2007 Cavs) to an NBA Finals appearance as really the only player worth a damn on the roster. Without him, that team probably doesn't make the playoffs and if it does, it leaves in the first round.

When I think back to that game in Detroit (Game 5) during the Eastern Conference Finals, I think of a 22 year old kid dominating NBA veterans to the tune of 27 of his teams final 28 points. And I remember him elevating his game to Jordan-esque levels and seeing his competitive nature wreak havoc on a stunned-and favored-Pistons team. That game, eventually a double-overtime win, was one of the more transcendent performances I can ever remember seeing. He was remarkable. He literally willed his team to victory (excuse the cliche).

And from that performance I thought I witnessed a sense of ability, a sense of entitlement and a sense of competitive nature being born. I thought LeBron developed the mindset that some of the NBA greats had. I thought he finally got that super-competitive drive that made him feel like he was destined to revive a city that hasn't seen any sort of champion in 50 years. I thought he wanted to be that guy. I thought he would do whatever it takes to deliver his hometown the glory that has been escaping it for decades. I thought he was up to that challenge.

That's why I always thought he would stay in Cleveland. That's why up to five minutes before the show tonight I said he would remain there. And that's why my heart sank a little bit when the word Miami slipped out of his mouth on national television. I realized that he didn't have what it takes to deliver a title by himself and the reality sank in that he needed the help of a couple of all-world players in order to accomplish something I (admittedly selfishly) wanted to see him do as the lead character.

I know that team will be good with those three running the ship. But I also know that in order to win, and to win at the highest level in the NBA, you need a full squad of five guys, plus about three or four more role players that give you things off the bench. For all the hype Kobe, Gasol and Odom get, they have guys like Fisher, Bynum and Artest doing work at their side.

For all the hype KG, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce get, that Celtics team—the one that held a 13 point second half lead over those same Lakers in game 7— would have never been in the series if it wasn't for the play of Rondo, Kendrick Perkins, Glen Davis, Nate Robinson, Tony Allen and Brian Scalabrine (I shouldn't have brought him into it, haha).

Who are going to be the nine guys that the Heat get at minimum contracts to support those three guys?

That's what worries me about it.

They say you can see a train wreck coming a mile away. Well, I see a train wreck headed for South Beach and it's about a year away. I just don't see it working. Five guys comprise a team, and for as great as Bosh, Wade and James are, they also have Mario Chalmers and Dexter Pittman filling out their starting five. Who? I know.....

During the show, LeBron made the point that nobody knew of the Rondo's, Perkins and Davis' of the world when the Celtics started their big three. And that eventually the big three helped mold those role players into what they are today and what they were in June. But they also weren't minimum contract guys that they had to bring in during the midst of the summer like the Heat are going to have to do.

Who is going to want to take those contracts, for the minimum, one year before a probable lockout? People need to get paid. I know that's not what it's all about, but for guys that are seeing their careers wind down, it might very well be. So it's going to be hard to win a title right away without the necessary parts in Miami.

At least in Boston, or LA for that matter, the parts of a team were in place. The parts to this team revolve around three players. And if one of them goes down (Wade) or they don't function as well as they historically have, things aren't going to go over well just because the pressure and expectations are going to be that high. It's championship or bust in South Beach.

Which leads me to my next point.

Probably more than anything else, I am saddened that all three of these players are going to have to switch their style of play for this marriage to work.

The thing I liked about James as a Cav was the fact that he had the ability to go off on any given night. He had the ability to do something truly incredible every time he stepped foot on the court. I suppose he still has that chance but it's not going to be as exaggerated as it once was.

Now, with those other two guys, he's going to sacrifice some of the things that made me absolutely love him. He's unselfish so it probably won't be that big of a deal, but I'm selfish and it's going to be hard to see his points per game dip to 21 or 22 a night instead of 30. He's an exciting player, probably the most exciting in the league, and now he's going to be tamed down offensively. As a fan, I feel like I am kind of being cheated out of his potential.

The same can be said about Wade. The way he recklessly does things on the court, the way he fills up the score cards, the way he scores the ball can all be thrown out because he's going to make sure everyone is involved. Essentially, we're putting a cap on all of the abilities these three players have showcased over the past seven years. And as a true basketball fan and a lover of the game, this makes me very sad. I understand these three can do special things together, but it will come at the expense of one of them, individually, doing something that will make my jaw drop, call my friends frantically, or relish the fact that I truly saw something amazing.

I know it's all conjecture at this point because we haven't seen this thing put into motion yet. But in a purely speculative manner, I am nervous that we are handicapping the potential greatness that all three of these players have in them. We are no longer going to see the same players—Lebron as a Cav, Bosh as a Raptor and Wade as a Heat? (not sure how that works)—instead, we will see a group of guys that are scared to take over the team at the expense of everyone else and at the expense of fearing failure.

That, in essence, is why I am somewhere between upset and disappointed in regards to tonight's developments. I don't feel as though I am being irrational and I surely don't want anyone thinking I suddenly switched over to a LeBron hater. I haven't. I still really, really like him and I am excited (albeit reserved) about his future.

In the end, the fact that he's going to be viewed as a villain by many makes me turn sour. He said it's a business move and I can understand that. I just think there were better options. Go to Chicago if it's truly about winning. Stay in Cleveland if it was truly about loyalty. Go to Miami if you feel it's your best shot at winning a title or multiple titles. So for that, I don't blame him.

I just wish he had been able to accomplish some of the things I know he is capable of as the main guy, the main attraction. I just don't like that he admitted his failure by bolting for the 'on paper' potential of a team of superstars. And I really don't like the fact that he is going to have to change his game to make this work.

I really want LeBron to succeed and I hope all the best is still ahead for him. I know this had to have been taxing for him and that it's a major weight off his shoulders. I just hope he isn't tainted by this as a player, although I fear he will be.

(Sorry for the length of this and for the weak ending. I am gassed and I wasn't really sure how to wrap this thing up. Thanks for reading.)