Saturday, December 30, 2006

This Weekend, the Sportz NCAA Playoffs Begin


I grew up on Mr I'm going to live in the land of make believe right now.  Like Joe Lunardi does on ESPN's college hoops, I'm doing the same for football.  Yeah, I know that there isn't a playoff in college football...but who cares!  In my mind, there is.  And here is my bracketology.  It's based on a 12-team format where the 6 BCS conference champions get least 1 team from the non-BCS conferences...and 5 at large bids.  The lower seed plays at home. 

1-OHIO STATE* vs winner of....

4-LSU vs winner of....

3-MICHIGAN vs winner of...
6-USC* vs 11-OKLAHOMA*

2-FLORIDA* vs winner of....

Alright, the first round is in the books.  Using a Playstaion and some thinking, here is what came out:

Auburn 31-Boise State 20: Despite the cold conditions in Boise, Auburn comes out with the win
Louisville 44-Wake Forest 21:  They play for real in a few days
USC 34-Oklahoma 14:  USC is just too strong
Wisconsin 21-Notre Dame 20:  Two teams with a lot to prove...the Badgers move on.

That makes the quarterfinal matchups this:


Kobe Drops 58; 3 OTs; And I Was There


Sometimes it is tough being a fan.

I am a Laker fan who grew up in Charlotte.  So, every year I would go to the Charlotte Coliseum box office before the season started [that was pre-you can buy everything online] and get tix to the lone Laker game against the Charlotte Hornets. 

Then I moved to the Cincinnati area and getting to the Laker game was tough.  However, my wife and I did manage to get to the Laker games in 1999-2000 and 2001-2002.  Then the Hornets went bye-bye..  Since then, the Bobcats arrived....but our schedules didn't allow for a roadie to the game.  Not until this year. 

We come home for Christmas for a 10-day vacation [which has been, probably, the most relaxing ever] and the Lakers were in town smack dab during it.  So, my mom got us two tickets as presents.  Below is just some ins and outs of how our night went.

-The arena is nice since it's uptown.  The old Coliseum was on the outskirts of Charlotte where nothing was around it.  The Charlotte Bobcats Arena was fairly easy to get to and we parked about 2 seconds away.

-I don't know if this is the NBA's new thing [the same rule applied at Atlanta's Phillips Arena], but the doors open just 1 hour before gametime.  I don't like that.  I doesn't give you a chance to check out the arena and....spend money.  About half of the 19,000 was in line to get in and once 6:00p came and doors open, all you wanted to do was find your seat, then stand in a long line at the concession stand.  It used to be that the doors opened 1 1/2 hours before game time and you could check out all the stuff to do. 

-We had tickets in the upper level...but right at halfcourt.  A little steep for my wife's viewing pleasure [she didn't like the heights] but decent tickets nonetheless.

-They have this bar/club thing in the arena.  In the upper level on the baseline....there was an open viewing area, a bar and a jazz band playing.  Not our cup of neat, but pretty neat.

-We sat in front of a row of hill-jacks who had to scream the entire....and I mean  They are those people who get involved in every chant ["Who's basketball is it??  BOBCATS basketball!!!!].  Everything was "terrible!" or "ridiculous!".  He spent most of the night yelling at the Laker fans in the crowd, mocking Kobe Bryant and then chiding Bobcats' coach Bernie Bickerstaff over his coaching decisions.  Fans are fans and such....but sometimes too much is too much. 

-Oh, and it was a pretty good game.  Everytime my wife watches a basketball goes into overtime.  Everytime.  I know so, because its always when I turn on a game and say "there is only about a minute left in the game"....and then it goes into extra periods.  This one went into THREE overtimes.  Still, she enjoyed the did I.

-Kobe dumped 58 points....his third highest scoring output ever.  He had a spectacular alley-oop and his a ballsy three pointer to tie the 2nd overtime.

-He wasnt't the only player that went off.  Emeka Okafor scored 22 points, grabbed 25 boards and blocked 4 shots.  Gerald Wallace scored 28 points.  Matt Carroll scored a career-high 27 points.  And Raymond Felton scored 22 points and 15 assists

-Oh, and the City of Charlotte....figure out a better way to clear out the parking lots.


Wednesday, December 27, 2006

All Right! Here Are Your NFL Playoff Scenerios



New England, Baltimore, Indianapolis and San Diego have clinched division titles.

San Diego can clinch home-field advantage with:
1. A win or tie
2. Baltimore loss or tie
Baltimore can clinch home-field advantage with:
1. A win and a San Diego loss

• Baltimore can clinch first-round bye with:
1. A win or tie
2. Indianapolis loss or tie

Indianapolis can clinch first-round bye with:
1. A win and a Baltimore loss

AFC Wildcard Scenerios

N.Y. Jets can clinch a playoff berth with:
1. A win or tie
2. A Cincinnati loss or tie and a Jacksonville loss or tie
3. A Cincinnati loss or tie and a Tennessee win
4. A Denver loss and a Jacksonville loss

Cincinnati can clinch a playoff berth with:
1. A win and a N.Y. Jets loss
2. A win and a Denver loss and a Kansas City win

Tennessee can clinch a playoff berth with:
1. A win and a Cincinnati loss or tie and a Denver loss and a Kansas City win

Jacksonville can clinch a playoff berth with:
1. A win and a N.Y. Jets loss and a Cincinnati loss or tie and a Tennessee loss or tie

Denver can clinch a playoff berth with:
1. A win or tie
2. A Kansas City loss or tie

Kansas City can clinch a playoff berth with:
1. A win and a Cincinnati loss or tie and a Denver loss and a Tennessee loss or tie


Chicago, New Orleans and Seattle have clinched division titles.  Dallas and Philadelphia have clinched playoff berths but are battling for the NFC East title.

Dallas can clinch division with:
1. A win with a Philadelphia loss or tie
2. A tie with a Philadelphia loss

Philadelphia can clinch division with:
1. A win
2. Dallas loss
3. A tie with a Dallas tie

Chicago has clinched the division and home-field advantage in the NFC.

New Orleans has clinched division and a first-round bye.

Seattle has clinched the division.

NFC Wildcard Scenerios

N.Y. Giants can clinch a playoff berth with:
1. A win and clinch strength of victory tiebreaker* over Green Bay
2. A win with a Green Bay loss or tie
3. A tie plus a Green Bay loss or tie plus a St. Louis loss or tie plus an Atlanta loss or tie and a Carolina loss or tie
4. A Green Bay loss plus a St. Louis loss plus an Atlanta loss and a Carolina loss

*N.Y. Giants clinch strength of victory tiebreaker over Green Bay if:
1. Detroit or Minnesota lose
2. Any two of the following results occur: Arizona loss, Miami loss, San Francisco loss, Carloina win, Houston win, Tampa Bay win

Green Bay can clinch a playoff berth with:
1. A win plus a NY Giants win + GB clinches strength of victory tiebreaker* over NYG
2. A win plus a NY Giants loss or tie plus a St. Louis loss or tie
3. A win plus a NY Giants loss or tie plus a Carolina win
4. A win plus a NY Giants loss or tie plus an Atlanta win
5. A tie plus a NY Giants loss plus a St. Louis loss plus anAtlanta loss or tie plus a Carolina loss or tie

*Green Bay clinches strength of victory tiebreaker over N.Y. Giants if: Arizona, Detroit, Miami, Minnesota and San Francisco all win and Carolina, Houston and Tampa Bay all lose.

Carolina can clinch a playoff berth with:
1. A win plus a NY Giants loss or tie plus a Green Bay loss or tie
2. A tie plus a NY Giants loss plus a Green Bay loss plus a St. Louis loss or tie plus an Atlanta loss or tie

Atlanta can clinch a playoff berth with:
1. A win plus a Carolina loss or tie plus a Green Bay loss or tie plus a NY Giants loss or tie
2. A tie plus a Carolina loss plus a Green Bay loss plus a NY Giants loss plus a St. Louis loss

St. Louis can clinch a playoff berth with:
1. A win and N.Y. Giants, Carolina and Atlanta all lose or tie.
2. A tie and N.Y. Giants, Carolina, Atlanta and Green Bay all lose.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Last Respects To Those We Lost in 2006


LAMAR HUNT, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS OWNER:  Mr. Hunt was one of the great innovators in sports and one of the few who thought about the big picture....not just what benefitted his own wallet.  Something to remember as 32 NFL teams have hope each and every summer as they report to training camp.

RED AUERBACH, BOSTON CELTICS PRESIDENT:  Another great man who helped take a league from the back page to the light.  Auerbach showed everyone what a dynasty was by not only coaching it....but building it brick by brick himself. 

BYRON NELSON, GOLFER:  You know that Tiger Woods cat??  Well, Nelson was that kind of golfer in his day.  Dude won 11 tournaments in a row!!!!!

BUCK O'NEIL, BASEBALL PLAYER, HISTORIAN:  Buck O'Neill was known more for his passion of keeping alive the Negro Leagues.  Because of him, the Negro Leagues will be remembered via the Hall of Fame he put together in Kansas City and by the long delayed absence in the Baseball Hall of Fame. 

CURT GOWDY, TV ANNOUNCER:  Gowdy was the voice to Super Bowls, World Series and nearly everything in between.

ERIC GREGG, BASEBALL UMPIRE:  Gregg was know as "that big fat guy" that was a MLB ump before the umpire's union foolishly called for mass resignations from many of their constituents.  Gregg was one of those umps that didn't get their jobs back when the union and baseball came to an agreement. 

IRONHEAD HEYWARD, RUNNING BACK:  A big back who loved to bowl over defenders and was the definition of short-yardage back.  He passed away at the age of 39 to brain cancer. 

STEVE HOWE, PITCHER:  Howe was the posterboy for the drug problems in baseball by being suspended SEVEN times by Major League Baseball before finally getting the boot.  He was the 1980 NL Rookie of the Year.

COREY LIDLE, PITCHER:  Yanks pitcher who died in a plane crash in Manhattan. 

BUD CARSON, NFL COACH:  Carson was the architect of The Steel Curtain and was one of the top defensive coaching minds in NFL history. 

FLOYD PATTERSON, BOXER:  Former heavyweight champion who took the title after Rocky Marciano retired.

KIRBY PUCKETT, MINNESOTA TWINS OUTFIELDER:  Puckett was small in stature, tubby by nature....but all heart.  His performance in Game 6 of the 1991 World Series is legendary. 

RANDY WALKER, NORTHWESTERN FOOTBALL COACH:  Walker died of a heart attack at the age of 52.

PAUL DANA, IRL DRIVER:  Dana died in a crash during warmups before the Toyota Indy 300.  He was only 30 years old. 

TREVOR BERBICK, BOXER:  The last man to fight Muhammad Ali and the guy who Mike Tyson beat to gain his first championship belt....Berbick was murdered in Jamiaca.

MAGGIE DIXON, WOMEN'S BASKETBALL COACH:  Dixon took their first NCAA tournament and passed away not too much longer after the season ended.  She was just 28 years old.

RAY MEYER, DEPAUL BASKETBALL COACH:  Meyer built DePaul into a national power [if you can believe that now]. 

EARL WOODS, TIGER'S DAD:  Mr Woods is the one who taught Tiger Woods the game and instilled the determination and focus to create Tiger into the legend he's becoming. 

Friday, December 22, 2006

NHL Is Looking To Re-Re-Align

The NHL realigned into the 6-division format when they added several teams in the late 1990s.  Now they want to go back.

The NHL is strongly considering realigning back to the 4-division league they were before the change in the late 1990s.  The reasons are based on keeping teams in their time zones and keep travel costs down.

Each conference would have a 7-team division and an 8-team division.  The alignment may look something like this:

NORTHEAST:  Boston, Buffalo, Montreal, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, Toronto, Washington
ATLANTIC:  Atlanta, Carolina, Florida, New Jersey, NY Islanders, NY Rangers, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay
CENTRAL:  Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Minnesota, Nashville, St Louis
PACIFIC:  Anaheim, Calgary, Colorado, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose, Vancouver 

The benefactors of this would clearly be teams like Dallas [who currently has to play their division road games in the Pacific times zone] and Minnesota [who has most of their games in the Mountain or Pacific time zone]. 


Thursday, December 21, 2006

Happy Holidays....from Laker Fans!

by Lakr Mike
‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the South
A river of fast food traveled into Shaq's mouth
His career on the downslide and on hold for a spell
Cause the weight that he carries causes his knees to swell
He sits on the sidelines and munches on snacks
The weight of his salary on his teammates' backs
But Heat fans don't worry - not one Heat fan's bumming
Cause they got their young savior - The Second Coming
He's humble, so humble, he's clearly a saint
So the refs blow their whistles when he drives through the paint
He's a natural leader and a real go-getter
Thinks only of making his teammates better
He's like Jesus + MJ, this kid is so fine
Shoot, he's turning DeWater into DeWhine
And the media loves him - they just can't wait
To declare this young player The All-time Great
But there's one little issue that stands in the way
It's Dark Side Kobe on Christmas Day
Everyone will be watching, before eating their dinner
What if Darth Kobe Bryant should emerge the winner?
What to say to our children, if DeWhiner does stumble?
Civilization, as we know it, would surely crumble
And what kind of lesson would society learn?
Oh, do something quick, Commissioner Stern
Create a new rule that would clear the floor
Of players who wear number 24
Or tell all your refs to swallow their tooters
When Kobe gets grabbed like some waitress at Hooters
Let the Heat beat the Lakers - nevermind the truth
That's as useless as a Dade County voting booth
DeWhine is the greatest - we must believe
Please giftwrap the game, this Christmas Eve

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Now What, David Stern?

If you haven't yet heard about the brawl at Madison Square Garden, then tune in to ESPNews or any other news source to check it out.  It isn't as bad as the "Malice In The Palace"....but it isn't a shining moment that the NBA wants to put in it's cap.

I will say this: while the brawl was isn't like this hadn't happened before.  We've all seen ugly fights occur in the NBA ranging from Jeff Van Gundy holding on for dear life during a Heat/Knicks brawl several years ago to Kermit Washington's punch on Rudy Tomjanovic three decades ago. 

But we live in a time after that Pistons/Pacers brawl.  The difference with that brawl was the fact that it was players and fans fighting....which tore down the imaginary wall between the performers and the spectators.  Aside from the this fight spilling into the first courtside rows, fans weren't involved.  Still, after the "Malice in the Palace" and the subsequent regualtions on players afterwards....this was ugly.

Of course, what it shows is that no matter what you do.....this crap can happen.

After "the Malice", the NBA has gone overboard on trying to polish it's image.  Last year, they forced players to dress a certain professional way when on company time.  Players complained...but eventually caved in.  Last summer, the NBA fought for and won the right to restrict who can enter the draft....essentially ensuring the league is bringing in somewhat experienced players with a little time away from home into the league.  Players complained....but compromised.  This year, players were informed to not constantly whine to the officials.  Players complained....but they are caving in.  Now, the NBA is regulating all kinds of uniform codes....from headbands to wristbands. 

All of this was done to clean up the NBA's image.  Huh?  Why?  The NBA is trying to bridge the gap from the younger, black, hip-hop culture and the paying fans....mostly middle/upper class and white. 

Of course, Michael Jordan introduced the baggy shorts and he wore a wristband above his elbow and no one cared. 

It's a shame that Stern views the NBA like this.  Just like I said in the intro, the NBA is essentially the same as it ever was....just younger.  When Stern took over....the great players left college in the junior or even [gasp] their sophomore year.  Now, if you are a college senior in the draft, you may as well be washed up. 

He began his tenure during the heart of the Magic-Bird rivalry and at the beginning of Michael Jordan's career.  I'm a big fan of Stern, so I don't subscribe to the "Stern just got lucky because he got in when the getting was good."  Stern has done a stellar job at running his league and help use it to make his sport much so that the NBA is filled with international players and Team USA doesn't dominate international competition anymore. 

But just like we all have these great memories of that Magic/Bird/Jordan is the same as now.  Magic acknowledged participating in wild sex parties...and eventually contracted HIV.  Bird has an illegitimate child.  Jordan has a well chronicled gambling addiction and was outed as having an extra marital affair.  We also had potheads and hotheads as we do now.  We have Ron Artest now....we had Dennis Rodman then.  Bling??  Didn't Michael Jordan used to play with a big chain around his neck??

Are the cornrows any worse than the afros or porn 'staches worn years ago??  Tattoos??  Everyone has a tattoo now.  No big deal.  I mean, those crazy 80s NBAers broke in that earring thing.  Allen Iverson whining out of Philly??  Didn't Magic Johnson get coach Paul Westhead fired from the Lakers??  The draft busts of recent years because of their youth??  What about the Curse of the 1986 Draft?? 

Give me your Darius Miles....and I'll give you Isaiah Rider.  Give me Kwame Brown....and I'll give you Pervis Ellison. 

This was an ugly brawl????  Did you ever see the Dr J v Larry Bird fight???  And those two players are among the most beloved NBA players ever.

My point is that just dressing it up nicely doesn't change what's inside.  And I'm not implying that NBA players are the thugs people think they are.  They aren't.  They are, essentially, the same young men as ever played the game before.  And just like before, they make mistakesand lose their cool from time to time. 

Now, that isn't an excuse....just a fact.  What the NBA should do to curb this crap is lay down strict punishments.  Why not?  Putting it out there that anyone fighting will face serious consequences would help limit this kind of garbage.  In the NCAA, if you get in two altercations....of any are done. 

But here is the thing:  even if they lay down a law that makes player very weary of doing anything....something still could pop off.  After "The Malice", Ron Artest has done nothing to warrant any kind of worry [well, aside from making rap albums].  But Stephen Jackson, who was also a big time instigator in "The Malice", has had problems come up ever since....including a incident that saw him firing a gun outside a club.  You can't keep everyone in line.

However, you can do your best to see that everything can be done to limit it.  These things happen.  So punish them severly so that they don't happen as much.

And when it eventually happens again....punish them again. 

Monday, December 11, 2006

Hey BCS Honks!! Stop "Caring" About The Student Athletes


This time of the year centers on the BCS fighting in the college football world.  And why not?  It sucks.  We all know it sucks....but the money is too good to change anything now.

So...just admit it.  Admit it.  Just say, "look, we make a ton of guaranteed money right now and aren't really thrilled about giving that up for a stupid playoff."  That's fine.  At least you are being honest.

Just don't drag out that garbage line about "a playoff would force the student athlete to miss classes."  Bull-corn!!!  That could be true, in some ways, but it isn't the reason they refuse to make a Division I football playoff.  Here's why.

YOU LIKE THOSE CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES:  Oh, but those conference championship games that everyone loves so much don't force students from their classrooms?  I guess that Florida and Arkansas athletes weren't inconvienenced at all that they had to travel to Atlanta to play an extra game.  I'm sure they attended every class.  These conference title games have become gold mines for conferences that the ACC was willing to throw 50 years of basketball history under the bus to get in on this money.  Puh-leese!

YOU APPROVED THAT 12TH GAME:  Remember that??  This was the first season under the new 12-game season format.  So...instead of having 4, 6, 8, 12 of 16 schools play a few extra are cool with all 100+ football programs running out for that extra game.  And that game is usually an invite to a lower tier school so they can be stomped, you can sell out your Big Houses and Stadiums and pimp your program to fat cats with big checks. 

MARCH MADNESS:  Sorry, but....March Madness.  It is the pinnacle of playoffs in American sport.  Those kids miss a few days of class, don't they?  And when is the last time any school declined an invite to the NCAA's so their guys can concentrate on schoolin'???  Heck, there was even a floating idea of expanding the tournament to 128 teams this past spring.  Whomever makes the Final Four misses the same amount of time as the finalists for the NCAA football title tilt.  And I'm sure all those kids who camp out in Krzyeywyyskajfskkuuerkski-ville all attend every one of their classes too. 

THE FANS:  Get out of here! Don't give me that lame excuse.  You know...the "but the real fans won't travel with the team for multiple games" excuse.  Now, I'm not into using the bowls in a playoff....but stop crying for me, Argentina!  How many actual students [you know, the people who attend the school and for whom the team was meant for] will be able to go to the BCS Championship game in Arizona??  Probabaly less than 1,000.  The rest go to corporation guys, friends of the program and rich idiots on Ebay.  Oh, and since Fox is now doing the games....I'm sure the cast of "The War At Home" and "House" will be all up in the stadium. 

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Independence High School Wins 7th Straight Title....108th Straight Game

                 Independence Patriots running back (45) Dequan Leak fights for extra yardage as the Riverside High defense collapses during first half action of the 4AA state championship game at Wallace Wade Stadium Saturday night.

Independence High Charlotte, NC.....where I, the Sportz Assassin attended high school from 1990-1993.....won their 7th straight North Carolina state 4AA football championship by beating Durham Riverside, 49-19. 

The win was also the 108th consecutive win by the Patriots.....the longest active streak in the nation.

In fact, the record is the longest winning streak by a public high school.  A Catholic prep school, De La Salle in Concord, CA [who is currently #1 in USA Today's high school football rankings] owns the longest streak ever....151 wins that spanned from 1992-2003. 

Another Independence alum, Chris Leak, will be quarterbacking the Florida Gators in the BCS Championship game on January 8, 2007. 

Thursday, December 7, 2006

LaVar Arrington: "The organized crime."


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants linebacker LaVar Arrington equated the players union with organized crime Wednesday, 24 hours before he was scheduled to testify before Congress at a hearing involving his former agent.

Lawmakers will be looking into the NFL Players Association's suspension of Arrington's former agent, Carl Poston, stemming from his handling of a contract the linebacker signed with the Washington Redskins near the end of the 2003 season.

Arrington contends the union acted unfairly in taking away Poston's livelihood.

"They suspended him without a hearing, the NFLPA," Arrington said, sitting in front of his locker at Giants Stadium. "If you are educated and you pay attention to what is going on around you, they do a lot of foul stuff. It's like organized crime, to be honest with you. They are bad."

Union head Gene Upshaw told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Wednesday that Poston made a major mistake in the contract by omitting an alleged second $6.5 million roster bonus that was due in 2006.

"This isn't just about LaVar," Upshaw said. "This is about the other players this guy represents. We have a duty to the other players."

Upshaw added that the union and not Poston is officially Arrington's agent and that it tried to recover the money for Arrington when the mistake became known in January 2004.

"When we got into this, we did it to protect LaVar," Upshaw said. "I couldn't care less about Poston. I felt we'll take care of him [Poston] later, and we did."

Arrington plans to tell his side of the story to the Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law, which has scheduled an oversight hearing for Thursday to examine the NFLPA's arbitration process.

The subcommittee also plans to hear from NFLPA general counsel Richard Berthelsen; and a law professor, according to a witness list" e-mailed to The Associated Press by House Judiciary Committee press secretary Terry Shawn on Tuesday.

Arrington contends that his $68 million, eight-year deal was hastily closed late in the 2003 season because the Redskins wanted to beat a deadline for salary-cap purposes.

Arrington said the Redskins faxed a final version of the contract without including the provision for a second $6.5 million roster bonus in 2006.

"I guess when they sent that, there was deception involved from the start and I guess they were hoping to bank on that and they got away with it," Arrington said.

Neither Arrington nor Poston noticed the error. Arrington signed the contract.

"I had no reason to believe at that time that if you are going to give me an eight-year contract and you are going to sit there and rob me, but that's the type of organization it is," Arrington said in another blatant shot at the Redskins.

Arrington had a falling out with the Redskins in 2005, and he bought out his contract this past offseason and signed with the Giants.

Upshaw said Poston had 14 days to review the contract after it was signed and he didn't discover the error.

"I ended up telling LaVar about it at the Super Bowl," Upshaw said.

The NFLPA's disciplinary committee recommended in March that Poston be suspended for two years. After several hearings about the case were postponed, the NFLPA suspended him.

Upshaw said all the meetings were postponed by Poston for excuses ranging from injuries to family problems.

"I don't know about the whole thing with the NFL, but I definitely know the PA does things that they definitely shouldn't do, and I don't think by any means, by any stretch of the imagination, do they always have the players' best interests in mind," said Arrington, adding he felt the Redskins and the players association were in cahoots in getting Poston suspended.

Arrington said he wasn't trying to lead a revolt against the union and its leaders. He said the suspension of Poston without a hearing was unfair.

"There are some things that they as an organization need to do a lot better," he said.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

What Troy Smith Has To Look Forward Too

Troy Smith will enter the pantheon of elite people to win the Heisman Trophy.  The Heisman is just another notch in the pointlessness of college football.  Those college football honks are right....the games are great.  And thank God, because if they weren't, we'd be done with it.  Smith will win the Heisman because he's the quarterback of the best team in the country.  Oh, he's had a really good year TV time and all the trappings. 

Anyways, this award is the pinnacle of some footballers lives.  After this, the road ends...especially for quarterbacks.  Here is a look at past Heisman winning QBs over the past 15 years and my rankings about how their careers after the fact went.

8-CHARLIE WARD, 1993:  Charlie Ward wasn't drafted in the NFL....but was drafted in the NBA and MLB.  He's at the bottom of the list because he has had no football ties after winning the Heisman.  But he did have a long NBA career that just recently ended. 

7-JASON WHITE, 2003:  This is how dumb the Heisman is.  Jason White almost became the 2nd player in history to win the award twice.  He was a finalist again in 2004...but came up short.  White never played in the NFL....and wasn't even drafted.  The Titans signed him as a free agent, but White "retired" before getting a shot.

6-ERIC CROUCH, 2001:  This guy has been a journeyman in more ways than one.  He was drafted by the Rams, who wanted to try him out as a WR [the Packers tried that too].  The Chiefs eventually took a look at him and sent him to NFL-Europe to learn to play safety.  Now he is a QB....for the Toronto Argonauts.  By the way, Crouch has yet to play a down in the NFL. 

5-GINO TORRETTA, 1992:  Torretta bounced around the NFL as a insurance QB...but nothing more.  His only chance to play was in garbage time for the Seahawks in the final game of the 1996 season. 

4-DANNY WUERFFEL, 1996:   "Waffle House" was a drifter in the NFL and had a momentary comeback when Steve Spurrier decided to make his Washington Redskins into a U of F All Star team.  He's been retired for four years and is currently doing a lot of religious work in the community. 

3-CHRIS WEINKE, 2000:  Weinke was about, oh, 45 when he played at Florida State.  He is 34 now, just 6 years removed from winning the Heisman.  He's spent his career as a backup for the Carolina Panthers. 

2-MATT LEINART, 2004:  Leinart's just a rookie and starting for the hapless Cardinals.  Still, he's had really fine moments and could be a better than average QB in the league.

1-CARSON PALMER, 2002:  Palmer is legit.  He's an All Pro that is the cornerstone to the resurgence of the Cincinnati Bengals.  Most likely one of the top five quarterbacks in the NFL right now. 

Top 10 Athletes of the Year

Recently the DC Sports Guy listed the Top 40 Sports Figures of 2006  [and fellow blogger and Mottram listed his Top Ten Athletes of the Year at SavedByTheBlog. 
The list was compiled from a bevy of sports bloggers, including myself.  So I'd like to share my top 10 list that I sent in on the subject. 
1-TERRELL OWENS: Who else could top this list?  He made a much hyped signing with the Cowboys.  He recorded a rap song about how much he hated the Eagles.  He sat out most of camp with a bad hammy.  He broke his finger in his 2nd game with Dallas.  He nearly overdosed on pills.  He threw his QB under the bus.  He cost his team by an excessive celebration after a TD....then dropped the could-be game winning TD catch.  He also has had a knack of purposely keeping himself in the public eye by doing these things. 
2-KOBE BRYANT: As a Laker fan, of course I covered Kobe a lot.  He had that amazing 81 point game against the Raptors.  He was an MVP candidate.  He watched his former running mate, Shaq, and his current rival, Dwyane Wade, win a NBA title.  He led the NBA in scoring with the highest average in 20 years.  He hit a huge shot to win a playoff game.  He changed his jersey number to 24.  His Black Mamba photos in Slam magazine. 
3-TEAM USA: Not one person, but one entity.  Did anyone in our sporting world disappoint like this??  The team that was supposed to be a factor in the World Cupcame up with the event’s worst showing.  The basketball team that was supposed to take back our dominance finished with a bronze at the World Basketball Championships.  At the newly formed World Baseball Classic, Team America wasn’t a factor.  Floyd Landis [see below] put a black eye in the cycling community.  Our women’s soccer and basketball teams were also upset this year.  Not a great time for the Red, White and Blue. 
4-BUCK O’NEIL: One of the greatest men passed away this year.....that happened to play a little baseball.  But Buck O’Neil was more than that.  Mr. O’Neil was a walking, talking history book about the Negro Leagues and the impact those players had on a game that didn’t embrace them.  His tireless and loving work led to the baseball writers to place a group of Negro Leaguers into Baseball’s Hall Of Fame....a list that, somehow, didn’t include him.  Nonetheless, he was the induction speaker for the group and made one of the greatest speeches the Hall has ever seen.  Rest in peace, sir. 
5-MICHAEL IRVIN:   Another Cowboys receiver makes the list.  Irvin has made a career being cocky....but before it was fine because he was playing.  Now as an analyst for ESPN, he’s been chewing on his foot more than expected.  First he called out Giants running back Tiki Barber for publically pondering his retirement mid-season.  Next, he’s busy making racist comments like implying that Cowboys QB Tony Romo must have some African-American blood in his DNA since he’s such a good athlete. 
6-SHAWN MERRIAN: The NFL defensive rookie of the year exploded in his sophomore season to become a Defensive Player of the Year candidate.  And then it was announced that Merriman would be suspended for steroid abuse.  This put a light on the abuse in the NFL and sparked questions about the sporting world’s hypocrisy on the subject.  If someone of Merriman’s caliber did this in Major League Baseball, all hell would break loose.  What is the extent of the abuse in the NFL??  
7-JOHN L SMITH:  The now former Michigan State Spartan coach had a year which saw him meltdown.  His Spartans tanked away a large 2nd half lead to Notre Dame.  He lost at home to lowly Illinois....only to smack himself during the postgame news conference.  And then was canned.  Not a bad stretch there, L. 
8-PAUL TAGLIABUE: The NFL commish called it a day this year...just after working out labor peace and navigating the world’s most successful sports league into that status.  The fact he seemless left the job and saw Roger Goodell take over just shows you the kind of operation he turned the NFL into. 
9-THE DUKE LACROSSE TEAM:   This is story that has so many issues circling it that it has become a fishbowl.  The fact that a black stripper accused the mostly white lacrosse team of rape took over the Duke campus, the Durham area and the nation by storm.  Race and elitism have become the top issues of this accusation that may uncover more dirt before getting resolved. 
10-FLOYD LANDIS: Landis took the reigns from Lance Armstrong by winning the Tour De France in impressive fashion.  And then his drug tests came back negative...sparking a debate about doping, testing, leaking results and why we even care about cycling.

Monday, December 4, 2006

Great Week To Be a Tar Heel

                                Casey Nogueira

Wow...this was a great week if you are a fan of the University of North Carolina Tar Heels.  In nearly any sport.

The men's basketball team played a thrilling game against the ESPN/USA Today #1 ranked team.....Ohio State...this past Wednesday and came away a winner, 98-89.  It was the kind of game Heels fans loved to see since it was against one of the top teams in the nation and there was some adversity they came back from in the game. 

Three days later, the Heels closed the gap in the ol' All Time Winningest Program battle with Kentucky....a game that was stuttering but that UNC had control of during most of the 2nd half.

The #2 ranked women's hoops team took on Tennessee, in the biggest game in the women's game to date.  The Heels dominated the 2nd half and beat the Lady Vols, 70-57. 

Earlier in the day, the women's soccer team won it's 18th National Championship.  That soccer team is as dominant as any tem the school has.

And, the feel good of all this, is that new football coach Butch Davis has been making the rounds at all the events to help put his presence in Carolina's eyes.....and Carolina's presence in his.  And he takes over a program that, despite being horrid this year, did beat NC State and Duke.

Not a bad week.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Sanity Reigns: It's Ohio State v Florida

The BCS announcement has come and gone with nothing really surprising.  The BCS Show was about as exciting and thrilling as having a seeding show for, say, the NHL playoffs.  You're just not the NCAA Tournament show, guys.

BCS BOWL: OHIO STATE v FLORIDA:  This is the game that should be for the championship [wanna know why I feel that way....just look below].  Florida navigated thru the best conference in the nation with one loss and the Buckeyes are the undisputed #1 team across the board. 

ROSE BOWL:  MICHIGAN v USC:  The typical Pac-10/Big 10 matchup stays intact wtih both teams pining that they aren't in the national championship game.  This will be a great game that's set in a perfect place for such a match-up.  Still, we all are going to have to deal with the Wolverines whining that they don't get a 2nd chance to play Ohio State again. 

ORANGE BOWL:  WAKE FOREST v LOUISVILLE:  Two schools who are loving being in a BCS game.  Louisville always felt they'd be here...but Wake Forest?  This probably goes under the "the only reason people are watching because there is nothing else on".

SUGAR BOWL:  LSU v NOTRE DAME:  The sad thing is this is probably the biggest mismatch of them all.  Notre Dame has done nothing to deserve a BCS bid....except draw fans well.  Then they get LSU who is could win the title if there was a playoff and are at nearby New Orleans.  The Irish enter the game with an 8-game bowl losing streak.

FIESTA BOWL:  OKLAHOMA v BOISE STATE:  One good thing the BCS has done is allow easier access for non-BCS schools to get in.  Boise State uses the new rule to their advantage.  They get Oklahoma who is one the hotter teams in the country despite having a season of bad luck. 

Sportz Assassin's NCAA Football Playoff


I grew up on Mr I'm going to live in the land of make believe right now.  Like Joe Lunardi does on ESPN's college hoops, I'm doing the same for football.  Yeah, I know that there isn't a playoff in college football...but who cares!  In my mind, there is.  And here is my bracketology.  It's based on a 12-team format where the 6 BCS conference champions get least 1 team from the non-BCS conferences...and 5 at large bids.  The lower seed plays at home. 

1-OHIO STATE* vs winner of....

4-LSU vs winner of....

3-MICHIGAN vs winner of...
6-USC* vs 11-OKLAHOMA*

2-FLORIDA* vs winner of....

Florida Or Michigan??

USC has been beaten which totally pleases me.

Nothing against USC, but I want this BCS thing a mess.  I need it.  Last year, I was disappointed that everything worked out well.  It happens.  There is a saying about the sun shining and a dog that describes it.  Not this year. 

If anything, this year proves you need the playoff for a myriad of reasons.  The fact that we must wait for a computer to spit out who is the #2 team in the nation feels so great!!  I mean, why not have a computer determine our Super Bowl teams??  If it did, there would be no great Steelers playoff run.  Or if a computer spit out or World Series match ups???  I guarantee the St Louis Cardinals wouldn't have been there. 

So who does deserve to play Ohio State in the BCS National Championship Game???


Or Michigan?

If I had a vote, I'd vote for Florida for several reasons.

CONFERENCE CHAMPS:  First off, Florida has won something already.  The Florida Gators are the Southeastern Conference Champions.  Michigan has won nothing. 

MICHIGAN HAD IT'S CHANCE:  I'm not dead set against rematches...but not this one.  These two teams just met with Ohio State barely winning.  A rematch makes no sense because it really isn't fair.  Is it fair that Ohio State has to beat Michigan twice while Michigan must beat the Buckeyes just once to win the title???  If Florida and Michigan are that close for that chance....why not let the team that didn't get a chance to play OSU??

THE SKED:  Who has Michigan beat??  Wisconsin and Notre Dame.  And neither of those two schools has beaten anyone.  Florida has had to beat Tennessee, LSU and Arkansas and navigated thru one of the toughest schedules in the country.  Also, the Gators beat nine schools that will be in bowl games.  Michigan beat just six.  Michigan beat 5 teams who had losing records.  Florida played and beat just two. 

RIVALRY KILLER:  I read somewhere that the worst thing that could happen between Duke and North Carolina in basketball is if they ever met in the tournament.  In such a bloody rivalry, that event would mean someone would have the ultimate trump card.  Same thing applies to Michigan-Ohio State.  Yeah, that game would be huge for that rivalry.  But whomever wins will forever have the "yeah, but....." on their side. 

WE'D GET A GREAT ROSE BOWL:  The Grandaddy of Them All Bowl will feature Michigan and USC doing battle.  What a great match up since both teams were right there in the running for the National Championship game.  Seeing this game would be a great appetizer for the BCS Bowl. 

Friday, December 1, 2006

The MVP Doesn't Have To Be In Playoffs


Albert Pujols commented that the baseball MVP winners should be from a team that made the playoffs.  This is basically because he didn't win the award....but non-playoff bound Ryan Howard did.

He couldn't be more wrong.

First off, Howard's Phillies actually finished the regular season with TWO MORE WINS than Pujols' Cardinals.....won became the worst team [record wise] to win the World Series.  In the wacky world of baseball's playoff rules, stuff like that happens.  Heck, the Cards had the 13th best record in the entire major leagues.  They made the playoffs because they played in a division where the rest of the clubs finished a combined 70 games under .500.  Hey, that fair?? 

Second, we all know that the voting for the MVP award is as controversial as any award is because the word "valuable" is in the title.  What determines value....and how can you measure it?  Some view it as stat driven.....which Howard was better.  Some view all the intangables like leadership, drive and determination to be great.  Some play the "well, if you took this guy off his team" game.  Then have a couple hundred of those opinions thrown into a pot and try to figure it out.

When I think of how odd MVP voting is...I always hark back to 2000 when Shaquille O'Neal won the NBA MVP award near unanimously.  The one decenting vote was made for Allen Iverson because, it was thought, without him the Sixers would be horrid. 

Guys like Cal Ripken, Barry Bonds and Andre Dawson won MVP awards on teams that weren't that good. 

So to throw a blanket statement that the MVP should come off a playoff team is dumb.  The MVP is a personal award;  the playoffs are a team goal.  If the best player having the best season plays with a bunch of garbage....does that make his season worthless??  Ask Steve Carlton. 

Steve Carlton won the 1972 Cy Young award [as well as finishing 5th in the MVP race] on one of the worst teams in the last 50 years.  The '72 Phillies went 59-97 and were dead last in the NL East.  But Carlton went 27-10 that season, with a 1.97 ERA and 310 strikeouts.  He also had an amazing 30 complete games...a number unheard of now.  Because his team stunk...should he have suffered??

Despite doubling the playoff teams with the introduction of the six divisions and wildcard berths over the last 12 still sends just 26% of it's teams to the playoffs.  Compare that to 37% of NFL teams and 53% of NHL and NBA teams.  In baseball, you have just a 1-in-4 chance of making the there are a ton of great seasons from players that would get swept under the rug by leaving them out of playoff voting. 

Since baseball did expand, only FIVE MVP winners came from non-playoff teams.  Bonds did it twice; Alex Rodriguez, Larry Walker and now Howard.  It happens.

Just enjoy your World Series, Albert, and let it go.