Monday, September 27, 2010

Ten NFL Coaches On the Hot Seat

We are nearing the end of Week 3 which means the bye weeks start next week. When a team wants to make a coaching change mid-season, they tend to like to do it during a bye week as to get the new regime going.

So who are the ten coaches who may get a little nervous as their bye week approaches.

1-JOHN FOX, CAROLINA: I think the ship has sailed on this one. The Panthers were hoping that Fox could at least get this young team pointed in the right direction. Right now, they are 0-3, they have no idea who their quarterback is and the running game that was supposed to carry the team has been nonexistent. Paging Bill Cowher.

2-ERIC MANGINI, CLEVELAND: The only reason this cat held on to the job after last season was because his Browns won their final four contests. Three games into this season, they are winless. And we all know that Mike Holmgren could just decide to take over this team whenever he feels like it.

3-NORV TURNER, SAN DIEGO: The Chargers had this division in their back pocket. The Broncos were gouged, the Raiders are the Raiders and the Chiefs are still a bit away. Instead, they are 1-2 and have looked bad against the Chiefs and Seahawks. Turner was hired to lead this team to the Super Bowl ... something they thought Marty Schottenheimer couldn't do.

4-TOM CABLE, OAKLAND: He's the coach of the Raiders. He has no job security.

5-WADE PHILLIPS, DALLAS: I don't think Jerrah Jones would fire Phillips midseason. He's never done that and he's had some reasons to cut bait early before. I think Phillips rides out this season, but if the Cowboys can't get this thing turned around then he won't make it to next year.

6-BRAD CHILDRESS, MINNESOTA: Where do we start with Chili? Same deal as Phillips, I think Childress makes it through the season. But this team had a lot of hope for this season, yet they look old. I think Childress will join Favre as ex-Vikings after the season.

7-RAHEEM MORRIS, TAMPA BAY: The surprising start to the Bucs season has turned Morris' fortunes around for now. But if Tampa spirals back down to where we all thought they'd be then Morris ... who barely survived last offseason ... could be out.

8-MIKE SINGLETARY, SAN FRANCISCO: Hard to imagine I'm typing this, but Singletary may be getting drowned out in the Bay Area. His "rat rant" makes him look a bit paranoid and too on edge for the job. The fact that the 49ers are starting 0-3 after being the buzz team in the NFC West really hurts.

9-JIM SCHWARTZ, DETROIT: He really doesn't have to do much to keep his gig. Still, he may not want to have another poor Lions season.

10-TOM COUGHLIN, NEW YORK GIANTS: Super Bowl winning coaches do get fired, and there are signs that Coughlin's hard line has worn out its welcome with the G-men. With the NFC West in a bit of flux and the New Meadowlands Stadium not selling out, I don't think the leash will be too long.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

NFL Should Schedule Rivalries

With the NFL apparently barrelling down to an 18-game season (bad idea), now the thinking is how they should schedule those extra two games. Who should they play? How will it work?

The first idea makes the most sense. However, I like my final idea a lot more.

KEEP THE SCHEDULE SOMEWHAT THE SAME: Right now, a team plays the other teams in their division twice (6 games), one complete division in their conference (4 games), one complete division in the other conference (4 more) and the two teams in their conference that finished in the same order in their division standings (2).

It would make sense to just schedule the teams in the other divisions that are near your standings. Dallas finished 1st in the NFC East. So they play the entire NFC North this year and the entire AFC South ... as well as the first place teams in the NFC South (Saints) and NFC West (Cardinals).

With my thinking, the Cowboys should have to also play the 2nd place teams in the NFC South and NFC West. So all 1st and 2nd place teams should face off against each other while the 3rd and 4th place teams do the same. Seems fair, right?

Or you can be a little more fair and make the division champ schedule the 1st place team in the other divisions AND the 4th place team. You get the best and worst ... while the 2nd and 3rd place teams get each other. Sounds like making the schedule a tad more fair, right?

Well, let's get unfair and a bit more fun.

SCHEDULE RIVALRIES: I'd love to see this. Screw having the schedule fair. It used to not be very fair so it isn't like we're going to something totally alien to the NFL.

Schedule natural rivalries. Have everyone play someone else in the other conference every year.

Have the Cowboys-Texans game every year. Redskins-Ravens. Giants-Jets. Eagles-Steelers. Buccaneers-Dolphins. Niners-Raiders. Rams-Chiefs.

Other ones that make sense are Bears-Colts. Lions-Bills (especially if the team moves to Toronto). Panthers-Titans. Falcons-Jaguars. Cardinals-Chargers. Seahawks-Broncos.

Some won't make sense. The Packers, Vikings, Saints, Patriots, Bengals and Browns don't have a natural cross-conference rivalry. Figure out some rotation between those six or just force a "rivalry" down their throat (Pats-Saints? Bengals-Vikings? Browns-Packers?).

That would mean that everyone would play 5 non-conference games. So where is the 13th conference game?

Just figure one out. Don't pre-ordain it. If the Colts and Patriots happen to not play one year, schedule them. Maybe there is a key trade or free agent move and you'd like to see if you could schedule them to play against their old team. Think LaDainian Tomlinson wouldn't want a crack at the Chargers?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Allow MLB Teams To Pick Their Playoff Opponent

We are coming down the stretch of the baseball season and it brings up one of my pet gripes. I think the MLB should allow the team with the best record in each conference to pick their first opponent.

Not that it would be that big of a deal. Right now, the top team plays the Wildcard team ... unless that team is in their own division then they play the division winner with the worst record. This year will most follow the latter scenario since the NL East and AL East will feature both the teams with the best record and the Wildcard Team. So the Phillies/Braves and Yankees/Rays will face off against a division champ with the worst record.

Also, let me make this clear, the team with the best record CANNOT pick the division champ with the second best record as their opponent. That team should be able to have their own homefield advantage, so it's unfair to make them play the best team right off the bat.

It seems, then, that there is no need for a new rule. But there could be instances where this rule would be needed.

Let's say this is how a baseball season ends:

NL CENTRAL CHAMP: Reds (100-62)
NL EAST CHAMP: Phillies (99-63)
NL WEST CHAMP: Giants (84-78)
WILDCARD: Braves (97-65)

If this scenario played out, the Reds ... who had the best record in the National League ... would have to face a Braves team that won just 3 less games than them. Meanwhile, the Phillies would play the relatively weaker Giants. Unfair, don't you think?

Under my proposal, the Reds would be able to pick from the Giants and Braves as their opponent. Obviously, they would rather pick the Giants.

Seems fair and would make the playoffs interesting. Especially since the team that was picked would feel a bit offended that they were deemed a lesser threat than the Wildcard team.

Even if they really are.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Pete Rose's Hit Record Is One Of Our Last Real Record Memories

Yes, there is a lot of stink going around Pete Rose. But there's no denying that his record for most hits in a career is as pure a record as there can be.

Rose hit his 4,192nd hit on September 11th, 1985. Yesterday was the 25th anniversary of the hit and Rose made his first on-field appearance in Cincinnati since being banned from baseball during the pre-game ceremony.

When we go through the baseball record books, there won't be many other pure record breaking moments that will live on in the media era. Yeah, we have Barry Bonds hitting home run 756, but that record has the stink of steroids all over it. Same thing goes to Mark McGwire's 62nd home run in 1998 or Bonds' record breaking 71st a few years later. There is Cal Ripken's amazing consecutive games streak that will never be approached, but that wasn't as much a celebration of a moment as it was a celebration of a career.

The only other moments don't count anymore. We don't have video or memories of Cy Young's win record or Joe DiMaggio's hitting streak. We do have Hank Aaron passing Babe Ruth ... but that isn't the record anymore (though many of us still value it as such).

So when Eric Show's pitch ended up as a turf hopper in left-center field, that moment will live on in all our minds, our TVs and our computers.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

New Big Ten Divisional Format Is Stupid

The Big Ten announced what their divisions will look like in 2011 and ... well sir ... I don't like it.

One division will have Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Illinois, Purdue and Indiana in it. The other will have Michigan, Nebraska, Minnesota, Northwestern, Michigan State and Iowa.

Sorry, but it makes no sense. Why must these football conferences get cutesy and decide to rig divisions and their conference championship games? Why do they think it will work?

For example, the ACC's divisional format follows no logic. The only line of thinking was putting Florida State and Miami in seperate divisions so they'd meet in the title game and hold the event in Jacksonville. The problem is that it has yet to happen like that, and now the title game has moved to Charlotte. I'm a diehard ACC fan and I still get confused about who is in what division.

Same thing in the Big Ten. They seperated Ohio State and Michigan ... why? So they could meet again in a Big Ten title game? That's the plan ... but it could really backfire. Having two teams play each other in back-to-back weeks isn't very cool. Neither is holding an Ohio State-Michigan game in a neutral site.

Do the right thing, Big Ten and just realign the division geographically so we can all enjoy.

EAST: Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State and Purdue
WEST: Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern and Wisconsin.

The only time it would work? Well, the Pac-12. I like their idea of splitting up the regional teams so that everyone has a chance to go to everywhere in the conference (it helps recruiting). So something like this works:

X DIVISION: Arizona, California, Oregon, UCLA, Utah, Washington
O DIVISION: Arizona State, Colorado, Oregon State, Stanford, USC, Washington State

All the "University of" schools are in one division and the others are in the other.

But let's go back to the Big Ten. Here are reasons why splitting Michigan and Ohio State is bad.

-IT COULD MAKE THEIR REGULAR SEASON MEETING LESS MEANINGFUL: I know that's hard to fathom and I know that it will still be the biggest rivalry game in the country. But less could be on the line. Direct competition could be eliminated. For instance, what if both Michigan and Ohio State clinch their divisions by the time they meet in their regular season finale? Would they both call off the dogs as if not to show the other school their tricks? Yeah, a possible Big Ten title meeting could be epic, then, but it does rob then pageantry of their normal meeting.

-A MICHIGAN VS OHIO STATE GAME NOT IN EITHER OF THOSE TWO STATES: Hey, what city will house the Big Ten title game? Cleveland? Detroit? Probably not. Most likely any title game will take place at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. I will admit that I'd be interested to see what a neutral site would mean to this rivalry, it really doesn't feel right.

-THEY MIGHT MOVE THE REGULAR SEASON GAME: Michigan vs Ohio State is usually played on the final weekend of the conference season. To keep my first point from happening, the league is thinking about moving the game to the middle (or even beginning) of the season. Going back to my ACC points, that conference did the same thing with Miami-Florida State. That game became their openers for several years ... until this one. Michigan-Ohio State works as the opener ... but would Michigan be willing to do that when Notre Dame is traditionally their first or second opponent every year?

-KEEPING THEM TOGETHER ISN'T A BAD THING: I'm not sure if you know this, but Texas and Oklahoma play in the same division (Big XII South). Alabama and Auburn also share the same division (SEC West). Those rivalries thrive on the fact that they are stuck in the same division.