Saturday, December 24, 2011

"The Brawl" Has Led Cincy-Xavier In Two Different Directions

A couple weeks ago, "The Brawl" happened in Cincinnati. Crosstown rivals Xavier and Cincinnati met, as they do every year, with the Musketeers blowing out the Bearcats. At the end of the very testy game, a brawl broke out that left both teams with suspended players and bad tastes in their mouth.

Cincinnati suspended Yancy Gates, Cheikh Mbodj and Octavius Ellis six games each and Ge'Lawn Guyn for one game. Xavier suspended Dez Wells and Landen Amos for four games, Mark Lyons for two and star guard Tu Holloway for one game.

Since then, both schools have gone in different directions.

Xavier has now lost three straight games. After "The Brawl", the Muskies were a Top Ten team with an 8-0 record. Since then, they've lost to unranked Oral Roberts, Long Beach State and Hawaii. ORU gave Xavier their worst loss in the Cintas Center (22 points) and Long Beach won by ten. They have one more game (against Southern Illinois) before they are done with all of their suspensions. The first game with their full team will be against Gonzaga.

As for Cincinnati, they have won the four games played after the fight. Granted, none were against anyone spectacular (Wright State, Radford, Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Chicago State), they have won all of them in great fashion ... winning those games by an average of 33.5 points. We will find out just how good they are after their final non-conference game with Oklahoma and entering Big East play (how is Pitt, Notre Dame, St John's, Georgetown, Villanova and UConn for starters?). While I'm sure this winning streak will end during that run, at least the Bearcats seem to be getting on the same page.

Odd, isn't it? I'm sure when the season ends, Xavier will have the better record, higher ranking and more pub than the Bearcats. Sure, the Cats winning streak happened all at home and Xavier has been in Hawaii over the past week. But it is interesting to see how both teams have handled this self-inflicted adversity.

Even right after the game, you could kind of see this coming. Cincy head coach Mick Cronin chastised his players and the schools part in this mess. He honestly seemed embarrassed and very vocal that this wouldn't happen again on his watch. Xavier head coach Chris Mack wasn't as vocal and allowed his players ... including star Holloway ... to act a fool in post game interviews. I live in the Cincinnati area and that "gangstas" rant was and still is the biggest talking point after the fight.

So as we go into 2012, it will be interesting to see the focus of both these schools which will say a lot about the futures of these two progams .... and not just for the rest of the season.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sports In 2011 Was The Year In Hell

When we look back at the sports landscape in 2011 ... it won't be a happy thought to most of us. This was a very, very, very bad year for sports as a whole.

Don't get me wrong. There were some great moments (Game 6 of the World Series could be the best game ever played in the Fall Classic) and great performances. Congrats to all the champs and all the greatness that happened over the past calendar year.

Still, 2011 clearly threw down the shroud that surrounds the dark side of sports.

CHILD SEX SCANDALS: This is the most gut-wrenching story to come out of 2011. Yeah, sex scandals have happened before and even the horror of child sexual abuse has been in the news in years past. But the cover-ups and the actions of the "adults in charge" was really shocking. It wasn't age or on-field performance that ended Joe Paterno's career ... it was sitting idle while a member of your staff was raping young boys on campus and under the umbrella of Penn State University. It was the administrators that sat on all this information for years and years without anything happening. It ruined the school and those legacies and ... worst of all ... the lives of all those boys who suffered this abuse while no one cared to help them.

We are supposed to trust these people to have the best interests of our kids when we send them to play athletics and attend these schools yet they don't have the moral compass to stop raping boys when they know it exists? It is really scary.

Even more scary when you realize that people like Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim will publically come out and chastise you for bravely stepping forward and facing your accuser. Boeheim staunchly defended his coach and friend without once thinking about what these young men who also worked for the school. He retracted it all but the damage is done. No matter how Hall-Of-Famey you may be, we can't trust you to do the right thing.

With the court cases and more details waiting to emerge, this story will be promptly in the headlines for the next few years.

DAN WHELDON: We were reminded, yet again, the dangers of motor sports haven't disappeared with all the advancements in safety. Early in the Indy Car season ending race in Las Vegas, Indianapolis 500 champion Dan Wheldon died in a fiery 15-car crash. I know we forget just how much our athletes put on the line but something like this haunts you in just how close that line may be from life and death. All for our amusement, endoresments and money.

LABOR WARS: 2011 will also be known as the year of Labor Strife. The NFL started it with their lockout which swiftly gripped the nation ... even though we missed no regular season games. With the season almost ending, can you even remember what they were fighting about? What has really changed? Still, it was a summer filled with people is suits jockeying in front of microphones instead of watching workouts, free agency and training camp.

In the NBA, it was a lot worse. Not only did it get nasty, but it got downright sickening. From David Stern's doomsday reports all the while he is trying to threaten the players to players signing all over the world as quick cash grabs. When we finally got to a deal (which cost the fans 240 games), no more than an hour later do we see a blockbuster deal (Chris Paul to the Lakers) that was swiftly vetoed by Stern because it looked bad on him. Stern then sent Paul ... who was on the league-owned Hornets ... to the Clippers, one of the historic laughingstocks of the NBA. Paul, by the way, was one of the high profile players very active in labor talks.

BCS GOES BS AGAIN: The BCS has gotten completely out of hand. Not only do we have a regular season rematch for the BCS title game, but it features a team that didn't win their conference OR THEIR FREAKIN' DIVISION! Unfair if you are LSU that Alabama could beat you on a neutral field and to be a champions when you beat them on their turf, won their conference and won their division.

Whatever, but what about the rest of the BCS? How does the ACC get two teams in the BCS when they don't even have a team ranked in the Top 10? Boise State sits at No. 7 and can't get a berth. Seriously, the No. 6 (Arkansas), No. 7 (Boise State) and No. 8 (Kansas State) can't get a BCS berth but No. 11 (Virginia Tech) and No. 13 (Michigan) can? Why even have this stupid poll when it really doesn't do anything?

LOSING JOE FRAZIER: Look, athletes die like the rest of us and that will always be the case. But Frazier's passing reminded us (a) just how far the sport of boxing has fallen in the decades since and (b) the damage done to guys like him and Muhammad Ali. Warriors in the ring that had the rest of their lives zapped away.

LOSING DAVE DUERSON: The former Bear died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He also offered him brain up for research into the effects of football related head injuries on players. Hopefully this research will help try to further safety measures in all sports.

LOSING DEREK BOOGAARD: He may not be known that well in the non-hockey world, but the 28-yr old enforcers death needs to shine a huge light on what this role in hockey is doing to the minds of these guys. Boogaard was the the youngest of three recent deaths by enforcers under the age of 40 years old.

LOSING AL DAVIS: Love him or hate him, there will never be another owner like him in any sport. Ever. And that's a bad thing.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Sportz Assassin College Football Playoff Bracket

I do this every year. Instead of all this BCS bowl crap, we just have a simple 12-team playoff that involves no bowls (other than the title game can be called a BCS championship at a neutral site).

Here are the teams that get in:
-Every champion of the six BCS conference
-Highest ranked non-BCS conference champion
-5 at-large bids regardless of conference
-Seeding and at large bids are determined by the final BCS standings
-Every effort will be attempted to keep conference teams from facing each other in the first round.

So here we go

9pm: #12 West Virginia (Big East Champ) at #5 Oregon (Pac12 Champ)
12pm: #11 TCU (MWC Champ) at #6 Arkansas
6pm: #10 Clemson (ACC Champ) at #7 Boise State
3pm: #9 Wisconsin (Big Ten Champ) at #8 Kansas State

12pm: Kansas State/Wisconsin at #1 LSU (SEC Champ)
9pm: Boise State/Clemson at #2 Alabama
3pm: Arkansas/at #3 Oklahoma State (Big 12 Champ)
6pm: Oregon/West Virginia at #4 Stanford

3:30pm: One national semifinal
8pm: Second national semifinal

8pm: BCS Championship

Funniest Bowl Names

Today and tomorrow will be filled by announcements of who is going to which bowl. While most of us will be fixated on who is going to the BCS title game or those usual big time bowls, we get treated to all of those great lesser bowls with their funny names and odd sponsorships.

Below are my TOP FIVE:

5-BEEF O BRADY'S BOWL: Bar food gets love. I'm not a huge fan of BOB's, but it's fun to say "Beef O' Brady's Bowl" a bunch of times in a row.

4-LITTLE CAESARS PIZZA BOWL: Formerly the Motor City Bowl, the Pizza Pizza Bowl is played in lovely Detroit. Look, we've already had a Papa John's Bowl and they are a much better pizza. I haven't had Little Ceez since I was a single guy sharing an apartment. Crazy bread is quite tasty, though. And when I used to go there, "pizza pizza" actually meant something! You always got TWO PIZZAS no matter what! Now it is a lie!

3-MILITARY BOWL PRESENTED BY NORTHROP GRUMMAN: That's a lot to fit on a trophy. Any bowl with "presented by" should make this list (including The Rose Bowl Presented by Vizio). Since Navy is not bowl-eligible, there will be no armed force academy in this game. As for Northrop Grumman ... why are they sponsoring this? They are a global aerospace and defense tech company. Where would sponsoring a bowl game help them?

2-BBVA COMPASS BOWL: I didn't even know people bought compasses anymore. Huh? It's a bank? BBVA is a Spanish bank that stands for Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentina and they bought out Compass ... you know, who cares? I know no one watching the game (if anyone does) will.

1-FAMOUS IDAHO POTATO BOWL: Formerly the Humanitarian Bowl, it is best known as that bowl played on Boise's ugly blue turf and for the fact that we see games played in freezing weather. The new name is just plain awesome. The logo above is even better.

NBA Owner's Logic Doesn't Work

I get what the NBA owners are saying. They need a league where every team has a chance to do well and get to the playoffs and get a ring and all that jazz. It sounds great. Sounds fantastic. I mean, it works in the NFL where you can have New Orleans and Indianapolis play for a championship and no one bats an eye. A league where Green Bay can be the latest dynasty.

Too bad it's not a great idea for the NBA, though. And history proves it.

First off, the NFL is a different beast. They pull in twice the cheese that the NBA does and have more lucrative and centralized TV contracts. While the NBA has national contracts with ESPN/ABC and Turner Sports, each team has to sell their local rights. Obviously, the Knicks and Lakers are worth more than the Kings and Hornets. NFL teams don't have to worry about that.

Plus football is followed much more passionately than the NBA.

Second off, NBA's own history proves this doesn't make all the sense in the world. I mean, what is the golden era in the NBA? The 1960s? The 1980s? The 1990s? Depending on who you talk to, all of those eras qualify. And what were those eras defined by?


In the 1960s, the Boston Celtics won 9 of the 10 championships. Those Celtics beat the Lakers six times in those Finals. The other four Finals losers were the Warriors and Hawks (the Sixers won the only other title).

In the 1980s, the Lakers (5) and Celtics (3) combined for eight titles. The Sixers won one title and the Pistons won the other (the first of back-to-back championships). In those 10 Finals, the Lakers went to 8 of them. Boston went to five.

The 1990s were dominated by the Bulls. Chicago won six titles, Houston won two. The Pistons and Spurs dynasties bookended the decade.

The last era of anyone-can-do-it was the 1970s. Though there are fond memories of that decade, it doesn't bring on the love like the decades surrounding it. The Celtics and Knicks were the only franchises to win multiple titles in the 1970s. The Bullets, Bucks, Lakers, Warriors, Blazers and Sonics each won it once. No dynasties, no love.

Now will the New NBA yield this same parity? Probably not. Hopefully not. While fans in Sacramento, Memphis, Utah, Charlotte and Orlando want to see their franchises do well, it doesn't really help the NBA all that much.

One of the issues is the NBA itself. Back in the 1980s, there were only 21 teams (there are 30 now). That made the talent level not as spread out as it is ... or has to be ... today. Sure, we didn't have any Miami Heat back then, but we didn't have Toronto, Memphis/Vancouver, Minnesota or New Orleans/Charlotte either.

I'm not into contraction, but you have to point out that 9 extra teams means at least 108 extra players in the league and some of your stars stuck in wastelands. I mean, everyone is going gaga over the "Big Threes" of the Celtics, Heatles or the Knicks hopes of landing Chris Paul to go with Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire. Well, the 1980s Lakers had Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy (all Hall Of Famers; all No. 1 overall picks). The 1980s Celtics had Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parrish and Dennis Johnson (all HOFers). The 1960s Celtics were loaded with HOFers. The second half of the Chicago Bulls dynasty had HOFers Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman. Rodman was also one of three HOFers on the Pistons back-to-back title teams (Joe Dumars and Isiah Thomas were the others).

Since then, it hasn't been the same. Those early 2000s Lakers had Shaq and Kobe ... two of the greatest players to ever play basketball. The Spurs only superduperstar is Tim Duncan.

Only one champion in the 2000s has three HOF players.
2000-2002 Lakers: Shaq, Kobe
2003, 2005, 2007 Spurs: Tim Duncan
2004 Pistons: No one
2006 Heat: Dwyane Wade, Shaq
2008 Celtics: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen
2009-2010 Lakers: Kobe
2011 Mavericks: Dirk Nowitzki

Even the Finals runners-up weren't stacked ... other than the last two and a bust of a team in 2004.

2000 Pacers: Reggie Miller
2001 Sixers: Allen Iverson
2002-2003 Nets: Jason Kidd
2004 Lakers: Shaq, Kobe, Karl Malone, Gary Payton

2005 Pistons: No one

2006 Mavericks: Dirk Nowitzki
2007 Cavaliers: LeBron James
2008 Lakers: Kobe
2009 Magic: Dwight Howard
2010 Celtics: KG, Allen and Pierce
2011 Heat: LeBron, Wade

Point is, there is no reason to get up in arms that star players are teaming up. The only difference is the stars are making this happen and not owners or GMs. So step back on whining about these megateams.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Could Carolina-Kentucky End?

One of the topics of discussion during all this college conference realignment is the loss of football rivalries. We may not have Texas-Texas A&M anymore. The Pittsburgh-West Virginia Backyard Brawl may not extend. We may not have Missouri-Kansas. Even conference basketball rivalries like Syracuse-Georgetown could be gone.

But basketball non-conference rivalries could suffer. Not just rivalries, but big time matchups.

One of them is North Carolina-Kentucky.

These are two of the biggest blue bloods in college basketball. They have won 12 titles between them and their program's histories are all over the history books. Dean Smith and Adolph Rupp. Rick Pitino and Frank McGuire. Roy Williams and John Calipari. Today is the 12th straight year these two programs have met.

But it could end with expansion. Not like a Syracuse-Georgetown rivalry where one team is leaving the conference. No, it is because conference memberships are expanding which could limit the power of non-conference schedules.

Next year, the SEC will add Missouri and Texas A&M which will expand the league to 14 teams. That will most likely mean the SEC schedule will expand from 16 to 18 games. The ACC should see the same thing when Syracuse and Pittsburgh join up to the conference in 2013. With NCAA rules stating that you may only have 27 regular season games (along with a early tournament), the non-conference slate will really have to be contained. Right now, most teams have 11 games to play with. That could fall to 9 or even 7 in the near future.

So what's the impact? Well, you are going to have to pick and choose what games are most important. John Calipari tweeted to Kentucky fans if there was no other option, what non-conference rivalry would they most like to see end: North Carolina, Louisville or Indiana. The answer would most likely be UNC, since Louisville and Indiana are natural geographical rivalries that have gone on longer that the one with Carolina. The UNC-UK matchups have been big since both programs have been among the elite for most of the series, but neither fanbase would die off without it.

With possibly only 9 non conference games to schedule, you have to really be careful. While you cannot just feast on cupcakes, you do have to schedule them. Some are because you want your kids to go back to near the homes so their family can see them play. Almost all of them are only played at home to pump up the coffers. You also have that dead period in December when school is on break and there are few games played. So, as you can see, there is only a limited number of games to schedule those huge non-league battles where you face off in home-and-home series.

If you are Kentucky, you have to deal with Indiana and Louisville so that may cost you Carolina. For Carolina, you now have Syracuse and Pitt to deal with as mandatory games, so a game against Kentucky may not be warranted. With roster turnover the way it is, coaches may not want to over-schedule their teams and burn them out.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Enjoy These Rivalries While They Last

Thanksgiving weekend is usually rivalry weekend in college football. All those ancient battles we've watched over the years renew and the hatred gets reignited.

With all the conference shuffling going on, we could see some of these rivalries come to and end this year (or maybe next). Some of these are over a century old but the lure of money combined with hard feelings are forcing these games to possibly stop.

TEXAS-TEXAS A&M: These teams first met in 1894 and is one of the more intense rivalries on Thanksgiving weekend. With Texas A&M's move to the SEC, this rivalry will be dead for a while. While the Aggies want to continue the series, the Longhorns say their schedule is booked through 2018.

This is a odd ending. While Oklahoma is a bigger rival to Texas than A&M is, this was still a bitter battle. But one of the big reasons A&M left for the SEC is that they wanted to get away from big brother's shadow. Now they'll have to go it completely alone.

KANSAS-MISSOURI: The Border War is named as such because of some Civil War bad blood between the two states. Since Halloween 1891, these schools have been battling on the gridiron. With Mizzou's move to the SEC, this heated rivalry could die out. As in the Texas-Texas A&M rivalry, Kansas is shying away from continuing the Border War due to Missouri's defection to the SEC.

PITTSBURGH-WEST VIRGINIA: The Backyard Brawl could be ending this weekend as well. The two schools have met 103 times and it is one of the more unique rivalries in college football. Pittsburgh will be moving to the ACC soon, while West Virginia is moving to the Big XII. With the Big East's insistence to keep all Big East defectors in their conference for two years, this game could have a couple of battles left.

Despite both teams changing leagues, I see this game continuing. The ACC has long been able to honor those final interconference rivalry games. We see Clemson face South Carolina, Florida State face Florida and Georgia Tech take on Georgia in the final game of the season (before Virginia Tech joined the ACC, Virginia did play them on the final week as well). The ACC wouldn't mind keeping this game on Thanksgiving weekend which could help keep this game alive. Plus, since both teams are leaving the Big East, there isn't the hard feelings that other rivalries have seen.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

BCS System "Flawed"? Really??? Here's Why ...

Stanford coach David Shaw says that the BCS system is broken. Well, of course it is. And of course it is for Shaw, whose Stanford team lost to Oregon and is now all but out of the BCS championship game.

Yes, Coach Shaw, the BCS is flawed. And this year could prove it more than ever.

LSU GETS SCREWED: First off, we could see LSU be the lone undefeated (well, other than Houston). This LSU team will have had to have win the SEC West division ... which right now owns the top three ranked teams in the BCS standings. Back in the day, if LSU won the Sugar Bowl ... no matter who it was against ... they'd be national champions. Now they'd have to play a one-loss team with the winner being named champion. How is the BCS better, again?

ALABAMA GETS REMATCH: The big winner of the LSU-Arkansas tilt Saturday could be Alabama. No matter who wins, Alabama is sitting pretty. If LSU wins, that means Alabama (provided they beat Auburn) would finish 2nd in the SEC West and NOT have to play in the SEC Championship game ... which could have been a loss ... and still get to play in the BCS Championship game.

We could get an Alabama-LSU rematch for the championship. If Alabama won that game, they'd be National Champions despite splitting with LSU (both teams only loss would have been to each other), not winning their conference championship and not even winning their division. Yep, our NATIONAL Champion was neither a conference nor division champion.

***Note, I do see the irony in the statements I make about "winning conference" and all of that. I do understand that our defending Super Bowl Champion (Packers), NBA Champion (Mavericks) and World Series Champion (Cardinals) all finished in 2nd place in their divisions during the regular season. But those sports have playoffs and those sports don't harp that "every game counts". The entire point BCS backers and college football fans say is that every game counts and your season makes your champion. ***

LSU LOSES TO ARKANSAS: If Arkansas beats LSU ... there is a huge mess. If Alabama beat Auburn and won the SEC West, they'd be in the SEC title game and (with a win) the BCS title game. This is despite Arkansas beating the team that beat Alabama ... who did beat Arkansas earlier this season. And where does that leave all those one-loss teams like Stanford? Where does that leave undefeated Houston?

Not wrap your head around this: Say Arkansas barely beats LSU and Alabama beats Auburn. Most likely the BCS rankings would be Alabama #1, Arkansas #2 and LSU #3. Alabama goes to the SEC title game and somehow loses it. That would move Arkansas and LSU into the title game despite NEITHER team winning their conference or division championship. Amazing.

And what about Georgia? In this scenario, they would have beaten Alabama in the SEC title game and would have actually been the champions of the conference that house both of the BCS championship participants. Wrap your head around that.

WHERE DOES HOUSTON FIT? Every game counts? Tell Houston that when one-loss teams are playing for a title. And you wonder why all this realignment crap is going on. The BCS has caused this entire mess.

FORGET THE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME FOR A SECOND: Remember that the BCS runs five bowls ... not just the title game. While some good teams will not get a BCS bid, Louisville could. Louisville could become Big East champions with a 7-5 record.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Alabama Does Not Deserve A Rematch With LSU

One of the questions I have been asked after LSU's overtime win at Alabama is if the Crimson Tide win out, Stanford and Oklahoma State (and possibly Boise State lose) should they get another shot at LSU in the BCS title game?


No way. No how.

Look, Alabama may indeed be the second-best team in the country. They may be worthy of a shot at the national championship. But they shouldn't get one. Not after what happened last Saturday. It can't happen.

First off, Alabama likely will not win the SEC championship. To me, if you cannot win your conference, you cannot play for a national championship. The reason Bama won't win the SEC title is that they won't even win the SEC West division title. For the Tide to do so, they'd need to win out LSU to lose twice (not likely to happen).

Again, I don't see how a team can be national champions (*cough* Nebraska *cough*) if they cannot even be their conference or even division champion.

Part II? Right now Alabama ranks No. 3 in the BCS rankings ... just behind LSU and Oklahoma State. If the Okie State Cowboys lose to ... say ... Oklahoma, then Alabama would likely move to the second spot and would be in line to face LSU in a BCS title game. How in the hell is that fair to Boise State or Stanford? Or even Oklahoma or Oregon (who could be a one-loss team)? Seriously, how could Alabama pass up undefeated Stanford or Boise State?

Think about it: Alabama got their shot at LSU. Stanford and Boise didn't. Alabama got the opportunity to play LSU ... at their place ... and couldn't get it done. No matter how "classic" the game was, it isn't fair that Alabama gets two cracks at LSU when Stanford or Boise can't.

And best of all, what if Bama plays LSU in a title game and wins? Sooooooo Alabama would be National Champions because they beat LSU on a neutral field while LSU beat Alabama at their place? They'd be tied head-to-head ... with LSU winning on the road ... yet Bama could be title holder?

So let's recap. Alabama could be national champion despite not winning its conference, its division and tying the head-to-head meeting with the No. 1 team who the lost to at home ... meanwhile losing one more game than the Pac-12 champion or a hot Boise State team.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Missouri to SEC: Now The Big East Needs To Worry

One of the huge dominos in the conference expansion may be close to falling. Missouri is planning on applying to the SEC and the conference reportedly has the votes to admit them in. This is huge news that will impact the entire country.

What does this mean?

SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE. The SEC has 14 teams now, the same as the ACC. It looks as if the conference will stop at that number. All there is to do now is move one of the West teams to the East and figure out the scheduling. The team most likely to move would be Auburn, which would be quite interesting. Splitting Bama and Auburn could mean the two teams meet in the SEC title game.

SEC EAST: Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vanderbilt
SEC WEST: Alabama, Arkansas, LSU, Ole Miss, Miss State, Missouri, Texas A&M

BIG XII CONFERENCE. Now the Big XII is down to 9 teams again. They will lose A&M and Missouri and gain TCU. The league and the members want to get back to 12 teams ... meaning they must find three schools to join in. Since BYU isn't interested anymore (though the Big XII should revisit), the plan is to head east. Louisville, West Virginia and, possibly, Cincinnati should be on the list. Boise State and Air Force could be, but the MWC-CUSA merger may stop all that (more on that later).

BIG XII NORTH: Cincinnati, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Louisville, West Virginia
BIG XII SOUTH: Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas, Texas Tech.

BIG EAST. In short, done. With Missouri leaving the Big XII, the Big XII will look to loot the Big East for three teams. Right now, only six schools play football in that conference. If the Big XII rips half of that, only three remain: Rutgers, UConn and South Florida. UConn would then beg the ACC to let them in. Either way, the Big East football conference could be done. The Mountain West-Conference USA merger has kept those schools thinking twice about moving to the Big East. A raid by the Big XII would completely scare those schools off. Seriously, they'd have a better chance gaining a BCS berth with the MWC-CUSA merger than a rebuilt Big East.

ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE. While the ACC isn't in the mood to expand, if the opportunity to snag Notre Dame happens they will jump all over it. Then they will add UConn to be the 16th member. If Notre Dame gets scared into joining a conference, the ACC would be the most likely landing spot.

ACC NORTH: Boston College, Connecticut, Maryland, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Virginia, Virginia Tech
ACC SOUTH: Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina, NC State, Wake Forest

MOUNTAIN WEST AND CONFERENCE USA. In reality, neither conference is now all that concerned with being looted. For those who don't know, the MWC and C-USA have agreed to have a football alignment where the champs from both conferences will play to create a sort-of champion. They think this could entice the BCS to consider the winner to be BCS bowl worthy. It could be. It probably won't be. But it would be closer than anything the Big East could offer.

Sure, East Carolina and a few other schools could bolt for the Big East but it won't bother these conferences too much ... as long as Boise State sits still.

BIG TEN AND PAC-12. It seems as if both leagues are cool with the memberships they have. Sure, Rutgers is out there and attractive to the Big Ten but unless they can find someone to join them (and under this plan, they don't) I don't see them making any move.

Friday, October 7, 2011

NFL May Need NBA-Style Lottery System

The Kansas City Chiefs will travel to Indianapolis to face the Colts. This game could help shape these franchises for the next decade. The loser could be in the driver's seat to the No. 1 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft and be able to select one Andrew Luck.

Sure, it is only October but this is a huge game in the race for Luck.

Luck is everyone's choice to be the No. 1 pick in the upcoming draft. Even if the Colts, who just re-signed Peyton Manning to a zillion dollar deal, would take Luck first overall and develop him behind the legend ... a-la Aaron Rodgers.

With the wealth of really bad teams this year, we could see quite an interesting dynamic as the season winds down. Could teams really tank their last few games in order to gain that top pick and, therefore, Luck? Do you think that would really happen? It just may.

Remember, this is the new NFL where the top pick can't demand a huge contract he hasn't earned. The top pick scared everyone off before since you could be tied into a bust for a long time (see: Jamarcus Russell). So drafting Luck for a relatively small contract makes him even more attractive. Plus in a league that is so pass heavy right now, getting a franchise quarterback is quite a big deal.

Could we see the Colts, Chiefs, Dolphins, Vikings, Rams, Jaguars, Broncos or Seahawks tank games down the stretch to get a shot at Luck? Maybe. We could even see a team like the Carolina Panthers tank games in order to get the No. 1 pick and make a huge deal to someone who falls in love with Luck.

If we see this, the NFL may need to look at an NBA-style lottery. In the NBA, teams were tanking games in order to get the No. 1 pick. It works since the No. 1 pick in the NBA usually changes the entire dynamic of a franchise (Kareem, Magic, Shaq, LeBron, etc).

While that isn't always the case in the NFL, getting a perceived franchise quarterback is what teams are looking for. In the last 10 drafts, 8 of the top overall picks were QBs (and 10 of the last 13). While not all those guys became stars (Russell, Alex Smith, David Carr, Tim Couch) there have been some big picks (Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Michael Vick, Carson Palmer, Matthew Stafford, Sam Bradford).

Since the NBA has used the lottery, the team with the worst record in the league has won the top selection just 3 out of 27 times. Quite amazing. While tanking does give you a better chance at getting the top pick, it doesn't guarantee squat. Imagine if that happened in the NFL.

There may have to be some changes to what the NBA does. In the NBA, all non-playoff teams are eligible for the lottery. That's only 14 out of 30 teams. The NFL has 20 out of 32 teams miss the postseason. That's too many teams to put in the lottery. Maybe all teams with losing records? Maybe just the bottom 10 teams? Who knows, but the NFL may need to implement something to keep from watching teams rob their fans by tanking games.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

TCU to Big XII: Big XII's Shoots First Against Big East

The Big XII has invited TCU to join their conference and the school is reportedly ready to accept. That means that TCU, who is currently in the Mountain West Conference and were set to join the Big East conference in 2012, will be moving yet again.

It is huge for both TCU and the Big XII. For TCU, they still get to be in a BCS conference and one that looks like it should live on after all this craziness ends. They get to rejoin old Southwest Conference rivalries with Texas Tech, Texas and Baylor. Also, it would keep TCU from having to join a Big East conference that geographically could cripple other sports (especially basketball).

For the Big XII, they got their 10th member to replace Texas A&M ... who is leaving for the SEC next year. The league would still be stuck at nine if Missouri joins the SEC as well, but it would make the conference healthy enough to go after three more schools.

For the Big East ... well ... they are in deep trouble.

This is the second conference that has come calling for a Big East school. The ACC lured Pittsburgh and Syracuse from the Big East a month ago. UConn has all but fawned over joining the ACC as well and Rutgers could join them. West Virginia is on the short list for the SEC, not to mention the Big XII could come calling for them as well.

It could get worse. If Missouri indeed does leave for the SEC, the Big XII would want to add three more schools to their conference. BYU is one, but Louisville and West Virginia could be others (Cincinnati falls in there as well). That would all but kill the Big East as a football conference.

This is quite a move considering what has happened in the last several weeks.

In the Great Expansion Race, both the Big East and Big XII seemed to be on the last legs. Once the Pac-10-12-16 decided to stay put at 12 members, that kept the Big XII intact (for now). When both conferences were facing extinction, the two league got together and were talking about a "merger". By "merger", the stronger conference would gobble up the lesser one. Up until the Pac-12's decision, it was thought that Iowa State, Baylor, Kansas and Kansas State would join the Big East ... which TCU was set to be a member of. Now the Big XII is a bit stronger and they could come after two or three Big East schools to get to the XII in Big XII.

The fact that the Big XII went ahead and did this is both cold and a smart decision. This puts the ball back in the Big XII's court and makes it more likely the conference will survive this mess. It pretty much writes the obituary for the Big East as well.

The Big East, right now, is left with UConn, Rutgers, West Virginia, Louisville, Cincinnati and South Florida. Pittsburgh, Syracuse and TCU have left. UConn and Rutgers would love to leave to join the ACC (UConn is more likely to be invited). West Virginia would leave in a heartbeat for the SEC or Big XII. Louisville will also most likely be asked to leave for the Big XII.

While the Big East could conceivably rebuild around Cincinnati, South Florida, Villanova (who is thinking about stepping up to FBS status) and any other schools that stick around, their status as a BCS conference would probably be over. They'd have to raid Conference USA, MAC and/or the Sun Belt to even form a league. And adding East Carolina, Memphis and Marshall just doesn't bring sexy back to the conference. The reality could be that ECU, Memphis and Marshall wouldn't be that interested in moving to a broken Big East even for the basketball prestige. You may just see Cincinnati and South Florida join the MAC or C-USA in football and stay in the Big East for basketball.

The fact that TCU bailed on the Big East without ever playing a game as a member of that conference says it all.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Big East Needs To Shut Its Mouth And Remember The Past

Boo-hoo to the Big East. Boo-hoo.


With the news that Syracuse and Pittsburgh are leaving the Big East conference ... I'm sorry , BIG EAST Conference ... for the ACC, all the Big East honks are upset. "They're raiding us again!" "The ACC has no respect for our league!" "Cuse and Pitt are greedy!" Blah blah blah.

We heard it all before, nearly a decade ago, when Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College all left the Big East for the ACC. The move was met with lawsuits (which included both Va Tech and BC ... who later withdrew when they found out it was them, not Syracuse, that were getting to go to the ACC). The Big East cried and cried and cried and cried.

They said it was the end of the Big East as we know it. They said that it couldn't survive. Cried and cried and cried.

When they wiped their tears, they decided to, ya know, do the EXACT SAME THING to Conference USA. They took Louisville, Cincinnati and South Florida ... as well as basketball schools DePaul and Marquette. Those, along with Memphis, were the premiere programs in the C-USA. The C-USA had to then raid the WAC to replace those schools.

I know, I know, the Big East had to do that to survive as a conference. I did that. But, wait, why would the Big East worry about Miami or Virginia Tech leaving their conference?

Remember that the Big East added Miami in the early 1990s so they could form a football conference. Remember that the Big East was a basketball-only league whose football teams played Division I-AA ball. Heck, Miami didn't even have a hoops team for quite some time until 1985.

Virginia Tech? They were also added to the league in 1991 (for football only. In 2000, they were invited for all sports). They also added Rutgers and West Virginia to create this football league. Those schools came from the Atlantic 10 or elsewhere.

Why would the Big East do this? Hmmmm. Why would they form a football conference when only Syracuse, Boston College and Pitt were the only schools with a Division I football program? Hmmmm.

Oh, and Pitt joined the Big East in 1982. Ya know, expansion. Pitt was playing in the Eastern Eight conference. That's now known as the Atlantic 10.

Yeah, the BIG EAST loves picking on the Atlantic 10.

Know your roll.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

UConn Wants Into ACC

Syracuse and Pittsburgh on their way to the ACC, another Big East school wants to move with them. UConn is aggressively trying to get into the ACC.

It makes sense for everyone involved. For UConn, they'd jump from the sinking Big East ship and get their name out there before the ACC attempts to go after, say, Texas and move away from the coast. They'd stay in a BCS conference in a football league that they can still compete in.

For the ACC, it adds a huge market -- New York City -- to the mix. With Syracuse already on board and Rutgers on the radar, the ACC would be the conference most associated to the Tri-State area. It would add another elite basketball program that would unquestionably make the ACC the best hoops conference again. UNC, Duke, Syracuse, UConn and Pitt??? Not too shabby. That would make UNC, Duke, NC State, Maryland, Syracuse and UConn have a combined 16 NCAA tournament championships between them.

The ACC would also further bridge the geographical gap that currently exists between Maryland and Boston College ... the conference's two northern-most schools. Adding UConn to Syracuse and Pitt would certainly do that.

This would also make the ACC the elite conference on the eastern seaboard. They would own the markets of Boston, New York, Washington, Charlotte, Atlanta, Miami and Tampa. It would be THE conference of New England, New York, Virginia/Maryland, the Carolinas and split with Georgia and Florida (of the three powers in Florida, the ACC would house two of the schools).

UConn Wants Into The ACC

Syracuse and Pittsburgh on their way to the ACC, another Big East school wants to move with them. UConn is aggressively trying to get into the ACC.

It makes sense for everyone involved. For UConn, they'd jump from the sinking Big East ship and get their name out there before the ACC attempts to go after, say, Texas and move away from the coast. They'd stay in a BCS conference in a football league that they can still compete in.

For the ACC, it adds a huge market -- New York City -- to the mix. With Syracuse already on board and Rutgers on the radar, the ACC would be the conference most associated to the Tri-State area. It would add another elite basketball program that would unquestionably make the ACC the best hoops conference again. UNC, Duke, Syracuse, UConn and Pitt??? Not too shabby. That would make UNC, Duke, NC State, Maryland, Syracuse and UConn have a combined 16 NCAA tournament championships between them.

The ACC would also further bridge the geographical gap that currently exists between Maryland and Boston College ... the conference's two northern-most schools. Adding UConn to Syracuse and Pitt would certainly do that.

This would also make the ACC the elite conference on the eastern seaboard. They would own the markets of Boston, New York, Washington, Charlotte, Atlanta, Miami and Tampa. It would be THE conference of New England, New York, Virginia/Maryland, the Carolinas and split with Georgia and Florida (of the three powers in Florida, the ACC would house two of the schools).

Saturday, September 17, 2011

What Would Be Best For Big East and Big XII Schools?

Okay, with word that Syracuse and Pittsburgh have applied to become a member of the ACC, it all but signals the end of either the Big East or Big XII. The first punch has been thrown and the Big East is stumbling. The Big XII is waiting on what Oklahoma is going to do ... and with the ACC making their move it is all but certain that the Big XII is in trouble.

So what should the members of each conference do? Let's start with the Big East:

CONNECTICUT: UConn is in an enviable position. With their proximity to New York City, their recent BCS bowl appearance and their top level basketball program, the Huskies will be highly sought after and could pick where they want to go instead of settling. The Big Ten could come calling (they are going to have to find 4 teams somewhere to form their super-conference). The ACC most certainly will. Money-wise, it makes sense to go to the Big Ten, but for the program, the ACC fits better.

WEST VIRGINIA: If the SEC is adding a 14th member, West Virginia should top their list. This recent move by Pitt and Syracuse should move this along.

RUTGERS: Despite not really being a elite program in either football or basketball, Rutgers will be sought after by both the Big Ten and ACC. They fit both conference's academic priorities and bring the NYC crowd with them. I think the Big Ten wins out if they do decide to expand. If not, they will be an ACC school.

LOUISVILLE: L'ville is in a real interesting situation. I could see the ACC trying to lure them in, along with UConn, to join their league. L'ville has the hoops pedigree that would really mesh with the ACC and a, at times, decent football program. I doubt the Big Ten would be interested, but there's a chance. If the ACC doesn't come calling, Louisville could be forced to stay in the Big East and be in the same boat as South Florida (see below).

SOUTH FLORIDA: USF is in a tough spot. No one really needs them at all. The ACC and SEC already have members in Florida and I doubt the Big Ten is interested (though they could be). The Bulls may have to hope the Big East rebuilds using scraps from other conferences (some Big XII leftovers, MAC and C-USA).

CINCINNATI: The Bearcats are in the same boat. The Big Ten won't want them for several reasons and between them, Rutgers and Louisville, they are the ACC's last choice. If no ACC invite happens, Cincy may have to be part of a rebuilt Big East.

TCU: Awwww man! TCU finally made it to the big time by agreeing to join the Big East in 2012. However, if the Big East gets slammed during realignment then they should lose their BCS standing. Now TCU is in complete limbo. They can't crawl back to the Mountain West, can they? Anyone else could come calling. The SEC could try to lure them in to get a partner for Texas A&M, though that would hurt the Aggies program by having a second Texas school. The Pac-12 could be interested if Texas and Texas Tech aren't coming. I think the Big Ten would be the most interesting option. They fit the conference's academic profile and would get the Big Ten into Texas.

NOTRE DAME: Now, this isn't that much of a big deal to the Irish. If Notre Dame does decide to become a member of a conference football-wise, the Big Ten makes all the sense in the world. But Notre Dame likes their independent status and it feels stronger than ever about that. So it could stay in the Big East as a non-football member and still enjoy what will be a decent hoops conference (Georgetown, St. John's, Providence, DePaul, Marquette, Villanova and Seton Hall with possibly Louisville and/or Cincinnati staying). Notre Dame stays.

Now, let's look at what the Big XII schools may end up doing.

OKLAHOMA: Barring something unforseen, the Sooners are heading to the Pac-12/14/16. With the Big XII so shaky, Oklahoma is in the driver's seat to create their own destiny.

OKLAHOMA STATE: They will go with Oklahoma.

TEXAS: The Horns would rather not go west, but they may end up having to if they want to stay in a conference. Though they were talking with the ACC, it seems that the ACC is going in a different direction. The SEC would probably not happen with the bad blood with Texas A&M. I think Texas' best move would be stay independent in football and join the Big East in basketball, ala Notre Dame. If they don't think they could pull that off, they will be joining the Oklahoma schools in the Pac-16.

TEXAS TECH: Tech sure hopes so, and they would benefit by joining them. If Texas doesn't do that, Tech could be in some trouble. The Pac-16 could still be interested, but it could be unlikely. The SEC could be interested if they want to get another Texas team. Tech is truly up in the air.

MISSOURI: The Tigers are actually in a good spot. They fit in both the SEC and Big Ten and both should inquire about them. They'd make more sense in the Big Ten, though the prestige of the SEC would be too much to pass up.

KANSAS: Imagine the Jayhawks basketball program having nowhere to go. The Big Ten may add them, though it wouldn't want K State tagging along. If the Big Ten is scrambling to add a 16th team, they may have to. The SEC probably ain't happening. Kansas could just join that revamped Big East. If not, the Mountain West may be the way to go.

KANSAS STATE: K State is hoping they get to go where Kansas goes. That would most likely mean the new Big East, though that isn't a given. None of the super conferences are all that interested in the Wildcats. They could see if the Mountain West or WAC could use them.

BAYLOR: Baylor, along with Iowa State, has already asked the Big East to take a look at them if they are trying to rebuild their football league. That could happen, despite the want for Iowa State, just so they can field a football conference and not watch Louisville, Cincinnati and TCU leave. If not, the Mountain West would be the best bet.

IOWA STATE: Sorry to say this, but no one wants Iowa State. The Big East could lob them a call just so they can have a football conference. The Mountain West could be interested if they want to get to a 12-16 team league.

This all should mean the Big XII is done. Unless Oklahoma and Texas decide to stick it out (which doesn't seem likely), this conference is gone. The extras will most likely merge with the Big East and form a loose football conference yet keep their lofty basketball league. A football conference could look like this: Baylor, Cincinnati, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Louisville and South Florida with the league looking to add someone else. Temple? Marshall? East Carolina? Someone will jump at it. The basketball league would be interesting as well:

EAST: Georgetown, Notre Dame, Providence, Seton Hall, South Florida, St. John's, Villanova, Temple/Marshall, ECU
WEST: Baylor, Cincinnati, DePaul, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Louisville, Marquette

Syracuse, Pitt May Join ACC

There is a report that Syracuse and Pittsburgh are in talks to join the Atlantic Coast Conference.
This is very interesting on two counts. One, the ACC have been surprisingly quiet during all the recent conference expansion talk. That was until earlier this week when rumors of the ACC's courtship of Texas got some good run. While landing Texas would be huge for the conference, it is also a longshot ... at least in comparison to raiding the Big East again.

Adding Syracuse and Pittsburgh is a no-brainer. Both are outstanding schools who fit into the ACC's reputation of academics. Both bring solid football programs to the mix. Of course, both bring outstanding basketball programs into an already legendary hoops conference. Imagine a conference with North Carolina, Duke, Pitt and Syracuse ... with past champions NC State and Maryland. Unreal.

For Syracuse and Pitt, they are getting into the ACC at the right time. By striking early, they will be able to (a) get into the ACC before the conference explores grabbing Texas, which would also force them to add a few more Texas-area schools, (b) get out of the Big East before it crumbles from the inevitable raids from other conferences and (c) shows the current ACC members that the conference is a power player still and there is no reasons to leave. I don't think any will, but you know the SEC may look at a few of the ACC's programs.

For the ACC, this certainly won't be the end. They seriously courted Syracuse in the early part of the 2000s but political pressure forced Virginia Tech into the ACC. This is the first time I've heard Pitt mentioned as a serious candidate, but a smart on. From here, the ACC could look to add UConn (another smart move) and possibly a school like Rutgers. West Virginia will most likely be gobbled up by the SEC with Louisville and Cincinnati hoping to land somewhere. If the Big Ten comes calling for Rutgers (which could happen), either L'ville or Cincy could fill the void. TCU is a wildcard here, though I don't see the ACC running after them.

This would be huge for the ACC. While none of those schools they could gain in these scenarios are huge football powerhouses, the ACC may not need them to be. If we do, indeed, enter the era of mega-conferences, than the ACC will be lined up with the Big Ten, Pac-16 and SEC and won't have to worry about their place at the table. They know they'd be the weakest of that bunch, but who cares? They'll be better off than they are right now as the 5th best BCS conference.

But basketball-wise, this is a coup. Again, this would be a hoops conference with UNC, Duke, UConn, Syracuse and Pitt with solid programs like Florida State, NC State, Maryland, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech. The conference would house Hall Of Fame coaches Roy Williams, Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Boeheim and Jim Calhoun. The ACC would take its place as the top basketball conference.

Then figure the ACC would then have programs in Boston (BC), Metro New York (UConn, Rutgers), Washington DC (Maryland), Pittsburgh, Atlanta (G Tech) and Miami. Not to mention cities like Charlotte and Tampa in the area.

The conference could split into a North and South divisional setup.

NORTH: Boston College, Maryland, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Syracuse, UConn, Virginia, Virginia Tech
SOUTH: Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina, NC State, Wake Forest

Friday, September 9, 2011

West Virginia Should Be Next On SEC's Radar

With the SEC maybe/kinda/sorta adding Texas A&M to their conference, the next step is finding a 14th team (then maybe a 15th or 16th team). It really shouldn't be all that difficult.

Forget raiding the ACC. The SEC has no reason to do so and really would have a hard time doing it. Clemson? Florida State? Miami? Georgia Tech? That wouldn't expand the SEC's footprint at all. The conference already has South Carolina, Florida and Georgia and would probably anger those schools if the add to their territories. The North Carolina schools? No way would any of them leave each other. Maryland, Virginia and Boston College make little sense to add. Virginia Tech would be a nice find, but the Hokies have a perfect thing going with the ACC. They have been the dominant team since the ACC expanded -- why would they give that up?

Also ... and I know this gets thrown to the curb ... but the ACC schools do value the educational value of the conference. To be lumped in with Duke, Wake Forest, Virginia, North Carolina, Boston College, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech is a big deal. That's not the slight the other schools, but those are some premiere institutes of higher learning.

So the SEC must look elsewhere.

They could keep looking west at other Big XII schools but do any of them make sense? Texas wouldn't join the SEC now. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State seem resigned to join the Pac-12/16 if things get bad. You can't add Baylor or Texas Tech because, again, you would just duplicate that area (plus Tech will pair up with the Longhorns wherever they go). Missouri just isn't sexy enough to add but could be a fit if they can't find anyone else. I'm not sure any other Big XII school works for them (though Kansas would make SEC hoops much more interesting).

I honestly believe the Big XII will survive. If anything, we are seeing the Big XII act in unison over this whole A&M deal. There is buzz that BYU would love to join the conference and that would be quite a get for the league. If that happens, expect the Big XII to stay alive for a while.

The league that looks like it could get pillaged is the Big East. To me, the SEC would be smart to add West Virginia.

West Virginia is a perfect fit for the SEC. They are a big state school who are nuts about their football team. While the state of West Virginia really isn't that big of a get as far as audience wise, you still get some love in western Pennsylvania and the northern Virginia/DC area.

West Virginia brings a very solid football program. They have been the Big East's best team since the big expansion of a few years ago. Don't you think some of those fertile western PA guys might take a look at going a bit south if they know they'll be in the SEC? Of course. They will not disappoint the football side of things.

Basketball-wise, this is a program that went to a Final Four two years ago. They have Jerry West, for crying out loud. Just imagine how a West Virginia-Kentucky hoops rivalry could materialize.

It just makes perfect sense.

Friday, August 19, 2011

College Athletics CAN NOT Be Fixed

It is pretty simple, really. College sports is broken beyond repair. I mean, it still works in the main aspect, but in reality it is all a sham.

Just look over the past week. The University of Miami is in the middle of a storm that some say could force the NCAA to bring back the "death penalty" (which shuts a program down completely for a few years). A booster/jock sniffer told a reporter in jail that he has basically been funding both the program and the players in it. There's too much to get into on this, but to be brief, Miami is in a bunch of trouble.

This comes a few days after Texas A&M decides they were leaving the Big XII for the SEC. That was news to the SEC who had to release a statement saying they are cool with the current 12-school membership.

For now.

Oh ... and remember that our defending national football champion has a stink of scandal all over them after word that Cam Newton's dad wanted some cash for his son. The team they beat in the BCS title game, Oregon, is now embroiled in a recruiting scandal.

College basketball? UConn won the NCAA Tournament last year despite their coach's impending smackdown. We can travel to USC, North Carolina, Ohio State, Memphis, Georgia Tech ... so forth and so on.

None of this will change. It won't. The NCAA can think they are on the ball with this but it is obvious they aren't. If they were, no one would be trying to do these things. They know they can and, honestly, the risk of penalty isn't all that bad on the bottom line. Sure, loss of scholarships, TV appearances, bowl money and all of that sucks ... but if you succeeded on the field during that time, it pretty much paid for itself. I mean, the Reggie Bush era will be a black mark for the USC football program forever. But the team did win and the program re-emerged into elite status which is well worth it.

It is that fact ... and the fact that the world isn't what it once was to you baby boomers (more on that) ... why college sports will not change "back" into what it was once viewed as.

Don't get me wrong, this isn't a new thing. Rewind back 20 years ago and we had UNLV's hoops team in a hot tub with a known fixer, Miami was under heat, Tulane suffered the death penalty in basketball, SMU was coming off of it in football, Free Shoes University, NC State (among other teams) had point shaving scandals and teams all over the country starting switching conferences.

Go back 50 years and we had the CCNY scandal, Kentucky basketball scandals and the same kind of corruption of young, broke kids by wealthy adults.

The difference today is the money is SO big, the opportunities are SO vast and the information is SO quick. We know a lot more information and lot quicker than we have ever been able to do. More people want to shine and are willing to (a) buy their way into the spotlight and (b) roll over on everyone when the get the chance. Kids are more famous quicker (seriously, did we have any kind of recruiting knowledge 20 years ago? Now John Wall is a legend before he graduates high school) and the hangers-on are more prevalent.

And in a time where money is tight everywhere, those who have money to burn are gods.

See, that won't go away without some drastic change. By that, I mean the "death penalty" may need to make a comeback. That is the kind of deterrent that makes ADs and chancellors make sure who they have running the program and who is around it.

Right now it is a joke. John Calipari ... who has never been fingered in anything but seems to have smoke following around him everywhere he goes ... is beloved in Kentucky because he wins. He has brought the swagger back to the Wildcats. Sure, if a guy gets caught with his hand in the cookie jar, it really won't cost the program much. Again, the risk pales in comparison to the reward. A death penalty would really damage a program's ability to survive as well as damaging their reputation.

But it won't happen. Not anymore. Throwing the death penalty on, say, Miami would sting the ACC and open up all kinds of cans of worms. I mean, the ACC wouldn't be able to hold a conference championship game with just 11 teams competing (it is a rule). Miami is one of their most well-known football programs and the entire conference would take a huge hit. Could networks then cry foul since they paid for league rights with the thought of the Canes in it? And if the ACC sees it happen one of their teams then you better believe it would be willing to smack down someone else. Since the commissioners of these conferences are essentially calling the shots, the death penalty stays in the closet.

So when the next incident gets a light shined on it ... don't act surprised.

And, honestly, don't get mad. What, if you were an 18 year college athlete you wouldn't accept gifts, parties, girls and money? Especially when you are reading about all these schools who are jumping ship and breaking traditions so they can bunk up with some of that fat television money. Who cares if you are TCU and you will have to drag your kids from the Dallas area to New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida, New York and West Virginia every year. Who cares about lost classes then, eh? That's okay because it is worth it when they bank a ton of money from being in a BCS conference.

And that is your lesson, kiddies. It is only cheating when you get caught ... and in college, you usually don't get caught until you are long out of school.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

ACC's Football Expansion Has Been a Failure

With the college football season coming up, we'll get to see a lot of old faces in some new places. Nebraska is in the Big Ten. Utah and Colorado is in the new Pac-12. Boise State moves to the Mountain West and BYU is an independent.

Now there are rumors that Texas A&M is set to bolt the Big XII for the SEC. Though the SEC has said they aren't looking to expand right now, it still may off another chain reaction that could force conferences and schools to look for bigger better deals.

Remember that this started less than a decade ago when the ACC saw the future as being football and decided to raid the Big East. Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College all eventually joined the ACC making the historically hoops conference into a hopeful football power. Miami and Virginia Tech join Florida State as top tier football programs. Boston College joins Clemson and Georgia Tech as schools who have a nice football history.

The ACC had dreams of Florida State and Miami meeting for the ACC title. They felt they were ahead of the curve by making this bold move. And they were.

The problem is that the ACC was trying to become a big dog in the world of college football. Once conferences that already had that clout starting waving it around last summer, a whole new landscape was formed. One that will both pass the ACC by and actually force the conference to become weaker.

Two of the schools being mentioned in a possible move to the SEC (joining Texas A&M) is Florida State and Clemson. Neither improves the SEC's footing in either area (Florida and South Carolina may have some beef with this move) but both have rabid fan bases and bring two solid programs who've won national championships to the SEC.

What that would do to the ACC could be catastrophic. Obviously the ACC would have to look outside to find a couple of replacements. Staying a 10-team conference would be stupid since the whole point of all this mess was the ACC's attempt to gain a 12-team league and football clout.

But where would the ACC go for two new teams? There is no way any SEC, Big Ten or, obviously, Pac-12 team would join. Of course no Mountain West or WAC team would join. That leaves the Big East, which the ACC has a rocky relationship with already with that whole raid thing several years ago.

West Virginia? Syracuse? Rutgers? South Florida? UConn? Who would they go after and more importantly would any of them even want to come.

See, the Big East offers the same thing as the ACC, if not better. A historically awesome hoops conference who has a seat at the BCS table. But the Big East deal is better since on the basketball side of things, the conference is so powerful and deep that they get tons of teams into the NCAA Tournament. On the football side, there is no championship game to get through for a shot at BCS glory. I mean, Cincinnati, Pitt and UConn all made BCS appearances in recent years. In the ACC, you still have to get through Miami (for now) and Virginia Tech (for now) to get a league title.

The ACC pre-expansion was a great basketball conference that was very tight knit and a decent football conference. Now, they are a weakened hoops conference with a decent football side.

To me, a lifelong ACC fan, this has been a disaster. Expansion watered down the basketball side of things (though UNC and Duke have won a total of three titles since the expansion started).

I'm not saying that all this wouldn't be happening to the ACC had they not started raiding the Big East a decade ago, but it would be less embarrassing and we'd still have basketball.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Could Mack Brown Return to North Carolina?

The University of North Carolina football program is in shambles. Heck, their athletic department has taken quite a hit. With hefty sanctions most likely coming down the pike, the firing of head football coach Butch Davis and the resignation/retirement of AD Dick Braddour the Tar Heels pigskin program has gone rogue.

One rumor that has been floated around is bringing back a coaching legend to either coach the football team or run the entire athletic department. That man: Mack Brown.

I know. I know. Why would Mack Brown ever leave Texas to go back to Carolina?

Could/would/should Brown return to North Carolina? It’s a great question. Some have figured Brown eventually would become the Texas athletic director, but DeLoss Dodds just keeps going and going. No reason to think the Longhorn AD job will be open any time soon.

Now suddenly the AD job is open at Carolina, where Brown coached the Tar Heels for 10 seasons, 1988-97, including 10-win seasons his final two years. And the AD job is not only open, it’s open with the opportunity for the new AD to hire a new football coach. Baddour said he will stay on the job until a new AD is hired but that he wants the new AD to name the new coach.
It is quite interesting to think about. Like the article said, Brown could receive a cushy AD job at one of the premiere universities in the country (not to mention helming one of the best athletic programs over many sports: men's and women's basketball, baseball, men's and women's soccer, lacrosse, etc). He'd get to pick his own coach, get the run the program how he wants and not have to do all that recruiting, coaching and all the other stuff that engulfs a football coach's life.

It would be tough to give up Texas. Sure, the Longhorns had a rough 2010 and 2011 isn't much more promising. But Brown brought a championship to the big dog school in a state that bleeds football. A school that all but owns the Big XII and will be launching their new television network. That's tough to pass up.

Still, any interest between Mack Brown and UNC should be mutual.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Butch Davis Fired ... Finally

Butch Davis was finally fired as the head football coach for the University of North Carolina. What he leaves behind is a burning mess that will take a long time to rebuild from.

First off, Davis needed to be fired. You can't have all these kinds of violations in your program and not have to pay for it. A couple of wayward events are one thing, but all this crap that happened on his watch means he just had to go. I'm just disappointed that it wasn't done sooner ... but I guess they had to get their ducks all in a row.

In his rear view mirror is a program that will take years to recover. They will most assuredly be on some sort of penalty (postseason ban, scholarships, TV) that will keep a big name coach away and, in turn, some big name recruits. A proud university now has dirt on those baby blue helmets.

As a Tar Heels fan, I don't like any of this crap and feel that wiping out the Butch Davis era ... even if it results in a down period for the football team. I don't like being embarrassed to be a fan of any team ... especially one that let this stuff go on.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Amazing Catch From 9-Year Old

What a catch by this kid!!! It is 9-year old Jayden making an amazing diving catch in a youth baseball game.

Wonder if he's ever heard of Willie Mays? Kenny Lofton? Ken Griffey Jr? Jim Edmonds? Maybe we'll hear from young Jayden in a few decades chasing down fly balls in the majors.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Amazing Catch By 9-Year Old

What a catch by this kid!!! It is 9-year old Jayden making an amazing diving catch in a youth baseball game.

Wonder if he's ever heard of Willie Mays? Kenny Lofton? Ken Griffey Jr? Jim Edmonds? Maybe we'll hear from young Jayden in a few decades chasing down fly balls in the majors.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Best Pre-Race Invocation Ever!!!!

This has to be the best pre-race invocation ever.

Pastor Joe Nelms of the Family Baptist Church delivered the invocation before the Federated Auto Parts 300 Nationwide Series race in Nashville, Tennessee. This is something straight out of Ricky Bobby's mouth.

The best part? When he thanks the Lord for his "smokin' hot wife". Beautiful!!!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

How Should Big East Re-align?

Rick Pitino mentioned that the Big East may need to look at splitting into two divisions when TCU arrives next summer. His point being that in basketball, there are tons of scheduling quirks that are really not fair (note: Louisville has quite a slate this coming season).

Let me be clear: I think that no basketball league should be in divisions. The Big East will just schedule an 18-game season where you play the other 16 teams once and two of them twice. If they expand again, I can see playing everyone once and one "rival" twice.

But there is some buzz about trying to split into two divisions. The obvious way to split is the way Pitino mentioned -- football schools in one division and non-football schools in the other.

I: Cincinnati, Louisville, Pitt, Rutgers, South Florida, Syracuse, TCU, UConn, West Virginia
II: DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Notre Dame, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John's, Villanova

There are flaws in this, however. For one, the I division has nine teams while II has eight teams. If they hold a true round-robin, then one division plays 16 games while the other plays 14. Also, some rivalries would be broken (but, hey, that's what all this football movement has done to basketball all over the place anyways).

Not to mention that Division I would lose their trips to St. John's and Seton Hall ... meaning Rutgers would be their lone link to the NYC area. They'd also miss out on Georgetown, DePaul and Villanova which means they'd be without a footing in D.C., Chicago and Philadelphia. Division II would miss out on the addition of TCU (Texas area). It just doesn't make sense.

But how else could you realign? Geography? Possibly but you'd still come up with those same issues.

WEST: Cincinnati, DePaul, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Pitt, South Florida, TCU, West Virginia
EAST: Georgetown, Providence, Rutgers, Seton Hall, St. John's, Syracuse, UConn, Villanova

Again, the West would miss out on the NYC, D.C. and Philly areas and the unbalanced schedule remains. It would also split up Pitt from the rest of the old school members. Hmmm.

How about this realignment?

I: Georgetown, Pitt, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John's, Syracuse, UConn, Villanova
II: Cincinnati, DePaul, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Rutgers, South Florida, TCU, West Virginia

If you didn't notice, the Division I would corral up the old school members (the bulk of the first half of the Big East's life) while the Division II would house all the "expansion" schools. Again, there are quirks to this just like all of the scenarios.

Last one. To kind of rid the whole "region" thing ... let's split everyone up:

I: Cincinnati, DePaul, Georgetown, Pitt, Providence, South Florida, St. John's, Syracuse
II: Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Rutgers, Seton Hall, TCU, UConn, Villanova, West Virginia

There's no rhyme or reason why I put whom where. I did try to split up those "areas" so everyone gets some sort of shot. DePaul-Marquette? Split so that each team has a shot at that area.

See, it's hard to get this worked out in a fair way. Just add an 18th school, have a round robin of playing everyone once but your rival twice. It's the most fair deal.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Ranking the No. 1 Overall NBA Draft Picks During The Lottery Era

Yao Ming is retiring, which makes me want to revisit my list of top No. 1 draft picks during the lottery era (1985-present). So here we go.

26-Michael Olowokandi, Clippers (1998): To me, he's the worst top pick in the history of the draft. No one heard of him until just before the draft and no one has heard from him since.

25-Pervis Ellison, Kings (1989): He was Olowokandi a decade earlier. Though the '89 draft wasn't very special, there were a lot of players with much better careers than "Never Nervous".

24-Kwame Brown, Wizards (2001): The main reason why there is an age limit now. Michael Jordan and the Wizards way overreached with Brown. Especially when Tyson Chandler and Pau Gasol ... the big men on the last three NBA champions ... were taken directly behind him.

23-Andrea Bargnani, Raptors (2006): He's been in the league long enough to reach some potential. Seriously, most people forget he is in the League and most forget he was a No. 1 draft pick.

22-Greg Oden, Blazers (2007): Injuries have damaged his career and everyone's opinion of him. He's done okay when he can play (about 25% of the time). It doesn't help when Kevin Durant was selected right behind you and watching him lead the Thunder to the Western Conference Finals.

21-Andrew Bogut, Bucks (2005): Has potential but no one sees him play. A few years ago, it looked as if he was set to launch but he's still stuck in neutral. Great rebounder but lacking as a scorer. Again, when guys like Deron Williams and Chris Paul are selected No. 3 and No. 4 then it hurts you.

20-Joe Smith, Warriors (1995): He never was a star, but stuck around the league as a role player. The four guys picked behind him? McDyess, Stackhouse, Sheed and KG. I have a soft spot for him since we were born on the exact same day.

19-John Wall (2010): He has all the talent, but he's only got one year in the L.

18-Danny Manning, Clippers (1988): Injuries derailed his career, but man could he ball when he was right.

17-Kenyon Martin, Nets (2000): K-Mart was a force before his knees gave out on him. Is this sort of sounding familiar?

16-Elton Brand, Bulls (1999): The Bulls' other top pick has had his moments but hasn't been able to be a winner yet. He's having a very non-descript career.

15-Larry Johnson, Hornets (1991): His career only lasted a decade but he was a big part of the Hornets surge and a Knicks Finals team. Extra points for Grandmama.

14-Blake Griffin (2009): Again, just one year into the league but he has put his stamp on it. A fierce dunker and an instant YouTube favorite, The Blake Show has given us quite a taste on what's to come.

13-Glen Robinson, Bucks (1994): People forget that he averaged 20 ppg for his career.

12-Derrick Coleman, Nets (1990): That's Coleman for ya. He'd be up a bit farther if he actually cared to be. Still, he may be the O.G. of the perimeter power forwards.

11-Brad Daugherty, Cavaliers (1986): Another short career due to back problems. Still, he led the Cavs during their pre-LeBron hey-day.

10-Chris Webber, Warriors (1993): We are reaching the borderline Hall of Fame players now. C-Webb was a monster but I cooled on him with his lack-of-clutchness.

9-Derrick Rose (2008): Just a few years in and already the NBA's MVP. He has become the prototype of what NBA teams are looking for in a point guard.

8-Dwight Howard, Magic (2004): He has a lot to learn offensively, but he is extremely young and seems to be on the right path. A defensive enforcer, maybe a change of scenery will benefit him?

7-Yao Ming, Rockets (2002): Injuries killed his career but his importance has been on the globalization of the game. Yao's short career was well worth it as it got that lucrative Chinese market for the NBA. Seriously, that's one of the biggest factors why he's up here.

6-Patrick Ewing, Knicks (1985): The first definite Hall of Famer. The O.G. of lottery picks.

5-David Robinson, Spurs (1987): He dominated the league like few players have. A great role model and an outstanding career.

4-Allen Iverson, Sixers (1996): He may be pound for pound the best scorer in league history. Sure, the end of the road seems a bit slimey, but there has been no player like him in NBA history. Rose may turn into him in some ways.

3-LeBron James, Cavaliers (2003): His ceiling places him above some of the others. Yeah, we all hate what he did to the Cavs last summer, but LBJ is still one of the greatest players the NBA has ever seen.

2-Tim Duncan, Spurs (1997): Four rings, two MVPs. Respect from everyone in the league.

1-Shaquille O'Neal, Magic (1992): He may be the best player selected in the lottery era regardless of which pick. To me, he's an easy No 1 of the top picks. One of the true giants in the game in every sense.

Forget "The Decision", Remember the 1996 Lakers

Today is the one year anniversary of LeBron James' "Decision". That was the day that LeBron stomped on Cleveland's heart and took his talents to South Beach to play with the Miami Heat.

People in the sports world are reminiscing over The Decision and the impact it had over the past year (not to mention the impact it will have on the future of the NBA). That's cool, but the only problem I'm having is calling LeBron's decision "the biggest free agent move in sports history" and how Pat Riley reeled off the greatest offseason a GM/President has ever had.

Sorry, but I disagree.

Let's look back to 1996. That year, the Los Angeles Lakers were coming off a pretty good season. They were 53-29, placing them 4th in the Western Conference standings and lost to the Houston Rockets in the first round of the playoffs. Remember that this was also the season that Magic Johnson came out of retirement to finish off the season.

The stars of this team? Cedric Ceballos, Nick Van Exel, Vlade Divac, Elden Campbell, George Lynch and Eddie Jones.

In that 1996 offseason, Lakers GM Jerry West went to work. He sent away some of his players for nothing (like Lynch and Anthony Peeler) just to clear up money to sign Shaq. It worked . O'Neal signed for $121M to change coasts and turning the NBA on its ear. This may change, but Shaq is a much bigger figure in the history of the NBA than LeBron is on pace to be.

One of the other salary dumping moves was dealing Vlade Divac (who wouldn't be needed if they did get Shaq) to the Charlotte Hornets for the draft rights to Kobe Bryant. How did that work out?

Let's see: Anthony Peeler, George Lynch, Vlade Divac for Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant? Quite impressive indeed. That turned into three championships combined for Shaq and Kobe and two more Kobe won without Shaq.

Oh ... I forgot to mention that Jerry West used the No. 24 pick in the 1996 NBA Draft to select Derek Fisher out of Arkansas-Little Rock.

Not a shabby offseason.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Nine Stadiums/Arenas That Need To Be Blown Up

Let's get to ol' ball and chain out. No, no, we're not taking our wives anywhere, but we're checking out all those pro sports stadiums that just need to go away. A wrecking ball can take care of it.

Now, some of these places are beloved and some are just ridiculed. This isn't a run on what teams need a new stadium/arena (such as the Florida Marlins) but the stadiums themselves.

NO 9-FENWAY PARK: Here we go. Yeah, sure, I'm another non-Bostonian who doesn't understand how great and important Fenway Park is to the people. Well, I'm sure that those same people don't understand how there have been many stadiums and arenas that were beloved ... yet replaced. I'm a Reds fan and the Reds won the 1975 World Series in Fenway Park. Riverfront Stadium hosted one of the greatest teams in baseball history, three World Series Champions and two Bengals teams that reached the Super Bowl. But the stadium became outdated and replaced by a much better stadium.

Even the Yankees got this. For all the memories Fenway Park may have produced, Yankee Stadium produced much more. It was replaced. So was Shea Stadium, who saw the Miracle Mets and that amazing 1986 Series. The Lakers left the Forum. The Celtics left Boston Garden, Tigers left Tiger Stadium. The Redskins left RFK Stadium. It isn't like it hasn't happened pretty much everywhere.

Fenway Park is uncomfortable and ancient. The "team of the 2000s" needs a stadium worthy of it. Keep the look the same you want, just make it better for the fans, players and employees there. Maybe Sox fans won't love a new stadium as much as the old one (that happens too) but it will be in the best interest of everyone.

NO 8-TARGET CENTER: The Wolves home is about two decades old, but it hasn't held up well. Please let them move to the Xcel Center in St Paul.

NO 7-ALAMODOME: Why is it even here? The Spurs have moved on to the dark, dank AT&T Center and the Alamodome has no real tenants. And never will.

NO 6-BRADLEY CENTER: When the college team down the street has a sweet arena and yours looks like a funeral home ...

NO 5-O.CO COLISUEM: Oh, that's the newest name to that monstrosity in Oakland. One of the very few stadiums to host both NFL and MLB, I've heard nothing but horrible things about it. I'm sure it doesn't matter during football season, but it is a tomb when the A's play.

NO 4-CANDLESTICK PARK: Let's stay in the Bay Area. The Stick wasn't the greatest of baseball stadiums and it certainly isn't one of the better football stadiums. One of those old school outdoor convertable stadiums, the site lines due to the baseball configuration are horrendous. How can a franchise like the 49ers not have a palace to play in instead of some old fixer-upper?

NO 3-TROPICANA FIELD: Okay, it is a conversation piece when looking at it from the outside. On the inside? Well, let's just say that it isn't designed for baseball. It has no atmosphere and when you have the catwalks impact play ... that's garbage.

NO 2-METRODOME: This is obviously a horrible stadium. It's so bad that the Twins rather play in freezing temps than keep dealing with the Hefty bag outfield wall. Now that the Vikings are the lone tenant, it has gotten worse. I mean, how does a roof in Minnesota cave in from snow? Shouldn't that have been part of the planning?

NO 1 - NASSAU COLISEUM: This "arena" has needed to be put out of its misery for quite a while now. Various owners have been trying to find a way to either replace or renovate the arena for over a decade with no success. To put it bluntly, it looks like one of those old malls that no one goes to anymore. To think a New York team has to play in this crap-hole is mind boggling.

Friday, July 1, 2011

NBA Lockout WILL Get Outta Hand

Understand this: the NFL and NBA lockouts have nothing in common. What they're fighting about really isn't the same thing. And how it plays out and what both sides can do are totally different.

The NBA lockout is truly Armageddon. There is no way the NBA season starts on time in November. There is no way the NBA will play another game in 2011. For those of you out there who think we'll just have a 50 game season as we did in 1998-1999 ... that's very, very wishful thinking.

The truth of the matter is that both sides are completely dug in. The owners don't just want money back -- they want a lot of money back. They want to limit guaranteed contracts ... both in money and in length. They want to limit free agency in a way. They say they are losing money (whether you really believe that or not) and the league isn't viable with the current system nor a few quick fixes to the system.

Commish David Stern pretty much drew the line in the sand when he said that he isn't shocked about the lockout and was already "resigned" to the fact that they could lose all of the 2011-2012 season.

Here is where this lockout will differ from the NFL lockout ... or pretty much any lockout you could think of.

It will be hard to bully the players.

The players are paid, on average, more money than any other pro sport and average more money per player than any union in the nation. From the things I've heard, the Players Association has done a fantastic job over the last two years relaying the message that this lockout would happen and it will be quite a lengthy one. Players have been saving their money and are in better position now more than ever to deal with no paychecks.

By the way, the first paycheck players would lose wouldn't be until November 15th ... so that's a long time before the players will feel ANY affect of this lockout.

The ones who've made their money ... just like in any sport ... can afford the missed checks. It is usually the lower end players that feel the pinch and struggle to stay on board with the issues. That's what the NFL is working towards and how the NHL crushed their players union in the mid 2000s. There are plenty of players who are barely treading water.

However, these players have options. See, basketball is a global game and there is money all over the place. If you are a player feeling the pinch of the lockout, you can just go to Europe, China or any of the various leagues out there that would love to add a player like that. Again, they're not getting LeBron, Kobe or Dwight but they'd be getting an NBA calibar player who certainly can help the organization.

So bleeding the players dry would be a lot harder than the owners think it will be. Word is that the NBA wants an NHL-type lockout where the NHL cancelled an entire season and, in turn, pressured the players into a total overhaul of the economic system. Six current NBA owners were NHL owners during that mess and they've seen how it worked out better for them. The NBA, however, will have a bigger problem with that.

Yeah, NHL players could've played overseas too, but they didn't already average around $5M per player nor does NHL players have any of the marketability that the NBA players enjoy. See, Nike will still run ads for Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, etc. Those ads will still be out there and those endorsement dollars aren't going anywhere.

That's not to say that players won't feel the pain of losing money. That isn't to say that David Stern and the 30 teams will break down and take whatever the players offer. What I'm saying is that it will take quite a bit more bullying to make the players flinch.

And when they do, it could be 2012 already.

It's Moving Day For NCAA!

Happy July 1st! That means we are officially entering the second half of the year. It also begins a lot of government fiscal years. Oh, and it means all those crazy moves college teams and conferences are official.

So welcome Nebraska to the Big Ten!

Welcome Colorado and Utah to the Pac-12. Uh, welcome Pac-12!

Welcome Boise State to the Mountain West ... which will look a lot like the WAC in another year.

Welcome to the freedom of being an independent, BYU!

We also say hello to the Pac-12 championship game and goodbye to the Big XII title game.

Go to those conference websites and they all welcome their newest members. Now teams like Nebraska, Colorado, Utah and Boise State are changing out many memories of their old conferences. They enter their new leagues ready to make their mark and counting all the dollars made by doing so.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Lay Off Chad Ochocinco, Will Ya?

Let's be clear: I'm certainly not a Chad Johnson (err Ochocinco) fan nor am I a fan of the Cincinnati Bengals. I think Chad has been overrated as a receiver and a lot of his whining has been lame to say the least.

Now people are all over him for running around doing whatever this summer. He has ridden a bull. He tried out for an MLS team. Currently he's working on Jeff Burton's pit crew. So what?

Look, if we all had the opportunity to fulfill our bucket lists ... who can fault us for doing so? If I dreamed of those things, I wouldn't like it if people felt I shouldn't do them.

Yeah, I get the bull riding thing probably made the Bengals a bit nervous. But the owners locked the players out so they have no say in what these guys do during their time off. For an NFL player, this is like a vacation. Things they couldn't or weren't allowed to do are now happening. Want to act in a movie or TV show? Go for it. Want to ride in a race car? Do it. Want to sky dive? It's yours.

I can't fault Chad for taking advantage of his time off. People tend to say "yeah, but he has an offseason every year to do these things". Not true. Remember that an NFL offseason isn't as long as you think for the players. Also, a lot of these things they are contractually forbidden to do in order to keep their guys healthy. But with the players locked out and not getting paid, those forbidden fruits are ripe to be plucked.

I mean, isn't that the whole point to being rich and famous? To be able to do all the cool stuff you've always wanted to do? So why get on him about it?

Save your boos for the regular season when he lets you down in uniform.