Monday, January 31, 2011

Sportz Assassin's "45 Stops to Super Bowl XLV"

It's that time of year again!!! Super Bowl week is upon us! That means it is time for my 45 STOPS TO SUPER BOWL XLV.

Every year, I place little tid-bits, factoids, stats and just weird little nuggets of information to help get you through the week as well as gear you up for the big game.

Go thru the link and discover all of it. Find out what my six best Super Bowls were. Find out which five Super Bowls I think sucked! See what the record is for teams who pick off a pass for a TD in the Super Bowl is. See how successful teams who wear white jerseys in the Super Bowl have been.

Realize just how odd last year's Saints victory over the Colts was in Super Bowl lore. Understand just how important losing the coin toss is.

Find out what other channels are showing opposite the Super Bowl. Are you or someone you love a non-football fan? Well, you can just print out this list of clever things to say so that person will feel like they fit in. You can also see how much consumption actually goes on during Super Bowl parties.

I'll even show you how to win a free pizza!

So, please click on the link and enjoy all of the interesting facts surrounding Super Bowl XLV!!

Sportz Assassin's "45 Stops to Super Bowl XLV"

It's that time of year again!!! Super Bowl week is upon us! That means it is time for my 45 STOPS TO SUPER BOWL XLV.

Every year, I place little tid-bits, factoids, stats and just weird little nuggets of information to help get you through the week as well as gear you up for the big game.

Go thru the link and discover all of it. Find out what my six best Super Bowls were. Find out which five Super Bowls I think sucked! See what the record is for teams who pick off a pass for a TD in the Super Bowl is. See how successful teams who wear white jerseys in the Super Bowl have been.

Realize just how odd last year's Saints victory over the Colts was in Super Bowl lore. Understand just how important losing the coin toss is.

Find out what other channels are showing opposite the Super Bowl. Are you or someone you love a non-football fan? Well, you can just print out this list of clever things to say so that person will feel like they fit in. You can also see how much consumption actually goes on during Super Bowl parties.

I'll even show you how to win a free pizza!

So, please click on the link and enjoy all of the interesting facts surrounding Super Bowl XLV!!

45 Stops to Super Bowl XLV: #1-#5

The "45 Stops to Super Bowl XLV" is a series that will feature stories, stats and interesting trivia that you can use to act smart as you prepare for Super Bowl XLV. I've done this on SPORTZASSASSIN.COM for Super Bowls XL, XLI, XLIII, XLIV and for AOL's FanHouse for Super Bowl XLII.

#1-ENJOY THE GAME: Enjoy this Super Bowl because it could be the last NFL game you'll see in a while.

It's no secret that the collective bargaining agreement expires in March and both sides are gearing towards a war. In this era of betting and fantasy football, this could really burn fans in a bad way. So we may not see NFL games as we're accustomed to.

We won't see those offseason workouts, OTAs and all the rest. Those free agent signings? Gone. In their place will be talks of meetings between lawyers and representatives. Instead of Tom Brady, we'll be hearing from Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith. We won't see ESPN reporting from camps, we'll see them reporting at some hotel where both sides are meeting. We'll see "experts" giving their opinion on what is happening and what they think will happen. With the NBA heading towards the same doom, we really could get sick of hearing about labor negotiations. Especially when people are really hurting for jobs out there in the real world ... listening to rich players and wealthy owners fight about zillions of dollars doesn't resonate with the common man.

Football does and we need to enjoy it while we can.

#2-NO CHEERLEADERS: Barring something unforseen, Super Bowl XLV will be the first Super Bowl without cheerleaders. The teams supply their cheerleading squads for the game. Well, the Packers and Steelers are two of the six NFL franchises that don't employ cheerleaders.

The only other teams without cheerleaders are the Browns, Lions, Giants and Bears. Three of those teams are in the NFC and the other is the Browns.

If the NFL wants to have cheerleaders there, they should see if there are other options. One could be bringing in the Cowboys cheerleaders (the game is in Dallas) and dress them up in some Super Bowl-ish colors (silver seems to be the main one). Maybe they could get a cheerleading squad from one of the local colleges?

#3-OTHER SPORTS: ABC will air the Magic-Celtics game. That will be one of just four NBA games on tap (Clippers-Heat, Pacers-Nets, 76ers-Knicks).

There will be 13 college hoops games as well. Televised games include ESPN showing top-ranked Ohio State at Minnesota at 2pm. Michigan State takes on Wisconsin on CBS at 1pm. FoxSportsNet will show the Florida State-North Carolina game at 2pm. The only other game of note is Rutgers-Notre Dame.

There are also three NHL games ... including NBC's national coverage of the Penguins-Capitals game. The Devils-Canadiens and Blues-Lightning both play at 3pm.

#4-SUPER BOWL ADS: I know that ... aside from the game ... the big calling card to the Super Bowl is the commercials. We all love watching the funny ones, the poignant ones and the wastefully stupid ones. Go back in time to watch some classic Super Bowl ads.

Movies could be the big water cooler chatter come Monday morning. Thor, Transformers: Dark Of the Moon, Kung Fu Panda 2, Captain America: First Avenger, Pirates Of the Carribean: On Stranger Tides, Super 8 and Cowboys and Aliens will all have their trailers shown either during the pregame, postgame or during the game.

Word is that Anheuser Busch has bought exclusive rights to the Super Bowl until 2014 and will feature a commercial for Stella Artois.

Also look for Volkswagen to use LucasFilm to help promote their 2012 Beetle and Passat. The Passat commercial will have some Star Wars connections. The Beetle ... one of the most anticipated automotive debuts in a while ... will not be actually shown in the commercial.

There are rumors of a Best Buy commercial featureing Justin Bieber and Ozzy Osborne. There is also buzz that Rosanne could be featured in a Snickers commercial similar to the breakout ad featuring Betty White last year. Kim Kardashian reportedly has a smoking hot Sketchers ad.

#5-ALL TIME SERIES: The Packers and Steelers have met 33 times with Green Bay winning 19 of them. Pittsburgh has won 7 of the last 10 meetings, including a 37-36 shootout last season. Green Bay won the first 9 meetings.

Green Bay has outscored Pittsburgh 768 to 583 since their first meeting in 1933.

The two cities have some rivalry to them. The Pirates and Wisconsin's Brewers both play in the National League Central.

45 Stops to Super Bowl XLV: #6-#10

The "45 Stops to Super Bowl XLV" is a series that will feature stories, stats and interesting trivia that you can use to act smart as you prepare for Super Bowl XLV. I've done this on SPORTZASSASSIN.COM for Super Bowls XL, XLI, XLIII, XLIV and for AOL's FanHouse for Super Bowl XLII.

#6-SIX BEST SUPER BOWLS: Here are what I believe are the five best Super Bowls, ever. You can debate this all you want (which is fine), but these five were all great games with exciting finishes and are memorable in one way or another.

1-Super Bowl XXV: This was a great matchup in every way. With a backdrop of war, this game had all kinds of emotion as the game began (thanks, Whitney). That vaunted Bills offense against the stuffy Giants defense. The lead changed times on four occassions. In the end, an old guy like Ottis Anderson ate up the clock and Scott Norwood missed the only time the winner of the Super Bowl came down to the final play (even if Vinatieri missed those Pats FGs, the games would've went into overtime). Giants defensive coordinator Bill Belichick's defensive gameplan for this game in enshrined at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

2-Super Bowl XLII: Yes, the Giants take the top two spots. Their amazing run just to get to the Super Bowl and matching the undefeated Patriots blow-for-blow. Eli Manning's escape and David Tyree's catch has become one of the top plays in Super Bowl history. Second biggest upset ever.

3-Super Bowl XXXIV: Not only was this a surreal matchup (remember that St. Louis and Tennessee weren't NFL cities six years earlier), but some cat named Kurt Warner was shredding up this game. The Titans staged one heck of a comeback (they were down 16-0) to have it ripped away from them on a bomb to Issac Bruce. Also, it had one of the greatest endings any football game could ever have.

4-Super Bowl XXIII: There were so many game changing moments in this one. Remember that the only times the 49ers led this game was at 3-0 ... and after Joe Montana's pass to John Taylor at the end of the game. Cincinnati had this one, but Super Joe took it away.

5-Super Bowl XXXVIII: The problem with this Super Bowl is that the 1st and 3rd quarters sucked. However, the 2nd and 4th were just outstanding! In the fourth quarter alone, there were 37 points scored ... which is a Super Bowl record for points scored in a quarter. It was just the second to have five TDs scored (the Redskins did that by themselves 16 years earlier). And it ended with an Adam Vinatieri field goal with :04 left. Oh, and we got a little nipple action at halftime.

6-Super Bowl XLIII: What a game this was. You had the ultimate game changer with the interception and 99-yard return for a TD at the end of the first half. You had Arizona's miraculous comeback to take a lead late in the game. Then you had Pittsburgh's Big Ben Roethlisberger finding Santonio Holmes for a wonderful game winning score.
#7-THEY KNOW EACH OTHER: There are quite a bit of familiarity between these two teams. Current Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers held the same position in Pittsburgh in the early 1990s. Packers linebackers coach Kevin Greene played in Super Bowl XXX for the Steelers. Darren Perry, the Packers secondary coach, also played in that Super Bowl and was a coach with the Steelers in their Super Bowl XL victory.

Steelers punter Jeremy Kapinos spent the past two seasons with the Packers. Green Bay fullback John Kuhn played for the Steelers in 2005 and 2006. Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthey grew up in Pittsburgh and coached at the University of Pitt.
#8-STILL HAVEN'T WON ONE: With the Saints getting to the Super Bowl last year, there are now four franchises that have never appeared in a Super Bowl (Lions, Browns, Jaguars and Texans). But there are ten others that have never won the Super Bowl in any of their appearances. They are the Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, Tennessee Titans, San Diego Chargers, Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals. The Bills and Vikings have lost four games apiece; the Bengals and Eagles have each lost two. The rest lost on their only trip.

And while the Jaguars (1995) and Texans (2002) haven't been to the big game, they don't have quite the drought as some other franchises. The Jets haven't been to the Super Bowl since the 1968 season. The Chiefs went to two of the first four Super Bowls but their last appearance was after the 1969 season.

It's been a while since the Vikings (1976), Dolphins (1984), Bengals (1988) and Redskins (1991) have been there as well.
#9-SUPER BOWL DATES: Here are just a few dumb notes about Super Bowl dates. Super Bowl XXIX was and will always be the only Super Bowl that was played on the same day (29) as the Roman numeral of the game. January 26th is the most popular date for a Super Bowl as a record four games have been played on that date. And, if you go in order from the earliest date (January 9th) to the latest (February 7th), the only days to not have held the Super Bowl are January 10, 19, 23 and February 2.

This will be the second Super Bowl held on February 6th.

Jan 9-XI
Jan 11-IV
Jan 12-III, IX
Jan 13-VIII
Jan 14-II, VII
Jan 15-I, XII
Jan 16-VI
Jan 17-V
Jan 18-X
Jan 20-XIV, XIX
Jan 21-XIII
Jan 24-XVI
Jan 27-XXV
Jan 29-XXIX
Feb 4-XLI
Feb 5-XL
Feb 7-XLIV
#10-SUPER BOWL ICONS: It's odd that the Packers and Steelers have never met before in a Super Bowl. Pittsburgh is making their record-tying 8th trip to the big game while Green Bay is back for a 5th time.

The AFC teams with the most appearances are the Steelers (8), Patriots (6), Broncos (6), Raiders (5) and Dolphins (5). The NFC teams with the most appearances are the Cowboys (8), Niners (5), Packers (5) and Redskins (5). Those 9 teams have all been to at least 5 Super Bowls.

Here are the matchups we've seen between those teams:

Steelers-Cowboys (3 times)
Dolphins-Redskins (2 times)

We get to see the Steelers-Packers finally. Interesting that we haven't had a Steelers-Niners Super Bowl. Or Raiders-Cowboys. Or Patriots-Cowboys. Patriots-Niners.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

45 Stops to Super Bowl XLV: #11-#15

The "45 Stops to Super Bowl XLV" is a series that will feature stories, stats and interesting trivia that you can use to act smart as you prepare for Super Bowl XLV. I've done this on SPORTZASSASSIN.COM for Super Bowls XL, XLI, XLIII, XLIV and for AOL's FanHouse for Super Bowl XLII.

#11-DON'T TRAIL BY DOUBLE DIGITS: Teams that are facing a double-digit deficit are 2-39. A couple things are interesting about that stat. First, the only teams to come back from a 10-point deficit and win is the 1987 Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XXII and the New Orleans Saints last year. The Skins trailed 10-0 before scoring the next 42 points. The Saints scored 31 of the next 38 points after trailing 10-0. That also makes those Super Bowls the only ones where both teams faced a double digit deficit. Also, it is quite amazing that 39 of 44 Super Bowls have seen one team go up by at least 10 at some point in the game.

#12-SOME MORE STATITUDES: Here is another piece of trivia for you. There has been at least one successful field goal in 42 of 44 Super Bowls.

Teams that have been shut out for one half (either the first or second) are a combined 1-18. The lone winner was those 1972 Dolphins who went scoreless in the second half of Super Bowl VII.

Only one Super Bowl featured teams from the same state. Super Bowl XXIX between the Chargers and 49ers. The Giants and Bills both are "New York" teams, but the Giants play their home games in New Jersey.

Also, teams that intercept a pass for a TD are 10-0 in the Super Bowl. No losing team has returned a pick-six.

#13-CAN WE GET A PUNT RETURN? There has never been a punt returned for a touchdown in Super Bowl history. However, there have been three blocked punts that have been returned for scores.

#14-THE FIVE WORST SUPER BOWLS: 1-Super Bowl V: This one was nicknamed the "Blunder Bowl" for good reason. There were 11 turnovers in the game with the Colts ... who won ... committing seven of them. The Dallas Cowboys were called for 10 penalties. This game sucked so bad that the MVP award was given to Chuck Howley ... of the losing Cowboys (the only time the Super Bowl MVP played for the losing team). Sure, Jim O'Brien kicked the game winning field goal at the end of the game ... but even that was set up by a turnover.

2-Super Bowl XII: Dallas was in yet another sloppy game. Good thing that the Broncos were sloppier (Denver turned the ball over eight times ... and completed just eight passes). Denver QB Craig Morton was horrible -- he completed just four of 15 passes for 39 yards and four interceptions. Yikes! There was also lingering questions about the IRS checking into his tax returns. Both teams combined for 20 penalties.

3-Super Bowl XL: It was a ho-hum game that's only excitement came on an Antwaan Randle-El touchdown pass to Hines Ward. That's pretty all the Steelers had: three big plays that ended up with TDs (the above play, a Willie Parker 75-yd TD run and an awkward pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Ward). Seattle shot themselves in the foot with bad penalties, bad red zone efficiency and turnovers. The game is one of the most controversial as many people felt that the Seahawks had a lot of bad calls go against them. Big Ben's QB rating is the lowest by any Super Bowl winning quarterback.

4-Super Bowl XX: The Bears dominated and we all loved seeing the Fridge plop into the endzone. Still, this looked like an exhibition game against a local high school team than a Super Bowl. Chicago dominated this game with their defense and made Pats QB Tony Eason look foolish (he is the only starting QB to not complete a pass). There have been several blowouts in Super Bowl history, but this is the only one where the losing team looked like it had no business being there. The saddest thing is that Walter Payton didn't get a shot at running in a TD. Jim McMahon snuck in a TD twice and the Fridge got a shot ... but not Walter. A shame.

5-Super Bowl VII: The one where the Dolphins completed the perfect season? A dud. Miami is the only team to be shut out for an entire half and still win the game. The Phins got out to a 14-0 lead before halftime and hung on for the win. If not for that botched field goal attempt (where Miami kicker Garo Yepremian's "pass" was picked off by Mike Bass and returned for a TD), the Redskins would've been the only team shut out in Super Bowl history. That score, with 2:07 left in the game, is the longest it has taken for a Super Bowl team to score.

#15-SUPER BOWL MVP'S IN CANTON: Winners of 22 Super Bowl MVP awards have gone on to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. You have Bart Starr (twice), Joe Namath, Len Dawson, Roger Staubach, Larry Csonka, Franco Harris, Lynn Swann, Fred Biletnikoff, Randy White, Terry Bradshaw (twice), Joe Montana (three times), John Riggins, Marcus Allen, Troy Aikman, Steve Young, Jerry Rice, Emmitt Smith and John Elway. Other winners, like Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Ray Lewis can look forward to seeing their busts in Canton one day (that hikes the number up to 26). Drew Brees also has a shot at the Hall.

Granted, not all winners of the Super Bowl MVP award go on to anything much. Guys like Larry Brown, Harvey Martin, Dexter Jackson, Desmond Howard, Mark Rypien, Deion Branch and Jake Scott have also won the award and the Hall is no where in their future.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

45 Stops to Super Bowl XLV: #16-#20

The "45 Stops to Super Bowl XLV" is a series that will feature stories, stats and interesting trivia that you can use to act smart as you prepare for Super Bowl XLV. I've done this on SPORTZASSASSIN.COM for Super Bowls XL, XLI, XLIII, XLIV and for AOL's FanHouse for Super Bowl XLII.

#16-LIST OF SUPER BOWL NO-NAMES: Below are guys that made their names in the Super Bowl. Some of these guys were pretty good NFLers before their breakout games ... some we haven't heard of before or since ... but performing well on the biggest of stages makes them legends.

Doug Williams (Redskins): It wasn't that Williams was a no-name as much as things really didn't pan out for him. Dude really came off the scrap heap. Williams did nothing much of note in his first years at Tampa Bay or in his USFL stint. Redskins coach Joe Gibbs (who coached Doug in Tampa) gave him a shot in 1986 to back up Jay Schroeder. In '87, Schroeder had some shoulder issues late in the season and Williams did a good job taking over. So much so that there was a QB controversy. Williams got the nod and the rest is history.What Williams did in the 2nd quarter of Super Bowl XXII is nothing short of remarkable. He was 9-of-11 for 228 yards and 4 TDs. Again, that was just in the 2nd quarter! Williams would win the game's MVP and become the first (and only, so far) black quarterback to win a Super Bowl.

Timmy Smith (Redskins): If Doug Williams didn't win the MVP, Smith would have. Smith rushed for 204 yards (still a Super Bowl record) and two TDs. Coming into the game, Smith had rushed for just 129 yards that season. His career lasted just 15 games after the Super Bowl.

Max McGee (Packers): McGee is famous for his pre-Super Bowl I partying. With Boyd Dowler injured early in the game, a hung-over McGee would step in and catch the first TD pass in Super Bowl history. He would go on to catch seven passes for 138 yards and two TDs ... three more receptions than he had all season long.

Jeff Hostetler (Giants): People forget that Phil Simms didn't start the G-men's second Super Bowl title. Simms hurt his ankle late in the season and Hoss took it the rest of the way. He had the least amount of playing time of any QB to start a Super Bowl. He held up well, throwing for 222 yds and a TD.

Dan Bunz (49ers): The linebacker was instrumental in the greatest goal line stand in Super Bowl history, stuffing the Bengals four times with goal to go. The defining play was Bunz' tackle on a swing pass to Charles Alexander on third down (he was also in on the stop on fourth down).

Larry Brown (Cowboys): The running joke after Super Bowl XXX was that Brown was the Steelers' Neil O'Donnell's favorite target. Too bad he played for the other team. Brown picked off two O'Donnell throws ... his final game with Dallas. He used the MVP award to get a nice fat contract with the Raiders and did nothing much of note after the fact.

Dwight Smith (Buccaneers): If Brown won an MVP award for picking off two passes ... why didn't Smith win won for taking two picks back for TDs? He was a nickelback used a lot in a game where (a) Oakland's offensive attack warranted it and (b) the Raiders were so far behind that they had to take chances. Why ....

Dexter Jackson (Buccaneers): ... because Smith's second TD came in the closing seconds after the ballots had already been counted. Jackson had picked off two passes himself (none that went for TDs) that were momentum changers. And Jackson wouldn't have won the award either if not for fan voting taking place in the game (Simeon Rice was the press' pick).

Percy Howard (Cowboys): Never heard of him? Well, Howard came into Super Bowl X and caught a 34-yd touchdown pass from Roger Staubach. That was the only reception he had in his entire career.

Don Beebe (Bills): Beebe has been on six Super Bowl teams ... but will be remembered most for running down Leon Lett and stripping the ball right before crossing the endzone in Super Bowl XXVII.

#17-RELOCATING TO TITLES: The Colts (Baltimore/Indianapolis) are one of two teams to win a Super Bowl in two different cities. The other team is the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders. The St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams have been to Super Bowls from two different cities and join the Colts as the only franchises to lose Super Bowls in two different cities.

#18-ALTERNATE VIEWING: You don't like the Super Bowl? Well why are you reading this? But if you're wife (or husband) isn't interested in the big game, here are a few things for your alternate viewing pleasure:

STYLE: Jerseylicious marathon
E!: Sex and the City marathon
BRAVO: Real Housewives marathon
SPIKE: 1,000 Ways to Die marathon
USA: Law & Order: SVU marathon
SyFy: Ghost Hunters marathon
AMC: Terminator 2: Judgement Day
LOGO: RuPaul Drag Race marathon
DISCOVERY: Gold Rush: Alaska marathon
TLC: Toddlers and Tiaras marathon
TEEN NICK: Degrassi marathon
TV LAND: Bewitched marathon
TV1: Sanford and Son marathon
MTV: Jersey Shore and Teen Mom 2
VH1: Basketball Wives marathon
MSNBC: Sex Slaves: The Teen Trade

#19-WEARING WHITE IS THE KEY: Since the Green Bay Packers are designated the home team, they will be wearing their home green jerseys for the Super Bowl. That means the Steelers will go with their white jerseys. In fact, the team that has worn white uniforms has won the last six Super Bowls (Saints, Steelers, Giants, Colts, Steelers, Patriots). Green Bay is trying to become the first team to win a Super Bowl while wearing a green uniform since the Packers beat the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI.

#20-THINGS NON FOOTBALL FANS CAN SAY TO BLEND IN: Look, I know that there are people in America that will be attending Super Bowl parties because ... well, they love to party. Some won't know who's playing in the game until they get there. I've also come to find that there are actually guys out there that get dragged to Super Bowl parties because of their women (that's sad). Don't worry. So the diehards around the party who actually care about the game won't think you're a wuss, I'm here to help.

Here are a few vague quotes that you can use so you fit in among the football fans. You don't have to engage in a conversation with these, just drop these in from time to time the rest of us don't make fun of you once you leave. Just print this out, study it and you will at look somewhat less wimpish around the real men at the Super Bowl party.

"The Steelers just need to limit turnovers and control the clock if they want to pull the upset."

"That Aaron Rodgers has been on fire over the last six weeks or so!"

"These is a classic Super Bowl matchup."

"You just gotta convert those third downs!"

"Don't sleep on this kid Starks!"

"Whomever said defense wins championships would love this Super Bowl!"

"Third and long? I'd blitz."

"I wonder what Brett Favre is thinking right now."

"I got a few bucks on this game."

"Damnit! I left my squares sheet at home!"

"Big Ben has made quite a turnaround after such a tough offseason!"

When there is a penalty called for holding, just say, "yeah, he was tackling him!"

"You think Brett Favre is gonna really retire?"

"That's why the call Green Bay 'Titletown'."

"I wonder what Jerry Jones is thinking."

Use only in a close game: "This could come down to who has the ball last."

Friday, January 28, 2011

45 Stops to Super Bowl XLV: #21-#25

The "45 Stops to Super Bowl XLV" is a series that will feature stories, stats and interesting trivia that you can use to act smart as you prepare for Super Bowl XLV. I've done this on SPORTZASSASSIN.COM for Super Bowls XL, XLI, XLIII, XLIV and for AOL's FanHouse for Super Bowl XLII.

#21-SUPER BOWL XLIV WENT AGAINST THE GRAIN: Last year's Super Bowl was extremely odd for a variety of reasons. To be honest, most of things you know that are staples in the big game went away. For instance:

-The Saints became the first team to kick an onside kick before the 4th quarter.

-Saints Garrett Hartley became the first kicker to make three FGs of 40 yds or longer

-It was the first Super Bowl in Dolphin Stadium history to NOT have a kick returned for a TD.

-The Saints became just the 2nd team to win a Super Bowl after (a) trailing at the half and (b) failing to score a TD in the first half.

-The Saints were just the 7th team to win a Super Bowl when trailing heading into the 4th quarter.

-The Saints matched the 1987 Redskins as the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history. Both teams trailed 10-0 before turning things around and winning the game.

-The Saints became the first team to ever defeat three QBs in the playoffs who had previously won a Super Bowl. They beat Kurt Warner, then Brett Favre and then Peyton Manning to cash in the title.

-The Saints quarterbacks coach Joe Lombardi became the first family member to win the trophy that has his grandfather's name

#22-NFC OWNS THE COIN TOSS: The NFC has won the coin toss an amazing 13 straight seasons. I mean, it makes no sense. In half of those games, the AFC team called the toss and lost.

#23-DON'T WIN THE COIN TOSS: The team that wins the opening coin toss is just 21-23 in the game. That averages out to ... well ... the flip of a coin. However, the coin toss winner has been the Super Bowl loser in 10 of the last 14 games.

SB 44: Saints won the toss ... and the game
SB 43: Cardinals won the toss, lost the game*
SB 42: Giants won the toss ... and the game
SB 41: Bears won the toss, lost the game
SB 40: Seahawks won the toss, lost the game
SB 39: Eagles won the toss, lost the game
SB 38: Panthers won the toss, lost the game
SB 37: Buccaneers won the toss ... and the game
SB 36: Rams won the toss, lost the game
SB 35: Giants won the toss, lost the game
SB 34: Rams won the toss ... and the game
SB 33: Falcons won the toss, lost the game
SB 32: Packers won the toss, lost the game
SB 31: Patriots won the toss, lost the game

*A little aside to this is that the Arizona Cardinals won the toss and deferred to the second half. The Steelers chose to receive which means the Cards were the first team in Super Bowl history to win the coin toss and kickoff.

#24-NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE UNDERDOG: This year, the Steelers are a slight underdog and this may be one of the most even matchups we've seen in a Super Bowl in quite some time. But we have seen some big dog upsets.

Here is a short list of some notable upsets:

Super Bowl III: The Baltimore Colts came in as 18-point favorites. They left watching the Jets' Joe Namath fulfilling his prediction of an upset.

Super Bowl IV: The Kansas City Chiefs spanked the Minnesota Vikings, despite being a 12-point underdog.

Super Bowl VII: Oddly, the undefeated Miami Dolphins entered the game as 1.5-point underdogs to the Washington Redskins.

Super Bowl XXV: The Buffalo Bills would begin their four game Super Bowl losing streak by succumbing to the Giants, who were 7-point dogs.

Super Bowl XXXII: The Denver Broncos, an 11.5-point underdog, ended the AFC's thirteen game losing streak by beating Green Bay.

Super Bowl XXXVI: These New England Patriots began their dynasty by beating the St. Louis Rams, who were 14-point favorites.

Super Bowl XLII: The 12-point dog Giants ended the Patriots perfect season with a magical game.

See, it can happen. Just because we all think one way doesn't mean we cannot be shocked. After all, those 2001 Rams were juggernauts who were former champions and were heavy favorites. They left without the trophy.

#25-BUT DON'T DISMISS THE FAVORITES: Yeah, there are upsets, but don't count on them. The favorite has won eight of the last 12 Super Bowls. In fact the favorite is 30-14 in the Super Bowl. Teams favored by at least 7 points are 19-6.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

NASCAR's New Point System Could Be Better

NASCAR unveiled its new points system. It's much simpler, acting a lot like those Associated Press and ESPN Coaches polls for college sports. With 43 drivers in a race, the winner of an event gets 43 points. Second place gets 42 points. And so on down the line until the 43rd position gets 1 point.

The race winner also gets 3 bonus points. They will also get a point for leading a lap (as would anyone in the race). Whomever leads the most laps will gain another point.

I like where this thinking is headed ... but it didn't go all the way. The points system had to be made simpler as no one really understands who gets what and when. Now, it seems rather easier to know.

However, winning isn't as important as being consistent.

Race winners should get 50 points no matter what. Give them 50 points and make second place 42 pts and so on. Get rid of the "leading a lap" bonus. You really don't need that. Then award the driver who led the most laps with 2 bonus points. That seems more fair.

They did a little bit to help winning. The top 10 drivers in points clinch a spot in the Chase For the Cup. The two "wildcards" will be the two drivers with the most wins in the 11-20 range. That would mean you could have guys on the bubble really attempting to win races instead of "racing not to lose." Other than that, the "racing not to lose" still applies. Especially in the Chase.

In fact, it will get worse during the Chase. No one will take any type of chance during the Chase because falling flat in a race has much bigger consequences than it did before.

Under the old format, the winner of a race received at least 190 points (195 if he led the most laps) with 34 points going to the guy who finishes in last place. That means finishing in last means you got just 18% of the points the winner did. The winner gained 5 1/2 times more points that the last place finisher.

The new rules means that the last place finisher got just 2% of the points the winner got. The winner gained 47 times more points than the last place finisher.

That seems fair for the people winning races ... but without any clear advantage in winning above finishing second, it makes more sense to concentrate more on NOT finishing near the bottom than finishing near the top. Basically it isn't worth risking winning a race if you could get knocked in the bottom 10.

NASCAR also failed to solve one of its biggest problems: races being too long. With all the caution flags and restarts, races have gotten out of hand. They could cut these races down to fit in a 3-hour blocked window by shaving off some laps from the total.

We're on the right track. It just seems like we aren't worried about winning.

Decade's Ten Best Teams To NOT Win a Super Bowl

The best team doesn't always win. When you deal with a one-and-done scenario, you don't always get a true champion. The Super Bowl usually falls victim to this. After all, how did the No. 1 ranked team in this list not have a title?

So who are the ten best teams from the last decade to not finish off their season with the Vince Lombardi trophy? Below is my list. Some got to the Super Bowl and just couldn't win; others lost in their first postseason game. Some of these teams have a championship pedigree; others would go on to win a Super Bowl down the road.

So let's get on with the list:

No. 10 - 2003 KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (13-3): This Chiefs team is known for two things. One was that amazing season Priest Holmes had and the other is the returns of Dante Hall. Dick Vermeil brought his high octane offense across state the Kansas City and (finally) made Trent Green into a premiere QB. These Chiefs lost to the Colts in the divisional round of the playoffs in a game that featured ZERO punts.

No. 9 - 2000 TENNESSEE TITANS (13-3): These stingy Titans ... coming off an AFC Championship season ... allowed just 191 points (that's just under 12 pts per game). Their three losses that season were by a combined 7 points. Despite dominating the Ravens in their divisional round matchup, the game was tied 10-10. The Ravens scored two non-offensive TDs ... a blocked kick return and a Ray Lewis interception return).

No. 8 - 2007 DALLAS COWBOYS (13-3): The Cowboys started the season 12-1 before losing two of their final three games. Their lone loss in their first 13 games? It was to a certain undefeated Patriots team.

No. 7 - 2004 PITTSBURGH STEELERS (15-1): Somehow this team finished with the ballsy record. Remember that the season started with Tommy Maddox as the quarterback. When Maddox was hurt in Pittsburgh's Week 2 loss to the Ravens, rookie Ben Roethlisberger took over. While he didn't wow anyone with his play, he managed the team to finish the season with 14 straight wins (they also won their divisional game against the Jets). Also, some undrafted rookie named Willie Parker emerged on the scene. The young Steelers would lose to the Patriots in the AFC Championship game.

No. 6 - 2004 PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (13-3): The Eagles won 13 of their first 14 games. Hard to believe that this was the season where Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens got along.

No. 5 - 2009 INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (14-2): Peyton Manning won his 3rd MVP award. The Colts won their first 14 games of the season before resting their starters in the season's final two weeks. That loss in their 15th game broke an NFL-record 23 game regular season winning streak. Indy blew out the Ravens and Jets en route to Super Bowl XLIV. In the big game, the Colts held a 10-0 lead before the Saints took over. New Orleans won the game 31-17.

No. 4 - 2006 SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (14-2): The Chargers may be the posterboys for undercheiving in the last decade. This Chargers team put up nearly 500 points with LaDainian Tomlinson rushing for a league record 28 TDs (he caught another three TD passes for a record 31 total TDs) and piled up over 1,800 yards. The Bolts had an amazing 11 Pro Bowl players. Too bad that they had to play that pesky postseason and were unceremoniously beaten by the Patriots.

No. 3 - 2005 INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (14-2): This Colts team not only scored an AFC-high 439 points, but they allowed just 247 points ... best in the AFC. Somehow, though, the Colts were beaten at home by the 6th-seeded Steelers.

No. 2 - 2001 ST LOUIS RAMS (14-2): The Greatest Show On Turf won a Super Bowl two years prior to this season. These Rams lost two games all season long ... by a total of 10 points. With Kurt Warner winning his 2nd MVP award, the Rams had the last three NFL MVPs (Warner also won in 1999; Marshall Faulk won in 2000). St Louis scored over 500 points and their offense was next to unstoppable. Well, until the Super Bowl. The upstart Patriots forced three turnovers and would upset the Rams.

No. 1 - 2007 NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (16-0): Of course, the Patriots rule this spot. New England became the first team to finish a season 16-0 and only the second team to finish the regular season undefeated. They scored an amazing 589 points ... and allowed only 274. Tom Brady threw a record 50 TD passes (Randy Moss also broke the record for TD receptions). These Pats, as everyone knows, lost to the Giants in Super Bowl XLII.

45 Stops to Super Bowl XLV: #26-#30

The "45 Stops to Super Bowl XLV" is a series that will feature stories, stats and interesting trivia that you can use to act smart as you prepare for Super Bowl XLV. I've done this on SPORTZASSASSIN.COM for Super Bowls XL, XLI, XLIII, XLIV and for AOL's FanHouse for Super Bowl XLII.

#26-SUPER BOWL CONSUMPION: Some nice stats for you:

8 million: Total pounds of popcorn consumed on Super Bowl Sunday.

28 million: Pounds of potato chips consumed.

53.5 million: Pounds of avocados consumed.

222,792: Number of football fields worth of farmland to grow all that corn, potatoes, and avocados.

11.8: Depth, in feet, of guacamole consumed if it were spread across the football field.

293,000: Number of miles of potato chips, laid end to end, consumed during the game.

1 billion: Number of chicken wings consumed on Super Bowl Sunday.

325.5 million: Gallons of beer drank by Americans that day.

493: Number of Olympic-sized swimming pools that could be filled with all that beer.

20%: Increase in ant-acid sales the Monday after the game.

7 million: Number of employees who will not show up to work Monday.

#27-BEEN THERE, DONE THAT: This will be the first Super Bowl between teams with at least 3 Super Bowl titles since Super Bowl XXX when the Steelers (then a 4-time champion) battled the Cowboys (also a 4-time champ at the time).

It's the first Super Bowl between teams with multiple Super Bowl victories since the Giants-Patriots Super Bowl a couple of years ago. The only other times it has happened was in Super Bowls XXX and XIII (both Steelers-Cowboys).

#28-SUPER BOWL GLEE: In a rather odd bit of programming, Fox will air a special episode of Glee after the Super Bowl. Nothing chases a great day of football like an episode of Glee!

The trend recently is for the network broadcasting the Super Bowl loves breaking in new shows or extended shows following the game. CBS debuted "Undercover Boss" after Super Bowl XLIV. It joined Extreme (ABC-1995), Homicide (NBC-'93), Davis Rules (ABC-'91), Grand Slam (CBS-'90), The Wonders Years (ABC-'88), Hard Copy (CBS-'87), The Last Precinct (NBC-'86), MacGruder and Loud (ABC-'85), Airwolf (CBS-'84), The A-Team (NBC-'83) and Brothers and Sisters (NBC-'79) as shows who debuted after the Super Bowl.

Some other big-time heavyweights have also appeared right after the game. Lassie, All in the Family, 60 Minutes, CHiPs, Archie Bunker's Place, Friends, The X-Files, The Simpsons, Survivor, Grey's Anatomy, House and The Office all have been post-Super Bowl shows.

#29-FUTURE SUPER BOWL SITES ARE PRETTY INTERESTING: No team has ever played a Super Bowl in their home stadium -- we know this after Dallas' chirping about that in the offseason. It really is remarkable that this has never happened. Well, it could happen soon.

Indianapolis (XLVI), New Orleans (XLVII) and New York (XLVIII) will be hosting games soon. The Colts and Saints met in last year's Super Bowl while the New York Jets have been to the last two AFC title games.

#30-BIG BEN'S BAAAAACK: 18 quarterbacks have started multiple Super Bowls. This will be Ben Roethlisberger's third Super Bowl appearance. John Elway leads the pack with 5 Super Bowls, while Terry Bradshaw, Tom Brady, Joe Montana, Jim Kelly and Roger Staubach have all started four. Only Craig Morton and Kurt Warner have started Super Bowls for two different teams.

A Steelers win means Big Ben will be just the fourth QB to start at least three Super Bowls and not lose one. Only Montana, Bradshaw and Troy Aikman have done that.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What If the Chicago Bears Had Twitter 25 Years Ago?

I'm not a Twitter guy. I have an account and I throw out a tweet once in a while just to keep it active. I usually forget I have it and I only really use it to gain access to sports tweets.

So I'm not really into all these Twitter wars or controversies or any of that. Conversely, I'm not offended to see athletes running the Twitter and telling their business. Most athletes are 20-somethings ... and anyone under 30 knows nothing more than putting every though on the Internet as if people care.

Stuffy people hate this. "That's not how our sports legends would have acted!" Bullcrap!

Imagine if Twitter had been around for quite a while. Imagine if the 1985 Chicago Bears had access to Twitter. This was a team that recorded a celebratory song about winning the championship before the season even ended. They had a quarterback who used his headband as a sort-of Twitter account by writing jabs on it. Imagine what The Fridge might have said.

Imagine if we had Twitter 100 years ago. What might Babe Ruth say? What about Muhammad Ali? He may have had the greatest Twitter account in history. So could Mike Tyson, who still has some of the oddest quotes an athlete has ever had.

What would Reggie Jackson say? Rickey Henderson? Joe Namath? You don't think Mickey Mantle wouldn't have rattled off some drunken tweets, eh?

45 Stops to Super Bowl XLV: #31-#35

The "45 Stops to Super Bowl XLV" is a series that will feature stories, stats and interesting trivia that you can use to act smart as you prepare for Super Bowl XLV. I've done this on SPORTZASSASSIN.COM for Super Bowls XL, XLI, XLIII, XLIV and for AOL's FanHouse for Super Bowl XLII.

#31-JUST ANOTHER NFC TEAM: There are only 16 teams in the NFC. Yet, the conference has produced 10 different NFC champions in the last 10 years.

The Packers join the Saints, Cardinals, Giants, Bears, Seahawks, Eagles, Panthers, Buccaneers and Rams as NFC champs in the last decade. In that time, only the Vikings, Lions, Redskins, Falcons, Niners and Cowboys haven't been to the big show. That's a bit odd since in the span from 1987-1995, the Cowboys, Redskins and Niners went to and won 8 of the 9 Super Bowls.

#32-THE CHAMPION'S CHAMPIONS: No one has won more Super Bowls than the Pittsburgh Steelers. Their 6 Super Bowl titles thus far bests the Cowboys and Niners by one.

But they still only have half the titles that Green Bay has. The Packers have won 12 NFL Championships in their history, with 9 of them coming in the pre-Super Bowl era. If you count just the last 50 years of NFL play, both franchises have six NFL titles.

#33-WIN A FREE PIZZA!: If Super Bowl XLV goes into overtime ... which would be a first in the game's history ... then everyone in America could win a free Papa John's pizza. Just go to and register for an online customer loyalty program. If the game goes into OT, Papa John's will add 25 "Papa points" to your account. That's the exact amount of points needed to cash in for a free large, three-topping pizza.

#34-ON THE ROAD AGAIN: The Packers became just the fourth team to win three road games en route to a Super Bowl. Green Bay won in Philadelphia, in Atlanta and in Chicago (the NFC's No. 3, 1 and 2 seeds, respectively).

The only other teams to do so were the 1985 New England Patriots, the 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers and the 2007 New York Giants. Only the '85 Patriots lost in the Super Bowl.

#35-SIXTH SEEDED: The Green Bay Packers became just the second 6th-seeded team to make the Super Bowl. The other? The 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers. Those Steelers would beat the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XL.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Texas Should Think About Going Independent

A couple things have merged together to form this post for me. One, I just had surgery so I'm laid up at home with nothing to do ... so I've been really studying this college conference shuffling that went on last summer.

The second is this article from ESPN. It talks about why it could be smart for Texas to go independent.

Maybe not right now. Texas has a great opportunity laid out in front of them. They have a very favorable deal with the Big XII that allows them to build their own television network and a bigger share of the pie. The know they hold all the cards for the future of that conference (if Texas moved to the Pac-10 ... 12 ... 16 ... during the summer, the Big XII would've probably collapsed. They can milk this thing.

They also can look at the BYU experiment. BYU, as you may know, dropped out of the Mountain West Conference in all sports and becoming an Independent in football (they are joining the West Coast Conference in all other sports). BYU has their own network. While Texas' earnings should be much greater than BYU's, seeing whatever struggles the Cougars go through as they get their Independent status up and running will help them down the road.

It isn't like the Longhorns need to do this. Like I said, Texas runs the Big XII right now and gets to build their own network and have built in rivalries and games and all of that. They also rid themselves of that pesky conference championship game now that Nebraska and Colorado left the league with 10 members.

But there could be the issue. Due to the 10-team conference set up, each Big XII team must play 9 conference games. That means Texas only gets to have three non-conference foes. Follow me on this.

The BCS Championship has been won by the SEC the last, what, five times? Why? Because they play one hell of a schedule. SEC schools have 8 games in league ... with about 6 of them really tough contests. Most SEC schools also have a built in rivalry with another BCS school (Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Louisville, etc). Auburn's non-con schedule featured Chattanooga, Arkansas State and Louisiana-Monroe (they also played Clemson). No matter, since they had to play Alabama, LSU, Arkansas, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, South Carolina (twice), Kentucky and Georgia.

Texas will have to play Baylor, Kansas, Iowa State, Kansas State, Missouri, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State every year. Sure, the Oklahoma game is always a national eye-opener, there isn't as much there year-in-year-out to scare anyone. Sure, Oklahoma State or Missouri or A&M could have a big year ... but it isn't like the elite schools that the SEC runs through.

If Texas went independent, they could schedule whom they want. They can keep their rivalries with Oklahoma, A&M and Texas Tech. They could also go across the country to create new ones. They could go and play all kinds of top teams. Maybe have something with USC (probably not now that USC is locked in to nine Pac-12 games and Notre Dame). Maybe Ohio State? Maybe the soon-to-be-Big East's TCU? Maybe BYU and Notre Dame?

People didn't really understand why Notre Dame refuses to join a conference in the current climate. Why would they? They have a TV contract, a BCS invite and all the flexibility in their scheduling. Sure, they haven't won a title since 1988 and have fallen on some hard times ... but that isn't because they are Independent. You can't tell me that Texas couldn't bring in the same types of recruits if it wasn't bound to a conference. You can't tell me that Texas ... and college football as a whole ... wouldn't benefit from setting up big games during the season.

If Texas did do that, it could lead to a very interesting reversal of the conference shifting that's been going on. Especially if a playoff comes in to play. Sure, I can't see an SEC team bolting that lifestyle or even a Big Ten team (though Ohio State could be tempted). But could Miami? Florida State? USC? West Virginia?

Something to think about.

45 Stops to Super Bowl XLV: #36-#40

The "45 Stops to Super Bowl XLV" is a series that will feature stories, stats and interesting trivia that you can use to act smart as you prepare for Super Bowl XLV. I've done this on SPORTZASSASSIN.COM for Super Bowls XL, XLI, XLIII, XLIV and for AOL's FanHouse for Super Bowl XLII.

#36-THERE IS AN EXTRA VINCE LOMBARDI TROPHY OUT THERE: Excuse this one taken from my FanHouse post but it is rather interesting:

There have been 43 Super Bowls to date ... yet there are 44 Vince Lombardi Trophies (given to the Super Bowl winning team) out and about. How is that?

Well, that little ditty comes to light after the recent passing of Rams owner Georgia Frontiere. Frontiere's husband, former-Colts and Rams owner Carroll Rosenbloom, is the reason behind the story:

However, when Colts owner Carroll Rosenbloom, Frontiere's late husband, traded the Colts for the Rams in a franchise swap in 1972, he decided he wanted to keep the Lombardi Trophy the Colts won in Super Bowl V. When Super Bowl VII took place in Los Angeles, Rosenbloom told the Colts he was going to put on a display of Super Bowl trophies and asked them to bring it to the West Coast. They did. There was no display, and Rosenbloom never returned the trophy. After the Colts complained to the league office, former NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle had a duplicate made for the Colts, which remains in Baltimore (it was originally shipped to Indianapolis when the team moved but a deal was struck and it was returned to Maryland). The original Super Bowl V trophy? It presumably was in Frontiere's possession and now belongs to her heirs.

So, there are two Vince Lombardi trophies awarded for Super Bowl V ... yet neither are with the franchise that won it. The original was in St. Louis with Frontiere with the other in Baltimore, the Colts old digs. Meanwhile, Indianapolis can only show off the trophy they won two years ago.

#37-NFC EAST TOPS THEM ALL: The NFC East easily has the most Super Bowl champions than any other division. The 11 titles won bests the AFC North for the top honors.

The NFC East dominated from 1986-1995. In that span, the Giants ('86, '90), Redskins ('87, '91) and Cowboys ('92, '93, '95) went to and won 7 of 10 Super Bowls during that decade. The only other Super Bowl champ was San Francisco ('88, '89, '94).

Here's a rundown of the divisions:

11-NFC EAST (Cowboys-5, Redskins-3, Giants-3)
7-AFC NORTH (Steelers-6, Ravens-1)
6-NFC WEST (Niners-5, Rams-1)
6-AFC EAST (Patriots-3, Dolphins-2, Jets-1)
6-AFC WEST (Raiders-3, Broncos-2, Chiefs-1)
4-NFC NORTH (Packers-3, Bears-1)
2-AFC SOUTH (Colts-2)
2-NFC SOUTH (Buccaneers-1, Saints-1)

As for Super Bowl appearances, the NFC East wins this title again:
19-NFC EAST (Cowboys-8, Redskins-5, Giants-4, Eagles-2)
16-AFC EAST (Patriots-6, Dolphins-5, Bills-4, Jets-1)
14-AFC WEST (Broncos-6, Raiders-5, Chiefs-2, Chargers-1)
11-NFC NORTH (Packers-5, Vikings-4, Bears-2)
11-AFC NORTH (Steelers-8, Bengals-2, Ravens-1)
10-NFC WEST (Niners-5, Rams-3, Seahawks-1, Cardinals-1)
5-AFC SOUTH (Colts-4, Titans-1)
4-NFC SOUTH (Panthers-1, Bucs-1, Falcons-1, Saints-1)

#38-DIVISION ALL IN: The only divisions that don't have all of their members with appearances in a Super Bowl are the AFC North (Browns), AFC South (Titans, Jaguars) and NFC North (Lions).

No division has all their members with Super Bowl championships. The NFC East (Eagles didn't win), AFC West (Chargers) and AFC East (Bills) have seen three of their four members win a title. The NFC East is the only division to have each of their members in multiple Super Bowls. The Cowboys have been to eight, the Redskins have been to five, the Giants have been to four and the Eagles have been to two.

The odd thing is that each team in the NFC South has been exactly once to the Super Bowl. The Panthers and Falcons lost their only time there, while the Bucs and Saints won in their only appearances.

#39-TOP SEEDS NOT MEETING AGAIN: Believe it or not, but last year was the first time that the No. 1 seed in the NFC and AFC met in the Super Bowl since 1993. In each year since the Bills and Cowboys met in '93, one of the top seeds fell before getting to the big game. This year, both the Patriots and Falcons lost in their lone playoff game. For a look at what the top seeds did during the drought, check out The Tygrrrr Express.

#40-COLTS KNOW BOTH SIDES OF THE COIN: The Indianapolis Colts are the only franchise to play in a Super Bowl as an AFC and NFC team. Well, they never were an "NFC" team, but the Colts played in Super Bowl III as the NFL representative against the AFL Champ Jets. Two years later, the Colts won Super Bowl V as a member of the AFC.

When the NFL merged with the AFL in 1970, the NFL's Colts, Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns moved to the American side of things. The Steelers have won six Super Bowls (and been to another one) but all were as the AFC champ. Cleveland is still waiting for their first appearance.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Louisville TV Station: "Jew York Jets"

If you look on your computer, the "J" and "N" are pretty close on the keyboard. Still, it is someone's job to proof-read any graphics that make their way on television.

Especially when you refer to the "New York Jets" to the "Jew York Jets".

Hat tip: MoEgger

Palmer's Demand Places Spotlight On Troubled Bengals Franchise

Carson Palmer wants out of Cincinnati. The Bengals aren't going to accommodate him. And so goes this franchise.

The Cincinnati Bengals are in the Los Angeles Clippers range of horribly-run sports franchises. There are others who get that bad for a little while, but not many that state there and act like nothing is wrong at all.

This is a franchise that hasn't won a postseason game in over 20 years. Not-so-coincidentally that coincides with Mike Brown's sole ownership of the team. In that span, the franchise has had just two winning seasons and two playoff appearances. They've had 11 seasons with at least 10 losses in those 20 years. They've had numerous off-field player incidents. In Brown's reign, the Bengals needed the fewest amount of games to reach 200 losses from an owner and the most games to reach 100 wins. They are the only team over the last 20 years with three separate 9-game losing streaks.

They have a contentious relationship with Hamilton County due to the building and upkeep of Paul Brown Stadium. They have no personnell director as Brown makes all decisions. One of Brown's first "decisions" was to fire highly regarded Sam Wyche and hired Dave Shula (who would go on to lose 50 games faster than any coach in NFL history).

The team reportedly employs just one scout. The front office is made up of Brown's relatives.

But that's all just a biography of Brown and the case against him running the franchise. The fans in Cincinnati know this, have known this and have put up with this for two decades.

However, it seems the tides are changing. In a recent Cincinnati Enquirer poll of season ticket holders, 2/3 of them said they wouldn't be renewing their seats. Many said with Cincinnati's baseball team, the Reds, looking like an organization on the rise that those consumers will buy Reds season tickets.

So what was the boiling point? What makes this winter different than the 20 winters before it?

Simply, the press conference.

Bengals fans had this hope ... and I mean it was tangible in town ... that with Marvin Lewis' contract expiring and his "change things or I'm not coming back" stance, the Bengals may be finally willing to change some things up. It surprised many, then, that Lewis said he'd come back to the Bengals -- he signed a new deal. To fans, that meant that Brown was willing to do the things Lewis wanted to move the franchise forward.

Then the presser.

In the presser, Brown and Lewis sat at the table and essentially defended everything they've done over the last decade together and what Brown has done since 1991. Both were a bit confrontational to the media and refused to discuss any of the items Lewis may (or may not) have wanted from Brown.

In the weeks since, it is apparent that nothing will change. One of the most hated coaches the Bengals have ever had ... offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski ... has kept his job since 2001 despite helming an offense that has completely regressed over the past five years. With all the talented coordinators out there on the market, Bengals fans watch as Bratkowski remains with the team.

There is a perfect storm working against the Bengals right now and it could get dangerous for the future of this franchise. Most of the Bengals home games were blacked out in Cincinnati (the ones that weren't were due to opposing teams' fans buying up a lot of the tickets). You have the prices of tickets, concessions and parking rising in an economy that has hurt the Ohio/Kentucky/Indiana area. You have the Reds who just won the NL Central and have one of the best young teams in Major League Baseball now in line to take on lost Bengals fans. You have one of the worst stadium experiences in the NFL at Paul Brown Stadium.

Even worse, you have a young fanbase that doesn't care about this team. With the advent of around-the-clock NFL coverage, kids are wearing more non-Bengals merchandise than ever before. You are more apt to see a kid wearing a Steelers jersey as you would a Bengals jersey.

This Carson Palmer saga only makes this worse. Palmer has never talked bad about this franchise despite having every reason to do so. Him stating he wants out speaks volumes about how bad things really are. The fact that the Bengals refuse to entertain trading him shows that have no touch with reality. Here is a QB whose skills have obviously declined, he doesn't want to be here and whom the fans have lost all faith in. Yet you won't even think about moving him? Not with teams like the Cardinals, Redskins, Bills, Dolphins, Titans, Vikings, Panthers and 49ers in need of quarterback help. You don't think one of those franchises wouldn't give you something of value for Palmer? It would be a seller's market.

Those things have really turned off fans here in Cincinnati. They are sick of it all and, for once, realize they don't have to take it.

*The Sportz Assassin has lived in the Cincinnati area for the last 12 years. He isn't a Bengals fan by any stretch (Redskins, baby!).

45 Stops to Super Bowl XLV: #41-#45

The "45 Stops to Super Bowl XLV" is a series that will feature stories, stats and interesting trivia that you can use to act smart as you prepare for Super Bowl XLV. I've done this on SPORTZASSASSIN.COM for Super Bowls XL, XLI, XLIII, XLIV and for AOL's FanHouse for Super Bowl XLII.

#41-SUPER BOWL ON FOX: This will be the sixth time the Super Bowl has been televised by Fox. The last time was in 2008 when Joe Buck and Troy Aikman called the Giants upset of the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. This will be the third Super Bowl that Buck/Aikman have called. The first three Fox telecasts featured Pat Summerall and John Madden.

#42-AFC LOVES FEBRUARY: The Super Bowl will be held on February 6th. Since the first February Super Bowl in 2002, the AFC is 6-2 in those games held in the calendar's shortest month:

Super Bowl XXXVI: Patriots beat Rams on February 3, 2002
Super Bowl XXXVIII: Patriots beat Panthers on February 1, 2004
Super Bowl XXXIX: Patriots beat Eagles on February 6, 2005
Super Bowl XL: Steelers beat Seahawks on February 5, 2006
Super Bowl XLI: Colts beat Bears on February 4, 2007
Super Bowl XLII: Giants beat Patriots on February 3, 2008
Super Bowl XLIII: Steelers beat Cardinals on February 1, 2009
Super Bowl XLIV: Saints beat Colts on February 7, 2010

#43-SCORE EARLY AND OFTEN: The team who scores first in a Super Bowl is 28-16. However, the team who has scored first has lost six of the last nine Super Bowls.

*Teams who score at least 30 points are 22-1.
*Teams that score the first TD are 31-13.
*Teams leading at the half are 33-9 (there have been two ties)

#44-SUPER BOWL AND WORLD SERIES: Dallas/Ft. Worth will be just the fifth city to host both a Super Bowl and a World Series in the same "sports season". Only six cities/metro areas have hosted the World Series and Super Bowl back-to-back. Remember that the Texas Rangers made their first World Series appearance last October.

1966/1967-Los Angeles: The Dodgers were swept in the 1966 World Series and the LA Coliseum would host the first ever Super Bowl the next January.

1977-Los Angeles: The Rose Bowl hosted the 1977 Super Bowl and the Dodgers would play in the Fall Classic later that year.

1991/1992-Minneapolis. The Twins won the 1991 World Series and the city hosted the 1992 Super Bowl.

1998-San Diego: San Diego hosted the 1998 Super Bowl and the Padres would go on to play in the World Series that fall.

1999/2000-Atlanta: The Braves lost the 1999 World Series and Hot-lanta hosted the 2000 Super Bowl.

2008/2009-Tampa Bay: The Rays lost the 2008 World Series in St. Pete while the Buccaneers home hosted the Super Bowl.

#45-DON'T MESS WITH TEXAS: This will be the first Super Bowl held in the Dallas-Fort Worth area ... but it will be the third held in the state of Texas. Houston was the site for the other two Super Bowls. Rice Stadium hosted Super Bowl VIII (Miami over Minnesota) and Reliant Field hosted Super Bowl XXXVIII (New England over Carolina).

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Tom Brady Isn't Who We Think He Is

When we talk about the greatest quarterbacks of all-time, Tom Brady will be mentioned. He came out of nowhere and won three Super Bowls in a four year period ... becoming the MVP in two. He has an NFL MVP award (may get a second one this year) and once threw a record 50 TD passes in a season.

He's legit.

But over the last several years, his postseason performances leave something to be desired.

In 2008, the undefeated Patriots beat the Jaguars and Chargers to get to the Super Bowl. Brady looked great against the Jags, but threw for just 209 yds, 2 TDs and 3 INTs against San Diego. In the Super Bowl, his Pats were upset by the Giants ... ending hopes of an undefeated season. Brady threw for 266 yds and 1 TD.

In 2009, Brady was injured and the Patriots missed the playoffs.

In 2010, his Patriots lost at home to the Ravens in the Wildcard Round. Brady had a meager 154 yds, 2 TDs and 3 INTs. All that despite throwing 42 passes.

In 2011, his Patriots lost at home to the Jets in the Divisional Round. Brady had 299 yds, 2 TDs and a pick.

If you count a loss to the Colts in the 2007 AFC Championship game, that means Tom Brady is just 2-4 in his last six postseason games. Two of those losses were at home and one in the Super Bowl.

From 2002 to 2006, Tom Brady won the first 10 playoff games he started. That included three Super Bowl wins. Since then, he's just 4-5. In those 9 games, Brady threw 19 TD passes and 13 interceptions. Brady threw 11 TDs and just 3 INTs in his first 10 postseason starts.

This isn't to say that Brady sucks. He most certainly doesn't. Joe Montana spent the years between Super Bowls XIX and XXIII losing all three playoff games he played in. Montana's stats in those games? Zero TDs and four interceptions. In those three games, Montana threw for just 503 yds ... total (a 167 yd-per-game average). It happens.

There is a happy medium. Brady is still among the greats, but he isn't perfect. And right now, he's in a bit of a playoff funk.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Auburn-Oregon Fallout: How Threat Of Penalty Costs Ducks Title

We've all seen the play. The one where Auburn's running back bursts through the line, is seemingly tackled, gets up and runs for another 20-plus yards. It got the Tigers in field goal range immediately ... and they indeed won on a field goal as time expired.

Let me first say that it was the proper call. The runner hadn't been ruled down by contact so the play should've continued.

The problem I have is the culture foorball has created which allowed that play to happen. They always tell you to play until the whistle blows. That, my friends, is a lie.

Defenses can't catch a break. If they play until the whistle blows and hit a QB a second too late, it's a flag. If you play until the whistle bows as you are running full speed at a ball-carrier who is tip toeing along the sideline ... then steps out just before he gets hit. That's a flag.

If the Oregon defender in pretty much any circumstance jumped on the back like he didn't do in the BCS title game, it would be a flag. Defenders are now conditioned to pull up at the end of plays or risk a 15-yd penalty. Ten years ago that wasn't a problem.

Now I'm not saying late hits are cool. They aren't and all that extra crap at the end of plays needs to be penalized. But if you do that, you have to have something in there that if the runner acts like he was tackled ... blow the whistle. He may not be down by the letter of the law ... but for the defense's sake, rule him down. The only reason the runner didn't know he wasn't down was because the Auburn sideline yelled at him to keep running.

What is a Duck to do?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Bad Weekend For Kentucky Fans

Kentucky fans had a horrible weekend and I'm so happy about that.

Let me put it out there: I used to not care one bit about the University of Kentucky. I didn't care if they won or lost ... unless my UNC Tar Heels were playing them or in a certain East Regional Final game to Duke in 1992.

But since I moved to Kentucky over a decade ago, Wildcat fans just get on your nerves. They can normally pull that crap here because ... well, everyone is a Kentucky fan. There is no real regional rival. Louisville? There are more Wildcats fans in Louisville than Cardinal fans. Indiana? Who barks about that?

But as a Tar Heel fan, their vitrol doesn't fly with me. We are also among college basketball's elite. We are also in the 2,000 win club (with more of those won fair and square than Kentucky). Since Kentucky's last Final Four in 1998 (I moved here at Christmas 1998), Carolina has been to four Final Fours and won two National Championships.

Oh, and Carolina is 22-11 all time in head to head matchups with Kentucky. That's Kentucky's worst record against any opponent they've faced more than a handful of times. They hate when I pull that one out.

So I will admit that I do take pleasure in Kentucky's misfortune this weekend.

First off, the NCAA rules Enes Kanter ineligible. Permanently. All I heard from Kentucky fans was that Kanter was clean, the NCAA won't shut him down ... and if they do, it will just be for a couple of games. When the appeal process was going on, all I heard was that Kanter will be made eligible because of new evidence and how if the NCAA was lax on those Ohio State players and Cam Newton then they'll be a bit sympathetic towards Kanter.

Nope. He's done. Forever. Kentucky fans will still claim him as one of their own when he hits the NBA. Yeah, then I claim Dwight Howard since he was gonna come to Carolina if he wasn't going into the draft.

Then came Saturday. Kentucky played Pitt in the Compass Bowl or something. Pitt spanked them, 27-10. Not a biggie since Kentucky fans don't really care about football. Or any sport not played on a basketball court. But this did come against a team that forced one coach out and then had to fire his replacement because of a domestic assault. Not really a team with any leadership right now.

Saturday night, those hoopsters played their first SEC game of the season ... and lost to unranked Georgia, 77-70. That gets the fans' attention. Kentucky fans have said, "look, we lost to North Carolina in Chapel Hill and UConn in Hawaii ... and we are really coming together." They still can say all of that, but now this is also a team that lost to Georgia.

Today, their women's team lost ... at home ... to Georgia. Kentucky, who I haven't really heard to much about, is ranked No. 10 in the country.

Not a great week for Kentucky fans.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Dolphins Are Wrong For Doing Tony Sparano Like This

I don't want to see anybody lose their job ... but I also don't like to see a guy holding a job while his employer is jet-setting across the country to land his replacement.

That's what the Miami Dolphins are doing with Tony Sparano. All Sparano has done is take a laughingstock team and made them decent. He doesn't deserve this. He doesn't deserve his bosses flying out to Palo Alto to try to woo Jim Harbaugh.

Nothing against Harbaugh and nothing against the Dolphins if they want to work together. Miami has every right to hire whatver coach they want. But don't piss on the man that you haven't even fired yet! I mean the fact that Sparano hasn't been fired yet is because they're okay with him if they can't find anything better.

So you've undermined your coach. That will work well if the Phins stick with Sparano. It also works well that the Dolphins franchise can stab their head coach in the back.

Do everyone a favor and be up front with Tony. Ya know, the guy who made your team cool with that wacky Wildcat offense. What Miami is doing is looking for a new, hot wife when he's already married. If he can't find a hot woman to marry him, well they kinda like what they have at home.

If this was in the stretch run of the season, I'm cool with it. My Redskins did the same thing a year ago. In Jim Zorn's last 5 games, the Skins were talking with Mike Shanahan. But Zorn knew he was out at the end of the season and the Skins knew that the campaign was over and they may as well let Zorn finish out the year. Zorn then caught on to the Ravens coaching staff.

Sparano is hanging in the wind. While there are coaching changes all over the league, that means that coaching staffs are being assembled. I'm sure Sparano would be sought after.

But he can't. He's busy pulling a knife out of his back.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The NHL Needs More "Winter Classics" ... in Canada

The Winter Classic is the crown jewel of the NHL's regular season. The Classic, as they'll tell you, puts the game back to its roots -- outdoors. It draws quite a crowd (over 60,000 attended the Capts-Pens game in Pittsburgh on Saturday) and routinely is one of the biggest TV viewing matches the NHL has.

The NHL loves it. They tell you that that's how hockey was played! Outdoors in the cold. In the elements. Where people love it.

We will never see a Winter Classic in Anaheim. Or Dallas. Or Tampa Bay. Or Phoenix. Those cities aren't majestic enough to house such a game. Not even cities like Atlanta, Raleigh or Nashville will get a shot. Of course, the NHL knows that not only would it lose its luster, but people may not show up. At least not like they'd do in Chicago, Detroit, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Boston or New York.

Yet, there are NHL franchises in Anaheim, Dallas, Tampa, Phoenix, Nashville, Atlanta and Raleigh. In several of those cities, no one would really care if (a) their team played in a Winter Classic or (b) even played in their city at all.

That's not totally fair. There are some northern teams struggling for fans. The Islanders are the worst attended team in the NHL despite residing in the league's most populous market. The Columbus Blue Jackets, New Jersey Devils and Colorado Avalanche are also in the bottom 7 in attendance.

Still, the southern towns suffer. Phoenix (29th of 30 teams), Atlanta (28th), Anaheim (25th), Dallas (23rd), Carolina (22nd), Florida (21st), Nashville (20th) and Tampa Bay (19th) are all in the bottom third in attendance. The only "southern" city in the top half of the NHL in attendance? The Los Angeles Kings at 13th.

Why do we keep up with this charade? Why? Why, in a league of 30 teams, are only SIX Canadian franchises in operation? SIX!

The Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames, Montreal Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers all have their home games at 100% capacity ... if not better (the Leafs are 102.6% capacity). The only Canadian team to not hit that mark is the relatively newer Ottawa Senators ... who still fill their arena at a 98% clip.

Meanwhile, the Coyotes are at 61%. The Thrashers are at 68%. The only "southern" cities that fill to capacity by at least 90% are the Kings (97%) and Predators (93.4%).

So why not move these teams back? Get the Coyotes out of freakin' Phoenix and move them back to Winnipeg? Bring back the Winnipeg Jets! Bring back the Winnipeg Jets! Why not move the Panthers or Lightning to Quebec and give us back our Nordiques!

I know you are saying that Winnipeg and Quebec are smaller markets. But they are rabid markets. Those citizens will flock to games.

I know you are also saying, "hey, they had their chance and couldn't hang." Fair, but remember that when the Jets left Winnipeg for Phoenix and the Nordiques left Quebec for Colorado there was no salary cap like there is today and the Canadian dollar was in shambles. Those teams, like the ones in Edmonton and Calgary, can survive in this NHL.

Remember that Minnesota lost their North Stars to Dallas yet were able to get the expansion Wild a few years later.

Heck, move the Atlanta Thrashers to Toronto! That city can house two NHL teams. I mean, if New York can do it and the Los Angeles-Anaheim area can do it ... why couldn't hockey crazed Toronto?

That would make the NHL tick again! Invest back into Canada! No new teams, just relocate the existing ones.

And while you're at it ... move the Carolina Hurricanes back to Hartford and bring back our Whalers!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Why Bengals Fans Should Be Happy Marvin Lewis Is Staying

Bengals fans here in Cincinnati are standing beside themselves today. After spending the last two months basically counting down the days of the Marvin Lewis Era, the clock was rewound.

Marvin Lewis is staying. Bengals fans are crying.

I get that. For the last eight years, Lewis' Bengals have had just two winning seasons and zero playoff victories (despite hosting two postseason games). The team has been undisciplined, moody and ... well, poorly coached. If this was any other NFL franchise (sans Jacksonville), Lewis would have been shown the door a long time ago.

I know this sounds a bit odd, but Bengals fans should actually be happy that Lewis is coming back.

The top reason is that Lewis may actually be getting some of those items he requested granted. He wants a little more power. He wants to be able to hire and fire within his coaching staff. He wants so more say in personnel moves. He wants a bubble over their practice field. These are requests that most coaches never have to ask for -- it usually comes with the job. But this is Cincinnati and things are done differently.

I know the perception is that "whoop-dee-doo! We get a practice bubble and a crummy team for several more years!" But imagine if the Bengals didn't give him anything and Lewis walked? Who would be walking through that door? It sure as heck isn't Jon Gruden, Bill Cowher or Jim Harbaugh. It will be some coordinator that will deal with the Bengals cheap ways just to get a shot at a head coaching gig.

So either keep a guy that has probably had more power than any coach the Bengals have had since Mike Brown took sole ownership of the franchise 20 years ago ... or go back to the Shula/LeBeau days of losing and regressing as a franchise. That's an easy choice.

Not to mention if there is a work stoppage next season. For example, if the players and owners agree to a new CBA just a couple of weeks before their first game, it would be nice to have the same coaching staff in place to make the learning curve quicker.

Yes, those are small victories ... but for this franchise, any victories are nice.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

2011 NFL Playoff Matchups I'd Love to See

We still don't know who will win the AFC South or NFC West. As I type this, the Buccaneers, Packers and Giants are all still alive for the final NFC Wildcard spot. Still, I am salivating over some of the possible playoff matchups we could enjoy.

We do know that this about the AFC: 1-Patriots, 2-Steelers, 3-Chiefs/Colts, 4-Jaguars/Colts/Chiefs, 5-Ravens and 6-Jets. In the NFC, it is: 1-Falcons, 2-Bears, 3-Eagles, 4-Rams/Seahawks, 5-Saints, 6-Bucs/Packers/Giants.

So what matchups ... aside from possible Super Bowl ones ... are we looking forward to?

10-Chiefs at Patriots: This starts a trend of Patriot Games. But this one is interesting because Kansas City will bring former Pats Matt Cassell, Romeo Crennell and Charlie Weis (among others) up to New England to face their old coach.

9-Packers at Eagles: A lot of people picked big things for the Packers this year and many of them are still holding on to that. An Aaron Rodgers-Michael Vick matchup would quite a site.

8-Eagles at Bears: Michael Vick against that speedy Chicago defense. Plus two of the best return men in the game -- Devin Hester and Desean Jackson -- will mean that you will have to wait for your bathroom breaks.

7-Colts at Patriots: We've seen this countless times and usually when the two meet, the games are close. Injuries to Indy pushes this game down several pegs.

6-Giants at Eagles: If New York gets in, don't you think we'd want to see them try to exact revenge for the meltdown in the Meadowlands a few weeks ago? The last time the G-men were a wildcard team they went on to win the Super Bowl.

5-Saints at Falcons: The defending Super Bowl champs against the NFC team with the best record. Remember that New Orleans was the only team to beat the Falcons in Atlanta this season.

4-Ravens at Patriots: If there is anyone who is not scared to go to New England to play in the postseason, it is Baltimore. They blew out the Pats there last postseason and nearly beat them there earlier this year.

3-Steelers at Patriots: The two best teams of the last decade combined for 5 Super Bowl victories in 6 appearances. These are the only two active quarterbacks with multiple Super Bowl rings. Would be a great game with a Super Bowl on the line.

2-Jets at Patriots: Oh, man. Do I even need to set this one up?

1-Eagles at Falcons: This would have to be for the NFC Championship ... and that would be outstanding. Imagine Michael Vick coming back to Atlanta with a Super Bowl berth on the line! That story alone makes this a great game. Add in the offensive firepower both teams possess and the fact that many feel that these are the two best teams in the conference and a matchup between the two would be fitting.

As for possible Super Bowl matchups, here are my top six:

1-Eagles vs Patriots
2-Falcons vs Patriots
3-Eagles vs Steelers
4-Saints vs Steelers
5-Saints vs Jets
6-Giants vs Colts

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A Bad Day For The Big Ten

Today is New Year's Day and it is usually a day filled with hopes, wishes, promises and changes. The Big Ten would love to shut their eyes and try for all those things again tomorrow.

The Big Ten went 0-5 in bowl games today. Not only did they lose every bowl on New Years, it was a collection of embarrassing results.

It all started in the TicketCity Bowl in Dallas. Not a big deal, but Northwestern lost to Texas Tech, 45-38. N'western continues their wait for another bowl victory -- they haven't won one since 1949.

The agony continued with the conferences Michigan schools getting pummelled by SEC teams simultaneously. In the Capital One Bowl, Michigan State were spanked by Alabama, 49-7. Michigan State, if you remember, was bent that Ohio State was selected for a BCS bid instead of them. Well, they sure didn't show up for this one.

A bit to the east in the Gator Bowl, Mississippi State just blew out Michigan, 52-14. If the Rich Rodriguez era does end in Ann Arbor, it sure ended on a negative note.

Move west to the Outback Bowl you'd see Penn State losing to Florida, 37-24. Of all the bowl losses today, the Big Ten can be proud of this one. This was a beauty of a game that was close down to the wire. The clincher was a Florida pick-six as Penn State was driving for a game winning TD.

And then the Rose Bowl. Look, TCU could/should be able to play for a national championship so losing to them isn't devastating. But this was a Wisconsin team that was hanging 70 points on people and they were shut down to just 19 against TCU. TCU became the first non-AQ school to win the Rose Bowl and, aside from the BCS title game, will be the most talked about bowl this season.

Even though it isn't a horrible loss, it still means that the Big Ten champion was beaten by a school from a non-BCS conference.

All the conference has left is Ohio State taking on Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl. Arkansas is a heck of a team, but a loss would mean the Big Ten was 0-6 in bowl games in the New Year. It would also mean the Big Ten was 0-4 against the SEC.

If you wanted to pick some more nits, let me remind you that the next member of the Big Ten ... Nebraska ... was upset by Washington in the Holiday Bowl.

Heading into the day, the Big Ten was looking pretty good. Iowa upset Missouri in the Insight Bowl and Illinois dominated Baylor in the Texas Bowl. But with the complete letdown on this New Year's Day, the Big Ten heads back north with their tails between their legs.

The Sportz Assassin College Football Playoff

So, here has been my playoff proposal for years now: Have all six BCS champions in the playoffs, have the top ranked non-AQ school in and then five at large bids. The seedings would be according to the final BCS standings (which means the top 5 non-champions make it in). The only concession on the seeding is due to keeping two conference teams from playing each other until, at least, the Semifinal round. Easy, eh?

1-Auburn (SEC Champ)
2-Oregon (Pac 10 Champ)
3-TCU (top non-AQ team)

12-UConn (Big East Champ) at 5-Wisconsin (Big Ten Champ)
11-Virginia Tech (ACC Champ) at 6-Ohio State
10-Boise State at 7-Oklahoma (Big XII Champ)
9-Michigan State at 8-Arkansas

Here would be your TV schedule.

December 18th
12pm: UConn at Wisconsin
3pm: Michigan State at Arkansas
6pm: Virginia Tech at Ohio State
9pm: Boise State at Oklahoma

December 25th
12pm: Mich State/Oklahoma/Boise State at Auburn*
3pm: Oklahoma/Boise State/Arkansas at Oregon*
6pm: Ohio State/Virginia Tech at TCU
9pm: Wisconsin/UConn at Stanford

*If Arkansas beats Mich State, they would play Oregon instead of SEC-rival Auburn. That would mean the Oklahoma/Boise State winner would play Auburn.

January 1st
3pm: Semifinals
8pm: Semifinals

January 10th
8pm: Championship game

The Sportz Assassin Bowl Schedule

If we have to have the BCS ... ick ... then why not use it the right way? Why do we have this poll just to pit the No. 1 and No. 2 teams against each other? Why not putting No. 3 vs No. 4? And so on.

So this is how my BCS bowl schedule would look:

BCS CHAMPIONSHIP: Auburn vs Oregon. We got this game already.

FIESTA BOWL: TCU vs Stanford. The 3rd and 4th place teams in the BCS standings. Put them in the Fiesta Bowl because ... well.

ROSE BOWL: Wisconsin vs Oklahoma. According to the standings, Ohio State is ranked higher than Oklahoma. But since they share the Big Ten with Wisky, No. 7 Oklahoma gets the nod.

SUGAR BOWL: Ohio State vs Arkansas. This one is happening in real life.

ORANGE BOWL: Michigan State vs Boise State. A very interesting game we would have had down in Miami.


OUTBACK BOWL: Virginia Tech vs Oklahoma State.

CHICK FIL A BOWL: Nevada vs Alabama

COTTON BOWL: Texas A&M vs Utah

GATOR BOWL: Nebraska vs South Carolina

INSIGHT BOWL: Miss State vs West Virginia

CHAMPS BOWL: Florida State vs Hawaii

After that, do what you want!

Let's Re-Rename the Bowls

Back in my day ... bowl games had normal names. It was very rare that a bowl had a sponsor for a name. Just over 20 years ago, that changed. Now, even bowls with historic names (like the Peach Bowl or Citrus Bowl) have been sponsor-ized (Chick-fil-A Bowl, Capital One Bowl).

Even those games with normal names are usually preceeded by some obscure sponsor. So who are these people?

Let's take it back to the old school and name our bowls the proper way.

We're fine with the Independence, Poinsettia, Armed Forces, Alamo, Military, Holiday, Music City, Pinstripe, Liberty, Sun, Gator, Rose, Fiesta, Orange, Cotton, St Pete, New Orleans, Humanitarian, New Mexico and Sugar Bowls.

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl (Emerald Bowl): What? This was once the San Francisco Bowl ... then the Emerald Bowl. Even though the Emerald Bowl was named after a company that provides nuts to the world, it is much better than the KFHB!

BBVA Compass Bowl (All-American Bowl): Stupid name. This was once the Bowl. But let's go back a bit when the All-American Bowl was played in Birmingham. Let's go back to that. Bowl (Mobile Bowl): No. I still don't know what does! Go back to just the Mobile Bowl.

Outback Bowl (Hall of Fame Bowl): I love Outback Steakhouse. I just ate there last Wednesday and had one of the best meals I've had in a long time. But this was once the Hall Of Fame Bowl and should be once again. Call it the "Outback Hall Of Fame Bowl" if you want, just bring the old name back.

Capital One Bowl (Citrus Bowl): No brainer. Nothing should make you more mad than the historic Citrus Bowl turned into a credit card event.

Chick-fil-A Bowl (Peach Bowl): I love Chick-fil-A, but I still call it the Peach Bowl. It is, has been and always will be the Peach Bowl to me. This renaming finishes second among the bowls that make me sick from their name change.

Insight Bowl (Copper Bowl): I don't like cable (I'm a DirecTV man) so I don't care about Insight. Go back to the cooler name of the Copper Bowl. It just fits.

Champs Sports Bowl (Tangerine Bowl): I spent the holidays in a lot of malls and I think I went into every mall's Champs Sports store. I bought nothing from any of them. Go back to the Tangerine Bowl. C'mon, Orlando!

Little Caesars Bowl (Motor City Bowl): Should be an easy fix. Just call it the Little Caesars Motor City Bowl and everyone will be happy. Football! Football!

Hawaii Bowl (Aloha Bowl): I don't have much of a problem with the name "Hawaii Bowl". But we had the Aloha Bowl for all those years. Let's get that back.

Las Vegas Bowl (Silver Bowl): Again, I'm not hating the LV Bowl name. But the Silver Bowl sounds much better. Especially when you would have the Copper Bowl just south of it.

Texas Bowl (Bluebonnet Bowl): I'm not a stickler for this one, but Bluebonnet Bowl brings back old memories. Texas Bowl sounds contrite.

TicketCity Bowl should go back to the Dallas Football Classic. Maybe go back a ways and call it the Dixie Classic again. The Meineke Car Care Bowl should go back to the original name of Queen City Bowl.

There, normal names. Let's go back to them, please!!!!