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.