Sunday, May 13, 2012

Be Careful What You Wish For, FSU!

So a trustee at Florida State lit a bomb that now has FSU toying with bolting the ACC for the Big 12.  How accurate any of that is seems to be debatable but this will be a topic for the rest of the summer and probably through the fall.

Bascially, FSU sees the ACC's latest contract with ESPN to be inferior to what the Big 12 is about to make in its TV deal and the cash-strapped university is looking for the bigger, better deal.  The trustee also mumbled that the ACC is all about their "North Carolina schools" ... meaning that the league cares a lot about basketball.

So Florida State may leave to go to the Big 12.  What if they did?  Like I said, it wouldn't be the worst thing for the ACC ... though it really wouldn't be a good thing.  The ACC would become fractured a bit since they haven't been a league that hasn't been pilfered yet.  It could loosen up the bonds on schools like Clemson, Miami, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech or Maryland to bolt as well.  Sure, the league could reload by looking at schools like UConn, Rutgers or even Notre Dame, but it would be something for this tight knit league to lose a member.  Since the league was founded in 1953, only South Carolina has left the conference.

But what would it mean for Florida State? 

FOOTBALL:  Sure, FSU would be leaving for a much better football conference.  The ACC is probably 6th out of six BCS conferences in terms of the strength of their champion.  The Big 12 has powers like Texas and Oklahoma leading the way and programs like Oklahoma State and Baylor who are becoming quite strong.  This would put Florida State in a much bigger spotlight.

But what would Florida State bring to the Big 12?  Sure, the other schools would LOVE it since it opens up Florida to more recruiting options.  Heck, Texas can recruit anywhere, but if they have a footprint in the state of Florida and an ability to tell recruits that they'll get to play there???  That's big. 

The Noles program gives the Big 12 ... what?  Yeah, they have quite a history over the past 30 years but Bobby Bowden isn't walking through that door.  FSU was fine with the ACC when they dominated it and had no football rival.  Now Miami and Virginia Tech has joined the league and FSU's stronghold has vanished.  Not to be mean, but that stronghold would've been weakened even if those schools didn't join: FSU isn't what it used to be.  The Noles have just become "another school" in the ACC.  Virginia Tech has been more dominant and you still have Miami, Clemson and Georgia Tech stealing your shine. 

So if this program goes to the Big 12, can it compete?   Florida State will be having to compete with Texas, Oklahoma, TCU (remember that they are joining the league this season), West Virginia (so are they), Oklahoma State, Baylor and Texas Tech ... with Kansas, Kansas State and Iowa State solid at times. 

Last season, Oklahoma State finished 3rd in the final poll with Baylor (13), TCU (14), Kansas State (15), Oklahoma (16) and West Virginia (17) joining them.  Florida State finished 23rd with a rather disappointing 9-4 season.  Don't think Texas won't get back off the mat after a so-so 8-5 season. 

If FSU is struggling to rule the ACC, do you think they will make any damage in the Big 12?

BASKETBALL:  The funny thing is that the trustee slammed that the ACC was more basketball-centric than the school likes.  Meanwhile, FSU is the defending ACC champion.  They went 3-1 against the mighty Tar Heels and Blue Devils this season and won the ACC tournament. 

The Big 12 is quite a basketball league.  FSU would leave two blue bloods (UNC, Duke) for one (Kansas).  Missouri has been good, but they are leaving.  Baylor has come on strong the last few seasons and Texas is a tournament fixture.  West Virginia joins the league and they have been a tough, tough program with a nice history.  After that?  Well, Oklahoma State has it moments, Kansas State has been good but loses coach Frank Martin, Iowa State surprised many this past year and then just some ick.  Florida State could compete in that league.  But would it be worth it?  Being a second class citizen in a league with both UNC and Duke are one thing but doing so to Kansas and getting nothing for it is another. 

Oh, and remember that Syracuse is coming to the ACC, meaning there will be no other league as top-heavy basketball wise than the ACC.  NC State and Maryland have championship pasts with NC State looking like it will re-ascend to that status very soon.  Pittsburgh has been really good.  Despite all of that, Florida State has been the third best hoops program over the past decade. 

That means that you ... yes YOU Florida State ... are among those "basketball elite" schools. 

FLORIDA WISE:  Something that cannot be dismissed is the fact that for a long time, Miami, Florida State and Florida weren't in the same conference.  Florida has the allure of the SEC and makes the most of that.  Florida State for a long time had the fact that they were the lone Sunshine state school in the ACC which was better than the Big East Conference that Miami was in.  Now, of course, FSU shares the ACC with Miami so that bit of advantage goes.  If FSU moved to the Big 12, they'd be able to lure better players than the ACC's Miami. 

It would also open Texas up to FSU in a big way.  I mean, if you are a big time prospect in Texas, it isn't a bad deal to go to sunny Florida State to play football and still get to come back home and play Texas, Texas Tech, TCU or Baylor. 

Of course no one cares about any of this at Florida State unless I wrote this on a bunch of huge stacks of $100 bills.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

FSU Leaving ACC? May Be A Good Thing

Well now.  Florida State University is apparantly miffed at the new ACC television deal with ESPN.  On the surface it looks like a pretty sweet deal, but a member of FSU's board of trustees doesn't like the fact that the ACC sold off its third tier football rights to the World Wide Leader but kept the option for basketball third tier rights. 

That makes a prominant football member like Florida State upset.  It shows them that the ACC ... as has been long thought ... cares about *gasp* basketball.   Now those rumors of the Noles heading to the Big 12 has gained some more traction. 

But is that a bad thing for the ACC?

First off, the ACC does care a great deal about basketball -- probably more than most of the other conferences.  However, the league has basically bent over backwards for football stability.  FSU was added over 20 years ago to become the face of the league in football.  Then a decade ago, the ACC upset the balance of college conference stability by plucking Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College from the Big East and putting into motion this massive movement.  The hoops fanbase has scoffed at these moves as they have totally changed the dynamic of basketball.

Just ask NC State how it will feel to only play North Carolina once a season in hoops.

Ahhhhhh, the other complaint.  The ACC loves the North Carolina schools.  Yes, yes they do.  Like I said, basketball is a big deal in the ACC and North Carolina and Duke run that end of the biz. 

So if Florida State left the ACC, what would that mean for the league?  Good or bad?

Of course you don't want to see any team leave your league.  If that happened, the ACC would join the list of the Big East and Big 12 as major leagues to lose teams and that's not a position you want to be in from a public relations standpoint.  It would also loosen up the ACC for more pilfering.   Does Maryland move to the Big Ten?  Does Clemson join FSU in the Big 12?  Does Miami and/or Virginia Tech then bolt to make the Big 12 a 14-member league? 

All those things could happen ... but that may not be a bad thing.  Could that mean the ACC then throws all their chips in for basketball and not care about football as much?  May be since the new football playoff system has gotten rid of those "Automatic Qualifier" monikers for BCS leagues.  No offense, but since the expansion to 12-teams hasn't really netted the league much.  No one has really been a title contender and the ACC champion has been getting embarrassed in the BCS bowls.  Those epic Miami-Florida State championship games we were dreaming of?  Hasn't happened. 

So let 'em go.  Then build your basketball model.  Do what you do best and just steal more Big East schools.  UConn has wanted badly to be in the ACC.  So has Rutgers.  Maybe the ACC could then convince Notre Dame to join in if they didn't require them to be a football member. 

While a football league wouldn't look that outstanding, the hoops side will be epic.  Remember that Pitt and Syracuse will be joining the league soon and the ACC certainly didn't do that for their football programs (well, not totally like they did with Miami and Va Tech). 

Maybe that's getting to far ahead of ourselves.  Maybe it will be more of a simple thing.  Florida State leaves for the Big 12 and maybe they go get Louisville and leave the other ACC schools alone.  I'm sure the ACC would then go after UConn and fill in the slot.  Even if the ACC lost two more schools like Clemson and Miami or Virginia Tech, they'd still be a 12-team league as they are before Syracuse and Pitt join. 

Whatever happens, it won't be the end of the league by any stretch. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Lakers Need To Watch Out In Game 7

The Lakers have taken a dominant 3-1 series lead against the Denver Nuggets into an improbable Game 7.  And Laker fans should have a reason to worry.


In the Kobe Era of Laker-dom, games where the Lakers are up against elimination hasn't been spotless.  Sure, we all remember the 2010 NBA Finals where the Lakers were down 3-2 to the Celtics and pulled out a championship ... which included an epic, albeit sloppy, Game 7 win.

But it hasn't been all like that.  Let's look in the past:

2011:  MAVERICKS 122-LAKERS 86: The Lakers looked horrible against the Mavericks in this series and the two-time defending champs were spanked out of the gym and swept out of the series with this 36 point embarrassment. 

2010:  LAKERS 89-CELTICS 67; LAKERS 83-CELTICS 79:  The series I mentioned before.  The Lakers followed up five close games with this blowout and set up a much sought after Lakers-Celtics Game 7.  That game wasn't played very well and Kobe Bryant was awful for much of it.  But LA made a huge 2nd half comeback to bring home another ring.

2009:  LAKERS 89-ROCKETS 70:  This is the game that many Laker fans will point to as a gauge for Saturday's Game 7 with the Nuggets.  In the second round of the 2009 playoffs, the Lakers let the outmanned Rockets and Ron Artest hang around too long and force a Game 7.  LA woke up (Pau Gasol had 21 pts and 18 rbs) to finish off Houston and go on to a title.

2008:  CELTICS 131-LAKERS 92:  Until the Lakers won those back-to-back titles, this game was pointed to as the low point of the Kobe Era.  Losing by 39 points in an elimination game?  Against the hated Celtics?  Yup.

2007:  SUNS 119-LAKERS 110:  This was the pre-Gasol time for the Lakers.  The Suns were the much better team and the Lakers made a galliant effort but couldn't extend the series after losing at home in Game 4.

2006:  SUNS 121-LAKERS 90:  This game.  THIS GAME.  Remember that the Lakers actually led this series 3-1 after a huge OT win in Game 4.  But Phoenix blew them out in Game 5 and won in LA in Game 6.  A huge Game 7 and the Lakers were horrible.  This was the "Kobe Quit" game.

2005:  Missed playoffs

2004:  PISTONS 100-LAKERS 87:  This entire series was one big choke job.  Los Angeles with their four Hall Of Famers (Shaq, Kobe, Malone and Payton) cruised to the Finals to face the underdog Pistons.  But Detroit out-everythinged Los Angeles and the put a stamp on the end of the Shaq-Kobe dynasty.

2003:  SPURS 100-SPURS 82:  This is known as the "Crying Game".  The Lakers couldn't continue their three-peat after this dud against the top seeded Spurs.  Don't get fooled: the Lakers may have been "just" a No. 5 seed but they pretty much laid down all season before a furious run in the last two months of the season.  In the fourth quarter of this spanking, the Lakers were seen weeping on the bench.

2002:  LAKERS 106-KINGS 100, LAKERS 112-KINGS 106:  Ahhhh yes.  This series.  To this Laker fan, this is the most interesting postseason series during the Kobe Era.  Remember how much these two hated each other and the fact they were meeting in the Western Conference Finals was awesome (remember, too, that the Kings had the home court advantage).  Remember Game 4 when Robert Horry hit The Shot?  Remember Game 5 when the Kings made a huge comeback to squeak out a win on Bibby's shot?  The Lakers were up against the wall for Games 6 and 7.  Game 6 is still hugely controversial as the Lakers did get a ton of calls in the 4th quarter.  Game 7 was tense and was back-and-forth.  But the been-there-done-that Lakers weren't scared in the final frame while all the Kings not named Mike Bibby were frightened and choked.  No one wanted to shoot and if they did, it was an ugly shot. 

2001: Never faced elimination as they went 15-1 to win to repeat.

2000:  LAKERS 113-KINGS 86, LAKERS 89-BLAZERS 84:  Two separate games and two separate situations.  The Kings were upstarts and somehow forced a decisive Game 5 in the first round.  The Lakers smacked them away.  The game against Portland was Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals and is "the game" that defines the beginning of the Shaq-Kobe dynasty.  The Lakers were down 15 points in the 4th quarter before an epic comeback to win the game and then go on to the title.

1999:  SPURS 118-LAKERS 107:  The final game at the Great Western Forum was a San Antonio second round sweep.

1998:  JAZZ 96-LAKERS 92:  More about Shaq than Kobe at this time, this was written up as yet another Shaquille O'Neal sweep.

1997:  JAZZ 98-LAKERS 93:  The "Kobe airballs" game.  The first postseason the Lakers had with both Kobe and Shaq.

That makes it 7-9 ... and losing 6 of the last 9.