Thursday, November 29, 2012

Soooooo, What Will College Football Look Like Now?

Just an update about what the NCAA football conferences will look like in a few years when all this stuff moves around.


LEGENDS:  Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern

LEADERS:  Indiana, Maryland, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Rutgers, Wisconsin

I'd like to see
EAST:  Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, Rutgers
WEST:  Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue, Wisconsin


ATLANTIC:  Boston College, Clemson, Florida State, Louisville, NC State, Syracuse, Wake Forest

COASTAL:  Duke, Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Virginia, Virginia Tech

*Notre Dame joins to become the 15th basketball member

I'd like to see
NORTH:  Boston College, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest
SOUTH:  Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Miami, NC State, North Carolina


EAST:  Central Florida, Cincinnati, UConn, East Carolina, South Florida, Temple

WEST:  Boise State, Houston, Memphis, San Diego State, SMU, Tulane

*It is unknown if the Big East will add a 14th member with Navy in 2015.  Possibly Charlotte?

BASKETBALL:  Central Florida, Cincinnati, Connecticut, DePaul, Georgetown, Houston, Marquette, Memphis, Providence, Seton Hall, SMU, South Florida, St John's, Temple, Tulane, Villanova

I'd like to see ... in basketball ...

EAST:  Central Florida, Connecticut, Georgetown, Providence, Seton Hall, St John's, Temple, Villanova

WEST:  Cincinnati, DePaul, Houston, Marquette, Memphis, SMU, South Florida, Tulane


EAST:  Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Marshall, Old Dominion, UAB

WEST:  Louisiana Tech, North Texas, Rice, Southern Miss, Tx-San Antonio, Tulsa, UTEP

*All speculative.  East Carolina joins the above members for a 14-team basketball conference.


Air Force, Colorado State, Fresno State, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, San Jose State, UNLV, Utah State, Wyoming


Arkansas State, Georgia State, La-Lafayette, La-Monroe, South Alabama, Texas State, Troy, Western Kentucky

*Arkansas-Little Rock and Texas-Arlington join for basketball


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What Should New ACC Look Like?

Now that the ACC has added Louisville to the mix, what should the league look like?

I hate the "Atlantic" and "Coastal" divisions.  They make no sense and it has been nearly a decade and I barely know who is in what football division.  To me, it seems like there are two simple solutions.


Just do the geography and move on.  For the most part, Virginia-North Carolina border serves as a perfect dividing line for the divisions.  However, one of the North Carolina schools had to move to the North.  I put Wake Forest there due to ... well, they are the smallest fanbase and would be least affected.  Plus, the Triangle dynamic of North Carolina-Duke-NC State should stick together.  Have some sort of stipulation that Wake gets to play at least one and try to get two games against the fellow NC schools.

NORTH:  Boston College, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest

SOUTH:  Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Miami, NC State, North Carolina


In a somewhat similar setup, just split the division into the pre-expansion fellowships.  Meaning, the seven schools that were together before the league decided to become relevant in football (remember, that started with bringing in Florida State in the early 1990s) and have FSU and the former Big East republics together.

ORIGINAL:  Clemson, Duke, Georgia Tech, NC State, North Carolina, Virginia, Wake Forest

NEW GUYS:  Boston College, Florida State, Louisville, Miami, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Virginia Tech

The good is that the old school ACC fans will like that they are back together again.  The bad is that the football dominance is obviously in the "New Guys" division (name 'em what you want).  Clemson would be the best school in one division while there is a brawl in the other.


Even though I mentioned I hated the current setup, maybe do what the Pac-12 was toying with and split the conference.  The Pac-12 has six easy geographical rivalry sets and toyed with having each member in each set in separate divisions.  That would mean that each school still had the ability to make trips to each area in the conference. 

In the ACC, that's tough since there are only a few of these types of sets.  Still, let's give it a try.

SET #1:  Boston College, Clemson, Florida State, NC State, Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest

SET #2:  Duke, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Miami, North Carolina, Syracuse, Virginia 

Looks a little similar to what the ACC is now, but still has the split.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Could Alex Smith's Benching Lead To Players Hiding Concussions?

While there has been a lot of talk about the San Francisco 49ers quarterback controversy, one thing hasn't really been discussed:  Will this start a trend of players hiding concussions?

Alex Smith suffered a concussion three weeks ago and sat out in the Niners game against the Bears (he was close to being cleared to start).  Colin Kaepernick came in a played lights out.  Now Alex Smith seems to be cleared to play, but the Niners seem to be moving on to Kaepernick.

Has Smith just gotten Wally Pip'ed? 

Usually in sports, you don't lose your job due to injury.  The reality is that it sometimes happens no matter who you are.  Just ask Joe Montana.  But with the heightened awareness around concussions and the league mandating players sit out until cleared by the NFL, will players now try to hide any concussion-like symptoms in order to keep from losing their jobs?

Sure, in this day and age, it may be hard to hide a concussion.  Still, could a player take more of a risk by trying to keep team doctors from diagnosing one if the player keeps quiet about it.  Alex Smith didn't deserve to lose his job.  He led the Niners to the NFC Championship last year and has them in a great spot to make a Super Bowl run this season.  He is efficient and doesn't turn the ball over.  He was doing his job.  Sure, Kaepernick may be the future of the franchise and may, ultimately, be better than Smith.  However, we would never have known that had Smith not suffered a concussion and been forced to sit.

That concussion ... mild as it appeared to be ... may have cost Smith over $8M.  Smith was due to get that check after the season, but will now most likely be released before it kicks in.  All because of a concussion.  All because he had to sit.  He will lose $8 million, his starting job and his opportunity to lead his team to a Super Bowl championship. 

Don't get me wrong.  I'm not saying the NFL is in the wrong for being cautious with concussions.  The NFL has done a lot to bring attention to head injuries and erring on the side of safety is the right thing.  Smith losing his job isn't the NFL's fault.  But because of these new regulations, will players decide to try to hide these concussions in order to keep their jobs.  And their money.

Don't think this isn't crossing every quarterback's mind. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Why Would The Big Ten Want Maryland????

The Big Ten is in talks with Maryland to join their conference.  If the Terps bolt, then Rutgers would most likely leave the Big East to join them.


Well, for Rutgers' sake I totally get it.  Get out of a murky Big East that is hanging out by threads and tape and into one of the richest conferences with one of the best histories.  Don't blame them at all.

But the Big Ten and Maryland?  Why?  The Big Ten doesn't need Maryland at all for on-the-field support.  Maryland's football program would be among the worst in the Big Ten and their basketball has been in a funk over the past several years.  Maryland brings nothing.

Well, they do bring the Washington DC television market.  And Rutgers would bring the New York/Philadelphia market.  Oh so everyone assumes.  Sure, those markets may be forced to have the Big Ten Network on their cable provider's blocks ... but it isn't as if it will get many more viewers.

The Terps sit well behind the Redskins, Ravens and Orioles and a bit behind the Wizards, Capitals and Nationals.  And, well, just ask any New Yorker or Philadelphian how important catching the Rutgers game is.  From a competitive standpoint, adding Maryland and Rutgers is absurd.  From a rating standpoint, even more absurd.  From a market standpoint, quite a reach.

While you get to be on television lineups in the Beltway and Jersey, that doesn't mean it will be on many people's TV screens.  It could also take a lot out of those Midwestern fans' TVs when their Wisconsin squad gets the "pleasure" of facing off against the Terps or Knights.  It sure isn't Notre Dame they'd be getting.  And not many of those folks will fall over themselves to travel from Nebraska to half way across the country to New Jersey.  Honestly, it doesn't make sense. 

As for Maryland ... why leave the ACC which you were a charter member of, won a football and basketball championship, to join a league where you will be the ultimate afterthought?  You know how Boston College has been the bastard child of the ACC?  You will be that for the Big Ten.  You will be that weird stop like West Virginia now is to the Big 12. 

I do understand Maryland's main gripes.  Of all the schools that complain about the ACC's Carolina-centric views, Maryland has always been front and center.  That, despite the ACC's addition of five schools near or north of Maryland and two schools in Florida over the past 20 years.  But even that has hurt the Terps.  Virginia, their formal natural rival, has now buddied up with new addition Virginia Tech.  Duke, the Terps' mortal enemy in basketball, now has moved away from that rivalry now that the conference has grown.  Maryland will no longer face Duke twice every season anymore ... and that bothers Maryland and, well, no one else. 

Maryland always feel like Jan Brady in Marsha's shadow. 

So now they want out of the relationship and, yes, the Big Ten seems like a nice place to squat.  But if trading in your respectability for some cash (that you need and don't have right now ... and will become even worse with a $50M exit fee due to the ACC), then go for it.

The ACC can replace Maryland with UConn and be just fine.  UConn brings New England along with the New York market (remember that the ACC already has Boston College and Syracuse) and their contributions to football and basketball will instantly be greater.

Good luck with that Maryland.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

NFL: Sportz' Down The Stretch Addition

With nearly everyone with just 7 games remaining in their schedules, we are entering the playoff stretch.  So what has been the good and bad of each division so far?

SURPRISE:  Redskins.
  I know that the Redskins are just 3-6 and are in a funk.  But the way RG3 and Alfred Morris have entered the league has been amazing.  They've been in 5 of the 6 games they lost despite having a horrible defense and a massive pile of injuries.

DISAPPOINTMENT:  Eagles.  It is tough to pick them over the Cowboys, but I had the Eagles as the team to beat in the East.  Now this looks like a franchise that will completely overhaul after the season.

WHO WINS:  Giants.  No one looks great in this division, but New York has done the work and seems to be the most champion-like of the bunch.

SURPRISE: Buccaneers.
  Greg Schiano has this team on some sort of edge.  They have a shot at a playoff berth and are as dangerous as you can be ... especially when you have the Muscle Hamster on your side. 

DISAPPOINTMENT:  Saints.  Now, they seem to be turning this thing around, but I never thought they'd fall as hard out of the gate as they did. 

WHO WINS:  Falcons.  Winning your first 8 games out of the box is awesome for your chances.  The Saints and Bucs will be coming hard for them, but the lead Atlanta enjoys should be too great.

SURPRISE:  Vikings.
  A young QB, a banged up back and a struggling team last year turned into this? 

DISAPPOINTMENT:  Lions.  This team makes no sense.  Every game they look like garbage for 3 quarters ... and then dominate the 4th. 

WHO WINS:  Packers.  The Bears are niiiiiiice, but the Packers are putting it together.  Plus they beat Chicago back when Green Bay wasn't playing that well. 

SURPRISE:  Cardinals.  I expected nothing from this team ... especially when they have no idea who they QB or running back is.  Sure, they've been bad over the last month and a half.  . 

DISAPPOINTMENT:  Seahawks.  Harsh, but for the non-49ers in the division, I thought they'd look better.  They were given a game by the fake refs and I still don't know if they are any good.  When you believe in them, they let me down.

WHO WINS:  49ers.  Of course.  Though either Seattle or Arizona could make it interesting.

SURPRISE:  Dolphins.  A rookie quarterback, new coach and no receivers.  To be in the mix this long defies logic.

DISAPPOINTMENT:  Patriots.  Yes, the Jets are laughable and are disappointing to some, but I didn't think much of New York before the season started.  The Pats should be wrapping this division up by now and have let these lesser thans stick around.

WHO WINS:  Patriots.  Still, New England is by far the top team in this division and should display that at some point.

SURPRISE:  Colts.  Anyone in the world have this team at 6-3 right now?  Anyone?  Anyone?

DISAPPOINTMENT:  Titans.  I guess.  The Jags were looking bad and everyone else is exceeding expectation.  Tennessee gets the nod.

WHO WINS:  Texans.  Best team in the AFC ... unless the Colts can get even better????

SURPRISE:  Ravens.
  This division lacks any surprises ... except that Baltimore is 7-2 despite looking old on defense.

DISAPPOINTMENT:  Bengals.  Not a great disappointment, but Cincinnati doesn't look like the same young studded team they did last year.

WHO WINS:  Steelers.  I like B-more over Pittsburgh, but the Steelers keep winning despite all those injuries.  They have to get healthy at some point soon.

SURPRISE:  Broncos.  I mean this team did win the division last year, but to see Peyton Manning looking like an MVP is very surprising to me.

DISAPPOINTMENT:  Chiefs.  I thought Kansas City would look much more competitive after ending last season on a winning streak.  I guess I was wrong.

WHO WINS:  Broncos.  The Chargers are still right there, but Denver is the better team and they have Peyton.  Everyone else sucks.   

Lakers Firing Mike Brown Wasn't Fair ... But It Was Right

As a Laker fan, I am glad to see that the franchise removed Mike Brown as its head coach.

Don't get me wrong.  I think Brown is a good guy, a good coach and pretty much got jobbed in this whole deal.  Still, he didn't belong.  He wasn't Laker-like and certainly wasn't a fit for the roster that has been assembled.  The things he wanted to do may have worked for a different team but it was wrong for this one right now.

This is a win-now franchise.  Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash may only have a few seasons left.  Dwight Howard is in the final year of his contract and could sign elsewhere if he wants.  There is absolutely no youth on this team to build the future on.  This is as win-now a franchise as there could ever be.  So installing a Princeton offense or whatever you want to call it may have been the wrong idea.  The learning curve is very thin.  And the fact that your defense ... which is your calling card ... has been poor really kills your scheme.

It doesn't help that no one was in love with the hiring of Brown during the summer of 2011 and no one really had his back.

Not to say that it may not have worked.  It just would've taken longer than maybe he had time to do it in.  Yes, Brown did get jobbed.  He inherited a Phil Jackson Laker team that had lost its identity.  He had essentially no training camp last season to get anything done.  Not to mention his roster was completely screwed up when David Stern inexplicitly nixed a trade that would've sent Chris Paul to the Lakers ... which the collateral damage meant Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol (both were included in the deal) suffered emotional issues -- which led Odom to being traded for nothing.  Brown went through a major roster overhaul this season when Dwight Howard and Nash were added (among others).  He wanted to install the Princeton offense but saw Nash, Howard and Kobe miss a lot of preseason time due to various injuries and recoveries.  In the Lakers' first five games of the season, Kobe Bryant had a sore foot, Howard was out of shape after back surgery and Nash has played all of a game and a half.   Under normal circumstances, he deserved more time.

The thought was Brown had the upcoming six game homestand to right the ship.  If there wasn't any improvement then he was gone.  Only the Lakers laid a huge egg in Utah to drop to a 1-4 record and it sent up huge red flags.  The brain trust of the Lakers met and discussed it and they decided the end was now.

My issue with it all was the fact that you KNOW that this was discussed during the offseason.  You don't fire a coach this soon into a season without having doubts about him prior to the season.  I can see them deciding early on "we'll let him start this season but we'll cut him loose if this doesn't look good."  With names like Phil Jackson, Mike D'Antoni, Jerry Sloan, Nate McMillian, Mike Dunleavy, the Van Gundys and several others that there are plenty of really good coaches out there that would love the Lakers' gig. 

And that's where we are at now. 

The key is to get this thing back on track ASAP.  The talent is there and if Phil Jackson decides to come back then it would be a bit seamless to plug him in.  Three main cogs understand the triangle offense (Kobe, Ron Artest and Gasol) but it should be simple for Howard to pick up.  How Jackson uses Nash ... by far the best point guard Jackson would ever have coached ... will be interesting to watch.  Either way, this should lead for another wild season in L.A.