Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Let's Move Some Summer Events To The Winter Olympics

About 8 years ago, I made a passionate complaint about the Torino Olympics.  I'm going to be honest, but I can't remember why I was so mad?  Whatever.

It is 2014 and I'm not dumping on the Sochi Games as everyone else wants to.  But one of my big complaints returns.  I mean, the snowy goodness of the Winter Games has it's special charm ... but these games just don't grab me like the Summer Games.  The problem is that there is just so much going on during the Summer Games to keep up.

Let's move some Summer stuff to the Winter.  Here is what I said back in 2006:
We have pretty much snowy events in the Winter Games.....and everything else gets to go to the Summer Games. Why? This is 2006...not the early 1900s when logistics was a much harder task. We don't even have REAL snow anymore, for crying out loud! So, move volleyball to the Winter Games. We still have beach volleyball in the Summer Games [and NBC loved showing it!]. So why not have the indoor volleyball event in the summer games? Really, hockey is the lone "team sport" in the Winter adding that could be beneficial. Maybe move boxing to the Winter Games as well. Boxing gets overlooked in the Summer Games and could soar in the Winter. Again, an indoor event so it matters not when it is held. Stuff like badmiton, ping-pong and weightlifting could also head over to the Winter Games. That doesn't work for every sport. Don't move gymnastics....because the Winter Games already have ice skating. Don't move basketball....because it would screw up every existing league in the world to make that move.

No, not everything can.  I also understand that it may be a bit tougher logistically than I first proposed.  Several Winter Games sites are smaller and are more resort towns that may not have all the venues to have too many indoor events.  The Summer Olympics are held in huge cities like London, Beijing, Athens, Sydney and, soon, Rio and Tokyo.  Still, I'd like to be able to see it possible to make something happen.

In 2010, we had the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.  That is a city that could support having volleyball, wrestling or badminton there.  These Olympics have 98 events.  The 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro will have 306 events.  That means the Summer Games have 3.5 times as many events as the Winter Games in the same two week time frame.

If, say, weightlifting moved to the Winter Games ... that would mean 15 events would move.  Boom!  That means 291 Summer and 113 Winter events.  What if boxing moved to the Winter?  There's another 13 events changing hands.  I love watching Olympic boxing but it can get lost among the swimming, track, basketball and beach volleyball.  Plus moving some of those events to the Winter could open us back up to having baseball or, yes, tug of war back in the Summer Games.

This isn't a new idea.  Ice hockey and figure skating used to be in the Summer Games.  Those two are the premiere events now in the Winter Games.  Granted, those two sports began before we had a Winter Games, but it can obviously work.

ACC Tournament Seating Chart Has Unfortunate Misspelling

The ACC Tournament is less than a month away and the seating chart for the event in Greensboro has been released.  It is quite a difficult feat with the addition of three new schools -- Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame -- to the mix.

What shouldn't be as difficult is spelling the names of the schools in the conference.  You'd think after 60 years, the powers that be in the ACC could spell the name of Virginia correctly.  But they didn't, and the result is comical.

Yeah, forgetting the third "i" in "Virginia" can get you some giggles on the internets.  

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sportz Assassin's Bubble Watch - 2/17

Okay. I've been doing my whole Sportz' Bubble Watch for a few years now and I think it is time to start back up. With only a few weeks left in the season before conference tournaments, let's see how the bubble looks.

So, here are my locks ... yes, by conference. The ones in green are spot on, no doubt locks. The ones in blue are pretty much in, too, though they can't afford to go in a tailspin. The ones in orange are smack dab on the bubble but would be in if the selections were being made today. Every team in red are on the wrong side of the bubble right now and would miss the dance.

I figure there are 21 conferences who are one-bid leagues and 11 conferences that could net multiple bids. So who should be going?

ATLANTIC COAST: Syracuse, Duke, Virginia, Pittsburgh, North Carolina, Florida State, Clemson, NC State, Maryland, Wake Forest.

Usually in my first Bubble Watch of the season, I tend to put a lot of teams in the "out" category just because you really don't know who gets hot and could slide right onto the radar.  Teams like Wake Forest and Maryland aren't really close to the bracket right now, but a few nice wins (say if Maryland held on against Duke on Saturday) can put a team back on the watch.  So to split hairs, that's we shoot for a bigger pool.  However, I see the ACC as a 6-bid league.  Syracuse and Duke are in with Virginia looking very good.  Pitt has a few tough losses this past week which makes them a tad shakier.  UNC is on a roll.  After that, the game is on.

BIG BUBBLE GAMES LOOMING: North Carolina at Florida State, NC State at Clemson, Duke at North Carolina, Florida State at Pittsburgh. 

BIG EAST: Villanova, Creighton, Xavier, Providence, Georgetown, Marquette, St John's.

Nova and Creighton have their spots sewn up.  After that, it is a free-for-all.  Who knows?  One thing is for certain, while the new Big East will not get the same representation in the Dance that the old Big East did, they still have a lot of bubble-licious teams.

BIG BUBBLE GAMES LOOMING: Villanova at Providence, Xavier at Georgetown

 Michigan State, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Ohio State, MinnesotaPurdue, Indiana, Nebraska.

The Big Ten knows Michigan State will be and and should feel good about three or four other teams.  Minnesota is the definition of a bubble team.  Purdue, Indiana and Nebraska will need big runs to get themselves in.

BIG BUBBLE GAMES LOOMING: Iowa at Indiana, Michigan State at Purdue, Wisconsin at Iowa, Minnesota at Ohio State

BIG 12: Kansas, Iowa State, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, West Virginia, Baylor.

The Big 12 looks like it will be the league that puts the most bids into the NCAA tournament.  What an interesting mix it is.  Kansas and Iowa State will be high seeds, Texas and Oklahoma are surging up while Oklahoma State's issues have been well documented.  West Virginia and Baylor look like they'll be fighting to slip into the tournament, though Baylor's woeful Big XII record will most likely haunt them.

BIG BUBBLE GAMES LOOMING: Oklahoma State at Baylor, Baylor at West Virginia, Kansas State at Oklahoma

PAC-12: Arizona, UCLA, Colorado, Arizona State, Stanford, California, Utah, Oregon, Washington, Oregon State.

Remember a couple years ago when the Pac-12 barely could get two teams into the tournament?  Well, times have changed.  The Pac-12 has a lot of teams that could play in March, though only a couple that may play deep into it.  Arizona is a top-tier seed with UCLA possibly reaching pod status.  The rest are on the bubble.

BIG BUBBLE GAMES LOOMING: Washington at Oregon, UCLA at Cal, Arizona State at Colorado, UCLA at Stanford, Arizona State at Utah

SEC: Florida, Kentucky, TennesseeMissouri, Georgia, Ole Miss, LSU, Vanderbilt, Arkansas, Texas A&M.

Florida is a lock with Kentucky gaining a lock because, really, how will they falter in this league?  There are 8 teams trying to find a way into the Dance with only Tennessee and Missouri realistically on the bubble.  The SEC in basketball isn't anywhere near the SEC in football.

BIG BUBBLE GAMES LOOMING: Missouri at Georgia, Texas A&M at LSU, Arkansas at Kentucky, Vanderbilt at Tennessee, Georgia at Arkansas, Ole Miss at Texas A&M

AMERICAN ATHLETIC:  Cincinnati, UConn, Memphis, Louisville, SMU.

The AAC is pretty simple this year, unlike when many of these schools were in the Big East or Conference USA.  There are five teams in a good spot for a bid and no one else is close.  SMU should be in the blue, but I have them on the orange ranking just because they would be the one school that would be in trouble with a swoon. 

BIG BUBBLE GAMES LOOMING:  Louisville at Memphis, 

MOUNTAIN WEST: San Diego State, New Mexico, UNLV, Wyoming, Boise State, Utah State.
In recent years, the Mountain West has been a Bubble Watch favorite.  Four or so teams in the mix but always winning big games to lock up bids.  This year is a bit boring.  SD State is locked in no matter what with New Mexico the lone other to really be looking like a bid team.  The guys in red will really need to make a run to get themselves into a good look at the tournament.

BIG BUBBLE GAMES LOOMING: Utah State at New Mexico, Boise State at Wyoming

A-10: Saint Louis, VCU, UMass, George Washington, Richmond, St. Joseph's, Dayton, St Bonaventure.

Saint Louis leads a crop of A-10 squads that could do some damage in the tournament.  VCU has always been dangerous and UMass seems to be back.  This is a league that could surprise and sneak five or six teams in if the big boys can't take care of business.  This season, I wouldn't put it past anyone.

BIG BUBBLE GAMES LOOMING: Dayton at St Joseph's, UMass at Dayton, Saint Louis at VCU, St Joseph's at St. Bonnie

MVC: Wichita State, Indiana State.
WCC: Gonzaga, BYU

Wichita State is not only a lock, but fighting for a #1 seed and an undefeated season.  Barring anyone else winning the "Arch Madness", no one else from the MVC is getting in.  Over in the West Coast Conference, Gonzaga looks, again, like a tourney team while BYU is squarely on the bubble.  To be honest, every other mid-major is a one bid league.

BIG BUBBLE GAMES LOOMING: Indiana State at Illinois State, BYU at San Diego

ONE BID LEAGUES (21): America East, Atlantic Sun, Big Sky, Big South, Big West, Colonial, Conference USA, Horizon, Ivy, MAAC, MAC, MEAC, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Patriot, Southern, Southland, SWAC, Summit, Sun Belt and WAC.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Who Cares If NFL Is Ready For a Gay Player -- GET READY!

Michael Sam is getting ready to become the first
openly gay player in the NFL.
It has been a week since Missouri defensive end and NFL draft hopeful Michael Sam has came out to the world that he is gay.  That means this fall, Sam will most likely become the first openly gay player to play in the NFL.

This entire week has been filled with the question:  Is the NFL ready to welcome a gay player?

My answer?  You better get ready.

I hate when the media or anyone else asks questions like this.  Honestly, what does "ready" mean?  Have we eradicated all homophobic thinking and actions from NFL locker rooms?  No.  And we haven't in pretty much any other line of business either.  Can we promise that all the players in the league have zero issues playing with or against a gay player?  No, but we can't also promise those things in any other line or work either.

That doesn't make those people correct, but it says something about how we think.  It would be great ... and naive ... to think that we live in a society where all workplaces are completely tolerant of all people.  Legally, we are supposed to live in that society.  Reality bites.  Anyone who has followed the NFL the past season and the Miami Dolphins in particular knows that there isn't harmony in every roster.  Sam will hear something from someone at some time.  The NFL is not all the way ready for a gay player.

So what.  Deal with it.

See, change rarely just works its way into our culture unnoticed and without some sort of resistance.  Do we think Major League Baseball was "ready" for a black player in the 1940s?  Or course not.  Anyone who knows about what Jackie Robinson was subjected to during his career knows that MLB wasn't ready.  However, it happened whether everyone was on board or not.  It has been 70 years since Jackie Robinson made his debut and there are always stories coming up about some issue involving a racist act or comment.  I know this is the NFL, but ask Riley Cooper's teammates if everyone is completely on board.

Sam won't be Jackie Robinson in that aspect.  Robinson was the first black player to play in the Major Leagues.  We know that.  Sam will not be the first gay player to play in the NFL.  Several ex-players came out once their careers were over.  Robinson never had to go to the New York Times to announce that he is black.  Plus, back when Robinson played, sports tended to be ahead of society on social issues.  Now, sports tends to be behind society.  Most people know someone openly gay.  Most people work with someone who is openly gay.  If neither of those are true, we like movies, TV shows, music or some form of culture that contains someone who is gay.

My point is that sometimes change comes whether you are ready for it or not and adapting is necessary.  Unlike years past, if NFL players reject Sam like MLB players did with Robinson, there will be a very swift backlash from fans and the media.  While the NFL is king of the hill, rejecting a gay player wouldn't sit well alongside all the safety concerns from parents about letting their kids play football.  The million/billionaire owners already know that shunning a gay player ... or any gay employee ... is unacceptable under any circumstances and shouldn't allow for anything happening to him in their locker room.

Are you ready, football?  Get ready.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Could Winter Storm Threaten Duke-UNC Game?

A winter storm that could dump 8 inches of snow and ice on much of the state of North Carolina could threaten the UNC-Duke rivalry game on Wednesday night.  A wintry mix of snow and freezing rain is expected to start Wednesday afternoon.  The Blue Devils and Tar Heels game begins at 9:00pm local time that night.

The ACC will play the game provided that the officials, players and coaches can get to the game site.  Just a few weeks ago, the North Carolina Tar Heels got to Atlanta during their infamous winter event to play a game against Georgia Tech.  They played the game even though ESPN's production crew and many fans failed to attend the game.

I'd imagine that it would be the same deal for the Duke-UNC game in Chapel Hill.  The officiating crew should be able to have plenty of time to get to the town, if they aren't there already.  The Dean E. Smith Center is on campus, so the Tar Heels should get to the game pretty easily.  The issue would be for Duke.  The Blue Devils are a mere 8 miles down the road in Durham which could make their bus trip a bit tricky.  Still, I think they'll get there alright.

The issue would be in the stands.  What if, like the Georgia Tech game, not many fans showed up?  I mean, I know this is the biggest game on the calendar for both these programs, but what if fans just cannot make it?  They will still play the game, of course, but it would be amazing to see a UNC-Duke game not have that crazy atmosphere to it.  I know the Smith Center crowd isn't as raucous as the one at Cameron Indoor Stadium, but it still rocks when the hated Dookies come down the road.

You could wonder, actually, if it would get louder.  In 2000, a snowstorm hit the Triangle area and forced a lot of fans from attending a Maryland-UNC game.  UNC allowed their students to fill the seats which provided quite a difference from the typical "wine and cheese crowd".  Could UNC get have their own version of the Crazies in a huge building like the Smith Center filled with primarily students?   As a North Carolina fan, that could be epic and easily one of the most interesting moments in the history of one of the greatest rivalries in sports.

What Does This Year's Duke-UNC Game Mean?

Rivalry renewed
It is that time again for Duke-North Carolina ... the greatest rivalry in college basketball and one of the best rivalries in all sports.  This Wednesday, they lace 'em up for another installment in Chapel Hill.

But what is the buzz around this game?  It is really tough to say.

Both teams have underachieved a bit.  Duke hasn't looked like that elite level squad that often this year.  They are talented enough to win the whole thing and they have won 7 of 8 games but they haven't looked Duke-like.  The same team that has been blitzing teams of late also lost to Clemson and Notre Dame.

Carolina is in the same sort of boat.  No one has any clue what this team is.  What was once a top-15 team that beat the likes of Michigan State, Louisville and Kentucky, now they are a team just clinging on to remain relevant in the ACC.  The Tar Heels enter this game pretty hot as well with a five-game winning streak.  That has allowed the Heels to be 6-4 after a horrid 1-4 start to conference play.

That's the angle of this game.  Two teams that have struggled with finding an identity are facing off when both are at their hottest.  It is usually already a huge game as far as the ACC standings go, but this year has a bigger difference.  Neither school is atop the league standings and both are actually fighting for one of the four coveted double-byes in the ACC Tournament.  Newbies Syracuse and Pittsburgh are now among the league's elite while Virginia has had a rebirth of relevance.  If UNC beats Duke, the Devils would be just 8-4 and the Heels 7-5.  Imagine if that happens.  That would mean the Heels would have beaten Kentucky, Michigan State, Duke and Louisville this season ... the entire preseason top five.  Amazing for a team that can't quite get right.

Do that and the Heels are sitting in a nice spot heading into the weekend's matchup against Pitt.  UNC then faces fellow middle-level ACC squads Florida State, Wake Forest and NC State in the next two weeks.  Big time slate.

A Duke win would put a bit of distance between them and the bottom ten teams in the ACC.  Aside from rematches with Syracuse and North Carolina at Cameron Indoor Stadium, the Blue Devils should be able to close out the rest of their schedule and challenge of the conference title.

Conventional wisdom says that Duke should beat UNC handily, but with these two this season, you just never know.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Goodbye Maryland

Maryland-UNC used to mean matchups like
Len Bias vs Michael Jordan or Joe Smith vs
Rasheed Wallace.
Last night, North Carolina beat Maryland in what will most likely be the final time these two meet on the Smith Center floor.  Barring some tournament somewhere (including next month's ACC Tournament), these two won't meet for a while.

Maryland is leaving the ACC for the Big Ten after this season.  Right now, the school and the conference are in a bitter lawsuit and countersuit.  When that happens, conference schools tend not to extend a hand to play a friendly anytime soon.

It is a shame.  The ACC is unaccustomed to seeing schools leave.  Until Maryland does so this July, South Carolina has been the lone school to bolt the ACC when they did it nearly 45 years ago.  When the Terps announced they were moving to the Big Ten, is shocked the ACC and made the league seem as if they werer on the brink of falling apart.  Soon after the Terps' announcement, rumors began to swirl that Florida State, Clemson and/or Virginia Tech were moving the the SEC or Big 12 or that Georgia Tech and ... yes ... North Carolina were going to join Maryland in the Big Ten.

Those rumors were proven untrue, but the damage was done at that time.

As an ACC fan, the news shocked and stunned me.  I'll be honest when I say I will always harness hard feelings for the University of Maryland.  I'll be honest when I say I hope they do nothing in the Big Ten and I don't wish them well.

I feel bad about that ... somewhat.  Maryland has been a great ACC school.  In a league that is known for the "big four" North Carolina schools, Maryland has been the best of the rest of the bunch.  Maryland is the only ACC school outside of UNC, Duke or NC State to win a National Championship (new member Syracuse won theirs as a member of the Big East).  Only those three schools have won more ACC regular season championships.  Maryland has consistently been one of the elite programs in the ACC.  Maryland trails only UNC and Duke in ACC winning percentage (they are the only three schools with a winning all-time ACC record).  Only the four North Carolina schools have won more ACC tournaments.

Maryland played NC State in what ACC fans call the greatest game in conference history.  South Carolina really never had a remarkable impact on the ACC in its less than 20-year run in the league.  Maryland has been a vital part of the fabric of the league.  Even in their complains of the ACC's pro-North Carolina (the state) bias, they still were a formidable opponent.  In reality, they will be missed.

Still, the University of Louisville will replace Maryland this coming summer and the ACC will replace the Terps with one of the best athletic programs in the country.  Louisville has a rich history that includes three National Championships including the most recent one in 2013.  They bring with them a Hall Of Fame coach to join the three others that call the ACC home (Mike Krzyzewski, Roy Williams and Jim Boeheim) and a new basketball crazed market.  The ACC won't go hungry.

Maryland will be off to the Big East, which isn't a slouch of a conference.  Basketball-wise, they should be able to hold their own.  But if Maryland was always grumpy about the ACC's apparent bias towards the North Carolina schools, the Terps may get bent when they are out on an island in the mid-Atlantic while Chicago and Indianapolis are busy hosting all the Big Ten's events.  If Maryland felt like an outsider in what was once a very geographically tight ACC (until the 1992 expansion, Maryland was the northernmost school while Georgia Tech the southernmost school; Florida State became the southern school until Miami joined in 2003), they may not like a league that stretches all the way to Nebraska and is dominated by the Great Lakes state schools.

That may sound snippy and I mean it to be.  I'm not happy that Maryland is leaving.  As a lifelong ACC fan, it hurts to see them leave this conference.  It hurts to not see my Tar Heels facing the Terps again.  Heck, I'll even miss those rabid Maryland-Duke contests.

Goodbye Maryland.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

CBS To Air NFL Games On Thursday ... And We All Win!!!!

For at least one season, CBS will air eight Thursday Night Football games for the NFL.  NBC will still air the Kickoff Game on Thursday of Week 1. CBS will then show a Thursday game for Weeks 2 through 9.  Then the NFL Network will show Thursday games in Weeks 10 through 15 with two Saturday games for Week 16.

NFL Network will simulcast the CBS Thursday games while CBS will produce the remaining slate of games that the NFL Network will televise.  Jim Nantz and Phil Simms will call the Thursday games on CBS and NFL Network.

This is a huge deal for everyone involved.  For the NFL, their plan worked.  They came up with a full season of Thursday games to showcase on their own NFL Network with the hopes to sell it off to one of the networks.  CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox and Turner Sports all wanted in on this with CBS winning this round.  The deal is just for one season with the NFL having an option for 2015.  However, the fight begins.  You know that when this deal expires either after the 2014 or 2015 season that the networks will go after this package.

It is similar to what happened to Sunday Night Football.  Remember that the NFL began Sunday Night Football in 1987 with ESPN broadcasting a slate of eight late season games.  The NFL then expanded that to the entire season in 1990 with TNT airing the first eight games and ESPN airing the final eight.  In 1998, ESPN would air the entire season of Sunday Night games.  Then in 2006, NBC picked up the slate and the NFL have turned it into their must-see matchup of the week.

The NFL would love to repeat that story with the Thursday package.  While logistically more difficult to schedule, the Thursday package still is a very attractive deal as networks love having live sports to sell to advertisers.

CBS wins because it could really own Thursday nights, the most watched night for network television.  Not only will they have an already proven entity of NFL games, but it also will eat up at least three hours of air time.  While I'm sure CBS isn't totally thrilled to have their games simulcast on NFL Network, I understand the setup.

For fans, it is an obvious win.  Not only do people who do not get the NFL Network now receive more football on their TV, they also get an upgrade in production quality and announcers.  Nothing against what NFL Network has done or their announcing team, but Nantz and Simms are among the top in their field.  Plus, the NFL could try and make sure CBS gets desirable games.

The only losers?  Well, fans of The Big Bang Theory and Two And A Half Men may have to see their shows move back to Monday nights.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Recap: 48 Stops To Super Bowl XLVIII

The Super Bowl is over after Seattle's dominant win over Denver.  Every year, I try to look back at my 48 Stops To Super Bowl XLVIII and see how those little statistical tidbits fit in with the actual game.

#1-SUPER BOWL PREDICTION:   But Seattle has these above statistics working in their favor -- the stats about dominant defenses in the Super Bowl -- plus I think the weather will factor into this game, even if there is no snow.  I'd rather have Pete Carroll prepping for this game more than John Fox ... and I think very highly of Foxy.  I also believe Seattle has the commitment to run the ball and keep Peyton off the field and out of rhythm.  To me, those factors point to Seattle as the winners of this game.  Seahawks win Super Bowl XLVIII, 24-20
Obviously, I hit the mark on this one.  Seattle won the game, as I predicted.  Of course, it wasn't the running game that kept Manning off the field ... it was that great defense.

#9-STILL HAVEN'T WON ONE: 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.
You can take the Seahawks off that list now.
#11-DON'T TRAIL BY DOUBLE DIGITS: Teams that are facing a double-digit deficit are 2-41. A couple things are interesting about that stat. First, the only teams to come back from a 10-point deficit and win is the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XXII and the New Orleans Saints in Super Bowl XLIV. 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 41 of 47 Super Bowls have seen one team go up by at least 10 at some point in the game.
Now a team that trails by double digits is 2-42 in the Super Bowl.  It is still amazing that 42 of 48 Super Bowls have seen a team go up by at least 10 points at some point.
#12-PASSING FANCY: One would gather that Peyton Manning will have more passing attempts in this Super Bowl than Russell Wilson. Not a certainty, but a solid guess. Manning set the NFL single season record for passing yards this year. Of the ten most pass attempts in a Super Bowl game in history, nine were for the losing team. Jim Kelly threw 58 passes for the Bills against the Redskins in Super Bowl XXVI, Eagles' QB Donovan McNabb is 2nd with 51 passes in their Super Bowl XXXIX loss. The lone winning QB in that mix is New England's Tom Brady who threw 48 passes in their Super Bowl XXXVIII victory over the Carolina Panthers.
Manning threw 49 passes in Super Bowl XLVIII, tied for 5th most in Super Bowl history.  That makes 10 of the top 11 pass attempt games in Super Bowl history going to the loser.
#13-DOUG WILLIAMS: Doug Williams is still the only black quarterback to lead his team to a Super Bowl title. 
Lost in the celebration was the fact that Russell Wilson is now the 2nd black quarterback to lead his team to a Super Bowl title.  As I've said in the past, I'm really amazed that Williams was the lone man to do this in the first 47 years of Super Bowls ... and that no one had done it in the 25 Super Bowls after he did.  Well, now he has company and the fact that it was kind of glossed over was a bit interesting as well.
#19-WEARING WHITE IS THE KEY: Since the Broncos are designated the home team, they will be wearing their home orange jerseys for the Super Bowl. That means the Seahawks will go with their white jerseys. In fact, the team that has worn white uniforms had won the last eight of nine Super Bowls (Ravens, Giants, Saints, Steelers, Giants, Colts, Steelers, Patriots). The Packers won three years ago wearing green. The Ravens won last year's Super Bowl victory while wearing white.
The team that has worn the white jerseys now have won NINE of the last TEN Super Bowls.  That makes zero sense.
#22-SOME MORE STATITUDES: Here is another piece of trivia for you.
-There has been at least one successful field goal in 45 of 47 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 11-0 in the Super Bowl. No losing team has returned a pick-six.
Well, these are interesting.  We've had a successful field goal in 46 of 48 Super Bowls.  Teams that were shut out in one half of the Super Bowl are now 1-19 (the Broncos had zero first half points).  And a team that intercepts a pass for a TD is now 12-0 in Super Bowls.
#23-THE NFC OWNS THE COIN TOSS ... YET ... : The NFC somehow won 14 consecutive coin tosses in the Super Bowl until the last two years. The team that wins the opening coin toss is just 23-24 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 11 of the last 16 games.
The NFC got back to its winning ways by winning the coin toss again.  That means the NFC has won 15 out of the last 17 Super Bowl coin tosses.  Since Seattle won, the record for the coin flip winner is 24-24.  Yes, a coin flip.

Also, the Seahawks became just the second team to win the coin flip and defer.  Only the Arizona Cardinals did that.
#25-DON'T DISMISS THE FAVORITES: Yeah, there are upsets, but don't count on them. The favorite has won nine of the last 15 Super Bowls. In fact the favorite is 31-16 in the Super Bowl. Teams favored by at least 7 points are 19-6.
Make that the favorite is 32-16, as Denver was a 2.5 fave.
#27-BEEN THERE, DONE THAT: This will be the 19th Super Bowl where one starting QB comes in with Super Bowl experience while the other one doesn't. The last time that happened was Super Bowl XLV when newbie Aaron Rodgers beat Ben Roethlisberger. Does experience matter? Well, the QB with the experience is just 10-9 in those games. However, in the last three occasions of this happening the new guy won. Rodgers (new) beat Big Ben (old), Drew Brees (new) beat Peyton Manning (old) and Eli Manning (new) beat Tom Brady (old) in their first Super Bowl matchup. If that trend continues, Russell (zero experience) would beat Manning (two previous games). 
Add Wilson to the streak.  So the having the Super Bowl experienced QB means nothing as the record is 10-10 with the newbies on a 4 game winning streak.
#31-TOP OFFENSE AGAINST TOP DEFENSE: Like I said before, this will be the first time the top scoring offense has faced the top scoring defense in the Super Bowl since SB XXV. It has only happened four time previously. In three of the four occasions, the top defense ended up victorious In addition, this will be just the 2nd time the top yardage offense faces the top yardage defense in the Super Bowl. The only other occasion was Super Bowl XXXVII when the Buccaneers (defense) beat the Raiders (offense). This is the 19th time that a regular-season scoring champ has reached the Super Bowl. The previous 18 teams were 10-8 in the title game This is the 16th time that the defense that allowed the fewest points in the NFL has made the Super Bowl since the merger. The previous 15 teams went 12-3 in those Super Bowls. Defense wins championships.
Much was made of this stat, but it proved true again.  The top offense is now 10-9 in this game with the top defense now 13-3.  Defense wins championships.
#45-SCORE EARLY AND OFTEN: The team who scores first in a Super Bowl is 31-16. However, the team who has scored first has lost six of the last twelve Super Bowls. *Teams who score at least 30 points are 24-2. Only the Cowboys (SB XIII) and the 49ers (SB XLVII) scored at least 30 points and lost. *Teams that score the first TD are 34-13. *Teams leading at the half are 35-10 (there have been two ties)
The team who scored first won this Super Bowl, making the mark 32-16.  The team that scores 30 is now 25-2.  And the team that scored the first TD, Seattle, is now 35-13.  Halftime leaders, like Seattle, are now 36-10.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Seahawks Maul Broncos: Super Bowl XLVIII Aftermath

Instead of a long article where I try to cleanly wrap up what happened in Super Bowl XLVIII, I'll just hit on some points I'd like to make:

-- LEGION OF BOOM:  What Seattle accomplished last night was unreal.  I expected them to impact Peyton Manning somewhat, but I didn't think they'd totally rattle him.  Manning just looked like he knew this was going to be bad even before the game started.  His "Manning Struggle Face" started before that errand snap that started the game.  I always use the boxing analogy that some guys just have that look like they don't want to really be in the ring.  Peyton had that look.

-- MALCOLM SMITH:  No offense, but I would've voted Kam Chancellor as the MVP of the Super Bowl.  To me, that defense was the MVP, but you can't vote the entire unit.  Smith did have that huge pick-six, but that was a right-place-right-time deal.  Chancellor set the tone for the entire game with his big hits and his first pick.  I understand that not many feel the same way, but I do.  I will say that I wouldn't have voted Russell Wilson as MVP just because it was this defense that put this game out there like that.

-- PEYTON'S LEGACY:  The popular question to ask is whether this loss affects Peyton Manning's legacy.  In a word ... yes.  Look, he's still one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play this game.  But the loss looms over his legacy.  First off, it keeps him from being the lone QB to lead two different franchises to a Super Bowl title.  Having that on his resume would have been huge.  Next, it puts him at 1-2 in Super Bowls, and it wasn't like he was spectacular in the one he won (though he was voted MVP).

My point is that imagine if Dan Marino won a Super Bowl.  Or Warren Moon.  When we discuss the best quarterbacks ever, those guys tend to get passed over because they never won a title (Marino only went to one Super Bowl; Moon never got there).  Manning has won one, but that doesn't place him past guys like Joe Montana or Tom Brady in many people's eyes since they won at least three.  Like it or not, Manning will be above the class of one-timers like Brett Favre and Steve Young.

Like it or not, but those things matter.  He's in that elite class of QBs no matter what.  But if he had won this game, he would've have had a seat at the table with Montana and Brady.

-- WHAT'S NEXT:  This is a very interesting question.  For Seattle, it isn't out of the question that they could repeat ... or at the very least compete for Super Bowl berths over the next few years.  They are tied for the youngest team to win a Super Bowl with  

-- REMEMBER YOUR HISTORY:  I love how today people decide to say how bad a Super Bowl this was.  What?  Why?  Because it was a blowout?  That happens.  What Seattle did last night was one of the best performances in Super Bowl history.  Just because that meant this game was a domination by one team doesn't make it a bad game.  I think people are a bit spoiled.  Remember that the Super Bowl used to be like this. From Super Bowls XVII to XXXI, 11 of 13 games were won by double digits.  That includes the 49ers beating the Broncos by 45 points.  Bears beating the Patriots by 36.  Cowboys beating the Bills by 35.  Redskins beating Broncos by 32.  Raiders beating the Redskins by 29.  It happened a lot.

That used to be the joke about the Super Bowl.  It was always a blowout!

We are spoiled now.  Since Super Bowl XXXIV (the Rams beating the Titans on that big game-ending tackle), we have seen plenty of close games.  We had the Patriots beating the Rams and Panthers on last second kicks and the Eagles by just three.  We saw the Giants beat the Patriots twice on miracle late game drives.  We saw the Ravens goal line stand last year.  We had the Steelers late game drive to beat the Cardinals.  They've almost all have been good games.  This one wasn't and it was because one team dominated.  Embrace it.

Embrace it like we did that 1985 Bears team and their domination of the Pats in Super Bowl XX.  Or those Niners teams that blew out the Broncos one year and the Chargers several years later.  Or those Cowboys team that blew out the Bills.  Or even Doug Williams' awesome 2nd quarter against the Broncos.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Relocation Is The Way To Go

The Hartford Whalers had more success after moving south to
Raleigh and becoming the Carolina Hurricanes
Yesterday, I posted about how poorly expansion teams have done in winning championships over the last 30 years.  There have been 24 expansion teams since 1982 and just 8 championships among them.  Since 1980, there have been 19 franchises that relocated to new locales.  And they've had much better success.  In most cases, better success than in their old digs.

Here are your relocation teams by each league:


America's Pastime has some of the most celebrated relocated teams.  The Brooklyn Dodgers moved to Los Angeles.  The New York Giants moved to San Francisco.  Heck, prior to 1903 the New York Yankees were the Baltimore Orioles.

However, since 1980 only the Montreal Expos (now the Washington Nationals) have moved.  The Expos played in just one postseason.  Now so have the Nationals.

One relocation.  No titles.


The NFL has actually had quite a few relocations.  In 1982, the Oakland Raiders moved to Los Angeles.  In 1995, the Raiders then moved back to Oakland.  In that time, the Los Angeles Raiders won one Super Bowl.  Two years later, the Baltimore Colts skipped town to Indianapolis.  Peyton Manning led the Indianapolis Colts to a Super Bowl title.  In 1988, the St. Louis Cardinals moved to Phoenix and eventually became the Arizona Cardinals.  The Cards have been to one Super Bowl but yet to have win one.

St. Louis didn't go that long without a team.  The Los Angeles Rams moved in 1995 and became the St. Louis Rams.  Those Rams would win a Super Bowl in the 1999 season.  A year later, the Cleveland Browns moved and became the Baltimore Ravens.  The Ravens have won two Super Bowls since the move.  Cleveland, who got a new team and kept the old franchise's history, still sits with zero Super Bowls.

One year after that, the Houston Oilers moved to Memphis and then to Nashville to now be called the Tennessee Titans.

Pretty interesting stuff.  Especially when you think during that time Baltimore, St. Louis and Oakland all lost teams and then gained a new relocated team.  Add in that the cities of Houston and Cleveland received expansion teams when their NFL franchises left and we only have Los Angeles sitting empty handed during the whole process.

Considering that the four expansion teams the NFL created over that time have combined to win zero Super Bowls in just one appearance ... plus the fact that Baltimore and St. Louis won Super Bowls not too long after relocating (not to mention that Tennessee and Oakland went to Super Bowls in a quick fashion) ... and getting someone to move into town is better than getting an old team.

Six relocations.  Five titles.
In 1995, LA lost the Rams to St. Louis.  St. Louis also
gained a Vince Lombardi trophy


There are a bunch in the NBA.  Obviously the NBA has historically had some big time relocated franchises.  The Los Angeles Lakers were once a dynasty in Minneapolis.  The Detroit Pistons once called Fort Wayne home.  The San Antonio Spurs were once the Dallas Chaparrals.   Since 1980, the NBA has been very busy with relocation.

Heck, before my little experiment begins (1980), the NBA came off a ton of movement.  In 1977, the NBA merged with the ABA and the New York Nets moved to New Jersey.  In 1978, the Buffalo Braves moved to San Diego (Clippers).  And in 1979 the New Orleans Jazz moved to Utah.

The first move that fits in my mold is the 1984 move of the Los Angeles Clippers from San Diego.  Obvious to most sports fans, the golden age of the Clippers is currently happening.  The next season, the Kansas City Kings moved to California and became the Sacramento Kings.  Those Kings nearly left for Seattle a year ago.  The Clippers and Kings have been two of the most hard-luck franchises in the NBA since their additions to the NBA.

It was 16 years before the next move.  The relatively new Vancouver Grizzlies moved to Memphis.  The Memphis Grizzlies have yet to win an NBA title.  Neither has the New Orleans Pelicans.  The Pelicans were once the Charlotte Hornets whose controversial move to New Orleans in 2002 netted the Queen City a quick second expansion team.  [Note that I am not considering the New Orleans Hornets relocation to Oklahoma City for two seasons after Hurricane Katrina a true relocation].

In 2008 ... perhaps the most controversial NBA move of them all ... the Seattle SuperSonics moved and became the Oklahoma City Thunder.  The Thunder are currently among the best teams in the NBA, but have yet to win a title.  Finally, two years ago New Jersey lost their team and became the Brooklyn Nets.

The NBA bucks the trend.  Seven relocations.  Zero titles.


The NHL spent the 1980s and 1990s watching teams move.  In 1980, the Atlanta Flames moved to Calgary.  The Calgary Flames have won a Stanley Cup and have one of my favorite logos.  Atlanta woujld gain an expansion team two decades later.  Two years later, the Colorado Rockies (yep, a hockey club) moved east and became the New Jersey Devils.  The Devils have won three Stanley Cups.

Relocation would happen again in 1993.  The Minnesota North Stars moved south and became the Dallas Stars.  The Stars would win one Cup and Minnesota, like Atlanta, would eventually gain an expansion team.  Two years later, the Quebec Nordiques moved to Denver and became the Colorado Avalanche.  The Aves have won two Cups.  The next season, the Winnipeg Jets moved to Arizona and became the Phoenix Coyotes.  The Winnipeg Jets would be reborn when the Atlanta Thrashers moved to Manitoba in 2011.

In 1997, the Hartford Whalers ... the Whale ... moved to Raleigh and became the Carolina Hurricanes.  The Canes have a Stanley Cup title since then.

Seven relocations.  Eight Cups.  Not bad

So, shockingly there have been 21 teams relocated since 1980.  Among them, 13 titles.