January 2, 2014
Another year has come to and end. The final BCS Championship Game is a few days away, the NFL playoffs are about to begin and 2014 predictions are on the way. But first let’s take one last look at the good, the bad and the ugly from the year that was 2013. (We’ll focus on the good.)
Super Bowl XLVII
It was one of the most memorable Super Bowls ever for many reasons…the 34-minute delay because the power went out, two brothers coaching against each other, the final game for Ray Lewis and a furious rally that fell seven yards short for the 49ers.
Adam Scott and Angel Cabrera both birdied the 18th hole on Sunday to get into a sudden-death playoff with Scott winning with a birdie on the second extra hole.
The British Open
Phil Mickelson finally won the major championship that nobody thought he would win and he did it with a final round 66 that included four birdies in the last six holes. He called it one of the greatest rounds of his career.
Auburn’s back-to-back miracles
The Tigers didn’t even receive a vote in the AP poll until week four and didn’t make the top 25 until week eight. But they kept climbing and the momentum kept building, culminating in November with a miraculus 43-38 win over Georgia thanks to a tipped pass that turned into a 73-yard touchdown on 4th-and-18 with 25 seconds left. But that was nothing compared to the finish two weeks later in the Iron Bowl when Auburn ended Alabama’s undefeated season and national championship hopes with a 109-yard field goal return on the final play of the game.
The Red Sox pulled off an unlikely run to a championship, beating the Cardinals in six games. This series will be one to remember because of two games that ended in bizarre ways. The Cardinals won Game 3 after an obstruction call at third base allowed the winning run to score, negating what appeared to be two outs at home plate on the same play that would have sent the game into extra innings. Then in In Game 4, Boston won 4-2 when Koji Uehara picked off Kolten Wong at first base for the final out with Carlos Beltran at the plate.
Burke’s big shot
Trey Burke hit a 30-footer to force overtime against No. 1 seed Kansas in the Sweet 16. Michigan would go on to play for the national championship, but come up short against Louisville.
Allen’s even bigger shot
The Miami Heat were just a few seconds away from losing Game 6 and the NBA Finals to the San Antonio Spurs. That is, until Ray Allen hit a step-back despairation three to tie the game with just five seconds to play. The Heat would go on to win the game in overtime and the championship in Game 7.
Peyton is the Man
Peyton Manning’s 2013 started off poorly with a stunning overtime loss to the Baltimore Ravens. But he returned with a vengeance in September, putting together the greatest season a quarterback has ever had. He’s led the Broncos to the No. 1 seed in the playoffs while breaking the single-season record for passing yards and touchdowns.
Bombing at the Boston Marathon.
Kobe Bryant tears his Achilles tendon, returns for six games and then fractures his knee.
Officiating (2013 had its share of controversial endings and calls)
Derrick Rose sits out an entire season, returns for 10 games and then hurts the other knee.
Tiger Woods penalty controversies.
Denver Broncos lose Elvis Dumervil after fax machine screw up.
NBA Commissioner David Stern continually booed by crowd during his final NBA Draft.
Dwight Howard leaves Lakers.
Lance Armstrong finally admits cheating.
Manti Te’o gets pranked.
Tebowmania comes to an end.
That’s what I’m going to remember about 2013. What about you? Did I miss anything?
December 3, 2013
No. 1 Alabama stunned by Auburn: The BCS title picture just got a little more interesting with Alabama’s shocking loss to Auburn on Saturday. The way the Crimson Tide were defeated was also noteworthy as they had a missed field goal attempt in the game’s final seconds returned 100 yards for a game-winning touchdown. The loss now knocks them out of the SEC title game and could set up a Florida State-Ohio State National Championship. But despite the fact that Auburn has a loss while Ohio State remains unbeaten still might give the Tigers a chance to play for the title. Voters will have a difficult decision on their hands when they consider a less-impressive Buckeyes team vs. a one-loss SEC squad if Auburn manages to win their conference title game. Stay tuned.
Jason Kidd in Cup-Gate: Brooklyn Nets head coach Jason Kidd thought he made a shrewd move late in a game last week against the Los Angeles Lakers. Wanting to rally his team without using a timeout, Kidd held a drink and with one of his players walking towards him, seemed to utter the words ‘hit me’ as the player bumped into him, spilling the drink and forcing an official time out. Kidd used the extra time to rally his troops but their comeback fell short anyway. Afterwards Kidd denied the plot, but later relented and virtually admitted his guilt. For his part, he was fined $50,000 by the league and it was just a bad move on Kidd’s part all around. He said he wanted to help his team win, but blatantly cheating isn’t something that will win him a lot of friends.
Mike Tomlin in Trip-Gate: Last week was a rough one for head coaches and Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was part of another controversy. In a heated game with the rival Baltimore Ravens, Tomlin stepped out onto the white out of bounds line in an attempt to slow down Jacoby Jones, who was running for a possible touchdown. Tomlin’s move seemed to work as Jones was definitely distracted to a degree and eventually caught and tackled. The point of whether Jones was going to be caught from behind can certainly be debated, but isn’t really the point here. Coaches are instructed to remain behind the thick white out of bounds line and not only did Tomlin pass the boundary by several feet, but he was practically onto the field of play. As of this weekend, the NFL was reviewing Tomlin’s move and deciding whether to penalize him. There’s really no way that Tomlin shouldn’t be disciplined here if the league is serious. His intent was pretty clear to most and even if the league doesn’t believe the intent was there, he simply has no business being that close to the field. A trip on Jones there could quite easily cause an injury and the league needs to send a statement that interfering in games as a coach is unacceptable.
Ping pong, anyone?: A $20,000 ping pong table? Yeah, there will be a huge market for that, right?
Hall of Fame nominees: A list of candidates up for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame included first-timers Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas, and Tom Glavine. All three should get in, but Maddux may be the only surefire inductee next year. Thomas hit a whopping 521 home runs and was a two-time MVP, but many voters put off by the steroid era look at power numbers as being wildly inflated. Even though his name wasn’t linked to the scandal, it may (unfairly) cost Thomas some votes. But the guess is that all three will get in – even if it doesn’t happen this year. Other newcomers include Mike Mussina, Jeff Kent, and Moises Alou. Mussina is an intriguing name, but he fell considerably short of 300 wins despite playing much of his career for the New York Yankees and his ERA of 3.68, even in the American League, isn’t terribly impressive when compared to Hall of Famers.
Kobe return potentially this week: The Los Angeles Lakers got some good news last week with word that Kobe Bryant is progressing nicely from his ACL injury. Things are going so well, in fact, that Bryant could return on Friday for L.A.’s game against Sacramento if he practices well this week. Things could be looking up for the Lakers, who have managed to stay afloat without Bryant and were 9-8 heading into this weekend. What the franchise shouldn’t do, though, is force him back too soon. Los Angeles has been wildly inconsistent this season, but playing well enough to be in the playoff hunt. They’ll need a healthy Bryant to make any kind of run in the postseason and that can only happen if he’s given the time he needs to fully recover. The issue here is going to be forcing Bryant to remain on the bench as the star probably wants to play as soon as he can. But the Lakers need to remember that he’s an investment (especially in light of his new contract) and not allow him to play until he’s completely readly.
Ohio State removes ‘M’ from campus: Preparing for their big annual rivalry game with the Michigan Wolverines, the Ohio State Buckeyes made a curious move when they decided to remove the letter ‘M’ from various locations around campus by covering it up with tape. Further, John Kasich, the state Governor, also encouraged people statewide to avoid using the letter per ESPN. The rivalry is one of the biggest in all of football, but really? Removing M’s from basic signs such as ‘bathroom’ or ‘gymnasium’ just seems a bit … silly.
Come Home, Lebron: A campaign to bring Lebron James back to Cleveland was led by a fan group recently. The fans distributed t-shirts, hoping to catch the attention of James, who was in town playing with his current team, the Miami Heat. James will be a free agent at the end of this year but Cleveland fans shouldn’t hold their breath for his return. He’ll be able to play for any team in the NBA and if James’ desire is to win championships, Cleveland will need at least one more key player in addition to him and star guard Kyrie Irving. And with a slew of offers to come from some of the marquee teams in the league, a return to Cleveland just doesn’t seem all that likely next year.
September 19, 2011
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about NCAA Football Conference allignment and how superconferences could be good for college football. My point was that if six such conferences existed, the BCS would be more accessible to a greater number of teams. But with the Big 12 possibly on the verge of an epic collapse, the more likely scenario is a sport with only four of those 16-team conferences.
That got me to thinking – if it did happen, who would likely be included? Rivals/Yahoo had some writers discuss the issue with each one coming up with their list of NCAA teams. It’s safe to say there were some notable omissions – Duke, UConn, and Indiana all were left off some of the rosters.NCAA football rules college athletics, but is it really fair to leave out such NCAA basketball powerhouses?
Well, I’ll get to that in a bit. But for the record, basketball programs that don’t play FBS football were left out of consideration. So Villanova, Georgetown, Xavier, Marquette, Gonzaga, et al? No dice.
So here’s my list of 64 teams:
The Absolute Locks– There’s absolutely no discussion on these guys. The fact that I even have to list them is borderline insulting. Call them first-ballot Hall of Famers, if you will. If there was only one superconference, these guys would be the first ones in: Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Miami, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Stanford, Tennessee, Texas, USC
Next In Line- These schools aren’t the cream of the crop, but they’d definitely get in without any question. Any NCAA conference would be glad to have them and there’s as much of a chance of Oddibe McDowell getting into the Hall of Fame as there is of these schools being left out: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Kansas, Kansas State, Michigan State, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Penn State, Pittsburgh, UCLA, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Wisconsin
Still In With Little Question – This is the third tier…NCAA schools that no sane conference would leave out. There could be some trivial questions about a few of them, but these institutions would certainly all be in as well. Arizona State, Boston College, Cincinnati, Clemson, Colorado, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisville, Mississippi, Mississippi State, North Carolina State, Purdue, Oregon State, Syracuse, Texas A&M, Virginia, Washington
The “Basketball” Schools– Personally, I don’t see how you have superconferences without including some of the most storied basketball programs around. Sure, we all get that despite March Madness, in terms of money, NCAA basketball takes a back seat to football. But as the second biggest college sport, these schools have got to be in. After all, are you really going to turn down these schools that not only each have won multiple basketball championships for someone like Baylor? Didn’t think so: UConn, Duke, Indiana
The “Non-BCS Football Schools”– These guys have all had incredible success without being in a BCS automatic qualifying conference. I can listen to the argument of not moving them to the front of the line for various reasons such as market size, but they’ve all been ranked in the top ten in recent years on the gridiron and are too good to leave out: Boise State, BYU, TCU, Utah
The Final Five In
Minnesota – Mediocre football and basketball programs, but has had respectable years in each.
Northwestern– Here mostly for their academics and market (Chicago). Oh yeah, and Michael Wilbon.
Rutgers – One of oldest universities and recent football success with average of nine wins from 2006 – 2009.
South Carolina – Are you gonna be the one to tell Steve Spurrier he’s not invited?
South Florida– Football program on the rise after only being in Division I for ten years and brings the Tampa market.
Left Out – Can’t find room for everybody and these would be the unlucky schools if I were putting the conferences together. Would they be on someone’s list? Absolutely. But on mine, they just miss the cut: Vanderbilt, Baylor, Iowa State, Washington State, Wake Forest
February 25, 2011
Here’s some proof that school spirit is stronger than the success of a school’s basketball team. Below are the 50 best selling colleges on Fathead.com over the last month. By our estimates, only about half of them will make the NCAA Tournament.
The top selling colleges of the last 30 days:
1. Ohio State
5. Notre Dame
6. Penn State
11. Michigan State
15. Miami (FL)
19. West Virginia
29. Florida State
30. Oklahoma State
32. Virginia Tech
34. Boise State
38. Arizona State
42. South Carolina
44. Georgia Tech
45. Kansas State
47. Iowa State
50. Oregon State
And, of course, here is the weekly list of top Fathead sellers. The Super Bowl hype is beginning to fade, and with it, the NFL’s stronghold on list. While many NFL Fatheads remain, the league has given up some ground to the NBA on the heels of a great NBA All-Star Weekend.
The top selling Fatheads of the last 7 days (Feb. 18 – Feb. 24):
1. Kobe Bryant
8. Rajon Rondo
10. Derrick Rose
September 3, 2008
By John Fontana
Queue the marching band. Queue the cheerleaders. Queue the coaches, the team and the trainer. And for the sake of college football and all its excitement, queue the University of Colorado’s Ralphie, http://www.autumnspectacle.com/Pageantry/Ralphie-runout.jpg the greatest live mascot http://www.fathead.com/college/colorado-buffaloes/colorado-buffaloes-logo/ in college sports – hands down. Nothing strikes fear in the hearts of young men like the sight of a 1,300-pound hulk of hairy buffalo (actually an American Bison) bearing down on them when Ralphie makes her (yes, her) pregame run right into the teeth of the opponent’s warm-ups. There have been more than a few players who have had to change their pants even before the game started.
A tradition since 1967, Ralphie V made her debut Sunday at Invesco Field at Mile High in Denver (three days after Barack Obama accepted the Democratic presidential nomination at the same venue), leading the Colorado Buffaloes into their annual in-state rivalry against Colorado State (represented by a docile old Ram that wets itself at the site of the great buffalo). Talkn’ smack? You bet. My wife went to CSU. I went to CU. Colorado won the game, 38-17.
There is nothing like college rivalry to light the flame in a college football fan’s heart. It’s the game that puts a glint in a fan’s eye as sharp as Ralphie’s horns. Michigan-Ohio State. Miami-Florida State. Oklahoma-Texas. Alabama-Auburn. USC-Notre Dame. Army-Navy. Florida-Georgia. Harvard-Yale. Cal-Stanford. Minnesota-Wisconsin. Alabama-Tennessee. Washington-Washington State. Clemson-South Carolina.
Every fan wants to see their college team win on Saturday, but with a rivalry game it’s about pain, suffering, and a guaranteed 365 days of bragging rights until next year. Rivalry is about opening the portal to that dark spot on your heart; about that shooting pain of contempt, about the one win that rescues even a season of crushing defeats. It’s everything that makes college football the best way to spend a fall afternoon.
The smell of tailgate barbeques, the sound of college fight songs, and the sight of Ralphie bearing down on those silly enough to stand in her way.