November 26, 2012

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The Week in Sports

By: Anson Whaley

Jack Taylor goes off – Jack Taylor, a Division III guard playing for Grinnell College scored an NCAA record 138 points in a game. He surpassed Bevo Francis’ mark of 113 set in 1954 in doing so. Taylor’s performance awed NBA All-Stars Kobe Bryant and LeBron James and LBJ even said he was interested in getting a tape from the game. Sure, Taylor hoisted up 71 three-pointers and made only 27 (good for a modest 38% if you don’t have an abacus handy), but overall, he made nearly half his shots, going 52-108. That’s quite a few attempts, but the mere fact that Taylor could have thrown up that many in the course of a game without getting too tired, still makes it a worthy accomplishment.

How many wins will Belichick get to with Brady at the helm?

Bill Belichick wins No. 200New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick made news when the Patriots crushed the Jets 49-19 on Thanksgiving night. Lost a bit in the headlines of the 30-point rout is that Belichick won his 200th game. Belichick became only the eighth coach in NFL history with that many wins and as long as Tom Brady’s still around playing pitch and catch with wideouts (Brady, by the way, threw for 323 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions), he’s probably got plenty more in the tank if he wants to keep going.

Maryland and Rutgers are Big 10 bound – The ACC and Big East got a bit weaker with Maryland and Rutgers officially announcing they will head to the Big 10 (aka B1G) this week. Both football programs have been up and down, but each brings something valuable to their new conference. Maryland brings the DC market along with a successful basketball program while Rutgers adds the heavily desired New York/New Jersey market. The ACC is already on the move, reportedly interested in Big East teams Connecticut and Louisville to replace the Terrapins as of last week, which begs the question – with Virginia Tech, Miami, Boston College, Pitt, and Syracuse already in the fold, doesn’t the new ACC look a lot like the old Big East?

Michael Finley wants to return – Michael Finley, a former NBA All-Star, is hoping to return to the league, according to ESPN. Finley was planning to work as an executive in the NBA, but after playing in pickup games over the summer, is hoping some team will give him a look. At 39, he’s young enough that a return could be possible, but his production shrunk considerably over the last season of his career. Finley only averaged 15 minutes a game playing in 45 games for the San Antonio Spurs and Boston Celtics, scoring about four points a game. He could be a quality reserve late in the year for a playoff team in need of some depth, but don’t look for him to be a significant contributor.

Melky Cabrera signs with Blue JaysMelky Cabrera inked a two-year $16 million deal with the Toronto Blue Jays in one of the first big off-season splashes. Cabrera’s signing is significant because it comes on the heels of a 50-game suspension for testosterone. Last season, he was leading the National League in batting average before the suspension and he removed himself of consideration after the positive test result. The question will be, of course, if Cabrera can repeat his stellar 2012 season. He was a career .284 hitter and before last year, had only hit greater than .300 once when he batted .305 in 2011. Because of the dramatic improvement, there will be plenty of questions surrounding him in 2013 – none greater, perhaps, than from Blue Jays’ fans who will question his signing if he gets off to a slow start.

NHL cancels more games – The National Hockey League made a minor splash when it announced games through the middle of December (including January’s All-Star game) would be canceled due to the continuation of the lockout. There’s still a chance for a season, but the key thing of note is that the two sides don’t even appear to be all that close to a reconciliation. There’s still time for the players and owners to come to an agreement in time for a partial season, but it’s not looking good right now.

September 19, 2011

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NCAA Football Conference Realignment: Selecting the Top 64 Schools

By: Anson Whaley

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

April 27, 2011

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NFL Mock Draft

By: Joe Williams

The NFL Draft is just a couple days away. It seems like everyone is doing mock drafts these days so I decided to join the party. I’ve made sure to include some trades to ensure that I don’t go 32 for 32. I’d feel bad if all these picks are correct. I’m not doing this to take Mel Kiper’s job.

1. Carolina Panthers

Marcell Dareus – DT – Alabama  

The Panthers have a ton of holes to fill. They cannot afford to miss on this pick so they go with a safe pick in Dareus to be an anchor for the defense. This gives Jimmy Clausen one more year to develop and if he doesn’t, Carolina could get “Lucky” in 2012.

2. Cincinnati Bengals

Cam Newton – QB – Auburn

Things are uglier than usual in Cincinnati. Carson Palmer says he will not play in a Bengal uniform again. The Bengals say they aren’t trading him. Someone has to play quarterback and Newton’s controversial history seems to fit the Cincinnati mold. When the Panthers pass on Newton, the Bengals trade up two spots to grab him.

3. Buffalo Bills

Blaine Gabbert – QB – Missouri

Some say Gabbert is the best quarterback in the draft. The Bills are going to have to find a great quarterback to compete with the Patriots and Jets. They hope Gabbert is their guy.

4. Denver Broncos

Von Miller – OLB – Texas A&M

Miller could be the best player in the draft. The return of Elvis Dumerville and the addition of Miller will go a long way toward fixing the Denver defense. They move back two spots to pick up an extra pick from the Bengals.

5. Arizona Cardinals

A.J. Green – WR Georgia

Arizona nearly won the Super Bowl with a high-flying passing attack. If the Cardinals can pull off a trade for Kevin Kolb and pair A.J. Green with Larry Fitzgerald they can be dangerous in the weak NFC West.

6. Cleveland Browns

Robert Quinn – DE – North Carolina

Cleveland needs to rebuild its defense. Dick Jauron is taking over the defense and could use a pass-rushing end. 

7. San Fransisco 49ers

Patrick Peterson – CB – LSU

Peterson has been compared to Champ Bailey and Deion Sanders. The 49ers are thrilled he is still on the board.

8. Tennessee Titans

Nick Fairley – DT – Auburn

Tennessee needs a quarterback but Newton and Gabbert are off the board so the Titans go after their next Albert Haynesworth.

9. Dallas Cowboys

Tyron Smith – OT – USC

The Cowboys have to protect Tony Romo. Smith will help them do that.

10. Washington Redskins

Julio Jones – WR – Alabama

Whoever ends up playing quarterback for the Redskins in 2011 is going to need someone to throw to. Jones would give him a big, physical target.

11. Houston Texans

Prince Amukamara – CB – Nebraska

The Texans have the offense to keep up with Peyton Manning but they don’t have the defense to slow him down. Adding a Prince to the secondary should give Houston a better shot at taking down the king of the AFC South.

12. Minnesota Vikings

Jake Locker – QB – Washington

Minnesota can finally move on from the Brett Frave era. The Vikings hope Locker will be their quarterback of the future.

13. Detroit Lions

Anthony Castonzo – OT – Boston College

Detroit’s future is riding on Matthew Stafford. The top priority is to keep Stafford on the field.

14. New England Patriots

Mike Pouncey – OL – Florida

New England usually trades down for more picks. This time the Patriots move up to add some youth to the aging offensive line.

15. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

J.J. Watt – DE – Wisconsin

The Buccaneers move up to get the pass-rushing defensive end before San Diego can.

16. Jacksonville Jaguars

Ryan Kerrigan – DE – Purdue

Aaron Kampman has been injury-prone. Kerrigan could be his replacement.

17. St. Louis Rams

Kyle Rudolf – TE – Notre Dame

St. Louis has the foundation in place. It’s time to give Sam Bradford some weapons.

18. San Diego Chargers

Cameron Jordan – DE – Cal

The Chargers add one of the top pass rushers in the draft.

19. New York Giants

Gabe Carimi – OT – Wisconsin

Carimi is a solid tackle that fills the Giants biggest need.

20. Miami Dolphins

Andy Dalton – QB – TCU

Miami has not gotten good enough play at the most important position on the field so they take a shot on Dalton.

21. Kansas City Chiefs

Corey Liuget – DT – Illinois

Liuget will be a big, physical presence in the middle of the Kansas City defense.

22. Indianapolis Colts

Nate Solder – OT – Colorado

The Colts take the best offensive lineman left on the board.

23. Philadelphia Eagles

Jimmy Smith – CB- Colorado

The Eagles need a solid corner to play opposite Asante Samuel.

24. New Orleans Saints

Da’Quan Bowers – DE – Clemson

The Saints get one of the better players in the draft, but he comes with injury concerns.

25. Seattle Seahawks

Danny Watkins – OL – Baylor

Seattle will try to upgrade its interior offensive line.

26. Baltimore Ravens

Torrey Smith – WR – Maryland

The Ravens could use another speedy receiver.

27. Atlanta Falcons

Aldon Smith – DE – Missouri

Atlanta scores a pass-rusher to pair with John Abraham.

28. New England Patriots

Akeem Ayers – OLB – UCLA

The Patriots would like another outside pass-rusher.

29. Chicago Bears

Derek Sherrod – OT – Mississippi

Jay Cutler was hit a lot in 2010. The Bears need to find someone to prevent some of those hits.

30. New York Jets

Cameron Heyward – DE – Ohio State

Rex Ryan loves his defense. He loves it even more when Heyward is still on the board.

31. Pittsburgh Steelers

Brandon Harris – CB – Miami

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers exploited the Steelers’ secondary in the Super Bowl. Pittsburgh gets some reinforcements in Harris.

32. Green Bay Packers

Mark Ingram – RB – Alabama

The Super Bowl champions have a lot of help returning from injury so they make a luxury pick.

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March 1, 2011

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Let the Madness Begin

By: Joe Williams

Insanity. Frenzy. Intense excitement. These words aren’t just a description of the Macho Man Randy Savage. They are also in dictionary.com’s definition of “madness”. Savage frequently referred to himself as “The Madness” and said “The Madness is running wild!”

The Macho Man may not be the world champion anymore, but every March the madness returns in the form of the NCAA basketball tournament. Every year millions of people around the country fill out their brackets and enter the office pool for one of the biggest sporting events in the world known as “March Madness”.

The 2011 edition of this tournament promises to live up to the “madness” billing and give us an exciting and unpredictable tournament. This year the madness started a couple weeks early. Kansas, Georgetown, Wisconsin, Texas (three times), Pittsburgh (twice), Notre Dame, Ohio State, Arizona (twice), Duke and San Diego St. are all top 10 teams in the poll who have lost in the last two weeks. Four of the top six lost this weekend, and the upsets should continue throughout the tournament.

The tournament itself will be different this year as well. The NCAA has increased the number of teams from 65 to 68. The last four at-large teams selected and the four lowest ranked automatic qualifying teams will play in the “First Four” on March 15-16. The at-large winners will advance to the main draw of the tournament, most likely as an 11 or 12 seed. The two winners of the automatic qualifiers will advance to face a No. 1 seed.

Television coverage of the tournament will also be different this year. The NCAA agreed to a new deal with CBS Sports and Turner Sports. Now, every game of the tournament will be televised nationally on CBS, TNT, TBS or TruTV.

As of today, Duke, Kansas, Ohio State, BYU, and Pittsburgh are likely in the discussion to be the four No. 1 seeds. The fight for the final spots in the tournament is much less clear. 31 teams will qualify by winning the automatic berth from their conference. That leaves 37 spots for the selection committee to fill.

Assuming the top teams in each conference win the conference tournaments, (which we know is not going to happen), there another 24 teams who should be a lock to make the field of 68. This leaves 13 tournament bids and somewhere in the neighborhood of 35-40 teams fighting for them.

The road to the Final 4 begins today with the Big South and the Horizon League conference tournaments getting underway. The first three teams will punch their tickets for the big dance on March 5, and when Selection Sunday rolls around on March 13 the field will be set, and the madness will be running wild. I’m sure the Macho Man will be watching.

Teams thought to be locks:

BYU, Connecticut, Duke, Florida, George Mason, Georgetown, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Pittsburgh, Purdue, San Diego State, St. John’s, Syracuse, Temple, Texas, Texas A&M, UCLA, Villanova, Wisconsin, Xavier

Teams in the conversation:

Alabama, Arizona, Baylor, Belmont, Boston College, Butler, Cincinnati, Clemson, Cleveland State, Colorado, Colorado State, Florida State, Georgia, Gonzaga, Harvard, Illinois, Kansas State, Marquette, Maryland, Memphis, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Missouri, Missouri State, Nebraska, Old Dominion, Penn State, Richmond, Saint Mary’s, Southern Miss, Tennessee, UAB, UNLV, USC, Utah State, Vanderbilt, VCU, Virginia Tech, Washington, West Virginia, Wichita State

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Fathead’s Top Trends in Sports this Week

September 24, 2009

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Fathead NFL Rookie Insider

By: mtarsha

Fathead is delighted to share the latest editions  to the NFL and Fathead bloggers: Mr. James Laurinaitis, Mr. Jeremy Maclin, and Mr. Darrius Heyward-Bey! Fathead will be having weekly posts from the recently Fathead-ed NFL Rookies and giving fans their first hand experiences in the Pros.  Sports Fanatics, Friends and Family can all put themselves in a day in the life of each of these talented athletes. Stop by their blog pages and make your comments, let them know what you think of their new Fathead, encouragement for the next big  game, ask them the questions you are most interested in hearing and welcome them to the team.

 

Check their blogs and images out at:

http://blog.fathead.com/fathead-insider-darrius-heyward-bey/

 

http://www.fathead.com/nfl/oakland-raiders/darrius-heyward-bey/

 

 

http://blog.fathead.com/fathead-insider-james-laurinaitis/

 

http://www.fathead.com/nfl/st.-louis-rams/james-laurinaitis/

 

 

http://blog.fathead.com/fathead-insider-jeremy-maclin/

 

http://www.fathead.com/nfl/philadelphia-eagles/jeremy-maclin/