January 10, 2013

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What I’ll Remember About 2012 – Part 1

By: Joe Williams

Every year we see things we never thought we would and things we never want to see again. We see everything from the incredible to the inspiring to the sad and hilarious. Here’s what I will remember about 2012.

January 1 – Matt Flynn and Matthew Stafford combine for 971 net passing yards in 45-41 Green Bay win.

January 8 – The Denver Broncos make short work of the new NFL overtime rules, scoring an 80-yard touchdown on the first play of overtime to beat the Steelers 29-23 in the first round of the AFC playoffs.

January 9 Alabama actually scored a touchdown in its rematch with LSU in the BCS Championship Game, winning 21-0.

January 14 Tom Brady shredded the Denver Broncos for five touchdown passes in the first half and another in the third quarter to tie the postseason single-game record in a 45-10 win.

January 14 – The 49ers and Saints combine for 34 points in the fourth quarter and four lead changes in the final five minutes as the 49ers outlasted New Orleans 36-32 and advanced to the NFC Championship Game.

January 22 – Joe Paterno passed away.

January 22 – The Baltimore Ravens had a dropped pass in the end zone that prevented them from winning the AFC Championship Game in New England and then missed a 32-yard field goal that would have sent the game to overtime.

January 22 – The New York Giants advanced to the Super Bowl with a 20-17 overtime win against the 49ers after a fumbled punt set up the game-winning field goal.

February 4Jeremy Lin came out of nowhere and led the New York Knicks to a win with 25 points, five rebounds and seven assists in the first of an incredible 13-game stretch in which he averaged 22.3 points and 7.4 assists. His heroics were celebrated worldwide and he ended up on the cover of Time and Sports Illustrated and one of the biggest celebrities in the league.

Jeremy Lin was one of the biggest stories of 2012.

February 5 – The New York Giants beat Tom Brady and the Patriots in another Super Bowl, 21-17, led by Eli Manning and another fourth-quarter comeback.

February 5 – Tom Brady’s wife, supermodel Gisele Bundchen, gets caught on camera blaming Patriot receivers for New England’s Super Bowl loss, saying that her husband cannot throw and catch the ball at the same time.

March 8 – The Indianapolis Colts announced that they will release future hall-of-fame quarterback, Peyton Manning.

March 13 – The First Four was worth watching on this night. First, Western Kentucky rallied from a 16-point deficit with 4:51 to go and beat Mississippi Valley State 59-58. Then BYU followed that up by erasing a 25-point deficit and beat Iona 78-72.

March 16Duke and Missouri, both No. 2 seeds in the NCAA tournament, go down on the same day. Norfolk State upset a 30-win Missouri team 86-84 and then later that night Lehigh defeated the Blue Devils 75-70. Only four No. 15 seeds have ever knocked off a No. 2 seed in history before it happened twice that day.

March 20 – Peyton Manning picks the Denver Broncos.

March 21NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell laid down the law on the New Orleans Saints for their bounty scandal, effectively ending the Saints season before it ever got started. This story never went away due to the continuous appeals of the suspensions.

March 26 – The Denver Broncos trade Tim Tebow to the New York Jets.

March 11 – Tiger Woods withdrew from the final round of the WGC Cadillac Championship with an injury. The blimp that was covering the golf tournament then followed Tiger as he left the golf course, a scene usually reserved for a high-speed chase.

April 1 – I.K. Kim takes the honor for worst golf shot of the year after she missed an 18-inch putt that would have won the LPGA’s first major of the year, the Kraft Nabisco Championship. She ended up losing in a playoff.

April 2 – John Calipari and his Kentucky squad that consisted of six future NBA players wins the national title, beating Kansas 67-59.

April 3Baylor completed a perfect season at 40-0 and won the women’s national title, beating Notre Dame 80-61.

April 8 – Bubba Watson hits one of the greatest shots in Masters history; a miracle 40-yard hook shot out of the pine straw on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff with Louis Oosthuizen. Two putts for par later and Watson was wearing the green jacket.

April 21Phil Humber pitches a perfect game at Seattle, striking out nine in the White Sox 4-0 win.

April 26Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III are drafted by the Colts and Redskins.

May 8 Josh Hamilton hit four home runs and had eight RBI against the Baltimore Orioles.

June 3 – Tiger Woods hit an incredible flop shot from behind the green on 16 that trickled into the hole on his way to winning the Memorial Tournament.

June 7 – LeBron James overwhelms the Boston Celtics with a 45 point and 15 rebound performance in a 98-79 win over Boston on the road to force a Game 7 in South Beach.

June 7 – Novak Djokovic outlasted Rafael Nadal in a grueling marathon in the Australian Open final (5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7 (5), 7-5) in a match that took five hours and 53 minutes and didn’t end until 1:37 a.m.

June 11 – The Los Angeles Kings win their first Stanley Cup in 45 years after barely squeaking into the final playoff spot in the West and going on one of the greatest runs in playoff history.

June 13Matt Cain pitched a perfect game in a 10-0 San Francisco win over the Astros.

June 21 – LeBron James and the Miami Heat win the NBA championship after beating the Oklahoma City Thunder 121-106 in game five.

June 27 – A four-team college football playoff was formally approved to begin in 2014.

June 30 – The third round of the AT&T National was played with no spectators on the golf course because of safety concerns after a powerful wind storm left trees uprooted all over the golf course.

September 26, 2011

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Ten Moves to Save NCAA College Football

By: Anson Whaley

College football just got a whole lot more interesting with the recent moves of Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the ACC. The two schools may have inadvertently set off a future exodus of teams heading to other football conferences. Things actually got underway with the news that Texas A&M was headed to the SEC, but that was hardly the move that could cause a mass migration of NCAA teams leaving for greener pastures. However, that coupled with these two recent defections is. That said, if it were up to me, here’s how it would all shake out in ten simple moves:

10. Texas and Oklahoma realize they can save the Big 12: At some point, the Longhorns and Sooners figure out that it makes no sense to head west to the NCAA’s Pac-12. The Midwest rejoices as both schools announce they’re staying in the Big 12 and things start to get crazy.

9. TCU joins the Big 12: Texas’ and Oklahoma’s first call is to TCU, who’s utterly confused at this point. Getting ready to join the Big East in 2012, they’re convinced by the Longhorns and Sooners that they should come to the Big 12 because, you know, they should actually be in the East to play in a conference called the Big East. The Horned Frogs concur and cancel their flights to New York for their introductory Big East press conference. Big East commissioner John Marinatto just finds out minutes before the conference is scheduled to begin when he receives a text from CBS Sports’ Brett McMurphy.

8. Connecticut to the ACC: With the Big East on verge of collapse, UConn heads to the ACC to form the most dominant basketball conference with the likes of Duke, North Carolina, Pitt, and Syracuse. The Huskies mention something about having an NCAA football program, too, but no one actually pays attention.

7. Notre Dame to the ACC: The Irish, not wanting to be upstaged, surprise everyone by agreeing to join the ACC. Notre Dame explains the move by saying they don’t want to be left out of the NCAA football national championship picture … even though they’ve not won enough games to compete for one in nearly 20 years.

6. West Virginia to the SEC: Marinatto, now in a desperate panic to keep the conference together, informs fans they’re actively looking to expand – even with only six teams left. The Mountaineers aren’t convinced and apply to the SEC for a second time. This time, they get in and couches are promptly burnt to a crisp in Morgantown.

5. Big East Basketball Schools Jump Ship: Realizing the football side is nearly dead, the Big East basketball-only schools (DePaul, Georgetown, Villanova, Marquette, St. John’s, Providence, and Seton Hall) leave to start their own conference. An ugly lawsuit ensues over the naming rights and the basketball side wins, allowing them to continue as the Big East. They promptly add Xavier and Butler while giving the boot to DePaul because they’re, well, DePaul.

4. Louisville and Cincinnati to the Big 12: Marinatto officially announces the end of the Big East after extending invitations to Navy, Army, and Air Force and never having his calls returned. Louisville and Cincinnati find a good fit in the Midwest.

3. Houston to the Big 12: The Cougars join the Big 12 and Houston brings one of the top ten TV markets along with it. Texas and Oklahoma shake hands as they’ve officially survived expansion. They then turn heel and revoke the membership of Missouri for threatening to leave earlier.

2. Rutgers to Big Ten: The Scarlet Knights and South Florida flip a coin to decide who can join the Big Ten. Wanting the NY/NJ market, conference officials pull the ‘Heads Rutgers wins, tails South Florida loses’ routine to perfection as USF goes independent.

1. BYU Joins Pac-12: Not wanting to be left out, the Pac-12 adds a team merely to keep up. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany immediately issues a press release saying it makes no sense for a conference with 13 teams to call itself the Pac-12.

Um, right.

September 6, 2011

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NCAA Conference Realignment: Why Mega Conferences Could Help College Football

By: Anson Whaley

 

With recent news about the Big 12 potentially losing Texas A&M and other member schools, NCAA conference realignment got back into the news this past week in a big way. In case you’re not up to speed, the ten-team Big 12 conference could be on the ropes. Texas A&M’s planned departure isn’t the only thing to worry about, either. In recent days, additional schools have also been linked to other conferences as well – most recently, powerhouses Oklahoma and Texas have been rumored to potentially become a part of a PAC 16-conference. If the Big 12 ceases to exist, there could be a free-for-all unrivaled by anything we’ve ever seen before. Other conferences would be fighting for the remaining schools such as Missouri and Oklahoma State, which would strengthen any conference.

If the current Pac 12 expands to 16 teams, other conferences would likely follow suit. The question is, if others move towards expansion under the ‘Bigger is Better’ mantra, would that necessarily be good for college football?

My answer is yes.

Right now, there are a total of 66 teams that make up the six BCS football conferences – the ACC, Big East, Big 12, Big Ten, SEC, and Pac 12. If each of those six became ‘mega’ football conferences to include 16 teams, a total of 96 programs would then fall under the BCS umbrella. If mega conferences ever became a reality, the more common scenario most discussed is that there would only be four or five of them. But if the BCS remains, I’m convinced that keeping six conferences would be a good thing.

So why would mega conferences help college football? Simply put, more college football teams would have an opportunity to play in the BCS bowls and in a national championship game. We’ve all seen it before – talented teams being left out of the national championship game or the BCS altogether. The 2004 Auburn Tigers finished their season going undefeated in the SEC, but couldn’t earn a spot in the title game. Then there were the 2006 Boise State Broncos that were the only undefeated team in college football, but still left out of the championship. While these kinds of injustices don’t occur every year, they have happened and will continue to do so.

It can also be argued that teams in smaller conferences don’t have the same opportunities as their BCS-conference brethren. By expanding the BCS conferences, though, those disadvantages would largely disappear. Not only would teams such as Boise State and BYU get their shot at winning a national championship by running the table in a more difficult schedule, but 28 more programs would get their chance as well. And while it could be argued that most non-BCS conference teams couldn’t realistically compete for a national championship, those teams could fight for spots in BCS bowl games.

Sure, mega conferences wouldn’t fix everything. Arguments from the remaining non-BCS conference participants would continue to exist. There would be cries from those left on the outside looking in just as there are every year in the NCAA basketball tournament. The difference, though, is that there’d be fewer of them and many non-BCS schools would have a difficult time putting together a strong case that they should be able to play in a BCS bowl – let alone a national championship.

Another argument against six mega conferences may be that teams wouldn’t get to face every school in their conference. But that already exists as things stand right now and with a short college season, playing every team simply isn’t realistic. Mega conferences would likely need to consist of two divisions where winners would meet in a conference championship game.

Mega conferences wouldn’t fix everything and in the eyes of some fans, the only way to go would be a playoff system. But as long as the BCS exists, finding ways to include as many teams as possible is the best thing to do.

March 18, 2011

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Fathead’s Top Trends in Sports This Week

By: Lionel

Bracket Madness

Just for fun, we put together a Fathead NCAA Tournament bracket based completely on the March sales (so far) of the schools in the tournament.  For every match-up, we selected the team with the higher Fathead sales for the month.  And, in the spirit of full disclosure, I will tell you that we don’t carry product for every school that made the tournament — yet.

Based on our model, here is our Sweet Sixteen.  You’ll notice that we’ve already got a few wrong…

East

1.  Ohio State

2.  Kentucky

3.  Syracuse

4.  North Carolina

West

1.  Michigan

2.  Texas

3.  Missouri

4.  Penn State

Southeast

1.  Kansas

2.  Louisville

3.  Purdue

4.  Notre Dame

Southeast

1.  Butler

2.  Wisconsin

3.  BYU

4.  Florida

I’ll update next week with our Final Four.  And now, the best selling Fatheads of the last week…

The top selling Fatheads of the last 7 days (Mar. 11 – Mar. 17):

1.  Carmelo Anthony

2.  Troy Polamalu

3.  Derrick Rose

4.  Kobe Bryant

5.  Pittsburgh Steelers Logo

6.   Aaron Rodgers

7.  Dallas Cowboys Helmet

8.  DeSean Jackson

9.  New York Yankees Circle Logo

10.  Dallas Cowboys Logo

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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