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 5, 2011

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Finding Fun in a Lost Season

By: Rick Jarrell

A losing season doesn’t have to be a complete loss for the fans

Being an NBA fan can be a fun and exciting experience, especially if your favorite team has a chance to make a run at a title. Recent draft picks, player acquisitions, or a new coaching regime can turn a team around in the blink of an eye. But sometimes these triumphed moves don’t pay dividends as expected, and the season becomes a long, drawn out exhibition. It doesn’t mean you have to suffer, though! There’s still value to be gained from a lost season if you follow these guidelines.

Take Advantage Early

One of the benefits of professional sports is the new slate every team gets at the outset of each season. No matter the previous season’s outcome, a new season brings optimism that this could be the year. What if all the offseason moves come together like a puzzle and bring the city a title? That rejuvenating feeling, though, is often temporary. Chances are your team’s hopes and dreams of a championship will not come true – but all is not lost!

Take advantage of the new season before it sours. Attend a few games early on. Catch the games on TV while they’re still competitive. Buy merchandise while it doesn’t feel like a waste of money. Support the team while it’s more pleasurable than grueling. Because we all know those waning months of a season going nowhere can be torture to a fan, as well as to the players and organization. Look at the Cleveland Cavaliers this year:  after LeBron James’ departure, experts predicted this season to be abysmal for the Cavs. Those experts were right, but the team had their moment in the sun with a surprising 4-4 record in the first eight games of the season. Enjoy the early blast off before the season is forced down to Earth.

Rebuilding Doesn’t Mean Quitting

When the season does begin to take a turn for the worse, instead jumping ship, try to accept it. The rebuilding phase is an inevitable part of a professional sports organization (unless you’re the Lakers or Celtics, that is). Instead of grading the team on wins and losses, assess the development of the individual players. Pretend you’re part of the front office. Analyze the potential of the current players and make decisions on who should be part of the future, and who should be shipped out. The group assembled may not be great at the moment, but there are pieces on every team that could become superstars or major role players with the right surroundings.

Have you ever spoken to someone who remembers seeing Michael Jordan play as a rookie? And how cool it sounds? And how jealous it makes you (and by you, I mean me)? While there will probably never be another Jordan, a superstar in the making may be developing right in front of your eyes. Don’t miss the opportunity to see players like John Wall, Blake Griffin and Kevin Love mature into their full potential. And if there isn’t a future superstar on the current squad, there could be another Luc Longley, Steve Kerr, or Robert Horry in the making.

Promotions and Giveaways

It’s natural for a fan to lose interest once the losses pile up. The opening game sellout can turn into a comparatively vacant area if the team doesn’t start performing quickly. At the end of the day, however, the NBA is a business. The unsold seats represent lost revenue for a league struggling financially as it is, so they create various promotions and giveaways to re-entice fans.

Check to see what your local team has to offer and put together an outing. This year alone, the Washington Wizards have done ticket giveaways, family fun packs, pregame theme parties inside sections of the Verizon Center, and pregame bar-hops around the arena, to name only a few promotions. And similar promotions exist all around the league. Even if the game doesn’t go as pleased, the surrounding events make it for a solid group outing.

When Stars Comes to Town…

Although your favorite team may be wasting away like rotten vegetables, that doesn’t mean there isn’t good basketball to be seen. Every team in the NBA plays each other at least twice a season. When the schedule comes out, make a note of when the top teams and players are coming to town. Get tickets early or wait for a deal later in the season. Snag some last minute promotional giveaways.

The Wizards have been in rebuilding mode for a few years now, and it hasn’t been the most fun for the fan base, but I’ve been able to see Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Dirk Nowitzki, and Derrick Rose in person without breaking the bank. I’ll admit those three games weren’t exactly competitive, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t a hell of a lot of fun to watch.

There’s Always Next Year

The misery will only last so long. It sounds cliché, but there’s always next year (or the year after that for those teams in serious disarray). Two years ago, the Oklahoma City Thunder were a lowly 23-59 – another lost season for the franchise formerly known as the Seattle Supersonics. But last season, they surprised the NBA by making the Western Conference playoffs and pushing the Los Angeles Lakers, in between their two back to back titles at the time, to the 6th game of the first round – a series widely accepted to be a cakewalk for the best team in the league. The Thunder had a solid young core, not unlike many others around the NBA. Next year your team could make a similar jump.

Plus, the way the NBA is currently arranged, the more losses a team accrues, the higher the odds they’ll earn a top draft pick. A deep playoff run is favorable, but the consolation prize of a potential star isn’t bad.

Transform your anger and frustration from seasons past into excitement for your new draft pick, offseason acquisitions, or coach. Because this could be the year that your “what if?” comes true in the form of a championship – a truly just reward for the years of misery.

February 25, 2011

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Fathead’s Top Trends in Sports this Week

By: Lionel

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 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

2. Michigan

3. Texas

4. Florida

5. Notre Dame

6. Penn State

7. North Carolina

8. Alabama

9. Nebraska

10. LSU

11. Michigan State

12. Auburn

13. Iowa

14. Tennessee

15. Miami (FL)

16. Wisconsin

17. Kentucky

18. Georgia

19. West Virginia

20. Duke

21. Oklahoma

22. Missouri

23. Oregon

24. USC

25. Clemson

26. Kansas

27. Purdue

28. Arkansas

29. Florida State

30. Oklahoma State

31. Louisville

32. Virginia Tech

33. Pittsburgh

34. Boise State

35. Syracuse

36. Connecticut

37. BYU

38. Arizona State

39. Illinois

40. TCU

41. Washington

42. South Carolina

43. California

44. Georgia Tech

45. Kansas State

46. Butler

47. Iowa State

48. North Carolina State

49. U.S. Naval Academy

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

2.  Troy Polamalu

3.  Aaron Rodgers

4.  Dwyane Wade Drives

5.  Dallas Cowboys Logo

6.  Aaron Rodgers Super Bowl XLV MVP

7.  Blake Griffin

8.  Rajon Rondo

9.  Drew Brees Quarterback

10.  Derrick Rose

July 13, 2010

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Fathead at the All-Star Game

By: T-Money

Hey Fathead Nation,

It’s T-Money… On the ground here in Anaheim for MLB FanFest.  Just killing some time throughout the morning/early afternoon today prior to the main event tonight, MLB All-Star 2010.  Just stopped by the Fathead booth and they’re running all kinds of deals on anything from their 2010 series of MLB Fathead Tradeables (including team sets of the Cardinals, Yankees, Phillies, and Red Sox) to assorted All-Stars from the AL and NL in Fathead Jr.  The coolest thing I’ve seen so far is their newest item, MLB Fathead Teammates.  Teammates are 12×12 primary team logos that peel and stick just like their larger Fatheads.  According to the guys in the booth, these aren’t even available in stores yet, just released this week for FanFest.  I scored some Tigers Teammates on special, 2 for $20 and bought a Tradeables bundle at 5 packs for $20!!! I know, these deals are pretty crazy right now so if you’re in Anaheim, stop by the Fathead booth in Hall D of the Anaheim Convention Center.  If they don’t have something in stock, they can always order for you and ship out within 7-10 business days.  If you can’t make it out to FanFest, reference MLB FanFest  upon ordering and get the booth special for 15% off all regularly-priced items.  Well, I gotta run (literally), just walked past the Taco Bell booth and I can steal a base to grab a FREE taco, can you say fourth meal?

March 15, 2010

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By: Michael

If you know the state where every school in the Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament is located, then I can safely say you have too much time on your hands. OK, some are pretty easy – North Texas is probably in Texas. South Dakota State is probably not in California. It turns out Oakland is not in California, but Michigan. Go figure. But where in the world is Wofford?

Some of these schools are what TV producers and broadcasters crave – air time filler, the Cinderella story, the little known school with big time hopes. So let’s take the example of Wofford. At under 1500 students it’s about the size of the Division III college I went to as an undergrad. How did they make it to Division I? You might think it was by focusing nearly exclusively on athletics but the school is ranked as one of the top 60 national private, liberal arts colleges in the country and has produced five Rhodes Scholars.  They are one of the smallest schools ever to go to the NCAA tournament but they’re not the 16 seed you might expect – they’ve earned  a 13 seed and are slated to play Wisconsin. If I were the Badgers I’d watch out for these guys. They’re nicknamed the Terriers and it’s always the small dogs with big attitude that end up biting your finger.

Anyway, I figure the Big Dance is always a good time to find out something about a school you’ve never heard of. If your alma mater is playing this week, or you just want to wave the flag about your school, give us a shout and tell us what makes your school special. By the way, Wofford is located in Spartanburg, South Carolina. You can add that to your bracketknowledgey.

Wofford College