December 4, 2012

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Bowl Season Observations

By: Joe Williams

College football’s regular season games have been played, the bowl selections have been made and now all there is to do is wait…for 2014. In two years we will finally get the college football playoff we’ve been waiting for. Until then, we are stuck with the BCS system that, every year, is filled with controversy.

Should Oklahoma have made a BCS bowl?

This year, the BCS has delivered the most disappointing and uninteresting lineup of games since the BCS system began. The Rose Bowl has a team that has already lost five times this year in Wisconsin. The Orange Bowl has a team that was never in the BCS discussion until there was one day left in the season and has the experts complaining that they don’t deserve to be in the game in Northern Illinios. In the Sugar Bowl we have a team that benefited by not having to play in its conference championship game in Florida taking on a team that has lost two of three and has not faced a ranked opponent all season in Louisville. And of course the BCS Championship Game will feature possibly the two most hated teams in college football (Notre Dame and Alabama) so many fans won’t even know who to root for. The only bright spot is the Fiesta Bowl. Oregon against Kansas State should be a good one.

Why is everyone getting so bent out of shape about Northern Illinois reaching the BCS anyway? So Oklahoma doesn’t get in this year. So what? The Sooners have played in the BCS eight times. I’d rather see some new blood get a chance. It’s not like the Sooners are left out of a national championship shot. Has everyone forgotten what happened when Boise State (2007 and 2010) and Utah (2005 and 2009) were in the BCS and people thought they shouldn’t be? I’m not saying Northern Illinois will beat Florida State. But they qualified for the game. If Oklahoma was so worried about playing in a BCS game it should have performed better against Notre Dame or Kansas State.

What happens if Alabama beats Notre Dame, leaving Ohio State as the only undefeated team? I don’t think it will happen and I don’t think it should happen (because the Buckeyes are not bowl eligible), but what are the chances that Ohio State could end up No. 1 in the AP and we have a split national championship? Talk about college football controversy.

If we have learned anything about college football and the people who run it over the years, it is that the most important thing is money. That is why I am surprised that we are still able to find out who will be playing in what bowl game before the actual BCS selection show is on TV. Why haven’t they come up with a selection show similar to the NFL draft where we have representatives from each bowl game coming up to the podium and announcing the team they have selected to play in each game. We would have teams all around the country gathered around the phone waiting for a call. I would have loved to see a split screen of the reactions from Oklahoma and Northern Illinois when the match-ups were made official. That would get higher ratings then having somebody from ESPN telling us what we have already known for days.

There are 35 games still to play. I’ve got no interest in most of them (East Carolina vs Louisana-Lafayette and Duke vs Cincinnati for example), and only one game means anything. Fortunately, we will go through this just one more time.

September 27, 2012

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College Football Playoff In 2012?

By: Joe Williams

For those of you who thought we had to wait a couple more years for a college football playoff, think again. Just a month ago 122 teams were unbeaten and dreaming of a national title. Now just 27 are left with an unblemished record. Two of them will probably meet for the BCS Championship in January and one of those spots will be determined in what is basically an SEC playoff.

On Nov. 3, No. 1 Alabama will visit No. 3 LSU. The winner should be in the SEC title game against the winner of the Oct. 6 game between No. 5 Georgia and No. 6 South Carolina. And the winner of the SEC title game will mostly likely play for the BCS Championship. This is essentially a four-team playoff for one spot in the BCS Championship. Undefeated Florida and Mississippi State can’t be counted out and could enter the conversation with a few more wins and some help.

Will Alabama return to the BCS Championship game this season?

Who will get the other spot and face the SEC winnner? That’s where the BCS comes into play. Take away the SEC and we still have 21 unbeatens. Baylor, Cincinnati, Florida State, Iowa State, Kansas State, Louisiana Tech, Louisville, Minnesota, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio, Ohio State, Oregon, Oregon State, Rutgers, Stanford, TCU, Texas, Texas San-Antonio, Texas Tech, and West Virginia have yet to lose.

Obviously some of those teams are serious contenders and some are too far down in the poll to make a serious run. Here’s a look at the teams best positioned to play for the title.

No. 2 Oregon

The Ducks just beat a ranked opponent 49-0 and still have three ranked teams on their schedule and a possible Pac-12 title game. They win out and they will be in that game.

No. 4 Florida State
The Seminoles don’t have as strong a schedule as Oregon but wins over Virginia Tech, Florida and in the ACC title game would give them a resume worthy of the title game.

No. 7 Kansas State
The Wildcats seized control of the Big 12 with a road win over Oklahoma on Saturday night. With four ranked opponents still to play, they have a long way to go but will have a strong argument if they run the table.

No. 8 Stanford
Road wins at Notre Dame and Oregon would have the Cardinal in position to head to the Pac-12 Championship Game.

No. 9 West Virginia
Welcome to the Big 12 Mountaineers. With five games against ranked teams in the next seven weeks, West Virginia has its work cut out for it and maybe the toughest remaining schedule in the country.

No. 10 Notre Dame
The Irish have skyrocketed up the rankings after wins over Michigan and Michigan State without allowing a touchdown. Stanford, Oklahoma and USC still left to play.

There are even a few teams with one loss that could get back in the mix if the rest of the season is as wild and crazy as they usually are. Here’s what you should be rooting for if you are a fan of one of these teams.

No. 13 USC
The Trojans will need to run the table, which would require beating Oregon and Notre Dame and hopefully for USC a rematch with Stanford in the PAC-12 title game. They’ll also need Florida State and the Big 12 champs to lose.

No. 16 Oklahoma
The Sooners will have to go through Texas, Notre Dame, Baylor, West Virginia and TCU. If that happens and Oregon, Florida State, Stanford and USC lose the Sooners will be there.

No. 20 Michigan State
The Spartans will have to beat Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska, hope everyone has at least one loss, Notre Dame loses twice and Boise State finishes at 11-1.

Hey. It could happen. But so could a thousand other scenarios. That’s what makes college football great.

July 23, 2012

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Q&A With the Legendary Jim Ross

By: Anson Whaley

This week, we’ve got a special treat as legendary WWE wrestling announcer Jim Ross participated in a Q&A session with me. Ross is, quite simply, the best in the business. Below are his thoughts on plenty of topics including the grind of professional wrestling, the downfall of the WCW, and Oklahoma football. Be sure to also head over to his website at www.jrsbarbq.com where you can buy JR’s excellent BBQ sauce.

Okay, maybe most importantly – how do you see Oklahoma football faring this year?

JR: A healthy Landry Jones at QB could result in OU winning 10+ games and deep in the post season. 10-3 here last season is considered unsuccessful so I look for the Sooners to ‘bounce back.’

Jim Ross sees a bounce back season for the Sooners.

You’ve been recognized by many as perhaps the greatest wrestling announcer of all time. What’s your secret to staying relevant for so long?

JR: Being a life long fan and having natural passion for what I do. I feel I’m a student of the game and have never played a role but just do what comes naturally.

I believe you actually did some refereeing a bit early in your career. Has that aspect of wrestling changed much since the time you were doing it?

JR: Today’s talents don’t utilize the referee as well as other generations did. The referee can/should be a significant facet of any match. Not the star but a facilitator/asset.

Younger fans that know you from WWE’s Monday Night Raw might not know you first worked at NWA and WCW. In the 1990s, WCW went on a pretty good run before they were eclipsed by the WWE. Were you at all surprised that they were able to draw the ratings they did, even while focusing around older talent?

JR: I had 19 years of experience before I finally ‘made it’ to WWE. WCW was able to use WWE established stars with several other talents including Goldberg to assemble a viable roster. They simply allowed too many cooks in the kitchen regarding the creative direction which helped cause them to unravel.

How do most wrestlers accept working in a lesser role after achieving great success? For example, Jack Swagger won a world championship and had a good run, but recently, has been moved to the back of the line a bit. In general, how do wrestlers handle that?

JR: I look at it like being cast in a weekly soap opera. Roles vary and timing is everything. Through differing creative and Swagger’s own performances and execution of his role, he could be right back in a higher profile position sooner than later. I tell the young guys to “keep chopping the wood” and to maximize the minutes that they receive.

Fathead: Many fans only know about the few hours a week when the cameras are on, but working house shows night after night that aren’t on TV, taking bumps repeatedly … it’s a pretty demanding job, right?

JR: Absolutely and the travel is challenging as anyone who flies these days knows. A full time, WWE superstar works an average of 4 days per week. No one ever said it was easy but it’s SO much better than it used to be.

In all your years of watching wrestling, if you could start a promotion with one guy at the beginning of his career, who’s your pick?

JR: Firstly, that would not be a goal of mine but for the sake of the question it might be Andre the Giant because then I would have an ‘attraction’ that could be used sparingly but would always sell tickets. For an everyday, main event star it would likely be Steve Austin.

We can’t go without mentioning your line of outstanding barbecue sauce (available at www.jrsbarbq.com). How involved are you with the entire process and the business?

JR: My wife and I are 100% hands on in the development of every product that we produce. They aren’t gimmicks but excellent products made with premium ingredients and are made in Oklahoma by a family owned company, Clements Foods, that has been making BBQ Sauces, Ketchup and Mustard for over 50 years. It’s a labor of love and a homage to my late Mom whose homemade BBQ sauce taste profile inspired the JR’s Original BBQ Sauce that we sell today. It’s our #1 seller.

When did you decide you wanted to try your hand at it and can you give us an idea of how successful it’s been?

JR: I’ve always been a foodie…love that world and am developing an idea to pitch for a Food Network type project. My Mom was a great cook as is my Italian wife. I’m not so bad myself but not in their league. The business is growing amazingly well especially with it being primarily an online product except for the Norman, Oklahoma Homeland stores. If we can earn our way into grocery stores someday then we have a chance to make JR’s Family brand of products special. I think my years of traveling in the wrestling business provided me an opportunity to enjoy some great meals, products, sauces, etc. and that has been another catalyst for writing our two cookbooks and developing our condiment/sauce line.

March 30, 2009

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Bracket Brain and Home Town Heart.

By: Michael

The Men’s Final Four are set and they’re headed to Detroit which is right in Fathead’s front yard. As the number one sports city in America, Detroit takes great pride in hosting these sorts of events: The MLB All Star game, the Super Bowl and now the Final Four in a matter of just a couple of years. The Pistons, Red Wings and Tigers have all contributed to civic pride in the past few years by bringing post-season games and championships to the city.

 

Now the Michigan State Spartans have the chance to shine in front of the home-town faithful. I’ll admit that I didn’t pick MSU to win it all this year when I filled in my bracket a couple of weeks ago but I did have them making it this far. After these last two games I’m starting to believe that joining President Obama in my selection of North Carolinato emerge as national champions may not have been the best call. In fact, I’d gladly give up a bracket win for the much more meaningful victory of Sparty at Ford Field.

 

This raises in my mind the reasons we pick the teams we do when we fill out our brackets. Logic would seem to dictate that the largely more knowledgeable tournament selection committee does the seeding to represent those in the best position to advance and we should all just pick the number one seeds for the final four. We also know that it rarely turns out that way though this year it turned out pretty close to the truth. We all want our teams to win and it’s just really hard to accept that they might not. I spent eight years teaching at the University of Oklahoma and I always want the Sooners to do well. When I picked UConnto beat OU in the regional finals I was going against what my emotions wanted me to do and listening to what my brain and the selection committee told me was most likely to happen. Did I feel good when UConn advanced and my bracket standing went up – not really. Should we just embrace the madness that is March and forget about the seeding?

 

For now, yes. May the home team win! Let the people of Detroit and Michigan celebrate again! I know I’d rather see the Spartans win than be right about picking some teams I don’t really care about.

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