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.

July 31, 2012

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Top College Football Games Of 2012

By: Joe Williams

We are officially less than a month away from kickoff of the 2012 college football season. Can’t wait! (Thank you Bart Scott) College football always provides the most entertaining regular season of the major sports in America. We don’t know which games are going to mean the most or be the best, but here are a few that I’ll have marked on my TV watching calendar.

You can bet Mountaineer Field will be rowdy when Oklahoma visits this season.

Boise State at Michigan State

Friday, August 31

The Broncos came out of nowhere to become a major force in college football in the last few years. Boise St. has gone on the road against some big-time schools in recent years; Georgia, Virginia Tech, Oregon and Oklahoma have all paid the price for taking the field against the Broncos. Fortunately, that didn’t stop Michigan State from agreeing to play in the opening week of the season. If the Broncos win, (despite having to replace the majority for their starters), they could be in for another season of BCS debate.

Alabama at Michigan

Saturday, September 1

The defending national champs have a huge test right out of the gate. Michigan is on the way back to the top of college football and a win here would be a huge step for the program. The Tide will have to run the table if they lose. Both of these storied programs have their sights set on the BCS title game in January. The winner of this game could be there.

Clemson at Florida State

September 22

Who’s going to win the ACC? Will it mean anything in the national championship picture? If anybody from the ACC will make a run at a title, I think it starts here. Of course, Virginia Tech will have something to say about that but I’ll take this game.

Oregon at USC

November 3

College football will have a playoff system but not this year. This game ought to be as close to a playoff game as we get in 2012. Both teams enter the season as national championship contenders. Both teams could be undefeated. Both teams want home-field advantage for the Pac-12 title game. Only one team will be left standing.

Oklahoma at West Virginia

November 17

One of the good things about all the realignment happening in college football is that we will get to see some different matchups. Two BCS game regulars are now conference rivals (West Virginia is now in the Big 12) and the winner here could be in the national championship discussion.

LSU at Arkansas

November 23

The rest of the country should be tired of the SEC dominating college football. That’s not likely to change much but this game could at least provide a different SEC team for the nation to root against. Will this be the year the Razorbacks make the jump to the top of the SEC? It will take a victory over the Tigers to make that happen.

November 8, 2011

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BCS Championship Picture Still Murky

By: Joe Williams

If the final BCS rankings came out today, we would be looking at an LSU vs. Oklahoma State matchup in the BCS Championship game. Will it stay that way until the final BCS rankings come out at the end of the season? If this season plays out like most then there will be more twists and turns before the BCS matchups are set. Does your team have a shot to reach the BCS Championship game? Here’s a look at what it may take to get the contending teams to New Orleans on Jan. 9.

No.1 LSU

As long as the Tigers keep winning they will stay at No. 1 in the BCS rankings. They still face No. 8 Arkansas and must play the SEC title game. If they win out, they will play in the BCS Championship game.

No. 2 Oklahoma State

If the Cowboys win their final three games, including a showdown with No. 6 Oklahoma, they should stay in the top two in the BCS Rankings and play in the BCS Championship game.

No. 3 Alabama

This is where things get interesting. The Crimson Tide must win out and the only formidable team they have left is No. 20 Auburn. If Oklahoma State loses, Alabama would pass the Cowboys but there is a good chance an undefeated Stanford team would jump into the second spot of the BCS Rankings. Or what if Arkansas beats LSU and there is a three way tie at 6-1 in the SEC West? It could all come down to whether or not the BCS voters want to see a rematch of that ugly 9-6 loss against LSU in the BCS Championship game.

No. 4 Stanford

The Cardinal need to beat No. 7 Oregon on Saturday night and they may need a convincing win to convince the voters to move them up in the BCS rankings. Then they need to beat Cal and Notre Dame and they could have a rematch with USC in the conference title game. If they win out, they should move ahead of Alabama in the BCS rankings, but it would be tough for them to catch an unbeaten Oklahoma State.

No. 5 Boise State

We say this every year, but the Broncos need a lot of help to make it to the BCS Championship game. They must blow out their four remaining opponents, including a good TCU team. Bronco fans should be rooting for Oregon to beat Stanford and the Sooners to take down Oklahoma State. They also need Georgia to win the SEC East and then the SEC title game. If the Broncos are the only unbeaten team (other than Houston) and have a victory over the SEC champion they will have a legitimate argument but probably get left out of the BCS Championship game again.

No. 6 Oklahoma

The Sooners must win their final three games which would mean going to Oklahoma State and winning. They have to get passed Alabama as the highest ranked one-loss team in the BCS rankings and they need Stanford to lose a game as well. Then, they need to hope the voters will move them ahead of Boise State and decide they don’t want to see an Alabama/LSU rematch in the BCS Championship game.  

No. 7 Oregon 

If the Ducks beat Stanford, USC, Oregon St. and win the conference championship game, they would be in the discussion, as long as Oklahoma St. loses. Would that be enough to pass one-loss Oklahoma or Alabama in the BCS rankings? I don’t think so, but if their only loss is to an undefeated No. 1 LSU and things fall the Ducks’ way, we could be in for a rematch from the season opener in the BCS Championship game.

No. 8 Arkansas 

It is certainly a longshot, but let’s say the Razorbacks beat Tennessee and Mississippi St. Then they go on the road and beat No. 1 LSU. They could be in a three-way tie with LSU and Alabama in the SEC West. Depending on how the tiebreaker plays out, they could go to the SEC championship game and beat Georgia. If that all happens, Arkansas would be a one-loss SEC champion and could get in BCS Championship game if Stanford or Oklahoma State drops a game.

No. 9 Clemson 

The Tigers could run the table and get to the ACC title game where they could meet Georgia Tech and avenge their only loss on the season. They would be 12-1 with a win over the only team to beat them. They would also need Stanford, Oklahoma State, and maybe Boise State to lose. Then they would need some other one-loss teams like Oregon and Oklahoma to fall. If they end up as one of a couple one-loss teams, you could make a case for Clemson.

No. 10 Virginia Tech

The Hokies are in the same boat as Clemson. They could run the table and get to the ACC title game and have a rematch with the only team they lost to (Clemson). Then they would be 12-1 with a win over the only team to beat them. They would also need Stanford, Oklahoma State, and maybe Boise State to lose. Then they would need some other one-loss teams like Oregon and Oklahoma to fall. If they end up as one of a couple one-loss teams, you could make a case for Virginia Tech in the BCS Championship game.

No.11 Houston

Boise State has to lose for the Cougars to get a BCS invite. The only way they get to the BCS Championship game is if they go back in time, join the Big East for 2011, play a whole new schedule, and go undefeated. Oh, and get some help. Good luck with that.

No. 12 Penn State 

If Penn State can rack up four more wins (No. 19 Nebraska, Ohio State, No. 16 Wisconsin, and No. 13 Michigan State in the conference title game) they will be 12-1 with the only loss coming at the hands of Alabama. That is a pretty good resume but they need just about everyone in front of them in the BCS rankings to lose. Not likely.

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

June 28, 2011

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Crowning the 2004 Champion

By: Joe Williams

In the movie Men In Black, Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith work for a top-secret agency that polices, monitors, and directs alien activity on Earth. They use pocket-sized devices called “Neuralyzers” to erase the memories of witnesses to avoid leaving any evidence of their existence.

The powers that be in the BCS recently did something similar by stripping USC of its 2004 national championship. I used to think I spent the night of Jan. 4, 2005 with friends watching the USC destroy Oklahoma in the BCS Championship Game. Oops. Didn’t happen. I hope I don’t get accused of any crimes that were committed on that night. I have no alibi.

For those who don’t like the BCS, the 2004 season was already full of controversy.

End of regular season BCS standings:

  1. USC                             12-0
  2. Oklahoma                 12-0
  3. Auburn                      12-0
  4. Texas                          10-1
  5. California                  10-1
  6. Utah                            11-0
  7. Georgia                        9-2
  8. Virginia Tech           10-2
  9. Boise State                 11-0
  10. Louisville                   10-1

 

Five teams finished the regular season undefeated, but according to the BCS system, only two get to compete for the championship. Auburn, Utah and Boise State did everything they could do but it wasn’t enough. Fans all over the country were outraged and the call for a playoff system increased.

Now that we know there was no winner of the BCS Championship Game, the controversy is back. Will the BCS award the championship to someone else? Oklahoma played in that championship game as the No. 2 team in the rankings so should they get it? Auburn beat Virginia Tech 16-13 in the Sugar Bowl and finished 13-0 and No. 2 in the polls. What about Utah? The Utes crushed Pittsburgh in the Fiesta Bowl. They were a perfect 12-0. Boise State’s undefeated season came to an end with a 44-40 loss to Louisville in the Liberty Bowl so the Broncos are out of the conversation.

This is where the BCS is better than a playoff system. There is no way to bring back the teams from the 2004 season and have a playoff tournament to determine the champion. But the computers basically pick the champion anyway so why can’t the people running the BCS get out their calculators and use their computer formulas to determine a new 2004 champion?

It shouldn’t be that hard to take USC’s vacated victories out of the equation and add the results from the bowl games. They might as well start now. At the rate these scandals are coming out in college football, we could have more seasons that end up with no champion.

If not, those who run the BCS are going to have to start going around with their own “Neuralyzers” erasing our memories of College Football Championships that were not won.