April 29, 2013
NFL Draft: The popular NFL Draft was held over the weekend and it was, as usual, a big attraction. The true popularity of the league was on display as millions and millions tuned in over the three-day event. The NFL not only has the most popular on-field product in American sports, but has managed to nearly turn its draft into a national holiday. One of the big surprises was West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith falling to the second round. Smith, once considered a potential No. 1 overall pick fell and fell … and fell. But when it was all said and done, he landed in a pretty good spot with the New York Jets. Starter Mark Sanchez has fallen out of favor for a couple of years now and backup Tim Tebow is rumored to be released. Smith should have a chance to not only play in 2013, but win the starting job.
Russell Westbrook out for NBA Playoffs: The Oklahoma City Thunder caught an unbelievably tough break when starting guard Russell Westbrook went down with an injury in Game 2. He suffered a tear in his knee and will miss the rest of the season after having surgery on Saturday. Westbrook is often the subject of criticism for his questionable shot selection, but he still averages 23 points a game. And his seven assists and five rebounds per game make him one of the more complete point guards in the league. Once considered a team that could knock off the Miami Heat for their first NBA title, I’m not even sure OKC makes it out of the western conference now.
College football sets playoff system: College football and the BCS announced their plan for the new playoff system set to begin in 2015. Six bowl games will rotate sharing semifinal games – The Rose, Sugar, Fiesta, Orange, Chick-fil-A, and Cotton. Each year, two of those bowls will host the semifinal games while the other four will hold significant BCS-type games. The first title game in 2015 will be held in Cowboys Stadium. The real winner in all of this? The fans. Not only will there be a four-team playoff, but there will be two additional big time games. Currently, there are the four major bowl games and the BCS Championship. But now, there will be a total of seven major matchups. And in addition, the two semifinal games and the remaining four contests will be held during New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Two tripleheaders over the holiday should give you plenty of reasons not to leave your couch.
Rick Pitino gets tattoo: Yes, this is real news … just go with it. Rick Pitino promised his Louisville Cardinals team he’d man up and get a tattoo if they could win the National Championship. That happened and Pitino didn’t back down. Here’s a picture of it. Not great, but not horrible, I suppose. And props to the coach for not going with a small one-inch tattoo on his ankle or something.
Aaron Rodgers signs new deal with Green Bay Packers: In a move that could keep their star quarterback in a Packers’ uniform for the rest of his career, Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers signed a five-year, $110 million extension to remain with the franchise. If he plays out that contract, he would remain in Green Bay for the next seven seasons, through 2019. That would keep him in a Packers jersey until he’s 38. He could play longer, of course, but if nothing else, the bulk of his playing career should be in Green Bay.
UNLV plans Jerry Tarkanian statue: The Las Vegas Sun reported that UNLV is planning a statue for former head basketball coach, Jerry Tarkanian. Tarkanian, recently elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame, and the school have been on the outs for a while with the relationship mending a bit in recent years. And the coach had long been targeted by the NCAA for a variety of issues involving his teams. But wherever you come out on Tark, the one thing that can’t be debated is his ability as a head coach. He won more than 80% of his games and led UNLV to the 1990 National Championship.
April 25, 2013
It’s that time of year and all the cool kids are doing NFL mock drafts. I gave in to the peer pressure so here is my attempt to get a couple of Thursday’s 32 picks right.
1 Kansas City Chiefs: There’s a new coach in town. Andy Reid has got himself a new quarterback. Now he’ll get someone to protect that quarterback.
2 Jacksonville Jaguars: When you are picking second, you can’t afford to miss on your pick. The Jags will wait for round two or three to get a quarterback and look to improve the worst pass rush in the league.
3 Oakland Raiders: With Matt Flynn in the fold, the Raiders can hope he becomes the franchise guy and look to fill a gaping hole on the defensive line. It’s a choice between Star Lotulelei and Sharrif Floyd.
The pick: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
4 Philadelphia Eagles: This is where we find out if new coach Chip Kelly wants to groom Geno Smith for the future or protect Michael Vick for the present. One thing we know about Kelly is that he loves speed.
The pick: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
The pick: Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
6 Cleveland Browns: Championship teams have to be great on one side of the ball. In Cleveland, that’s not going to be the offense until Weeden proves he is the right guy or they find someone else. Adding free agents Paul Kruger and Quentin Groves and the top cornerback in the draft gives the defense a chance to be really good.
The pick: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
7 Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals offensive line was awful last year and if Fisher is still on the board, they won’t waste any time turning their card in.
The pick: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
8 Buffalo Bills: Here’s another team with a new quarterback. Buffalo follows suit and picks up some protection for Kevin Kolb.
The pick: Chance Warmack, G, Alabama
9 New York Jets: The defense just took a major hit by trading Revis to Tampa Bay. If the pass coverage gets worse, the pass rush better improve.
The pick: Johathan Cooper, G, North Carolina
The pick: Lane Johnson, T, Oklahoma
The pick: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida St.
13 New York Jets: The secondary still needs help and this is the pick the Jets got in the Revis trade. But they don’t care when one of the best players on the board falls into their laps.
The pick: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
The pick: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
15 New Orleans Saints: Getting Sean Payton back will help the offense so this pick should be used on the defense. With several options to choose from, the Saints take the best defender left on their board.
The pick: Bjoern Werner, DL, Florida St.
16 St. Louis Rams: With two big needs to fill and two first round picks, the Rams must decide between a safety and wide receiver.
The pick: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
17 Pittsburgh Steelers: James Harrison is in Cincinnati and Mike Wallace took his talents to South Beach. One will be replaced with this pick.
The pick: D.J. Fluker, OL, Alabama
19 New York Giants: When the Giants are great, they are putting pressure on the quarterback. And they like to draft pass rushers.
The pick: Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
20 Chicago Bears: The Bears need help at linebacker with Brian Urlacher now gone. They’ll get it here, but it’s not who you think.
The pick: Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas St.
21 Cincinnati Bengals: There aren’t a lot of holes in this roster. The biggest one is probably at safety. Not anymore.
The pic: Eric Reid, S, LSU
22 St. Louis: They’ve already picked up a safety. Now it’s time to get a receiver to fill the void left by Brandon Gibson and Danny Amendola.
The pick: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
The pick: Datone Jones, DL, UCLA
The pick: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
26 Green Bay Packers: Aaron Rodgers would love someone he could hand off to that would keep the defense guessing. First running back comes off the board here.
The pick: Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
The pick: Keenan Allen, WR, California
28 Denver Broncos: The defensive line needed reinforcements even before the Dumervil debacle. One falls into John Elway’s lap on draft day.
The pick: Sheldon Richardson, DL, Missouri
29 New England Patriots: If the Pats make this pick it’s got to be a receiver or someone to cover a receiver.
The pick: Jamar Taylor, CB, Boise St.
The pick: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
31 San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers could use another safety after losing Dashon Goldson in free agency.
The pick: Matt Elam, S, Florida
The pick: Kevin Minter, LB, LSU
November 5, 2012
Lakers off to rough start: The Los Angeles Lakers not only started the season 0-3, but lost starting point guard Steve Nash along the way. He suffered a small fracture to his fibula and will be out for at least a week according to early reports. Obviously not the start the franchise was hoping for after trading for Nash and Dwight Howard in the offseason. Los Angeles was once a trendy pick to reach the NBA Finals, but while it’s early, that’s looking like a pipe dream so far. Any chance General Manager Mitch Kupchak is frantically searching for Phil Jackson’s cell phone number? Maybe not just yet, but …
Mariano Rivera decides he’ll be back in 2013: After a season-ending injury in May, Yankees’ closer Mariano Rivera says he’s returning in 2013. At age 43, the thought was that he may retire, but as an all-time great, he should have the right to try to come back if he wants. Plus, with an ERA just over 2.00 last season, it looks like he still has something left in the tank.
NHL cancels Winter Classic: With the hockey season still on ice (see what I did there?), the NHL had little choice but to cancel its popular Winter Classic. This year’s event was to feature the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs at the University of Michigan’s football stadium on January 1st, but with the current lockout, that’s just not feasible – even if the season gets underway before then. So much planning goes into that game and without even knowing if the lockout will end anytime soon, it had to be canceled. That’s really bad news for a sport that struggles to keep up with the other major leagues. The Winter Classic is one of the few times the league is in the spotlight and this is just another reason why hockey needs to get back to playing … quickly.
CM Punk defeated Ryback in the WWE’s pay-per-view main event: Punk has now held onto the belt for nearly a full year after defeating new sensation, Ryback, at WWE’s Hell in a Cell pay-per-view. With a marred finish (the referee gave Ryback a cheap shot), the WWE played this perfectly. CM Punk keeps the belt, but helps Ryback maintain his momentum even as his unbeaten streak ends.
Division II St. Leo defeats Miami Hurricanes: When the Miami Hurricanes scheduled Division II St. Leo for a friendly exhibition basketball game, the thought of losing couldn’t possibly have crossed their mind. Yet, that’s exactly what happened as St. Leo won 69-67 over the ACC team. Miami’s Trey McKinney Jones said it best after the game when he declared “It’s embarrassing” (‘Yeah, pretty much’, I add parenthetically).
Rory McIlroy defeated Tiger Woods in golf exhibition: Tiger Woods lost to Rory McIlroy in a golf exhibition by one stroke in China. Even though it was only an exhibition, I’d personally like to see more of these types of matches in golf. Trying to follow dozens of players in a tournament is a bit mind-boggling. And even on the final day of a major, you can have a half dozen golfers in contention. But in a one-on-one stage, it turns golf into a bit more like the other sports. In a tournament, golfers are playing against a course. In a one-on-one match, while that still holds true, to a degree, there’s also direct competition with another player.
Alabama defeats LSU: The Crimson Tide defeated LSU in the top college football matchup of the week. With the Tigers suffering their second loss, it’s all but assured that the two teams won’t meet again in the national championship game as they did last year. Everyone outside of Alabama and Louisiana just breathed a massive sigh of relief.
San Francisco Giants snafu: And finally, presented without comment, a musician participating in the San Francisco Giants’ World Championship parade opened the stage show portion of the event by saying the “San Francisco 49ers swept the Detroit Tigers.”
Yeah, something like that.
November 1, 2012
With college football’s BCS bowl picture just vaguely starting to take shape, speculation is already running rampant about which teams will play for the BCS National Championship. We have a long way to go before we find out, but Week 10 in college football could help shape the futures of a lot of teams. We look at the 5 biggest games of the weekend and how they could change the BCS picture.
Alabama at LSU
This game could drastically change the BCS National Championship game. Alabama has long been penciled into the BCS National Championship game and a loss to LSU could be devastating. LSU has been very successful in Saturday night games at home, but they are still thought to be heavy underdogs against the Crimson Tide. If they can pull off the upset, they would have one loss and be launched back into the national championship conversation. Not to mention potentially take Alabama out of it.
Oklahoma State at Kansas State
Kansas State has been one of the most surprising teams this college football season. They are averaging over 44 points a game and giving up only 17. The Wildcats have dominated their last two opponents, #13 West Virginia and #14 Texas Tech, and are contending for a spot in the BCS National Championship. Oklahoma State has two losses and this will be their first of 4 straight games against ranked opponents. A win against the Wildcats would start their streak off on the right foot. A loss puts Kansas State one step closer to their goal.
Oregon at USC
No team scores quite like the Oregon Ducks. The undefeated Ducks average 53 points a game and, at 8-0, have been pretty successful winning games. The knock on Oregon is that they don’t play tough competition, but they beat Arizona, a team that beat USC just last week. USC would like nothing better than to bounce back and spoil Oregon’s season. Both team’s look set for a rematch in the PAC-12 championship game, although a loss to Oregon would put USC’s chances in jeopardy.
Texas A&M at Mississippi State
Both of these teams are facing season-defining games these next two weeks. If #16 Texas A&M can win this week against Mississippi State and then upset #1 Alabama, their BCS resume would be looking great. The Aggies would be 8-2, with their only losses being to Florida and LSU.
However, if #15 Mississippi State can beat Texas A&M and then turn around and upset LSU, they would be 9-1 with their only loss coming to Alabama. Regardless of the outcome of this game, one of these teams will have a chance to make some noise in the BCS picture in the next few weeks.
Texas at Texas Tech
Both teams are 6-2 and fighting for ranking spots not only in the Big 12 but in the national polls as well. While they both have two losses, Texas’ came at the hands of West Virginia and Oklahoma, while Texas Tech lost to Kansas State and Oklahoma. The winner of this game still has a chance to go to a big bowl game later this year if they can win out the rest of the season. That task will be a little harder for Texas, who still has to play Kansas State in their regular season finale.
October 9, 2012
A lot has happened in college football the last two weeks. The number of unbeaten teams has dropped from 27 to 16. 12 teams ranked in the top 25 have lost (including nine on Saturday). Some contenders have proven to be pretenders while new contenders have emerged. Where do we stand now?
I still believe the SEC winner plays in the big game. After watching South Carolina destroy Georgia on Saturday, it looks like the Gamecocks will take on the Alabama-LSU winner in the SEC Championship Game for a chance to play for the BCS title (but we have to at least mention that Florida and Mississippi St. are both still undefeated and could get there with some help). Against who?
That’s where the BCS comes into play. Take away the SEC and we still have 12 unbeatens. Cincinnati, Kansas State, Louisiana Tech, Louisville, Notre Dame, Ohio, Ohio State, Oregon, Oregon State, Rutgers, Texas-San Antonio and West Virginia all 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 have scored at least 42 points in every game. Expect them to get to 8-0 before facing three more ranked teams in November and then a possible Pac-12 title game. They win out and they will get a title shot.
No. 5 West Virginia
So far so good for the Mountaineers in their new conference. They have put up 118 points in the last two games, both against ranked opponents. Then again, they have given up 108 in those two games. Kansas State, TCU and Oklahoma are still to come.
No. 6 Kansas State
If the Wildcats are going to run the table and win the Big 12, they will have to earn it with road games at Oklahoma, West Virginia, TCU and Baylor. They got by the Sooners and take the trip to West Virginia in two weeks. That will essentially be an elimination game.
No. 7 Notre Dame
No. 8 Ohio State
The Buckeyes are not eligible to play in a bowl game.
No. 10 Oregon State
The Beavers could be the surprise of the year. They play at Stanford but get Oregon at home. Lets see if they keep it going this week against a stout defense at BYU.
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. 11 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 the Big 12 champs to lose.
No. 12 Florida State
The Seminoles don’t have as strong a schedule as some teams in front of them, but wins over Virginia Tech, Florida and in the ACC title game would give them a 12-1 record. They’ll need the Big 12 winner and everyone in PAC 12 to lose though.
No. 13 Oklahoma
The Sooners will have to go through Texas, Notre Dame, Baylor, West Virginia and TCU. If that happens and both Oregon schools lose, the Sooners will be there.
Unbeaten teams Cincinnati, Louisiana Tech, Louisville, Ohio, Rutgers and Texas-San Antonio are all going to need multiple miracles to move that far up in the rankings but they deserve to stay in the conversation until they lose. And hey, miracles do happen.