Monthly Archives: January 2011

NBA Melo-Drama

Melo is still a Nugget, but for how long?

The Denver Nuggets have a problem; its name is Carmelo Anthony. Carmelo Anthony has a problem, its called doing what he feels is right for himself and his playing career.

 

Both sides have a solution to their problem; unfortunately no one wants to come to a common ground.

 

Carmelo wants out of Denver and into New York. Denver knows they will lose him and want to get something for him instead of letting him walk free of charge in July 2011. Yes I know I what you’re thinking, this is definitely a pain in the neck. You see both sides have a point. Both sides are trying to do what’s best for them.

 

Carmelo Anthony has been very upfront about his future and knows what he wants and where he wants to go. Unlike LeBron James and the silly games that he played on the Cleveland Cavaliers, Carmelo has let it be known that he will not sign with the Nuggets and intends to take his talents to the Big Apple. Denver knowing this has still given Carmelo an option for extending his deal for three years and 65 million dollars, which Melo has denied over and over.

 

Is he being unreasonable? No. He’s not trashing the team in the media, he’s not being surly to my knowledge, and his main objective in his own words is doing what’s best for him. Maybe he sees the future around him in Denver and he’s not a fan of it.

 

Maybe he sees J.R. Smith still chucking up bad three’s, the fading skills of Chauncey Billups and a team that besides him has no real direction on where they want to go (want proof? Look at the Al Harrington deal.). Maybe it isn’t because his wife LaLa Vazquez wants to be closer to New York City, which is her home (no that definitely has a part in it, ask Janet Jones Gretzky). Maybe Carmelo really understands what his future holds and doesn’t like what it looks like in Denver.

Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri has to do what's right for the Nuggets.

 

Think about a this for a minute; yes if he turns down a 3 year/ 65 million dollar deal he risks losing the bigger annual salary when the new CBA is in place, but has that really mattered in his decision making? Everything is about the money when it boils down to it no matter what anyone says; yet Melo knows this and its not factoring into his decision. If it did then he would’ve signed that extension in Denver or in New Jersey where the biggest trade talks are coming from.

 

He looks at New Jersey and is thinking the same thing about them that he thinks about Denver. Do I really want to play with 33 year-old Rip Hamilton, 34 year-old Chauncey Billups, no point guard and Brook Lopez who has taken a step back this year? Hell, no!

 

That’s why he’s being so stubborn. The money isn’t the big deal for him, it’s the situation that matters and if it isn’t the right one then he wont do it.

 

Unfortunately for him and the Nuggets it’s costing him fan support in Denver. Melo has been booed in the Nuggets last two home games including the 130-102 beat down of Miami last night. Should the fans be upset? Yes, they should. How would you feel if the guy that brought your franchise the most success its ever seen all of a sudden wants to leave town? It’s a double-edged sword for Melo; you cant everything your way no matter how hard you try. In the end you do have to do what’s right for you, but don’t expect everyone to be happy about it and understand.

 

So what should the Nuggets do with the hard-standing all-star? Trade him to the Knicks like he wants? To the Nets who give you the best offer? Or take it as a loss and do what you can with him right now?

 

I don’t get the Nuggets claims that the Knicks have nothing that they want. I mean have you seen Landry Fields ballin’ lately or maybe Danilo Galinari when he’s healthy? With that said, the Nuggets should NOT give in to Melo’s wants and should do what’s best for them as Melo is doing for him. It’s also about perception. The last thing that NBA GM’s wants to see is another team giving in to a player’s demands. They’d rather go all Jimmy Conway in Goodfellas and treat those kinds of players like Morrie.

 

(Side note: if I’m the Knicks, there is no way in hell I trade for Carmelo right now. As a fan I want him on the Knicks, but looking at the team why would you mess this chemistry up right now? Would you really want to trade either Galinari or Anthony Randolph and throw in Fields? Hell no! Wait until the off-season. Melo isn’t signing with the Nets if he’s smart and you’ll get him for free. Plus you save those assets for a possible trade with the Hornets for Chris Paul next year, it makes perfect sense not to outbid the Nets for Carmelo or try and sell the Nuggets on taking O.J. Mayo from Memphis. Practice patience and what a year is what they should do, but this is New York… patience? Please.)

 

The Nuggets should try and get the Nets deal done as their best option. Derrick Favors fits in perfectly with their offensive scheme and Devin Harris would hold down the point guard slot until Ty Lawson takes over. What they should not do is go for the Knicks O.J. Mayo deal. The last thing the Nuggets need is another shot-chucking head case running around.

If I'm the Knicks I would wait for Melo rather than give up Landry Fields for him.

 

However, the best option might come from the Consequence mixtape Take em to the Cleaners… take it as a loss.

 

If Carmelo ain’t signing then he ain’t signing. If the Knicks deal isn’t there then do it. You might as well take advantage of a top-heavy Western Conference and try to get a 4 or 5 seed and see how far you can go. People may too much of trying to get something for someone before they leave, will Harris, Favors or that draft pick make a difference for your team this year or next? It probably won’t. So you might as well keep what you got and see where it takes you. It’s not like if Carmelo leaves then the Nuggets turn into the Cavaliers. They’re still a competitive team with or without Carmelo Anthony, just not the contenders that they have been.

 

It’ll be interesting to see how this scenario plays out. We all know Carmelo isn’t staying, where is he going? Will he buckle and go to the Nets? Will he stay in Denver and wait to go to New York next year? Or will he be in N.Y. before the deadline? Hopefully both sides can come together with a solution and do what’s best for both sides.

 


Fun Things Going On In The NHL Thanks To Gary Bettman And Company

The Winter Classic has spawned many new ideas to give the NHL a P.R. boost.

I hate Gary Bettman, I really really really hate him.

He almost ruined my favorite sport next to football with a strike that damn near killed the game of hockey. He’s taken away teams from great hockey cities in Canada and placed them in the hockey hotbeds of Phoenix, Miami, Nashville and Atlanta. For a long time he refused to promote his best players on the ice leaving the average fan with no sense of whom the heck were the best players in the game.

(Seriously he damaged the sport for the longest time. There was a point in the late 90’s where Martin Brodeur, Keith Tkachuk, Teemu Selanne, Mike Modano and Paul Kariya were studs and you wouldn’t have known it because Bettman refused to put any backing behind promoting the players. No one knew about Joe Thornton, Vinny LeCavalier or Jarome Iginla and he didn’t care. I don’t care if your league is indoor lacrosse, you have to have your players featured and Bettman never did it. As you can tell I still haven’t gotten over that.)

There have been so many things that I can run Bettman into the ground for from the strike, the handling of the Coyotes, to everyone one of these gargantuan and ridiculous long-term deals that it makes my head spin.

This is why it’s so hard for me to give the man props for the pop culture revolution that is going on in the NHL and is making the game a better sell for people outside of the die-hard fan.

Since the NHL came from that crippling strike Bettman and his cronies at the NHL offices in New York and Toronto have gone out of their way to make the game more accessible and to bring the game back into mainstream America. At first the ideas were less than impressive (you remember that NBC experiment where they highlighted the best players on each team and let you know when they were on the ice right? FAIL!), however in the last three years the NHL has become imaginative in promoting the game and it has seen great returns from these experiments.

Of course it starts with the Winter Classic. An idea that was spawned thanks to an outdoor game between two Canadian teams (Montreal and

The new All-Star format makes game more intriguing for fans and players like Dustin Byfuglien

Edmonton), which was meant to return the game to its roots of being outdoor on a pond having fun with your buddies.

It’s done that and much more.

The original Classic featuring Pittsburgh and Buffalo was so successful that now the Classic is the main event of New Year’s Day. Thanks to the BCS and its long drawn out games, the NHL has swooped in and made the day all its own, similar to the NBA and Christmas. I mean let’s be real, what was more entertaining this year the Caps-Pens or any of the SEC-Big Ten beat-downs? Exactly.

The success of the game made the NBA try an outdoor pre-season game a while ago but with horrible results. Success breeds envy, never thought Bettman had that in him.

Fast-forward to this year and look at that the new format for the NHL All-Star game. Instead of the tired East vs. West all-stars the league decided to make a pool of the best players (as it should be) and have two captains pick their teams. Its playground hockey in a sense and brings more fun into the game. How cool would it be to see Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos and Patrick Kane on the same line or Anze Kopitar with Alex Ovechkin and Daniel Sedin? The creativity of the best players in both conferences combined is cool to just think about.

The initial reaction from journalists was yeah it is cool, but it would’ve been cooler if the NBA thought of it first. It is a great point, I mean Kobe, LeBron and Blake Griffin on the same team, wow. However the fact that the NHL had the guts to try and experiment with such a cool concept is shocking. They were able to figure out that All-Star games were becoming a bore and pumped new life into it with a simple concept that makes it more interesting and maybe more fun.

(Side note: all all-star games are boring. The NHL had a great idea ten years ago with the North America vs. The World concept which should have been copied by everyone but wasn’t. I mean there are only so many times that I can watch Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash play together before I decide that I’d rather pick up a shift at work than watch the game. Just saying.)

Now the NHL is taking another marketing risk with its Guardian Project, which is the brainchild of Marvel Comic legend Stan Lee. It’s a concept that takes all 30 NHL teams and gives each of them a superhero based on the team name and the personality of the team and its city. It’s been met with some criticism by fans and critics alike but I can’t wait to see what The Ranger looks like.

The Flyers Guardian looks cool, I bet the Rangers Guardian would own him though.

It’s inventive and exciting and draws more attention to the league. While I think it might be a little much for the NHL and it might not make much sense… I can’t wait to see what the Ranger looks like.

Has all of this helped the NHL out? Absolutely. The die-hard fans have returned and the casual fan has gained interest in the league. That combined with the fact that the Original Six have returned to form (yes, Toronto is coming back.) and that ridiculous gold medal game from the Olympics last year has given the NHL a huge lift in ratings and we actually know who the best players in the game are.

People know who Patrick Kane, Mike Richards, Drew Doughty, Ovechkin, Crosby and others are now. Led by Crosby and Ovechkin in America and the Sedin twins in Canada, the league’s best are on display on and off the ice and it’s helping the sport came back into national relevance.

However there is one place where the NHL has to get more exposure, GET THE GAME BACK ON ESPN!!!

While Versus has become a very good hockey network it still doesn’t have the national audience that ESPN has and that the league benefitted from in the 90’s and early 2000’s. I don’t mind it if the games stayed on Versus Mondays and Tuesdays, but in order for the league to get back to where it was in the mid-90’s during the Red Wings-Avalanche rivalry days the game needs a larger audience and ESPN is perfect for that.

Until then what Bettman and the league has done to promote the game isn’t a bad starting or pushing point. The All-Star game is in late January, the playoffs are around the corner and excitement is building as the Western conference race is tighter than a can of sardines and the best in the East are on collision courses. It’s a fun time to be and NHL fan, now let’s see if Bettman and company can continue the good work and keep it going.

I’m not ready to forgive him for all of the bad things he did to the league but getting a glimpse of The Ranger will be a nice start.


Auburn Deserves Its Title, But The Game Deserves A Better Result

The BCS title game was settled, but who was really the nest team in the country?

I know you want some venom for the SEC especially after winning their 5th straight national championship in a 22-19 thrilling victory by Auburn over Oregon. Unfortunately I have none for you… well I do and I don’t.

I don’t because it was the designated BCS title game and Auburn and Oregon were fair participants in the game by winning all of the games on their schedule. I also hold no venom because I am happy that Cam Newton came out on top of all of the controversy and criticism that surrounded him and his father Cecil and the pay for play scandal.

Newton through it all stood tall and had great poise and presence in dealing with the media who were like vultures waiting for a new development in the story and for Newton to crack. Instead of cracking he responded with legendary performances like leading that second half comeback in Tuscaloosa to beat Alabama in the Iron Bowl to even have a shot in the title game.

Newton’s play on the field was more than worthy of his Heisman trophy win and the BCS national championship. While Oregon’s defense held him in check running the ball Newton won the game with his arm going 20-34 for 265 yards and two scores. While he wasn’t effective on the ground he got key first downs in the fourth quarter, which kept Oregon’s offense off of the field.

Even after his fumble that led to an Oregon score Newton came out and led the Tigers on their game-winning drive (aided nicely by freshman Michael Dyer who had a huge game and won the offensive MVP) without a sweat. Newton was not shaken by any obstacle thrown his way this entire season and deserved to win the title as compensation for his work.

In addition to Newton, how about the great play of Nick Fairley? Fairley was the defensive player of the game as he dominated Oregon’s offensive

Nick Fairley was a beast for Auburn.

line and held the Ducks running attack to under 100 rushing and LaMichael James to only 47. Fairley positioned himself as the possible number one overall pick in the draft with this performance and Carolina would be fools not to pick him.

The main reason Auburn won was not Fairley or Newton however, it was the fact that Oregon left points on the field o

n two possessions that will haunt Chip Kelly all offseason. The first was in the first quarter in the red zone when Darron Thomas was blitzed and threw an errant pass that was picked off by Demond Washington. It came when Oregon’s confusing offense was getting to Auburn and could’ve set the tone for the Ducks in a quarter when the Ducks defense was holding Newton and company in check.

The second came in the third quarter after a brilliant fake punt followed by a 30 yard completion from Thomas to Lavasier Tuinei. The Ducks had four tries inside the two yard line and came away with no points. Their inability to run the ball was evident Kenjon Barmer tried to run between the tackles and was stuffed for no gain as had been the case all night.

Those two possessions all but doomed the Ducks. They proved that they could run with the tigers but coming away empty handed two times in the red zone absolutely murdered them.

(Side note: why didn’t Chip Kelly try running outside the tackles? Oregon proved that it was just as fast as the Tigers yet Kelly never took advantage of his team’s speed and have Barmer or James try to hit the corners and take off. They played into the hands of Auburn’s defense by trying to get between the tackles and run. When that didn’t work they then put the game in Thomas’s hands who put up numbers but looked very shaky at times.)

So there you have it Auburn wins in a great title game that we should all be proud of and that was entertaining for everyone involved. Everyone’s happy end of story and close this puppy up… well…

Now here’s the part where you call me a hater, cry-baby and a punk, fair warning. There was a point in the third quarter where Auburn couldn’t get that extra push and put Oregon away though they were limiting their offense and moving the ball on their defense. At about the five minute mark of the quarter I looked at the guy next to me at the bar and said, “You think TCU is sitting at home going we could beat both of these teams?” He of course argued in the typical SEC, they’re the toughest, blah blah blah .Well that’s what I and many people across the country thought while watching a game that for the most part was dull and provided no secure closure for deciding who the national champ is, and that’s a problem.

Last year when Alabama beat Texas you knew from watching the game that Alabama was the best team in the country. The same thing goes for Florida in their 24-14 win over Oklahoma two years ago. I didn’t get that sense with Auburn. Did they win? Yes. However, I’m not satisfied with the result of them being the national champion because I don’t think they are the best team in the country.

I feel as though TCU, Wisconsin, Stanford, Alabama, Oklahoma and Boise State could all beat Auburn and I say that with a straight face. Auburn

After watching the title game TCU has a good case for being the best team in the country.

was not that impressive; they had various opportunities to put Oregon away and threw every opportunity away and let Oregon hang around. Good teams put their opponents to sleep and the Tigers were unable to do so.

Furthermore there is an undefeated team left in TCU who after beating a physical team in Wisconsin is sitting home undefeated and in my opinion deserves a fair shot at the national championship (you know where this is going.). If this game and result isn’t a clear indication that we need a playoff then I don’t know what is.

To me if Auburn couldn’t score on Oregon’s small and confusing defense then what would they do when faced with TCU’s faster and more physical defense? How would Nick Fairley fare against Wisconsin’s monstrous offensive line opening holes for all three of their running backs? Could they stop Oklahoma’s more sophisticated aerial assault? Or how about if Andrew Luck had time to throw on that weak secondary, what would happen? I think in every scenario they would get beat.

This was Auburn’s first game against an actual tough non-conference opponent (no Chattanooga and at home to a weak Clemson team doesn’t count) and they weren’t that impressive. I walked away from this game wanting more than what I got and I won’t have a chance to get it.

Unfortunately the BCS has too much money tied into the current system and they think the bowl system is what’s good for the tradition of the game (yes because there is so much tradition in the Kraft Fight Hunger bowl and the Little Caesar’s Bowl.) so it won’t happen anytime in the near future. That means that next year if Boise State, Oregon and Alabama all finish undefeated and Alabama beats Oregon 6-3 while Boise whips it up on Texas in the Fiesta Bowl guess what? Yep, more dissatisfaction.

This is the worst system in sports and will continue to be so unless we get a proper way of deciding a national champion that is satisfying to all involved. Once again a school is screwed and the viewer is not happy with the result but it is what it is.

The result is Auburn winning the national championship and they deserve it because they did what was asked of them. Cam Newton and company need to apologize to no one for their accomplishments on the field and should enjoy the fruits of their labor. On the flip side we’re still left wondering why there are still two undefeated teams left in college football and why everyone except the BCS thinks this is a bad thing. Could TCU beat Auburn? I don’t know, too bad we can’t find out and get the satisfaction the game needs and deserves.


The Seahawks Prove Us Wrong

The Seahawks and they're fans didn't have to apologize for making the playoffs at 7-9. However, we owe them an apology for doubting them.

I would like to take this time to make an apology to the Seattle Seahawks. I’m sorry for leaving you for dead before the game was even played.

I’m sorry for thinking that since you went 7-9 in the regular that for some reason that would carry over into the postseason and somehow hinder your play. I forgot that the regular season is the regular season and that the postseason is the postseason.

Let’s be real, no one had the Seahawks making out of the first quarter alive let alone contending in this game. From tv to radio to podcasts everyone had the Seahawks dead before the game was even played. However, it was with good reason, this team was terrible.

They lost all nine of their games by fifteen or more points, they ranked in the 20’s in total offense and defense, they won one of the worst divisions in recent memory with a 7-9 record making themo the first team to make the playoffs with a losing record. Of course no one had them picked, why would anyone expect this team to do anything but get destroyed by the defending champs on their home field?

Well apparently the Saints felt the same way and came out flat and let the Seahawks beat them down and send them marching back to New Orleans with an embarrassing loss.

The Saints jumped out to an early ten point advantage but soon became stagnant on offense and lost their rhythm, a problem that plagued them all year. Seattle took advantage thanks to a steady running game behind Marshawn Lynch and the hot game of Matt Hasselbeck, who overcame an early interception to throw three first half touchdowns and take a 24-20 halftime lead.

What was most shocking was how Seattle’s defensive line pushed around the Saints and were able to get pressure on Drew Brees and throw off his timing. Meanwhile Hasselbeck dominated New Orleans secondary and bludgeoned their pathetic safeties with great throw after great throw. The hip injury that plagued him all year was a non-factor as he looked like the former pro-bowlet that he was.

After his fourth TD toss in the third quarter put Seattle up by two possessions it was clear that the Saints were the weaker team on the field no matter the regular season record. One problem was that the Saints couldn’t run the ball at all (side note: if there wasn’t a more clear case that Reggie Bush needs to be cut then this was it. Bush is too soft to be an every down back in the NFL and lacks the proper instincts. Watching him hobble off of the field was like watching a replay of his time in the league. He has so much talent but just isn’t an NFL player and probably never will be. Looking back at that draft it seems like it was all hype and no results come to think of it. Look at Matt Leinart and Vince Young with Bush, they were the headliners the college stars that were going to be superstars and all of them have become bums. As bad as the Texans underachieve do you think they are happy with taking Mario Williams and not any of those three? I think so.), another problem was that there defense got totally man-handeled by a young and inexperienced Seattle offensive line. Left tackle Russell Okung held Will Smith in check from start to finish and the lSaints showed no real urgency to stop the Seahawks until the fourth quarter when Brees and company finally showed some life.

They'll be replaying the Marshawn Lynch run for years in Seattle.

After two scores and with their defense hanging on for their lives, the offense took the field with less than five minutes left and in dire need of first downs. Enter Lynch who was a cast-off of the Buffalo Bills and had been largely ineffective during his time in Seattle. Lynch picked up a first down on his first two carries of the drive and then reeled off one of the best runs in NFL history.

He burst through the o-line and ran through eight defenders in a wave of stiff arms, cuts and fakes en route to a 67 yard touchdown run that put Seattle up 41-30 and virtually sealed the game.

Once again the Seahawks beat up the Saints line and pushed them back to the Bayou and pushed themselves into the second round.

Stunning and jubilant all in one.

So now what do we do. Do we dare count them out or push them to the side? Uh, no. This is the playoffs and anything can happen, just ask the New Orleans Saints.

This 41-36 victory is further proof that nothing is ever certain and why games are played on the field because you never know what could happen. Like a 7-9 eleven point underdog beating the defending Super Bowl Champs in front of the loudest crowd in the league. No one saw it coming but that’s why you play the game, because you never know.

I think we all owe the Seahaeks an apology for that one.


The Hoyas Swoon Is Nothing New

After losing to West Virginia the Hoyas are digging themselves another second half hole.

I know what you’re thinking, a basketball blog? Geez Kevin, when was the last time you paid attention to basketball?

 

I’m sorry, but when your alma mater has players getting suspended for tattoos and the NFL regular season winding down to a mess of a postseason you tend to get sidetracked. Fortunately the Georgetown Hoyas have given me some ammunition to let off and start off my basketball season right.

 

In a year where everyone thought that the Big East would take a step back due to the departures of many key players from many teams (Luke Harangody from Notre Dame, Andy Rautins from Syracuse and Da’Sean Butler from West Virginia for starters), the conference has put all of that to rest with an impressive non-conference resume that features Syracuse dominating #2 Michigan State, UCONN winning the Maui Invitational and the Hoyas beating up #17 Memphis and #8 Missouri. Yet Georgetown has reverted to old habits during conference play that has hindered them in the last three years.

 

After their disappointing 65-59 loss to West Virginia this afternoon the #13 ranked Hoyas find themselves at 12-4 and 1-3 in the early stages of conference play. While 12-4 isn’t that bad of a start their last three losses have shown enormous flaws in their game.

 

They’ve lost three of their last four and four of eight including losses to Notre Dame and St. John’s. In the three conference losses they’ve been held to their lowest offensive outputs of the season (55, 58, 59) and have been dreadful in moving the ball and killed themselves with turnovers averaging 15 a game in the three losses.

 

The swing, though in it’s early stages, is reminiscent of the swoons that Georgetown has been through in the last two seasons.

 

Two years ago the Hoyas were #12th ranked and 12-3 heading into a non-conference test at Duke. After the 76-67 lost the Hoyas died down the stretch losing 11 of 15 and falling out of the NCAA tournament and into the NIT where Baylor immediately bounced them.

 

Then last year headed to Syracuse for a huge matchup versus the Orange at 15-3 and 11th ranked in the nation. After getting beat down 73-56 the Hoyas lost 7 of 12 and found themselves on the bubble before a great Big East tournament run that got them a great seed in the NCAA’s. Unfortunately the effects of the slide came back and they we’re hammered by Ohio 97-83 and exited the tournament in the first round.

 

So the concern is definitely there for the Hoyas, as their recent stretch is looking far too similar to the ones of the last few years.

 

What the Hoyas need is better play from point guard Chris Wright. Wright said after their last win, a 86-75 lackluster win versus DePaul, that no one can guard him off of the dribble because of his quickness. What he forgot to say was that you could shut him down anywhere else on the court at anytime other than that.

 

Wright is 7-31 in the team’s last three losses averaging only 6 points, less than 4 assists and 3 turnovers a game. His lackluster play has killed how the offense runs and forces them to hoist up bad shots. If he can get back to his normal confident play then the Hoyas should be able to get back on track and take the load off of Austin Freeman’s shoulders who is 5-18 in the team’s last two losses.

 

These adjustments need to be made as quick as possible as well. Their next game is a home matchup versus #5 Pittsburgh and later this month they have a rejuvenated St. John’s team coming to D.C. as well as #23 Louisville and a trip to Philadelphia to take on Villanova. So the road isn’t getting any easier for a team that has struggled in league play in the last few years especially against tough competition.

 

So as the Big East exceeds the expectations of the critics the Georgetown Hoyas continue to play down to them. Maybe it’s just a blip on the radar, or maybe the Hoyas are at the beginning of another mid-season swoon that could ultimately hurt them on their drive to the tournament. Whatever it is they need to get control of it fast because the monster that is the Big East is showing how strong it is and how the weak can get devoured.


Rich Rod Had It Coming

Rich Rod's stay in Ann Anbor was a little less successful than his run in Morgantown.

Rich Rodriguez had it all. A great coaching job, a grip on the conference where his team resided, great recruiting and a nation of followers all backing him along the way showing him love.

He slated Georgia in Georgia when no one gave him a shot, he put another team in the Fiesta Bowl that took down Oklahoma in impressive fashion.

He was a king in his own domain at his Alma mater, then he got greedy.

He let his spat with the athletic director at West Virginia and lack of trust for the department cloud his judgement. He betrayed his legion of followers and skipped town to a school with similar colors and higher expectations.

He left behind a mess; lawsuits, hate, bitterness, all for a big pay day on a grander scale… and in the end Coach Rich Rod got what he deserved.

Rich Rod was fired by Michigan after three years of unheard-of disappointment at an institution that has only known success. He had a 15-22 record In three season in Ann Arbor. His best record was a 7-6 campaign this year, his best Big Ten record? 3-5 his year as well. His spread offense never brought the conference into the future like it was supposed to, but his defense set the school back decades.

He never beat Ohio State or Michigan State, his one bowl game appearance was a slaughter in the Gator Bowl at the hands of Mississippi State this year. He never was able to get the recruits to run his offense and therefore never had right tools to succeed.

In the end Rich Rod and the maize and blue looked like fools.

Once Michigan lost out on Les Miles who stayed at LSU after being coveted by the university in 2007 they tries to pluck every big name coach away in hopes of finding the right one. They got Rodriguez who was highly impressive at WVU and was the first choice at Alabama a year earlier (think they’re happy that they got Saban instead?).

They marveled at how he was able to find guys like Pat White, Steve Slaton and others to fit into his scheme. They saw the Sugar Bowl upset of Georgia, the fact that he had WVU in the national championship hunt late in that 2007 season and thought that he was the perfect hire to replace the much maligned Lloyd Carr who had disappointed the Michigan faithful so often.

Denard Robinson was one of the few bright spots during Rich Rod's tenure.

(it’s funny but looking back on it, maybe Michigan should never have been so pressed to force out a guy that won them a national championship, had them in the running for the Big Ten title every year, owned their rival Ohio State in he 90’s and always recruited well. They overreacted to the whole Appalachian State loss, which granted was bad but not apocalyptic like we thought it was, and decided to listen to the critics and fans instead of themselves. How many programs a Lloyd Carr as their coach? You get a guaranteed 8-10 wins a year, a New Years Day bowl game and you’re a contender for your conference crown every year. However this is Michigan, who now is suffering from Notre Dame syndrome where they feel that they are still a national power and that their tradition puts them in a position to feel snooty. So in turn they paid for being greedy as well. Wouldn’t you love to see a sign on your way into Ann Arbor that read “BET YOU DON’T HATE ME NOW!… LOVE LLOYD CARR”
and have it about 50 feet long on the highway?)

So now Michigan has to correct it’s error and it should start with a Michigan guy. Jim Harbaugh is the perfect candidate for the job because of his background and the job he’s done resurrecting Stanford. Also talks of Brady Hoke at San Diego State have come to fruition.

One guy that would love a call from Michigan is Les Miles. With all the heat he’s been taking at LSU he would jump at the chance chance to get out of dodge and back to the place of his playing days.

One thing is for sure is they have to wash away the stench of the Rich Rod regime. Rich Rod brought down Michigan and himself and has no one to blame but himself.

His inability to stop the opposing teams offense and kick start his own was his undoing. Would I hire Rich Rod? Not anytime soon. His poor judgement at WVU and disgraceful years at Michigan should have him blacklisted from most decent coaching jobs in the NCAA.

It’s a roughy lesson but Rich Rod had it coming for a long time. He had it all at WVU and he threw it away because he got greedy. Hopefully other coaches will learn from Rodriguez and won’t make the same mistake.


A Bittersweet Sugar Bowl Win

The Buckeyes won... but should everyone involved feel jubilated?

As the crowd filed out of the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana Liz and I walked together basking in the glory of Ohio State’s first victory against an SEC foe in their 31-26 victory over the Arkansas Razorbacks.

The crowd screamed out O-H from blocks away and I couldn’t even yell I-O back because of my hoarse voice from screaming during the game. That was due to a combination of trying to be louder than the Arkansas continent, which was so huge that it seemed like all of Fayetteville followed the Hogs to Nawlins (side note: for anyone that thinks our O-H-I-O chant is annoying, sit through three hours of constant WOOOOOO PIG SOOIE chants. It got to the point where the echo of the Hogs annoying chant made me want to grab ear plugs or stab myself in the ear.), and Jim Tressel almost giving the game to the Hogs (side note 2: If Tressel lost this lead he should’ve been fired the next day. Tresselball is going to cost him his job one year I promise you.).

As we walked towards the French Quarter we replayed the game in our heads; the huge second quarter, Cameron Haywood and Dexter Larimore’s career making games, the block punt that almost cost us, and finally the interception by Soloman Thomas that saved us.

Then I said to Liz “isn’t it funny that the guys that should’ve been suspended were the ones that one the game for us?” She smirked and said yeah but I don’t think she or any Buckeye fans truly understand what just happened.

The Buckeyes won the game and did so by beating the SEC at their own game with speed and physicality. The offensive line led by left tackle Mike Adams barely let any Hog put his hands on quarterback Terrelle Pryor and He and running back Dan Herron found holes to run through all day.

Receiver Devier Posey was able to get separation from the Arkansas defensive backs including a second quarter touchdown that ultimately was the difference in the game. Now read those last two paragraphs again, Adams, Pryor, Herron and Posey.. those were the guys who shouldnt have played in the game due to suspensions from improper benefits received. Instead they, as well as Thomas, were the deciding factors in the Buckeyes victory (well that and the defense of Arkansas was absolutely horrendous, again.). If they don’t play in this game who knows if Joe Bauserman, Brandon Saine and Dane Sanzenbacher could’ve had the same type of performance.

Soloman Thomas seals the win, even though he should've been suspended.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take the W. Ohio State needed to shut up critics like Mark May who constantly bash them and slurp the mighty SEC (side note 3: wasn’t it great that he was booed loudly during the postgame interviews? We beat the SEC and let May have it in the same night, love it.), the win gives the University the respectability it rightfully deserves and saved the Big Ten from further embarrassment that it’s already suffered in 2010.

Yet I feel weird accepting this victory as sort of a triumph. We won in part because we got a pass from the NCAA. The NCAA thought about how the game might be impacted with the loss of our main guys and suspended them based on their infractions, and the timing of the game.

If this were before Toledo or Eastern Michigan in the early portion of the season they most certainly would’ve gotten the hammer for five games without question (hi A.J. Green), but they benefited from the fact that it was the Sugar Bowl and Allstate paid good money to have a good contest. For them Ryan Mallett couldn’t square off versus Bauserman, it would’ve been a disaster.

More than money, and the NCAA, is the fact that every big moment was punctuated by the players mentioned. Pryor’s feet kept us on front, Herron scored a touchdown and got key first downs as did Posey, and the final icing on the cake was the Thomas pick. These are technically heroes who we will tell stories to our kids about how they came through in the clutch and ended that damned SEC streak of dominance when last week we wanted to burn them at the stake for betraying us and disrespecting our institution for trading prized heirlooms for tattoos.

What that is, is the old adage that I tell everyone that lookedat me crazy when I watched Randy Johnson choke it up for the Yankees or watch Wade Redden was the Rangers money while we missed the playoffs last year. Everyone loves a winner and winning atones sins whether it’s right or wrong. One minute you can be a bum, the next your a god and the world is ok.

Ask Mike Vick, Ben Roethlisberger, Mike Tyson and Tiger Woods. If you screw up but come back and win everyone forgives and forgets, but if you press forward an don’t come through it will always hang over your heads.

That’s what makes this victory so great and so disturbing. I still hate their guts for putting personal luxuries over loyalty of their school and basically getting patted on the back for getting the school more money. At the same time you have to admire that these guys came out focused, and determined to put all of that behind them and put together classic performances with the world on their shoulders and watching. Pryor and company were dropped into the lions den with the crowd calling for blood and persevered coming out on top.

I sound like a Scrooge but it’s how I feel. One minute I’m mocking Arkansas’s chant (WOOOOOOOO KICK ROCKS!!!), the next I’m stewing about how this victory will be viewed in the long term.

Whatever I come to I have to face the facts, we won, whether the NCAA is right or wrong our guys went out there and did their jobs. We finally knocked out the SEC and we got the monkey off of our backs. We also will forgive the players who made it all happen but will pay for their indiscretion though it will be later then when it should’ve been.

Whether right or wrong that’s how it is. I guess I shouldn’t be too grumpy about it especially when me, Liz and 20,000 Buckeye fans went home happy chanting SEC all up and down the French Quarter in celebration. Winning makes you happy, no matter what you do or what happens to make it happen.


Plight Of The Seahawks

Yeah! We're the most mediocre champions ever!!

WOO-HOO!!! YEAH SEATTLE!! You are the first ever NFL Divisional Champion to ever have a losing record and make the playoffs!

You’re remarkable run has only been matched by the likes of the 2005 Boston Celtics who made the playoffs even with a mark of 36-46 and various NCAA Conference Champs who made it into the field of 64 with records like 11-18, 14-16 and 16-18.

You should be proud of making it into the playoffs ahead of more deserving teams with 10-6 records like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Giants who were in the race for divisional titles in the month of December before they were undone by inexperience (the Bucs) and… well… let’s not discuss how the Giants didn’t make it, the writer is still kind of salty.

You should be happy that you made it into the race for Arlington with a cast of faces you wouldn’t be able to make out at the nearest Kroger supermarket.

Charlie Whitehurst as your possible starting QB, not even the Clemson faithful saw him playing in the AFL.

Mike Williams? Wasn’t he on the couch last year weighing in like a defensive end? Yeah, well he’s your leading receiver.

Marshawn Lynch as a bruising runner with barely over 700 rushing yards. Not exactly the Joe McKnight or Reggie Bush type backs that Pete Carroll is used to but hey whatever works.

That defense sure helped through. When it wasn’t getting pounded by the leagues best offenses and losing each games by more than fifteen points it was stopping Sam Bradford and that Rams assault holding them 184 yards. Man just imagine if you can hold the rookie of the year in check with those great wideouts like Danarrio Alexander then guys like Drew Brees and Marques Colston should be no problem next week.

Yep that’s right Seattle you’re prize for winning a tough NFC West is a date with the 11-5 New Orleans Saints at one of the league’s loudest stadiums (I know what you’re thinking, a 7-9 team hosting an 11-5 Super Bowl champ, wow Christmas came late for us).

The only reason why the Seahawks have a chance... the crowd.

(side note: a finally have something to like David Stern for. It doesn’t matter in the NBA if you win you’re division, if you have a worse record than your opponent then you start on the road. It makes sense. You get your home court based on record not just because you won your division. This should be the case in every sport too. If that were the case then the Yankees would’ve had the Rangers at home in the ALCS and two years ago the Colts would’ve had the Chargers at home in the first round of the playoffs and two years ago the Canucks would’ve started out at the four seed against a tougher opponent than the one they received for automatically getting a first round advantage by winning their division even though they had the worst record of the three divisional champs. It makes perfect sense, win your division but win more than the guys behind you or your on the road. Wow I actually gave David Stern props, I feel dirty now. Quick say something bad about him… um, um… oh yeah, how about some competitive balance in the league instead of a five team race for the title. Whew… much better.)

You deserve it Seattle. Instead of grabbing a top 15 draft pick for being the mediocre mess that you are you won your division just for a meaningless banner and a first-round beat down courtesy of the boys from nawlins.

Trust me, you need players. This team ain’t a contender, it ain’t a champion in the making, it was a lucky beneficiary of happenstance.

You need a quarterback, running back, wide receiver (two actually), offensive linemen, defensive linemen and a corner or three. This team lacks depth at every position. That’s why they got stomped in games they lost because when Matt Hasselback went down, Marshawn Lynch couldn’t run the ball, and the defensive line couldn’t get any push up front they got murdered (I know this because I saw the Giants and Bucs put a whipping on this team). This team might be the worst playoff team in sports history when it comes to play on the field. I don’t think this team could beat TCU to be quite honest.

Do they have a chance to win though? Yep. Why? Because they’re at home at the loudest stadium in the league that cause two opponents false starts a game and gives you fits. Ask the Rams last night. Bradford hadn’t been in that environment like that since college and it wasn’t that bad at Stillwater and Columbia.

If the Saints go into Seattle and lose due to penalties and losing their composure not only should they be mad for losing the fame and to that opponent, they should file a junction to have the game stricken from the records because it would have been an embarrassment.

Hopefully all of this will be a moot point and the Saints get an unintentional bye week in Seattle. Hopefully.

No matter what though the Seahawks and their fans should be happy and celebrate their success. A divisional title and a playoff home game at 7-9. Something to smile about and be happy for. Good job Seattle, you deserve it for your hard work. Now give em hell next week and show em what you’re made of, which probably means a 42-17 beat down. Ladies and gentlemen your 2010 NFC West Champs!


The Little Ten Shows Who They Really Are

Wisconsin and the rest of the Big Ten had a rough New Years Day.

Big Ten, really? What’s so big about it?

The tradition, the “legends and leaders”?

Whatever it is it ain’t the football on the field, at least not after today.

The big should stand for big disappoint. What happened on the field was nothing more than an embarrassment for a conference that has lived off of it’s reputation for way too long.

Lets get this straight right now, the Big Ten can’t compete with any big program on any conference. It’s an overrated conference that can’t hold it’s own with any half decent non-conference opponent.

They can beat the Miami’s, Notre Dame’s and Baylor’s of the world with ease. Those programs are in the process of being rebuilt or built up. However, Alabama, Florida, TCU? Nope, not even close.

The Big Ten was too slow and nowhere near as tough or talented as the bullies who pushed them around all day long.

Michigan got house by Mississippi State in what might have been Rich Rod’s last stand if you can call it that. The 52-14 beatdown was nothing new to the maize and blue whose defense was beaten black and blue to the tune of 485 yards and a career day from QB Chris Relf. Michigan conceded big play after big play and Denard Robinson couldn’t bring them back like he did against UMass… yep UMass.

However you knew that Michigan was suspect from the beginning of the year. Michigan State showed promise, they took it to Wisconsin, won eleven games, an many people thighs that they should’ve been in a BCS game instead of Ohio State. That argument was quickly squelched once the first quarter ended in their game with Alabama.

This was a slaughter, the defending national champs had better competition from a division two opponent than from the Spartans. By the fourth quarter the Tide were bringing in practice squad running backs to score touchdowns or so it seemed. The Spartans had no business on that field. Kirk Cousins was beat up and so was Sparty’s pride. A season that seemed so great was nothing more than a mirage.

Penn State actually had a shot at beating Florida. With a minute left they were in Gator territory threading to score when walk-on QB Matthew McGloin threw a game ending pick to Ahmad Black that he took to the house for a game clinching touchdown.

The Nittany Lions were the best looking Big Ten team on the field as they outgained the Gators. However, not many big-time programs have walk-ons starting at the QB position and McGloin killed the Lions with five picks. The Lions have underachieved this year due to the ineffective play at quarterback and playing a good Florida defense that is tough and can cover lots of ground exposed that by leaps and bounds.

Northwestern gets a break because it lost Dan Persa to Injury in there game against Iowa. However that don’t get too much of a break because they can’t cover any receivers and couldn’t penetrate Texas Tech’s offensive line and Taylor Potts had a field day.

If not for a pick six late the Wildcats would’ve lost by twenty plus points not seven.

The biggest offenders are the Wisconsin Badgers the so called toughest team in the Big Ten. They scored 70 plus points three time this year and have one of the nations best run games with three backs within 1000 yards. They controlled the clock, ran the ball effectively but somehow were outmuscled by TCU’s defensive line.

They were able to get pressure on Scott Tolzien when they needed it and got stops throughout the entire game when it looked like the Badgers offensive line would take over.

Meanwhile even though the TCU offense only held the ball for 23 minutes they blew by the Badgers time and time again. Andy Dalton was able to make big plays with his arm and legs and the TCU receivers routinely got behind the Badger defensive backs and Dalton always found them. The fact that TCU has quicker players at the skill positions than Wisconsin is baffling. What’s also baffling is how a “small” school pushes around the big boys from the Big Ten.

Michigan State never had a shot against Alabama.

(of all the losses that one was the one that hurt most. Gordon Gee’s comments were basically what most AD’s thought of TCU and Boise State and to have you’re conference champ get beat on national television like that hurts their pride. TCU showed it can play with the big dogs and get dirty with them. Guess the Badgers might be considers the little brothers of the poor now.)

With only Ohio State left (against another SEC opponent and you know how that goes) this could be the nail in the coffin for the Big Ten.

In the last few years they have been killed in the spotlight games by USC, Texas, Oregon and virtually the entire SEC. they’ve been beaten on the road, at home or on a neutral field. They’ve looked overmatched, slow and helpless at times. As of right now the Big Ten is not far off of being a mid-major because it’s just not good enough to bang with the best teams in football.

I wouldn’t want to see them in a national title game versus Auburn, in the kickoff classic versus Virginia Tech or on any major prime-time stage because you know the result before it even happens. It’ll be a waste of time for the viewer, the network and the opponent.

Today was the last straw for me. Besides the Rose Bowl the Big Ten should receive no special treatment, or perks until they prove that they deserve the same stage as Alabama, TCU or anyone top ranked program.

Of all of the major conferences they are the weakest due to the level of hype that they receive and the disappointment they always leave us with.

So complain all you want about UCONN in a BCS game, or how overrated Boise State is or how TCU wouldn’t survive in a major conference. The biggest travesty is how the Big Ten and it’s “Legends and Leaders” continue to get headlines and star in big time games. Kick them to the curb and give teams that actually make the game more interesting a shot.

Note to Gordon Gee, maybe the Big Ten should play the little sisters of the poor. They might be the only teams his conference can keep up with.