Thursday, December 22, 2011

Alabama Basketball....Calm Down Grasshopper...

Doom and Gloom.


They'll underachieve like usual.

The Chicago Cubs of college basketball.

These have been consistent themes on Alabama Basketball over the past two weeks on sports talk radio throughout the state. What happened to cause all this rapid rampage throughout the Yellowhammer State?

For starters, the Tide rolled to an impressive 7-0 start and pushed towards a top 10 ranking, before falling to Georgetown at the buzzer, a very game Dayton team on the road and the defensive minded Kansas State team in Kansas City, sandwiched around wins over potential NCAA tournament team Detroit and Big 12 foe Oklahoma State.

So now these so called basketball experts throughout the state, started to virtually write off a team that at this same time last year was sitting at 5-6, and then proceeded to go 12-4 in SEC play before being snubbed by the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee.

Unfortunately in Alabama, the fans have a football mentality in that the sky is falling, the season is done and over react to a loss on the hardwood. Of course, basketball doesn't work like football and losses here or there, even bad ones in terms of poor opponents or blow outs to good teams often can be over looked with strong, overall performances throughout the season.

And thats exactly where Alabama finds itself today, some impressive wins, one good loss to Georgetown and 2 so-so losses to Dayton & Kansas State on the road, all piling up to an 8-3 record and a #21 RPI. All good enough to get an NCAA Tournament berth.

With two non conference games remaining, Alabama will be at worst 9-4 headed into SEC play or if they get a road win in Atlanta vs Ga. Tech, they'll be 10-3 and in a position where a .500 record in SEC play will get them in the dance.

Of course, all the doom and gloomers will be out in force in the first two weeks of SEC play as 'Bama goes to Georgia, hosts LSU, at Miss St and then plays Vandy & at Kentucky in a 36 hour period. If Alabama comes out of the first 5 at 3-2, they'll be a legit player for the SEC Title again. Any loss though will basically put UA in the NIT, according to some people in this state.

So to all the grasshoppers who are doom and gloom after a loss, calm down and enjoy the season, the tenacious defense Alabama plays, the highlight reel slams of Tony Mitchell, the slashing ability of Trevor Releford, the fundamentally sound post play of JaMychael Green, and the development of Alabama's four talented freshman. And everything else will take care of itself come March.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Antonio McDyess retires....

Until this last recruiting class hauled in by Anthony Grant at Alabama, probably the most heralded recruit prior to 2011 was Antonio McDyess out of Quitman, Mississippi in 1993. The case could be made for Gerald Wallace from Childersburg in 2001 and Mo Williams from Jackson, Mississippi in 2002.

Williams left the Capstone providing an SEC Championship and the school's only #1 ranking while Wallace left UA in a spat with Mark Gottfried. But neither player landed as high of a draft pick as McDyess, who was the overall #2 pick in the 1995 draft going to the LA Clippers and subsequently traded to Denver.

But with today's announcement that Antonio Mcdyess is retiring from the NBA after a 15 year career, its time to reflect on his career. Easily the most important player of the David Hobbs era at Alabama was Antonio McDyess. He was a game changer. In the early '90's, it was unheard of for many players to leave college early for the NBA. After McDyess' first game at Alabama, an inexplicable loss to Chattanooga at home, it was clear that the freshman was a different beast, almost single handily leading Alabama back to victory, with his patented back to the basket turnaround jumper. It was unstoppable and a move that you did not see from freshman.

I remember proclaiming after 1 game, a horrible loss, that McDyess was at best a 3 year player at The Capstone and possibly only two. People laughed that prediction off at the time, a sophomore declaring for the NBA draft??? Virtually unheard of, but this character was of a different breed.

David Hobbs only made the NCAA tournament twice at Alabama, both times it was with McDyess, advancing to the second round with wins over Providence & Penn, then falling in round 2 to #1 Purdue and eventual Final 4 participant Oklahoma State.

McDyess still holds the Alabama record for most points in a single NCAA tournament game, 39 points & 19 rebounds, leading the Tide to a win in Baltimore over the Matt Maloney/Jerome Allen led Penn Quakers. he also still holds the Tide record for most rebounds in an SEC Torunament game against Arkansas in 1995. It was those two games which occurred within 6 days of each other, that propelled McDyess to his eventual Lottery Status in the draft. He single handily kept Alabama in an SEC Tournament Semi-Final game against defending national champ Arkansas with his performance and then avoided the dreaded 5/12 upset by beating Penn, again, basically by himself, in overtime.

Two days later, it was over, all the powerful in your face slams, the face guard to cover the broken noses and cheek bones he played with, fundamentally sound post moves and 3rd row rejections were gone. Its hard to describe greatness when you see it but when you do, you usually recognize it and its only there for a shorter time then expected. Thats what Alabama fans saw in Coleman COlesium for two brief years.

McDyess, to this day, is still one of the nicest, most humble athletes you could meet. Numerous championship bound teams courted his services late in his career because he provided veteran savyness, a good teammate and instant offense off the bench. Unfortunately for him, he was always a year late in signing with Detroit and San Antonio just after they won championships. He always wound up just a little short in his quest to join the likes of fellow Tide star and owner of seven rings Robert Horry, but that does not diminish the career of McDyess.

So before the Gerald Wallaces, Mo Williams and Trevor Lacey's inked their name to play basketball at Alabama, their was another much ballyhooed recruit who is kinda the grandfather of all that hoopla, and is also the most humble too.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Saturday in Reverse....Weel 13

With the 2011 season almost in the books, time to reflect on Saturday's games during a season that has absolutely flown by.

First, LSU turned the switch "on" midway through the second period and dismantled an Arkansas team that had some smooth sailing early in the contest. LSU's reward is a date in the SEC Championship game against resurgent Georgia, who is the only team from the SEC East that did not play the three headed monster of LSU, Alabama or Arkansas during the season. Although UGa has improved during the year, saving Mark Richt's job, I just don't see them matching up well with LSU. They aren't "man enough" to win this kind of game. A good offensive line might let them keep it close for awhile, but then again in this season of upsets, stranger things have happened then having a Georgia beat LSU next week.

As for #2 Alabama, they completely embarrassed their ugly red headed step child neighbors from West Georgia (that would be Auburn) 42-14. Quite frankly, if not for a pair of AJ McCarron and Trey DePriest brain farts, Auburn would not have scored. This is worst then the 36-0 2008 Beatdown in T-Town because this one took place on The Plains. Offensive Genius Gus Malzahn was trying to use 3rd grade, sandlot plays against the best defense in the country. Come on Gus, your better then that. Not even Gene Chizik's Dentist Mock Pullover could save the day. I get the feeling the Fambly will not be All In next year as probably Uncle Gus will bolt town and Ted the Roof is on Fire will probably be axed.

Now the debate centers around should their be a rematch for the BCS Title game. Hands down, Alabama and LSU are the two best teams in the country. Their is not even a close third, as both teams beat #3 Arkansas by 24 points. I've never seen two teams mirror each other quite like this. It may not be fair that LSU has to play another game and Alabama is already in the clubhouse, but that's the system we have, so to quote someone famous, "It is What It Is."

Other Observations....UCLA, the 6-6 Pac 12 South Champs, can just go ahead and fire Rick Nuehisal. Some football monopoly in LA, because that 50-0 nothing beat down was harsh.

Just wondering what all the Priests at Notre Dame think about when Brian Kelly is shown dropping F-Bombs on national TV on a weekly basis??? Next year, for Halloween, I'm going as Brian Kelly's Exploding head.

If you make a coaching mistake when hiring a head coach, it can set your program back light years, especially in a football conference like the SEC. At Tennessee and Florida, we present exhibit A & B. Tennessee, which celebrated like they won an SEC Title last week by squeaking by, with the help of officials, Vandy, went on the road and lost to Kentucky for the first time since 1984. And its not like UK is good and UT is down, this has to be one of the worst UK football teams over the course of those 20+ years, but yet they beat Tennessee. Derek Dooley is in way over his head and sadly it won't be a quick fix in Knoxville. Even when UT has been great, they've had to recruit nationally because the state of Tennessee does not produce the best D-1 talent in the country. Sad times for the Big Orange.

As for Florida, I don't care what kind of eyes Will Muschamp makes, it doesn't overcome the fact that this is a bad football team that is poorly coached. Maybe Urban Meyer didn't recruit the last few years, maybe they were only successful because of Tim Tebow, but whatever the reason, Florida lost 20 yards on a quarterback sneak last night. You can't even do that on a video game if you tried.

And with all the talent in the state of Florida, their is no reason for Miami, Florida State and Florida to be as bad as they are.

Congrats to the winningest senior class in the history of Temple Football for producing another 8 win season. Here is hoping they go bowling this year in North Philly.

As for the Heisman race, I'm bias somewhat but Trent Richardson is hands down the best player in the country. He plays the best competition week in and week out and is a man among boys on the football field. I really hope he wins its but I think their will be to much anti-Alabama/anti-SEC sentiment out their due to the jealousy of the teams/conference success and you have to throw in the Andrew Luck mancrush factor from ESPN that will hurt his chances. But he is one of the best football players I've ever seen in person.

Finally, all those Texas A&M changing the game commercials? What are they changing, moving Ole Miss from 6th to 7th place in the SEC West or are they actually gonna get rid of the motto "Best Team in the Country if the Game was Only 30 Minutes Long"???

Until next week....

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

My charmed sports weekend.....

Who knew, really what was about to transform. If someone would have told me this past weekend all of this would have happened for my athletic teams, I'd have called you a fool.

But guess what, it did occur and now being the sports enthusiast I am, its almost unfathomable that this took place.

Let's recount the past 5 days...

Thursday night, my CCHS basketball team I coach, opened the season with a 19 point win. Kind of saw this coming but didn't expect to win by such a large number.

The Alabama and Temple basketball teams each won in resounding fashion potentially setting up championship match on Sunday (more in a second).

Friday-Only negative of the weekend happened when Temple fell to Purdue, but at some point Alabama or Temple had to lose a game if they were both playing in the same pre season tournament in Peurto Rico, so the negative turns into a positive because Temple and Alabama actually didn't face off.

While watching Alabama put away a pesky Wichita State team, who could have guessed that Iowa State would pull off their own shocker, no pun intended, thus bumping Oklahoma State, out from the #2 spot in the BCS Standings. So Alabama football had a win just moments after the basketball win.

Bonus pick-my alma mater Columbia High gets ta 42-0 win in the District Playoffs and heads to the District 3 Championship game.

Saturday- fun times as I get to take my middle two children to Tuscaloosa for the Alabama-Ga. Southern game. In the process of the 'Bama win, Temple rolls past Army to clinch a 3rd straight winning season in football. Unreal that has been accomplished in North Philadelphia.

The fun didn't stop there as Alabama football received two more wins on the day with USC's upset of Oregon and Baylor's upset of Oklahoma, pushing us closer and closer to a rematch with LSU. So the Tide gets 4 wins in the span of 24 hours... nice.

Sunday- The always lovable Detroit Lions start the day rallying from a 24-7 deficit to defeat Cameron Newton and the Carolina Panthers, giving them 7 wins and 10 games. Couple more wins and its playoffs for the Lions.

Temple gets a hard fought win over Wichita State for 3rd place in the the Peurto Rico Tournament followed by Alabama's dismantling of Purdue in the championship game. Led by the high flying MVP Tony Mitchell, Alabama looked impressive and could run the table in the pre-SEC season, even with games coming up vs VCU, Dayton, Georgetown, Kansas State and Oklahoma State.

Finally, we'll add in a Monday night hoops win in come from behind fashion for the CCHS Tigers, rallying from 11 down in the final 4:00, finishing the game on a 21-4 run.

Now if we could just bottle all of this magic, but at some point, the sports flu will hit and all of the things you want to happen, never will. But for now, still time to enjoy the spoils!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Saturday in Reverse... Week 12

Thanks for playing Oregon, Choklahoma, Clempson and Choklahoma State in the quest for the BCS Title Game. Their will be parting gifts at the door on the way out to second tier bowl purgatory.

Where do we begin... well let's start with Oregon, who dropped a game in stunning fashion to USC. Its not a surprise that USC manned up and beat Oregon but the fact that USC dominated Oregon for long stretches. Then Chip Kelly had a massive clock mis management taking two timeouts with him , I guess now to the Holiday Bowl. All those who said Oregon deserved a rematch with LSU look like fools. Time and time again, when these speed teams from the Pac 12 or Big 12 meet an SEC team, they struggle because the SEC has just as fast and way bigger players. USC comes close to being an SEC team because they can match the speed and size.

Clempson, although what looked like an outside shot for the title game, was dashed by NC State, who has their best player still playing quarterback at Wisconsin. How very Clempson of you to drop this type of game.

As for Okie State, what can you say. They had a 17 point cushion in Ames, Iowa and fell apart to a game Iowa State. The Cyclones, behind some timely turnovers, stayed in the game, forced overtime, and grinded the way to a massive celebration, not only in Ames but also throughout Tuscaloosa and the entire state of Alabama with the exception of Lee County. Odds are the Pokes will never come this close again to a national title game in football and it was all thrown away to a school that saw Gene Chizik produce a 5-19 record at. Its also coached by a former Auburn Def. Coordinator in Paul Rhodes so nice to see Auburn is helping out Alabama.

Choklahoma...another egg laying performance by medium game Bob Stoops as they fall to Baylor. So much for that bedlam series meaning the world in a few weeks in Stillwater.

Les Miles said he would be "onored" to play Alabama again, well outside of an Iron Bowl upset, that dream will come true.

As for the rankings, I'll just use the eyeball test.

#1 LSU
#2 Alabama
#3 Arkansas
#4-#100...118,119 or however many D-1 teams there are- Doesn't matter because the best football outside of the AFC and NFC is played in the upper half of the SEC West. Add in a fourth team and have LSU take on #4 in Dallas and Alabama vs Arkansas rematch in Nashville and have the winners play in New Orleans. You can thank me for solving college football's post season woes later.

Other musings in the week that was....wait, in the words of Lee Corso, ohh F%*# It, Just kidding...

Congrats to the Penn State players on their win over THE Ohio State in the Horseshoe. Its a nice reprieve for the players who didn't ask for any of this and sets up a winner take all showdown for a spot in the Big 10 Title game vs Wisconsin. But it could lead to a situation where PSU collects a Big 10 Championship Trophy that used to have Joe Paterno's name on it.

Can we have SEC Contraction...please Mike Slive. Ole Miss is the worst team ever in the history of this conference. Les Miles took a knee from inside the 5 yard line just to stop from scoring again. That's embarrassing on so many levels but its the second time its happened as Alabama could have punched another TD in the final minutes and refused too. The Admiral Ackbars must go, somewhere, to C-USA or the Sun Belt, I don't care but get them out of here.

Nice win for Virgina over Florida State, setting up a winner take all contest against Va. Tech next week for the right to face Clemson in the ACC Title game. Only thing is, they had to win the game about 4 times in the last 20 seconds thanks to replay.

And thanks to replay, Tennessee eeked out its first SEC win of the year over Vanderbilt, at home, in overtime. Let that sink in for a second. Never mind you I haven't mentioned anything about the Vols celebrating like they won an SEC Title or something. I compared Derek Dooley to Mike Shula, let me apologize to Mike Shula. He was a way better coach then Son of Vince, who is more comparable to Ed Ogeron at Ole Miss.

Congrats to Benard Pierce and Trent Richardson on their record breaking touchdown seasons at Temple and Alabama. Both men are scoring machines. And as far as the Heisman Trophy goes, Trent Richardson has been the most consistent, so at this point he should the top choice then followed by Andrew Luck and take your pick,

Finally, you would think with the growth of soccer in our country that we could find more reliable field goal kickers across the country...just saying.

Until rivalry weekend...enjoy your Turkey Day.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Penn State thoughts

It was just a week ago, on a 5 minute ride on the bus shuttle from downtown Tuscaloosa to Bryant-Denny Stadium, that I read about the horror that was being uncovered in State College. Amazing things that technology can accomplish today, reading news articles from around the world any where at any time. Here it was the Game of the Century, LSU at Alabama, and it was being bumped off the front page due to a developing child abuse scandal at Penn State.

That ride through throngs of fans will not be forgotten as its the first I heard of this scandal. Likewise when the PSU Board of Trustees finally interrupted a live Temple Football broadcast on ESPN to announce they were firing Joe Paterno, those words sent chills down my spine, not once but several times later in even replay forms.

There are always events, that signify defining moments in our lives, many times they involve something that has been a constant in our lives. I'm sure the loss of JoePa for the Lion Fans will be something they can't fathom or comprehend, maybe ever.

Now that all of these developments have emerged in the past 10 days, here is how I see this ongoing tragedy because at the end of the day, thats what it is, a tragedy that hurt who knows haw many young people. And for the record, I'll apologize for rambling on in what ever direction.

1. Jerry Sandusky- Un Freaking Believable that this sicko is out on bond for such a small amount of $$$. And then he has the audacity to continue to wear Penn State garb out in public, shopping, all the while living in a residence 1,000 feet from an elementary school. How can you retire, which we now know he was forced out in 1998-99, and still keep an office key, all the while continuing to bring young prey with you to and from practice, games, etc.

2. Mike McQueary- I felt bad for Mike for a nanosecond, but how do you go into a building, see and hear a child rape going on and you don't stop, call the police, say something. Just look and run out and then comeback the next day to report it to your head coach only after you consulted your father. And its not like he was 18-22, he was a grown man at 28. Now he must be one of the key witnesses and made some sort of deal where he could not be fired for working for the prosecution.

3. Dumb and Dumber-PSU AD Time Curley and President Spanier. Both of these men are arrogant sons of bitches who thought they could hide this crap, cover it up, turn it over to the Keystone Cops or University Park PD and all would be done. Everybody knows the that the PSU PD was in JoePa's pocket, hiding arrests, not reporting incidents, etc. for football players. It goes on everywhere. Then Dumb and Dumber have always felt they were above everyone else and now they are paying for their stubbornness. And where do Corley and Spanier get off in asking Joe Paterno to resign in 2004 after a 4th losing season in 5 years and JoePa tells them he isn't ready to retire. Bullcrap, you fire him if he's not ready to go. Not firing JoePa has burned this university to a crisp. The last question, were dumb and dumber acting as a legend or a Leader?

4. Joe Paterno- here is a man who obviously has portrayed an image that is not pure as led to believe. JoePa did the right thing in reporting the rape incident to his superiors, but do you leave it there? A day or two later, you need to go back and ask what's going on? If its not turned over to the police, then you take measures into your own hands. Joe Pa didn't and paid dearly, a legend tarnished forever. And thats ashamed. This should have been a chance to go to the Rose Bowl, ride off into the sunset, instead its the defining moment of Joe's career. I think Joe could have finished the season, if, and I say if he did not be so stubborn and keep having press conference on his front lawn. There should have been one voice, through someone in the university on this matter, not JoePa having press conferences on his front lawn. He tried to cover his butt by telling the Board of Trustees not to waste a minute on him as he would retire at the end of the year and that in hindsight, he should have done more about the issue when he had the chance. First, JoePa didn't think he would get fired by mouthing off but basically incriminated himself by making these foolish statements. If he had kept his mouth shut, he could have finished off the season but he didn't leaving the BOT no choice but to can him.

5. Scott and Jay Paterno. Nepotism days are over so its about time you go and get a real job on your own. And how did Scott become family spokesman, arguing with the media on the front lawn then tweeting updates about JoePa. Great PR job by all involved. As I watched Scott on TV, I hoped someone would give him a hamburger just to shut him up.

6. PSU football staff hours. Well we now know JoePa apparently only goes to work at about 2 pm and comes home by 5 for practice thanks to the media on the front lawn. PSU staff members must not stay late either as Jay Paterno and McQueary were seen leaving the football building before 6. Meanwhile, Nick Saban works sun up to sun down as do most D-1 head coaches and the coordinators and assistants do the same. Just saying....

7. Penn State-the university- Public Relations colleges across the country will use this PSU fiasco as a way to not handle things. No press conference, a president with no leadership or backbone acting as if nothing would happen. You better get out and control the story before the story controls you which is what has happened at PSU. The powers that be and for that matter, have an arrogant stubbornness about them that PSU is better, that they were Ivy Leagesque. Hell no your not better, in fact you are the worst scum that's ever lived for allowing, enabling and covering up child rape. PSU leaders acted like the national media would never converge on quaint little, State College in the geographical center of PA, but it happened. With almost every national football writer in Tuscaloosa on Saturday, that meant it would be Monday, but more then likely Tuesday before any of them could get to PSU. PSU leaders could have been out in front of this and put up a united front, called a Sunday press conference, presented their side and gone from there. Instead they acted like we are still a newspaper society, but in fact new travels so fast via twitter that they live in the Dark Ages in State College. The leaders at PSU failed everyone, from the fans, alumni, students and most of all, those innocent children.

8. PSU-the fans and alumni- I feel really bad for the true PSU fans and alums, they don't deserve this. I don't feel bad for the fan who wears the PSU shirt, is a loud mouth about PSU, but has never come close to stepping foot on campus. They don't have a clue what it means to be part of a close knit, university community. But the true supporters of this school don't deserve this, they were blinded and failed by PSU leaders.

9. PSU-the students- why were they rioting and protesting on Wednesday? Only in the Big 10 can you get a PhD in rioting with a master's in dumpster fires or couch burnings. Absolutely ridiculous. If I was in school, and my dad saw me rioting, protesting someone getting fired that enabled child rape and he saw me on TV, forget it, it would be over. He's going to be at the dorm room the next day, your coming home and find another way to make a living cause your standing up for the wrong thing, a football program over abused children.

10. The media-where the hell was ESPN on Wednesday night??? They interrupt Temple Football to show us a press conference with no live video??? What is this, 1940 WWII coverage?? meanwhile, some British chick named Isha, who speaks King's English was owning this story with live coverage, video of the presser and rioting, while informing us with a ticker on the bottom of the screen that "college football was a big money maker for universities." I guess it was the international hour. ESPN failed miserably at their coverage, almost completely ignoring the story on Sunday and Monday and then couldn't get any of their reporters on the air live, despite the fact they were covering the game Saturday. Was everybody out getting drunk on Beaver Canyon or enjoying Peachy Paterno ice cream during this time? Epic Fail by the Worldwide Leader.

11. The Future- Where does PSU go from here. Obviously they must clean house, anybody who knew must go. There are no secrets on coaching staffs, you spend more time with them then you do your own family, you know who has problems about anything so PSU must clean house. If it took Maryland almost 20 years to recovers from Len Bias' death and SMU almost 25 to recover from the Death Penalty, it might take PSU longer to recover from this stigma, especially if more and more victims come clean. Right now, we're back to 1995 and its possible these allegations could stretch back to the 1970's when Sandusky became the Def. Coordinator. At a minimum, we are looking at 20 but I think it could be a 30 year fix or longer.

Its ashamed that no one at this university put their foot down to stop this charade, hurting the proud fans and alumni of this school, but most of all its ashamed of what happened to these children. I hope Jerry Sandusky burns for all he's done.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Saturday in Reverse....Week 11

Halfway through November and we are inching closer to a possible rematch for the national championship, whether that is LSU vs Oregon or LSU vs Alabama, both possibilities became striking closer with Oregon's dismantling of Stanford and Boise State yanking another late season game with poor field goal kicking.

Stanford fans, you can now stop worrying about Alabama staying ahead of you in the BCS poll. Andrew Luck may be a great player, but too bad he doesn't play defense because Oregon shredded the Cardinal at will. Oregon jumped on Stanford early, went for 2 on the first PAT, set a tone where Stanford was playing from behind all night. So even though Brent Mussberger and Kirk Herbstriet had their man crush on Luck busted, he'll probably still win the Heisman because he patted his receiver on the head after his second Pick 6 of the night.

As for LSU and Alabama, both seemed to sleep walk in their respective contests as LSU finally pulled away in their Homecoming win while Alabama gave up a touchdown for the first time in 14 quarters in a 24-7 win at Mississippi State. I also hear Auburn fans rolled Toomer's Corner because Alabama's defense finally gave up a touchdown. We are inching closer to a rematch in the Superdome on Jan 9th. Of course, 9-1 Arkansas still has something to say about this and isn't out of either the SEC or National Title picture yet.

Oklahoma State, on the other hand, dominated Texas Tech and Tommy Tubberville 66-6. And it wasn't even that close. The Pokes, 10-0 for the first time in school history, will have their season defined against Oklahoma on December 3rd. They can score and finally showed they can stop a team that historically has been able to put points on the board.

And to all the Boise State lovers, sorry but they aren't that good and thank goodness for TCU and Gary Patterson for choosing to go for and converting on the 2 point conversion. Boise is a good team and would give any top 10 team fits, but they are not good enough to compete week in and week out against high quality competition. Its not a bad thing, its just a fact. They are a very good program that will always be a notch or two behind the the top 10 teams, but always capable of winning a one game scenario.

Other observations from Saturday...

I saw where Notre Dame calls there we play the worst team that a big time conference has to offer in somewhat of a neutral site so it looks like we're beating a quality team "The Shamrock Series." No this is what its called. Beating Washington State in San Antonio in 2009, Army in Yankee Stadium in 2010 and Maryland in Washington DC in 2011 is an absolute joke. They should be ashamed of playing these games.

Gene Chizik should send Mark Richt a Christmas Card because Georgia could have scored 70 on Auburn but they didn't. Now the Dawgs control their own destiny for a Sugar Bowl Bid if they win out, which includes the SEC Title Game.

Dan Mullen and Gus Malzahn should send Christmas Cards to Tim Tebow and Cameron Newton because both men owe their current and future head coaching positions to these men. These offensive, gurus, geniuses or whatever you want to call them can't score points against good competition without their super star QB's. Both men are frauds.

Tennesse under Derek Dooley looks eerily similar to Alabama under Mike Shula. Just saying...

Finally, as for Penn State, I thought the whole week was sad and disgusting for college football, but more importantly, for those poor children. I will discuss this entire situation in the future when I get more time to express my thoughts about this sick time.

Until Next week....

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sad times in Happy Valley

Saturday saw the center of the college football universe staring directly at the oncoming slugfest between #1 LSU and #2 Alabama. If someone had said there will be a breaking college football story that would out trend this game, one would have to really think hard about what story could push a Game of the Century to the side.

I don't think anyone could have fathomed what news was coming out of State College surrounding the Penn State Athletic Department and football program. The details surrounding retired defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky alleged extra curricular activities with young male children and the possible cover up is just sick.

Personally, I never have been a fan of Penn State despite growing up in the heart of south central PA, but just because I never liked PSU doesn't mean I didn't respect them. Joe Paterno and Jerry Sandusky have been two of the iconic figures of this program, Sandusky particularly for building Linebacker U. They were the face of so many great Lion victories, people who you knew did it the right way, someone who was always respected. But now, thats gone for good, no matter what the outcome is for Sandusky. It will be really sad if Paterno takes the stand against Sandusky, as its being reported will happen.

But what is worst is the innocence that those young people lost within Sandusky's presence. I know these are allegations, but there is no way they would bring a case without the evidence in place. No one respected those young people enough to put there foot down and stop this from happening, from the coaches in the know to Paterno, the AD and all the way up to the president. If it was one of my 4 beloved children that this happened too, you can bet the police and the powers that be would have been summoned much sooner instead of waiting for several years for justice to begin it process.

Its people like Jerry Sandusky and other bad apples that give people like me who are passionate about teaching and coaching for a living a bad reputation. For every one Jerry Sandusky there hundreds and thousands of other educators/coaches that take a parents most prized possession, there child, into their respective arena each day and attempt to make them a better person, unlike the Sandusky's or other bad people in these professions we have to hear about.

This story is terrible on so many fronts, that now it seems that several members of the coaching staff all the way up to the PSU president have knowledge of what was happening at some point over a 15 year period. It also seems as if Penn State has dropped the ball on holding press conferences, getting some damage control done or getting out ahead of the story. Now you can bet at the weekly PSU football press conference, the national media outlets will all have a presence in University Park and begin questioning Joe Paterno and his knowledge, despite what statements he's already made through media releases or lawyers. Its like they're living in the dark ages in State College, unaware that more and more people get news from sources on Twitter, or facebook.

Outside of completely cleaning house, and I mean all around at PSU from anyone on the entire coaching staff who had knowledge from Paterno, the AD and President as to what was going on, they need to be gone. This scandal is worst then any point shaving, tattoo parlor, Scam Newton pay for play or any other conceivable case in NCAA History. Its become a court case, not some petty NCAA thing that who knows how they'll investigate. Success with Honor, not anymore at Penn State. No matter how it plays out it will be a sad ending whether a Joe Paterno can survive this or not, the damage is already done for a man, program and university that spent years building what once was a great reputation.

Saturday in Reverse.... Week 10

Quick synopsis of the only game that mattered yesterday and one that I had the privilege to attend, LSu at Alabama.

First, the amount of people and atmosphere yesterday was unreal in Tuscaloosa. People were just everywhere and not many tickets were for sale on the street. The crowd was at a fever pitch even during pre game warm ups.

Secondly, I'm sure some pundits in this spread era will say it was dull or boring, but quite the contrary. The tension in Bryant-Denny Stadium last night was unreal as this was just an old school game played between two dominating defenses, that basically prevented the offenses from ever making a game breaking play. It was also one of the most physical football games you'll ever see, not some video game/two hand touch edition of Big 12/Pac 12 football.

Obviously LSU has the inside track to the title game, but Alabama has to feel they let this game get away. Time and again the Tide moved the ball inside the LSU 30 only to have a pentaly, sack, negative play on first down lead to a stalled drive and then setting up the barrage of long field goal misses.

Then when given the opportunity, LSU made the plays in order to force overtime, picking off an AJ McCarron and Marquise Maze pass to set up then preserve the 6-6 tie. Even when Alabama made big plays, it was coupled with mistakes, a block in the back on a Mark Barron INT return that prevented a first and goal situation, not fielding a punt that essentially flipped field position and forced overtime in the middle of the 4th quarter, etc.

So now LSU is in prime position to win the west and head to Atlanta and then New Orleans. Alabama is staring down the barrel of an 11-1 season with no hardware to show for it and a Sugar Bowl berth. It looks as if Alabama will be # 3 in the BCS standings this afternoon but needs help for a rematch or needs Arkansas to beat LSU. Time will let all of this play out, but for now LSU is in the driver's seat to win its 3rd national title in 9 years....

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Football Armagedden is upon us.....

The moment is finally here, by far the biggest game of this young century is upon us as # 1 LSU visits Tuscaloosa to take on # 2 Alabama.

The build up for this regular season game is unparalleled in the history of college football. College Gameday starts its broadcasts from outside Bryant-Denny Stadium today, in anticipation of this contest. Both teams have been equally impressive steam rolling opponents, winning in hostile environments, dominating teams to the point of submission.

Add in that both teams have an off week, coupled with an already intense rivalry between LSU and Alabama, along with an ex coach leading one team, and a switch to primetime television. Also, both teams have dominated leaders from the Pac 10, Big 10 & Big East on the road or neutral sites to the point that those teams don't even belong on the same field. Tie it all together and football amrmagedden is upon us!

Game Breakdown:

Quarterbacks: Alabama's unsung hero AJ McCarron has continued to grow in this spot, but still seems to hold onto the ball to long and tends to overthrow his receivers. Jarret Lee and Jordan Jefferson bring a different dynamic into the fold, with Lee reinventing himself while Jefferson has returned from his summer transgressions.

Running Back: The Beast Trent Richardson, he seems to carry 11 men in a single bound against LSU's 5 headed machine. There is strength in numbers, especially having fresh legs in a hard hitting contest, but its hard to go against the Heisman Trophy Candidate.

Wide Receivers: LSU seems to have more big play capability, especially after seeing them vs Auburn, but Alabama has a consistent bunch led by Maze and Hanks. The big difference maker, Julio Jones, is gone for 'Bama which is enough to sway this southward.

Offensive Line: Alabama has a mostly experienced bunch as does LSU. 'Bama's biggest problem has been holding penalties on William Valachos and LSU has impressed with their physical style.

Defensive Line: LSU has a dominating pass rush, something that is lacking from Alabama, although they get very consistent play from Nick Gentry and the bunch. The difference is LSU has game changers at this position.

Linebackers: Defninently the weak point of the LSU defense and Alabama has a physically punishing group. Hands down, a win here in a huge way for the Tide.

Secondary: experienced bunch for Alabama that will physically beat you down has a bad habit of getting beat against new offensive looks. Expect LSU to try something crazy to exploit that tendency. LSU has some major talent here too and isn't as prone to the big play.

Special Teams: Alabama has been superb in punt returns and pulling off fake punts/field goals vs Penn State/Arkansas. But they lack in the kick-off in that they can't kick it out of the end zone. LSU's return teams are just a s good.

Coaching: Les Miles has won more respect the further we get from the Saban era from LSU. Popular belief was that LSU would eventually fall apart once Saban's players left the program. That has not happened, despite Mile's penchant for questionable decisions and time management. But he is 2-2 vs Saban, although the first win was more just based on better talent, last year Miles gambled and thoroughly outcoached Saban. Saban is still looking to regain some lost mojo from the meltdown vs Auburn in Bryant-Denny last year, Alabama's only home loss in 4 years. With that in mind, shockingly we'll call this area a push.

Intangibles: Alabama is tough to beat in front of 102,000 people, 1 home loss in 4 years now. The crowds at BDS have caused havoc for many teams. 'Bama has also never beaten a #1 team in Bryant-Denny, although thats a skewed stat because many of the Tide's biggest games used to be played at Legion Field. Saban also has a remarkable record when playing a team he lost to in a previous season.

As much as it pains me to say it, I think the wrong team is favored in this game. Both teams are evenly matched and the differences between the two are ever so small. My pick and I hope its wrong... LSU 23 Alabama 20

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Saturday in Reverse... Week 9

With this being Halloween weekend, let's start by raising the dead.

To begin with, all those who had Penn State as the only undefeated team remaining in the Big 10 at this point, step to the front of the line. The Lions who looked completely manhandled and over matched against Alabama, managed to escape with wins at Temple and Indiana, can't settle on a quarterback, go through 15 chains of commands just to get a play called, are sitting pretty for a division championship, with Wisconsin dropping a second game in conference to Ohio State. I'll be the first to admit criticizing the Lions, as have many of their fans about the team and coaching staff, but bottom line, they are 8-1 (greatly helping Alabama's strength of schedule). Dare I say PSU and Rose Bowl???

Part 2, its Mark Richt that has risen from the ashes to put the Georgia Bulldogs in contention in the SEC East. Hands down, UGA has benefitted from not having Arkansas, Alabama and LSU on the schedule, but they didn't pick the schedule. They are winning and need to win out (toughest game is Auburn in Athens) and hope South Carolina falls to Arkansas or Florida. Sounds like contract extension time in Georgia.

Part 3, the ghosts of imcopentcy that is Vanderbilt and Duke football. Both teams were in prime position to upset Arkansas and Va. Tech. Both games were the old Jefferson Pilot ACC/SEC Game of the Week going on simultaneously, with Upset Dave Neal calling the Vandy game and Tim Brandt doing honors on the ACC side. Within moments of each other, things went down the tube for both teams.

Vandy, up 8 with a first and goal, fumbles and allows Arky to return the fumble 94 yards for a game tying TD. Worst case fo Vandy is they don't score and miss a chip shot FG, but inexplicably, everything that can go wrong, does. Vandy then missed a 27 yard FG to tie the game. Classic Vandy!

As for Duke, a 14-10 lost saw Duke miss 3 field goals, two of those being chip shots with one coming with about 6:00 left that would have pulled the Devils within a point. But in typical Duke style, the Devils drove inside the Hokie 25, facing a 4th and short situation in the final minutes, called a play action bootleg pass where the tight end and full back banged in to each other, allowing neither to get out on the pass route. Classic Duke.

Other musings...

Long live Ga. Tech and its flexbone offense, as Clemson stumbles again in the ATL. Paul Johnson doesn't need play charts, billboard size play cards, he does it all off the top of his head. Pure old school beauty.

Andrew Luck may have won the Heisman with his performance vs USC, meanwhile typical Lane Kiffin whines on about officiating.

Congrats to Notre Dame for beating Navy for the second time in 5 years.

Nice typical big win let down by Texas Tech, getting pummeled by Iowa State.

Really Ohio State, storming the field for a win over # 15 Wisconsin???

Nice to see Texas A&M and Mizzou are already battling it out for 5th place or who can finish ahead of Ole Miss/Miss. State.

Until football Armageddon next week....

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Saturday in Reverse.... Week 8

Let the Super Bowl hype for November 5th begin...

Once again, from the redundancy department, Alabama and LSU take care of business to move to 8-0, setting up a colossal showdown in Tuscaloosa in 2 weeks. Tuscaloosa was a mad house Saturday night for the Tide's 5th straight win over the Vols and it will double in magnitude with LSU's raucous fan base coming to town.

Even though we're only 11 years in to it, this is this century's Game of the Century. Both teams have been top 5 the entire year, dismantling opponents in similar fashion and now each have a bye week before this match up. Unprecedented in my lifetime for this perfect storm of circumstances. ESPN and CBS are arguing over who gets to broadcast this game, searching to some sort of settlement on the matter that should happen early this week. College Gameday will start broadcasting on site, Thursday on Sportscenter, 2 days before this game.

Sidenote, Alabama has never beaten a #1 ranked team in Tuscaloosa!

As for a chaotic Saturday, Wisconsin and Oklahoma were the biggest losers, falling to Michigan State and Texas Tech. Tommy Tubberville gets is biggest win as a Red Raider while Boise State, Stanford and Clemson are the biggest beneficiaries of Sparty's Hail Mary vs Wisky. Boise got by Air Force, Stanford ran roughshod over Washington while Clemson's road to an undefeated season seems to get easier each week, with Ga. Tech faltering and South Carolina losing Lattimore, the Tigers may run the table.

Notre Dame's BCS hopes have been dashed, at the hands of Lane Kiffin and USC. Guess they can gear up to beat Navy now for only the 2nd time in 5 years.

Other Observations.... Roz Zook pulled another Zooker.... Why does Gene Chizik continue to wear a dentist's smock outfit on the sideline....Will Barbara Dooley yell at anyone for criticizing her son's ridiculous 4th down gamble in a one possession game vs Alabama???...Finally, Has any coach ever benefited more from one player then Gus Malzahn? Dude's offense has been pretty regular of late, winning games by scoring only 17 points because South Carolina had a drunk quarterback playing and Florida couldn't field a punt, sandwiched around a 14 point effort vs Arkansas and 3 meaningful points in Baton Rouge???... Until next week....

Sunday, October 16, 2011

D-O-M-I-N-A-T-E !

When 101,000 fans enter Bryant-Denny Stadium for a game against Tennessee this weekend, moments before Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide march from the locker room to enter the field, the crowd will reach a fever pitch.

Highlights will be shown, Thunderstruck will be piping in over the PA system and the crowd will be going crazy. The last image on one of the 4 jumbotrons when this frenzy ends will be the word DOMINATE. Its obviously a message that Saban's players have taken to heart because Alabama has physically beats up its opponents week in and week out.

Its amazing to see when the other team "checks out" of the contest mentally and physically against the Tide. Its happened several times this year and has been an ongoing theme since 2008. It wasn't always this way as the Mike Shula era teams could not win a game in the 4th quarter. My how times have changed.

That breaking point for the other team comes at some point in the 3rd or 4th quarter. Yesterday for Ole Miss, it was early 3rd as Alabama rolled to 28 points in the qauter and could have scored 70. It was just a replay of the Vanderbilt, Florida, Arkansas and Penn State games. In each game, Alabama went to the half with a 10-14 point lead, where the play by play announcers were discussing how such and such team is just a play away from changing this game. But they never mention Alabama is just a moment away from putting things out of reach and forcing the other team to quit.

It happened in Happy Valley early in the 4th, where PSU trailed 20-3, a game changing turnover followed by Trent Richardson running through a defense that checked out at that point to make it 27-3. It happened vs Arkansas in the 3rd, as a 17-7 lead exploded to a insurmountable deficit and to date, the best coaching move of the year was Bobby Petrino taking Wilson Love out before he could get hurt. Vandy was physically manhandled in a 12 play, 11 run drive to make it a 21-0 'Bama lead in the early 3rd qtr. Florida lasted a tad longer, as the knockout blow came in the beginning of the 4th as the Tide went from 24-10 to 38-10.

This isn't the first time we've seen this. In 2008, Clemson, Arkansas, Tennessee, Miss. St and Auburn experienced this. In 2009 we saw Kentucky, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Miss. St and Florida succumb to the Tide. In 2010, it was Michigan State, Florida, and Penn State.

For the opposing team and its fans, when Alabama forces the "check out", its a cringing moment. Their is no way to make it stop. For Alabama fans, its as beautiful a thing that you can see on the gridiron, knowing that your opponent has been Dominated to the point of submission.

Finally, Top 5 Drives vs the Alabama Defense this year, keeping in mind the Tide D is only giving up 7 points a game.

5. Penn State's last minute, oh by the way score and subsequent 2 point conversion. It made the 27-11 final the closest score of the year for Alabama.

4. Ole Miss' first series that led to a 7-0 lead 2 minutes in.

3. Florida's first play score vs Alabama that led to a few moments of upset dreams.

2. Penn State's 16 play opening drive that burned 3 time outs in the process, that led to a 3-0 Lions lead.

1. Arkansas and their 13 play drive full of crossing routes and 3rd down conversions that tied the score at 7.

Saturday in Reverse.... Week 7

With the first BCS standings set to be released this evening, the slow countdown to November 5th moves forward as LSU and Alabama continue their physical beat downs and embarrass their foes on a weekly basis.

Try as they might, these poor teams like Florida and now Tennessee that face this SEC West duo in back to back weeks become walking M*A*S*H* units. Florida still hasn't recovered and poor Derek Dooley has to march into Bryant-Denny Stadium next week wondering how many points his mentor Nick Saban will lay on him.

Poor Ole Miss needs another off week, especially the Rebel safety who was victimized on back to back possessions by an L1/R2 move by Trent Richardson and then stiff armed by Jalston Fowler on the next. If not for 2 holding calls on William Valachos and the Tide taking a knee on its last possession, the Vaught-Hemingway scoreboard would have hit 70 on the visitor's side.

LSU and Alabama are not perfect teams, they each have flaws such as Alabama's kick-off team and tendency to give up big plays early in the game. But their is no doubt that each of these teams, when they turn into that BeastMode mentality, cannot be stopped. Let the game of the century hype begin.

As for the rest of Saturday...

Only a 6-0 Ron Zook team could get beat by an Ohio State team that completed 1 pass.... Clemson escapes College Park with a 56-45 win over some team that wears uniforms from "Any Given Sunday" otherwise known as Maryland. So does that mean Temple would win the ACC and beat Clemson by 20 points????....Ga. Tech takes its traditional stumble against lesser competition by falling to Virginia...Awesome win by UAB over Meeechigan, oh wait, that was Michigan State dressed as UAB for Halloween...And finally, have they discounted the cable/satellite upgrade for the Longhorn Network yet???

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Saturday in Reverse.... Week 6

Mike Shula, meet Luke Fickell. Luke Fickell, meet Mike Shula. Thats what I see when I watch THE ohio state.

Another week is in the books, which brings us one week closer to November 5th.

LSU and Alabama both are headed on a collision course for a showdown in Tuscaloosa, with the winner at this point primed to face Oklahoma in the BCS Title game. As we hit the half way point of the season, these three teams have seemed to separate themselves from the rest of the undefeated pack, which also includes Wisconsin, Clemson, Ga. Tech, Boise State, Oklahoma State among others. This is not to say for certain that LSU, 'Bama or OU will go unbeaten, but at this point its hard to argue against that.

OU's dismantling of Texas was just as impressive as LSU's blowout wins vs Oregon, West Virginia or Florida and likewise equivalent to Alabama's physical beatdowns of Penn State, Florida & Arkansas. As for everyone else, its unlikely that they could leapfrog these two ('Bama/LSU winner vs OU) unless two of these teams fall. Still alot of football to play though.

Other winners from Saturday: Mark Richt all of a sudden is in the driver's seat in the SEC East. Granted they have to finish a game ahead of USC in the standing's, but they're in a much favorable position then they were a month ago.

Ga. Tech continues to march on to a showdown with Clemson. Both teams have surprised with 6-0 starts, but not that anyone in Atlanta notices with the thousands of empty seats at Bobby Dodd Stadium.

Arkansas kept hopes of a BCS Bowl game alive dismantling Auburn at home. They really need LSU to beat 'Bama & then beat LSU in the Boot Game in November.

Congrats to Temple's Benard Pierce on breaking Paul Palmer's career rushing touchdown record. Little known fact that Palmer finished 2nd in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1986 to Vinny Testaverde.

Saturday's Losers: Florida State falling to Wake Forest. All of a sudden Jimbo has problems with a 2-3 record. What made the loss worst for FSU was that Tim Duncan and Chris Paul didn't even dress out for the Deacons.

Florida losing by 30 LSU and it wasn't even that close. Now they get to play at Auburn after dropping 2 straight. Good luck with that.

Mack Brown who must of fed his team corndogs before the game vs OU. I wonder if this Texas loss can be blamed on Colt McCoy's injury.

Quarterback Play: You mean Florida, Auburn, Penn State and Texas can't find good quarterbacks??? Isn't this the year of the quarterback on ESPN with Trent Dilfer crying cause he can't take more then 11 at the Elite 11 Bacherlotte style elimination quarterback high school ESPN program. Again, for all the 7 on 7, film study and everything else, its amazing that some of these teams don't have one guy that can competently play the position. I don't understand the bad QB play across the nation.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Saturday in Reverse...Week 5

NAPA Know How, NAPA Know How. Yeah its a terrible commercial jingle, but one thing is certain, Nick Saban knows how to silence a hostile, Saturday night crowd. Alabama physically manhandled Florida for a 3rd consecutive year, beating down the Gators by 28 and it could have been worst. The Tide defense stuffed Florida repeatedly after being burned on some bad secondary technique on the games first play. Offensive guru Charlie Weis, he who routinely was defeated by Syracuse, UConn, Navy & Air Force while in South Bend, was befuddled. (Anybody in Gainesville want Dan Mullen back now???) Tide OC Jim McElwain called a masterful game, keeping Florida off balance on first down by routinely calling for passes. The end result is 'Bama has some smooth sailing on the way to its November showdown with LSU, who sleepwalked through a 35-7 win over Kentucky and take on the Gators next.

As for 'Bama's opponent last week, Arkansas looked dead in the water in Jerry World against future SEC foe Texas A&M. The Aggies had a 18 point lead and seemed in control, until they took a page from the LeBron James playbook and decided to only play 3 quarters in Dallas. Now Mike Sherman is sure to feel some heat after blowing huge 2nd half leads the last 2 weeks.

Most unexpected result of the day was not Auburn beating South Carolina, but the fact that Auburn won not in a shootout, but in a defensive struggle. Steve Spurrier is generally considered the 2nd best coach in the history of the SEC behind Bear Bryant, but the recognition is in serious jeopardy after being outcoached by Auburn DC Ted Roof. After all this carnage yesterday, the most certain thing is the SEC West is way better then whoever the sacrificial lamb that arrives out of the East in Atlanta on December 3rd.

Saddest result from yesterday is the lack of quality QB play across the nation. Some of these guys have played Gods Gift to Football, 7 on 7 pass camps, for years, but teams like Indiana, Ohio State, Michigan State, Penn State, South Carolina, Auburn, Florida don't have a quarterback who can make simple plays. Its embarrassing to see teams with 4 and 5 star recruits at that position that can't generate a 100 yards passing. And we're not talking about wishbone teams, we're talking about some of these teams running the greatest offensive invention ever, THE SPREAD!!! I'm just thankful that I still cheer for a team that physically dominates its opponent and plays old school, fundamental football.

Other teams that impressed: Clemson getting it done on the road at Va. Tech. Dat Boy Dabo did it again! Russel Wilson has added a dimension to Wisconsin that makes them a legit national title contender, but only if 2 of the top 3 ahead of them lose a game. Ga. Tech continues to romp to victories with its flexbone. And Pitt had a nice win against USF on Thursday. Sorry Notre Dame, but until you beat a legit opponent, you won't get mentioned here and sadly you won't play a ranked team the rest of the year.

Teams that looked horrible. THE ohio state university, less the 200 yards of offense. Penn State needing to knock down a Hail Mary to hold off, ahem, Indiana, a team that had lost to North Texas & Ball State. Mississippi State again lays an egg and now heads to Legion Field to face UAB. If they lose that came, the SEC needs contraction, ASAP.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Saturday in Reverse...Week 4

Wake me up when September ends.

Also wake me up when Maryland decides to go back to some normal uniforms. Getting worked over by Temple 38-7 at home is really, really bad but its even worse when wearing a hideous uniform like the Terps. Last time these two teams played in Philly in 2005, UMd. won 38-7. My how things have changed for these programs. Oh by the way, Benard Pierce just scored again.

Speaking of scoring, LSU showed its toughness in manhandling West Virginia in Morgantown. The Bayou Bengals physically worked over the 'Eers and when they were remotely threatened in the 3rd qtr, Les Miles team squashed the rally by returning the ensuing kick-off to regain a 2 touchdown cushion. LSU is a physically dominating defense that just smothers you. They may not be seriously challenged until they come to Tuscaloosa in November.

As for challenging, Arkansas proved once again they are not quite ready for primetime. Bobby Petrino's high octane offense was once again outmaneuvered by Nick Saban. Alabama did not score an offensive TD until the middle of the 3rd qtr, but still led 24-7 behind a fake gield goal, pick 6 and an electrifying punt return by Marquise Maze that caused the 101,000 in Bryant Denny to explode. Saban and Kirby Smart's in game adjustments again gave the Hogs fit. Thats 5 in a row over Arkansas by the Tide and 4 of those have come under Petrino's watch. Arky has scored 14, 7, 20and 14 against 'Bama since Petrion arrived in Fayettenam. The Tide now has a Saturday night trip to Gainesville while the Hogs face potential SEC member Texas A & M.

Texas A&M can join the not ready for primetime crowd by blowing a 20-3 lead to Oklahoma State at home, by self destructing in the 3rd quarter. OSU is trying to keep pace with big brother Oklahoma who took care of Mizzou at home. As for who should be # 1 between OU, LSU & 'Bama, hands down its LSU at this point. They've done more and haven't played but 1 home game in Death Valley.

Another team living well in Death Valley is Clemson. Yabba Dabo Doo did it again taking down Florida State. Now the Tigers have to go on the road to face Virginia Tech. Traditionally, Clemson has not handled these situations well and will face a significant challenge next week.

Other notes, congrats on the Big East officials for missing a field goal call between Syracuse and Toledo.

Big 10/11/12 debacle(s) of the week. North Dakota State beating Minnesota. North texas beating Indiana.

And finally, in the U-Haul Bowl, where the loser gets a free moving van, Mark Richt staved off elimination and pushed Houston Nutt one step closer to leaving Oxford.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Saturday in Reverse...Week 3

Week 3 of the season is in the books, but conference realignment programs are being sold separately.

Despite falling to Iowa and USC, yesterday, Pittsburgh and Syracuse scored victories off the field by throwing preemptive strikes and are apparently headed to the ACC. Guess what, the ACC may not be done, because Coack K has given his blessing for moving to 16 teams. More dominoes will fall this week.

As for falling, the lack of a defense that has plagued Auburn for the past 2 years finally caught up with them. Even though Charlotte is just down the road from Clemson, their was no Cam Newton to bail out Ted Roof and his much maligned defense. All of a sudden, Auburn's win over Miss. State last week looks less impressive with LSU's dismantling of the Bulldogs on Thursday. Auburn's burnt like toast secondary had a hard time covering their own shadow let alone Clemson. Now after an easy game this week, Auburn will travel to South Carolina, host Florida, and go to Arkansas and LSU in October. Ouch!

As for LSU, they looked mighty impressive Thursday in Starkville, where Dan Mullen still has not beaten an SEC West team that isn't named Ole Miss (more on them later). Jarret Lee is not the Jarret Lee of yesteryear and that Tiger D looks solid. They have a test at West Virginia this week, but should be favored in every game except for possibly at Alabama in November.

Speaking of the Tide, they looked somewhat lackluster in their win over North Texas. They still have major concerns on the offensive and defensive lines. Of course, the same can't be said for last week's opponent, Penn State, as they have concerns all over the field and on the sidelines. Congrats to Joe Paterno on squeaking out career win #403, 14-10 over Temple. But unfortunately nobody really knows if Joe Pa saw the game as the window to the visitor's coaches box at The Linc would not open, allegedly. So instead of being subjected to Paterno Cam, like we are Al Davis or Jerry Jones cam on the NFL games, fans were subjected to Closed Window Cam. Sadly, its time for some tough love at Penn State, as they are past due for a coaching change. The Lions players and fans in Philadelphia yesterday celebrated a win over Temple as if they won the Big 10 Championship or something. Really sad how far that program has fallen.

Who else has fallen is UCLA coach Rick Nuehiesal. He was one of the hottest names in the coaching world during his Colorado days and headed to Washington. Of course that ended badly during an NCAA Tournament Pool. Once arriving in SoCal, he proclaimed the football monopoly in Los Angeles was over. But after another beatdown at the Rose Bowl, this time at the hands of Texas, one has to feel his days in Westwood may be numbered.

Someone else on the way out should be Houston Nutt. Getting whipped 30-7 by Vanderbilt, who by the way is half way to bowl eligibility at 3-0, is embarrassing. Being pounded by the 'Dores should automatically be grounds for dismissal. Nutt had that great first year, oversigning players and going for a quick fix by raiding Mississippi's junior college system for players. But he never built the infrastructure up of his program and is suffering dearly for it. Time for AD Pete Boone to pull the plug on this experiment. Of course Ole Miss should have never fired David Cutcliffe several years ago.

Speaking of Cutcliffe, he pulled off a nice upset on the road in the ACC winning at Boston College when the Eagle's missed a last second field goal. Congrats to the Dookies, Baby!

Other teams that impressed yesterday included a less turnover plagued Notre Dame and a very speedy Florida team who was so fast that they were flagged for pass interference seven times against Tennessee. Oklahoma proved its worthy of #1 yesterday and responded to a 13-13 tie in Tallahassee to win 23-13. And the U completely dismantled the Ohio State University in South Florida last night, despite Jacory Harris' tendency to throw to the other team.

Until next week....

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Saturday in Reverse... Week 2

I just saw a U Haul truck drive past, wondering if its going to Mark Richt's house? Yes, I get he's a good guy and he's won 2 SEC Titles, but the fact remains he is 20-17 since the infamous "Blackout" beat down administered by Alabama to a #1 ranked UGA in 2008. This is a what have you done for me lately business and its not good right now in Athens.

Congrats to Auburn for winning the "You offered Cam Newton $180,000 but we didn't pay him anything because we're a family and thats why he came here and no Milton McGregor didn't direct Cecil Newton to a rigged bingo machine like he did ex-Birmingham mayor Larry Lankford to pay for Cam's services Bowl Game." All kidding aside, Auburn made the plays at the end to hang on and I'm sure Gene Chizik & Dan Mullen had a great pre and post game handshake. Don't look now but Auburn will be 3-0 after next week when they beat a Clemson team that sneaked past Wofferd 35-27.

As for cross state rival Alabama, in the words of Todd Blackledge, they "choked out the Lions like a Boa Constrictor." AJ McCarron grew up and once again, an SEC team beats a Big 10 school by physically dominating its opponent. This could have been way worst, but its almost like Nick Saban feels sorry for Joe Paterno and refuses to beat him, oh say 49-7 like Michigan State. Also, don't schedule a whiteout, blackout or anything else against Alabama, in case you haven't noticed, those gimmicks don't work.

Now on to Penn State, who once again played not to get embarrassed against a top 12 opponent instead of playing to win. This is routine under Paterno as the Lions play vanilla, close to the vest offense and a simple back off, keep everything in front cover 2 on defense and die a slow death. They also used 3 time outs in the first 16 plays of the game, 1 point for each time out used on that opening field goal drive. Never seen that before and quite honsetly, PSU is one of the worst coached teams I've seen in each of the last 2 games vs 'Bama. They are constantly in disarray on the sidelines and have no creativeness on offense.

Congrats to Michigan and Notre Dame for playing under the lights and joining the rest of oh, I don't know, almost evey high school program in the country of playing football at night. Also thought it was nice of Notre Dame to honor the Boston Celtics on the side of their traditional helmets.

On another note, has there ever been so much hype for a game between two unranked opponents like Michigan and Noter Dame? It looked more like a game of NCAA 12 then a real game. 80 yard drives in 3 plays, 30 seconds?? 3 touchdowns in 2 minutes?? Notre Dame blows a 17 point 4th qtr lead, loses with over 500 yards of offense for the second straight week and has a secondary that can't cover anyone. But I still don't know if Notre Dame is eliminated from the National Title picture yet.

Nice escape by Ohio State, Kentucky, Texas, Va. Tech and Nebraska against what is supposed to be inferior competition.

And finally, Vanderbilt defeated defending Big East Champion. Is the SEC that good or the Big East that bad???

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Boise State= Penn State of the '70's & Florida State of the 80's


How do you earn it? How do you get it?

If you want respect, sometimes you have to go take it from someone. Thats exactly what Boise State has done over the past decade.

Yeah they had some cute gimmicks like Smurf Turf and Stormtrooper uniforms, creating a bowl game in Idaho so you can guarantee a post season invite. All of those things have been done before, even the create your own bowl game (see Arizona State/Fiesta Bowl pre Pac 10 invite).

But nothing gets respect like winning does. For Boise, the conference games won't get that done. So Boise has had to go out and play BCS opponents, on there terms because no one is going to Idaho. So the Broncos have done that and won, defeating the likes of Oregon, Virginia Tech and Georgia in three consecutive season. Having already played in two BCS Bowl games over the years, they are a legitimate threat to play in the BCS Title game.

The Broncos have followed the same map laid out by two college football legends Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden.

Paterno and Penn State were snubbed several times after finishing undefeated, only not to get a share of a national championship through the pollsters. Eastern college football has never been that respected compared the the midwest, the south and the west coast. Paterno had three undefeated seasons in in 1968, 1969 and 1972, finishing #3, #2 and #5 respectively. Each time, the Lions won the Orange Bowl but did not gain a share of the national title. Finally when given a shot at the title after the 1978 season, PSU fell inches short of # 1 losing to Alabama at the Sugar Bowl in the Goal Line Stand by a score of 14-7.

Add into the disdain of not reaching #1, PSU had to deal with Jackie Sherrill and the dominance of the Pitt Panthers on the western half of the state. Instead of pouting, Penn State scheduled up, beginning with home and home series with Alabama and Notre Dame in the 1980's and playing Nebraska twice. By scheduling and winning its fair share of big intersectional games (PSU was an independent in the 1980's), the Lions defeated Georgia for the 1982 National Title, despite suffering a 42-21 loss to Alabama earlier in the year. In 1985, Penn State got another crack at the title, but lost to Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl, but then won probably the ultimate game of the Paterno era, defeating the Miami Hurricanes in the Fiesta Bowl to secure a 2nd title in 5 years. Its almost a certainty if PSU had not scheduled up, they would not have had those opportunities to win.

Bobby Bowden and Florida State did the same, but even to a more extreme level, adopting an anytime, anywhere mantra to scheduling. FSU went to places like Nebraska, Pittsburgh, LSU, Auburn, Ohio State, Notre Dame and Michigan. In most cases, there were no return trips to Tallahassee. Sometimes they played two straight years at Ohio State or four straight at LSU or one and done at Michigan. And guess what, FSU won the majority of those games, putting the former all girl's school into the power elite of college football. The end result is that FSU won 2 national Titles in 1993 and 1999 and played for the title on 3 other occasions, falling to Florida in 1996, Tennessee in 1998 and Oklahoma in 2000.

Now Boise State had had to do the same thing to gain respect. They've played home and home with Oregon, defeated Va. Tech and Georgia in what amounted to home games for the other team in Washington DC and Atlanta. This years UGA/Boise game replaced what was supposed to be a game in Oxford, MS vs Ole Miss.

As a result of winning these big, early season games, the Broncos have positioned themselves to get to New Orleans. And should they make it there against an Oklahoma, Alabama, LSU, Wisconson or someone else, I wouldn't bet against them in a 1 game, winner take all scenario.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

September 6th....What it means for me

September 6th is just another day on the calander for most. This years its the day after Labor Day weekend so most are probably dragging into work this morning.

But for me, its a reminder of my youth. Its the day that my two favorite and two of the greatest baseball players ever, Cal Ripken and Eddie Murray, set career milestones on this date respectfully in 1995 and 1996.

For Ripken, it was game 2131 in his Ironman streak, eclispsing the previous rcord set by Lou Gehrig at 2130. In typical Ripken flair for the dramatic fashion, he homered in this game as the Orioles routed the Angels in front of an ESPN nationally televised contest.

For Murray, it was a swansong moment as his return to the O's in July and jump started a playoff run in 1996, punctuated by his 500th Home Run into the right field bleachers at Camden Yards against the Tigers on a late Friday evening game.

Growing up with the Orioles in Central Pennsylvania, the two big guns of the franchise were Ripken and Murray. They were the face of the team just as Mike Schmidt was the face of the Phillies. Unlike today, where your local MLB team has almost every one of its game on local cable, it was hard to watch Orioles games. Outside of a few appearances on the NBC Game of the Week, we only got to watch 40 games that were broadcast from WMAR Channel 2 out of Baltimore onto the O's televison network. Of those 40, usually only 2 of those broadcasts were home games, with one being Opening Day.

So those 40 games on Channel 2 were a big deal on the tube as Chuck Thompson & Brooks Robinson relayed the great moments of the early 80's Birds of Baltimore, culminating with the 1983 World Series win over the Phillies. It was must see TV. If the games were not on television, then we were dependent on the great Jon Miller to broadcast on the radio what was happening. It wasn't till I was in college that our cable provided Home Team Sports and all of a sudden 90 O's games plus the 40 on Channel 2 and a few other national telecasts were suddenly available.

Collecting baseball cards as a kid, it didn't take long to figure out in the early 80's that if Murray and Ripken continued there production of averaging 20-25 Home Runs a year and close to 150-200 hits per year, that each player would get to 500 Homers and 3,000 hits if they played to age 40. Those numbers seemed so far away in the early 80's, but being the math wizard I was I figured it was a good chance this could happen down the road. (500 Homers really meant something because this was before steroids and was not an easy mark to eclipse. Now its become watered down in baseball numbers)

Murray eventually eclipsed 3,000 hits and added the 500 home runs on September 6th, 1996. Ripken eclipsed the Gehrig mark, which was hardly discussed until about 1990, on September 6th. 1995. Ripken would get to 3,000 hits and over 400 Home Runs so I wasn't too far off. Not bad for a 10 year old making a prediction 12-15 years down the road.

But sadly, that September 6th date probably really signaled the end of my youth. I was in my last semester of college and about to enter the real world. I hardly followed baseball due to the strike and after 1997, Peter Angelos ruined the team. Really, who can devote 162 days a year to following something. I can't, I'm just too busy with this thing called life.

So I still have my 2001 and 1989 Ripken Jerseys in the closet to go with 1996 Murray version. I even have a picture of Ripken holding my first born, 3 month old daughter at a book signing and have the Eddie Murray autographed pic in hanging my office at school. To this day, I think the only baseball player my kids really know is Cal Ripken. They can name tons of NBA players, college football players and coaches, but not a current baseball player. They even put a post it note identifying "Cal Ripken" on the life size cut out in my classroom. Very few my of students know who he is these days, which really makes me feel old. The Ripken and Murray baseball cards I had sit stashed away in my son's closet. Maybe they are worth something, but they are now his to do what he wants with them some day down the road.

So as this Septmeber 6th passes on the calander, for me its a reflection of how much fun the Orioles were to grow up with and a sad look at how irrelvant the franchise is today.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Ch Ch Changes....

With all due respect to David Bowie, this could easily be the theme song for the current state of conference realignment in the NCAA.

With Texas A & M ready to leave the Big 12 and probably headed to the SEC, Oklahoma, Okla. St, Texas and Texas Tech have apparently begun another flirtation with the Pac 12. If those 4 jump ship to the west, it will lead to an end of the Big 12 and again might lead to a paradigm shift in which we get 4 super conferences containing 16 teams each.

Before we throw out some hypothetical scenarios that may or may not unfold, its important to get a few things on the table.

1. College Basketball is irrelevant when it comes to expansion of super conferences. The fact of the matter is the sport does not provide the same quality of play it did 20 years ago and is not as popular. The regular season is over shadowed by bowl games, NFL playoffs and is relevant for about 2-3 weeks before March Madness. Outside of the first 2 days of the NCAA tournament, the casual fan doesn't watch it the way they do football. Sadly, most of the allure in college basketball is the NCAA tournament, specifically filling out a bracket and getting out of work for 2 days to watch a 13/4 match up against two teams you never heard of. The only conference that basketball might have some pull in is a revamped ACC/Big East, but that will only be after the Big 10 & SEC have raided some members for their own selections.

2. The end of the NCAA could be near, in terms of governing football. Mark Emmeret and his staff have their hands full policing the corruptness the is abound in the sport. Its time for the teams that can to work towards some sort of pay for play model or cost of school allowances. Players should be allowed to profit off their likeness and such and the emergence of Big Boy Football could lead to change.

With those issues out of the way, let's try to guess/calculate who could land where in terms of super conference realignment.

Start with the easiest first, the Pac 12 to 16. If Oklahoma, Okla. State, Texas & Texas Tech move west, this is one possible 16 team conference.

Possible divisions: Old Pac 8- UCLA, USC, Oregon, Oregon State, California, Stanford, Washington & Washington State

New Pac 8- Arizona, Arizona State, Utah, Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech & Okla. State

Thats 16, now on to the Big 10.

Jim Delany is sitting there with 12 teams since the addition of Nebraska this year. An obvious no brainer would be Notre Dame as this is a yearly discussion about the Irish moving into a natural fit. But problems exist, the main one being Notre Dame loves being independent and the other is Notre Dame is becoming irrelevant in college football. They can't compete at a high level like they did in the 60's, 70's and 80's. The last two decades have been terrible to the point that we are now working on a second generation of college football fans growing with notion that ND football is terrible.

But for arguments sake, let's just say that the Irish & Big 10 join together, then it comes a battle to find 3 more teams. I'm sure Penn State would like another eastern school or two to come in so they don't travel to Midwest as much. Possible teams include Rutgers, Syracuse, Boston College, Pitt and Maryland.

On the western fringe of the current Big 10, their is Missouri who has a natural rival with Illinois, Iowa State with Iowa, and possibly Kansas and Kansas State to fit near Nebraska. If you want to get further west and you bring in a Catholic University like a Notre Dame or Boston College, the Morman based Brigham Young would be an option. Louisville could be an option too.

Prediction: current members stay put and they think outside the box to add Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, BYU and Syracuse. Pittsburgh to appease Penn State, Notre Dame for their national appeal, BYU for the same reason to bring a bigger presence out west and because they brought a religious partner in with Notre Dame, followed by Syracuse to cover the New York market.

Onto the SEC, where the league will undoubtedly keep its current 12 members and more then likely add Texas A & M. Naturally, it would seem the SEC might try to add a Clemson, Ga. Tech or Florida State, but their current SEC sister schools of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida would probably block membership or already have.

So with that in mind, two things probably need to happen. First, the SEC will need to add a western school to come in with A & M, while the other two schools they bring in to get to 16 will probably be from other states to create more tv sets in their conference affiliation.

Possible additions: Missouri, TCU, NC State, North Carolina, Virginia Tech, Louisville, Maryland, West Virginia.

Missouri and TCU fix the natural problem of adding a school to the west with A & M. NC State and North Carolina would bring in a new state along with the Charlotte market, but it will be tough to get them out of the basketball friendly ACC. Va. Tech seems like a natural fit as does West Virginia being that they are land grant colleges and the fan bases are similar to those in the SEC. WVU has played Georgia, LSU & Auburn in recent years, while Va. Tech is short drive up I-81 from Knoxville. Louisville would complement Kentucky to the north and Maryland is enticing because teams would be inside the DC beltway for national exposure more than anything every other year. Of the original ACC schools, Maryland has never really fit in with the Tobacco Road schools.

Prediction: SEC keeps its current 12 members, brings in Texas A & M along with Missouri to create a natural rivalry with Arkansas to the West. In the east, the SEC adds 2 of these 3 in West Virginia, Va. Tech & Maryland. Personally I'd like them to add the Terps & Hokies, but for arguments sake, we'll go with WVU and Va. Tech.

SEC East-Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, West. Va, Va. Tech and Kentucky

SEC West-Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Ole Miss, Miss. St, LSU, Texas A & M, Missouri

Whatever decisions are made, by the Big 10 & SEC will affect what will be left over for some sort of combined ACC/Big East.

Super Conference IV is some hybrid of the ACC & Big East. Teams that would stay include Miami, Clemson, Florida State, North Carolina, NC State, Maryland, Virginia, Duke, Wake Forest, Ga. Tech and Boston College. That means 5 teams would have to be added in to create 16.

Possible additions include Connecticut, Louisville, Cincinnati, South Florida, TCU, Central Florida, Rutgers, Temple and East Carolina.

UConn brings a respectable program, a rival for Boston College and a good basketball. Louisville & Cincinnati do the same and bring in a more western presence. South Florida & UCF, bring solid football teams, but Fla. State & Miami might balk at adding them. Rutgers brings in tv sets from New York/New Jersey and an array of hair care products from MTV, Temple brings in the Philly market along with quality hoops. East Carolina is a natural fit, but the Carolina schools would object.

Prediction: We have to add 5 and this is the only conference where basketball might have a say, so UConn is a natural, along with Louisville. I think you bring in Rutgers for the tv market and Cincinnati for the same reason and to give a western presence with Louisville. The last addition is Temple, as they are a more respectable football program then Duke, Wake Forest or when the Big East dumped them for UConn. The Owls also bring the Philly TV market along with the 6th winningest basketball program ever to Tobacco Road.

Now will any of this shake out this way, who knows but one thing is for certain things are a changing, for better or worst in college football. The dominoes were started last year by Colorado, Utah & Nebraska, they continued this summer with Texas A & M and look like they will roll on with the demise of the Big 12, while taking several schools like a Kansas and others with them into football oblivion.