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Archive for January, 2009

"Roll The Window Down!"

"Roll The Window Down!"

In the lighter side of sports, Michael Irving dodged a bullet last week…literally. A “very afraid” Irving was driving home last night when he met a few fans at a stoplight. While stopped, a car pulled up beside his SUV and rolled down it’s window. Assuming the two passengers were his fans, Irving rolled down his window. Much to his surprise, he found a gun pointed in his face. What happened next is nothing short of amazing or funny, depending on how you look at it…

The assailants, realizing who they were talking to, lowered their weapons and began to talk about Dallas Cowboy football. They talked about all things football and eventually left Irving unharmed. To me, this has to be one of the craziest stories of the year. I know Irving is lucky, but how dumb to these apparent car jackers have to be. Hey lets talk to this guy for a while, I am sure he won’t remember what we look like. Heck, I’m surprised they didn’t ask  to take a picture with their camera phone and post their pictures on myspace, although I guess that remains to be seen. Either way, does anyone have a sneaky suspicion that the two assailants were Marvin Harrison and Cheddar Plax (formally known as Plaxico Burress). Oh well, until tomorrow….

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Uncle Sam Says "Fourth Place is for Canada!"

Uncle Sam Says "4th Place is for Canada!"

Not everyone likes the BCS. In fact, nearly everyone hates the BCS. While the BCS is a better system then its predecessor, it leaves much desired in terms of deciding the best team in college football. I have been involved in many discussions aimed at solving the BCS dilemma, and there are a variety of solutions that all seem feasible. Change seems inprobable though, as a plethora of inter-conference agreements and business contracts stand in the way of any alteration to the current system.

That argument is for another day. This article is to discuss ways in which the BCS is advancing. While I was shocked to read the following article, it intrigued me to see that the BCS is expanding its area of influence.

The author of this article was not attached to the site I found it on, but whoever it is gained my respect.

After determining the Big-12 championship game participants, the BCS computers were put to work on other major contests and today the BCS declared Germany to be the winner of World War II.

“Germany put together an incredible number of victories beginning with the annexation of Austria and the Sudetenland and continuing on into conference play with defeats of Poland, France, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands. Their only losses came against the US and Russia; however considering their entire body of work–including an incredibly tough Strength of Schedule–our computers deemed them worthy of the #1 ranking.”

Questioned about the #4 ranking of the United States the BCS commissioner stated “The US only had two major victories–Japan and Germany. The computer models, unlike humans, aren’t influenced by head-to-head contests–they consider each contest to be only a single, equally-weighted event.”

German Chancellor Adolf Hitler said “Yes, we lost to the US; but we defeated #2 ranked France in only 6 weeks.” Herr Hitler has been criticized for seeking dramatic victories to earn ‘style points’ to enhance Germany’s rankings. Hitler protested “Our contest with Poland was in doubt until the final day and the conditions in Norway were incredibly challenging and demanded the application of additional forces.”

The French ranking has also come under scrutiny. The BCS commented ” France had a single loss against Germany and following a preseason #1 ranking they only fell to #2.”

Japan was ranked #3 with victories including Manchuria, Borneo and the Philippines.

I had a good laugh at the United States fourth place finish…

sk.

[my apologies to mike gundy]

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Growing up an Atlanta Braves fan, I assume it’s fitting that I became an Indianapolis Colts fan. From the second I heard the words,” And with the first pick of the 1998 NFL Draft, the Indianapolis Colts select Peyton Manning of the University of Tennessee”, I was hooked. Since then, Manning has forged a career that few have even come to close to accomplishing. If he continues at this pace, the 3-time MVP will break most NFL passing records by the time he decides to hang it up. Indy also had a coach in Tony Dungy that many consider one of the best in the league. Dungy is the only coach in history that has one at least 10 games for 6 straight years. Not enough for you to? Manning’s favorite target, wide receiver Marvin Harrison, is now second on the NFL career receptions list behind only the great Jerry Rice. Top this off with a typically excellent line, numerous Pro-Bowlers,and defense that should get you by, you have a team that should have won at least two championships. That being said, the Colts are underachievers. Let me explain.

Most People Blame Manning for Indianapolis' Postseason Failures

Most People Blame Manning for Indianapolis' Postseason Failures

Every year the Colts come into the season with lots of potential. Typically Indianapolis fields a team built around the pass with a solid run game and defense built to play with the lead. All of these work well in the regular season, but come playoff time, the Colts struggle. After 10 years of homering Manning and the Colts, I have to ask: Where does the blame lie? Should I question the guy I have been following since college? After much thought, I decided I have to defend my boy.

It seems the popular thing these days is to blame Peyton.  I will admit, there have been times in the playoffs that Manning hasn’t played his best. During the Colts lone Superbowl run, Manning was 97 of 153 (63.4%) for 1,034 yards, 6.8 YPA, 3 TD, 7 INT, 70.5 passer rating. His career QB rating in the playoffs is 84.7, far below the 94.6 Qb rating he averages during the regular season. Still knowing this, I have to defend my guy. While the Colts have been surrounded by talent, its still all about Manning. This team has lived and died by his laser rocket arm. The regular season is much different than the playoffs. Ball control becomes very important, and your flaws tend to be shown very brightly in the lights of the playoffs. In Manning’s time, the Colts have never been able to play the grind it out ball control game. The Colts have never had the dominating defense that will go out and shut a team out. Typically a team will play keep-away from Manning. This means pounding the ball on an undersized defense and (typically) scoring at will. When the opposing offense grinds out the clock and scores lots of points, it puts Manning in a situation where he is forced to make quick scores and take lots of chances.

This year, for the first time in Manning’s career, he found a way to win by playing ball control. He was taking what the defense gave him and allowing the Indianapolis defense to rest. He was also doing this while recovering from knee surgery and playing with a very young and inexperienced offensive line. Due to this inexperience, the run game suffered dramatically. Despite this turmoil, Peyton was able to shine when the game was on the line. He played his best with the few chances the offense was given.  Unable to run or stop the run, Indy’s season was completely in Manning’s hands and he found ways to win. Ultimately the season would end the same. Failed conversations, missed attempts, and the Colts left questioning what happened.

For those still questioning Manning after the playoff loss I ask: What more did you want the guy to do? The Colts were beaten in every aspect of the game except of the passing. San Diego (like many other teams) were able to swarm the line with few defenders and drop everyone else back. Without the running, game play-action became obsolete. While the Colts defense played good enough to win, failed third down conversations, and crucial penalties at the end of the game doomed Indianapolis. Is one and done Peyton’s legacy? A few years ago all I heard was Peyton can’t win the big one. He needs to win one Superbowl to establish his legacy. Well he won a Superbowl, something many great quarterbacks have never done, but now all I hear is, “Manning has to win one more to be truly successful”. Come on…

Manning at Super Bowl XLI

Super Bowl XLI

Simple argument I know, but for the sake of time I will boil it down to this. If Manning had Brady’s defense, how many championships could he have won? I would argue that Manning has done more for his team in the last ten years than any other player (including Brady). For example, look at the Pats this past year. Are they a much better team with Tom Brady? Clearly. However, you can’t ignore that Matt Cassell led this team to 11 wins and they were playing like a playoff-caliber team. If the Colts had lost Manning to injury this year (not to mention that he clearly wasn’t 100 % due to a bursa sac infection), they might have won 2 games.

Basically, I am saying give the guy a break. Year in and year out no one means more to their team than Peyton Manning. Football is the complete team sport. In basketball one guy can take over a game and lead his team to win. Without a consistent line, Manning becomes just another quarterback. Without solid defense, Manning plays from behind and takes too many chances. I say that the Colts have underachieved, but I realize football is a team sport that requires all positions to play at a championship level. At least Peyton Manning is a championship level quarterback.

Oh well, I guess I will just go put on my 1998 Tennessee BCS championship t-shirt and my 1995 Atlanta Braves Championship hat while I read my 2006 SI Super Bowl edition and cry myself to sleep.

-matt howell-

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… then they’d be like every other team left in the NFL playoffs with their flying mascots, but they don’t. That’s okay, as of the time of this article 70% of America are picking the Steelers in the Super Bowl and 40% have them winning it. As for this black and gold journalist, why the heck wouldn’t I agree?

sb_trophies_1501

A sixth Lombardi trophy for Pittsburgh would be the most of any NFL franchise.

Here’s my pick right now, somebody from Pennsylvania will win this Super Bowl. Defenses win championships, it’s been discussed ad naseum (even in only the first four posts on this site) so this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone following so far, but an offense will have to score once or twice… right? Only one thing stands in the way of a “ring for the other thumb” in my opinion, and that’s the hated Ravens from Baltimore. After two hard fought, extremely close games, I’m predicting this one to be a little more one-sided.

With the emergence of a healthy Willie Parker last week the Steelers seemed to have peaked at the right time and now will make a push to be more balanced then the two previous meetings in which they threw the ball much more than anticipated, weather permitting of course. On the other side of the ball you have to be extremely impressed with the play of Joe Flacco, rookie quarterback out of Delaware, not to mention the also over-discussed Ravens defense and the difficult task of beating the same team three times within the same season.

AP Defensive MVP, Steelers LB James Harrison.

AP Defensive MVP, Steelers LB James Harrison

Still, I think the difference in this game will be the ability, or lack thereof, for Pittsburgh to establish a running game and whether or not either defense scores a touchdown. If neither “D” puts points on the board and the men of steel can run it, I look for a 14-17 point Pittsburgh victory. If not, time for the third barn-burner in as many tries and either team could win it, with the Steelers just slightly more than a coin-flip favorite in my mind.

Regardless of the outcome, I will personally guarantee that at least one helmet or two will get knocked off and it will be a very good thing the players aren’t mic’d up for this one or else it wouldn’t be family appropriate. Two teams built around running the football, solid quarterback play and great defense (best two in the league statistically speaking this year defensively) will put on yet another textbook lesson on how to hit and hate this weekend. Sit back, enjoy, and keep the women and small children who might get scared easily away from the screen.

-asm

My apologies to Les Miles.

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This was originally going to be a comment posted on a previous article. However, i ended up wasting too much time on it and decided to give it featured space.

When evaluating the strengths of major football conferences, one game cannot tell everything you need to know. in the wake of a Florida national championship, it has been widely accepted that the SEC established their dominance in college football this year. However, there are still dissenters to this conclusion (Anthony this isn’t aimed at you, I’m aware that you never held this opinion…publicly).

This Kid Understands

This Kid Understands

That being said, I believe that the SEC was a better conference than the big12 in every measure this year. Their play throughout the year and especially a stellar bowl season set them on a level above the Big12.

For further analysis, lets go hypothetical. Since this will never be determined on the field (with this years teams at least), we have to predict what would happen if the conferences squared off…

Lets say we lined up the SEC and the Big12 in a heads-up series, with each team facing their conference counterpart in terms of overall record. Here is the slate of games in reverse order of final standings:

Note: the rankings were determined on overall W-L percentage before bowl games. this allows teams that had a great season but took a bowl loss (e.g. Oklahoma) to maintain the position they held most of the year. additionally, a team may be moved up or down a position to match a team that they actually played in their bowl (e.g. tech v. ole miss)


Maxi-Tampon BowlBoise, ID

  • Iowa State (2-10) v. Mississippi State (4-8)

Great Value Douche Bag Bowl – Bentonville, AR

  • Baylor (4-8) v. Tennessee (5-7)

Trojan Rough-Riders BowlTampa, FL

  • Texas A&M (4-8) v. Arkansas (5-7)

Febreze BowlOklahoma City, OK

  • Kansas State (5-7) v. Auburn (5-7)

Oprah Magazine BowlPhoenix, AZ

  • Colorado (5-7) v. Vanderbilt (6-6)

Charmin Ultra-Soft BowlAtlanta, GA

  • Kansas (7-5) v. Kentucky (6-6)

Maxim.com BowlLas Vegas, NV

  • Nebraska (8-4) v. LSU (7-5)

Barack Obama BowlChicago, IL

  • Missouri (9-4) v. South Carolina (7-5)

Revenge of the Nerds Collector’s Edition DVD BowlMiami, FL

  • Oklahoma State (9-3) v. Georgia (9-3)

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia BowlSan Diego, CA

  • Texas Tech (11-1) v. Ole Miss (8-4) —SETTLED

Meineke Car Care BowlCharlotte, NC

  • Texas (11-1) v. Alabama (11-1)

Holiday Inn Express Tournament ChampionshipDallas, TX

  • Oklahoma (12-1) v. Florida (12-1) —SETTLED

My Scorecard: SEC Wins 9 Games – Mississippi State, Tennessee, Arkansas, Auburn, Vanderbilt, LSU, Georgia, Ole Miss, Florida. Big12 Wins 3 Games – Kansas, Missouri, Texas

Comment to criticize, react, and offer your own scorecards of how this series would play out.

Gotta love the hypotheticals…

sk.

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    The Little Twelve?

    Yesterday a friend in one of my fantasy leagues said something trying to get a response out of those of us (most in this league) that are from the Midwest and are fans of the Big 12: “I’m pissed off that no one will acknowledge that the Little 12 is far inferior to the SEC” he so sweetly exclaimed.   After a brief cooling off period and some reflection on what it really meant to be the ‘best conference’ in the nation an internal conclusion was reached.  The answer: a complete season.

    My sentiments exactly Sam.

    My sentiments exactly.

    Yes the Big 12 was and deserved to be the unanimous choice for best conference during the regular season, but a 4-3 mark by the conference in the most important games of the year, with the unstoppable South division of the group going 1-3 just won’t cut the mustard.  And yes, for all you mathematicians out there the little brother of the division went 3-0 with wins by Nebraska, Missouri and Kansas.  To be fair the Northwestern’s, Minnesota’s and even the Clemson’s (this year) aren’t even in the same ballpark, and a win in OT by Mizzou and 5 point win by Nebraska means the conference I hold so dear was very close to a 2-5 turnout.  Heck, even Texas, one of the biggest brothers barely pulled out a win over a team many thought they would demolish in hopes of claiming a split national championship.

    It will be okay, the concession stand didn't really run out of nachos.

    It's okay...the concession stand didn't really run out of nachos.

    Alas, (my eyes nearly not trusting what they see appearing on the screen before them) the Big 12 doesn’t deserve the title of the best conference.  Not yet.  Until you can beat a middle of the pack SEC team in a near home game when you were supposed to be the team that was one game shy of the national championship?  Thank goodness they didn’t make it.  If you want to see the definition of no defense look no further than Lubbock, had they prevailed in the mid-November game in Norman they’d have embarrassed the conference against the Gators down in the title game.  The SEC remains strong as the best damn conference in the land, love it or hate it, you have to respect it, at least until somebody proves different for an entire season.

    -asm

    My apologies to Les Miles.

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    Nic Harris tackles Percy Harvin

    Nic Harris tackles Percy Harvin

    Maybe Nic Harris was right. After watching the Oklahoma defense hopelessly try to catch up with Percy Harvin I am absolutely convinced that he spoke the truth about Oklahoma’s gameplan. When reporters asked Harris, a senior safety for Oklahoma, how  his defense planned to stop Florida scatback Percy Harvin, he explained, “As far as [the Oklahoma defense is] concerned, he is just another player.” Apparently the Oklahoma defense prepared for the BCS Championship Game with this in mind.

    Harvin finished the night with only 14 touches, but damned if he didn’t make them count. He totaled 171 yards of total offense (122 rushing, 42 receiving) and one touchdown.  To make matters worse, Harris drew considerable scrutiny for a fourth quarter tackle on (none other than) Percy Harvin. Instead of releasing Harvin once he hit on the ground, Harris pulled violently on Harvin’s legs, seemingly aggravating Harvin’s existing ankle injury. Not much came from the incident, but Harris’ motives are still unclear. Maybe it was unintentional because in his mind he was tackling “just another receiver.”

    Harris should consider a career as an NFL Defensive Coordinator… as long he sticks to his principles. Never forget that Peyton Manning is “just another quarterback,” Adrian Peterson is “just another running back,” and Brian Westbrook is a complete non-factor.

    Some day he might look back and laugh. Or not.

    sk.

     

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