Thursday, August 28, 2008
1) Washington Redskins - Jim Zorn
Proposed nickname: ZORN!!!!!
All I can think of when I see his name is the "Wrath of Zorn." Both Zorn and Khan are four letter words, both end in the letter "n," both have only one vowel, and both sound very, very evil. I wonder if Zorn has ever given a brain slug to any of his players? If he did give brain slugs to each of his players, coaching the team would be like playing a video game... the players would always do what you want!
Anyways, Zorn actually was a QB that got to throw to famous WR and Congressman Steve Largent. Zorn was the QB coach at the Seahawks since 2001, where he tutored Matt Hasselbeck from a QB rating of 70 to a very high 98 in 2005 and 91 in 2007. He also was the QB coach at the Lions from 1998-2000, where he helped Charlie Batch get a QB rating of 83, 84 and 67 respectively. I honestly have no idea how being a QB coach makes one qualified to be an NFL head coach, so clearly, he must be giving brain slugs to someone.
2) Baltimore Ravens - John Harbaugh
Proposed nickname: Big Brother
John Harbaugh is indeed a younger brother of former QB Jim Harbaugh! While John Harbaugh has never been a head coach, the weird thing is former Marquette basketball coach, now Indiana coach, Tom Crean is actually John Harbaugh's brother in law! Even cooler though, is the fact that John Harbaugh played at my alma mater, the Miami RedHawks!
3) Miami Dolphins - Tony Sparano
Proposed nickname: Godfather
Of course, this coach has been hearing Sopranos jokes for years, and ESPN already has done a spoof of the Sopranos starring this new coach. This is why we should just cut the shenanigans and call him the Godfather.
4) Atlanta Falcons - Mike Smith
Proposed nickname: Smitty
Mike Smith was the defensive coordinator at Jacksonville from 2003-2007. I really can't find anything silly on this guy. Even ESPN's Camp Confidential stated that the coach is "a simple man."
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
The Eagles have been at the top of, or near the top of their division for the past decade. That said, they have faltered in recent years, and it was only the year when they had T.O. as a playmaker, that they were able to make the Super Bowl. Each year, McNabb yearns for a WR who isn't going to drop his bullet-like throws. Each year, the Eagles draft a rookie who does not have that ability.
Fast forward to this year. McNabb says he needs a playmaker. The Eagles do nothing. Kevin Curtis is now injured with a sports hernia, and Andy Reid says the team will stay put, leaving the McNabb throws in the hands (or off the fingertips / shoulder pads / chest of) of Hank Baskett, Reggie Brown, DeSean Jackson, and Jason Avant - all 3rd - 4th receiver caliber players. (Jackson is a Rookie, so who knows, but the Eagles track record with rookie wide receivers has been abysmal). Meanwhile, they have Lito Sheppard, a 2-time pro-bowler sitting on the bench, taking up $3.5 million in cap space, and they have yet to trade him.
Furthermore, Anquin Boldin has demanded a trade, Chad Johnson previously demanded a trade, and Joe Horn has been cut for cap reasons. Why don't the Eagles do anything?
Sunday, August 24, 2008
The most interesting impact of the Olympics on the NBA season will be the injuries to two very important players:
Manu Ginobili, San Antonio Spurs - Re-aggravated an ankle injury in his foot. Supposedly should be ready to go come Halloween.
Jose Calderon, PG Toronto Raptors - After trading TJ Ford out of Toronto during the offseason, Calderon was going to be getting substantial minutes this season. Unfortunately, he too got injured during the Olympics. He should be having tests this week to determine the severity of the tear in his thigh muscle.
Olympic Players Making a Statement:
Rudy Fernandez, Guard, Portland - Holy tamale Batman! He had 22 points, five 3-pointers, in only 17 minutes against the US. He kept fouling though, but whenever it seemed like Spain was going to lose the game, Rudy Fernandez kept bringing the team back! Also, just to be clear, he is extremely explosive, as at one point during the game, he dribbled hard to his right, into the paint, and suddenly, out of nowwhere, the 6'6" guard exploded off the ground and dunked over Dwight Howard... while getting fouled! This guy can definitely play, and should be a fantastic addition for Portland who also gets Greg Oden this season.
Marc Gasol, Center, Memphis -Put up 11 points and 5 rebounds in only 23 minutes against the US in the final. Gasol even had a couple of nifty post-up moves during the game. This Gasol is only 23 years old and it seems like he actually could make an impact this year, if he plays like he did in the gold medal game.
He could also make a big impact on the entire world if he and brother Pau decide to accept my offer to star in a new sitcom, "My favorite Gasol." I think it would be really funny to write a sitcom and they can get into mischief, go on double dates together, do home improvement projects, Marc can "borrow" Pau's car for a weekend road trip, they can go to a dance marathon... really the ideas are endless!
Hamded Hadadi (or Hamed Ehadadi according to Yahoo!), Center, Free Agent - After getting clearance from the US government, this Iranian is now a free agent for the NBA and can work in the United States. He's 7 foot 2 inches tall, averaged 16 points and 10 rebounds per game in the Olympic tournament, including a 15 point, 8 rebound performance vs. Andrew Bogut and a 21 point, 16 rebound performance vs. Argentina. According to the Tehran Times in Iran, he is joining the Memphis Grizzlies. It seems kind of strange if this is true, because this means that Memphis will have collected three foreign 7 footers for this season: Darko Milicic, Marc Gasol, and Hamed Hadadi.
NBA Off-season quick recap:
(info courtesy of NBA.com)
Teams that made big additions
Philly - Added Elton Brand
Houston - Added Ron Artest
Cleveland - Added PG Mo Williams
Team that made a lot of moves but thinks they got better
Milwaukee - Added SF Richard Jefferson, SF Joe Alexander (rookie), PG Luke Ridnour, but LOST PG Mo Williams, SF Yi Jianlin, SF Bobby Simmons, SG Desmond Mason
Team that added a player to make the Jason Kidd Trade look better on paper
Dallas - Added Center Desagna Diop, who was traded to New Jersey in the Jason Kidd trade. It still was a bad trade though, as Kidd at this point is not as quick or as effective as Devin Harris, who they gave up.
Teams that stole players from each other, made a lot of moves, but each got worse in the process
Golden State - Added Corey Maggette, PF Ronny Turiaf, PG Marcus Williams, but LOST PG Baron Davis, SG Mikael Pietrus, and SF Matt Barnes.
I think that means they got worse. G Monta Ellis may play PG, though he is more of a SG, though there is some debate of course as to how effective this will be. I say thumbs down.
Clippers - Added PG Baron Davis, C Marcus Camby, SG Eric Gordon (rookie), SG Ricky Davis, PG Jason Williams but LOST PF Elton Brand, SF Corey Maggette, PG Brevin Knight.
I think this means they also got worse. PG Baron Davis will have to make up for the scoring of Elton Brand and Maggette, unless Eric Gordon is really good. Plus, Ricky Davis is the ultimate loser. He's only been in the playoffs twice in his career (with Boston in 2004 and 2005), and each time the team lost.
Team that made a lot of moves to Free up Cap Space in 2010
New Jersey - See the article written earlier this summer. They have a very young team (though since the article, the Nets lost Kristic to Europe, and M. Williams via trade, meaning the Nets only have 15 players now.)
Thursday, August 21, 2008
The racewalk, or the 20km Walk as it is referred to officially, is a kind of strange event at the Olympics.
The rules itself, according to wikipedia are:
"The first dictates that the athlete's back toe cannot leave the ground until the heel of the front foot has touched. Violation of this rule is known as loss of contact. The second rule requires that the supporting leg must straighten from the point of contact with the ground and remain straightened until the body passes over it. These rules are judged by the human eye, which creates controversy at today's high speeds."
A guy in my fraternity in college was a nationally ranked race-walker, and they walk pretty damn fast - nearly as fast as I run, and probably faster than most decent runners. For instance, at this year's Olympics, the men finished their 20km walk in 80 minutes. That's 4 minutes per mile or rather a little under 6 minutes, 30 seconds per mile... while walking!
That said, I was watching the women's race-walk on Wednesday night- and, after watching for about 20 seconds, I thought, "hey, it kind of looks like they're running, not walking!"
In fact, I was pretty sure that they were all breaking the rules - they look like they were somewhere between a walk and a run, and it kind of looks like they're some weird kind of lemming.
Twenty seconds later, the announcers show close-ups of the walkers to demonstrate that none of them are legitimately walking... and that they are ALL breaking the rules! The announcers' conclusion was that this event completely depends on the judges. Apparently, in the race I saw, the judges did start disqualifying racewalkers. When I went to bed at 2 in the morning, halfway through the race, 3 had been disqualified, and 2 more were on the brink of disqualification! Nonetheless, I say, get rid of this sport, or just call it running.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
C&J is back with a College Football Edition ….Last year the building storm of parity in college football washed over the elite schools sending #1 and #2 ranked teams tumbling on a regular basis (and let’s not even forgets Appalachian State’s upset of the team formerly coached by Lloyd Carr). I’ll go on record now to say the roller coaster ride will continue. Down is up, up is South, with the only constant being that SEC coaches willingness to stab their own grandmas with a blunt spoon if it meant one more win (and of course that Lee Corso is a giant….) So outside of my lame prediction of unpredictability what else will I roll out? For the special occasion the official return of Cheers and Jeers….
Jeers: USC will beat OSU by exactly the spread. Nobody gets up for big games like Pete Carroll. Key to the run will be the USC safety who will have 2 INTs on wounded duck thrower Todd Boekman. Pryor will have a touchdown and sleep with 2 USC cheerleaders in the loss
Jeers: Notre Dame will beat the Wolverines. The Irish will have vengeance for last year’s underperformance and go .500. In celebration Charlie Weis will buy a dapper hat and gain 400 lbs.
Jeers: Florida will remember the Georgia dance routine and upset them in the Cocktail Party (with the screwdriver and Colonel Mustard watching)
Jeers: OU will somehow continue to dominate the Big 12 after it beats Mizzou in the Dr.Pepper Big 12 Classic (and yes I’m paid to mention Dr Pepper with all its secret ingredients that I believe helped win WWI for the British). Due to gas prices instead of taking a bus to face KU, Mizzou will hire Ed Hocculi to carry them.
Jeers USC will hang on to win the Pac 10 edging out ASU by 1 game. However USC will manage to accumulate a number of other insane losses including to: Oregon, Arizona and strange yellow discharge. Slick Rick of UCLA will avoid breaking US law by doing all recruiting on international waters.
Cheers: West Virginia’s coach, known for his love of slacks and frozen yogurt, will keep the Mustache from winning the Big East. In anger the Mustache will kill Dave Wanstedt (didn’t see that coming)
Cheers: OSU, despite a tough schedule, will win the Big 10 sending ESPN into a murderous rage. Wisconsin will be #2 followed by Illinois #3. Mark May will start a campaign barring the Big 10 from the BCS.
Cheers: Georgia’s running back Moreno will win the Heisman. However Peter King will “discover” Tim Tebow before professing his undying love for the young QB as well as sending Tebow inappropriate pictures.
Jeers: In the mythical National Championship Game will be OU v. Georgia, Georgia wins thus enshrining the belief that the South has won the Civil War.
How much of a home-field advantage is too much? Since I've returned to the states, I have had access to 24 hours/day HD olympics coverage. I have watched boxing, gymnastics, diving, as well as a mileu of other random sports. In event after event, the Chinese seem to edge the Americans by a tenth of a hundredth, or several hundredths of a point.
Example 1: Alicia Sacramone, who had a nearly flawless vault, was ousted from the medals by Chang Fei, who fell flat on her face and had serious technical flaws in her vault. Amazingly, the Chinese participant was not penalized for these errors as much as is standard. This was followed by a rant from the U.S. gymnastics director, or whoever that Russian guy is who is always on TV.
Example 2: Despite a near-flawless performance by American gymnast Jonathan Horton, on a daredevil high-bar performance, he was ousted by Zou Kai by 2 hundredths of a point, to which the CHINESE crowd booed! (The announcers said - "I believe the crowd is booing the low marks for Jonathan Horton.") As the Chicago Tribune writes - "Of course, it was a man from China, Zou Kai, who won gold." Indeed, the Chinese gymnasts were impressive. And they're performing on their own turf, but do they really need help?
Example 3: Despite Canadian Alexandre Despatie's near flawless dives, the Chinese diver, and in particular He Chong, despite major, major flaws in his dives, continued to receive perfect 10's, to the dismay of the announcers. Needless to say, the Chinese took first and third.
Example 4: American boxer, and 2007 World Welterweight Champion, Dee Andrade, loses to Jungjoo Kim (OK, he's Korean, not Chinese, but nonetheless) - despite peppering Kim with punches the entire match. They did not credit Andrade with many of the punches, and Kim pretty much just blocked and cowered the entire bout. I have no clue what the judges were doing - and most of the American boxing team is just as clueless. "Honestly, this don't make other kids want to come here or do this Olympic thing at all," said Andrade, who thought he'd connected with enough punches in the final period to win his fight. "To come here and know you're going to get treated like that (by judges) — what's the point in even coming?" Andrade didn't even stick around for the referee to raise Kim's hand. "It was pointless for me to be in there," he said.
U.S. coach Dan Campbell felt Andrade's pain. "I thought that was totally ridiculous," Campbell said. "He clearly landed more scoring punches. I was talking to the people back in the tape room and they saw the same thing we did. Demetrius should have had at least eight points going into that last round."
In fact, the entire American boxing team did poorly, with only one fighter, Deontay Wilder, qualifying past the first round.
So, who is it to blame for the poor performance by the Americans, and the amazing insurgence of the Chinese? I offer 4 explanations:
1) Home team bias - refs blatantly are biased towards the home team - usually at the urging of a large crowd. Not too much can be done about this - other than to get rid of all the sports that based on human judges, as these are notoriously inconsistent.
2) Poor strategy by the American teams / boxers: In Andrade's loss, it was clear that the judges were not awarding inside punches because those punches are less visible than the outside punches. OK then - change the strategy, start hitting him with outside punches. In fact, Andrade usually fights with outside punches, and it was highly unclear why the strategy was changed for this match (which it was).
In diving and gymnastics, the judges were awarding much higher scores for more difficult routines - which is why Horton was able to break through to silver. Too often, however, the Americans were satisfied with easy dives, and gymnastics routines. The Olympics is a high- risk, high reward venue. You got to go for it all because finishing 4th or 5th, just doesn't really matter. Also, despite not having any diving experience or knowledge, I could tell that the judges were awarding higher scores simply based on how high the diver got on their jump off of the springboard - because that is easily visible, whereas whether or not the feet are together during the somersaults is not so easily visible. So, why do a standing dive? Choose the high-flying dives that the judges (re)ward with higher points!
3) Judge bias based on preconceived notions: OK, so, we read ahead of time that the Chinese diver He Chong is the best diver in the world. So, no matter what his performance is, even if he separates his legs, makes a splash, goes in crooked and veers to the left on his dive, we will give him perfect 10's (this actually happened!). I can imagine a study that would prove this very easily: how many 'ranked' #1 athletes in judged events end up winning, versus how many 'ranked' #1 athletes win in timed events. Even though it should be easier to repeat in a track / swimming event, I imagine that the judged performance events will show greater consistency between ratings before the match, and actual performance. Further, I imagine the variance between judged events and timed events is much smaller.
4) Blatant anti-Americanism / anti-Canadianism. The poor Canadians just get the burden since most people think of them as our northern states. With much of the world despising the U.S. for our foreign policy over the past 8 years, perhaps we will be better off once relations are repaired. But the IOC is taking shots at the U.S. as well: discussions of removing baseball, despite its popularity throughout Latin America, Japan, and the U.S. - because the big names are not there (I don't see how this is different than soccer!?) The IOC is also discussing the removal of softball, due to the American dominance in the sport. Nevertheless, fringe / outdated sports such as fencing, equestrian, synchronized swimming, and the "modern" pentathalon stay on the agenda. Seriously, I would place a bet that more people play Ultimate Frisbee globally, than are modern pentathalon, or synchronized swimming "athletes." Speaking of which, why don't we try to get Ultimate as an Olympic sport??? There are 10 club teams in Berlin, and over 50 in Germany alone, and there is already a bi-annual world championships, with teams from 19 countries represented! Its also considered to be the fastest growing team sport in the world!
Either way, the IOC and the judging here is bordering on offensive. When the controversy arose over the age of the 12-14 year old Chinese gymnasts (who look like they're 8), the IOC decided that because their passports say they're 16, they must be 16. Look at them. And consider the facts that:
a) their old coach said they're not 16;
b) they magically produced a new, revised passport, when old passports said they were younger than 16; and
c) Did anyone consider the idea that the Chinese government could make a new passport for these girls declaring them whatever age they want?
Seriously, the incompetence. The incompetence extends beyond judged events and age discrepancies: the umpires and other referees in the Olympics really make U.S. umps and refs look fantastically competent. Today's baseball game between Japan and the U.S. required a conference among umpires to confirm that there were 3 outs in the inning (despite the scoreboard clearly displaying the correct situation).
Further, the ability of athletes to gain passports to whatever country they would like to play in the Olympics is jeopardizing the legitimacy of the sport. You should have to be a citizen for 5 years of a state before you can compete. You should not be able to decide in May to be a citizen of Georgia, and then compete for them in August at the Olympics. I'm telling you, we should all start trying to become Olympic swimmers from Djibouti.
One last point of complaint: Why can't the U.S. be more competitive at sports we should be good at?
1) Handball: We don't even have a qualifiying team. We have so many athletes who would be good at this sort of sport. We need a Jamaican bobsled team type of initiative, where we recruit former collegiate quarterbacks, wide receivers, and running backs, and I'm sure we could destroy the pansy European teams in this sport.
2) Field hockey - especially women's. Don't we have college teams throughout the country? Most countries don't have collegiate sports at all!
3) I'm sure I could think of a few others.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
1) Tennessee - Lets be honest the Titans only made the playoffs last year because the Colts rested their entire team and then didn't even try in the final week. That's it. They haven't drafted well as they now have 7 running backs (including Vince Young). If anyone screams natgonnahappen its the Titans.
2) Jacksonville - This is less a direct commentary on Jacksonville then it is on their division. I'm willing to argue the AFC South is the most competitive division in the AFC (maybe the NFL) and any slip up could spell the Jaguars missing the playoffs. 2nd year quarterbacks sometimes take steps back as teams get better at game planning. The idea of that Fred Taylor will be healthy for two straight years might be a stretch. Oh and that once vaunted DL is way down (they still can't bring in their top draft pick).
3) Pittsburgh - Personally I think Jacksonville is a better team. Pittsburgh has THE toughest. Their offensive line last year was near atrocious and thats before they lost Alan Faneca (not to say Faneca is his old self but is the replacement better). And now they're star NT that really anchored the D was out with being a big fatty. So with all these negatives whats the positive. Its the AFC North. Baltimore won't compete given that they don't actually field a QB. Cinci could surprise some teams if they can avoid arrests and find a healthy RB. The big question is the Browns. Can they finally beat the hated Yinzers? That'll determine who will take the AFC North
4) San Diego- Similar to Pittsburgh if not San Diego who else can the West? Denver is relying on Jay Cutler to manage the offense and his diabetes. The chargers seem to have less margin this year as Michael Turner is gone, Antonio Gates is still hurt and I think River had his leg replaced with some sort of cybernetic implant. I'm betting the Chargers will continue to rule the West but it seems much less secure on paper....
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Moving to another country, especially when you don’t know the language, is a little bit like walking out of a atomic bomb bunker and being in the future. It also feels a bit like the awful movie Encino man, where you wake up after being frozen for a thousand years.
For example – take a trip to the grocery store, where you have to have a 1 Euro deposit, inserted into the handle of the cart in order to unlock the chains on it, and you have to purchase each plastic bag for your groceries. Plastic and glass bottles all have a 20 cent deposit, and since I have no idea how to return them, I just give them to the homeless.
I’ve been attempting to follow the Olympics on Eurosport TV. It’s really irritating when they dub over the English interviews in German. Even the broadcasters actually speak English, since its an EU-wide channel – but they dub over them in German. Sometimes, they don’t show actual races, they just show the last 3 seconds of a race, or they show these “highlights” of fans, each shown in 1-2 second clips, separated by a really irritating graphic and sound effect. They also love to show post-race celebrations, and medal ceremonies, without actually showing the races. It’s really horrible – there is just no good way to describe it.
I attempted to go to a sports bar to watch the U.S. – Greece basketball game. I was told that the only game they were showing is Lithuania – Russia. They also were showing the women’s swimming preliminaries of the 800m (where Katie Hoff and the other girl didn’t qualify), the 200 fly, and all kinds of other really boring irrelevant swimming prelims.
Speaking of pointless preliminaries shown on TV: props to Stany Kempompo Ngangola, of the Congo, who finished seconds behind the other 50M swimmers. Ngangola finished at 35.19, which is, I estimate, a good 10 seconds slower than decent U.S. high school swimmers, and a good 14 seconds off of the top preliminary times. Do the dictators of these countries get up and say: "All right folks – can anyone swim? We need someone for the Olympics!" I also really wonder who the genius is at Eurosport who decides they should show guys thrashing around in the water, practically drowning, rather than showing a handball match, a soccer game, or the U.S. - Greece basketball game.
I also wonder why do the swimmers, after they are finished, duck their mouths into the water, and gargle pool water that they know all the swimmers pee in? Michael Phelps – I’m watching you.
Germany is a place of very different standards. First of all, they love sausage. And I’m not just talking about blood sausage, veal sausage, pork sausage, or curry pork sausage. Germans love to be naked. Whether it is frolicking naked at the park… or going to co-ed naked saunas (apparently bathing suits in saunas are forbidden!)… or taking their clothes off in clubs… they really don’t mind being naked. For example, when going to play ultimate Frisbee, Germans, who travel by bike, will arrive in jeans and a shirt. They proceed to get completely naked, changing into their athletic wear. When they’re done, they will get completely naked again, and then change back into jeans – just to ride their bikes home. Apparently, it’s not OK to be wearing dirty, sweaty clothes in public (even while riding a bike or taking the subway), but it is completely OK (perhaps even encouraged) to be naked. Anyhow, coincidentally, Germans all think Americans are very prudish. I've been told that the nudist culture really got going once the East Germans joined up. The further east you go, the more they love to be naked.
The other bizarre thing is that I see so many European men wearing purses, wearing eyeliner, wearing Capri pants, eating sausage, and frolicking naked… and it's funny because in America, there's a greater chance they would be considered gay. But here, it appears that wearing Capri pants and having a purse is just part of being European.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
The Cavs give up: expiring contracts in PG Damon Jones (last year at $4.5 million); PF Joe Smith (last year at $5 million)
Why the Cavs got involved: To get a scoring PG! Mo Williams has much greater offensive skills than current PG Delonte West (who is still holding out). Mo Williams isn't known for his defensive skills, but it can't be any worse than the defensive skills of Delonte West. This should send a strong message to everyone: the Cavs are going to assemble the best team humanly possible between now and 2010 (when LeBron's contract expires). Not only did the Cavs get a solid PG, the Cavs still haven't even played their 3 best trading chips: 1) Wally's expiring $12 million contract, 2) Eric Snow's expiring $7 million contract, 3) Anderson Varejao. It's still entirely possible for the Cavs to swoop in and pick up a solid contributor at mid-season, once some other team gives up on its season (similar to when the Grizzlies gave up last year and dumped Pau Gasol).
Milwaukee gets: PG Luke Ridnour (2 years remaining at $6.5 million), expiring contract of PG Damon Jones, expiring contract of Adrian Griffin
Milwaukee gives up: PG Mo Williams, SF Desmond Mason
Why Milwaukee got involved: To get rid of Mo Williams and his long-term contract. Apparently, the Bucks believe they can still contend this year with a more traditional non-scoring PG (Ridnour) since they now have Michael Redd, R. Jefferson, Bogut, and Villanueva. I am also wondering whether the late season success of PG Ramon Sessions made the Bucks confident enough to unload Mo Williams. Sessions only played in 17 games, all at the end of the season, but averaged 8.1 ppg and 7.5 assists, but dished out over 10 assists in 6 of the last 7 games, including a 24 assist game against Chicago.
Oklahoma City (formerly Supersonics) gets: expiring contract of PF Joe Smith (last year at $5 million), expiring contact of SF Desmond Mason (last year at $5 million)
OK City gives up: Luke Ridnour, Adrian Griffin
Why OK City got involved: The Sonics got rid of Ridnour, and instead got back an expiring contract in PF Joe Smith and "fan favorite" Desmond Mason (who played college in Oklahoma, and was on the OK City Hornets).
Well its a new college football season and while its nearly impossible to follow everything here's a few storylines I came up with to follow
1) Top Team v. Schedule From Hell - Georgia has possibly the hardest schedule I've seen for a top ranked team, can they survive the gauntlet? The world's biggest Cocktail Party between Florida and Georgia could decide a trip to the BCS Championship Game
2) New Faces in New Places - The odd couple of sleezy Neuheisel and standup Chow in UCLA, RichRod in West Fucking Virginia North, Houston Nutt at U of Missippi,
3) Building on Success - Arizona State, Pitt, Clemson, Missouri, Illinois, Kansas all made huge strides last season. Can they break into the big boy land?
4) Year 2 - Year 2s have been good for coaches this decade...will it be good for king of douchebags Nick Saban
5) Last Stands - Its odd that in different ways Ty Willingham and Charlie Weis in many ways have their backs to the walls. Repeats of last year and well at least one won't survive.
6) Terrell Pryor and Tim Tebow- Come on. You know you're curious if they can live up to the hype
7) Hegemon in Decline? USC lost a number of games it shouldn't have (umm Stanford anyone) and were beginning to exhibit classic symptoms of hegemon in decline. However USC continues to win the big games by big margins against any and all not named Vince Young. So what about this year? Is this the year like the U at the start of the decade that the program crashes or will its unparalleled recruiting success let it continue on...
8) The Great Conference Debate- The SEC is ascendant and the Big 10 is despondent. Conventional wisdom in the land of subjective polling is king. Will anything change the meme?
What else do we have out there?
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
However, in the article that I have linked to here on Yahoo!, we have a display of quality writing, and a great story about the Head Coach of the Russian Basketball Team, David Blatt, who actually played college ball at Princeton under Pete Carril where he obviously learned the Princeton offense!
No matter what happens to the three kids the Yanks got when they traded Sheff out of town, we don’t miss him one bit here in New York. He’s Detroit’s headache now.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
1. Tampa Bay - How long can ride the Jeff Garcia train? Yes they have solid lines but uncertainty at the running back position, aging star receiver and Jeff Garcia. Add in my prediction of a resurgent New Orleans and Tampa is my top selection for missing the playoffs.
2. New York Giants - The past few years the losing team of the Super Bowl failed to make the playoffs the following year. Why? Well I have a theory that the losing team strung together improbable successes, played over their head, had off-season issues and the following year everyone gunned for them resulting in a crash and burn. It applies to one of the Super Bowl teams and I'll give you two guesses who it is?
3. Green Bay - On the plus side going for them they're playing in the NFC North. On the minus side your relying on Aaron Rodgers. Yes he's been in the league for awhile now but crazy expectations are on a first time starter. Add in a depleted d-line and the Packers could be for a world of hurt.
4. Washington - Washington is an enigma wrapped a puzzle with queso sauce on it. Which means I don't have a clue what to make of them. They have a solid defense and a solid offense. Now the question surround Jason Campbell and head coach Zorn (who requires all players to finish practice by yelling "Kneel Before Zorn!" ) They are dark horse Super Bowl entry and a possible 8-8 miss the playoffs team.
5. Seattle - Honestly nothing Seattle has or does gives me confidence that its a good team. An aging team. A coach waiting to retire. And yet who else can win the NFC West. When your relying on Arizona to take the crown well you know your reaching.
6. Dallas - Dallas seems to be the de facto favorite to win the NFC. Too much talent on paper not to. And yet every single intangible seems to against Dallas. The only organization with more employees that were indicted might be the White House. A coach who's a place holder. An insane owner that could go a murder spree. Oh and choking in the playoffs the past two years. The talent on paper should be enough to make the playoffs but if not well that'll be one delicious non-stop Cowboy bitch fest.
Thursday, August 07, 2008
Grandma: Who is this Favre (pronounced Favor) guy?
Grandma: Brett Favre (pronounced Favor). Who is this guy?
Gutsy: Oh, you mean Brett Favre. He was Green Bay's QB for about SIXTEEN YEARS, won a Super Bowl once, finally retired last season, but now he wanted to come back. But his starting spot was gone, so he then demanded a trade.
Grandma: SIXTEEN YEARS??? How old is this guy?
Gutsy: I think he's 39.
Grandma: 39! Who would want him to be their QB? That's too old!
The moral of the story: even my Grandma is skeptical of Brett Favor! And she didn't even know who he was until today!
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
So, to reiterate, the best thing for the NBA is that Lebron James stays at home in Ohio and keeps the Cavs relevant. But if he wants to leave – and he doesn’t want to play for the Knicks – then he should consider playing for Olympiakos and hanging with my relatives in Athens.
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
Even if you are upset about the NBA's refereeing issues, Basketball at the Olympics should be a very entertaining and exhilerating event. Anything really is possible for the U.S. team, so by no means am I expecting a gold medal, though the U.S. should certainly be one of the top contenders for the gold medal.
Format: Only 12 teams competing, split into two groups. Top 4 in each group qualify for the knockout tournament.
World Ranks provided by FIBA ; rosters courtesy of Wikipedia.
Group A - the "easy" group
Argentina - World Rank: 2
Top players: SG Manu Ginobili (San Antonio Spurs); SG Carlos Delfino (just left Toronto for a Russian team); C Fabricio Oberto (San Antonio Spurs); PF Luis Scola (Houston Rockets); SF Andres Nocioni (Chicago Bulls)
Argentina again has one of the best teams in the tournament. They won the 2004 Gold Medal, and finished a "disappointing" 4th place at the 2006 World Championships. The good news for them is that they are in the easier Group A, so they should have a better seed for the knockout stage.
Lithuania - World Rank: 5
Top Players: F Linas Kleiza (Denver Nuggets); PG Sarunas Jaskivecius (formerly of the Pacers, now playing in Greece)
Australia - World Rank: 10
Top Players: C Andrew Bogut (Milwaukee Bucks); PF David Andersen (one of the top players in Europe)
Russia - World Rank: 16
Top Players: PF Andrei Kirilenko (Utah Jazz); PG Jon Holden (played at Bucknell, plays in Russia); C Sasha Kaun (played at Kansas and now plays in Russia)
Croatia - World Rank: 20
Top players: PG Roko Ukic (just signed w/ Toronto Raptors)
Iran - World Rank: 33
Top Players: 7'2" Hamed Haddadi (supposedly going to the NBA in the next year)
Group B - includes the top 3 teams from the 2006 World Championships! (Spain, Greece, and the US)
U.S.A. - World Rank: 1
Top Players: Boozer, Carlos; Kidd, Jason; James, LeBron; Williams, Deron; Redd, Michael; Wade, Dwyane; Bryant, Kobe; Howard, Dwight; Bosh, Chris; Paul, Chris; Prince, Tayshaun; Anthony, Carmelo
Only need to say they are calling themselves the "Redeem Team" after finishing 6th at the 2002 World Championships in Indianapolis, 3rd at the 2004 Olympics, and 3rd at the 2006 World Championships.
Spain - World Rank: 3
PG Jose Calderon (Raptors); SG Juan Carlos Navarro (formerly of the Grizzlies); C Pau Gasol (Lakers); SF Jorge Garbajosa (formerly of the Raptors); PF Marc Gasol (Grizzlies); SG Rudy Fernandez (Portland TrailBlazers)
I really think this is still the best team. They won the 2006 World Championships, they have an amazing starting 5 of NBA-caliber talent, and they have not one, but TWO Gasols!!!!
Greece - World Rank: 6
Top players: PG Theodoros Papaloukas; SG V-Span (formerly of the Rockets and Spurs);
All of these guys play in Greece except for SG Nikolaos Zisis. They play great as a team as evidenced by their defeat of the US in 2006. Something tells me the US will be out for revenge when they play on August 14, 2008 during the Group stage.
Germany - World Rank: 9
Top Players: C Chris Kaman (Clippers); PF Dirk Nowitzki (Dallas Mavericks);
With players like Kaman playing on Germany at the last second by obtaining citizenship in July 2008, I can't really get mad at the player. What irks me more is that the Olympics have such flexible rules that allow Kaman to suddenly show up on the German team just before the qualification tournament. On the women's side, one of the better WNBA players decided to play for Russia after not getting on the US team. Again, I think more anger should be directed to the IOC.
China - World Rank: 11
Top Players: C Yao Ming (Houston); F Yi Jianlin (NJ Nets)
Angola - World Rank: 14
Um.... yeah. This team is in trouble in this very tough group.
Athlete eligibility: 23 and under only, with THREE exemptions per team (anyone of any age, professional or amateur).
Format: 4 groups of 4 teams; top 2 from each group advance to knockout tournament.
Wikipedia provided group info and athlete info . Complete, more expert analysis is available at goal.com.
Ivory Coast - top players: Kalou (Chelsea), Drogba (Chelsea - but not yet committed to attending Olympics)
Argentina - top players: Riquelme (Boca Juniors), Mascherano (Liverpool), Messi (Barcelona),
Netherlands - winners of previous underage championships, and considered one of the favorites!
Nigeria - goal.com predicts Nigeria to advance over the U.S.!
USA - top players: G Seitz, G Guzan (just transferred to Aston Villa); M M.Bradley, F. Adu (Monaco), Jozy Altidore (Villareal), Brian McBride at age 36!
China - top players: Zheng Zhi (Charlton Athletic), Dong Fangzhuo (Manchester United)
New Zealand - top players: Ryan Nelsen (Blackburn Rovers), Simon Elliott (Fulham)
Brazil - top players: Ronaldhino (AC Milan), Robinho (?)
Korea -top players: missing due to injury!
Cameroon - top players: Eto'o ; Song (Portsmouth)
Italy - top players: all under 23!
Sunday, August 03, 2008
1) Nawlin Saints
After a surprising rebirth two years ago the Saints came back to Earth last year. However they made a few key offseason moves (namely solidifying linebackers with getting Jonathan Vilma and adding Shockey for the offense). Their schedule includes trips to the arguable less than stellar AFC West and NFC South and its looking like a return. Plus Ghengis McCain approves of them.
2) Philadelphia Eagles
Everything seemed to go wrong for the Iggles last year: distracted coach, injuries galore , actual Philly fans, etc. And yet despite all of those problems the Eagles ended at a respectful 8-8. Sure they don't have receivers but when did that stop them from making the playoffs? The NFC East is easily the hardest division to predict so hey why not...
3) Minnesota Vikings
All Day, the Purple Avenger, Purple Jesus. Whatever name you give Adrian Peterson he instantly made the Vikings respectable. They can run the ball, stop the run and with Jared Allen possibly rush the passer. The only minor detail is Tavaris Jackson. Can he be adequate? That's a big if but IF......
4) Arizona Cardinals
I swear every year might be THE year that the Cardinals get into the playoffs. And every year they disappoint. Perpetual teases (much like Autumn Reeser) Last year they got close at 8-8 but as always fell short. You have to feel though that the Coaching staff of Wisenhunt has them moving in the right direction. Right? More than Dennis Green right? Leinart is in the spotlight returning from injury as is Edgerin James fighting father time.
5) San Francisco
I wanted to put one controversial choice in there. That way if I'm right I seem like a genius. Here's my argument. The defense was all injured so they'll be better. They play in the NFC West. Anyone want to argue that there's an unstoppable juggernaut there? They play the AFC East. Mike Nolan may have perfected a secret formula to give Alex Smith super-human powers. I dunno but I like their chances better than the teams listed below
6) Carolina Panthers
The d-line isn't what it used to be. Jake Delhomme never was what he was possibly hyped to be (skilled). John Fox back is against the wall. Its playoffs or a pink slip. Same with the GM. They traded up to improve their o-line and get Jonathan Stewart. Rumor has it Fox has taken various members of the Panthers' families to a remote location in Inner Mongolia and will only return them if they put up a good fight (although Steve Smith seems to think that applies to other Panthers)
7) The Rest: Detroit, Chicago, Saint Louis, Atlanta
Maybe if you combined all these teams into one they might have a chance. Otherwise it'll be the surprise of the year for any of these......