Wednesday, June 30, 2010

College Football: Big 10 Early Preview

Yes it's the end of June...which means it's almost time for college football preview season. The big name College Football magazines are out and their predictions for the upcoming Big 10 season are So I'll try to tackle some of the Big pluses and question marks for the last year of the Big 11.... (schools listed on their average expected finish according to the magazines)

1. Ohio State
Strengths: tOSu is fortified on both the offensive and defensive line. The Buckeyes rebounded from their loss to Purdue by controlling the line of scrimmage and this year should see a continuation of that.

Question Marks The big question is obviously will the Pryor from the Rose Bowl be the Pryor for the year? However the Buckeyes are also replacing every single key special teamer (punter, kicker, punt returner, kick returner) and given how Tressel relies on special teams this could be problematic.

2. Iowa
Strengths: Outstanding defense led by the Big 10's best safety...Tyler Stash and Big 10s best pass rusher Adrian Clayborn.

Question Marks. Iowa is replacing 4 of 5 starting offensive linemen including first round LT Brian Beaulaga. Yes the Hawkeyes spit out offensive linemen like they spit out corn but 4 is a big number to replace.

3. Wisconsin
Strengths. Wisconsin has the conferences best 2 offensive tackles, a punishing rush game personified by Heisman hopeful John Clay, and Scott Tolzien returns at QB (Tolzien led the Big 10 in efficiency and pass completion percentage last year) In other words....all the pieces are in place for Wisconsin football at its best.

Question Marks: The biggest on the field question mark is on defense for the Badger. They have question marks over their defensive tackle as Wisconsin needs to replace both of theirs and at safety as their captain last year, Chris Maragos, has moved on.

4. Penn State
Strengths: Evan Royster , Penn State's old reliable running back, returns for what seems like his 84th year. Coupled with some veteran quality interior o-linemen and the PSU rushing attack should be solid

Question Marks - QB. With Clark gone it's unclear who will be the starting QB in the Fall (still). What is clear is that none of the QBs have very much if any game experience and none looked particularly good during spring practice.

5. Michigan State
Strengths - Kirk Cousin and a fleet of running back/wide receivers means last years most explosive offense in the Big 10 should be back in high gear. Finally all Big 10 Linebacker Greg Jones returns.

Question Marks - Outside of Jones the MSU defense was horrendous. In particular the secondary was among the worst in the country. While a number of those bad players have moved on, its unclear if the new additions (specifically safety freshman Isaiah Lewis) will be any better. I'll also add Vernon Gholston's younger brother (William) will get significant time at DE as a freshman and could be a star.

6. Michigan
Strengths The Wolverines regained their offensive touch last year and it should continue this year. Roundtree catching and Vincent Smith running should provide plenty of firepower. While its unclear if its Forcier or Robinson QBing...both should capably score points.

Question Marks - I'd like to single an aspect of the Wolverine's defense that needs mending but it's really all of it. The defense was bad last year, lost its two best players, and is switching to a 3-3-5. So improvements, changes in strategy, and replacing key players means the entire defense has a giant question mark.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

NBA Free Agency 2010: On the Eve of Armageddon

"'Twas the Night Before Free Agency, when all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse."

Well, here we are. As a Cavs fan, I have already prepared myself for what appears to be most likely an inevitability... LeBron leaving town.

Sports Illustrated put together a nice piece, including predictions on where people end up.

However, just to be clear, it appears that if LeBron's guiding principle is to "win championships," than indeed he would choose Chicago or Miami. Either a LeBron-Bosh-J. Noah-D. Rose or even just a D. Wade - LeBron - Beasley scenario appears to be more likely to win the whole thing than a LeBron-Jamison - Mo Williams - Andy Varejao.

The wildcard in this whole mess is whether the Cavs pull off a sign-and-trade to get someone like Chris Bosh. Evaluating sign-and-trades in the NBA is damn near impossible, because usually teams do the sign-and-trade because the player is leaving anyway (e.g. see Orlando getting a trade exception back last year for Turkoglu). However, one need only go back to 2005 and Joe Johnson's last foray into free agency to see utter insanity, when the Hawks gave up Boris Diaw, two 1st round picks, and a trade exception.

So, the question becomes this, how much will Toronto require from another team to allow Chris Bosh to walk away? Your guess is as good as mine on this. When looking at the Cavs roster, remember, they have to give up $17 million in contracts (approximately) to get back a $17 million Chris Bosh. It pretty much means you are giving up one of: Jamison ($13 million), Mo Williams ($9 million), or Varejao ($7 million) plus a bunch of other spare parts [Delonte's $5 million non-guaranteed contract, J. Moon ($3), Parker ($3), Telfair ($2.7), Hickson ($1.5)].

In the end, I think that Toronto's GM Bryan Colangelo is smart, so he would do a different sign-and-trade to get something better than what the Cavs can offer. So... I would guess LeBron and Bosh end up together on Chicago (since Chicago can give up Luol Deng to get Bosh).

I would then guess Amare goes to Miami to join D. Wade, the Knicks make the dumb move of giving Joe Johnson max money, the Nets pay near-max money for Rudy Gay, and the Cavs do not get any of the major free agents.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

NBA Draft 2010: Instant Analysis... Days Before Free Agency 2010!

As we all know, this summer is the summer that LeBron, Wade, Bosh, Joe Johnson, and a host of others are free agents... which creates all sorts of strange things... such as the Heat trading a player D. Cook AND the #18 pick... to get only the #32 pick from Ok City because it gets rid of a player and gets rid of the need for paying a first round pick!

Losers - Trail Blazers - Why did the owner fire the GM hours before the draft??? I don't get it. I mean... if you were going to fire him, you should have given a replacement a couple of weeks to prepare for the draft and run the draft.

Blockbuster Trade? - Did the Pacers trade Granger and the 10th pick to NJ for Devin Harris, Yi, and the #3 (Derrick Favors?). Probably Not.

Slider (due to "character" issues) - This happens in the NFL and in the NBA. Player with laods of talent, questionable attitude. This year, the Kings got Demarcus Cousins (Kentucky) who's supposed to be super-talented. Along with the addition of Dalembert (who only has 1 year left), the Kings just added a ton of size and could be contending for a playoff spot next year! That was a fast rebuilding project... it also means Tyreke Evans has to keep being dominant (which I'm sure won't be a problem).
-Also think it's cool how the Kings got Hassan Whiteside in the 2nd round. He's another 7-footer, this one from Marshall. Completely raw, but as we all know, 7-footers are rare, and I like this pick because he sounds like he has more potential than most unathletic 7-footers.

Perpetuating Stereotypes - Honestly... Utah selected Gordon Hayward, the white guy from Butler. Are they trying to perpetuate stereotypes?

The Spurs Always Do Well - I can't believe how I'm reviewing the draft, scrolling through the names, and suddenly I get to the Spurs and they have found yet another late-round steal. This time, they got James Anderson from Ok State... Big 12 player of the year, scores like crazy, and is tremendous value at #20.

Feel-Good Story - Da'Sean Butler got drafted in the 2nd round by the Miami Heat despite blowing out his knee in the final four! I hope he finds a way to make the team! I thought no one would take him after that... now he might get to play with Wade (and other 2010 free agents?!?)

2nd round pick I like - Tiny Gallon (Oklahoma). This name makes me laugh. I thought I was past laughing at people's names but this is the most fascinating name I've heard since...??? I'm not even sure since when! His parents must still be laughing about it. He's 6'9" and weighs 300 pounds of course.
Solomon Alabi (Florida St) - Pick by Dallas - This year's 2nd round was full of raw, big men with question marks. I really like this guy who actually has the size to do something in the NBA... even if that is just guard another big man! He's not that skilled offensively, but he's a good gamble late.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

World Cup: Soccer Every Day!

I meant to make a post last night, to preview the final games from today in Groups A & B. Nonetheless, this is the most exciting time during the World Cup... as there are games every single day and most nations are still mathematically alive (for example, entering today, only 2 spots had been clinched, and only 2 teams had been eliminated, meaning a whopping 28 teams were going into the last game with some kind of prayer!)

Schedule for remaining final group stage games:

Wednesday - final games for Group C - 10AM; Group D - 2:30PM
Game to watch (outside of US at 10AM): Germany vs. Ghana (2:30PM) - this should be a very interesting game... especially because Germany needs to win and if Germany does in fact get into a winning position, Ghana will be looking at goal differential in comparison to Serbia. Should be a crazy afternoon! Plus, Ghana looked so dangerous against Serbia, but seemed to slack off a bit against Australia. If Ghana could somehow knock out Germany, that would be incredible.

Thursday - final games for Group F - 10AM; Group E - 2:30PM
Game to watch: Denmark vs. Japan (2:30PM) - Nothing beats a winner-take-all affair... plus, what makes things even more interesting is that Japan, not Denmark, holds the edge in goal-differential. Meaning, that if the game ends in a tie, it would be Japan that surprisingly moves on. Denmark looked really solid against Cameroon (for whatever that is worth) so it should be interesting.

Friday - final games for Group G - 10AM; Group H - 2:30PM
Game to watch: Chile vs. Spain (2:30PM) - Chile plays an aggressive, attacking style. Spain needs to win probably to advance... and Chile will be watching the scoreboard as Switzerland is taking on Honduras and Switzerland will probably be pouring on the goals to ensure that they advance. It is likely that we will have a 3-way tie for first and it's sad because Spain, Chile, and Switzerland have all looked great so far. This should provide great drama though!

2nd Round - Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday!
The soccer doesn't stop right now, which is why this part of the tournament is so much fun!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Thursday Odds and Ends

Conference Expansion
Conference expansion appears to be over, for the moment, with the reporting that Utah will join the Pac-10 err 12. It will be an interesting natural experiment for how one of the better of the mid-majors does now that it is in a Big 6 conference. Detractors have noted that Utah got by on a soft schedule. If they continue to amass the wins they have in the past it might oddly benefit those on the outside.

World Cup
Now that everyone has played a game I have to admit I was most impressed by Germany, Netherlands, and Brazil. Biggest chokers so far are France and England. Let's see how the next set gives more clarity.

Are in order for our esteemed contributor Hitman - who recently welcomed the newest Blackhawks fan via the arrival of his daughter. As she can already spell better than I can, she has been offered a position of executive editor here at the BSD. Congrats to Hitman.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

World Cup: After Day 5

African Homefield Advantage?

It's not really there! The Africans went a disappointing 1-3-2 through each team's first game. The lone victory was a surprise Ghana victory over Serbia. However, Cameroon, a heavy favorite against Japan, ended up losing 1-0 (despite dominating possession, and chances). Cameroon was unlucky not to get a goal and now are in a horrible position, needing a win against Denmark to have a chance at advancing.

Portugal is Boring

In the highly anticipated match of Portugal against Ivory Coast, Portugal decided to literally play for a tie rather than risk anything at all. The result was a very boring affair. Ivory Coast was pressing for a goal and trying at least, and superstar Didier Drogba even played 25 minutes and even had a chance for a goal in the 90th minute. Surprisingly, North Korea actually already scored a goal. I wonder if anyone expected that? Now, Portugal and Ivory Coast will both be looking to rack up as many goals as possible against North Korea to win on goal-differential.

Netherlands has a Super-Sub

He probably will be a starter by the next game, but the Netherlands inserted young 23-year old Elia, and the game against Denmark changed rapidly! He was super-fast and had all sorts of ball tricks to get himself free and create opportunities (one of which led to a goal). Hopefully, we will see more of him.

Giving Tickets To Your Friends is Not Allowed, Even if They are Young, Hot Women

This story cracks me up... apparently, one of the World Cup commentators got fired for arranging a group of young, hot women to take his "allocation" of tickets.

Conference Realignment: The Denouement

Well it appears that the great College Conference Realignment Crisis of '10 will end not with a bang but a whimper. Texas and the rest of the Big 10 volume 2 err Big 12 someone scraped together a new tv contract and will stay together. Texas, with the ability to not only bring in riches from a Big 12 network, but also the freedom to create their own tv network agreed. And so goes UT so goes the rest of the little 9. Even A&M decided to forgo the SEC and stayed in the Big 12. So no super conference. ESPN reported that "influential people" were able to step and save their beloved Big 12. Unclear who they were or what they (bribe Fox into creating the new network?) However the Pac 10 (12?) will have to settle for snapping up Utah and Texas I suppose gets an automatic BCS bid.

Big 10 Divisions
It appears now that Big 10 expansion is over (for the time being) so the question how do the new divisions look when Nebraska joins in 2011? The Big 10 commissioner announced that the 3 criteria for creating the divisions (in order of importance) 1. competitive fairness, 2. preserving rivalries, and 3. geography. So as predicted PSU is all but guaranteed to go the Nebraska division while UM, tOSU, and MSU will be in another. Wisconsin is currently petitioning the Big 10 to have Nebraska as its annual last game - i.e. try to create a Big Red rivalry. Here is my guess

Blue Division
1. tOSU
2. UM
3. MSU
4. Indiana
5. Purdue
6. Illinois

Black Division
1. Penn State
2. Nebraska
3. Iowa
4. Wisconsin
5. Minnesota
6. Northwestern

Sunday, June 13, 2010

World Cup: After Day 3

Well World Cup is here and while only 3 days are in the books, lots to talk about

Whether it's a question of where USA soccer is or where it's not the Americans where happy about a tie. Let me rephrase that after all of English tabloid insults, I am that John Bull got done in by one of the worst goal keeping displays at the World Cup. The tie coupled with Slovenia's win over Algeria, means that Friday's match against Slovenia will be extraordinarily important. The Slovenian who will probably be hunkered down. Hopefully Tim Howard will be healed, possibly by a witch doctor, in time to be his sensational self.

Most Impressive Win
While there's something to be said for how South Korea beat Greece, the most impressive win to date belongs to Germany. Die Mannschaft (Das Germans) scored at will, pummeling Australia senseless 4-0. Yes Australia went down a man in the second half but it could have been easily 4-0 in the first half. Perhaps the injuries will be beneficial as it will allow their talented youngsters more playing time.

Most Surprising/Most Important Win
Was Ghana's win over Serbia. A number of experts have Serbia making it deep into the tournament and with their loss to Ghana, Serbia now needs to regroup and avoid a loss to Germany. If they lose their next match to Germany, Serbia's World Cup hopes will be for all practical purposes finished. Meanwhile Ghana gave the host Continent it's first win.

Biggest Disappointment
Where the hell is Tommy Smyth? The man that I associate with soccer on ESPN has been, too my knowledge, MIA. Can he not leave the country? Is he currently busy granting wishes because somebody got his pot of gold? Using his magical voice to try to coax BP into cleaning up the Gulf? Seriously, why is Smyth missing?

World Cup Links

To further advance everyone's enjoyment of the World Cup, I've provided some very helpful links... (all from FIFA)

Team world cup stats - goals, shots, shot positions, attacking, defending, passes, passes length, total distance ran, and top speeds!

Individual world cup stats - goals, shots, shot positions, attacking, defending, passes, passes length, total distance ran, and top speeds! (same as for each team)

Castrol Index Rating (for individuals) - Castrol uses some complex computer rating system. I have no idea how accurate it is, but feel free to take a look (you can only sort by match as of now).

Extensive analysis and formation breakdowns - Thanks to Mighty for finding this website. Most of this is over my head, but if you are trying to learn more about formations and the strategies involved, take a look here for superb, in-depth analysis.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Husker Do?

How was it left to me to write the post on the imminent college football conference expansion/realignment?

Today's news is that Nebraska will, in fact, jump ship to the Big Ten and become its 12th member. Math professors everywhere are crying into their pocket protectors, and the rest of the college football world is left reeling...and scrambling.

The next domino to fall appears to be the addition of six teams from the Big 12 to the Pac 10 - Texas, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Colorado, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State. The major consequence of this move is the death of the Big 12.

From there, you'll find rampant speculation about the SEC adding teams in order to prevent the Pac 10 from becoming the dominant football conference and about further Big 10 expansion, and eventually the downfall of either the ACC or Big East and the consolidation into four "mega-conferences". Nobody's explaining exactly how one of those conferences will implode, though - which makes me think that it's just puffery by columnists who need to find something to write about, so they make it up.

The better questions, to me at least, are as follows (in no particular order):

1. Is it really in the best interest of the Texas Six to move to the Pac 10? That's a long way to travel for all of those schools [other than Colorado]. Further, if their goal is to ensure that they're part of a major/BCS conference, it would seem that they could just as easily stick it out with the other five Big 12 members (Mizzou, Baylor, Iowa State, KU, and Kansas State) and then add a few teams...perhaps Utah, BYU, TCU, and the like. Now I understand that the Pac 10 schools are sexier than these possible additions to a still-existing Big 12...but I find it curious that nobody seems to be seriously considering such an option (or even writing about it).

2. Assuming the Texas Six bolts...what happens to the Missouri Five? There's all sorts of consternation at these schools - especially at KU - about having their big-time programs being left in the lurch. This should be particularly concerning to KU, KSU, ISU and Baylor, because Missouri, at least, has been rumored as a possible Big 10 expansion candidate, and because these four don't have a natural geographic home among the other major conferences. I say: why doesn't the Mountain West snap these up? The MWC is already considered the next-best conference after the BCS, and geographically the addition makes sense. The MWC might even be able to make a play to replace the Big 12 as the 6th BCS conference.

3. If the Missouri Five don't latch onto the remaining BCS conferences or the MWC - what the hell happens to them?

NCAA Might Lower the Boom on USC

While everyone is focused on expansion (rightly) another a huge story is about to break - USC punishment. USC is going to be punished for Reggie Bush accepting cash and its basketball program paying out cash (or whatever). The question is how severely will they be punished. According to a number of sources (here's yahoo take) USC will vacated its Bush era wins (i.e., national championship), be banned from the post-season for 2 years and lose 20 scholarships. Such a severe penalty could reshape USC's ability to be a recruiting powerhouse and therefore the College Football recruiting landscape.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010


Congrats Blackhawks

Congrats to the 2009-2010 NHL Champion...Chicago Blackhawks. An exciting end to an exciting Stanley Cup Championship.

Summer Potpourri

World Cup-

SI Predictions - Champions (Number of votes): Spain (6), Argentina (3), Brazil (5), Italy (really?)
Mighty noticed that out of 15 experts, 4 have Serbia in the top 4 ; one guy had the balls to put Cameroon in the final 4, another had Ivory Coast;

Detailed analysis on formations - Most of this is over my head, but it's interesting information on how internationally, many teams are abandoning the classic 4-4-2 formation in favor of having just a single striker up top.

ESPN / Castrol Computer Rankings and Predictions - Apparently, according to simulations based on players and teams involved, Brazil is supposed to beat Spain in the Finals. The computer simulator does not pick any upsets. Interesting selections include Nigeria advancing (ahead of Korea and Greece), Uruguay (ahead of Mexico), Denmark (ahead of Cameroon), and Ivory Coast (ahead of Portugal). They also have percentages for winning the whole thing... with Brazil at 23.4%, Spain at 17%, and England at 10.3%. Interestingly, they also have the USA at an astonishingly high 70.5% chance of advancing out of the first round.

Conference Free Agency 2010-

Seriously. This story is even bigger than the NBA free agency. It's unbelievable!
Here's an amazing link to Stewart Mandel, explaining the sudden domination of the PAC-10 in free agency 2010... simply because their TV contract is up and it's time to strike it rich!

NBA Finals -

Game 2 and Game 3 couldn't have been more different... see Ray Allen not being able to miss.... and then not being able to shoot! See Derek Fisher going 2-8 for 6 points and letting Rondo have a triple double in Game 2... but then Fisher exploding for 16 points in Game 3 while limiting the effectiveness of Rondo.

Something tells me we are in for a long series in this Finals. Perhaps even more fascinating is Andrew Bynum playing through severe knee injuries to post 10 pts, 6 rebs (+11); 21 pts, 6 rebs, 7 blocks (+1 in a loss); and 9 pts, 10 rebs (+0 in a win). This is major production... if he keeps it up, I like the Lakers chances (especially since I picked the Celtics assuming Bynum's knees weren't healthy enough to allow him to play.

College Expansion : The Center Can Not Hold

While I'm not sure if Yeats is the right person to quote (well maybe if you are KU) it's being widely reported tonight that Nebraska will be in fact joining the Big 10. While there is an outside shot that Nebraska will be jilted at the last second (with Notre Dame stopping the wedding) let us assume that ESPN and others are right and Big Red will joining the Big 10. Now that raises a number of questions so let us see if we can at least get to the known unknowns and the unknown unknowns.

Why Nebraska?
It's actually more than just money, but money is a big deal. Contrary to common (my) belief, Nebraska football is a prized commodity. According to Forbes Nebraska's football program is #4 on its most valuable list. In 2009 it brought in $93 million for a profit of $49 million. For comparison, Ok State's football program (which made more than Missouri) made $18 million. To further drive home the point Kansas' basketball program brought in $16 million and a profit of $8.3 million.

However on top of the money, there is an entire backstory about Nebraska and Tom Osborne in particular being unhappy with Texas so there's a certain glee for Osborne to stick the shiv into Texas - who preferred the Big 12 to stay intact.

What Does That Mean for the Big 12?
According to multiple sources....The Big 12 is finished. As in dead, dead. At last report Colorado is all but out the door and headed to the Pac 10. This is where things start becoming known unknowns. The Big 10 and Pac will fight over Texas, the crown jewel of College Football (profit wise) The Pac 10 will reportedly offer (in addition to Colorado) bids to Texas, A&M, OU, Ok State and Texas Tech to form a new Super 16 team conference. However there are rumors that the Big 10 will also make a push for a number of Big 12 schools. In fact they would push for Texas, Missouri, A&M, and Notre Dame - which might be enough to entice all as the profit possibilities seem fairly astronomical. So the short answer is the Big 10 and Pac 10 will start picking at the soon to deceased body of the Big 12

What about Politics?
This is where the unknown unknowns start. That's the political realms. For a number of reasons the Texas legislature/Governor have some influence on where Texas goes. There will be significant pressure to force the Pac 10 or Big 10 (or SEC) to include a package of schools with Texas (i.e. if you take Texas you have to take A&M and Tech) The deal breaker might be if they chain Texas to Baylor (a very Conservative Christian school) in which case liberal leaning UC-Berkley might veto the entire thing if they have to share the conference with Baylor. Similarly it's unlikely for the Big 10 to accept Texas Tech give its poor academic leanings. So it's possible the Big 12 will limp along but more likely someone will back down and Texas will leave - thus ending the Big 12.

What is My Guess at the Future?
At almost every turn in the expansion process, the almost unthinkable turned to possible turned to reality so making guesses is hard. If I had to guess I'm guessing that UT will uncouple itself from Baylor and alongside Tech, A&M, OU, and Ok State will help make the Pac-16 a reality. As to the Big 10, Jim Delaney (Commissioner of the Big 10) has said expansion will go in phases. Phase I is Nebraska and a conference championship game. If the Big 10 get's the right teams it's entirely possible it'll expand to 14 or 16. Notre Dame/Texas tops the list but Missouri, Rutgers, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, and Maryland are possibilities. If I had to guess it's all on Notre Dame. If Notre Dame joins the Big 10 will balloon up to 16 (if only because the threat of ballooning will be the catalyst to Notre Dame joining) if ND says no...the Big 10 will stay pat....for the time being.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Weekend Updates

Well the last free weekend before World Cup starts up, so here's a few random sports stories I picked up from the weekend.

Expansion, Coming Sooner Than Thought -Part of the reason I keep bringing up the expansion news is that the pace has accelerated. The Pac 10 has agreed to allow its commissioner follow 4 separate possibilities (status quo, adding utah/colorado, adding 6 teams, adding the entire Big 12) . The Big 12 has issued an ultimateum that all conference schools swear an oath of allegiance or else (the or else being it's every man, woman, and accredited university for itself). Meanwhile in Big 10 country Notre Dame seems to be leaving the door open. The latest figures have Notre Dame earning more money as part of the Big 10 then staying independent (yes that includes the NBC contract). So expansion news could be finalized before the start of the school year.

Blackhawks Getting Closer The Home team continued to dominate the Stanley Cup Championships as after dropping 2 in Philly, the Blackhawks came back with a dominating performance for Game 5 in Chicago. Byfuglian (finally) dominated Chris Pronger to score 2 goals and have 2 assists. The Blackhawks will try to close things out on Wednesday.

Injuries Pile Up in World Cup A number of World Cup teams did not take my advice and wrap key players in bubble wrap in the weeks leading up to the World Cup. The English Captain Ferdinand was knocked out as was Ivory Coast's SuperStar Drogba. Michael Ballack, Germany's captain, was also ruled out. The Americans continue to wait on news of Altidore, their best forward, although all signs pointing to him being healthy.

Things I Learned Apparently Rugby 7 (Rugby normally has 15 players) will be returning to the Olympics in 6 years. The US is the defending Rugby champion...although I believe Rugby hasn't been played at the Olympics in about 90 years. Nonetheless good luck Eagles (US's Rugby team).

Friday, June 04, 2010

Never Ending College Football Expansion Rumors

Yes more and more rumors on the crazy world of college football expansion. While normally I'm loathe to report mere rumors but these two stories appear to have some legs...and given their potential...well share and share alike.

Big 7? It is widely expected that in the next week or so the Mountain West Conference (Utah, BYU, TCU,etc.) will offer Boise State an offer to join which in turn will be expected. The new Mountain West Conference boasting arguably the best of the best of the mid-majors would be well positioned to meet the criteria the BCS laid out for automatic bids. In other words the new Mountain West could join the Big 6 as its champion getting an automatic bid. Of course that assumes there is a Big 6 in the future.

Pac 10 Might Drink the Big 12s Milkshake While most of expansion talk has focused on the Big 10, equally important in college athletics is the potential for Pac 10 expansion. The Pac 10, soon to be free of its current tv deal, is looking to a big splash. It's being rumored that the Pac 10 will offer 6 Big 12 schools bids to join the new Pac 10 err 16. Those schools are Texas, A&M, Tech, OU, Ok State, and Colorado. The new super conference would have markets in basketball every major city out West which would allow a new television network to take shape...which would give far more revenue than the current 8-13 million Big 12 members currently bring in. With the Big 10 and potentially the SEC looking to poach Big 12 schools this might be the end of the Big 12 and for all practical purposes the Big 6.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

6th Annual NBA Finals Preview

Editor's Note: Obviously, I'm upset about the Cavs losing. However, I have to be professional about this which is why I'm still writing a NBA Finals preview, despite the fact that for the third year in a row, I dislike both teams involved.

Just as a recap, in 2005, my NBA Finals Preview used Star Wars quotes. In 2006, I used Indiana Jones quotes. In 2007, I used Back to the Future quotes. In 2008, I used Aliens vs. Predators quotes from both AVP1 and AVP2 (because I hated both teams and because there were hardly enough quotes from any AVP movie worthy of a blog entry.) In 2009, I used quotes from Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story because I believed the Magic would topple the Lakers (though I was wrong as usual... for the record, I was only right in 2005 (Spurs) and 2007 (Spurs)). Without further adieu, it is time to analyze the classic NBA finals matchup that is before us.

Because the Lakers vs. Celtics is a sequel that I don't want to see, but yet I may not be able to turn away from, it's only fitting that we use some quotes from Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which is a sequel that no one should ever be forced to watch ever again.

1) Mutt Williams: You know, for an old man you ain't bad in a fight.
Indiana Jones: Thanks.
Mutt Williams: What are you, like, 80?

This one goes out to KG. I still can't believe how he had more energy left and how his body has been able to hold up very well. It probably helped that he hasn't actually had to deal with any strong PFs (going through Beasley/Haslem, Jamison (because the Cavs were dumb and didn't play Andy that much, though Andy was injured to some mysterious degree), and then Rashard Lewis). Anyways, according to, KG and Pierce are both posting very healthy 18.6 and 18.8 efficiency ratings (and Rondo is at 21.9 and Allen at 15.7). The Celtics did the right thing when Doc Rivers basically told them during the season that they weren't going to play that hard. No one, and I mean no one, could have realized KG had one more push in him.

2) Mac: You broke my nose!
Indiana Jones: I told you.

This goes out to Kendrick Perkins who does not get the respect he deserves. His role is not to score... but he can guard any center in the league (including Dwight Howard). I am 100% confident he will be fine against Gasol (seeing as Bynum is not in good health at all).

3) Indiana Jones: [beat] Why the hell didn't you make him finish school?

This goes out to the Lakers GM. I have no idea how the Lakers are supposed to match-up against Rondo. Derek Fisher struggles mightily against any PG with speed (just ask Russell Westbrook, who needed Kobe to guard him, or even Aaron Brooks in last year's playoffs). If Kobe has to guard Rondo, I suppose Fisher will be out guarding Ray Allen. I don't have high hopes for the Lakers succeeding in that situation.

4) General Ross: Indy, thank God. Don't you know it's dangerous to climb into a refrigerator? Those things can be deathtraps!

The Lakers are in serious trouble in this series. Bynum isn't right, and the line of Gasol and Odom will be shut down by Perkins and KG (and Big Baby and Rasheed). I see no alternative...
Celtics in 6! Kobe wants his place in history as beating the Celtics, but I don't see it happening unless he shoots an amazing percentage throughout the Finals.

Wednesday Odds and Ends

Just a Few Odds and Ends Thoughts from Fortress Mighty

2011 Already? Yes recruiting for the 2011 Football class is in high gear and Rivals has put out its first ranking of the top 100 players nationwide . The Big 10 appears poised for a far better showing than last year with Michigan State already having the #11 Lawrence Thomas (hey remember that name). Just to show how fast recruiting goes these days Texas already has 22 commits.

Was It Over When the Germans Bombed Pearl Harbor? Maybe. The Chicago Blackhawks, holders of the longest title drought in the NHL, appears to have the series well in hand behind superb goal tending in Game 2 and crappy goal tending by the opposition in Game 1. The Flyers have been the comeback kids this year (coming from behind 3-0 against Boston) but it's safe to say their backs are against the walls. Oh and Nedemeyer...dead

The Live Will versus the Dead Head - Spain has, to put it mildly, a history of choking. Never has the country's squad advanced past the quarterfinals...never, ever, never. On the other hand this is a team that has one loss in the past 40 matches (that one loss being to Team USA. Go USA!) Hence why Spain is one of two favorites to win the World Cup. As opposed to the NCAA don't get Cinderellas winning it all so history says bet on a favorite of course history also says don't bet on Spain.

Congrats goes out to our very own contributor - Laz - who got married over the weekend. Best wishes to happy couple - who to celebrate the nuptials I believe will travel around the world in a balloon in under 80 days.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

NBA Summit.....whaaaaaaaa?!?!??!

I have to admit, I have been a little out of the loop the last few days. I kept hearing this morning about a possible "summit" between Lebron, Wade, Joe Johnson, Bosh, and Boozer to discuss the upcoming free agent issues.

It seems obvious to me that they want to gague each other's interest in person in order to better make their own plans. I don't know what to make of this whole concept. First, it sounds like it could all just be a big rumor. But, assuming it is true, what are people's thoughts on this? Is this good? Is this bad?

Frankly, all I can think about is the scene from the Godfather where the heads of the Five Families get together and decide they are going to get into the drug selling business and not continue to kill each other. I can't tell if that is a great analogy or a horrible analogy.

What do you think?