Thursday, March 31, 2011

Just your thoughts...

So let's hear everyones' thoughts about how the NCAA tournament so far. I think the tournament has been really exciting with some great finishes, everything we have come to expect from March Madness.

I will say that I do not look forward to the VCU vs Butler game, only some purists would. I like to see guys who are physically gifted and will play and be stars at the next level! Plus, I like to see athletic big men and there are none of those left, but March Madness is decided by guards most of time anyway.

Here are my predictions, Butler over VCU. I think Butler has the stars(Mack and Howard) to rely on and the experience of their team will help them beat VCU if it is close.

I think UConn will beat Kentucky. Kentucky played their best game already againist UNC and their young team will not be enough to overcome the experience and swagger of Kemba Walker. Great point guards win championships and I see this year being more of the same.

Kemba Walker and UConn win the NCAA championship. I picked them in my bracket to go to the championship, but I did not have them winning. Now that the talented teams have bowed out early, UConn should win it all!

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Former Auburn Players Admit to Getting Paid: Who Knew?

This guy says he got money to play at Auburn.

For months I've been lectured by Auburn fans about the "facts" of the Cam Newton case, even though I believe very few people know the truth about what happened.  Auburn fans were quick to spin the details of the cover-up as "facts".  It appears as though we may finally have some real "facts" as to the integrity of the Auburn football program. 

According to a HBO Real Sports interview, four former players have admitted to receiving money before and during their time at Auburn.  These ranged from "money handshakes" to rewards for performance to money for cars.  You can read the transcript of the show here:  if you missed the show. 

It will be interesting to see if the NCAA will investigate this matter, since they have yet to make a comment related to the report.  This reminds me of when Tony Cole blew the whistle on the Harricks while at Georgia, after he was wired money by Jim Harrick Jr. to help pay bills.  There was an investigation and penalties were handed down in that case by the NCAA. 

I don't know why these four players would come forward now, but my guess is that the truth, or for Auburn fans the "facts", will set you free.  The rest of the college football world has a glimmer of hope today that justice might actually be served for Auburn's repeated disregard for NCAA policy.  (Insert Auburn fan's argument here about other programs' secondary infractions being the same as their lack of institutional control and failure to promote an atmoshpere of compliance, two of the major NCAA infractions.)

The sad thing is in the end, it's these same Auburn fans who will pay the ultimate price if justice is served.  They are just defending their program as any fan would, but once all the real "facts" are done rearing their ugly head, will they even have a team worth rooting for?

How do you feel about these allegations?  Are you happy, relieved, disgusted?  Let us know!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Jim Tressel-Put the Shovel Down!

Did Jim Tressel dig his own grave?

My dad always taught me to tell the truth because in the long run, the punishment would be far less that trying to string together a web of lies.  Jim Tressel has the market cornered when it comes to lying. 

A new report has surfaced saying Jim Tressel forwarded emails he received last spring regarding the rules violations committed by Terrelle Pryor and other Buckeyes, to the mentor of Pryor.  Didn't he just say in his half-hearted "apology" a couple weeks ago that he didn't tell anyone about the violations because he thought the matter was "confidential" and he didn't know who to report them to?  He didn't know who to report them to (yeah right), but he sure knew who NOT to report them to:  Ohio State and the NCAA.   So, basically, he lied in his apology, and in doing so, made AD Gene Smith and President Gordon Gee look like even bigger clowns than what they already appeared to be (see Gordon Gee's: "Well, I just hope he doesn't fire me!). 

At what point does he pay a legitimate price for these lies?  Dez Bryant was suspended for the remainder of an entire season when he lied to the NCAA about a meeting with Deion Sanders that wasn't even a violation of rules.  Bruce Pearl was just fired for his shenanigans and subsequent cover-up attempt.  At the moment, Tressel is sitting on a self-imposed 5 game suspension and a $250,000 fine.  If the worst AD in major college sports, Mike Hamilton, can fire Bruce Pearl, certainly the Ohio State brass will have the gumption to get rid of this habitual liar. 

The most disappointing thing is that Tressel was a revered coach and let many of his fans and former players down.  He certainly wasn't what he appeared to be, instead hiding behind the clean sweater vest image.  Obviously people make mistakes and tell lies, but when someone lies on top of lies on top of lies, that shows a terrible lack of integrity.  If he's told this many lies, how many more has he told to cover all this up?  What else is going on in his program that we should know about? 

Bottom Line:  If Jim Tressel isn't fired then this is another case of Ohio State's arrogance and belief that they are above the law, when instead they are just an average program that can't win the big one.  Unless the officials hand it to them:


I am posting a question, how is it that a team that is top 5 all year, who wins 13 games in conference, has a overall record of 32-4, and another ACC tournament championship, lose in the sweet 16 to a 5 seed?
But Duke didn't just lose they were dominated by 16, and it could have been worse! And Duke was lucky to get this far they almost and should have lost to Michigan last round.
So, I open the floor looking for honest answers. I have some good ideas but would like to hear every one's opinion, how was Duke so easily dominated?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Jimmer Fredette-It's Been Real, It's Been Fun. Heck, It's Been REAL FUN!

One of the great college scorers of all time wrapped up his career tonight.

Jimmer Fredette's BYU career ended tonight with an overtime loss to Florida.  What an incredible career it was!  I've always appreciated great shooters, especially those with well-rounded skill sets that are able to create many different shots.  J.J. Redick was the last "great" college scorer, but really wasn't able to create his own shot off the dribble.  It is certainly true that Jimmer can score from anywhere on the floor inside the half court line.  If you don't believe me, check out this link:  Jimmer from DEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!

Unlike Redick (and I like J.J. for the record), Fredette has had an uncanny ability to create his own shot by getting to the rim and using the defense to create space to knockdown the mid-range jumper.  In short, no matter how you tried to stop him, he could exploit your weakness to get open shots from anywhere. 

What I'm looking most forward to is seeing how/if his game translates to NBA success.  If you could mesh Adam Morrison's and J.J. Redick's games, I think you have Jimmer Fredette's game.  We all know how extremely underwhelming each of those guys has been in the NBA, but a combination of both (Jimmer), I think, can have success in the Association. 

What I do know about Jimmer is this:  He has made it well worth the $5 a month I pay DirecTV for the expanded sports package.  I have watched the mtn. and CBS College Sports more this season than I probably ever will again.  Jimmer Fredette is a player that we will tell our future children/grandchildren about and I wish him the best in the NBA. Thank you Jim-mer!! Clap---Clap---ClapClapClap!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tried to Watch the Hawks-They are Brutally Bad Right Now

As many know, I really like basketball but don't really enjoy the NBA, especially on television.  That said, I have tried to get back into watching the hometown Hawks, especially after they shook up the roster with the trade for Kirk Hinrich.  After watching them get blasted by the Bulls and blow a perfectly winnable game against the Sixers tonight, I must say that I have likely watched my last Hawks game this regular season, and maybe for the entirety of the season (1st round of playoffs).

One would think that if millions of dollars weren't motivation enough to give a good effort every night, proving your manhood would be.  It seems as though the team has quit on Larry Drew (his son knows about quitting) even though he's only the first-year head coach.  While the Hawks have most likely wrapped up a 5 seed (Philadelphia could pass them), there is no fan in Hawks Nation that believes they can hang with 4th seeded Orlando in the first round, given the results of that series last year. 

Quite frankly, I'm tiring of watching Hawks, much like I tired of watching the Braves in the early 2000's.  Same story, different year.  Pretty good teams, make the playoffs and lose without having a serious chance at making a push for a championship.  I say it's time to blow the whole thing up, from the ownership down.  Atlanta sports fans could only be so luck to get rid of the Spirit, right?  Al Horford and Josh Smith are young and worth building around, but after the awful contract the Atlanta Spirit gave Joe Johnson and the inability to move Marvin Williams and their incompetence in the draft, there is little hope for the Hawks ever being able to make a championship run in their current state.

If I'm going to watch an NBA team, I'd much rather watch a young team with good, skilled players and even greater potential. 
Oklahoma City Thunder anyone?

Red Light/Green Light: NFL Rules Style

Here is a shot of Eric Weems 102 yard kickoff return last season.  Get ready to see a lot less of this in 2011.  Of course, that's if there IS a 2011 season.

Yesterday the NFL Competition Committee and the NFL owners voted on some rule changes to take effect this season.  Here's my opinion on a couple of the major changes:

Kickoffs will move from the 30 to the 35 yard line:  RED LIGHT!
I begin with this one because it is getting the most criticism nationally and I want to be first in line.  The kickoff return is one of the most exciting plays in the game and we will be robbed of many opportunities to see long returns this year.  I guarantee you will see a tremendous spike in touchbacks this year since the idea to move touchbacks to the 25 was denied.  Last season there were 416 touchbacks and 23 kickoff returns for touchdowns.  In 1993, the last year the NFL kicked off from the 35, there were 520 touchbacks and only 4 kickoff return touchdowns!  Expect similar numbers to 1993 this year.

Billy Cundiff of the Cowboys had an 89% touchback percentage from  the 30 last year.  He may be at 95-100% this year.  People keep saying there will be more directional kickoffs this year because of the rule change, but why would any team risk letting a return man get his hands on the ball when you can boot it out of the endzone at will and make the opposing team drive 80 yards each possession?  As a football coach, my choice there is simple.  I don't buy that logic for a second. 

This rule devalues players like Devin Hester, Josh Cribbs and Eric Weems (pictured above) and the impact they can have on games.  Eric Weems made the Pro Bowl as a special teamer this year.  Without his return ability, his value is diminished greatly.  The same is true for many of the return specialists in the NFL, as they are minor contributors at their positions on offense and defense.

I realize the counterpoint of this argument is player safety, but do we need to drastically change the game, as I believe this will?  Should Major League Baseball put L-Screens in front of the pitchers mound during games?  That would increase safety too.

All scoring plays will be subject to booth review: GREEN LIGHT!

This is a much needed change in my opinion.  Too many coaches are having to waste precious challenges on plays near the goal line.  This will allow controversial calls to be corrected, without either team being punished by having to use a challenge. This should have been in place from the outset of instant replay, as is used in the college game.  The NFL certainly got this one right.

According to the NFL, the changes that were made were done to promote safety.  Understand this:  I'm all for safety, but not at the expense of altering the outcome of games!  It will be interesting to watch the preseason to see how teams adjust to the new rules.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Bruce Pearl Fired at Tennessee, and Why I Still Like Him

I had heard through the grapevine before Christmas that Bruce Pearl was going to be fired at the end of this season, based on his unethical conduct and violations of NCAA rules.  Honestly, I wondered if UT Athletic Director Mike Hamilton had the cajones to make that kind of move against a wildly popular and successful head coach.  I was hoping that Tennessee would make a run in the NCAA Tournament to put a little pressure on Hamilton, but after watching that second half they played against Michigan, it was obvious that it was Pearl last dance at UT.

If you're not familiar with the situation, here's my Reader's Digest version:  Amongst other minor violations (improper contacting of recruits) Coach Pearl knowingly hosted an illegal cookout at his home in 2008.  Apparently he told the recruits and their families during the barbeque to keep it a secret and not mention it to anyone.  Pictures leaked showing recruits at his home.  Again, a violation.  When the NCAA got the photos and asked Pearl about them, he lied about holding the cookout and instructed his assistant coaches to do the same.  Now this is akin to telling you're parents you made a A on your Math test, while they're holding the test with a big red F on it behind their back.  Leading your own death march, some may call it.  The irony of all this is that Bruce Pearl was a former whitsleblower against Illinois when he was an assistant at Iowa in the late 80's.  See more about this story here: Click Me!

Now let's talk about the good stuff about Bruce Pearl and why I still like him:

1.  He's a winner-He is one of very few coaches who has led multiple programs to the Sweet 16 (UT and UW-Milwaukee).  He took Tennessee to the NCAA tournament in all six years on the job; no small feat. He also coached for a D-II national championship at Sothern Indiana before leaving for Milwaukee.
2.  He's endearing to the fans-From wearing the orange blazer (pictured above) to going shirtless and painting his chest for a UT women's game, they guy understands the fans and how to promote his program.  He has a big personality and is afunloving and intense coach.  I know my fair share of Tennessee fans and none ever had a negative thing to say about his success in running their program. 
3.  His teams are fun to watch-Coach Pearl's aggresive, uptempo style of play is fun to watch and is attractive to fans.  Even as a Georgia fan I have enjoyed watching Tennessee play basketball under Pearl, even though I have to dissociate myself from that ugly shade of orange.  His ability to control the tempo of the game on defense has led to many of the Volunteers' wins in the last six years. 
4. He is also able to adapt his style of play to fit his players strengths-Early in his tenure at UT, Pearl had prolific outside shooters (like Chris Lofton) and had the ability to outscore most of the teams in the country.  But when needed, his teams later in his tenure could grind games out defensively in the half court.  To me,one of the most important characteristics of a coach is the ability to adapt in game and from game-to-game to give your players the best chance of winning.

In conclusion, I honestly wouldn't be surprised if Bruce Pearl is working in TV next year.  His personality would go over well with viewers in that line of work.  However, if I were an Athletic Director at a university looking to fill a head coaching job, especially at one of the mid-majors that are about to lose their coach to a high major program (VCU, Utah State, Richmond) I would give Bruce Pearl a long, hard look.  He may be too big of a risk due to the dark cloud of violations hanging over his head, but he will coach again somewhere, and I'd take him at my school any day.