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Saturday, August 28, 2010

OSU-Michigan in different divisions?!!! The Game moved to October?!!! Oh the horrors!!!

  Recently there has been much ado made regarding the potential move of "The Game", that is the OSU vs. Michigan football game to October, and the potential separation of the two schools into different divisions within the Big Ten.  There seems to be a widespread consensus among Ohio State fans that either move is sacreligious; among Michigan fans...wait, does anyone really care what Michigan fans think? Just kidding, I know you guys are actually more concerned that Rich Rod deserves a lifetime contract if he can beat Notre Dame again this year while going sub-500 in the Big Ten. I'm joking! Lighten up.  Even Hitler seems to be weighing in on the subject of the Big Ten realignment and how it will affect OSU and Michigan, albeit posthumously:   This is a big deal. Or is it?  Decades of tradition to go by the wayside because of the almighty dollar.  But does this necessarily have to be a bad thing? I mean c'mon people, they said the addition of Penn State would never fly, yet here they stand today as a pillar of the conference.  So while there might be many grumblings by OSU and Michigan supporters that the athletic directors of those respective schools have sold out, it might also be possible they are on to the start of something big.
    Detractors of the realignment plan will say that moving the game to October reduces its importance in the conference schedule, thereby lessening the relevance that the game has had for more than half a century.  Supporters of Ohio State would argue that the Michigan game not only has proven who is the conference champ more than any other game, but it is also an effective barometer as to how far their team has progressed(or regressed) that year. Of course Michigan fans, having had to endure their team losing five straight season finales to the Buckeyes recently, might relish the chance to play OSU at the beginning of October, as it appears the Wolverines have started a trend of peaking right around mid-October.   Even those fans might be considered in the minority, as I would have to believe that many UM fans are still fond of Bo(Schembechler) and Bo would have wanted "The Game" played as the season finale as well.  Placing Ohio State and Michigan in the same Big Ten division allows for the rivalry to remain intact as it has been for quite some time.
  Proponents of the realignment argue that, Michigan's current ineptness (sorry UM fans, haha) notwithstanding, Ohio State and Michigan have historically been the two best teams in the conference, and it is only fair that they be split in such a manner that allows them to compete for the Big Ten Title at the end of the season. The thinking here is that, if OSU and Michigan are the two best teams, then by playing each other at the end of the season one will eliminate the other, and thus the Big Ten Championship will not be decided by no.1 vs. no.2.  There is also the added bonus of a potential second matchup between the schools each year should they be in different divisions; while purists would argue once is enough I can't believe that too many OSU fans would argue beating Michigan twice a year would get boring.
  So, having heard the pros and cons of the conference realignment, where exactly does that leave us? I myself am a firm supporter of conference realignment.  There is something to be said for tradition, for sure; the potential change in the OSU-Michigan dynamic initially led me to be opposed to the thought of Big Ten expansion. However, aren't old traditions supposed to eventually give way to new ones?  When we learned that we could cover great distances faster in a fuel-injected automobile, did we still want to travel by horse and buggy? This may take some getting used to, and no one said conference expansion would be easy.  But, at the end of the day, I believe if the Big Ten does separate Ohio State and Michigan into different divisions, not only will it re-energize the rivalry it will help put the conference on equal footing with that league down south I will refrain from mentioning.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

NFL's Rookie Salary Problem. It needs fixed. Now

  So you think Sam Bradford has the tools to be the next Tom Brady.  Wanna bet on it?  How about if we bet $50? No? How about $50million? What's that? You think I'm crazier than John Rocker? Every, year, however, a few NFL owners wager close to that amount that guys like Bradford will indeed turn out to be the next Peyton Manning, even before they have taken one NFL snap.  The St. Louis Rams made such a wager on Bradford himself this year, making him the highest paid rookie in history.  So what's the big deal?  The big deal is that for every Peyton Manning, there are 10 players like Ryan Leaf, Tim Couch, or Akili Smith, guys who are rated as potential perennial pro bowlers who never make it more than two or three years as starters. And that can be a very risky wager indeed, especially to a team such as the Rams, who once were considered annual Super Bowl contenders, but now are regulated to the ranks of cellar dwellers.  For it only takes one torn acl to not only ruin the career of Sam Bradford, but along with that goes the 50 million dollars the Rams could have used to on other players to make themselves a legitimate playoff contender.  I would argue that guaranteed money for rookies should be eliminated altogether, and I am probably not alone in this.(Just for fun, next time you go to a job interview, if the employer decides to hire you, demand that you be given $100,000 guaranteed for your first year in addition to your base salary or you're not showing up for work. I've heard it can do wonders to jump start your career ha ha.)   Roger Goodell said during his visit to the Cleveland Browns training camp that the rookie pay scale would be revisited, but did not explain what he meant by that.  I say the first order of business the owners have in the new cba is to redo the whole rookie pay scale.  It's just not a wise decision for owners to be throwing huge sums of money in front of players who have not played a single down of pro ball.  The New York Jets have labeled Darelle Revis as selfish for holding out, but unlike the rookies that entered the league in April's draft, Revis has only been one of the top corners in the league for the last two years.  Compare that with Cleveland rookie defensive back Joe Haden of Florida, who recently signed a contract that will pay him $50 million, including $12 million of that guaranteed this season.  Haden might be the next Revis, heck, he might end up being better than Deion Sanders when it's all said and done.   However, should Cleveland really have to front 12 million dollars just to find out?  That might be a costly decision for any other business, and it is a lesson that NFL owners should take heed of now before they learn it the hard way down the road.