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Monday, December 30, 2013

Cleveland Browns Once Again Miss The Point

I'd love to be in a Cleveland Browns war room right now. I'd be tearing each one of those idiots in the so-called front office a new one so fast they'd have to call security to escort me out.

After writing earlier in the season that the Browns' organization was the NFL's version of the movie 'Groundhog Day,' I thought that, despite their struggles in 2013, this team was headed in the right direction. After all, one cannot expect a team to make the playoffs when you have poor quarterback play combined with a mediocre run game, can they?

Well, according to the Cleveland Browns' front office, it was win with mediocre talent or bust from the get-go for the now fired Rob Chudzinski.

Never mind that the three quarterbacks 'Chud' had to work with wouldn't be long term solutions for any other team in the league. Brian Hoyer did lead the team to a 3-2 record and had the Browns atop the AFC North before succumbing to an ACL injury against Buffalo that would end his season.

It's safe to say that Chud's alternatives at that point, Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell, couldn't lead a horse to water if their lives depended on it. Okay, maybe that is a little extreme but you get my point. Even if these guys had the talent of the Denver Broncos or the New England Patriots around them, they still wouldn't be able to lead the Browns to a winning record.

What made matters worse is that when the Browns got rid of their most marketable commodity, running back Trent Richardson, their solution was to bring in the over the hill Willis McGahee. McGahee would average a paltry 2.7 yards per carry in Richardson's place. Browns' fans knew that McGahee was merely a filler until the offseason, but they were still amazed at the ineptitude of the team's running attack.

Yet, after all the smoke cleared and the season was over, the Browns did not hesitate to pull the trigger on a coach who wasn't even given a fair shot to prove himself. Once again the Browns believe that they know better than the rest of the league, and their fans, how to build a winning team.

Or do they?

Conventional wisdom says that you win in the NFL by establishing consistency at the head coaching and quarterback positions. The Browns have yet to do either, and while they claim they are looking for long-term solutions for both jobs, their actions at this point clearly speak louder than their words.

Since rejoining the league in 1999, the Browns are the only team in the AFC North that hasn't won a division title. It's no coincidence that they are also the only team in the AFC North to have more head coaches (6) than winning seasons (2).

If you are a Browns season ticket holder, I am not sure how you don't demand a refund on your 2013 season from Jimmy Haslam and company at this point. I can remember him last season sitting with the fans and talking to them to get their perspective. I doubt the conversation went like this:

'Hey Jimmy, we're glad you have decided to buy the Browns and put all your efforts into making them a winner. Do whatever it takes to turn this team around. Even if that means firing the head coach you just hired when he fails to take the team to the playoffs. Let's git 'er done, Mr. Haslam.'

Instead, I can envision the back-and-forth between the diehard Cleveland fan and Mr. Haslam III going something like this:

'Mr. Haslam, congratulations on your purchase of the Cleveland Browns. We like the enthusiasm you bring to this organization and hope you can help turn this downtrodden franchise around. While I feel there are many areas where this team can improve, establishing some consistency at the head coach and quarterback positions would be my first order of business. Thanks for asking for my input.'

What a joke. The Browns are doomed to another 10 or 11 loss season next year. I have heard that management's replacement for Chud is Josh McDaniels, the man who didn't even last two years in Denver. Like I believe that he is going to last that long in Cleveland. And it might not be long before Tim Tebow is Cleveland's starting quarterback.

The bottom line is that, when it comes to professional sports (especially football), a winning culture is not built overnight. It takes time.  But that is something that will never happen if the establishment keeps trying to 'blow the whole thing up' every year or two.

Cleveland fans, those who live in the city, I sympathize with you, even though I haven't been to a game in over three years (Living three hours away, can you blame me? Why would I spend $60 and 10 hours on a Sunday--the time it takes to get to and from the stadium, plus the four hours spent watching the game--just to see the Browns lose, when I can watch them from my living room just the same?). Thing is, my patience with management is beginning to run very thin. And I don't trust they are building a winning team at all.

Enjoy your losing team. I guess it's better than no football at all. Yet it is becoming a train wreck that I'd rather not watch anymore.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Army vs. Navy: College Football's Dormant Rivalry

As another college football regular season comes to an end, we once again find ourselves in a familiar place. With all of the FBS conference championships decided, and the bowl matchups set, there is one game left to play.

Army vs. Navy. Tradition. Honor. History. Pageantry. Cadets. Midshipmen.

There are many sports fans who don't understand the rivalry, even as old as it is, simply because neither team has been nationally relevant since the mid 1960s. Yet as someone who is related to three alumni of the United States Naval Academy, I can tell you that few rivalries across the country are bigger than the one between the schools from Annapolis, Maryland, and West Point, New York.

The participants in today's game may not hold such bitter feelings toward each other like the Ohio State-Michigan or Auburn-Alabama rivalries. Both Navy and Army want to beat each other just as badly nonetheless.

The real problem with this rivalry is that, at least recently, it has been one-sided. In fact, Navy's current 11 game win streak over Army is the longest any FBS (Football Bowl Subdivison) school holds over its arch rival in the nation. It also represents the longest winning streak that either team has enjoyed in the 113 years this series has been played.

And while I might be a little biased in my projection, I believe this afternoon Navy will make it 12 straight victories over the Army Black Knights. The Midshipmen, led by sophomore quarterback Keenan Reynolds, boast a rushing attack that ranks third in the nation (Reynolds himself has rushed for 1,124 yards and 26 TDs ). Their record not only includes wins against Indiana, Air Force, and Pitt among others, but they also came within a touchdown of beating Notre Dame for the fourth time in seven years. If Army is to have any chance, they will need to get to Reynolds.

Yet things just don't look that promising for Army in this the 114th meeting between these two teams. While Navy, at 7-4, has already accepted a bid to the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl (to be played on December 30th against Middle Tennessee), Army, at 3-8 will be once again spending the holidays at home. And while you can be sure the Black Knights will give the Middies everything they've got, in the end, it may not be enough for Rich Ellerson's squad.

Of course, the game isn't played on paper, and on any given Saturday anything could happen. While I personally don't want to see Ken Niumatalolo's Navy squad lose today, it could be just the thing to bring this currently dormant rivalry back to life.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

BCS Madness: SEC once Again Represented in NCG

In the aftermath of Ohio State's 34-24 loss to Michigan State last night, I was filled with emotion. I was calling for assistants to be fired. As I checked social media, I noticed many fans claiming head coach Urban Meyer to be overpaid. And, above all else, I was left wondering how in the world could a team like the Spartans, who barely managed 14 points the week before against Minnesota, could score 34 points against the Buckeyes.

As Auburn and Florida State would go on to win their respective championship games, the rest of sports world felt validated thinking the Buckeyes were indeed overrated. Truth be told, they may very well be.

But as I woke up this morning and wrapped my head around what had just transpired in the last 24 hours, a very calming thought came over me. I realized that Ohio State may not be the second best team in the nation, but that doesn't necessarily mean they underachieved this season. Or that they didn't put forth the best effort they could have on the field last night. In fact, it could be that Michigan State was the better team. That's the thing about college football, anything can happen on any given Saturday. If you need further proof, just ask Alabama.

And so it is that just as we have March Madness at the end of basketball season, at the end of the football season we have BCS Madness. Madness not because the the SEC is once again represented in the championship game, or that the state of Alabama is vying for its fifth straight BCS National Championship. Nor is it madness because the preseason favorites to win it all, the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Ohio State Buckeyes, will be reduced to mere spectators come January 7, 2014. But it is madness because anyone who honestly thought they knew FSU and Auburn would be playing for the title are simply fooling themselves.

I have a simple message to all Buckeye fans: chill out. We all knew Urban Meyer's team was going to lose eventually, and, even though you'd hope it wasn't until next season, sometimes it just happens. To be honest, many of us have been brainwashed in to believing that Ohio State should win every contest just by showing up, that somehow the Big Ten doesn't have any talent outside of Columbus, Ohio( I wonder where someone would get an idea like that).

And if it really bothers you that much the SEC once again is playing for the national title, you need to get a life. I have long been a proponent of the theory that while the SEC is a good conference, it is not head and shoulders above the rest of the college football world like mainstream media (read:ESPN) would have you believe. If you don't agree with me, well, watch the 2013 bowl season and decide for yourself.

So enjoy this last year of BCS Madness, because next year we get to debate the fairness of the newly formed playoff system. And be glad that even if we have another team from the south in the championship game, at least it isn't Nick Saban's Crimson Tide again.

Friday, December 6, 2013

College Football, Conference Championship Edition: Urban Meyer's Quest

As the 2013 college football season slowly winds down, we finally get to put to rest which team (or conference for that matter) can lay claim to best in the nation. Or, if our team doesn't win this weekend, we can argue why next year's playoff system will prove they are the best team.

For Ohio State, it finally gets to play a meaningful game for the first time in two seasons. Try telling that to the Buckeye faithful, however, and you're sure to get an earful. But the national perception remains that the Buckeyes, winners of 24 straight games, have failed to play a single game of significance since the fall of 2011. Either their competition has been too inferior(read: weak nonconference schedule or inferior Big Ten opponents), or their bowl ban of 2012 didn't allow them to participate in the postseason.

Yet few outside Buckeye Nation can truly appreciate the job Urban Meyer has done in his two years as head coach of Ohio State. A man who many OSU fans had mixed feelings about--his detractors worried that he would bolt for a better job at the first chance--I think he has won over even his harshest critics in Columbus nowadays. Winning 24 straight games tends to have that effect--regardless of mainstream media's opinion about him.

Nationally, Meyer's winning streak is not taken seriously for several reasons. First and foremost, it is assumed that Ohio State--who must play a schedule weaker than teams in the SEC, PAC-12, and even the ACC--would not be able to go undefeated if they played outside the Big Ten. Yet I would counter that even Alabama would find it hard to run the table two straight seasons in the Big Ten. Let's not forget that most teams in the SEC never have to worry about playing in adverse weather, let alone traveling outside the southeast.

Then there is the misconception that Meyer is constantly politicking for his team to be amongst the BCS championship contenders. I don't know where that rumor started(maybe it is someone holding a grudge from his days at Florida) but in my opinion, nothing could be further from the truth. As a matter of fact, the only thing I have really heard Meyer definitively say about the BCS is that it is a flawed system, something I think we can all agree on.

In fact, with all the distractions that have been placed in front of Urban Meyer and his team, it is quite impressive that they have once again reached the 12-0 mark. At the beginning of the season off-the-field scandals involving Carlos Hyde and Bradley Roby threatened to derail the Buckeyes' season before they even played a single snap. Then an injury to Braxton Miller (and the subsequent stellar play of backup Kenny Guiton) led many to wonder whether there was a quarterback controversy in Columbus. And, as if those weren't enough, a season ending injury to safety and senior captain Christian Bryant dealt a serious blow to what was considered the Scarlet and Gray's biggest strength on defense, the secondary.

Yet here the Buckeyes are, two games away from a possible eighth national championship, and a 26 game win streak. And it is all because Meyer doesn't care what the media thinks of him. He doesn't care whether Florida State or Auburn win their respective games. And, when his Buckeyes step onto Lucas Oil Field at 8:15 p.m Saturday night, he will care even less about who is playing in the NCG (National Championship Game). Love him or hate him, you have to respect Urban Meyer, not just for the job he has done at Ohio State, but for what he has meant to college football in general.

On to Conference Championship Saturday Predictions:

17 Oklahoma at 6 Oklahoma State(Not the official Big 12 Championship, but if OSU wins they win the Big 12): Not sure how a team that got embarrassed by a now unranked West Virginia squad can be considered a top 10 team, but maybe that is a discussion for another time. The Cowboys not only ended Baylor's quest for a national title two weeks ago, but they also humbled them in the process. Plus it always seems this rivalry goes for OSU when the game is played in Stillwater. Oklahoma State 40, Oklahoma 17 

16 UCF at Southern Methodist: Many believe that George O'Leary should be the unanimous choice for coach of the year honors, due in part to his turnaround of the Knights' football program. Yet he also hasn't had to deal with the national scrutiny that an Urban Meyer or Jimbo Fisher has had. UCF 35, SMU 10

25 Texas at 9 Baylor (Baylor can win the Big 12 with a win and a loss by Oklahoma State earlier in the day): Bryce Petty announces he is returning for his senior season. A prominent University of Texas athletic booster assures the public that Mack Brown isn't going anywhere. Neither announcement actually means that the Longhorns have a legitimate shot of pulling off the upset. Baylor 42, Texas 24

5 Missouri vs. 3 Auburn (SEC Championship): The Tigers are a team of destiny this season, knocking off defending champ Alabama and Georgia on last second plays. The Tigers are also the victims of very poor timing, as an injury to starting quarterback James Franklin earlier in the season might have cost them a shot at the national title. So I'm picking the Tigers to win this one. What's that you say, both schools are the Tigers? Well, I think you knew this was coming, but this is my upset special. James Franklin delivers another stellar performance. Missouri 31, Auburn 24

7 Stanford at 11 Arizona State (Pac-12 Championship): I haven't really seen the Sun Devils play, but they seem to be rolling. I look for it to continue. ASU 17, Stanford 14

20 Duke vs 1 Florida State: Seminoles are second upset... sorry Duke, this isn't basketball. Although you will have home field advantage(the game is played in Charlotte), I think you'll need more than a raucous crowd to help you. But I do think it will be a competitive game. Florida State 34, Duke 21

2 Ohio State vs 10 Michigan State: Hard for me to pick against the Buckeyes, even if the Spartans do have the best defense in the Big Ten. No one in the conference has been able to stop Carlos Hyde. Michigan State saw the Wolverines blueprint for beating the Buckeyes, but unfortunately they don't have the players to win a shootout.  Ohio State 27, Michigan State 16


Thursday, November 28, 2013

College Football, Week 14: Are the Buckeyes Title Worthy?

Hello all, and Happy Turkey Day. Before I go any further, I would just like to say I am thankful for all of my readers, near and far. So thanks again for reading my blog!!!

As the college football regular season comes to an end, we once again find ourselves debating who deserves a place in the BCS National Championship game. The easy answer would seem to be that if No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Florida State win out, they're going to Pasadena. But, upon a second look, is it really that simple?

Looming at No. 3 is Ohio State and their 23 game winning streak. While most pundits agree that it would take a loss from either the Crimson Tide or the Seminoles for the Buckeyes to move in to the BCS Championship, I am not sure that even that would be necessary. I know I am speaking from a biased perspective, but give me a moment and I'll explain in further detail.

The Buckeyes enter this week with the 64th ranked strength of schedule in the nation according to ( which, at first glance doesn't look that impressive. But consider the fact that Florida State's strength of schedule is only  63rd best in the nation, and Ohio State isn't looking quite so bad.

I know Florida State beat No. 6 Clemson earlier in the season, and that is the main reason why the Seminoles are rated higher than in the BCS. But if Ohio State wins its next two games, and both Michigan State and Wisconsin can pull off victories this Saturday, that means the Buckeyes will have two wins against top 15 BCS teams to Florida State's one. Shouldn't that carry at least a little weight?

It appears, however, that ESPN is doing its best to make sure the Buckeyes don't make a return trip to the national championship. Either that or they believe the best way to attract viewership is by dogging OSU. Why else would they, week after week, focus on what team can leapfrog the Buckeyes? Or that there is any possibility that a one-loss Auburn team, that needed a miracle to beat Georgia by the way, would deserve to move into the second BCS spot with a win on Saturday?

I know, I know, I'm a homer. I also know there are apparently five or six schools in the SEC that would beat Ohio State if they played in the conference. (Or at least that is what ESPN/my friends would have me believe, because the SEC is so much the superior conference.

Yet it should be pointed out that Alabama, with the 49th ranked schedule in the nation, isn't really playing that much tougher competition. And I think that the Buckeyes could hang with them, even though most people in Columbus would rather OSU go to the Rose Bowl, because that way they would be guaranteed to go 26-0. (N.B.: The last three teams to end the regular season as AP No. 1, including Notre Dame last year, failed to win the national championship)

Rather than worry what may lie down the road, Urban Meyer's squad will be solely focused on beating its arch-rival up north once again. Which brings me to this week's predictions:

3Ohio State at Michigan: 

The Buckeyes are looking to make it 24 in a row under second year coach Urban Meyer. Having already set OSU records for points in a season (536), points per game (48.7) and total offense per game (530 yards), the Buckeyes look to put an exclamation point on the season with a win Saturday. Look for the Scarlet and Gray to turn to its workhorse, Carlos Hyde, early and often along with a healthy dose of Braxton Miller.

For the Wolverines, this year hasn't gone nearly as planned. Once thought of as a darkhorse title contender, Michigan is now looking to salvage some respectability in this year's version of 'The Game.' Quarterback Devin Gardner, thought to be one of the more efficient signal caller's in the preseason, has thrown almost as many interceptions (11) this season as TDs (17). Brady Hoke may not be on the hot seat just yet, but fans in Ann Arbor are getting restless.

So how does this one pan out? I'd love to say that the Buckeyes are going to cover the 14 1/2 point spread they're favored by, but this is a rivalry game, and it's being played in the Big House. Look for Scarlet and Gray to remain undefeated, however. Ohio State 28, Michigan 20

1Alabama at 4Auburn: 

This year's edition of the Iron Bowl couldn't have more on the line, as a trip to the SEC championship (and possible BCS championship berth) goes to the winner. While the Tigers have been playing inspired ball lately, AJ McCarron and company are just too efficient. Alabama 24, Auburn 17

2Florida State at Florida:

Will Jameis Winston play or won't he? For the Gators the question should be: does Tim Tebow still have any eligibility left? FSU 48, Florida 7

9Baylor at TCU;

Art Briles' squad took one squarely on the chin last week. Don't expect lightning to strike twice, however. Baylor 56, TCU 24

Minnesota at 11 Michigan State:

Gophers pull off the unlikely...wait, I couldn't even finish that sentence without milk spewing out of my nose I was laughing so hard.  Michigan State 27, Minnesota 10

24 Duke at North Carolina:

Figures to be a high scoring affair, with Jabari Park...wait, you mean to tell me this is still football season? Duke 25, North Carolina 17

Well, that's all for now. Time to go enjoy some turkey and stuffing. Happy Thanksgiving all.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

College Football, Week 11: Roll Tide

As the 2013 college football season slowly but surely winds down, all eyes are focused on which teams will be playing for the BCS National Championship.

As luck would have it, tonight's showdown between 13 LSU and defending national champion (and undefeated) Alabama couldn't have bigger BCS implications, at least for the Crimson Tide. The Tide's hopes of remaining No. 1 in the nation rest solely on whether they can handle their biggest test of the season yet.

And while most of the nation outside of Tuscaloosa is hoping for LSU to pull off the unlikely upset, I don't see it happening. I know this rivalry has been heated the last few years. I also understand the last time the Tigers went into Tuscaloosa they beat the Tide.

But the difference between this game and the one last season is simple: AJ McCarron's leadership. The senior signal caller has helped the Tide become more efficient than they were last season, when they averaged over 445 yards per game. His biggest assest though, might be the fact that he has turned the ball over a mere 3 times this season.

So even though I would like to see Alabama lose, as it would help my Ohio State Buckeyes move up in the BCS rankings, I think once the dust settles tonight they will still be the No. 1 team in the nation. My prediction: Alabama 30, LSU 27

Friday, November 1, 2013

College Football, Week 10: Seminoles Remain Perfect

As we continue our journey through the 2013 college football season, the number of undefeated teams in the nation grows smaller and smaller.

This week it appears that either 7 Miami or 3 Florida State will join the ranks of the one-loss teams, as the two schools face off tomorrow night at 8pm in Doak Campbell stadium.

So, when the dust settles, which one of these so-called ACC heavyweights will remain perfect? Duke Johnson and the 'U'  or 'Famous' Jameis and the 'Noles?  FSU defense once again proves to much for the 'Canes, as the home team wins by three scores. Florida State 37, Miami 20

Around the BCS Top 25:

4 Ohio State at Purdue: Last season the Buckeyes needed Kenny Guiton to throw for 2 TDs late, including one in overtime, to defeat the Boilermakers and remain undefeated. This year Guiton runs for 2 TDs in the second half, but the outcome is never in doubt. Ohio State 56, Purdue 13

Mississippi State at 14 South Carolina: Gamecocks are on a mission to make it back to the SEC Championship for the first time since 2010. Bulldogs put up a fight, but Jadeveon Clowney and company are too much in the end. South Carolina 20, Mississippi 17

17 Northern Illinois at Massachusetts: Huskies put away Minutemen before the end of the first half.
Northern Illinois 65, UMass 17

24 Wisconsin at Iowa: Hawkeyes keep this one close, but Badger running game eventually wears them down. Wisconsin 30, Iowa 24

21 Michigan at 22 Michigan State: Running back Fitzgerald Toussaint, quite possibly unaware how UM alum Mike Hart put his foot in his mouth, repeats Hart's line about how the Spartans are the Wolverine's little brother. Devin Gardner throws at least two interceptions in this game. Michigan State 27, Michigan 23

8 Clemson at Virginia: Tajh Boyd's chances to win the Heisman are quickly fading, but that doesn't stop the senior signal-caller from passing for 300 yards and 3 TDs against the Cavaliers. Clemson 42, Virginia 14

Navy at 25 Notre Dame: No luck of the Irish needed here. Notre Dame 45, Navy 24

11 Auburn at Arkansas: Tigers remain undefeated by pummeling hapless Razorbacks. Auburn 35, Arkansas 7

Tennessee at 9 Missouri: Maty Mauk and Tigers bounce back from their first loss of the season by edging a better-than-advertised Volunteer squad. Missouri 30, Tennessee 27

18 Oklahoma State at 15 Texas Tech: Red Raiders stay alive in race for Big 12 Championship with a victory over the Cowboys. Texas Tech 27, Oklahoma State 17

Colorado at 20 UCLA: Poor Colorado wishes it was still playing in what used to be the Big Eight. UCLA 40, Colorado 10

Saturday, October 26, 2013

College Football, Week 9: Oregon on upset Alert?

As we start to near the end of the college football season, the race is on to find out which teams (if any) will end the season 12-0 (or 13-0, if that team plays in a conference championship.) First and foremost this week is Oregon, who hosts their biggest game of the week when they face UCLA.

The Ducks feature one of the fastest scoring offenses in the nation, led by redshirt sophomore quarterback Marcus Mariota, who many consider to be the top prospect at the position in next year's NFL draft. And let's not forget the returning DeAnthony Thomas, aka DAT, whose 7 yard per carry is just outrageous, even for someone in the amateur ranks.

Then there's UCLA, whose hopes for a national title and PAC-12 North crown took a huge blow last weekend when they lost to Stanford. The Bruins, led by QB Brett Hundley, will look to avenge their first loss of 2013 with a stellar performance in Eugene.

Conventional wisdom says the Bruins don't stand a chance, with the Ducks averaging a whopping 57.6 points per game. And normally I would look to say that Oregon will continue on its hot streak as of late. But today I am throwing conventional wisdom out the books, and going with UCLA to hand Oregon its first lost in a shootout, 44-40.

In other top 25 action

Wake Forest at 7 Miami: I'm not so sure about the sanctions the NCAA handed down to the 'Canes in response to their most recent scandal. I'm also not sure that the 'U' finishes the season undefeated, either. What I am sure of, however, is that this isn't the first week where they lose. Miami, 49-7.

19 Oklahoma State at Iowa State: Last week I had the misfortune of thinking the Mountaineers could upset the Cowboys, only to see the visitors win 37-27. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice...there is no fooling me twice. Oklahoma State, 65-3

Connecticut at 23 UCF: The Huskies looked good a few weeks ago when they almost upset Michigan. This week I'm picking them as my upset special. Connecticut, 24-16

24 Nebraska at Minnesota: A game I almost predicted the exact score last season, I have a good feeling about this game again...for the Huskers that is. Taylor Martinez throws for 400 yards and 4 TDs. Nebraska, 45-14

20 Louisville at South Florida: Can 'Touchdown' Teddy Bridgewater and company bounce back against a better-than-their-record-shows USF squad? I think so. Louisville, 35-17

Vanderbilt at 16 Texas A &M: Johnny Football's hopes of repeating as Heisman winner may have taken a blow last week against Auburn. That still doesn't mean the Commodores have any shot of beating the Aggies. Texas A &M, 48-21

Tennessee at 1 Alabama: Less than 50,000 fans who don't 'work' according to Nick Saban even stay until halftime for this one. Like it matters anyway.  Alabama, 49-7

North Carolina State at 2Florida State: 'Famous' Jameis Winston takes another step toward becoming only the second freshman ever to win the Heisman Memorial Trophy. FSU, 28-10

9 Clemson at Maryland: What is Tajh Boyd's status for today's game? Unfortunately for the Terps, it doesn't really matter. Clemson, 27-17.

10 Texas Tech at 15 Oklahoma: At first I was going to pick the Sooners, but then I remembered their debacle earlier this year in the Red River Shootout. On the other hand, Red Raiders are due...
Oklahoma, 17-14

Duke at 14 Virginia Tech: I'd like to take this opportunity to once again wish my sister-in-law Kristen, a proud VT alum, a happy birthday. We'll just call the game against the Crimson Tide earlier in the year an aberration. Logan Thomas and company in a rout. Virginia Tech, 36-21

Eastern Michigan at 18 Northern Illinois: Huskies by a comfortable margin.

21 South Carolina at 5 Missouri: Before the season, I had the Gamecocks pegged as one team to contend for the SEC East title. Now I'm not so sure. But my gut tells me this is another upset.  South Carolina 24-21

 Penn State at 4 Ohio State: Buckeyes have yet to get their act together on defense. Urban is getting anxious, however. Look for a big change to bolster the Silver Bullets D. Ohio State, 35-14

Bonus Pick: Pittsburgh at Navy: Midshipmen lost a heartbreaker against the Rockets last week in double OT. Look for the Middies to bounce back this week at home against the Panthers. Navy, 28-24.
 That's all folks, until next time


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Have the Columbus Blue Jackets rediscovered their swagger?

As if expecations for the Columbus Blue Jackets weren't enough at the end of last season, the way the team started their 2013-2014 campaign certainly had to be disappointing. After just missing out on the NHL playoffs to then division rival Detroit by the narrowest of margins, many people believed that not only was this the year Columbus would return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a vengeance.

Yet, while the Jackets limped their way to a 2-5 record to open the season, the boo birds were out in full force once again ready to point their collective fingers, first at goalie Sergei Bobrovsky (even if it wasn't necessarily deserved) and then at head coach Todd Richards. How could a team that finished last season by winning eight of their last nine games start out so poorly?

But it appears that after last night's 4-1 win(their second straight, bringing their record to 4-5), the Jackets may have regained some of the swagger they had at the end of last season. Marian Gaborik, having scored his fourth goal already last night, appears to be the scorer that fans had hoped Rick Nash would turn into. Brandon Dubinsky proved that not only can he score when called upon to do so, but that he doesn't take crap from anyone. (His takedown in the 3rd period of Devils defender Anton Volchenkov was absolutely bad-ass.) And it is definitely nice for the CBJ to have their enforcer, Jared Boll, back on the ice as well.

The biggest takeaway from last night's game, however, is that even while up 3-1 in the 3rd period, the Jackets weren't content to sit on the lead. They took it to New Jersey until the final horn. Which is why I believe they might have rediscovered their swag.

Friday, October 18, 2013

College Football, Week 8: FSU Rules the ACC

I'm baaaaaackkkk!!! Just in time for the meat of the college football season.

And while it appears Alabama is primed to make a run at its third consecutive national title, another freshman quarterback looks to win the Heisman Trophy.

That's right folks, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston looks to punch his ticket to New York this weekend with a impressive performance against Clemson. You know, the kind of performance that Johnny Manziel had in 2012 against Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

In fact, some might say that Winston is performing better as a freshman this season than 'Johnny Football' had at this point in 2012. And while many pundits would argue that Marcus Mariota should be the frontrunner for college football's most prestigious award, I believe that it is Winston's trophy to lose.

But I digress. I'm back to predict this week's top 25 action, and this time there is a little twist. Unlike last year, I won't be providing outcomes. Instead, I am going to go head to head with the most current Las Vegas odds. It should be noted that last season I was 15-7 in predicting winners, nearly predicting the exact score on a few occasions.

On to tomorrow's predictions(note: all lines are from, last updated at 10/18/2013, teams that I predict to cover are in bold)

5 Florida State (-3) at 3 Clemson: This game has been and will continue (until game time) to be billed as the duel between quarterbacks Jameis Winston and Tajh Boyd. Yet the Seminoles would be unwise to count out the presence of wideout Sammy Watkins, who has been absolutely on fire in 2013, catching 36 passes for at total of 582 yards.

The X-factor in this game has to be the play of the Florida State defense. Among the leaders in scoring defense( allowing only 12.0 ppg), the Seminoles have also allowed opponents to convert only 29.41% of their third down conversions. Add to that FSU is +4 in turnover margin, and I believe the visitors will cover the small spread.

11 South Carolina (-7.5) at Tennessee: The Volunteers are still foaming at the mouth over their overtime loss at Neyland Stadium two weeks ago against Georgia. They believe they're better than their 3-3 record would suggest, and feel a win over the Gamecocks would go a long way to proving that.

Unfortunately for UT, SC's defense is a bit better than the Bulldogs. That and a healthy Connor Shaw means the favorites cover once again.

15 Georgia at Vanderbilt (+7): Bulldogs are pissed they let Mizzou walk into Athens and come away with a victory. With or without star running back Todd Gurley, look for UGA to roll.

16 Texas Tech(-5) at West Virginia : My upset special of the week as quarterback Clint Trickett has another big game. Mountaineers cover this one.

TCU (+7.5) at 21 Oklahoma State: Two weeks ago Cowboys were stunned by a game West Virginia squad. Could it happen again? No. Home team by at least 10.

22 Florida at 14 Missouri (+3): Tigers have been this year's Cinderella story. Unfortunately for them, without the services of QB James Franklin, the glass slipper no longer fits.

23 Northern Illinois at Central Michigan(+15): The Chippewas are terrible. Just terrible.

24 Auburn at 7 Texas A&M (-13.5): Johnny Manziel and company continue to play lights out, at least until they face LSU.

9 UCLA (+4.5) at 13 Stanford: Although Brett Hundley and the Bruins are on a roll, Stanford is at home and coming off a heartbreaking loss. Even so, I like the underdog to cover in a losing effort.

18 Oklahoma at Kansas (+22): Even Bill Self couldn't help the Jayhawks cover this line.

In other games:

20 Washington (+3.5) over Arizona State

Illinois (+14) covers at home versus 25 Wisconsin

1 Alabama covers versus Arkansas (do you really need the line for this one? Shaking my head)

6 LSU (-9.5) over Ole Miss


2 Oregon covers against whomever they're playing (I think it's Washington State, but again does it matter?)

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Blue Jackets take opener on the chin 4-3: Observations

For the soldout crowd at Nationwide Arena last night in Columbus, Ohio this was not the result they had expected.

Over 19,000 strong attending the game, and over 2 million across central Ohio have high hopes that their hometown team will not only make the playoffs, but advance beyond the first round as well.

After last night's 4-3 loss to Calgary, the more that expectations change for the Columbus Blue Jackets, the reality is that nothing will come easy for this team.

Fans had to be inspired by the play of the offense, who despite scoring only three goals, had numerous shots-on goal, and a power play goal to boot, courtesy of last season's star acquisition, striker Marian Gaborik. In fact, in the 1st period alone, the Jackets showed the same never-say-die attitude they displayed at the end of last season, scoring a goal each time the flames scored.

Yet it was the play of the defense and fan favorite, goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, that left fans wondering what this team will really look like this season. Giving up four goals is never good, and to do so to a team that you nearly dominated the previous season only adds insult to injury.

But it was only one game, and hopefully a contest that Jacket players have by now forgotten. A strong start will be essential to the Jackets making a successful playoff run, especially now that they are in what might be the toughest division of the NHL. Being able to bounce back from adversity, like they did toward the end of last season, is crucial for any pro hockey team looking to take the next step.

Prior to last night's game, I pondered what would be the Jackets' new slogan or theme song. You know, something catchy like the Clippers' Our Team, Our Town, but with the edge of  AC/DC's 'Thunderstruck', the song that blares over the PA during Ohio State football games. As I am sure there are many diehard fans who would be content with 'Feel the Power'/'Machinehead (the song by rock group Bush that blares over the PA at Nationwide Arena, for those of you who haven't been to a CBJ home game), it is a new season with new expectations. It's high time that the CBJ show the rest of the nation they mean business.

Friday, September 27, 2013

College Football Cupcakes: Quit Eating them

Recently there has been much ado made about college football powerhouses Ohio State, Louisville, and Miami (FL) scheduling games versus FCS opponents Florida A & M, Florida, International, and Savannah State. More than that is the money these teams receive before being humiliated on the field.

And while I think these games should go away, let's not ignore the elephant in the room. The problem is not that these teams are on the schedule, it is the large margin(s) of victory that the FBS schools rack up.

But let's not be ignorant about this. It's not like Alabama and the rest of the SEC aren't scheduling cupcakes of their own. In fact, the Crimson Tide face Chattanooga, an FCS squad that struggled to a six win season in 2012, a week before they play hated rival Auburn to end the season.

Alabama isn't the only one from the South to play weaker teams, either. Texas A&M feasted on Sam Houston State a week before hosting the Tide, and No. 6 LSU plays Furman.

And where was all the uproar when Oregon beat Nicholls State 66-3, an FCS school that WON ONE GAME ONLY in 2012?  Actually in the eyes of the Associated Press, that opening week victory vaulted them to No. 2 in the nation above Ohio State, who beat FBS school Buffalo handily, but didn't put up 70 on them.

Point is that teams need to stop scheduling these games, regardless of conference. And that everyone is guilty of doing it, not a few select schools. It's no less of a travesty whether it happens in week 4 (in the case of OSU, UL, and Miami), week 9 (LSU), or week 11 (Alabama).

So we should all stop pretending that this goes on among a few schools that are looking to rest their players, and hope the new playoff format results in better scheduling across the board.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Cleveland Browns: NFL's version of "Groundhog Day?"

The Cleveland Browns suck, plain and simple. Unlike other fans and Cleveland media types, I won't sugarcoat it. Honestly, I would be shocked if the Browns ended the season better than 4-12.

In fact, after watching Sunday's loss to the Baltimore Ravens, I am convinced that the Browns are the NFL's version of the film 'Groundhog Day,' doomed to repeat the same season year after year.

I had hope that the new management team of Jimmy Haslam, Joe Banner, and Mike Lombardi would bring in the talent necessary to compete in the AFC. To that end, they have upgraded the roster, but there are significant holes that remain. They also seemed to keep two players--Brandon Weeden and Greg Little--who are mostly dead weight (more on that in a bit).

I was initially skeptical of the Rob Chudzinski hiring, but I liked how he filled his assistant positions. Norv Turner and Ray Horton were two of the more respected coordinators in the league. Add to that the enthusiasm that 'Chud' brought to the table, and we might have the makings of something special here in Cleveland.

The reality is that this team is no different than the five previous versions. The defense is just good enough to keep the games close, but not good enough to win the game by itself. The offense is absolutely putrid, to the point I'd almost rather have a root canal without the novocaine.

One would think that a head coach--Rob Chudzinski--who is also a fan of the organization would be aware of the slow starts Cleveland has had in recent years. Yet going into the game versus Minnesota, here Cleveland is 0-2 once again. 

And the manner in which Cleveland has lost their first two games has made it even more frustrating. A team that was among the most penalized in the NFL last year, the Browns have committed 14 penalties through two contests in 2013. They consistently put themselves in 3rd and long situations, something even the Denver Broncos would find hard converting into first downs. Red Zone opportunities end in field goals rather than touchdowns as well.

But if I were to point out Cleveland's biggest problem, it might be starting quarterback Brandon Weeden. Despite the fact that this article calls Weeden an NFL quarterback, I just don't see it. In fact, Sunday's performance might be the worst by a QB who completed 21 of 33 passes for 227 yards and no TDs. If his delay of game penalties weren't bad enough (could someone please explain to me how you get called for a delay of game after you just called a timeout), he also failed to lead receivers past the first down marker on several 3rd and short situations. And even the most average college qb wouldn't have overthrown a wide open Davone Bess, who was ready to take the ball to the house.

Of course, it didn't help Weeden that his No. 1 receiving option, Josh Gordon, was in street clothes, and his top alternative receiver, Greg Little, couldn't catch pneumonia if it was thrown to him. I am not sure if the NFL officially keeps track of drops, but Little might actually have more drops through two games than receptions.

And then there's Trent Richardson. The No. 3 overall pick of the 2012 draft, he's starting to remind fans of William Green more than Jim Brown. In two games this year he has 105 yards and no TDs.  He is on pace to end the season with 840 yards and 7 rushing TDs (I'm being generous with the latter stat, of course).

Of course, with Brandon Weeden now sidelined for the Minnesota game due to a thumb injury, fans will get to see how good the offense can be with Jason Campbell at the helm. Funny thing is it really can't get any worse.

Monday, September 2, 2013

More Observations on Week 1 of College Football

As the opening weekend of college football comes to a close tonight with Florida State vs. Pittsburgh, there might be more questions than answers. While some of the top teams took care of business as expected, other teams were upset, some by FCS (Division I-AA schools).

Looking back at the weekend's action, here are several observations:

Alabama is still the top team in the nation, at least for now. 

There is an old saying that goes 'in order to be the champ, you have to beat the champ.' Well, Alabama is the defending national champ. And, despite a less than stellar performance offensively against Virginia Tech, they still defeated the Hokies rather handily. So, until someone beats them, the Crimson Tide is the No. 1 team in the nation by default.

 It certainly looks like Christion Jones might be the heir apparent to Eddie Lacy for this squad.

The state of South Carolina might have two teams that are legitimate BCS contenders in 2013.

Everyone knew that Jadeveon Clowney and company were going to be a force to be reckoned with in Columbia.

Yet the unknown might have been how Clemson, South Carolina's other BCS squad, would perform in 2013. A 270 yard, 3 TD passing performance by quarterback Tajh Boyd certainly has people talking about the Tigers chances to run the table in the ACC.

 The biggest threat to Clemson's chances at an undefeated season might be the Gamecocks, who will face the Tigers in the season finale in Columbia.

Speaking of running the table, the Louisville Cardinals began their quest to go 12-0 with a resounding 49-7 victory yesterday over Ohio. Teddy Bridgewater, one of the favorites for the Heisman this year, made a emphatic opening statement passing for 355 yards and 5 TDs.  Everyone has been chirping about how Ohio State has an easy chance to run the table this season, but the Cardinals don't face one team ranked in the preseason AP Top 25.

On the West Coast, Oregon made it's claim to being in the top 5, but they still might not be the best team in the PAC-12. 

The Ducks' rolled against a clearly overmatched Nicholls St team, with DeAnthony Thomas and Marcus Mariota picking up where they left off last season.  Yet Stanford, the defending PAC-12 champs, didn't even play this week. This debate may not be settled until these two teams meet on November 7.

Finally, Michigan and Notre Dame, two teams that have quietly flown under the radar this preseason, made big statements of their own a week prior to their showdown in the Big House.

Both the Wolverines and Irish opened the season with new signal-callers under center. And while Michigan's 59-9 demolition was not totally unexpected, it was Notre Dame's 28-6 win that set up what should be a very intriguing matchup.

Michigan's Devin Gardner, a better pure passer than the departed Denard Robinson, might be one of the more underrated quarterbacks in the nation. It will be interesting to see how an Irish defense missing its leading tackler from last year handles him.

For the Irish offense, they will need senior Tommy Rees to play like he did on Saturday.

Ohio State Football: Rapid Reaction

Okay, so maybe this post shouldn't be called rapid reaction since it has been almost two days since the Buckeyes' victory over Buffalo. But here are some thoughts on that contest and some observations in general about this Buckeye team:


Jordan Hall's return was a smashing success. The senior tailback, now in his fifth(or is it sixth?) year with Ohio State, ran all over the Bulls to the tune of 159 yards and two TDs. For anyone wondering how the Buckeye run game would hold up with Carlos Hyde and Rod Smith in street clothes, I think Hall erased any questions the doubters might have.

Dontre Wilson is as good as advertised. I know it was only Buffalo, but fans have to be pleased with the true freshman's performance on Saturday. Not only did Wilson show some of his elusiveness on a screen pass that he turned into an 18-yard gain, but I am sure many people thought he was going to take his lone kickoff return(which ended up as a 51 yard gain) to the house.

Kenny Guiton proved once again why he is the best backup qb in the nation. When Miller went down early in the third quarter, I'm sure everyone in 'The Shoe' were holding their collective breaths. Yet Guiton, as Mr. Joe Cool, calmly went in and led Ohio State on a three play scoring drive. As much as OSU fans think the season would be lost if Miller were to go down, I think they'd be surprised to see how well the offense fares with Guiton under center.


Ohio State's defense. Not only did the Silver Bullets defense, with star recruits Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington as bookends on the line, fail to produce any pass rush, they only forced one turnover against a mediocre Bull offense. What's even more concerning is that the linebackers, without Shazier in the lineup, seemed to lack punch. As I have said before, Curtis Grant needs to step up in a big way at the mike linebacker if this defense is to be successful.

Turnovers. Ohio State lost one fumble, had one pass intercepted for a touchdown, and almost had another fumble recovered by Buffalo for a touchdown if it weren't for an illegal hands to the face penalty. The Buckeyes can get by with mistakes like these against lesser teams, but once Big Ten play starts they need to be winning the turnover battle.


Offensive line play. It was to say the very least, offensive(pun intended). Right guard Taylor Decker, so highly touted during the offseason, got beat so many times he should have been playing for the other team. And aside from Hall's two TD runs and some runs by Braxton Miller late in the fourth, the run blocking could definitely use some work.

Moving Forward

There are many in Buckeye nation who believe that Ohio State doesn't belong in the top 10 after their performance against Buffalo, let alone the top 2. To those people I would say slow your roll, homies. Ohio State won the game, and, although the margin of victory wasn't 60 points, I think anybody would be hard-pressed to say the outcome was ever in doubt.  So bottom line is Ohio State did what they needed to do, regardless of what anyone else might say.

Do I think Ohio State is a top 2 team right now? No, but that is beside the point. Everyone in Buckeye nation is chomping at the bit to get their hands on an SEC team in the national championship game. Personally I don't give a shit about the SEC at this point. They're a great conference, and they've won the last six or seven national title games, but Ohio State can only worry about the games in front of them. There is no use worrying about how we stack up against Alabama, Florida, Oregon, or even Texas A&M because at this point there is no guarantee we will even play one of those teams at the end of the season.

It is clear the Buckeyes have significant work to do, and hopefully they're focused on San Diego State next week, and not worried about what lies further down the road in the schedule.

Friday, August 30, 2013

College Football 2013: 5 Takeaways from Last Night's Games

College football season opened last night with a bang. BANG!!! That's right folks, football is back. And while most of you are waiting for your favorite teams to play tomorrow, here are 5 things I observed from last night's contests:

1. South Carolina is a top 10, maybe even top 5 team in the nation, even without Jadeveon Clowney on the field.

Much ado has been made about Clowney, and with good reason, as the junior from Rock Hill, SC finished 2012 with 13 sacks and 23.5 tackles for loss. But even without Clowney on the field last night, the Gamecocks held their own against the up-tempo offense of North Carolina, allowing only 15 points.

And on the offensive side of the ball, South Carolina seems just fine without the services of Marcus Lattimore. Much will be made in the coming days about Mike Davis' 75 yard TD run, and for good reason. But did you all see fullback Brandon Wilds out there bowling over defenders? If the Gamecocks can get that type of production from their RBs on a consistent basis, and Connor Shaw plays like he did last night, this will be a team to watch. And did you see the O-line for SC?!!! Massive.

I understand it was only North Carolina, but this team is only going to get better. And no offense to the other conferences (Big Ten I'm talking about you) but I'm thinking that only another team from the SEC can keep this squad from winning the BCS national championship.

2. Lane Kiffin needs to decide on a starting quarterback, and soon; his job may depend on it.

I know you guys beat Hawaii 30-13 and your defense looked phenomenal. But there is a reason Taylor Graham is now the starting quarterback for the Warriors, and not a backup on Ohio State's roster(which was plane to see last night).

If the Trojans wish to compete with the likes of Oregon and Stanford for the PAC-12 championship this season, Kiffin must name a starting quarterback and stick with him asap. Developing offensive rhythm will be paramount for the USC offense once conference play starts.

3. Don't put me on the Ole Miss Bandwagon just yet.

Much has been made of the recruiting job that second-year head coach Hugh Freeze put together in 2013. And when one looks at what the Rebels have on paper, it is impressive.

But as everyone knows football games aren't won on paper, they're won on the field. Nick Saban doesn't continue to win national titles just because he can recruit well; he is also able to get the most out of the players he brings into the Crimson Tide system.

So Ole Miss beat Vanderbilt in a shootout last night. That's nice, but it doesn't necessarily mean they've turned the corner in the SEC just yet. I'll be eager to see how they play when they travel to Austin in two weeks to face the University of Texas.

4. The SEC will once again be the Bully of the FBS. 

This is starting to sound like a broken record, much like Bill Murray in the movie Groundhog Day. But I just can't see the balance of power in college football undergoing a dramatic shift in 2013. Clemson, however, has a chance to change perception somewhat tomorrow night when they face Georgia.

5. Minnesota put up 51 points en route to a victory over UNLV, but most of the country wasn't even watching.

The Golden Gophers opened the season with a big win in front of their home crowd in a new stadium. But you probably weren't even aware they played last night until I just told you.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

NFL Preseason: Why It Matters

Football is here! The most wonderful time of the year has once again descended upon us all!!! That's right, despite retail store's claims to the contrary, the year's most glorious season, the fall, is almost in full swing.

And while many people will argue that preseason football doesn't count, am I going to give you five reasons why it does:

1. Preseason football is like a job audition for at least 50 players on every team, where many undrafted gems are uncovered on a yearly basis.

Ever hear of guys like Tony Romo, Wes Welker, Victor Cruz, and London Fletcher? You have? Quick, tell me what year they were drafted in and by whom. That's right, you can't, because each one of these guys were undrafted free agents who have now blossomed into pro-bowl type players. And they were all discovered during preseason games. So the next time you tell your buddy 'man that guy came out of nowhere' well, he really didn't. It's just that he earned his spot by playing well during the preseason rather than being drafted.

Side note: For everyone out there who is a Tony Romo hater (and there are many out there, I'll admit I was even one) his career stat line looks like this 64.7 percent completion ratio; 25,737 passing yards; 177 passing TDs vs 91 interceptions. This from a guy who was undrafted. Let me put that in all caps for emphasis: UNDRAFTED

2. Preseason games may not count toward a team's record, but injuries during training camp and games start to pile up. 

The loss of even one key player (such as a Jeremy Maclin, Percy Harvin, or Bryan Bulaga for instance) can have lasting ramifications for a team trying to make a playoff push. But add to that another injury at a similar position and that can all but end a team's playoff chances.

So that is another reason to watch your team in the preseason, i.e, to make sure you understand their injury situation. Of course, you can't help them overcome injury issues, but at least you'll understand why they aren't performing up to par.

3. Stellar preseason performances don't necessarily translate into regular season success, but failure in the preseason almost always carries over.

Of the 14 or so games played last Thursday or Friday, many first string squads had decent outings. But I was interested to see the Patriot's backup, Tim Tebow, struggle in his first game with New England. Leads me to believe that Ryan Mallet may be the backup, and this may be Tim's last stop in the NFL.

4. Its football: what other reason do you really need?!!!

 You have something better watch on a Thursday night in August?

5. Preseason football can mean everything to your fantasy football team.

Like I said before, it pays to watch preseason football, especially if you play fantasy football. Or you don't have to. Just let your best friend watch the games, but don't come whining to me when his team defeats yours for the league championship (and the cash).

Saturday, August 3, 2013

NFL Fantasy Football 2013: 10 Things U Should Know

Hello all, I am back. I told you I would be publishing with more frequency, but you didn't believe me. Now that I have that out of the way, on to the topic of today's blog post.

Today I will be talking about NFL Fantasy Football and the 10 things you might not (but should) know. Like when to draft a kicker, how many tight ends you should consider, etc. Not!!! Hey if you want that kind of info hit up Matthew Berry or the like @MatthewBerryTMR. Who do you think I am, Quicken Loans?

On a more serious note, what I hope to impart to all three of my readers today is a little knowledge that will make your fantasy football experience in 2013 even more enjoyable. Because winning your league is fun, but destroying everyone else on the way to the championship is even better. Kinda like having your cake and eating it too. An expression that is way overused, I know.

So, without further ado, here are 10 things you should (but might not) know about fantasy football:

1. Most fantasy football leagues last 16 weeks,  but most experts make projections thru week 17. It might do you some good, then, to look at how a player performed in 15 games last season.

The kicker here is that even if your team makes the playoffs, how Adrian Peterson or Aaron Rodgers performs in week 17 will be of little use to you. But the experts are all going to sell you on how these guys will perform in 16 games because it may sound flashier.

For instance; take a look at the top five running backs from last season thru 17 weeks*:

Adrian Peterson- 2097 yards rushing, 12 rushing TDs; 217 yards receiving, 2 receiving TDs
Alfred Morris- 1613 yards rushing, 13 rushing TDs; 77 receiving yards
Marshawn Lynch- 1590 rushing yards, 11 rushing TDs; 196 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD
Doug Martin- 1454 rushing yards, 11 rushing TDs; 472 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD
Arian Foster- 1424 rushing yards, 15 rushing TDs; 217 receiving yards, 2 receiving TDs

But lets look at each individuals production thru week 16 of the 2012 season:

Adrian Peterson- 1898 yards rushing, 9 rushing TDs; 215 yards receiving, 0 receiving TDs
Alfred Morris- 1413 yards rushing,  8 rushing TDs; 55 yards receiving
Marshawn Lynch- 1490 yards rushing, 11 TDs; 182 yards receiving
Doug Martin- 1312 yards rushing, 10 rushing TDs; 454 yards receiving, 1 TD
Arian Foster- 1328 yards rushing, 14 rushing TDs; 194 yards receiving, 2 TD

The difference between the two sets of numbers may seem insignificant until one takes a second glance. When parsed down to 15 games, not only does Marshawn Lynch have more rushing yards than Alfred Morris, but he also has more than three times the receiving yards. So the point here is that while it is useful to look at the expert projections, it might be a wise idea to break them down into 15 game chunks. Because unless you play in a league that goes all 17 weeks of the NFL season, that is the most you're going to get from your stars.

2. When following fantasy football, it pays to follow current events. 

 You're thinking of drafting Aaron Hernandez because Gronk is out, right? What about Riley Cooper, the Eagles veteran receiver is second on the depth chart now that Jeremy Maclin is out for the season. If you're not living under a rock you know neither of these guys will likely be playing to start the season. Yet you would be surprised how many people still will draft these guys.

3. And in addition to reading expert analysis, it pays to watch preseason football. Seriously.

So I've been in a few fantasy football leagues, and I've picked up a few players based on their performance in the preseason. The first time was in 2010 after watching an unheralded Peyton Hillis bumrush the St. Louis Rams. After Hillis went undrafted and no one claimed him off waivers in week one, I took a flyer on him in week 2. He ended up a top 10 fantasy running back and one of my leading scorers.

A year later I was watching the New Orleans Saints play the Oakland Raiders in the preseason when I noticed Drew Brees favoring a young player named Jimmy Graham. I waited until the 10th round to draft him, which still could have been high, but considering he outscored many No. 1 wide receivers that season I would say he was worth the pick.

4. It helps to know your leagues rules. Seriously.

I have been playing fantasy football for 8 years now, and a commissioner for 3, and it never amazes me how someone will fall victim to not knowing their leagues rules. It could be something simple as how many roster spots your team has, or something more complex like whether you're in a PPR (point per reception league). Point is you won't win your league if you don't know the rules. Before you even draft you should know them. This may not be a pearl of wisdom that you couldn't find elsewhere, but it just makes good sense.

5. The only Cleveland Brown worth drafting is Trent Richardson, and even then you might want to wait. 

Look, I'll admit I am one of the biggest Browns fans in this great nation of ours. And since I've started playing fantasy football, I've dreamed of the day I would win my league with three or four Browns players on my team.

Okay, I just picked myself up off the floor from laughing after that statement. No one has ever said that in their life, ever. Sure I hope Browns players do well enough I can pick them up from waivers. And I also hope I will win PowerBall some day. As a rule, however, no good can come from drafting a Browns player. Unless it is Richardson, and he is your second running back.

6. Quarterback is the most overvalued position in fantasy football.

Remember last year, when everyone was on the 'Aaron Rodgers should be your No. 1 pick in this pass-friendly NFL?'  Well, I don't know where he finished in fantasy scoring, but I do know the guy who won my league last year did not have him as a starting qb. As a matter of fact, I think last year's league champ didn't draft a QB until the fourth round or later.

Point is, in a 10 team league, you're probably going to be able to get a decent quarterback as a mid round selection.

7. Tight end might be the most underrated position in fantasy football.

There was a time when it didn't matter where you drafted a tight end, as long as you had a least one starter on your roster. Then along came Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham, and others, changing the whole dynamic. Now a top-tier tight end can be even more productive for you than a No. 2 wide receiver.

And with all that has happened to Patriot tight ends this off season, don't be surprised if someone snags Jimmy Graham before round 3. Might want to start your mock draft with the TE at the top of your list.

8. There is more expert analysis for you out there than just Yahoo! and ESPN.

In case you didn't know, I also write for a website,, whose sister solely on NFL Fantasy football. Now some of the site is premium content--meaning you have to sign up for a subscription--but even the free stuff has some great analysis.

Another good website I have run into is called NFLVR (NFL Virtual Reality- and because it has a disclaimer, I also am going to repeat it has no official affiliation with the NFL.) The site moderator--Austin Jordan, appears to be quite knowledgeable, and is eager to provide projections upon request. All you have to do is send a tweet to @NFLVR if you have a question about a specific player.

9. When trying to win in fantasy football, please leave your hatred of the rivalries at the door. Thanks

It makes me laugh when someone says I won't draft so and so because he plays for the Steelers, or I can't draft Peyton Manning because he plays for my division rival. So? Look, these guys are going to play well regardless of how your team does, so why not ride them to a little extra cash (and a championship) in the process?

10. Have fun, and don't take it too seriously--after all it is just fantasy football, and when its over its over.

A great point, and a lesson I could learn as well.  So your best friend beat you in fantasy football. Life goes on. As Browns fans know all too well, 'there's always next year.'

* Stats courtesy of

Friday, August 2, 2013

College Football 2013: Random Thoughts

With the college football season less than a month away, there has not been a shortage of story lines. Whether it is the off season troubles of Ohio State, Alabama's quest to pull off a rare three-peat, or Johnny Football being, well, Johnny in the Spotlight, college football has taken center stage in the summer of 2013. And here are just a few observations from your resident college football guru as summer camp begins in most universities this week:

Alabama's quest to three-peat as BCS national champion will be harder than it looks.

Not since the 1934-36 Minnesota Golden Gophers has an FBS (Football Bowl Subdivison) team won three straight national titles. The Crimson Tide will try to end that drought this year, but it won't be easy.

To even get to the BCS National Championship game, Alabama will have to navigate the tough-as-nails Southeastern Conference schedule. The whole notion that Alabama will play a hard SEC schedule despite not playing either Florida, Georgia, or South Carolina seems at first to be laughable. Yet the fact of the matter is they still have to travel to Texas A&M and play Louisiana State. Add to that they could also see Florida, UGA, or South Carolina in the SEC championship, and I'm not so sure you would call that an easy schedule.

The odds of a 1-loss Alabama squad making it to the BCS title game this year aren't as good as they were last year. I have heard almost ad nauseam how Ohio State(whom I will get to in a bit) might have trouble getting into the national title picture should they go undefeated due to their poor scheduling. Yet am I to believe that Alabama, who hasn't had an undefeated team since 2009 and plays in the SEC, has better odds of running the table than Ohio State, who plays a schedule similar to last year (when they went 12-0)? If two BCS eligible squads go 13-0, and Alabama wins the SEC at 12-1, my money is on the Crimson Tide being on the outside looking in.

Ohio State football, despite its recent troubles and all the hatred toward it, isn't going anywhere.

The Buckeyes have had a rough couple of months, with four players being suspended/removed from the team for running afoul of the law in some form. That being said, the team is still in pretty good position to make a run at the national title. Braxton Miller, in his third year and second under head coach Urban Meyer's spread offense, should show dramatic improvement in his decision making ability. The run game will be fine even without Carlos Hyde, as I expect Rod Smith and company to step up in a big way. The defense should be much improved as well, as the upperclassmen finally understand what is expected of them from the new coaching staff. And their schedule does shake out very favorably, even with the two bye weeks sprinkled in.

Yet despite all the positives the Buckeyes have going for them, there are still those people who want to hate on the program. Many of them live right here in Columbus not far from me. Those people can continue to hate. I will not apologize for what is perceived weak OSU football schedule, as I didn't make it and I can't control it. I am also tired of apologizing for the misconduct of players on the football team. Bottom line is I know the majority of the student athletes that go to Ohio State are upstanding individuals, and whether you know that is not my problem.

Before I go any further, I should also note that people often like to 'dog' the Buckeyes to get under my skin. They like to use past or present results to knock my so-called 'expertise' of the great sport we call college football. Well, I will let you in on a little secret. I don't know that much about college football. Neither does Kirk Herbstreit or Desmond Howard. Bottom line is that anyone can pontificate about who will win the national title, but until the games are played no one really knows who is going to win. Don't believe me? Go to and look at both Kirk's and Desmond's preseason predictions for 2012.

By the way, how does Urban Meyer go from being 'one of the best coaches in the game' at Florida (where he won two national titles, btw) to just a 'fine coach' at Ohio State?  Did he not just lead the Buckeyes to the only undefeated season in the FBS in 2012? Go back and look at the Purdue game. Most people say that OSU shouldn't have won that game, yet had Jim Tressel been the coach in that situation they most likely lose. Heck, even Alabama was in a similar situation against Texas A and M last year and lost, with their starting quarterback (AJ McCarron) in the game no less.

But I digress on to more pressing points like

The NCAA is one big joke.

From Johnny Manziel being able to capitalize on a nickname, to the botched Miami of Florida investigation, to the light punishment handed down to North Carolina, the NCAA has a serious credibility issue. They bring the Hammer down on a school such as Penn State for something that has nothing to do with recruiting, yet the Hurricanes become 'Party U' and they are still dragging their collective feet on the matter. Not too mention that Johnny Manziel could have a secret stash of cash due to his success in trademarking 'Johnny Football' yet no one has looked into that.

I guess I really shouldn't care, as the NCAA as we know it going to be obsolete shortly. What worries me, however, is that some of the same knuckleheads (my new favorite term) who run the NCAA are also the ones that will form 'Division 4' as it is now called. If this is the case, how can we be sure the new association polices its member schools better than the other ones? And as far as paying players go, how will this new alignment be able to work out an agreement that doesn't violate Title IX?

To drive home my point of the ineptitude of the member schools of this unofficial 'Division 4,' let's look at the recent playoff system to be adopted in January of 2015. This calls for the top four teams to play each other in a semifinal format where the winners play for the championship. Yet how are the top 4 teams decided? Correct me if I am wrong but two athletic directors from each of the major conferences will make up part of the playoff committee. How can we trust such individuals, many of whom know that a playoff means a significant payday for not only their conference but their respective school, to make a unbiased decision on the matter? What if one of the ADs happens to be butthurt like Bret Bielema (formerly coach of Wisconsin, now coach at Arkansas) and votes against a team in his conference just out of spite?

But enough on the matter, I 'll let you debate that on your own.

Finally it costs way too much to go to a football game these days.

Many of these schools are charging more than professional teams do to get into a game. And while I will admit the popularity of college football has never been higher, I 'd forgo paying $80 to watch my team play at the stadium if I can watch it on TV for free (or $20 I guess after food and beverages) any day. Especially if I know the outcome will more than likely already be determined before halftime. Hey Division 4, Division $$$$ (what you should rename your association), Nike Football League or whatever, here is another suggestion: actually schedule games that can hold fans attention for an entire three hours.

Friday, July 26, 2013

My Airing of Grievances: Big Ten Media Days

Hello everyone, it has been a while. I apologize for the hiatus and promise it won't happen again. At least until the next time, anyway. Lol

So, there is this segment on local Sports Radio 97.1 The Fan in Columbus Ohio called 'Airing of Grievances' with Common Man and Company. It's a call-in segment that allows listeners to air any grievances they may have on-air for 20 seconds, as long as they follow certain guidelines As I am typing this the host of Common Man and Company-- Mike Ricordati-- is ripping his audience a new one because, unfortunately, a lot of them have trouble following the simple guidelines of decency and common sense.

It made me think what grievance would I have called in to "air" had I the opportunity? Really, it's quite simple. During the Big Ten Media days in Chicago, Illinois, when Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer stepped up to the podium, reporters had the chance to ask him any question they wanted. Yet 8 of the 10 questions presented to coach Meyer centered around the recent off-the-field incidences that have led to four players being either suspended or removed from the team altogether.

I understand that this is a big issue, not only for the players involved but also for the Ohio State football team and the university at large. I also understand that, given Urban Meyer's past with the University of Florida, there are many people who believe his coaching philosophy is 'win at all costs.'

Yet Ohio State is on the verge of accomplishing some very distinguished firsts, too. Like being the first team in school history to win a national championship a year after finishing the season undefeated. And the first Ohio State team to win a national championship, and have a player (quarterback Braxton Miller) win the Heisman, too. Finally, an Ohio State victory in the BCS championship would end the Southeastern Conference's current streak in the title game at six.

And all the media could focus on was, as Urban Meyer so eloquently put it, ' the few knuckleheads who were trying to ruin it for the rest of us.' In the words of former Ohio State wide receiver and current ESPN analyst Cris Carter, "C'mon, Man!!" It seriously seemed like they were all waiting for some pearl of wisdom to come from Meyer on why these incidents were happening.

Yet here are at least 8 questions I think that, given the season the Buckeyes just finished, the 'knuckleheads' in the media should have asked:

1. From what you've seen of Braxton Miller this offseason, what appears to be the biggest improvement in his game?

2. With all the trouble it appeared you had at linebacker in 2012, how do you feel about the talent you have on the roster this season in regard to the position? Do you believe there is more or less depth at LB in 2013?

3. You stated in the spring of 2012 that there also appeared to be a 'lack of playmakers' on the offensive side of the ball, especially at the wide receiver position. A year later, how has your opinion changed on the subject? Besides Philly Brown and Devin Smith, obviously, who are guys you believe have the potential to 'break a big one' this season?

4. According to ESPN, you have the number two recruiting class in the nation this year behind Alabama. From what you've seen so far, which freshmen do you see making an immediate impact/starting this season?

5. There were a number of wins last season that were very close, including six games that were decided by 7 points or less. As you look at the schedule, which teams concern you the most this year?

6. Replacing John Simon and Johnathan Hankins this season on the defensive line won't be easy. If there is a guy on this year's team whose effort mimic's Simon, who would it be?

7. The Buckeyes don't play either Michigan State or Nebraska this season. Are you worried that not playing either of these Big Ten 'heavyweights' might allow your guys to get complacent?

8. The SEC has dominated the national title picture for the last half decade. Do you think this year's squad can legitimately challenge an SEC team for the national title?

Granted, he might have been as non-committal with some of the answers to those questions as the ones he was actually asked. But I don't understand why when given an opportunity to ask questions about football, the media insists on asking questions that don't pertain to the field. Especially when many of those questions happen to be loaded anyway (meaning Meyer isn't going to answer it).

In my opinion, Meyer is an individual of the highest integrity and moral fiber. I may be a bit biased as an Ohio State fan, but I am not going to apologize for that, either. And truth be told, he may be trying to be proactive for the sake of his image. But the truth is that most parents would rather send their son to a school where the coach is a disciplinarian than to someone who doesn't care at all.

But I digress. The point is that despite all these issues, Ohio State football is still a team on a mission. And a few bad apples will not sour the hard work the rest of the players have put in. And hopefully come mid-January, this will all be a distant memory--a bump in the road on the way to a championship.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Why I Hate LeBron James--And I Don't Care If You Do Either

In the wake of the Miami Heat's second consecutive NBA Championship, I had prepared a very nasty post concerning one LeBron James.

And although I am going to tone down some of that rhetoric, I will explain why I don't like the so called 'chosen one.' Not that I need to defend myself to the LeBron Apologists, who believe everyone should be a fan. That they should bow before his greatness, as if he has somehow found the cure for cancer or AIDS.

No, to me LeBron has become more hated than the Pittsburgh Steelers, John Elway, Art Modell, and Ray Lewis combined. Anyone who knows even the slightest about Cleveland Browns' football understands why that is such a huge statement.

LeBron Apologists will say get over The Decision, it's more than time to move on. I say LeBron Apologists get over yourselves. Basketball is a team game, and LeBron has chosen himself over the team. Drafted by Cleveland at the age of 18, he was expected to lead the Cavaliers to greatness they had never seen before. And although he didn't get them there, it wasn't for a lack of trying.

Or was it? A Cavs team that had been hand picked by LeBron himself--the decision to let Carlos Boozer go, the acquistion of first Damon Jones, then Mo Williams, and later Antwan Jamison--were all moves that had been rubber stamped by the 'King' (makes me sick even saying that) himself. Even the decision to hire Mike Brown as head coach--essentially a James yes man--was an indirect sign of the influence this man had over the Cleveland front office. Yet, at the end of the day, the only thing the Cavs would have to show for themselves was a 0-4 NBA Finals sweep by the San Antonio Spurs in 2007.

LeBron Apologists will point to the fact there have been other great players to earn championships after leaving their original teams. Shaquille O'Neal, Clyde Drexler, Kevin Garnett are three of the most recent examples. Yet none of these players left their original teams with nearly the fanfare that surrounded James. I'm also pretty sure that before they left town they also thanked the fans for supporting them--something the 'Chosen One' has yet to do for the city of Cleveland (an apology would be nice, too.) And once they got to their new destination, they didn't talk about the number of rings they would win---they just went out and won them.

Then there is the whole  post game interview where James emphatically states " I'm from Akron, Ohio (the inner city)--I'm not even supposed to be here." Give me a break. You're six foot eight inches tall, blessed with natural quickness and a leaping ability that most guys would die for, and have been told you would be great probably since you were 10 years old. I don't think you'll get an ounce of sympathy from me. There are a lot of other people in the world that have overcome a lot longer odds than you have.

But the biggest issue I have with LeBron is the way he helped form the current Miami Heat team. Got together with his buddies Chris and Dwyane and asked them in the middle of the night if they all wanted to play together. Of the three aforementioned individuals who were also high profile free agents, I am certain none of them got to rubber stamp their teammates before they moved to their new location. In fact the struggles between Shaq and Kobe in Los Angeles have been well documented. But each player put aside their personal differences, at least for a little while, in interest of the greater good of the team. To me that is the true definition of being the ultimate team player. Do you honestly think Michael Jordan agreed with every decision that the then Chicago Bulls GM Jerry Krause made?

LeBron Apologists will say this is all stupid, I need to get over myself. I say get a life. Quit putting hero worship on an individual who clearly values his own legacy before the team. A man who, despite making millions upon millions of dollars doing something he loves, needs an entourage of yes men calling him 'The Chosen One' and 'King James.'  Do you honestly think the man really cares if you root for him? I don't remember him thanking the fans once during the whole Game 7 post game interview that has since circled the internet a million times over.

I'll acknowledge that what he has done is impressive. And if he wins another title next year, he may be among the top five players all-time, maybe top three. But he has a long way to go to win my support back. In fact, I am not sure there is much he could do at this point that would change my mind.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Tim Duncan: Last of the Dominant Big Men?

As everyone prepares for Game 5 of the NBA Finals tonight, I 'd like to take this opportunity to acknowledge one of the greatest to ever play the game.

That's right folks, I am talking about none other than Timothy Duncan, power forward for the Western Conference Champion San Antonio Spurs.

In fact, regardless of whether the Spurs win or lose this series, we may be seeing the end of the dominant big man era in basketball.

Duncan, drafted No.1 overall by San Antonio out of Wake Forest(and perhaps the last college senior to ever be the first overall pick), would have an immediate impact for the Spurs as a rookie, averaging 21 points, 11 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game. The following year, a lockout shortened season, the Spurs would win their first ever NBA Championship. Since that time, the Spurs have won three more titles, and they are currently working on their fifth ring.

As the years have gone by, Duncan has quietly gone about his business. And the hardware has kept piling up. He's been selected to the All-Star game 14 times. He's won the league MVP twice, and been named Finals MVP three times. If he wins a fifth ring this June, he will join Kobe Bryant as two of the most decorated superstars of their generation. As a big man, he will trail only the legendary Bill Russell of the Boston Celtics in that category.

And once he retires, it might signal the end of the dominant big man era in professional basketball. It has already become very transparent that teams don't need a big man to succeed in today's NBA, and Dwight Howard has proved with the Lakers that sometimes it can even be a detriment.

Sure there will be people who point to Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert as the changing of the guard. And he had a nice little performance in the Eastern Conference Finals. But until he consistently perform at the level he had during this season, I would say it's premature to call him a dominant big man.

Others would point to Kevin Love and Blake Griffin as examples of dominant bigs. To that, I say call me when either one of those individuals' teams advance beyond the first round of the playoffs. And don't even get me started on Griffin. Let's just say you need to be able to do more than dunk to be considered dominant.

Then there is last year's No. 1 overall pick, Anthony Davis from the University of Kentucky. Considered the best player in college basketball two years ago, someday he might develop into an all-star. Never mind that Duncan played at an All-Star level in his very first season with San Antonio. There will be other big men drafted No. 1 overall, no doubt, but it will be interesting to see what kind of an impact these kids will ultimately have in the league.

Detractors will point to the fact that Duncan has always had a tremendous supporting cast, including Hall of Famer David Robinson, Tony Parker, Sean Elliot, and Manu Ginobli among others. Yet those people also haven't followed the Spurs all that closely, either. Duncan has made each one of those players better the moment he stepped onto the court as a rookie in 1997. Nor can they truly appreciate the on court battles he did with the likes of Shaq, Dirk Nowitski, Dikembe Mutombo and others.

So whether the Spurs win or lose, enjoy the performance that Tim Duncan has put on throughout this postseason, and his career. We may never see one like it again.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Stepping Up To The Plate

This afternoon I participated in a charity softball tournament with several of my coworkers and their families. It was a fun experience that I am not soon to forget.

To clarify, the proceeds went to charity-- the Susan Komen Fund for the Cure to be precise-- but there were no celebrities present. Of course, in my humble opinion, all of my teammates and the members of the opposing team might as well have been celebrities.

The game was a hit (pun intended) and even though the team I was on lost, I believe everyone had a great time. I can't wait to do it again, even though my whole body aches from the experience. Having played catcher for most of the game, I have a new found respect for the position.

And, along the way, I found out two things about myself that I hadn't considered before. One is that I could really start to like playing softball, to the point that I would like to join a league sometime in the near future. Secondly, I am seriously out of shape if I want to continue to play softball. Haha

This is coming from someone who is a huge football fan, so much so that over 75% of my blogs/articles center around that topic. Don't get me wrong, I follow baseball but I don't really get interested in the sport until the playoffs. I will check box scores on a week to week basis, but that is only because, like most other diehard sports fans, I am a stats junkie.

Speaking of which, although I had decent offensive stats, I will not mention them here. But my defense was somewhat lacking. Okay, so it was terrible. So sue me. Of course, not having played in over two decades may have had something to do with it.

So a big thanks to my fellow coworkers at Cardinal (my day job, how else do you think I pay the bills?). I hope we all get to do this again soon.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Reid Fragel: Former Ohio State Tackle to be biggest Draft Day Surprise

Less than a week away, the buzz surrounding the NFL Draft has already reached a fever pitch.

It all begins with the Kansas City Chiefs, who, with the first overall pick, are expected to select either Luke Joeckel (Left Tackle from Texas A&M) or Eric Fisher(Left Tackle from Central Michigan). Or the Chiefs could trade down, a less likely scenario.

Following the Chiefs, there might be a run on defensive players, among them Dion Jordan of Oregon, Dee Milliner of Alabama, Star Lotulelei of Utah, Shariff Floyd(awesome name by the way) of Florida, and Barkevious Mingo of LSU among others.

The first round should also be another banner day for defending national champions Alabama Crimson Tide, as at least three of their players expected to be drafted in the first round with a fourth-running back Eddie Lacy-expected to go no later than middle of the second round.

Then, of course, comes the debate on which quarterbacks go in the first round. I myself believe that no quarterback in the 2013 class is worthy of being picked on day one, but EJ Manuel might be a value pick if he falls to the second round or later. Many people believe that Geno Smith is worthy of a first round pick; I'd like to know who these people are so I can sign them up for a CAT scan.

But after it is all said and done, the biggest surprise in the draft won't come on day one, and it might not even happen in the first 100 picks. That is because I believe the best draft day gem is one Reid Fragel, offensive tackle for the Ohio State University. Fragel, a four-year senior for the Buckeyes, was asked by Urban Meyer and the coaching staff at OSU to convert from tight end to right tackle in 2012.  He would make the transition better than expected, helping anchor OSU's spread offense and a key reason why Braxton Miller finished fifth in heisman voting last season.

And, although media pundits haven't officially predicted where Fragel will land, I'm guessing he will be drafted somewhere around the third or fourth rounds, if not earlier. Not only did Fragel's experience as a tight end mean he possesses great physicality for a right tackle, but at 6-6 and a very fit 300 pounds( he is said to have around 8% body fat), he is also in better shape than most right tackles. And sure, the left tackle, or 'blind side' gets all the press, that doesn't mean the right side of the line isn't equally as important. In fact, an unbalanced line can be just as big if not a bigger detriment to an offense when it comes to pass protection.

So mark April 25-27th on your calendar, ladies and gentlemen. And while you wonder who your favorite team will draft when their time draws near, remember this: should they draft Reid Fragel, they will be getting the best player no one is talking about. Well, almost no one


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Columbus Blue Jackets: The New Kardiac Kids?

The Columbus Blue Jackets are the new version of the Kardiac Kids. Don't believe me, I 'll be happy to explain.

The Kardiac Kids originally referred to the 1980 Cleveland Browns and their quarterback, Brian Sipe, who won numerous games in the the final moments on the way to an 11-5 record.

Recently it seems the Blue Jackets have stolen a page from those Browns playbook, with two of their last three straight wins coming in overtime, and the other one a shootout victory over the Minnesota Wild. And while it appears controversy can't elude the reincarnated version of the Browns, the Blue Jackets keep on brimming with excitement.

Take last night's game against Anaheim for instance. I tuned in a little late, and the Ducks scored the first goal to take a 1-0 lead in 1st. After the Jackets tied the score at 1 in the 2nd, the game would be a back and forth affair that would end a 2-2 tie in regulation. Then, just as they did two nights before in Denver, the Jackets would escape with another overtime road win.

It's an amazing turn of events, especially since not more than a couple of months ago my best friend and I were looking ahead to the NHL Draft, and the Jackets' prospects of securing the no. 1 overall pick. No way either of us thought that the Jackets had a legitimate chance to make the playoffs. Yet with four games remaining, they are in sole possession of eighth place, with a chance to improve on that tonight vs. the Kings.

And it all starts with the play of their goalie wunderkid, Sergei Bobrovsky.  While I don't totally understand stats such as GAA (Goals Against Average, where  Goalie Bob's 2.03 is .3 better than last years best goalie,) or save % (Bobrovsky's .93 is also better than anyone on Columbus in the 2011-2012 campaign), I really don't need to. The eye test tells me that this kid is good, and that anyone would compare him to the likes of Dominik Hasek, Patrick Roy, or Henrik Zetterburg after being in the big league for a month is saying something. To be honest, I have watched Marc Denis, Pascal Leclaire and Steve Mason tend goal for the CBJ, and none of them showed the quickness that I have seen in Bobrovsky.

Lost in all of this might be the job that head coach Todd Richards has done with this team, however. I must admit that, following the departure of both Ken Hitchcock and Claude Noel, I thought Richards would be no more than a stopgap coach. But he has the team believing the can play with anyone, and the sky is the limit.

So while many people are quick to look to next season( in addition to their first round draft picks, the Jackets will also return this season's top pick, Ryan Murray, who never set foot on the ice), I am looking forward to seeing the Jackets make waves in this years playoffs. And to all the doubters who say this is just a product of a lockout shortened season, I say this: we shall see.