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Saturday, April 18, 2015

Buckeye Recruiting and Spring Game Players to Watch

So it appears that the Ohio State football team is quietly out building a dynasty, while most of you weren't even paying attention. With yesterday's commitment from linebacker Tuf Borland from Illinois, the list of players committed to Ohio State for 2016 has grown to 10.

Which doesn't sound impressive until you consider they are all four stars or better, including

1. Three of the top four running backs in the nation (1. Kareem Walker 3. George Hill 4. Demario McCall)

2. A four-star quarterback from Desoto, Texas, (Tristen Wallace) pursued by Texas, Nebraska, Texas Tech, Mississippi State and Louisville among others

3. Along with Borland, Ohio State also has defensive commits Shaun Wade (CB from Fla) and Terrell Hall (DE from Washington)

And while rankings aren't exclusively predictors of how well a team will do in the future, just take a look at what head coach Urban Meyer has been able to accomplish without all of the players he wanted.

And speaking of OSU football, here are some names to watch in this years spring game

Cardale Jones- An obvious name of course but this might be the junior signal-caller's shot to cement himself as the starting quarterback.

Stephen Collier- First look at the freshman(redshirt) quarterback from Georgia whom coach Meyer labeled a 'developmental guy'

Malik Hooker -safety from PA should get plenty of work in today

Gareon Conley- cornerback is looking to have a breakout season in the secondary

Jamarco Jones- interior lineman from the Chicago, Ill area

Tyquan Lewis -the sophomore defensive end is someone Joey Bosa has called a 'freak'

Jalyn Holmes- another sophomore battling for a starting spot on the defensive line

Terry McLaurin- 2nd year receiver out of Indiana will be trying to fill the void left when standout Devin Smith graduated.

Among the notable scratches in this year's game due to injury include J.T. Barrett, Braxton Miller, Ezekiel Elliott and Curtis Samuel among others.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Blue Jackets Play Inspires Hope for the Future

The Columbus Blue Jackets have two games remaining on their 2015 schedule.  While they were eliminated from playoff contention over a week ago, many people would say their season has been a failure.

Yet there are many reasons that Blue Jackets have been anything but a failure this year. For starters, the team will post its second consecutive season of 40 or more wins, and do so having lost more players to injury than any other team in the NHL. In addition, even if Columbus loses their final two, the worst they can finish is 40-37-5. This means they will finish the season above .500 for the third consecutive year, another franchise first.

Individual performances that should give fans reasons to be excited for the future include winger Nick Foligno, who scored 30 goals for the first time in his career this season. Foligno would also post the first hat trick of his career in a 5-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins earlier this season.

Also notching hat tricks (3 goals in the same game) for the Blue Jackets this season were Scott Hartnell and Cam Atkinson in victories over the Ducks and the Blackhawks, respectively.

The Blue Jackets are also 5th in the league on the power play, something that should carry over into the 2015-2016 season. With a little luck when it comes to player health next year, Columbus could be a top 5 team in the Eastern conference.

So while in previous years a CBJ finish outside the playoffs would be cause for concern, this year's team is clearly different. Look out NHL, here come the Jackets.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Pro Athletes and Personal Conduct

As I was reading's article regarding the closing arguments in the Aaron Hernandez murder trial, it got me thinking about the NFL's personal conduct policy. More specifically, what standard should players be held to with respect to off-the-field conduct? And where is the line in which athletes should no longer be allowed to pursue a professional football career?

For starters, let's use the Aaron Hernandez case as an example. Even if he is found not guilty of murdering Odin Lloyd, he still awaits trial for the murder of two other individuals in 2012 (For the record, I maintain that Hernandez did murder Lloyd. His defense that he saw his two friends committing the murder, but was too shaken to do anything, is weak at best. I mean, you're really telling me that Hernandez, upon seeing two people he knew killing the someone he was more than acquaintances with, wouldn't even call 911?) If he were to somehow beat that indictment as well, I guess he would have a case to return to the NFL. Not that I would want him to play for my Browns. Of course, should he be convicted on any of the charges I think this point would be moot, as might be spending the remainder of his life in prison.

What about the case of Ray Rice then, or any player that commits domestic violence? Again, I am not certain I would want Rice playing for my team, but as long as he serves his sentence according to the law, and satisfies his punishment/rehabilitation with regard to the NFL, who am I to say he can't return to play? But taking it a step further, should Adrian Peterson be allowed to return to the NFL? I understand the need to discipline your kid. I should also state I am not (nor have ever been) a parent. But I also understand that his kid was four when Adrian punished him with a switch, leaving him with very visible bruises. From my experience being around my best friend's kid (who isn't much older, btw), someone that old barely even knows right from wrong. So there are many people who would say what Peterson did was more than excessive.

Of course, I also feel that NFL players should be held to the same standard as society as large. So, in the case of Peterson or Rice, if their actions would result in them being blacklisted from a lesser profession, why should there be a double standard just because they are professional athletes? In many instances an ordinary citizen who commits a felony might have a hard time getting a job in his previous profession. Just because these guys can run or jump faster than most people should not make them special.

Ultimately, however, this issue falls on the league and commissioner Roger Goodell to formulate a consistent policy on the issue. It doesn't necessarily mean we have to agree with his decision (or indecision, for that matter). Of course we also don't have to go to the games, either.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

2015 NCAA Tournament- Duke Keeps My Bracket Hope Alive

The field of 64 has been narrowed down to two, and I couldn’t be happier. After all, not only did Kentucky lose to Wisconsin, thus ending its perfect season, but I still have a legitimate shot to win the office tourney pool. Even better than that is the possibility that I could win $300 in my friend’s bracket challenge as well.

And while the majority of my friends and co-workers might be rooting for the Badgers on Monday night, I will most certainly be in Duke’s corner. It doesn’t matter that Wisconsin represents the Big Ten, or they will more than likely be the underdogs.  Also of little importance is that guard Traevon Jackson is not only from Ohio, but also happens to be the son of former Ohio State standout Jimmy Jackson.
(As a side note, while I would normally root for the Big Ten, even at the expense of my own bracket, when you wager $50 to win $300 in a winner takes all format, your perspective kind of changes.) 
The fate of my brackets rest on the ability of the Dookies (sic) to get Coach K his fifth championship, and his third in Indianapolis at that. Duke already defeated Wisconsin once this season, but this is not the same Badger team. It should also be pointed out that Duke is not the same team, either. Is it possible that team that beat both Michigan State and Wisconsin in the regular season by 10 points apiece has played even better in the postseason? Not only is it possible, it seems downright plausible.

So the million-dollar question then becomes, how did I end up picking the Blue Devils to win it all, when most everyone and their brother had the Wildcats? Is it because Duke is not only the one of my favorite teams(according to this blog), and unlike Ohio State they had a legitimate chance of advancing? I wish I could say that was the case, but my affinity for the Blue Devils had little if any affect on my decision. What about freshman sensations Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor? I must admit the blue-chippers, the former averaging 11.5 ppg and 3.5 apg and the latter averaging 17.5 ppg and 8.6 rpg, are a rare inside-outside combination. But alas, as I watched less than a handful of Duke games, I didn’t know much about the duo.

So how exactly did I end up picking Duke, when less than 20% of the nation even had them in the national finals? Let’s just say that like most other people who have won their tournament pools in the past, I went with my gut. While other people agonized from 30 minutes to several hours on their bracket, I filled out mine within 10 minutes. And although it’s safe to say my round-by-round performance isn’t stellar (I’m currently 44-18 through the final four), it doesn’t matter how you start, only how you finish.

Yet it is far from a given that Duke will win their fifth title tomorrow night, or that I will win my first tournament pool ever(in what I have estimated is over 25 years of filling out an entry of some form, whether it be for school or work or online just for fun.) This time around not only do they have to account for a fully healthy Sam Dekker, but if they are going to win they must do so without the services of junior guard Rasheed Sulaimon, dismissed from the team before the regular season had even ended.

A tall task for the Blue Devils (literally and figuratively), but my gut tells me they have one more win left in them. After all, in an imperfect bracket, they are the only team that has been perfect for me thus far.