Archive for the College Football Category

The BCS Title Game Should Have Been Called The Underwhelming Bowl

Posted in College Football, Rants, Sports with tags , , , , , , , on January 11, 2011 by thelasthonestman

I didn’t find out that Auburn had won until this morning.

That’s because I turned off the game midway through the 3rd quarter and headed off to bed.  Granted, I was tired and I’m looking at a long day of work today and needed the sleep, but that’s not something that ever kept me from seeing the end of a “title” game before.  So what was different last night?

There’s certainly a lot of factors.  The lateness of the starting time (the clock was ticking towards midnight as the game struggled towards the finish line) certainly didn’t help.  But it would have been a lot easier to not steal glances at my clock if the game had been a better-played contest.  For two teams that were supposed to clearly be the best two in the country, the game was anything but exciting — at least what I watched of it before hitting the play.  Of course, if you like penalties, turnovers, mistakes on both sides of the ball, and failed drives — well, there were plenty of those to go around in the game’s first three-plus quarters.

The incredibly long layoff had a lot to do with that — you know, the thirty-seven days between their last games and the game last night (a travesty considering the hypocritical nonsense the NCAA uses about wanting to keep players studying as a reason to not have a playoff) — but what went through my mind on more than once occasion before I finally gave up on the game was — Maybe these two teams aren’t the best two in the country?

They definitely didn’t play that way.  Last night was just more proof positive as to why, so long as the mega-conferences continue to deny a true playoff and deny schools like TCU this year a chance to fairly and legitimately compete for a title, the idea of Auburn [Title To Be Vacated in 2014] as a truly deserving national champion is a bad joke.  I won’t even go into the whole mess surrounding Cam Newton and what the NCAA’s unwillingness to make a tough stand now regarding his entire eligibility does to the legitimacy of [Title To Be Vacated in 2014]’s claim to being the nation’s best — but I’d be lying if it didn’t give me one more reason to turn off the television happily last night.  (It seems I missed Cam Newton embracing his agent father at the end of the game, despite Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs telling reporters beforehand that Cecil Newton Sr. would not be in attendance by mutual agreement — another strong indication that, when it comes to the truth, neither the Newtons nor the school’s officials are going to be the place to find it).

Unfortunately, as long as the masses didn’t join me in abandoning the game sooner, true reform in the ranks of NCAA football won’t be anywhere on the horizon.  The good news for me as I get older, however, will be that there will be one less night I’ll have to worry about staying up late to see the ending of a game.

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Weekend Quickies

Posted in College Basketball, College Football, Comic Books, Entertainment, Movies, News/Current Events, Personal, Sports, The Wrapups with tags , , , , , , , , on December 10, 2010 by thelasthonestman

It’s a hit-and-run update this weekend (but thankfully not like the hit-and-run my wife suffered earlier in the week), as my personal schedule gets a little tighter — though I’m not going to complain about the reason.  I’m one of the lucky ones out there, as I’ve just picked up some supplemental income in the form of a new job.  That makes me one of the fortunate ones in a country where unemployment is now sitting at just under 10% and where unemployment is at a seven-month high — even as we’re smack dab in the middle of what’s supposed to be the biggest retail time of the year.

The Economy will be fine! We're going to recover any day now! Nothing to see here! Nothing to see!

It’s not just retailers shedding jobs, however — industry, financial institutions, and the government are all cutting their workforce — which makes some of the people making claims that we’re entering a recovery look about as clueless as the late Leslie Nielsen telling us there’s “nothing to see here.”  We’re a long way from getting to where we want to economically, and so long as our Congress continues to work in their own self-interests (and the self-interests of the people supporting their re-election bids) and we continue to ignore the problems that aren’t going away — the deficit, a loss of our manufacturing base, and the lack of creating new technologies to spur new industries, just for starters — then we’re going to continue heading in the wrong direction.

— Speaking of the deficit, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that while people being polled these days are in favor or cutting the deficit, viewing it (correctly) as a major problem our country is facing — they largely want the deficit to be slashed while not touching the programs that are important to them.  Well, of course.  It’s that kind of narrow thinking — and a belief of entitlement that our parents and grandparents never had, but that current generations have come to embrace — that’s led us into the quagmire we’re in now.  And unless everyone is prepared to ante up in the form of sacrificing something, then the problem won’t ever get fixed — until as a nation we find ourselves truly looking into the abyss (cue ominous music).

— I saw a large uptick in the traffic here over the last week, and a large part of it were people being drawn to the site searching for Jimmy Valvano-related items.  Jimmy V Week just ended, and for those of you who somehow aren’t familiar with the story, The Jimmy V Foundation for Cancer Research was founded by ESPN and the late coach Jimmy Valvano.  Over it’s over 18 years, the foundation has raised over $100 million for cancer research.  I wrote a piece about it last year around this time that included Valvano’s inspirational speech from the 1993 ESPY awards — yow owe it to yourself to listen to it if you’ve never heard it (and even if you already have).  Click here for the piece.

"Someday, the Heisman Trophy Club will just pretend I never got this."

— As we head into the weekend and the announcement of the Heisman Trophy winner on Saturday, my friend Steven pointed me over to direction of the Heisman Trophy Winners list at the official Heisman Trophy website — for a good chuckle (and once you’ve finished marveling at the days when players from Army, Yale, and Princeton could actually win he award) scan to end of the list and to the winners of this past decade.  See anyone missing?

While we’re at it, maybe we can take bets on whether or not Cam Newton will be conspicuously absent from the list as well in another five or six years.  If I had to guess, Vegas has that result off the board.

— And finally, the trailer for the new movie from Marvel Studios — Thor (based on the comic book hero of the same name) debuts today (at 6:00 PT).  All I can say is that, if the footage I saw that was leaked a few months ago is any indication, Marvel is hitting it out of the park again so far as their adaptations go.  With the Captain America and Avengers movies forthcoming, it’s a great time to be a comic book fan!

As soon as the trailer is available, I’ll try to get it up here — so check back later tonight!

— With that, I hope everyone has a great weekend — and I’ll see you back here next week.

The NCAA Is More Of A Joke Than Usual — And Other Friday Revelations

Posted in College Football, Fantasy Football, Fantasy Sports, NBA Basketball, Rants, Sports with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 3, 2010 by thelasthonestman

It’s the weekend, and while I should be in a good frame of mind, I’m not.  There’s a lot of things putting me in a sour mood this morning — none of them life-threatening or earth-shattering — but just a lot of things that are aggravating me, and in most of these cases, only me.

But that’s one of the reasons why I have this outlet — to vent — and you’d be sadly mistaken if you thought I wasn’t going to do exactly that.

My first round draft pick

— There are plenty of times I hate fantasy sports.  Today would be one of those days.  It’s been said that no one wants to hear a person complain about their fantasy teams, and I can’t disagree with that — so if you’re one of those people, then by all means, feel free to skip to the next blurb below.  Or, you can attempt to enjoy my misery.

All year long, no matter what fantasy sport I played in, I’ve been killed by injuries.  My baseball season imploded under a record number of DL trips by players I owned, a total greater than any franchise had suffered over a nearly twenty year history of my league — a total that outpaced the second-worst total by almost double!  (And yet, I still finished in the money anyway — go figure).

Several of my football teams have been also hampered by bad luck with injures — I’m looking right at you, Pierre Thomas.  It’s gotten to the point where whenever I see someone get hit, I assume the worst and get really happy when my guy actually is able to come back on the field and contribute (if you watched the Eagles-Texans game last night and are saying to yourself, “I wonder if he owns Andre Johnson”, then give yourself a prize).

But today takes the cake.  After a terrible start for my one fantasy basketball team that matters, fueled by a cornucopia of injuries — Aaron Brooks, Nene, Jeff Green, and Brandon Roy’s lack of cartilage — the season might already be in danger of slipping away.  Facing a shaky opponent, the week was looking promising — until the flu of all things wiped out Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson, and David West all in one fell swoop.  A winning week looks now to be another huge loss that will leave this team all but dead and buried — which I guess is appropriate.  What’s next to hit the guys I own — the Ebola virus?  2011 can’t come soon enough — hopefully, it’ll be a healthier year for guys I own.

Does the city of Cleveland own a dog? If so, I'd like to kick it please.

— Other than the bandwagon jumpers out there — otherwise known as about 90% of the people describing themselves as  Miami Heat fans — absolutely no one wants to see Miami win an NBA Championship this year.  The bush league way that LeBron left Cleveland, the idea of players like James wanting to take the easy way out to try and win a championship, the ridiculous amount of hype given to the Heat by the media, particularly ESPN — all of these things have made me a fan of anyone-playing-Miami.  As a lifelong Bulls fan — and as the son of a lifelong Celtics fan — I have always held my highest degree of contempt for the Los Angeles Lakers — but if it came down to it, I’d root for them to walk away with the trophy from David Stern this spring over the Miami trio.

If there was a game anyone with a heart could hope for Miami to lose, it would be the emotional game last night that featured James’ return to the city and people he discarded so callously.  Miami has struggled mightily this year, and frankly, the Cavs just aren’t that good.  Would it have been too much to hope for just one night where the underdogs of Cleveland could answer the challenge and vanquish their tormentors?

Evidently so.  The game last night wasn’t even close.  The bad guys won, the good guys lost, and I’m reminded again why I’m not half of the NBA fan I was twenty years ago.  If there’s going to be a work stoppage next fall in one of the major sports, why can’t it be in basketball instead of the NFL?

Reggie Bush -- meet your successor

— And finally, there was the news yesterday that the NCCA has ruled that Cam Newton, Auburn quarterback and Heisman Trophy candidate, is eligible to continue playing — despite the fact that the NCAA found that Newton’s father was shopping his son to schools looking for the highest bidder.

Really?

Granted, there’s no actual smoking gun — yet — that details that any money or other illegal benefits that went directly to the younger Newton.  But really — there’s no repercussions here?  Oh wait — Cecil Newton now will have limited access to the Auburn program in the future.  Wow — I bet that severe punishment is going to completely eliminate parents from shopping their kids in the future to big football schools in an attempt to cash in on their living and breathing lottery tickets.

On the other hand, maybe the NCAA’s ruling has given people a blueprint to start bidding wars for high school athletes while the kids in question maintain a plausible deniability to retain their eligibility.  Go NCAA, go!  As usual, the entire concept of amateur athletics continues to be a sham, the NCAA continues to be a completely inept, corrupt, and outdated institution, and Auburn heads towards a “National Title” game — a joke in itself as long as we don’t have a playoff — with a player who should probably be ineligible.  Does anyone want to take a guess as to when Auburn vacates this year’s victories — sooner than USC did, or later?

— Everyone enjoy your weekend, and I’ll see you back here on Monday.

Lane Kiffin Bolts Tennessee After One Season While Al Davis Says, “I Told You So”

Posted in College Football, Rants, Sports with tags , , , , on January 12, 2010 by thelasthonestman

"This is the job I've been waiting for ... really ... at least until I find a better one next year."

The truth be told, I’ve been highly critical of Al Davis more times in the past than I can count.  I’ve made the “Weekend at Al’s” jokes, I’ve claimed that the Oakland Raiders owner is really deceased, and that Andrew McCarthy and Jonathan Silverman are merely puppet-mastering him behind the scenes.  I’ve derided Davis for his heavy-handed approach to running the Raiders, for the game having passed him by, for his insane drafting decisions, and most recently his apparent ridiculous commitment to JaMarcus Russell under center.

But tonight, I have to say it:  Al was right.  100%.  About Lane Kiffin, that is.

You might remember Davis’s rambling press conference after he removed Kiffin from the head coaching position in Oakland, and how the elderly owner denounced Kiffin at every turn.  Davis called Kiffin, among other things, a “flat-out liar” guilty of bringing “disgrace to the organization”.  At the time, the popular belief was that Kiffin was a coach who’d been wronged, and that Davis was merely a senile, old fool who’d driven away a bright young football mind.

I won’t debate here whether or not Davis has seen his better days as both an owner and a judge of football talent, but when essentially describing Kiffin as a person lacking in character — well, it’s become pretty apparent he nailed that one on the head, whether by accident or design.  After leaving the Raiders, Kiffin landed the head job at the University of Tennessee, replacing Phillip Fulmer, who had been forced out there despite having won the school a national championship in 1998 (which begs the question now — how’s that decision looking, Tennessee boosters?).  It didn’t take long for Kiffin to find himself in hot water at his new home — whether it was engaging in a verbal feud with Urban Meyer or belittling the choices of college recruits who decided to go somewhere other than Tennessee, Kiffin was quickly stirring up controversies — even if he wasn’t delivering a whole lot of victories to go with them.  In his one season at Tennessee, Kiffin managed to insult a lot of people, act generally like a buffoon desperately in need of some lessons as to how to carry himself with some class, and … and well, not much else.  At least, the Volunteer program isn’t on probation for anything that happened during Kiffin’s brief tenure — not yet.

Don't be surprised if you get stung by one of these -- and don't be surprised at Lane Kiffin leaving Tennessee after only one season

And just like that, Kiffin is off to USC.  Is anyone really surprised?  While Kiffin’s still hasn’t actually won anything as a head coach, he’s now in charge of one of the premier programs in the country — of course, it may be a program that’s headed onto probation before the ink’s had time to dry on his new contract,  While I don’t feel sorry for the Tennessee faithful — like the fable about the scorpion and the frog, Tennessee knew (or should have known) exactly what Kiffin was when they started dealing with him — the consolation is that they’ll be better off without the loud-mouthed coach.  The program is still an attractive one, and they’ll be able to find someone who — you know — might actually want to stay there.

On the other hand, considering the recent history of USC and their apparent lack of ethics in running their athletic programs, Kiffin should fit right in — at least until he’s jumping ship in California in a few short years (after he finds out how recruiting with a reduction in scholarships, as well as an improved Pac-10, makes for more trouble than he realizes).   And somewhere Al Davis will be laughing manically, telling us all how he knew it all along.


Deserting The Ship

Posted in College Football, News/Current Events, NFL Football, Sports with tags , , , , , , on January 9, 2010 by thelasthonestman

It's time to abandon ship -- where's your life preserver?

Is it really such a big surprise that USC head football coach Pete Carroll is apparently leaving the school to return to the NFL, this time as the head coach of the Seattle Seahawks?

If you had been listening to sports radio or television yesterday, you would have thought so.  The revelation of the breaking story, coming only a few hours after the announcement that first year Seattle coach Jim Mora, Jr. had been fired after only one season in the Pacific Northwest, was treated as a huge development — almost a shock.

Well, I’m about as surprised as I would be if another blonde bombshell showed up on television claiming to have slept with Tiger Woods while he was married.  Anyone who’s been following the developments at USC over the last year shouldn’t be surprised either.  The fiasco surrounding Reggie Bush and his years at the football power may finally be coming to a conclusion in the setting of a public court — and that possibility means nothing but potential trouble for the Trojan athletic program.  More than likely, we’re going to hear testimony in the upcoming months about the illegal “rewards” the former Heisman Trophy winner received while at the university, and that’s testimony that the NCAA will be more than happy to use against USC when it comes time to wrap up its own investigation of the athletic program.

Couple the Bush mess with the allegations surrounding Joe McKnight and his alleged connections with boosters in violation of NCAA rules — allegations that were potentially damning enough to send the junior tailback scurrying to make himself available for the upcoming NFL draft — and it’s not hard to connect the dots of both this NCAA investigation and the one of Bush and come up with an end game that leaves USC looking at probation, a loss of scholarships, and the forfeiture of victories (and possibly the team’s National Championship).  All of this could mean that USC suddenly won’t be the great place to coach in the immediate future that it’s been during Carroll’s tenure there (and that doesn’t even touch on the O.J. Mayo problems, which while not an issue with the football program, have still helped focus the microscope on the university in ways it would much rather not be the case).

So again, Carroll abandoning ship just as it’s beginning to take on water shouldn’t surprise anyone — after all, looking after themselves first is what the college football coach does best.  On the bright side for the athletes who’ve made commitments to the school already — well, at least there’s time for most of them to get paid look to head somewhere else.

And for Carroll, the move back to the NFL is a no-brainer, and a no-lose situation.  He’s going to be showered with money by Seattle owner Paul Allen, so there will be no worry on his part that he’ll be taking a lateral move financially by leaving his current position and its hefty $4.4 million salary.  And he’ll be getting a degree of organizational control in Seattle as well, something that he reportedly had claimed would be necessary for him to consider returning to the NFL.

Best of all (for him), if he doesn’t do any better this time around than he did in his previous stops with New England and the Jets, once he’s pocketed the money, he’ll still be an incredibly attractive coaching prospect for pretty much any big-time football program that’s looking to make a splash, so there won’t be any concerns about his finding work back at the collegiate level.   It would be ironic if, by the time Carroll is being introduced at the press conference of whatever football factory that turns out to be, USC is just coming off of the program sanctions they’re staring in the face.  Ironic — but as already stated — not surprising at all.

Liar, Liar

Posted in College Football, Rants, Sports with tags , , , on December 10, 2009 by thelasthonestman

I admit it — as a kid growing up in Northwestern Indiana, I rooted for Notre Dame.

The mantra Brian Kelly lives his life by

I remember the debacle that was the football program under Gerry Faust, and the rebirth it had under Lou Holtz.  Even as I moved away from my home in the Midwest, I still found myself pulling for Notre Dame on Saturdays, even as the football program began to struggle mightily to beat opponents that, once upon a time, couldn’t have stayed within three touchdowns of the Fighting Irish.  I cringed as Notre Dame was continuously crushed by powerhouses like USC, and embarrassed with home losses to Connecticut and the Naval Academy.  I secretly hoped that the program would send the arrogant Charlie Weis packing and find someone to bring the program back to the prominence it once had.

And now, apparently, the search for a new head coach has ended, with the imminent arrival of Cincinnati head coach Brian Kelly as the newest head coach for the Irish.

And I hope the Irish lose every game he coaches.

Spare me the explanation that the move needed to be made now, in order to keep the Irish competitive when it comes to recruiting.  Spare me also the whole “college football is a business” and “he’s only doing this because it makes sense for his career” and the “it’s his dream job” bullshit.

All that being said, Brian Kelly is a liar — a liar who lied to the young men he coached at Cincinnati when he told them before the team’s final game against Pittsburgh that he wasn’t leaving them, that he was happy at Cincinnati and that there would be where he’d stay.  He is a liar who sounded off to people in Cincinnati that he wanted to build a program there, and that he wasn’t at the university to use it as a stepping stone to a “better” job.   Apparently, he’s also an asshole, as he waited until the end of the team’s banquet — three hours after the news was already broken nationwide — to tell his players that he was leaving his team high and dry before the biggest game in the school’s history to take another job, leaving many of his players upset and unhappy.

“I don’t like it,” said Mardy Gilyard, the Cincinnati receiver who was the Big East’s top receiver and kick returner in 2009.  “I feel there was a little lying in the thing. I feel like he’d known this the whole time  … I kind of had a gut feeling he was going to stay just because he told me he was going to be here.”

But as is often the case with college football head coaches, you can tell they’re lying when their lips are moving.  Gilyard’s tough life-lesson that he and the rest of his teammates learned today is that money and a self-serving agenda will sadly, always take precedence over the the truth.  If he taught his players nothing else, Kelly managed to show by example how not to carry yourself with professionalism and class by lying to the faces of the young men who put their ultimate trust in him.  Unfortunately, they did — only to be rewarded with a slap in their face by Kelly.

There was a time when Notre Dame held themselves to standards higher than other universities — but that time is as long gone as their presence on the national scene as a football power.  There was a time when a selfish liar like Kelly wouldn’t have been even employed by the university — see the George O’Leary scandal as an example — but those times are obviously gone.  It’s enough to make me hope that Notre Dame continues its losing ways, that Kelly is drummed out of South Bend like his predecessors, and that those  left at Cincinnati hold their heads up high and remember that, in a sense, they are the ones who deserve to be where they are — playing in a major bowl against a top-flight opponent.  Not only does Kelly not deserve to share in that incredible experience now, but if there’s any justice, he’ll never get the chance again.

Another Year With The B(C)S

Posted in College Football, Rants, Sports with tags , on December 6, 2009 by thelasthonestman

Another college football season almost gone — another chorus of schools screaming for a national title shot that will never come their way, thanks to the clusterfuck that is the B(C)S.

After one of the most unimpressive showings in recent Big 12 Championship game memory, barring a revolt by the pollsters, we’re going to be watching Texas play Alabama for the National Title in Pasadena.  But are we really getting the two best teams in the country if that’s the case?  The answer is — who knows for sure?

Texas certainly didn’t look like a national title contender Saturday night against a Nebraska team that might not even be in the top-25 by the end of the weekend.  If not for a somewhat controversial call to put a second back on the clock at the end of the game — after an ill-advised play by Colt McCoy that nearly ran out not only the clock, but any chances Texas had at a title — then we might be looking at the worst nightmare of the “Power Conferences” — TCU, Cincinnati, or Boise State playing in a title game.  That would be a travesty, right?

No — what it would be is tremendously exciting — but we’ll never see it in our lifetimes unless much-needed changes are made.  The B(C)S is a creation of the major conferences — and really, we’re only talking about four conferences here (the SEC, Big 12, Pac-10, and the Big 10 — though the latter hasn’t exactly been the home to much high-quality football for a while now) — invented to throw just enough of a carrot to rest of the college football landscape while forever denying the majority of schools any chance at claiming the sport’s ultimate prize.

Well, I call bullshit on the BCS BS and all of the reasons given for why some sort of a playoff can’t be implemented.   Worried about the Bowl structure?   Keep them — it’s not like the majority of them matter anyway anymore.  They haven’t in a long time — at least not since classics like the Gator Bowl turned into the Eveready Long-Lasting Battery Bowl between two teams that finished 6-6 on the year.   Run eight teams into a playoff — implementing the major bowls — and let the rest of the teams get their consolation prizes in the minor bowls before the real fun starts.

The arguments about athletes missing classroom time?  Really?  Are we talking about players for major school actually attending classes that matter — or even attending at all?  Besides, an elimination of a regular season game — putting us back at 11 instead of the 12 teams can currently schedule — would serve two purposes: making room for the playoff structure as well as hopefully eliminating the cupcakes that seem to be a requirement for any major school’s schedule these days.  And let’s not forget that come mid-December, athletes won’t have classes to attend anyway due to the holidays.

But at always, don’t hold your breath waiting for the right, intelligent thing to happen; there’s too much money involved right now going into the pockets of too many schools with power over the system — and they’re not going to give up that control willingly.  And until the day comes that they do, we’ll be left with a lot of what-ifs — and a “national champion” that is as much of a popularity contest sometimes as it is a testament to the better football team.