Friday, September 23, 2011

A Necessary Evil

Syracuse University will become a full-fledged member of the Atlantic Coast Conference in June 2014.
This means leaving behind the Big East Conference of which Syracuse was a founding member back in 1979.
It saddens me deeply to think about the tradition and rivalries we will lose. I will miss playing Georgetown and St. John's and I will certainly miss the Big East Tournament being in Madison Square Garden (though I am hopeful the ACC can rotate to that venue occassionally).
But being practical, the Big East conference for football was crumbling and Syracuse had to make a move instead of getting left holding the bag.
It seems almost inevitable college football will realign into 4 16-team superconferences, and joining one of those conferences is the best chance for Syracuse to restore its football program to prominence.
Also, the move give Syracuse the chance to create new rivalries with basketball powers Duke and North Carolina.
What it comes down to is Syracuse had to risk hurting the basketball program a little, instead of risking hurting the football team a lot.
50 years ago Bob Dylan implored us "you better start swimmin' or you'll sink like a stone because times they are a-changin'" and that holds true to the current reshuffling of college sports.
Syracuse made the right decision, and in another 35 years we'll remember only what was won, not what was lost.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I Feel So Unaccomplished

For most people, if you want to check up on former classmates, you need to go to Facebook. Recently I saw two of my fellow students at the Newhouse School for Public Communications at Syracuse University, just by turning on the TV.

Clo Ewing appeared in a couple episodes of "Season 25," the Behind-the-Scenes show documenting the final season of "The Oprah Winfrey Show." She was shown greeting guests, and standing in for Oprah during rehearsals.

And on the "Real Sports" profile of Bob Uecker I saw Uecker's broadcast partner Cory Provus in the booth.

And there's also this list (which I believe I have posted before) of Syracuse graduates who are on air sportscasters in some form.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Song of the Week

"My True Story" - The Jive Five
I'm trying a new thing, I'm going to pick songs that are 50, 40, 30, 20 & 10 years old. Just to see what was popular then. It will be a fun walk down memory lane and maybe I'll do it again next year.
This one happens to be one of the best doo-wop hits of all-time.
"Her name was Sue, yeah, his name was Earl"

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The NFL is Poop - Week 2

My Rookie of the Year Prediction is Looking Pretty Good Right Now
Through his first two games in the NFL Cam Newton has thrown for 854 yards. He is on pace to throw for 6,832 yards, go 0-16 and finish second in the NFL in passing (to Tom Brady). He did make some mistakes in this game. After leading the Panthers to a surprise 13-0 lead early in the 2nd quarter, the Packers outscored them 30-3 until a garbage touchdown at the end broke the spread. Newton threw three interceptions over that span. The kid knows a lot, but he still has a lot to learn.

Like 2007 All Over Again
The New England Patriots once again look dominant and Tom Brady is rolling up the passing yards and touchdowns at a record pace. A pace that would give him 7,520 and 56 TDs if he keeps it up. When you watch the Patriots you notice how great Tom Brady is, but you also can't help but see how great his protection is. Yes, he gets hit, and even sacked, but on most passing plays he just has so much time to throw.

Just One Play Away
The great comeback story of Michael Vick was temporarily derailed, and it cost the Eagles the game against the Falcons. Vick suffered a concussion when he was tackled into his own teammate. He left the game and never returned. Obviously a Vick injury would kill the Eagles "Dream Team" status. But I also think they need Vick to play the way he did last season, not as he did in Atlanta. Through 2 games (small sample) his completion percentage is down big, a hallmark of his Falcon days when he dropped back and waited for an opportunity to run.

Not a Good Omen
The Kansas City Chiefs have been outscored 89-10 so far this season. I don't really need to go on, there's nothing else to say.

A Brief Rant About the Redskins
The Redskins are 2-0 and in sole possession of first place in the NFC East. I am happy but I am not thriled. The Redskins failed to capitalize on many opportunties (a red zone INT and a blocked FG really hurt) and almost lost this game. Hopefully this was Rex Grossman's stinker and he can turn in a good performance next week in Dallas on Monday Night Football.

Game of the Week
Buffalo Bills 38 Oakland Raiders 35

Break up the Bills. A stirring comeback from an 18-point deficit capped by a touchdown with 14 seconds left. But how long can Ryan Fitzpatrick (109.6 rating) and Fred Jackson (229 rushing yards, 1st in NFL) keep this up? The schedule gets a lot tougher this week with New England at home, but the Bill schedule is littered with teams destined to be mediocre, the Bills will have a chance to prove they really are this good.

Game of Next Week
Atlanta at Tampa Bay

I choose this one because I already mentioned New England at Buffalo, and honestly I don't expect that one to be much of a contest. I really liked the AFC South coming into this season, thinking the Falcons and Saints would be battling for the division lead all year with Tampa Bay as a wild card possibility. So far all those teams are 1-1 after losing to tough NFC foes. The loser of this one falls in arrears in the division and conference race.

If the Super Bowl Were Played Today
New England Patriots 34 Detroit Lions 10

These two teams played in the preseason and Detroit dominated. I don't see that happening again. But the Lions do have the pass rush to potentially give the Patriots fits, but not the secondary. I wanted to give the Bills another nod here because I think once I go New England I never go back, but the Bills barely eked out a victory over the Raiders.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Mayweather's Legacy Disgraced, Merchant's Legacy Cemented

By now everyone knows the details of Saturday's big fight but let me explain for posterity and because these youtube videos will surely be taken down soon.
Floyd Mayweather was completely dominating Victor Ortiz for four rounds. Ortiz's only offense was rubbing his head on Mayweather until he blatantly head-butted him at the end of the 4th round. The fight was halted and a point was deducted.

After the fight resumed, Ortiz tried to apologize and an angry and frustrated Mayweather clearly didn't accept the apology. He hit a defenseless Ortiz with a combination that knocked him out and ended the fight.

Here's my take:
1) Ortiz was wrong for his dirty headbutts
2) Mayweather was wrong for taking advantage of Ortiz's seemingly sincere apology
3) Joe Cortese was the most culpable. He clearly did call the fighters back and restart the fight. But then he turned away. He did not see the knock-out punches. If Mayweather had kicked Ortiz in the stones, or head-butted him in retaliation, Cortese had no way of knowing.
4) Protect yourself at all times is technically correct, but it excuses Mayweather for hitting a fighter he knew wasn't protecting himself. It was within the rules but very unsporting of him. But it was nothing compared to what he did after the fight.

Larry Merchant is known for being tough on fighters, especially brash, arrogant ones. Many people say Merchant is racist, I don't agree, but the perception is out there. Regardless, Mayweather is getting paid millions of dollars, part of that is to answer Merchant's questions respectfully. Flipping out on a mostly-respected elder statesman of boxing just shows how little class Mayweather has.
But Larry's comeback "I wish I was 50 years younger and I'd kick your ass" was classic and guarantees he will forever be remembered as a tough in-ring, post-fight interview.

Bottom line: until Mayweather fights Pacquiao, many boxing fans, including myself, will have no respect for him, and will not consider him an all-time great.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Weekly Picks

Tough week with the Falcons laying and egg and losing a third game on a push. But it's time to bounce back. I see a lot of overreactions to what happened during Week 1 and I am hoping to exploit that this week.

green bay -10 CAROLINA
Hard to say a team giving up 10 points at home is an overreaction. And I like Cam Newton. But I don't seem him having a game like that again. And if he doesn't throw for 400, Aaron Rodgers will.

oakland +4 BUFFALO
Didn't the Bills suck just a week ago. One game, I don't care how convincing, doesn't make up for a lack of talent. They can even win this game by a field goal and I still get the spread.

NEW ENGLAND -7 san diego
If the Patriots are going to have one of those seasons where they embarrass 8 to 10 teams in a row, I don't want to sit on the sidelines and miss it. Plus, the Chargers are perennially disappointing in September (and then again in January.)

NEW YORK JETS -9 jacksonville
I think the Jets defense will really be dominant. Rex rips them and they respond.

tampa bay +2 1/2 MINNESOTA

I almost never pick underdogs as best bets. But I just don't get this spread. Did anyone watch Donovan McNabb last week? Or last season? He is not bouncing back. He is done. Sure he might even throw for 100 yards this week. But he stinks. The Bucs only looked bad last week because they played the Lions, who are better.

Last week: 2-3 (1 point)
Season: 2-3 (1 point)
Best Bets: 0-1 (0-1)
Home Favorites: 0-1 (0-1)
Home Underdogs: 0-0 (0-0)
Road Favorites: 1-1 (1-1)
Road Underdogs: 1-1 (1-1)