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Tag:NHL
Posted on: March 2, 2010 9:02 pm
Edited on: June 17, 2010 4:43 pm
 

10 Things I Learned the Week of Mar. 1st

Good evening, boys and girls, and welcome to my little neck of the cbssports.com world known as 10TILTW.  It's great to be back, although I always find things easier when it's football season.  Conference tournaments are next week, and should give me plenty to talk about.  And despite the Olympics, my favorite hockey team tried to make some noise, unfortunately in a bad way.

1) Golden Re-Match - Olympic hockey got the boost it needed in an overtime classic between the USA and Canada.  That was the kind of game that could go a long way to getting casual fans back into the sport.  Kudos to the scrappy American team that never gave up and fought every minute, not just in that game, but every one, and congrats to the Canadians, eh.  A well deserved win to great fans of a great sport.

2) "Breakout Sport" - The breakout sport of this Olympics was curling, but I must confess I'm still at a little bit of a loss.  I get that the stone closest to the center wins, but couldn't quite get the scoring, especially when teams would get more than one point in the end.  I did finally pick up on the "curling" aspect of the thrower turning the stone, which eventually would get the stone to "curl" it's path.  Still can't figure out how sweeping the ice gets the stone to go further.  Those girls can come work on my apartment, though.  All in all, though, a very strategic sport with angles and english similar to billiards, but too often to me, it seemed to come down to the team with the "hammer" in that particular end.

3) "I'm Not Carrot Top!" - Even for someone like me who does not follow snowboarding, it's clear to see that Shaun White is in a league of his own.  Dude was getting 10 feet more air than anybody else out there.  It was like the Saints playing the Lions.  Just not fair.

4) The final count - I read an article going into the Vancouver games by this guy that has some sort of "formula" that appearantly is pretty accurate that had the Canadians taking the most medals with 28.  I do know the expectations were for a very strong showing by the home nation.  It resulted in the USA taking a record 37 medals and leaving Canada well behind in the total medal count.  But the Canadians need not hang their heads, they did take a record number of gold medals, meaning when then were winning, they were WINNING.

5) Orange Crush - In a weird weekend in college hoops which saw #1 Kansas and #2 Kentucky fall (and an inexplicable loss by my Gators to Georgia), Syracuse stepped up on the national stage and scored a huge win against Villanova to earn the number one spot in both polls.  I still think Kansas is the best all around team.  I still think Villanova has the shooting to when they are hot, they'll make serious noise.  But you have to give credit to the Cuse who parlayed a great early start into a phenominal season and a possible #1 seed in the big Tourney.

6) The back of the Pac - Just how horrible has the Pac-10 been this year?  You are looking at most likely the Pac-10 tournament winner being the only one in the conference to make the NCAA's, a la the Southland.  That is inexcusible for a big time conference, although well appreciated by the A-10, Mountain West, and Big East.  I'll be happy to see more than 4 non-BCS teams make the tourney this year, and will be happy to see teams that actually deserve it make it, including 8 or 9 from the conference playing the best basketball in the land.

7) Shaq shacked - The injury to Shaquille O'Neal is a huge loss to the Cavaliers, not that they won't still be in every game, not that they still won't likely win the East, especially with MVP LeBron, but because Cleveland got him for one reason and one reason only, to neutralize Dwight Howard in the playoffs.  If Shaq is unavailable for the playoffs, it may make the east wide open when you get to seven game series.

8) Crunch time on ice - Now that the Olympic break is over, the NHLers return to the playoff push, having only 1/4 of the season remaining.  The pre-break story of the year has to be (and I hate to say it) the Alex Oh-retch-kin led Washington Capitals (maybe he can disappear like he did in the game against Canada), who aren't just running away with a mediocre division, but the entire Eastern Conference.  The road to Lord Stanley's Cup will travel though the nation's capital.

9) Power struggle - Incredible.  Just when I thought things were turning around for the Lightning, in the playoff hunt, good coach, new owner, the GM Brainless Lawton decides to essentially pull a coup during the break when everybody's attention was elsewhere and put his own hand picked assistant on the coaching staff without the consent of the head coach.  Tocchet and this guy (both the assistant and Lawton) are like night and day, but now Tocchet is in a no-win situation, and the writing is on the wall.  And it's too bad, because I really like what he's done in turning this team around from the post-Tortorella era.  Now, if the team misses the playoffs, Rick will be the goat, and if they make it, Brainless can say it was because of the changes that "his" guy made to get them over the top.  Nothing would please me more than seeing Lawton being shown the door by new management.

10) The look ahead - Some games to watch this coming week, The Heat have a couple huge games in the NBA this week with the Lakers on Thursday and the Hawks on Saturday, but it will be all college b-ball as teams make their push for the tournament.  Among the key games, Kentucky Florida on Saturday, which the Gators might need to make the tournament, the Kansas Kansas State rematch tomorrow, West Virginia Villanova on Saturday, and a huge Big East bubble game tomorrow between UConn and Notre Dame.  Looking forward to tourney basketball the next few weeks.

Posted on: November 27, 2009 4:16 pm
 

10 Things I Learned the Weeks of 11/16 and 11/23

As we reach the point in the year where we give thanks for what we are appreciative of, I'm giving thanks that after 2 of the busiest weeks I've had at work, I am now on a week's vacation, and have a chance to get caught up.  So this time, for the first time ever, I'm running two editions in the same post.  Now obviously I'm going to have to check back and try to remember everything I wanted to hit on.  I know Notre Dame is at the top of my list.  The LSU debacle from last week will definitely be there.  And the coaching carousel finally began to turn in both the NFL and NBA.  So sit back and enjoy two weeks and 20 tidbits worth of sports knowledge.

11/16-

1) And so it begins ...- After last year of watching "As the Lane Turns" and seeing Scott Linehan call his shot, the NFL's coaching front was very quiet.  The hammer finally fell on Dick Jauron of the Bills.  He was done in by the simply unrealistic expectations caused by the fast start that the team got out to last year.  It does go to prove just how important the QB position is in the NFL, and just what a lack of depth there is there currently.

2) ... again- Last year the first two coach firings in the NBA occurred about this time, and this year we already have one.  Byron Scott was let go by the New Orleans Hornets, and hearing some of the reasons as to why, they sound to me more like reasons as to why this move was made far too soon.  To me, it all seems like a power play by team president and NBA no-nothing Hugh Weber.

3) Even as one of the biggest ND haters- I was completely confused at the end of the Notre Dame Pitt game and exactly what the replay official saw.  To me, it seemed clear that Claussen's hand was firmly clutched around the football during the entire forward motion.  Now, I won't say the Domers got jobbed, as had the play stood (which IMO it should have), it would have been 4th and 16 and tough to overcome.  Remember, I'm of the mind that blaming losses on the officials is loser speak and I site that I have only seen two games where officials have difinitively decided a game, the Oklahoma Oregon game a few years back, and the Colorado fifth down game.  But to me, this was a clearly blown call.  Remember, it was called incomplete on the field.  I was watching an NFL game earlier this year where this exact play happened, and it was initially ruled a fumble and was OVERTURNED on replay to an incomplete pass.  Plus, several people have pointed out to me that the whistle blew before Pitt had possession of the "fumble," calling into question whether or not the play was even reviewable (at least to the point where Pitt could even be awarded the ball).

4) Jay Cutler is horrible- Watching the 49ers Bears game, it made me realize one thing.  The Broncos gave the Bears the worst fleecing sinec the Lions fleeced the Cowboys in the Roy Williams trade.  I mean, the trade would have been bad had it just been picks given up for Cutler, but throw in Orton, too.  And some Bears fans were asking what happened to their running game.  That's simple.  Jay Cutler.  Yes, the O-line is also not playing as well, but Forte didn't all of a sudden suck.  Jay Cutler thinks it's all about him.  And as far as building for the future, the Bears can forget about that one as well.  Somebody suggested they need to draft a great receiver.  The problem with that is they don't have a pick until at least the third round.  The Bears have no future.  They mortgaged it for Cutler (and Gaines Adams).

5) Pats 4th and out- I can understand where some people are coming from trying to defend coach Belichick's decision to go for it on fourth down late and on his own side of the field.  Afterall, it was essentially a playoff game and will go a long way toward deciding home field.  That one game represented a three game swing, two for the points in the standings, and another 1/2 each way for the tie breaker.  Still, to me it was very odd, and I'd much rather try to make Peyton drive much longer, no matter how well he had been driving it against you recently.  Huge win by the Colts.

6) Trojans defense snapped- I had pointed out going into the Oregon game that the prior two weeks the Trojans defense looked flat and were not playing up to USC standards.  Ever since then, they've done nothing to improve, proving that sometimes it is hard to just reload instead of rebuild, even if you are Pete Carroll.  The loses on defense over the years have clearly caught up, and this will be USC's first year not in a BCS bowl game in a long time.

7) Horned Frogs roll- TCU continued to roll, destroying their toughest remaining opponent in Utah by a 55-28 score.  Should Texas lose, or should Bama or Florida lose before the SEC Championship game, I can only hope the BCS does the right thing and sends the lizards to Pasadena on the 7th.

8) Houston loses another it shouldn't- As much as I like Case Keenum and the huge numbers he's been putting up this year, you cannot afford to lose to UTEP and UCF.  That just cannot happen, especially after beating Oklahoma State.

9) tOSU going to the Rose Bowl- By beating Iowa in overtime, Ohio State will be making it's first trip to Pasadena since something like 1999.  Hard to believe, but a lot of the years they won the Big 10, they went to the Championship game.  And remember, Penn State won last year.

10) Another reason I hate Gary Bettman- The Lightning were screwed out of a point on 11/14 while playing the Kings.  On what should have been a game winning goal by the Lightning in OT, the up ice official ruled that the Kings goalie was interfered with on the play and waved off the goal.  Here's the problem.  The Lightning player was clearly pushed in there by a Kings player.  How is this kind of play not reviewable?  Bettman either needs to revisit his horrible rules, or send these officials back to school.

11/23-

1) Hold that Tiger timeout- Wow, what a horrible series of play calling and clock management displayed by the LSU coaching staff at the end of the Ole Miss game.  You have it first and 10 at the 29 with around :40 seconds left and two timeouts.  First play: incompletion.  Okay, not too bad, although with two timeouts and in field goal range, you can run or use the middle of the field.  Second play: sack.  Cannot happen in that situation.  Now you're out of field goal range.  First timeout.  33 seconds left.  Next play, some ill-conceived screen play that loses like seven yards.  Now it's fourth and forever.  The clock is at 27 seconds.  Somehow, as you are discussing whatever on the sidelines, you let the clock run all the way down to 9 seconds before calling the timeout.  Now, you throw a hail-mary.  And in the most improbable situation, you complete it at the five, but there is only one second left.  And you are caught completely unready.  Your field goal unit is not ready to go, although there may have not been enough time to get them on.  So, your QB attempts a SPIKE??  With one second left on the clock???  And the great thing is in the hurry up confusion, it was discovered on video that Miles was the one telling him to spike it.  You have to run a play.  You have to hike it and throw it to the endzone.  Even in Death Valley, the final second runs off the clock on a spike.  It was clear the coaching staff was lost, and even more so on a play that was probably meant to go into the endzone ends up completed on the 5 instead.  It is your responsibility as a coach to be ready for every possibility, and to have your team ready.  One fan suggested they should have celebrated the play, as it would have stopped the clock.  Now, while I have no experience actually calling a college game with college rules, I'm pretty sure the clock starts on the ready for play just like it would normally.  He did have an interesting idea, though, as the clock WOULD stop as they march it off, and maybe have given them enough time to get the FG unit on.  Still, all in all, some of the worst coaching I've seen, EVER, and inexcusible from a BCS champion winning coach.  That last TO had to be called right after the screen play.  You have to extend the game.

2) Weis' swan song- I think the second consecutive loss on senior day by the Fighting Irish pretty much spells the end for Charlie Weis.  Afterall, his winning percentage is right up there with Davie and Willingham, and I can't remember the last ranked opponent he's beaten.  On the flip side, it was good to see the Huskies win their first game since losing Jasper Howard.  Seeing coach Edsall's emotions during the post-game was touching, especially knowing how heart-felt they were.

3) Some absolutely inexcusible NFL performances- Wow, Steelers lose to Chiefs (I know, Moo, you saw it coming the whole way).  The Bengals get a gift to move another game up, only they turnover the game against the Raiders on a late TD and then fumble the ensuing kickoff.  And the Cowboys take a late TD and only hang 7 on the lowly Redskins in a win.

4) The Jets crash land and the Broncos pull up lame- After starting off 3-0 and fueling speculation again of an all NY Super Bowl (the Giants haven't been performing much better), they have only won 1 of the last 7 and Sanchez is looking very much like a rookie.  And the Broncos after their 6-0 start have dropped 4 in a row and now find themselves looking up at the Chargers.

5) Redemption for VY- Ever since being forced back into the lineup by owner Bud Adams (who probably gave coach Jeff Fisher the double barrelled single finger salute in the process), the Titans have not lost a game and have suddenly found themselves back in the playoff hunt, although they probably dug themselves too deep a hole to begin with.

6) Oregon Arizona classic- In one of the most interesting games of the year that I could only see via ESPN360.com thanks to ABC thinking that because I live in Florida the Texas beatdown of Kansas would be more interesting to me, DESPITE the fact that their number 1 crew was at THIS game, Oregon won in double OT in come back fashion, setting up this week's rivalry week matchup with Oregon State with the winner getting a trip to Pasadena on Jan 1st to play tOSU.

7) Huskers Shuck Kansas State to win Big 12 north- Nebraska's defense again looked dominant in setting up a trip to Arlington to play Texas on Dec. 5th.  I'm looking forward to see how well the blackshirts match up against Colt McCoy and the Longhorns.  In an ironic twist, had K State won, they would have been playing against Texas.  By losing, not only will they not, but they also will not be bowling.

8) ACC Championship game set, too- I'm actually looking forward to seeing C.J. Spiller coming here to Tampa to take on Georgia Tech and the triple option.  The good thing is I think this game should sell better than last year's Va Tech BC game.  Short of getting FSU and/or Miami in the game, this was the best we could do, and should at least generate some more local interest as the teams are much closer.

9) To all the SEC haters- Yes, ramble on about how we are two deep (we are).  Pile on us for how we are down for the second year in a row (we are).  Get on us for scheduling weak teams late in the year (only because we start our conference season earlier than anybody other than the ACC, which starts out the gate).  The SEC has TEN, count 'em, TEN teams that are bowl eligible.  Yes, we might not have the great teams outside of UF and BAMA, but we have a WHOLE LOTTA good ones.  And we have to play eight games against said teams.  And I would argue that just about every conference is down this year.  That's why you had a C-USA school in the Top 15 for most of the year.

10) Turkey games on turkey day- I'll break my rule because I was going to get on this point anyway, but even the one slightly intriguing NFL game on Thanksgiving turned out to induce more yawns than the trytophan in your Thanksgiving turkey (unless you were a Broncos fan).  Honestly, I was watching the Texas Texas A&M game and just flipping between commercials.  The Lions sucked and have for years.  Then you match them up against one of the top 6 teams in the conference.  Conversely, you match up the Cowboys against the Raiders???  Seriously, the Raiders???  The NFL really needs to revisit it's Thanksgiving day policy, as "tradition" is quickly turning in to the "tradition" of people turning their TV sets off early.
Posted on: November 11, 2009 11:25 pm
Edited on: November 11, 2009 11:40 pm
 

10 Things I Learned the Week of Nov. 9th

This week, I would like to take the opportunity to give my deepest thanks to the troops, both past and present, who have put/continue to put their lives on the line to protect my freedom to enjoy sports to the point where I might learn a thing or 10 over the week, and then come in here to pass along this knowledge, and the freedoms of Americans everywhere.

1) The uni's weren't the only thing changed this week- Watching the Bucs Packers game at my house, I was telling my dad as he and the announcers on the game kept mentioning how the Bucs were hanging around and fighting hard, "Yeah, but watch, they'll go in at halftime, make no adjustments, and come out and get blown out in the second half."  I had every right to believe what I was saying.  It had happened already in all 7 of their previous games (including winable games against the Redskins and Panthers).  But then the miraculous happened.  I joked with the guys at work I felt like I was watching on old Foldger's coffee commerical.  "We've secretly replaced the Buccaneers coaching staff with one that can make half time adjustments and win a game."  And that they did.  And what's up with the Packers swiss cheese O-line?  Way to make Stylez G. White look like the second coming of Michael Strahan.

2) Irish's BCS dreams sunk by Navy- In addition to thanking the troops this Veteran's Day, how about thanking future troops, the Midshipmen of the Naval Academy, who prevented mine (and every non-Notre Dame fans) worst nightmare of seeing an undeserving and over-matched Irish team in a BCS game only to serve as the sacrificial lamb.  And of course, with Pitt and Stanford both looking to be much better than previously advertised, the Irish could relistically finish the regular season 7-5 and be Charlie Weis' swan song.  For more of my thoughts on the game, Irish fans, and their "mystique" (if interested), I direct you to this thread: http://www.cbssports.com/mcc/messag
es/chrono/18150835
.

3) Take advantage of your stellar D- Boy, as a Gator fan I am longing for the days of Dan Mullen.  Steve Adazio's play calling is baffling at best sometimes, and a huge reason for the team's red zone struggles this year.  There was a third and two from the 10 early in the game where Aaron Hernandez, our TE, motioned into the backfield, and in a terrifyingly slow developing play, Tebow fake pitched it to him and was absolutely stuffed.  Field Goal.  It's obvious this year due to the Gators' superior D, he's afraid of opening it up and making mistakes, preferring the D to carry them.  I say, all the more reason to open it up and make a couple mistakes.  You know the defense will be there to clean up for you.  Sure, maybe Charlie Strong gets a little mad at you when the other team ends up putting 10 or 13 on the scoreboard, but so what?  Especially if you end up putting 40+ up.  Is it just me?

4) Anti-SEC angst again directed in the wrong direction- It's been an abysmal season for officiating in the SEC, and I cannot try to defend or justify it.  Previously, I thought we had the best officials in the game along with the Big 12, due to the level of football being played.  Well, maybe this game has become too fast for them.  Another likely blown call was made in the LSU-Alabama game.  But as easy as it is to criticize the replay official and why do we have replay, blah, blah, blah (by the way, ask the Big Ten how replay is going for them) it was AGAIN not the replay official's fault.  Here's why.  You take a look at the replay.  Clearly his left foot was in bounds.  The problem is, it is not obvious when he secures possession (despite what LSU fans say).  To me, it appeared that he did not secure the ball until his left foot was up.  So now we look at the right.  Did I think he had the right down?  Yes, I do.  Gary Danielson did a fantastic job during the replay showing again why I feel he's the best in the game.  He even pointed out the little bit of grass that seemed to come up with the right foot, and no white grass.  But can I conclusively say it was in?  Conclusively being the opporative word.  No, I can't.  And if I can't say he conclusively had his right foot in, and I can't conclusively say he had possession while his left foot was still down, guess what?  Play stands as called.  Again, I point out, PLAY STANDS AS CALLED.  Somehow, fans and media members have twisted this around using converse logic that had it correctly (imo) been called a pick, it would have been overturned on replay.  SIMPLY NOT TRUE.  There would have been equal (if not less) evidence to not overturn a pick call.  Once again, get mad at the officials on the field who were either out of position or simply inept and made a bad call and then expect the replay official to OVERSTEP his bounds and fix what was not as obvious of a mistake as people like to think.

5) Curb your enthusiasm- After tOSU's domination of Penn State in Happy Valley, some Buckeye fans began jumping off the deep end proclaiming that Terrelle Pryor might not lose another game.  Well, I mean, in a sense they are right.  He MIGHT not lose again.  But likely he will.  Still, with the team he has around him, he shouldn't lose many more, especially if he can build off his performance.  But, one good game does not a career make, and he still has things he needs to work on.  Overall, though, great win by the Buckeyes, who I no longer need to win this week, but just might pull for them all the same (more on this, next).

6) General college musings- Iowa's weekly let's play to the level of our competition and come from behind job is mercifully over, although you never want to see a starting QB go down like that, a week after a through dismantling of the Trojans, the Ducks lay an egg against Stanford (although the Cardinal are a good team), the Hoosiers again do just enough to hang in a game and still lose, and the black shirts get some revenge against their formal arch rival in securing 5 picks in a 10-3 victory over the Sooners that mericfully finally pushed OU out of the Top 25.  By the way, what has become with some of the tradition in college football?  I meant to hit on this a few weeks ago, but Bama Tennessee not being on the 3rd Saturday in October? (Bama played the other USC that week, and the Volunteers were off).  And OU Nebraska not playing each other every year since expending to the Big 12?  As I was telling my good Husker fan HuskerTex, I remember EVERY Thanksgiving weekend watching four football games, Florida Florida State, Auburn Alabama, Texas Texas A&M, and Oklahoma Nebraska.

7) General NFL musings- Huge wins by the Cowboys and Steelers this week.  Why did more people not see Cincy beating Baltimore?  They already did it once, and Cedric Benson, an early candidate for comeback player of the year, ran for over 100 yards against them AGAIN.  It's the 3rd time in 4 games the Ravens have allowed a 100 yard back.  Big win also by the Chargers.  How does Vincent Jackson get that wide open.  Well, first the corner thinks he has (and should have had) safety help, and did, but the safety was far too late getting over.  Of course, part of this is on the corner for not rerouting Jackson inside to where the help should have been and allowing him to get outside where the safety had much more ground to cover (and again, was late doing so).  And the Saints and Colts just continue to find ways to win, again in comeback fashion for the Saints.

8) Some thoughts on the hardwood- We may be in line for another Celtics Lakers Finals matchup.  The Magic look great most nights, but lose by 28 to the Thunder.  Also, Magic might be in a tougher division than previously thought as there may be 3 playoff caliber teams, including the resurgent Heat.  And is LeBron already half way out the door?  That 4-3 start won't help.  Also, college bball tipped off for real on Monday, so expect to see more on that in the coming weeks, especially after football winds down.

9) Icy thoughts- The Lightning are an improved 6-4-5, getting points in all four games on a recent road trip.  Should the playoffs had started Monday, the Lightning would be in it.  The Devils are red-hot (hey, they are the Devils) and now are tied with the Penguins in the East Atlantic (I do make mistakes form time to time).  And the Avalanche continue to amaze getting stellar goaltending, although the Sharks have now passed them for the overall lead in the NHL.

10) BuccinGator's stone cold NFL predicitions- Instead of doing a look ahead this week (although I am really looking forward to the Sunday Night game between the Patriots and Colts), I shall bring you my NFL playoff predictions.  Now that all of the teams (except 2 who have gotten in 9) have played exactly half their season, it's far easier to get reads on the teams and who might make some noise come post season.  Sure, waiting like this makes it easy for me to pick teams like the Colts, Vikings, and Saints, but it also makes it easier to identify the Dolphins and Falcons of last year.  Here's a look back at last year's edition:

Now that we are officially at the half way point of the NFL season, with every team having played 8 games (except for 4 that have played 9), here go my picks for the twelve teams that will be playing come January for a chance to visit my home town of Tampa, Florida on Feb. 9th.  In the AFC, I like the Patriots to hang on to the East, the Titans to win the South (duh), the Steelers to take the north, and the Chargers to luck into the West with no better than a 9-7 record.  For the wild card teams, give me the Ravens (even though they face a brutal schedule including all the teams from the NFC East), and I'll go with a team from the East, give me the Dolphins in a surprise.  The Bills have looked lost recently for some unknown reason and I just don't trust Jet Favre to be careful enough with the ball on what I think is a mediocre team.  In the NFC, I'll take the Giants to win the East, the Packers to squeak by in the North (with no better than a 10-6 record), the Cardinals in the West (another duh).  I'll take the Bucs as one of my wild cards, and the other will obviously go to a team in the East, so let's make it the Eagles, who I think edge out the Redskins.  But wait a minute, I haven't picked my division winner in the South, you might be saying.  Well, the easy thing to do is take the Panthers, who in the end I think will take it (especially if they can handle the Bucs in Carolina), but my official pick on my blog is ... the Atlanta Falcons.  Yes, the worst to first trend continues with a team that everyone thought would be rebuilding, but instead are just recovering from a horrible coach.  So there you have it.  I'll pick official playoff winners once the playoffs are set, but based on these picks, I'll go #3 Patriots over #6 Ravens, #5 Dolphins over #4 Chargers, #1 Titans over #5 Dolphins, #2 Steelers over #3 Patriots, #2 Steelers over #1 Titans.  In the NFC, give me #5 Buccaneers over #4 Packers, #6 Eagles over #3 Cardinals, #1 Giants over #6 Eagles, #5 Buccaneers over #2 Falcons (hey, how about that, two divisional matchups in the divisional round.  Wouldn't that be neat?) #1 Giants over #5 Buccaneers, and finally, in Tampa, Giants over Steelers.  There you have it, folks.

As you can see, I got 9 out of the twelve teams correct (couldn't see the Colts late season run or the Bucs choke job).  I did also call the Chargers lucking into the AFC West last year.  Don't know what I was thinking taking the Pack and TT's big ego.  And, I had the Jets pegged better than most of the experts.  So here they are, this year's NFL playoff predictions culminating with who I think ends up in Miami.  For the AFC East, it's an easy pick with the Patriots.  South another slam dunk with the Colts.  In the North, I like the Steelers to edge out the Bengals, while both make the playoffs, the loser securing one of the AFC's wild cards.  In the West, gotta go Broncos, although they appear to be slipping somewhat, and the Chargers are hanging around.  For the last wild card spot, I just don't trust the Jets or Ravens enough, so I think it comes down to the Texans and Chargers, with the Chargers winning out.  In the NFC, give me the Eagles to win the East despite their hiccup against the Cowboys, the Saints to win the South (duh), the Vikings in the North (double duh), and in the West, it's got to be the Cardinals with the 49ers disappointing the way they are.  For the two wild cards, I'll take the Cowboys and the Falcons.  So here's how I see the playoffs.  In the AFC, I like #3 Patriots over #6 Chargers and #5 Bengals over #4 Broncos in a revenge game, then, #1 Colts over #5 Bengals and #2 Steelers over #3 Patriots in what should be a great game if it happens.  Home field and defense I think will win out.  For the AFC Championship, I'm going to go with the upset and go #2 Steelers over #1 Colts granting Sixburgh their second consecutive trip to Florida.  For the NFC, I like #3 Cardinals over #6 Cowboys (Cowboys still can't win a playoff game or get revenge for 1998) and #5 Falcons over #4 Eagles in what would be a tight game.  Then, #1 Saints over #5 Falcons and #2 Vikings over #3 Cardinals.  Then in what should be a heck of an NFC Championship game which will most likely be in a dome (will be if my top two seeds are there), #1 Saints over #2 Vikings where home field again becomes a factor.  And for Super Bowl LXIV in Miami, I can't believe I'm saying this as it will make Saints fans more obnoxious than normal (although it'd be a great story for the true Saints fans like some of the ones you see in the Super Dome), I'll take the Saints to beat the Steelers.  They just seem to have enough on defense and have finally realized that Bush is overrated and exactly how and when he needs to be used, that I will go ahead and go with them.  I really hope I'm wrong, however (at least with them).
Posted on: October 28, 2009 6:31 pm
Edited on: October 31, 2009 10:04 pm
 

10 Things I Learned the Week of Oct. 26th

As we enter Halloween Week here at 10TILTW (hey, that's catchy), we have been treated with some epic collapses and great games, been tricked by the ghoulishly sub-standard SEC officiating, and have had to listen to coaches whine like Banshees over how it was somebody else's fault they lost games.  So, here is the knowledge that was imparted to me by the sports world this week, hopefully presented in a way not to zombiefy you.

1) Where has the spread option gone?- As a Gator fan, I feel Tim Tebow's frustration as to the offenses lack of production.  And while people like to point to the receiving core, which is a little part responsible, I by far give more fault to Steve Adazio, the Gators O.C.  Over the past few games, one of our greatest plays, where Tebow sweeps out and has the option to A) keep it, B) pitch it to Demps/Rainey, or C) shovel it inside to Hernandez has completely disappeared from our playbook.  It was instrumental to our BCS title last year, and very few teams have the athletes or the discipline to shut all three options down.  Even Meyer commented after the game they needed to put Tebow in better positions.  While the first pick 6 was totally Tim's fault and led from a 20-3 halftime game to a 13-10 halftime game, there was no reason for him to be throwing 1st and 10 from his own 2.  Also, our offensive line's pass blocking has become suspect.  They're still great run blockers, and we have FIVE people that can run the ball.  Tebow's already proven in the past he can win a game with his arm if he has to.  With the Gators D, I think we need to get back to running it for 300 yards a game, even if it's not "sexy" or will get you 50+ points.

2) Hindsight is always 20/20- I can feel Dan Mullen's pain on the pick return for a "touchdown" call, but he absolutely deserved to be reprimanded for asking for the video replay judge to be suspended, and here's why.  IT WASN'T HIS FAULT!!!!!  He did his job to the best of his ability, and Mullen should know that.  In order to overturn a call on the field, the replay judge MUST MUST MUST have conclusive evidence that the original call was wrong, otherwise he HAS to let the play stand.  And there's the crucial point.  Folks, I want you to pay attention to the next college football game you watch, and listen to what the referee says after a replay.  If he says replay has CONFIRMED the call on the field, then that means that there is conclusive visual evidence to uphold the call.  If he says THE RULING ON THE FIELD STANDS then that means there was not conclusive visual evidence to there being a botched call.  Now was the call botched, absolutely.  And was there conclusive evidence, yes.  Want to know when this conclusive evidence came?  After ESPN had like three minutes to throw their two CRAPPY angles together, sync them up, and show them as one image.  Know when that happened?  AFTER the replay official made his decision.  And it wasn't an in and out, either.  Before then, you could guess all you want.  But you CANNOT guess in replays.  You cannot feel.  Watching it live, I thought it was a TD, although I wanted to throttle Dustin Doe.  Watching the replays, I was like, uh oh, but from ESPN's best angle, it looked like he had it in the endzone.  From the reverse angle, you could speculate that it wasn't a TD.  Like I said, it wasn't until they synced them up that you knew for sure they blew it.  But Dan, if you want to blow a gasket, either A) blow it at the on field officials who were obviously not in position to make the call (which probably still would have gotten you reprimanded) or B) blow it at ESPN.  For a network that paid a whole bunch of money to broadcast the games, would having a camera on the goalline, from either end, hurt?  And then lost in the mix was that it would be a touchback and Mississippi State would have 1st and 10 from the 20.  BUZZZZZZZ.  Mississippi State was called for an illegal shift on the play.  Had it correctly been called a fumble, the Gators enforce the penalty.  We can second guess the results until the cows come home, but honestly, did anybody get the impression that the Bulldog offense was going to do ANYTHING against the Gator D that night.  Be honest, Gator haters.  Didn't think so.  Still, the SEC has a bunch of cleaning up to do, as do the Gators.

3) Mountain of a blocker- In a game that took me back to when Jarvis Moss blocked three kicks against South Carolina during our '06 title run, Terrance Cody of Alabama blocked two kicks against the Volunteers to preserve a 12-10 victory.  Now after the game, Lane whined like a little girl about Cody not being flagged for taking his helmet off.  If you can show me that he did that before the clock hit double zeroes, then by the letter of the rule, he does have a point.  But in a sport, and particularly a conference that is too strict and has bad rules regarding celebrating/personal fouls the like, I was glad to see this one go.  That rule was meant for players immediately after the play expressing their frustration, and by letter celebration, too.  Cody was yards away from the play, near his sideline,  going further away from the action, and was celebrating a great win.  Now, had he done it right after he blocked the kick, while still in the middle of both lines or just coming out, then yes.  But in this case, let it slide.  A good no call in my book, and I have no love for Bama or Nick Saban, although I'm sure Vols fans would vehemently disagree.  Update: I should have realized it at the time, but one thing that led to Kiffin being reprimanded is even if they had called Cody for unsportmanlike, it's a post play foul.  In other words, it would have been Bama's ball 15 yards back from the previous line of scrimmage.  So sorry Vols fans, you lose that game anyway.  Still a great effort put forth.

4) Hope you didn't go to bed at halftime- God, I'm getting tired of having to give love to the Saints.  There is talk of the Saints as the best team in the NFL.  I'm sorry, but the BEST team in the NFL does not get down 24-3.  That being said, only a GREAT team comes back from that defecit, and the Saints are clearly a great team.  And Dolphin fans should want to throttle their coach for making a rookie mistake.  Late in the first half, down by the aforementioned 24-3 and out of timeouts, Brees hits Colston for what was initially ruled a touchdown, but was subsequently (and accurately) overturned to first and goal from the half yard line.  Saints have :05 left on the clock, and the referee announces to the world "The clock WILL start on the ready for play whistle."  New Orleans has their field goal unit already on the field content to get it to 24-6 as they have to snap the ball quickly.  All of a sudden, whistles.  Timeout Miami.  EXCUSE ME??  Timeout for what?  Oh, to let Drew Brees "talk" Sean Peyton into going for it (wasn't much of a conversation, more like a Peyton Manning we're going for it) and getting a touchdown scored against you right before half.  Great job!!!

5) On the Eighth week of football the Huskers gave to me- Eight turnovers against the Cyclones.  And four inside the enemy 5.  And yet they were still remarkably in that game.  That had to hurt big time for Nebraska fans, and I know it did (from reading HuskerTex's blog http://huskertex.blogs.cbssports.co
m/mcc/blogs/entry/6286615/17862580
).

6) Hurricanes start OT strong, quickly fizzle out- Just like some real tropical systems, the Hurricanes received the ball first in OT and hit a 19 yard run on their first play.  From there, they proceeded to gain not another yard and kick a field goal.  Miami could have taken the three off the board as Clemson was offside on the FG, but I agree with the decision to leave the points on the board (would have been fourth and goal from the 3.  Maybe if it was closer).  Then Clemson gets a 26 touchdown on their possession to win the game in what was a closely contested back and forth affair in which both teams trailed several times.

7) Horns hook Mizzou- In what had to be Texas' best, most complete game of the season, they defeated the Tigers 41-7.  Unlike previous Longhorn games where they seemingly flipped the switch at halftime, even in the OU game, McCoy started out 11 for 11 and the Horns put TD's on the board with their first three drives.  And would you believe that the leader in the Big 12 north is Bill Snyder's Kansas State Wildcats???  Whodathunkit?

8) Icy thoughts- The Avalanche are surprisingly leading the league with 20 points, the Devils scored a huge victory over the Pens, who still lead the Eastern conference, and the Ohretchkin [sic] led Capitals have suddenly and drastically (although predictably) seperated themselves in a muddled Southeast division.  And I'm still miffed that the Lightning CANNOT score a goal in a shootout.  This last one against the Sabres, they had SIX cracks at it.  Zero goals.

9) November diamonds- I'm sorry, but as much as I'm hoping for a good, long, competitive World Series, I'm also hoping for miserable weather and unplayable nights.  Something absolutely has to be done about the baseball schedule so that we don't end up in this situation.  The best thing that could happen is that the weather somehow adversely affects the Yankees, and George and his boys get POed.  They need to start sooner, schedule doubleheaders, fix the playoff TV schedule, something.  As for my World Series prediction, as much as I should have learned not to bet against the Phillies, and as much as I can't stand the Yankees, the Yankees have done good for me so far this year, and I see no reason to hop off the bandwagon.  I say Yankees take it in Yankee Stadium in game 6.

10) The look ahead- Things I'm looking forward to this week are USF West Virginia to see if the Bulls can get out of their yearly October swoon, Georgia Florida, which is still the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, no matter where the teams are in the standings, K State Oklahoma to see if the Wildcats just might be for real, Texas Okie State, to see just how much the Cowboys miss Dez Bryant who will be gone for the rest of the season, and Oregon USC, to see if the Ducks can take care of what the pollsters seem unable to year after year.  For the Pros, give me Giants Eagles, Jet Dolphins II, Vikings Packers II, and Saints Falcons to see if the Saints can stay unbeaten.  And obviously, the World Series (of Poker, J/K).
Posted on: October 13, 2009 7:58 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2009 5:44 pm
 

10 (plus 3) Things I Learned the Week of Oct.12th

With Halloween fast approaching, this week, I give you, my loyal fans, the treat of a baker's dozen of topics that enlightened me in the sports world this week.  Usually, I keep these to 10, so as not to get too verbose, but certain weeks (I had one last year around Thanksgiving), no matter how hard I try and combine up my points, 10 just isn't enough.  And looking ahead to next week's slate of games, it might very well happen again.  The remote will be smokin' this weekend.

1) Huskers shuck Mizzou- In a game played under a heavy downpour, Nebraska could have easily packed it in going into the fourth quarter down 12-0, but instead amped up the D and used two picks to help Zac Lee throw 3 touchdown passes in the fourth quarter en route to ringing up 27 unanswered (missed a 2 pt. conversion) and a huge 27-12 victory over Big 12 north rivals Missouri.  Now the game later this year against Kansas looms big time and could determine who goes into Cowboys stadium on Dec. 5th.

2) Badgers/Tigers not yet ready for primetime- No, I'm not talking about the good ol' days of SNL, I'm talking about the current season of Saturday college football.  Two teams that were struggling for early respect despite being undefeated went down on Saturday afternoon.  I knew that Auburn's defense was inconsitent at best and Arkansas could score, but the fact that Auburn's offense took until the second half to show up, and by then it was already far too late, was a huge surprise.  As for Wisconsin, if you look at the pure stats, you'd think that they won the game, but they did just enough not only to keep tOSU in it, but win it convincingly.  You'd think there was no way since tOSU's offense had less than 200 yards, but there was all kinds of hidden return yardage for both the tOSU defense and special teams.  In fact, they accounted for three touchdowns for the Buckeyes.  Further proof that stats can lie.  The showdown in the Horseshoe on Nov. 14th looks huge now, and will likely decide who plays in Pasadena (no, not on the 7th).

3) Where's Johnathan Crompton and what have you done with him?- Look, I've already been on UGA's offense this year, looking basically lost losing Stafford and Moreno from last year, but I thought it was an absolute physical IMPOSSIBILITY for ANYBODY to make Johnathan Crompton look like the second coming of Peyton Manning.  Afterall, I forget if it was going into this game or the Auburn game last week, but here was a QB who's coach had ZERO faith in him as reflected by the offensive play calling, and had thrown 8 TD's and NINE PICKS on the season.  If I was Mark Richt, who I love as a coach, I'd want to hide after that defensive showing.  I do love ANYTHING that humiliates the Bulldog program, though, even if it is seeing Lane get his first SEC win.  Wonder if he was up all night Saturday singing "Rocky Top?"

4) Some "Snead" remarks about Jevan- Ugh!  So much for all that talk about Heisman darkhorse and number 1 overall draft pick.  This kid looks absolutely lost this season.  And his frustration is showing more and more every game.  Now, as much as I'd like to hang it all around his neck, okay, so not really, but a lot of the media and Ole Miss fans do, it's simply not ALL his fault.  First off, he needs some people around him to start to step up and make some plays.  But most of all, AT LEAST half of his problems I hang firmly around the necks of his offensive linemen.  Todd McShay ran a good piece on ESPN's College Gameday showing two clips from the South Carolina game.  On the first clip, South Carolina rushed TWO, count 'em, TWO people on the play, and Snead was still sacked.  That's unforgivable.  And so what does Houston Nutt do in response to this?  Well, since we can't block two with five, we'll keep BOTH running backs in for extra protection.  The result of this play?  South Carolina rushes three people against the seven, and while Snead had plenty of time, he has THREE receivers going up against EIGHT men in coverage!  Do you think anybody was open?  Nope, didn't think so.  So say what you will about the kid buying into his own hype, whatever, but there are some serious issues with one of the media darlings who was supposed to contend with Alabama for the SEC West this year.

5) Hold that Tiger- Really.  Did the experts not see this one coming?  Well, seeing as how Darst was the only one on this website to pick the Gators, and Kirk Herbstreit was the only one on Gameday to call it (more on this in a bit), even getting ribbed by Corso, obviously not.  Everybody was so wrapped up in the Tebow/No Tebow/Will he play/Won't he play (more on this next point) what effect will it have on the Gators that they somehow forgot that the Gators sported going into the game, the NUMBER 1 DEFENSE in the nation and the NUMBER 1 running game in the nation.  These remain whether Tebow or Brantley is under center.  Overall, a brilliant game plan by Urban Meyer to get a tough SEC road victory.  Florida was ABSOLUTELY DOMINANT of both sides of the line of scrimmage.  It's one thing to let your opponent know you're going to run dive plays 80% of the time early on.  To still do it and do it effectively against a team with the athletes on defense that the LSU Tigers possess is another.  And kudos to Herbstreit, for not only pointing out that Tebow will play (according to Herbstreit, he thought Tebow would play great.  I thought he played well, and as good as could be expected due to the concussion), but calling out the Gator defense, specifically Carlos Dunlap and Brandon Spikes and predicting they would play great and carry the Gators to the win.  While Dunlap played well, Spikes was a man amongst boys, and word came out that Herbstreit's comments made their way to the Tim Tebow of the Gators D, and he used it as motivation.  In fact, Meyer came out today and said if anybody else in the media wants to make similar comments about Tebow or Riley Cooper, to be his guest.  And to all the people (in particular Pac-10 fans who have absolutely no grounds to stand on whatsoever) who were calling this a boring game and the SEC overrated, this was good clean defensive, ram the ball down your throat and you can't stop us football.  And, it was the perfect gameplan for the situation.  If you don't believe that, just ask the previous 32 Saturday night opponents of LSU in death valley and ask them what their result was.  Offense is sexy, sells tickets, and can win you games, but defense wins championships.  PERIOD.  PERIOD.  PERIOD.  If you don't believe it, look up who's won the last three BCS National Titles and will likely be favored to do so a fourth time. 

6) I'm not a neuropathologist, but I'll darn sure play one in the newspaper/internet- Can the media stop already with the ridiculous pre-guessing and second guessing involved with Tebow playing the LSU game?  I'm sorry, Greg Doyle and William Rhoden, but I'll darn sure take the UF medical staff's opinion over yours any day.  I guess your journalism degrees somehow came with a minor in sports medicine.  I mentioned after the Kentucky game that it wasn't going to be Urban Meyer or Tim Tebow who decided on whether Tebow would be able to play, it would be the doctors.  None of the ridiculous speculation by these Web MD's changed that.  And honestly, with the D and running game, I believe that UF wins the game with John Brantley, so why risk it if he's not 100%.  I think the fact Tebow was on the field meant that he was (although obviously the playbook was scaled back a bit.  Sure didn't seem to shy away from contact, though, did he?).  Oh, and guess what?  Tate Forcier of Michigan has a concussion and has already been stated he will start if cleared.  Where's the outcry against Rich Rodriguez and Forcier should not play articles?

7) Horns Hooked in AP- Had to calm down a bunch of Longhorn fans this week who got their panties in a bunch because Alabama overtook them at number 2 in the AP poll.  First off, in the two human polls that are used in the BCS formula, Texas is still number 2.  Secondly, should the big three keep winning out, there's this little game in Atlanta on Dec. 5th that either Alabama or Florida will have to lose, so even at number three, keep taking care of your own business, and everything will work itself out.  Honestly, I'm not impressed by the fact that Texas seemingly has to throw the switch in the second half every week.  And if you don't think Florida and Alabama are the two best teams right now, we'll show you on Dec. 5th and again on Jan. 7th, IMHO (of course, one of them can lose before then, and I'll look pretty stupid.  I'll take my chances right now, though).  However, worrying about these things on Oct. 11th when any/all (we already know at least one will have to) of them can still lose is pointless.

8) DolphinMania runs wild(cat) on the Jets- Wow, what a game last night.  Another classic MNF in the rivalry between these two teams.  Honestly, I was a bit surprised that with defenses on both teams I would consider to be in the top half of the NFL, that neither team seemed to really be able to stop the other.  In the end, though, Jon Gruden and Ron Jaworski seemed to be the only ones outside the Dolphins offense who realized that on 3rd and goal from the three, with ten seconds left AND A TIMEOUT, that Miami just might run the ball.  As they both astutely pointed out, you get stopped, you call the TO and go for it on fourth down.

9) The best and worst of the NFL so far- Can you believe that the two best teams in the NFL right now might have met in week one, with one taking a miracle play to beat the other in the Denver Broncos and Cincinnati Bengals?  Honestly, you look at all the undefeated teams, and nobody's played anybody except for these two, and they are still winning (yes, obviously the Bengals have the one loss).  On the flip side, I believe the Rams are the worst team, but if I had to pick a team to go winless this season, the team with the best chance based on their schedules is my Bucs.  And somebody PLEASE explain to me how a team has a QB go 2 for 17 passing and still wins the game?  And why is JaMarcus Russell still a starting QB in this league?  Just how many wasted first rounders are the Raiders going to have (that DHB pick looks awesome right now)?  Couldn't happen to a more hapless, senile owner.

10) Some NHL thoughts- Well, the Lightning pulled off the 4 point minimum I wanted last week (although not the way I expected) going 1-0-2, then picked up a huge win against the Panthers last night.  Right now, they are currently in first place in their division and have more points than the Redwings.  The Bolts D is playing better as of late.  The fact that this team still remains unable to score in shootouts, however, is bothersome at best.  The defending champion Penguins are off to a hot start amassing 10 points already.

11) A special look ahead to Thursday night's NCAA game- I usually don't take a whole point for a look ahead, but this week's Thursday night game is huge for the Big East.  Regardless of who wins, they need these two teams to put on a great show to bring some respect and interest back to the league, and I believe they'll do it.  It was mentioned during a recent Big East broadcast I was watching that the league needs Pitt to win to carry this league, but I just don't argee with it.  I think both Cincinnati and USF are perfectly capable of performing this function, and I think the winner of this game is likely to play in Miami on January 5th.  Of course, Pitt being undefeated in the conference is still not out of conversation, but I also think West Virginia, Louisville, and Rutgers when they play well, can all help this league.

12) Weekly look ahead- Wow, let's see.  In college, give me the aforementioned Bearcat Bulls game, the Red River shootout to see if OU's vastly improved D can carry their struggling (by their standards) O, Arkansas Florida to create a second common opponent for UF and Alabama to compare them better (I think UF had a better showing at Kentucky than Alabama did which somehow gets overlooked), Alabama South Carolina to see where these two teams really stack up, USC Notre Dame to see just how Doyle's number one QB in the land does against a real defense (a lot of people are picking the Irish in this game, which would be a huge blow to both the Pac-10 and my keep ND out of the BCS hopes), Nebraska Texas Tech to see if the black shirts can slow down the suddenly revamped and rerevved Red Raiders offense, and Virginia Tech Georgia Tech in what should be one of the better ACC matchups of the year.  If the Hokies dominate, look for them to enter the title picture if one of the big 3 slips up.  Like I said, the remote will be smoking.  For the pros, give me Carolina Tampa Bay sorry, I'll actually be in attendance for that debacle (although it could be worse, I could have tickets to KC Washington), the Giants Saints to see which nts team stays unbeaten, Vikings Ravens to see if Baltimore can recover from two straight tough losses, Bears Falcons to see which one of these teams is likely for real and wild card material, and finally Broncos Chargers to see if Denver can keep it going with a tough road game.  Good slate for the paid athletes as well.

13) MLB LDS look back and LCS predicitions- Well, I got three out of four right, although I had all of them going longer than what they did.  I knew Boston had some holes, but didn't expect them to get exposed that thoroughly by LA, especially since I thought playing in the AL East would toughen them up.  TBS lost a lot of money by all of the series ending so quick.  But that can happen in short series.  I know last year, Philly beat LA in the LCS, but I just think the Dodgers have too much for them this year.  Don't see it going less than 6, however (in fact, I'll call it Dodgers in 6), and as much as I hate to, I'll go Yankees in 5 setting up the LAD NYY series you know baseball is praying for for not only the east coast west coast thing, but also the Torre back to New York thing and Manny against the Yankees.
Posted on: October 6, 2009 7:51 pm
Edited on: October 7, 2009 9:02 pm
 

10 Things I learned the Week of Oct. 5th

Welcome again, my friends, to another installment of that sports knowledge that was imparted upon me this week which I shall now share with all of you.  And just to show that I'm not all about the Gators and/or the SEC (although those who read regularly already know), my verbose point of the week shall be about a certain team from Tallahassee and their coach whom I have a world of respect for, even coaching the enemy.

1) NHL season underway- But not the start for my Bolts that I was hoping for, dropping their opener 6-3 against the Thrashers.  I'm still hoping for a better defense and more points this season.  That was a little disappointing giving up 6 goals, though.

2) The "U" upgraded from Tropical Storm to category 3- Wow, huge win for the Canes and Jacory Harris, who rebounded very nicely after throwing two early picks.  What a leader this kid is turning out to be.  The Hurricanes could have let last week's horrid performance and early troubles inundate them, but instead held it together for an impressive win.  The Hurricanes could possibly lose only the one game and be a second representative for the ACC in the BCS (unless Va Tech loses a couple in conference, in which case they could be THE representative).  By the way, can we please abolish preseason polls?  Oklahoma is still in the Top 25 with two loses because of what?  Oh yeah, they started number 2.  How can you rank them and not an undefeated Wisconsin team?  Now, don't get me wrong, in no way am I suggesting that the Badgers are better.  Most likely, Oklahoma beats them.  But until Wisconsin loses a game, how can a TWO loss team be in front of them.  And what if the Badgers don't lose?  Eventually they have to leapfrog the Sooners, right?  Right???  Actually, unfortunately, it's not likely to happen.

3) The football gods officially have it in for me- Gyah!!!!  That was heartwrenching to watch Washington choke away two shots close to the goalline like that and have the domers come back and beat them, extending my worries that ND will make a BCS bowl game.  Kudos to the Irish defense for stepping up like that, but come on Sark!!!  The runs to the middle were not working.  Mix in a roll out with a run/pass option.  I'm not going to get on the officials for blowing the two point conversion call which I immediately saw on the first replay that he was down.  Afterall, I think Sark had his challenge left.  But that didn't cost them the game.  The ineffeciency I previously mentioned did.

4) Speaking of Gyah's- I pick my Bucs to win over the hapless Redskins, and what thanks do I get?  Missed FG's, no adjustments, and a loss.  This team's best (and possibly only) shot of winning a game is in two weeks when the Panthers come to town.  If they lose there, 0-16 is not out of the question.  And could we please throw Josh Freeman to the wolves already and see what we might have in our first round draft pick from this year?  This season is lost, and Josh Johnson is not the answer.  Sure he gives you mobility and a faster delivery, but lacks everything else Leftwich brings to the table.  Honestly, Leftwich never should have been pulled until Freeman was ready to play, which even in that case is hopefully sooner rather than later.

5) Giving credit where it is due- Have to give props to the Saints, which is hard for me because I can't stand their win nothing, think their crap doesn't stink fans, but that was a huge win over the J-E-T-S.  I'm still not sold the Saints D will be able to stand up for a whole season, but for one game, they won it for them.

6) Cal Bleakly- Boy, what a fraud this team was.  People thought they were going to be the ones to challenge USC?  People figured out if you shut down Jahvid Best, whose Heisman Hopes are now officially zero, there isn't anybody else on this offense that's going to beat you.  And who is the leader of the Pac-10 at this point in the season?  Would you believe it's the Stanford Cardinal?  No joke.

7) Keep the yellow in the pocket, part 1- Well, at least unlike the Pac-10's head of officiating who defended the worst call in history last year, the SEC's head ref stepped up and admitted they screwed up throwing a flag on Georgia Bulldog receiver A.J. Green after making one of the most incredible catches I've ever seen, the fact is that that flag has to stay in the pocket in the first place.  Actually, more likely the rule needs to be changed, but as the 90,000 people in attendance and millions watching at home clearly saw, Green made no jesture.  It would have been kind of hard from the middle of the mass of humanity that was his teammates congratulating him on his spectacular play.  But don't get me wrong, UGA fans.  this DID NOT cost you the game.  Again, blaming it on officials is loser speak, and there is the little matter of kicking off TO Trendon Holliday and giving up a 40+ yard return which likely would have happened regardless of kicking from the 30 or the 15, and not being able to wrap up on Charles Scott and everybody else seemingly giving up on the play when the defender SHOULD have had him on the turf.  THAT cost you the game, and LSU DESERVED to win.  And the only thing worse than all of this?  The make up call on Scott after his touchdown.  Under NO circumstance should you EVER compound one horrific call with another trying to level the field.  And deny it all you want, but if that wasn't a make up call, then I'm not a Gator fan.  Remember, two wrongs don't make a right, but three rights make a left.  Point is, you don't ever want to be worried about your team scoring a touchdown because some ref might get a little overzealous.

8) Keep the yellow in the pocket, part 2- I had the Pats-Ravens football field thingy on NFL.com several times during Sunday as I had the Ravens in my Pick 'Em pools and knew it would be an important swing game.  Twice I saw as the Pats had the ball just past the 50, Personal Foul, Roughing the Quartback on the Ravens.  Then I heard about Ray Lewis' remarks after the game.  Even being right, I figured he was going to be fined for speaking his mind, especially since he was questioning the officiating, which is a definite no-no in the NFL.  Shoot, on one play, it looked like the flag was thrown simply because Tom Brady whined for it.  Well, I heard today on the radio that Ray Ray will not be fined for what he said, which means one of two things.  Either A) Our Refs really F'ed up, or B) Our rules are F'ed up and need to be revisited after the season.  Most likely, it's the latter, and to me, and to many other people, it appears that the league has far too many rules in the name of "Protecting the Player" that is detracting from the game.  Pretty soon, football will become 7 on 7 where the offensive and defensive lines are eliminated, and it's man on man, including a defender to shadow the QB who can't touch him until he gets near the line of scrimmage.  Seems this is what they want.  Oh, and no making a good hard hit on the receiver, either.

9) Bored of Untrustees- First off, I will make this clear.  Even as a Gator fan, I have a huge amount of respect for Bobby Bowden and what he has accomplished.  I was adminantly PO'ed this offseason as it was suggested he lose 14 wins for playing players that to the best of his knowledge that were eligible, while the school which allowed itself to get swallowed up in an academic scandal that encompassed SIXTY ONE of its athletes in NINE sports got off with nary a slap on the wrist.  To me, nothing screamed lack of institutional control more than this case, and made me yearn for the days of bowl probations and losing t.v. revenue.  You want to stem something like this, hit the university in the pocketbook, don't punish a coach by vacating wins.  Not like Duke is going to show a victory for that game anyway.  Now word comes from Monday of the head of the Seminoles Board of Trustees, who I can only define as a world class moron.  Here are the quotes that came from his way. 

"We've got too many bosses out there," Smith said.

"Jimbo is in a very, very tough situation where people assume he has a whole lot more authority than he really has," Smith told the Associated Press. "He's getting blamed for a lot of things that's just not his fault."


Really, too many bosses?  I count one.  A coach in waiting does not count as a boss.  And if coordinators count as bosses, then yes, there are too many as this would make Mickey Andrews and the special teams coach a boss, too, but no team is run like that.  Fisher's situation is clearly outlined to him, and as far as getting blamed for a lot of things that just are not his fault, I'll blame him for one thing that is his fault.  He is the offensive coordinator, correct?  He, or one of HIS OWN assistants call the plays, correct?  Then I blame him for having a offense that has the consistancy of an elderly man's bowel movements on a low fiber diet!  And don't give me recruiting, either.  Yes, it hasn't been up to standards at FSU recently, but do you really think Fisher has no input, especially with offensive players?  Give me a break!!!  And he continues:

Smith said Fisher should take over following Florida State's last game this season.


Too bad this isn't the board of trustees' decision and you have no direct say in it whatsoever.

Smith said that arrangement has resulted in division among the Florida State staff, an accusation Seminole coaches have vehemently denied.

"I know coaches are sniping at each other and that's just terrible," Smith said Monday. "There are too many mixed signals."


Really???  And you know this from what?  Your close, intimate, first hand knowledge of the team?  You'd swear HE was a coach at FSU.  Yeah, I'm sure there's a lot of dissent between Bowden and Andrews, life long friends.  And if there is division between Fisher and Bowden, which I don't believe there is, especially since Jimbo has yet to produce on his end of the field, well then, there might be another agenda at work there, so forgive me if I put absolutely no stock in it whatsoever.

He also said fundraising has slowed significantly, and the school has an obligation to fans and alumni to be competitive.

"I take absolutely no pleasure in this," Smith said. "I love Bobby Bowden, but I tell you what, I love FSU more."


Ah, and at last we arrive at the only true statement from this genius, and the true crux of his problem.  Fundraising is down.  Imagine that.  First off, Bobby can't go out there and play for these kids, so I apologize for the sudden downturn in which you have your first losing record since Bowden's first year.  Yes, that hurts a little, but, clown, fundraising is down everywhere.  There's this thing called the economy, which maybe you're not up on current events, but it hasn't been doing all too great as of late.  The fact of the matter is you have little power and no immediate knowledge of the current situation there, so dude, please, STFU (and no, I'm not talking about John Cena's finishing move).  If anybody's earned the right to go out on his own terms, it's Bobby.  Besides, sure didn't hear you or any of the other Nole faithful complaining as he was delivering a record 14 straight top 4 finishes to you, and I'm sure ALL KINDS of fundraising dollars.  Guess you didn't invest wisely when you had the money.

10) Weekly look ahead- The things I am looking forward to this week are, surprise, surprise, the Florida LSU game to see who can stake early lead to conference supremacy, Alabama Ole Miss to see if Jevan Sneed can rebound or if the Tide continue to roll, Nebraska Missouri to see who's the early leader for the Big 12 North, and Ohio State Wisconsin to see if the Badgers are for real, or if they're simply Badgering me wanting to put them ahead of two loss Oklahoma.  In the NFL, give me New England Denver, Jets Miami, and Redskins Panthers wait, that's another suckfest.  Also give me the start of the MLB playoffs, which is really underway right now with a tight one going on in Minnesota.  Also, my Bolts play three games this week against teams currently 0-2.  They need to take at least 4, preferably 5 or 6 points from them.  I'll update after today to give you my MLB playoff predictions.

Update: MLB Playoff Predictions- Wow what a game tonight in Minnesota.  Unfortunately, I don't think it bodes well for them having to turn around and play tomorrow in New York.  At least they get a day off after that.  Anyways, here's what I think for the playoff series.
Philadelphia over Colorado in 5
Los Angeles over St. Louis in 5 (both cases just because of home field.  Think the NL is very evenly matched)
New York over Minnesota in 4 (Yankees should win game 1)
Boston over Los Angeles in 4 (I know LA will be out for revenge after last year, just don't think it'll work)
Posted on: September 23, 2009 10:49 pm
 

10 Things I Learned the Week of Sept. 22nd

Day late and a dollar short posting this week's edition.  Must say all of my look ahead games ended up being close, interesting games, so a pat on the back to me.  Hey, I need one since my Infinity League team is tanking.  Can't get any receiver help.  Anyway, on to this week's musings ...

1) What a difference a year makes- 365 little days.  Okay, so that's not how the song goes, but it fits for what happened in the UM-Ga Tech game.  Last year, Miami was lost against the option running attack, allowing something like 1000 yards (actually, closer to 400, but you get the picture).  This year, they absolutely obliterate the Jackets, and reappear in the Top 10 for the first time since Coker was winning with Butch Davis' kids.  Put up the Hurricane warnings in Blacksburg.  That should be one heck of a game.

2) Why can't we be friends- Ugh.  Just when it looked like Meyer and Kiffin might be able to patch things up and move on, they can't.  Saturday's UF UT game ended up being a lot closer than most people thought, thanks in large part to a Tim Tebow fumble that led to a UT touchdown for a 14 point swing and a very good Volunteer defense.  In fact, if UT had some semblance of an offense, especially at the QB position, they would have been in a position to potentially win.  The main thing I noticed between this year's game and last year's is that unlike last year, UT did not quit, although the decision to keep running the ball down 17 late was confusing at best.  In fact, Meyer said to Kiffin during the hand shake that Kiffin's team "Played Hard," which is a nice compliment.  Both coaches handled themselves very well in the immediate post game as well.  But then over the course of the next day or two, Meyer, in an attempt to most likely quell Gator fan and alumni fears after expecting a "Slaughter in the Swamp" mentioned his team was suffering from the flu (which is something you don't make public and come off looking like you are using it as an excuse) and said that he was taking it easy on Tennessee late in the game, something you absolutely don't say (although, again, I believe it was related to the flu thing).  Well, this just opened the door for Lane to become a childish a-hole again, and needless to say, he took the bait and kicked that door wide open.  Meyer, next time don't say things that don't need to be said, and Kiffin, please just go away ... soon.  If you want to see swagger, look at the aforementioned Hurricanes.  What you are doing is instilling false bravado, and the only people it's fooling is YOUR fans and alumni.

3) Oops, we did it again- Way to go, University of Spoiled Children.  Last week, I had to defend both UF and Texas as SC fans were piling on us about our out of conference schedules and they should be ahead of us.  I had to remind these bozos that while yes, I would like to see both these teams play slightly better competition, the fact is that both Texas and UF's IN conference schedules are far superior, and they have to play in a little something called conference championship games.  And I reminded them of their annual Stanford they always pull.  They fired back about how the Pac-10 was 5-0 last year in bowl games, and while the 100% winning percentage is admirable, YOU SENT FIVE FREAKIN TEAMS TO BOWL GAMES.  By comparison, the ACC sent 10 and the Big 10 and SEC sent 8.  Now we always hear from these whiners about an east coast media bias, and there is.  Almost all of your major cities are on or east of the Mississippi River, duh.  But every year it seems USC is not properly punished for their annual choke job.  This year, falling down to number 12, hopefully they will be.

4) Cry me a river- Bama fans, please stop complaining about where you are in the polls and you should be number one.  Yes you beat Va Tech on a neutral field (who just might be 2-2 after this week and barely avoided being 1-2 right now).  Yes, UF and Texas looked less than impressive in games they were expected to do better in.  But you base this on what, looking impressive against a pathetic North Texas team???  Just go out and win your games and you will have your shot at the BCS title game.  In fact, the most impressive team not to lose a game right now just might be ... you got it.  The "U."

5) Sparty comes up short- Arrrrgggghhhh!!!  I thought Michigan State was going to win it driving late in the game and officially start the Charlie Weis death watch, but alas the football gods tease me and give Notre Dame a pick to seal it.  Now I still have to sweat out the Irish making a BCS bowl game and being slaughtered by a team they are clearly overmatched by.

6) One thing I'm not looking ahead to- Is the Detriot Washington suck fest on Sunday.  I actually had to swallow poison and ended up picking the Lions in all of my pick 'ems because they are the home team and in my book, have actually looked better than the Redskins so far this year in their two losses.

7) "Pack" attack- Ugh.  I'm dead in both of my dead pools thanks to the Green Bay Packers.  All preseason all anybody talked about was how good they looked, especially on offense.  Two games into the season, they had to have Jay Cutler hand them their only win, and lost convincingly against a Bengals team where Palmer was attempting for a while to do the same thing.  I don't know who I'm goin to root for when they play Minnesota.  Goes to show preseason means nothing.

8) Tony "Ronoooooooooooo"- This guy will never be an elite quarterback in the NFL, I'm sorry.  And notice, I said elite.  He is a good quaterback.  He is one that has the tools to win you some games and take you to the playoffs most years.  But he will never, ever be one that will get you over the top and win rings for you.  For one thing, it's obvious he doesn't have the work ethic necessary to put in the time to improve himself and become an elite QB.  In fact, if you gave me a choice of NFC East QB's to start a franchise with, Tony Romo would be a distant third, and you can guess who he's in fornt of.

9) Getting close- Pretty soon, the MLB playoffs will be upon us, as will another thing, hockey season!!!  I love the sport of hockey and encourage everyone if they can to just attend one game live to see if you get hooked.  The sport just does not translate well to TV, which is a shame.  I'm hoping my Lightning will be able to win some more games this year as it looks like they'll be able to throw a better set of defensemen on the ice.  Don't think they'll make the playoffs, but hopefully they surprise me.

10) Weekly look ahead- Let's see if I can nail this like last week.  Give me Miami Va Tech as the only game in college to see who has the early hands up in the ACC, and for the professionals, let me see Atlanta and New England, to see if the Patriots can rebound, or, if as I have it, instead if the Falcons are for real.  All in all, not a very good week, and not many baseball races to make MLB interesting.  Oh well.

Oops, forgot to hit on the Mountain West being done after BYU and Utah losing.  Basically my point was going to be that the Mountain West overall is still a quality conference, but they will not be sending any teams to Pasadena this year.  Go Horned Frogs!  And how do you take a team like FSU lightly?  Sorry, Cougars, but that's what you did.  Got too full of yourselves after your big win over Oklahoma and saw the Seminoles limping in after barely beating Jacksonville State, and got smacked around in your home stadium for your efforts.  Your consolation T-Shirts are at the door.
Posted on: December 31, 2008 12:15 pm
Edited on: January 13, 2009 9:00 pm
 

10 Things I learned the week of Dec. 29th

Well, I'm doing better with my bowl picks, although still around .500 overall, better than .333, though.  After starting off 2-4, it quickly became 2-6 going into Saturday.  Then I rattled off 7 straight winners before tanking both games last night and currently sit at 9-8.  I'll need some help down the stretch if I want to obtain my usual Meatloaf accuracy rating.  Anyway, here goes what I learned this week.

1) Opening up on the ice - As I will be doing this more and more after both football seasons wind down, I figured I'd open with a hockey take.  I'm really looking forward to the Wings Blackhawks game tomorrow at historic Wrigley Field.  Should be an interesting matchup.  I liked last year's edition between the Penguins and Sabres, especially since snow and wind were affecting the game and created for interesting conditions.  In fact, they changed the way the teams were skating half way through each period to make it equal.  This should be a fun contest.

2) Firing Squad - As usual, the NFL season closes with a flurry of head coaching changes.  Guess Mangini isn't "Mangenius" anymore.  Expect a couple more over the next few days, although not as many as usual since so many got dumped mid season.  I know a lot of people in Tampa are calling for Gruden's head, and he definitely has some culpability for what happened, but to me that's a very nearsighted view.  Besides, unless you have Cowher already lined up, who are you going to get in here that's better than Gruden.  Nobody in my book.

3) Late season choke jobs - Wow, how badly did the seasons end for my Bucs, the Broncos, the Jets, and the Cowboys (more on them in a sec).  The Bucs uncharacteristicly lost 4 games in which they either led or were tied at some point in the 4th quarter, the Jets couldn't win on the west coast, and the Broncos just needed 1 win or a Chargers loss in the last 3 weeks, and couldn't do it.  By the way, look for the Chargers Broncos to be cranked up a few notches next year.  With Jay Cutler's moronic rantings after the game (BTW, Jay, if the Chargers are as bad as you say they were, why did you just get smoked by them?  Keep your mouth shut next time.  This wasn't the first time Jay's said something completely asinine, either) and the Chargers sending out playoff notices for ticket sales BEFORE the game was officially over (yes, I know a comeback was unlikely, but still, would have it killed you to wait the extra ten or so minutes of real time?), things could get very ugly.

4) Putting the "Fun" in dysfunctional - Is there a more dysfunctional organization than the Cowboys?  I do know this for a fact.  There is definitely not one more undisciplined.  And Jerry Jones needs to realize A) this isn't fantasy football.  Throwing the best collection of talent at different positions almost NEVER equates into the best team and B) The best owners in football are the hands off owners, who allow football decisions to be made by football people.  And he wonders why he hasn't won squat since the people JJ put in place have gone.  In fact, this is the ninth year in a row that Dallas has lost it's final game of the season and 12th in a row without winning a single playoff game.  Cowboy fans, how long will this remain acceptable to you?

5) When Irish eyes are smiling - Notre Dame fans reminded me why I can't stand them again this week.  They're already proclaiming "they're back" after winning ONE GAME against a mediocre Hawaii team.  Even if this is a sign of things to come, and even if they do win 9 games to become BCS eligible as they should with THAT schedule that features Pac 10 powerhouses USC Washington AND Washington State, first off, put together SEVERAL 9+ win seasons and then get back to me and secondly, you do realize the reason you won your first bowl game in TEN tries is because you were matched up against a team with similar or slightly less talent, correct?  When you do become BCS eligible next year, you will once again be over matched and start your NEW bowl losing streak.  Congratumafrigginlations!!!!!

6) Remember when Jan. 1st was "Man Day" - I got this idea from a thread started by another community member on the NCAA page, but it got me thinking back to when there were like 10 bowl games on New Years Day, packed from morning to night on all the major networks, often with three different ones going on at the same time so you would have to get extra TV's or abuse your picture in picture.  I miss all that.  Maybe it's just me, but that was fun.  I realize they are trying to avoid the game's going on at the same time, but would it really kill them to compact the bowl schedule a little and put more games back on the 1st?  And what's with these minor bowls being played after the 1st?  Either move them before the 1st where they belong, or axe them all together.  Sheesh.

7) Weekly look ahead - The games I'm looking forward to this week are the aforementioned New Year's day outdoor NHL game, The Rose Bowl (which I believe will be closer than most people think), the Cotton Bowl (again, I believe will be closer than most think), and the NFL playoffs (more on these in a moment)

8) Buccingator's continuing Bowl Picks - Here's my picks for all the remaining games besides the BCS Championship game.  I'll have a whole big point or two on next week's edition.

Armed Forces Bowl - Air Force 41 Houston 27

Sun Bowl - Pitt 27 Oregon State 20

Music City Bowl - Boston College 23 Vanderbilt 20

Insight Bowl - Kansas 38 Minnesota 17

Chik-Fil-A Bowl - Georgia Tech 41 LSU 17 

Outback Bowl - South Carolina 17 Iowa 14 (don't know why I'm picking against Shonn Greene.  Just a gut feeling.  Only gave this game a 3 confidence)

Capital One - Georgia 28 Michigan State 20

Gator - Nebraska 20 Clemson 10

Rose Bowl - USC 20 PSU 17

Orange Bowl - Cincinnati 31 Virginia Tech 21

Cotton Bowl - Texas Tech 31 Mississippi 30

Liberty Bowl -Kentucky 20 ECU 13

Sugar Bowl - Alabama 27 Utah 13

International Bowl - UConn 24 Buffalo 21

Fiesta Bowl - Texas 34 tOSU 17

GMAC Bowl - Tulsa 38 Ball State 24

9) A Look Back - 8 weeks ago, I gave everyone my NFL postseason predictions, and I must say I was 9 for 12 on getting the participants correct, and even had some of the seeds correctly figured.  A local newspaper columnist asked who had Miami and Atlanta making the playoffs and if you raised your hand, you were lying.  My response was when.  Before the season, NO WAY would have I had Miami or Atlanta making the playoffs.  That's why I wait until after week 9 when everybody's played half their schedule.  By doing so, I had both Miami and Atlanta in the playoffs (although I had the wrong one as division champs).  The only picks I missed on were I had New England in instead of the Colts in the AFC (didn't see the Colts 9 game winning streak coming), and I had the Bucs over Carolina and the Packers over the Vikings in the NFC (don't know what I was thinking with that Pack pick, ugh).  See, if you wait to do it at the right time, you don't make stupid picks like the Cowboys running away with the NFC or the Browns making noise in the AFC (and I still curse the NFL for scheduling so many of their games on TV.  That was putrid).

10) A Look Ahead - Okay, time for my official NFL playoff predictions.  Back 8 weeks ago, I had the Giants facing the Steelers in my home town of Tampa on Feb. 1st, and I see no reason to back off that now.  Also see no reason to back off the high number of wild card teams winning in the first round.  I had three of four winning back then, I almost had four of four winning now.

Wild Card Round - Ravens 16 Dolphins 10, Colts 27 Chargers 20, Falcons 27 Cardinals 13, Vikings 24 Eagles 21 (I almost went Eagles, and would have if the game were in Philly)

Divisional Round - Titans 17 Ravens 13 (although I could see the Ravens winning), Steelers 24 Colts 20, Panthers 27 Vikings 14, Giants 24 Falcons 20

Championship Round - Steelers 17 Titans 10, Giants 27 Panthers 24

Super Bowl - Giants 24 Steelers 23

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com