Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Eyes of Texas

Kyle Field seated the second-most fans in school history on Thanksgiving night, and all 88,645 attendants got to see the Texas Longhorns beat the Texas A&M Aggies in what could be the last-ever Lone Star Showdown. Texas trailed early in the game, but eventually came back and won on a 40-yard field goal by Justin Tucker in the final seconds of the game.

The only thing Texas seemed to do right was play defense. Carrington Bydom, Kenny Vaccaro and Quandre Diggs all had interceptions while the Longhorn defensive line consistently applied pressure on quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Offensively, the burnt orange and white couldn't convert a third down for anything, but thanks to a Bryan Harsin trick play and a power run by running back Cody Johnson, the Texas offense was able to produce two touchdowns. The defense took the reigns from there, scoring a touchdown and limiting the Aggie offense to 25 points - a performance that wasn't perfect, but just enough to get out of College Station with a W.

It was the same story for A&M. Off to a hot start, but in the third quarter the Aggies allowed 17 straight points and lost all momentum. Ryan Tannehill looked confused and nervous and the Texas defense was able to capitalize on the senior quarterback's uncertainty.

The Aggies will now head to the SEC with a bad taste in their mouths. They'll be losing a lot of their star players, and I don't think Alabama or LSU will welcome the A&M players to the SEC by going easy on them.

Just as the Longhorns have always remembered the score 13-0, the Aggies will now forever remember 27-25.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Tim Tebow is the Real Deal

Skeptics,  beware! I have been on the Tim Tebow bandwagon since his sophomore year of college, and Thursday night's comeback victory over a very tough New York Jets team only solidified my support for the former Gator. As far as throwing is considered, well, Tebow might be one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL. However, the last time I checked, the teams that make the playoffs are the ones with the most wins. And you know what? Tim Tebow is 4-1 as a starter this season, and that's more than most other quarterbacks can say right now.

What seperates Tebow from other quarterbacks in this league? His running ability. He's not the fastest guy on the field by any means, but he has enough power to shed tackles and muscle his way to a first down. It's not pretty, but the results are the only things that count. He's already rushed for 320 yards (6.7 yards per carry!) and two touchdowns this season.

As far as passing is considered, he's no Tom Brady, but look at the stats. 12 touchdowns, 4 interceptions. The coaches will take that ratio every day of the week. His completion percentage is obviously sub-par, but if you're not turning the ball over, you're giving the team a chance to win.

To all the people upset about commentators saying "Tebow won the game" when he under-performs in a Broncos victory, listen closely: If you've ever played sports in your life, you know that it only takes one guy to fire up the rest of the team. Tebow instills a high level of confidence in each and every one of his teammates, and that's all it takes for one player to make that tackle, or the kicker to hit that 50-yarder, or that running back to break that extra tackle and pick up the first down. It's the intangibles that make the greats, and Tebow has them.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Leave Joe Paterno Alone

I've heard too many people wrongfully criticizing Joe Paterno and affiliating him far too deeply with this whole issue who have absolutely no idea what they are talking about. So let me break it down for everyone so we can stop blindly pointing fingers and accusing the innocent. Here are the facts:

1. Jerry Sandusky, a former Penn State assistant coach who retired in 1999, has been accused for 40 counts of child abuse.

2. On March 2, 2002, a graduate assistant told Paterno that he has witnessed Sandusky violating a 10 year old boy in the showers.

3. On March 3, 2002, Paterno calls Tim Curley, the Penn State athletic director, to his home the next day and reports what the graduate assistant had said.

4. Later that month, Curley and the vice president for finance and business Gary Schultz called the graduate assistant into a meeting and discussed the situation.

5. Curley and Schultz confiscated Sandusky's locker room keys and reported the incident to "The Second Mile", an organization founded by Sandusky that began as a group foster home dedicated to helping troubled boys and grows into a charity dedicated to helping children with absent or dysfunctional families.

6. No police question the graduate assistant until he testifies in December 2010.

7. On November 7, 2011, the Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly said that Paterno is not a target of the investigation into how the school handled the accusations.

Did Paterno cover up the incident? No. Did he report the incident as soon as he heard it? Yes. Could Paterno have done more to make this known? Maybe. The man did what he thought was best at the time. He even said,

"With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more," Paterno said.

Paterno realizes now the actions he should have taken, but during that time frame he did what was appropriate and called attention to the matter.

I think that Sandusky should spend the rest of his pathetic life behind bars with an easily-annoyed body builder named Hank, but the foul words and hatred shown towards Joe is just not fair. If you're going to be furious, focus your rage on Sandusky, not every single person affiliated with Penn State.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Mid-term Report Card

Now entering November, most of us college students are starting to get into the depth of our classes, meaning longer hours in the library and less time for recreation. This may not be true for everyone, but it certainly is for me. That's why you haven't seen a post from me in a few weeks. Don't fret, though, friends, for I have come up with a wonderful idea to combine school and sports for an awesome story.

I am going to give out letter grades to certain teams based on their performance compared to their expectations. Hope you enjoy! And remember, Professor DiSchiano doesn't give grades, teams earn them.

St. Louis Cardinals - A+

Not only did the Cards win the World Series, they won when the Rangers were just an out away from the title - twice! St. Louis conveyed the meaning of resilience, winning with class and heart. A great World Series with two great teams; certainly a treat for all sports fans alike.

Clemson Tigers - A-

Starting out the college football season 8-0 with wins over the defending-champion Auburn Tigers, Florida State, and Virginia Tech, the Tigers established themsevles as national title contenders. Will they make an appearance in the BCS National Championship? Probably not. Even if they win out, they're still in a weak conference in the ACC, so the BCS isn't likely to recognize their strength. Good team, but not A+ caliber.

The Big 12 Conference - B

You can wave goodbye to Texas A&M (which may not be such a bad thing after all) and Missouri looks to be parting ways (be careful what you wish for, Tigers), but the Big 12 has made up for its future losses by adding some very solid schools with TCU and West Virginia, and there's still rumor that Louisville will be on board as well. When you add Kansas into that mix, you're getting closer and closer to a powerhouse basketball conference.

Kansas Jayhawks (Basketball) - C+

The preseason AP Poll has come out, and the Jayhawks are feeling no love from the voters. Ranked 13th, this Kansas team has something to prove coming out of the gates, and we'll just have to wait and see if they were placed accordingly.

Philadelphia Eagles - D

They're 2-4, Michael Vick is playing like he did in his rookie year, and the defense is handing out points like candy. If they don't shape up now, the players of this proclaimed "Dream Team" will only be playing in the Super Bowl in their dreams.

Texas A&M - F

Is there a grade lower than "F" that I can give? How about "H" for "helpless"? "I" for "inconsistent"? "Z" for "Zach thinks that you are all incompetent football players who can't hold on to a lead to save your lives, and for some reason you think that you will fare better against SEC teams when you can't even leave the middle of the Big 12 standings"? Pitiful. I really do want to see the Aggies succeed - they're a talented team with a great coaching staff and excellent fan base -  it's just so frustrating when they continue to underachieve yet act as if they are number one in the polls.

With all that said, I'm naming the Cardinals my teacher's pet and sending the Aggies to detention. Any questions?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Shadow of Death - Marshawn Lynch

I spent a solid four hours or so teaching myself the complexities of this wonderfully frustrating program called Adobe After Effects. The details put forth into this video are countless, and I must say I have so much more respect for the people who do this every day for a living. Those guys are geniuses. Hopefully I'll get there one day - but for now, baby steps. Remember, whether you think you can or can't, you're usually right.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Top 5 Most Overrated Players in the NFL

 Is there a reason the cover of Madden is a Browns running back that averages 65 yards a game?

One of my favorite pastimes is giving credit to those who deserve it and discrediting those who don't. In today's article, we get to focus on those who don't. We're now entering our sixth week of the NFL season, and I think I've got a pretty good idea on which players are performing well and which players are just selling jerseys.

The Top 5 Most Overrated Players in the NFL

5. Joe Flacco - QB - Ravens

The Ravens are winning games...but is it really because of Joe? He's the second-worst quarterback as far as completion percentage goes, and he's turned the ball over as many times as he's thrown for touchdowns this season.

4. Josh Freeman - QB - Buccaneers

In the preseason, all we heard were talks of the resurgence of this Tampa Bay offense, and instead we get twice as many interceptions as touchdowns. If it weren't for that running game, the Bucs might be in the same position as the Colts - last.

3. Peyton Hillis - RB - Browns

You can call it the Madden Curse, but I never had faith in Peyton to begin with. He's missed a game because he was "sick", and in his other three games he's average a measly 3.6 yards a carry with two touchdowns and a fumble.

2. Tony Romo - QB - Dallas

One week he's a top five quarterback, the next he's no better than Jon Kitna. He's thrown for seven touchdowns, but also five interceptions - two of which were returned for touchdowns and eventually lost the Cowboys a game.

1. Reggie Bush - RB - Dolphins

He's the worst running back as far as yards per carry goes (3.0), he averages just 29.8 yards a game, and he has still yet to score a touchdown on the ground, and he's already lost his starting job to Daniel Thomas. He may have won the Heisman a few years ago (which was revoked) but because this was probably his last chance to make a name for himself, Reggie Bush will never reach the stardom that appeared to be inevitable when he left USC.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Game of the Week

Yes, the Patriots have the most high-powered offense in the league. But Rex Ryan does something to these Jets, I don't know if it's some sort of legendary motivational speech or just an intricate, well  thought-out game plan, but the guy wins games under pressure. And after that loss to the Ravens, it's safe to say the Jets are at a pivotal point in the season. This is the most heated rivalry in the NFL today, and this will be an ugly game. There's going to be pushing and shoving after every first down, there's going to be injuries and turnovers, and there's going to be big hits and big plays. The thing about this New York team, though, is that they usually win ugly games.

27-24 Jets.

Monday, October 3, 2011

NFL Power Rankings

It's been an exciting season already, filled with surprise success stories and disappointing failures - here are the power rankings for the season up through Week 4.

1. Green Bay Packers (4-0)

The defending champs are as good as they've ever been, thanks to phenomenal play from my top MVP candidate, Aaron Rodgers.

2. New England Patriots (3-1)

They let one game slip from them, but this offense is just too high-powered to leave out of the top 2.

3. Baltimore Ravens (3-1)

Defense wins championships, they just happen to have a really good running back, quarterback, and set of receivers.

4. Detroit Lions (4-0)

They're undefeated, but not quite there yet. The offense looks great, but the defense worries me.

5. New York Giants (3-1)

Strong running game, tough defensive line, and playmaking receivers make the G-Men legitimate contenders.

6. Houston Texans (3-1)

People are underestimating Matt Schuab and the Texans, who beat Indy and Pittsburgh already.

7. New Orleans Saints (3-1)

The Saints are quietly asserting themselves as playoff contenders, thanks to the departure of Reggie Bush and the addition of home-run hitter Darren Sproles.

8. San Diego Chargers (3-1)

I'm not quite sold on the Bolts just yet, but Ryan Matthews seems to have a good hold on the running game and Phillip Rivers is an elite QB.

9. Tampa Bay Bucaneers (2-1)

This position depends on whether or not they beat the Colts tonight, but Josh Freeman and the Bucs have put together a strong start thus far.

10. New York Jets (2-2)

If they can get back to the running game, they'll get back to winning.

11. Tennessee Titans (3-1)

Give Matt Hasselbeck credit - he's old, but he's throwing like he's 21 again.

12. Atlanta Falcons (2-2)

Matt Ryan is finally getting used to his new receivers, and once this offense gels, the Falcons will be on their way to another playoff appearance.

13. Buffalo Bills (3-1)

Ryan Fitzpatrick has surprised a lot of folks, but we'll see if he can keep this dream season alive.

14. San Francisco 49ers (3-1)

The 9ers success depends on Frank Gore and the running game, which finally took off against the Eagles.

15. Washington Redskins (3-1)

Rex Grossman has impressed, and the Redskins defense has held up nicely.

16. Chicago Bears (2-2)

The offensive line needs to protect Cutler better if the Bears want to keep their playoff hopes alive.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2)

I don't know what's wrong with Big Ben, but he's gonna be in Big Trouble if he can't find his groove.

18. Cleveland Browns (2-2)

Colt McCoy is getting better and better each week, while their running game is getting worse and worse. #MaddenCurse

19. Cincinnati Bengals (2-2)

You gotta love the intensity Andy Dalton plays with.

20. Oakland Raiders (2-2)

Darren McFadden quietly leads the league in rushing yards.

21. Philadelphia Eagles (1-3)

The "Dream Team" is looking more and more like a nightmare.

22. Carolina Panthers (1-3)

Cam Newton is establishing himself as a future NFL star.

23. Kansas City Chiefs (1-3)

Without Jamaal Charles, it's going to be a long season.

24. Dallas Cowboys (2-2)

Tony Romo is as reliable as flat tire.

25. Denver Broncos (1-3)

We want Tebow, we want Tebow!

26. Seattle Seahawks (1-3)

This offense has dangerous weapons, they just don't work very well.

27. Minnesota Vikings (0-4)

Adrian Peterson is doing all that he can, but the poor guy gets no help.

28. Arizona Cardinals (1-3)

There's been a nice connection between Larry Fitzgerald and Kevin Kolb, we'll see if this turns into anything.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3)

The Jags are a decent team, but until Blaine Gabbert develops into a better QB, they'll stay at just decent.

30. St. Louis Rams (0-4)

The Rams need Steven Jackson healthy and Sam Bradford accurate.

31. Miami Dolphins (0-4)

Reggie Bush sucks at football.

32. Indianapolis Colts (0-3)

We have now verified that the Colts are, in fact, nothing without Peyton Manning.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Texas Pitcher Nathan Thornhill Looks Toward Omaha

“Pitching in the college world series was a dream come true,” Nathan Thornhill, right-handed pitcher for the Texas Longhorns, said. "I can remember watching those games as a kid, hoping I would be there on day. So actually being there was amazing.”

Thornhill finished his freshman year with an outstanding 1.89 ERA in 38 innings pitched, winning three games with no losses. Such strong play from a freshman pitcher comes to Texas just about as often as snow does, but if you can throw heat like Thornhill can, you’re bound to make batters ice cold on the plate.

“My freshman year was more than anyone could ask for,” Thornhill said. “I made a lot of great friends, plus I had a blast playing baseball.”

Fresh out of Cedar Park High School, Thornhill joined the Longhorns as an All-State batter and pitcher, as well as the District 14-5A Most Valuable Player in both baseball and as a quarterback in football. With all of these accolades, its safe to say the expectations placed on Thornhill were high, but his poise in pressure situations helped him maintain composure throughout his first year in Division I baseball.

“Going from high school baseball to college baseball was difficult in some areas but simple in others,” Thornhill said.  “One difficulty I found was that everyone is good and the hitters will make you pay for your mistakes. One thing that remained the same was you still have to throw strikes and you will be effective.”
In his first start, Thornhill faced and retired 15 batters, pitching five perfect innings and striking out four batters. As the season progressed, he continued dominating anyone who stepped up to the plate. Thornhill went on to strike out 38 batters, while walking just six in a dream season for any freshman. Even with all of his accomplishments, Thornhill still believes he’s got a lot to work on.

“Things I need to do in order to improve are holding runners, and to work on making good pitches with my off speed,” Thornhill said.

In order to make the right adjustments, you need the right coaching. With over 1,800 wins and five College World Series Championships, it’s safe to say Augie Garrido is the right guy.

“Playing under Coach Garrido is a treat,” Thornhill said. “He is a legend and knows so much about the game of baseball. Whenever he is speaking, you want to listen because you know what he is saying is valuable.”

Garrido teaches a lot of things and a lot of things very well, and aside from the art of pitching and batting (and what the prestigious teachers of the University of Texas taught) Thornhill has discovered a few things on his own.

“I learned not to take anything for granted,” Thornhill said. “ Last year went by so fast and I only have so many more years of college baseball.”

Time does indeed fly – especially when you’re winning – so senior year may be here in a flash for Thornhill and the Texas Longhorns. However, that’s a ways down the road, and the kid from Cedar Park has his eyes fixed on his one and only goal for the next season.

“Get back to Omaha and come home with the big trophy.”

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Top 25 College Football Rankings

My Top 25 after yesterday's games:

1. Oklahoma 3-0

2. LSU 4-0

3. Alabama 4-0

4. Wisconsin 4-0

5. Boise State 3-0

6. Oklahoma State 4-0

7. Oregon 3-1

8. Stanford 3-0

9. Nebraska 4-0

10. Florida 4-0

11. South Carolina 4-0

12. Virginia Tech 4-0

13. Clemson 4-0

14. Texas 3-0

15. Baylor 3-0

16. Georgia Tech 4-0

17. TCU 3-1

18. Michigan 4-0

19. Florida State 2-2

20. South Florida 4-0

21. Texas A&M 2-1

22. Kansas State 3-0

23. Arkansas 3-1

24. Arizona State 3-1

25. Notre Dame 2-2

TMD's Top Players of the Day

Missed today's games? These three guys out-shined their competition. Broyles led the Sooners to a 38-28 victory after trailing Mizzou early, Weeden completed an astounding 47 passes to lift the Cowboys over the Aggies, and Robert Griffin III completed 88% of his passes while totaling six touchdowns in a rout of Rice.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

NFL Week 2: The Sunday of Underacheiving (Except Tom Brady)

Week 2 of the 2011 NFL season has come and gone, and boy was it fun. The Bills and Lions asserted themselves as decent teams, winning both of their games to move their records to 2-0. Tom Brady threw for 500 again, and Cam Newton proved to fans everywhere that Week One was no fluke. Check out the recap below for more stunning headlines.

Giants 28, Rams 16

Although they got the win, the Giants played awfully and if Vick is ready to play next week, we might see a demolition of New York's finest out in Philly.

Falcons 35, Eagles 31

In his emotional return to Atlanta, Michael Vick played extremely well-until he was rammed into his own offensive lineman, spat up blood, and received his first concussion of the year. On the flipside, Matt Ryan showed that he has poise in pressure situations with his excellent fourth quarter play.

Patriots 35, Chargers 21

Well, we all knew Tom Brady was the best quarterback in the NFL. So... it didn't make sense for him to go out and throw for another 500 yards. We get it, Tom. You're really good. You don't have to keep proving yourself by picking apart defenses and looking bored doing it.

Texans 23, Dolphins 13

Guess what? The Texans are going to win the AFC South this season. Guess what else? Reggie Bush is just as likely to throw for 100 yards in a single game as he is to rush for 100 yards.

Broncos 24, Bengals 22

Andy Dalton played better than Kyle Orton, but Denver was able to get the W.

Cowboys 27, 49ers, 24

The 'Boys were trailing the whole game to one of the worst teams in the league, but pathetic secondary play from San Fran literally handed Dallas a much needed victory.

Redskins 22, Cardinals 21

Both Kevin Kolb and Rex Grossman have quietly put up some solid numbers - maybe these teams won't be as bad as everyone thinks they'll be this year.

Steelers 24, Seahawks 0

Under no circumstance should any team go scoreless. Pete Carroll may have been a legend in Southern Cal, but he's going to need to step his game up if he wants to keep his job in Seattle.

Jets 32, Jaguars 3

You know you have QB issues when Mark Sanchez throws for more than three times what your quarterback did. Maybe its time for Jacksonville to give Gabbert the nod. 59 yards through the air is NOT acceptable, Luke McCown.

Saints 30, Bears 13

Drew Brees made it look easy, Jay Cutler made it look like rocket science. Any questions?

Buccaneers 24, Vikings 20

Donvan McNabb isn't doing much for the Vikes. Adrian Peterson had a great game, but Josh Freeman took care of business in a late comeback win.

Browns 27, Colts 19

The only colt that played well was McCoy. The former Texas QB threw for over 200 yards and a touchdown, giving Cleveland a boost in this surprising victory. P.S. As long as Kerry Collins is under center, Indy will play like a high school girls flag football team.

Lions 48, Chiefs 3

The only playmaker for KC is out for the season, so that leaves an overrated quarterback and slightly below average running backs. The result? A beatdown from one of the more impressive teams of the season thus far.

Bills 38, Raiders 35

You may look at this score and think, "It's just like a Wyoming vs UNC Greensboro. Both teams are wretched but since they are playing each other they can score a lot." Well, in part, that's true, but the Bills are 2-0 and that was the Raiders first lost. Don't overlook them just yet.

Packers 30, Panthers 23

Cam had a nice game, but it doesn't really matter when your opponent has Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings, Ryan Grant, James Starks, Donald Driver, Jermichael Finley, James Jones, Randall Cobb...ect., on the offensive side of the ball.

Titans 26, Ravens 13

This is the conversation between Joe Flacco and Ray Rice prior to the start of this game.

Joe: Man, I'm so glad we have a bye this week.
Ray: I thought we're playing Tennessee?
Joe: Hahaha, no. All we have to do is get the ball in field goal range one time, and then we can chill the rest of the game.
Ray: Okay, I guess I can give 5% effort today.
Joe: WHOA calm down! That seems a little high! Try 0.5% - trust me, we're fine.
Ray: Sounds good bro.

And THAT's why the Titans won this game.

Thanks for reading everyone, and remember, whether you think you can or can't, you're usually right. Until next time!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

NFL Week One Recap

After all of the anticpiation and hype, we've finally finished week one of the 2011-2012 NFL season. In case you missed anything, here's a quick recap of the week's results.

Jets 27, Cowboys 24

The 'Boys were in control throughout, but late mistakes from Tony Romo proved detrimental as Rex Ryan's Jets stole a victory in NYC.

Redskins 28, Giants 14

Rex Grossman played surprisingly well, but then again the Giants are missing almost half of their starters on defense.

49ers 33, Seahawks 17

Neither Alex Smith nor Frank Gore had a touchdown in this matchup, but the 9ers found a way to put up 33 points in an impressive victory in the Bay.

Chargers 24, Vikings 17

When your starting quarterback throws for just 39 yards, you're probably going to lose the game. This was the case for Minnesota, as Donovan McNabb completed just seven passes in a poor effort.

Cardinals 28, Panthers 21

I don't know what's harder to believe - that Cam Newton threw for 422 yards in his rookie debut, or that the Panthers lost despite his performance.

Texans 34, Colts 7

Indy's worst loss since 2007 was caused by the absence of Peyton Manning. Kerry Collins didn't seem to have a handle on the offense, and the Texans, without Arian Foster playing, won big.

Ravens 35, Steelers 7

It's rare that either of these two teams wins big, but Joe Flacco and the Ravens steamrolled the Steelers defense in a shocking victory.

Lions 27, Buccaneers 20

The Bucs running game, or lack thereof, was the catalyst of the game. Was it a lack of talent at running back, or Detroit's new "Steel Curtain" defensive line?

Eagles 31, Rams 13

An awful day for St. Louis, and not just because they lost to Michael Vick's high powered offense. Both Sam Bradford and Steven Jackson were injured in the game, which is a scary thought for the Rams offense.

Bengals 27, Browns 17

Cedric Benson went off for 121 yards and a TD, while the star on the cover of Madden 12 ran for just 57 yards and no scores. Is the Curse in effect?

Bills 41, Cheifs 7

Show me someone who called this, and I'll show you a compulsive liar. Ryan Fitzpatrick exploded for 4 touchdowns while the KC running game was nowhere to be found.

Bears 30, Falcons 12

It's tough to win at Soldier Field, even with one of the most talented offenses in the league. Jay Cutler had a nice game and Chicago is pleased with the way things are looking.

Jaguars 16, Titans 14

Luke McCown was 17-24 with 175 yards and no touchdowns. Hey Jags fans, don't be worried. He's been nothing if not consistent, and if he can keep up that average play, MJD should take you to the Wild Card round.

Packers 42, Saints 34

It was an electrifying game with both quarterbacks playing up to their full potential. All eyes were on GB rookie receiver/kick returner Randall Cobb, who caught a touchdown pass and also returned a kick 108 yards for a TD.

Patriots 38, Dolphins 24

Tom Brady threw for a career-high 517 yards, but the Dolphins kept this one close for a while. Chad Henne looked good, passing for over 400 yards, so Miami isn't in too much trouble.

Raiders 23, Broncos 20

Darren McFadden had a strong performance and Sebastian Janikowski kicked a 63 yard field goal. Other than that, not much excitement as the Raiders pick up their first win of the season.

Thanks for reading, and don't forget, whether you think you can or can't, you're usually right. Until next time!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

NFL Preseason Predictions! Part 6: The Pitiful NFC West + Super Bowl Prediction!

I know, my title is harsh. But there's good reasoning.

1. No team from this division has won a Super Bowl in over a decade.

2. There hasn't been a wild card qualifier from this division since 2004.

3. Last year, the NFC West housed the worst and second worst rushing teams in the entire NFL.

4. The Seahawks won the divisional title last season with a 7-9 record.

5. Can you name more than three players on more than one of these teams? Probably not.

Therefore, my title is justified. Deal with it, west-coasters. And Missourians.

1. St. Louis Rams 8-8

It came down to who has a better defense in determining this division's winner, and the Lou has the advantage. Teams won't be terrified to face them, but the Rams will definitely be able to shut down some of the more average teams this year. That's all QB Sam Bradford will need, depending on whether or not he avoids the sophomore slump. Stephen Jackson defines the word "workhorse" and although he's take a load of hits in his career, he's just too strong to slow down yet. Additionally, Jackson will have the new support of Jerious Norwood and Cadillac Williams to take some of the load off of his shoulders. He's been carrying the team on his back for too long, and its time he gets some help. The receiving corps is still below average, but with the addition of Mike Sims-Walker and signings of rookies Austin Pettis and Greg Salas, St. Louis is taking small steps of improvement. The Rams have the ability to make some noise this season, but we'll see whether or not they can live up to the hype.

Final Prediction: Loss in Wild Card Round

2. Seattle Seahawks

Seattle made some noise last season, and it wasn't just the "12th man". After making the playoffs with an unheard of 7-9 record, the 'Hawks took down the defending champion New Orleans Saints in the wild card round of the playoffs. All eyes are on newly acquired Tavaris Jackson, who never developed to the QB that Minnesota was hoping for. Now he's got a chance to prove himself, and he's got the talent around him to do it. Marshawn Lynch is deadly at running back, and he'll be sharing carries with Leon Washington and possibly Michael Robinson. At receiver, the Seahawks somehow managed to acquire Sidney Rice, which will provide a HUGE lift in the passing game (if Jackson can find him) and push the ball downfield for once. Golden Tate has the athleticism and ability to be an outstanding receiver, we're just waiting on the correct coaching to fully develop him. With Jackson at the helm, this will be a good but not great team, strictly because of the lack of ability in arm accuracy and decision making. Jackson can make some plays with his feet, but Seattle desperately needs success through the air, so unless the former Viking can download information from Michael Vick's brain, I don't see a playoff appearance for the 'Hawks.

Final Prediciton: Miss Playoffs

3. San Francisco 49ers 7-9

Aside from the quarterback position, the 49ers have some legit talent on offense. A machine at running back with Frank Gore, two wide receivers that have gifted abilities with Braylon Edwards and Ted Ginn, Jr. The offensive line is average, so the only thing holding these guys back is quarterback play. Alex Smith has thrown more touchdowns in his career, and hasn't come close to living up to his potential at all. Luckily for him, he's only 27 and has another year or two to step his game up and keep his job as a starter locked up. As for the San Francisco defense, you can't demand too much improvement at the linebacker position with Patrick Willis running the show, but that secondary is extremely weak. If the 9ers can continue stopping the run, and Alex Smith can learn how to play consistently, the Bay could finally reach the playoffs again. Do I think it'll happen...

Final Prediction: No

4. Arizona Cardinals 3-13

Ever since Kurt Warner left, this place has been a disaster. But with the addition of Kevin Kolb, the Cards are hoping to revitalize their glory days. They had a decent draft, acquiring a talented running back in Ryan Williams, plus an intimidating linebacker in Sam Acho, and, oh yeah, the best cornerback in the entire draft-Patrick Peterson. Mix in Peterson with Abdullah, Rhodes, and Wilson, and you've got quite an impressive secondary. But, everything else on the defense is wretched. It's not going to be a pretty year out in the desert, but I wouldn't be surprised if the Cards stole a few upsets against some playoff-caliber teams.

Final Prediction: Miss Playoffs

And that wraps up my NFL Preseason Predictions series! All 32 teams analyzed forward and back, and although I won't be dead-on, at least I gave you all some valuable information about your teams. And now, for the grand finale. . .


I think ultimately, defense wins championships. That's what New York has. A punishing, relentless defense that will ultimately get to Aaron Rodgers and force turnovers. The Jets will run the ball early and often, and by the time the 4th quarter rolls around, the Pack will be exhausted, and that's when the Jets will score the winning touchdown, a pass from Mark Sanchez to Santonio Holmes. Green Bay may lead early, but the green and gold just aren't tough enough to handle Rex Ryan and his malicious defense.

Thanks to all of you for your support in this series! It was fun for me, and I hope it was the same for you. And remember, whether you think you can or can't, you're probably right. Until next time!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

NFL Preseason Predictions! Part 6: The NFC South

It's going to be a very, very tight race in the NFC South. You've got three teams that can really play some good football, all with very good offenses and loaded with playmakers. The winner of this division will come down to who can stop the run. All of these teams will throw for over 300 yards a game, but rushing...that's a different story. If one of these teams can maintain a good balance of passing and running plays at a successful rate, they will be the team that comes out of this division alive.

NFC South

1. Atlanta Falcons/New Orleans Saints 12-5

It was very, very difficult deciding who I thought would win this division in 2011. Both the Falcons and the Saints have stellar offenses, with defenses that are good but not great. The winner of this division will come down to who wins between the Falcons and the Saints, and I think Atlanta has the edge with its powerful running game and consistent passing. New Orleans, right now, is too one-dimensional, but I think Mark Ingram has the tools to explode for a huge rookie year. Drew Brees is still the prototype passer and he's got plenty of wideouts to throw to, while Matt Ryan is becoming an elite quarterback with one fantastic receiver and that's about it. Ryan will need Julio Jones to step up and take some of the pressure off of Roddy White, and that's asking a lot out of a rookie receiver. However, I think the Falcons moved up in the draft to get Jones for a reason, and this Alabama product will have a huge impact in the NFL. Atlanta needs consistent production from RB Michael Turner, which shouldn't be a problem. But, with injuries and inconsistent blocking, you just never can tell. While I believe the Saints will have a better offense through the air, I've always been a firm believer that success on the ground means success in the playoffs. Both teams will make the postseason, but I think the Falcons will make it one round further than New Orleans.

Final Predictions: Saints - Loss in Divisional Round
                             Falcons- NFC Championship Appearance

3. Tampa Bay Bucaneers 10-6

Josh Freeman is expected to have a huge season, but let's not get our hopes up too much. After all, his career touchdown-to-interception ration is 1.5:1, which isn't all that impressive. The Bucs saw a breakthrough year for rookie RB LeGarrette Blount last season, but he's going to have to really put in work to avoid the infamous sophomore slump. Tampa's defense isn't anything to write home about, but they have potential to give their offense just enough breathing room to win 10 or so games. This is a talented young group of guys, and I think Josh Freeman will improve this season, but not enough to give the Bucs that deep playoff run.

Final Prediction: Miss Playoffs

4. Carolina Panthers 5-11

This is an interesting group. Offensively, the Panthers have some intriguing talent. This year's first overall draft pick, Cam Newton, is a versatile player with a strong arm, quick legs, and some questionable decision-making. He'll get better with experience, but this will not be a 30 touchdown season for the former Heisman Trophy winner. He'll have some help on offense, with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart in the backfield, so that should take some of the workload off of Cam. However, in today's NFL, you need to be able to get the ball downfield and quickly if you want a shot at the title. Defensively, the Panthers will struggle. What a surprise. But there is seriously something wrong with that run defense, and the talent in the secondary is quite underwhelming. I don't think Carolina will be as bad as everyone says, but they definitely have some room for improvement.

Final Prediction: Miss Playoffs

My last predictions, the NFC West, will be out shortly. Thanks for taking the time to read! And remember, whether you think that you can, or that you can't, you are usually right. Until next time!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Malcolm Brown: The Revival of the Texas Running Game

NFL Preseason Predictions! Part 5: The Terribly Awesome NFC East

Ah, my favorite and least favorite division in the NFL. If you know me, you know I'm a HUGE Giants fan, as well as a HUGE Cowboys skeptic. So, you can understand that it was very tough staying objective on this post, but I was able to persevere. Enjoy!

Philadelphia Eagles 11-5

First of all, let me make this point clear. The Eagles are in NO WAY a "dream team". It's just not true. There are holes in the defense and there are holes in the offensive line. Vick will do some serious damage offensively this season, and you can't doubt the rushing attack with LeSean McCoy and Ronnie Brown. But the Eagles will struggle to win this division. They have a tough schedule in an already competitive division, so look for somewhere around 10 or 11 wins this season. They will make the playoffs because I don't think the Giants are at their best and the Cowboys always have and always will under perform. Expect a solid year in Philly, but don't start packing for a trip to the Super Bowl.

Final Prediction: Loss NFC Chanpionship

New York Giants 10-6

Mediocrity is the best way I can describe the G-Men this year. Eli Manning will never be his brother, Ahmad Bradshaw will never be Steven Jackson, and Steve Smith, New York's best wide receiver, left the team. That leaves Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham to handle the bulk of the catches, and hopefully it won't be too big of a burden on them. Osi Umenyiora is back, but we don't know how happy he'll be and if he'll give his 100% after his failed attempt at a holdout/trade request. If he plays up to his potential, the Giants defensive line will be just as strong as it normally is. The secondary is solid, of course it will hurt a little at the cornerback position with Prince Amukamara out for the next couple of months. New York will have it's ups and downs this season, but unfortunately I don't see another championship in the making.

Final Prediction: Loss in Divisional Round

Dallas Cowboys 8-8

It's the SAME thing EVERY year with Dallas. Loads of talent, no results. It's like Jerry Jones just sits there and says, " many Pro Bowlers can I fit on one team without making the playoffs?" Well, Jerry, if it makes you happy, that's cool, but there's a huge metropolitan area that desperately want to duplicate its success in the '90s. I don't think it'll happen as long as Tony Romo is quarterback. He is hands down the most overrated in the league. Backup QB Steven McGee has more upside. It won't be a season to remember in Dallas.

Final Prediction: Miss Playoffs

Washington Redskins 4-12

Final Prediction : Miss Playoffs

Just kidding.

But seriously, they aren't very good. No McNabb, no Haynesworth, no running backs, no receivers other than the ancient Santana Moss and underachieving Donte Stallworth. Ad please don't make me go into what they lack on defense. They have a couple solid starters, and I'm very excited to see how they can implement rookie RB Roy Helu, but this is not a playoff roster.

Final Prediction: ....Still Miss the Playoffs

NFC West, coming up next! Thanks for reading everyone! Don't forget, whether you think that you can, or that you can't, you're usually right. Until next time!

Monday, August 15, 2011

NFL Preseason Predictions! Part 4: The Red-Hot NFC North

I don't normally associate the NFC North with anything warm, but these four teams have some serious momentum going for them. If you missed the AFC predictions, you can check them out here for the AFC East, here for the AFC West, and here for the North and South divisions.

1. Green Bay Packers 12-4

The Pack is back, this time with more options at running back. The Green and Gold have Ryan Grant, James Starks, and a guy I think has the tools to develop into a Michael Turner in a short amount of time - 3rd round pick Alex Green. Green is a big back with explosive speed, weighing in at 6'0 225 lbs and recording a 4.45 second 40 yard dash. If the Packers can get him involved early, they'll add yet another weapon to their deadly offensive arselnal. Jermichael Finley is back from injury, Greg Jennings remains a top-tier receiver, and Aaron Rodgers is the prototype NFL quarterback. Look for the Pack to establish a running game this season, but don't be surprised if Aaron throws for 4,000 yards again. Defensively, Green Bay looks to be very sharp this year. A solid but not amazing defensive line, very good linebackers led by Clay Matthews and A.J. Hawk, and an outstanding secondary which includes Charles Woodson, Nick Collins, Sam Shields and Tramon Williams. This makes for a very impressive season for Green Bay.

Final Prediction: Super Bowl Appearance

2. Chicago Bears 11-5

"Da Bears" added a much needed offensive lineman with Gabe Carimi in the draft, which will help protect Jay Cutler and open up so more lanes for Matt Forte. The Bears have a very easy schedule laid out, so a playoff appearance looks probably for Chi-town. The Bears defense is a good as ever, so it's all in the hands (or arm) of Cutler not to screw up this sesaon.

Final Prediction: Loss in Divisional Round

3. Detroit Lions 8-8

Um, the Lion's defense is border-line stacked. Yeah, I said it. Just hear me out. You have quite possibly the best defensive line in the NFL with Suh, Fairley (whom Mel Kiper had as the #1 draft prospect for quite some time), Kyle Vanden Bosch, Cliff Avril and Corey Williams. The "Silver Crush" will be joined by Justin Durant, Chris Houston, and other young talents looking to prove themselves in a very intimidating defensive lineup. Matt Stafford is an elite QB in the making, and the Detroit running game is improving with Jahvid Best gaining more experience. Calvin Johnson leads the way for the wideouts, but look for recently-signed Maurice Stovall to put in work. If the Bears didn't have such a cake-walk schedule, I think the Lions would contend for a Wild Card spot.

Final Prediction: Miss Playoffs (But Improve Drastically)

4. Minnesota Vikings 6-10

We don't know what's going on in Minnesota. Is McNabb too old to start or is Christian Ponder too inexperienced to produce? Is Percy Harvin able to stay healthy? The only thing holding this Viking offense together is Adrian Peterson, and every opposing defense knows it. He'll still get his numbers but, this will not be a great year for the Vikes. At least Minnesota's defense functions properly. Maybe we'll see a heroic effort from Donvan McNabb and a trip to the Super Bowl, and maybe they won't even come close to making the playoffs.

Final Prediction: Miss Playoffs

More NFC predictions coming your way soon! Thanks for reading! And remember, whether you think that you can, or that you can't, you are usually right. Until next time!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

NFL Preseason Predictions! Part 3: The Monotonous AFC West

They're not that good...but they're also not that bad. Meet the 2011 AFC West Division.

1. Kansas City Chiefs 10-6

Just look at their options in the running game. Jamaal Charles, a speedy back who can score at any point in time, Thomas Jones, Dexter McCluster, and recently added power back Le'Ron McClain. That's ridiculous. Matt Cassel has a few more options at receiver other than Dwyane Bowe, with the talented Steve Breaston and rookie Jonathan Baldwin. Eric Berry, Javier Arenas, and Brandon Flowers lead the young but gifted secondary, which should show an improvement with some more experience under its belt. Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson will provide the pressure up front, and the linebacking core, while below average, has some potential as well. A much better team all around, which could mean a big year in KC.

Final Prediction: Loss in Divisional Round

2. San Diego Chargers 6-10

Now that Darren Sproles is gone, it's completely up to Ryan Matthews to keep the running game alive. This is finally a chance for Matthews to live up to his hype and produce some offense for the Chargers on the ground. Phillip Rivers will continue to play well with Vincent Jackson, Malcom Floyd, and Antonio Gates catching the ball. The Bolts defense aren't as good talent-wise as they normally are, so don't expect many forced turnovers or sacks this year. Overall, San Diego is solid team with a lot of work left to do. We'll see what Norv Turner can put together this year but I think it'll be a tough road to the playoffs.

Final Prediction: Miss Playoffs

3. Denver Broncos 6-10

There are so many different scenarios that could happen in Denver, I just don't know where to start. The Broncos' identity rests with its quarterback, who's yet to be named. Kyle Orton is the front runner for now, but Tim Tebow is quickly gaining attention from both the media and the fans. He's got the intangibles to be an elite quarterback, but the arm accuracy and decision making needs work. With experience, he'll acquire both. Orton, on the other hand, will give Denver a better chance to make the playoffs this year as a guy who's started plenty of games and possesses the skills (just barely) to take the Broncos to the postseason. He's not a playmaker, he's not a home-run threat, and he's not going to sell stadium tickets, but he can get the job done. Tebow's upside far outweighs Orton's, but if John Fox is looking for consistency, he'll take Orton as the starter. Whoever does get the job will have plenty of targets to throw to with Brandon Lloyd and Eddie Royal, plus a solid backfield with Knowshon Moreno, Willis McGahee, and LenDale White. The Broncos took a big step forward at the linebacker position when they drafted Von Miller with the second overall pick, and he'll work well alongside Elvis Dumervil and Champ Bailey as the leaders of this defense. It won't be an amazing year for the Broncos, but you may see flashes of brilliance periodically.

Final Prediction: Miss Playoffs

4. Oakland Raiders 4-12

Jason Campbell at QB. Eh. Darren McFadden at RB. Okay. Darius Heyward-Bey at receiver. Blah. Another poor year is in the mix for Oakland, who made zero good picks in the draft and didn't do much in free agency. Every team's success starts with solid ownership and management, two things the poor Raiders lack. The defense has some young talent, but it won't be able to handle the Patriots, Packers, or Jets this season. Until Oakland makes some changes at corporate, they won't see any changes on the field.

Final Prediction: Miss Playoffs

Alas, we are DONE with the AFC. Next up, the notorious NFC, which consists of the reigning Super Bowl Champions, what some have been calling a "dream team", and rising clubs determined to make names of themselves.

Thanks for reading and don't forget to vote on the poll!

Friday, August 12, 2011

NFL Preseason Predictions! Part 2: The Intense AFC East

I was going to include the AFC West in this analysis, but I really wanted to focus on the Jets-Patriots rivalry because this will be a huge year for both teams.

1. New England Patriots 13-3

They're looking good. Very good. Tom Brady is showing no signs of slowing down, BenJarvus Green-Ellis is making a name for himself, and the Pats made a good acquisition with the signing of Chad Ochocinco. Ochocinco, with always good Wes Welker, and young talent with Brandon Tate and Julian Edelman will really open up the pass game for New England this year. Jerod Mayo and Brandon Spikes combine for some of the best two young linebackers in the league, and adding Albert Haynesworth at DT will compliment Vince Wilfork very well. Once Shaun Ellis is nursed back to health, this defensive line will have the potential to be the best in the NFL. While the Jets will be competitive, this division is New England's to lose.

Final Result: AFC Championship appearance

2. New York Jets 12-4

The Jets don't have as much talent as the Patriots, but every single player performs to their absolute maximum ability under the motivational techniques implored by Rex Ryan. He can make Miley Cyrus think she's a 6'4, 350 lb Pro Bowl defensive end. That's why the Jets will make a Super Bowl appearance this year. Mark Sanchez took a while to develop, but this is going to be his breakout hear. He's got Super Bowl champion Plaxico Burress, Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes, and Baltimore Ravens all-time leading receiver Derrick Mason to throw to. He'll be protected by one of the best lines in the league, and backed up by one of the most intimidating defenses in the league, led by Bart Scott. The Jets secondary will be outstanding this year, with the best cornerback in the NFL Darelle Revis, Pro Bowler Antonio Cromartie, former Boise State standout Kyle Wilson, and an underrate safety in Jim Leonhard. The Patriots will win the division, but the raw determination the Jets possess will eventually outlast New England when it counts - the playoffs.

Final Prediction: Super Bowl Appearance

3. Miami Dolphins 7-9

Reggie Bush, it's your time to shine. You haven't done much to prove yourself yet, but now you have your opportunity. Chad Henne should show some improvement this year, with Brandon Marshall in his prime and some young talent surrounding him. The rest of the Miami lineup is as average as it gets, with no real playmakers or defensive enforcers. Until the Phins can get some Pro Bowl talent at more than one or two positions, they will continue to be a slightly below average team.

Final Prediction: Miss Playoffs

4. Buffalo Bills 5-11

You know, the Bill have some talent this year. It's in random areas, but there are signs of talent. They've had some nice acquisitions with home-run threat Brad Smith, hard hitting Shawn Merriman, and third overall draft pick Marcell Dareus. Buffalo's depth at receiver has increased drastically, and the Bills have high hopes for the speedy running back CJ Spiller. This won't be a big year for the Bills, but expect slow steps of progression.

Final Prediction: Better, but Miss Playoffs

AFC West Predictions coming very soon. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

NFL Preseason Predictions! Part 1: AFC North & South

It's that time of year for season predictions! The lockout is finished, the season is starting, and all sports writers now have something to do. With that, I give you part one of my four-part series of my predictions, the AFC North and South.


1. Baltimore Ravens 13-3

They're a solid team with an easy schedule. A playoff lock with Flacco behind center, Ray Rice at tailback, and the most intimidating defense in the league led by the great Ray Lewis. It didn't hurt to sign former Heisman trophy winnner Ricky Williams, and Anquan Boldin will carry the load at the receiver position. Derrick Mason will be missed, but the Ravens offense will work just fine with that talented o-line. As always, Baltimore's defense is stacked at nearly every position, so expect a deep run into the playoffs.

Final Estimate: Loss in Divisional Round

2. Pittsburgh Steelers 11-5

A couple of tough games including trips out to Indy, Kansas City and Baltimore, plus a home game against New England's finest. Big Ben will need to bring his A game this season and not any distractions. Pitt's defense looks as strong as ever after resigning Ike Taylor and drafting some solid prospects in Cam Heyward and Curtis Brown. Rashard Mendenhall is a rising star, the offensive line is strong, and defensivvely the Steelers have some of the best talent.

Final Estimate: Loss in Divisional Round

3. Cincinnati Bengals 5-11

Drafting AJ Green and Andy Dalton was just enough to keep this team from being the bottom of the barrel in the AFC. Dalton got the nod to start at QB in the preseason, and Green can make an impact immediately on any offense. Jordan Shipley will give Dalton another reliable target, but other than that, expect your typical below average football out in Cincy.

Final Estimate: Miss Playoffs

4. Cleveland Browns 4-12

Colt McCoy's intangibles are no joke, but his lack of elite arm strength has fans in Cleveland questioning his ability to throw the ball downfield. He's only got eight starts under his belt, but this should be a season for him to grow. The Browns didn't have an amazing draft, so expect a last place finish in the AFC north for Cleveland.

Final Estimate: Miss Playoffs

AFC South

1. Indianapolis Colts 11-5

The Colts are still looking for a reliable run game, and Peyton Manning isn't getting any younger. However, the Colts are still the Colts; Manning is a born winner, and the blue and white will clinch a playoff berth early with its below average competition.

Final Estimate: Loss in Wild Card Round

2. Texans 9-7

With Schaub, Foster, and Johnson leading the offensive attack, the Texans finally seem to have a system working that will generate points on the board. However, Houston's defense needs a lot of work and we all know offense doesn't win championships. They've got a good shot at the postseason this year, but they're not quite there yet.

Final Estimate: Loss in Wild Card Round

3. Jacksonville Jaguars 7-9

They had one of the worst pass offenses in the league last season, and it doesn't look any better with Mike Sims-Walker off of the roster. MJD can only do so much work when all opposing defenses know he's the only legitimate threat to score. Oh, and Blaine Gabbert does not want to play a Jim Sorgi role, so look for him to get some action at the first sight of a Garrard slip-up. The Jags have enough talent to compete for a wild card spot, but I don't think this will be a very successful year out in Jacksonville.

Final Estimate: Miss Playoffs

4. Tennessee Titans 5-11

Well, Vince Young is gone. Kerry Collins is gone. That leaves who, Matt Hasselbeck? Brett Ratliff? Rusty Smith? Jake Locker? The Titans pass game looks as appealing as a buffet the day after Thanksgiving. Yuck. Tennessee will pick up a few wins behind the legs of Chris Johnson, but other than that it'll be a sloppy year for the Titans. No playoff appearance and a last place finish in the division.

Final Estimate: Miss Playoffs

Thanks for reading. Part 2 tomorrow!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Stop Whining, Texas A&M

In case you've missed it, Texas A&M did a lot of whining today about the upcoming Longhorn Network, resulting in the NCAA forcing the Big 12 to limit what can be shown on ESPN's new affiliate in Austin. Texas A&M is crying because it thinks that somehow the release of this network will give Texas an "unfair advantage" in recruiting. The Aggies also believe that the Longhorn Network will destroy what's left of the Big 12.

Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin used the term “uncertainty” time and again Thursday in describing the state of the league, thanks to the start of the ESPN-owned Longhorn Network in Austin next month.

“The (recent) announcement by ESPN that the Longhorn Network might carry a conference (football) game in addition to a nonconference game was troubling, and then following right after that was ESPN’s announcement regarding high school games would be televised as well,” Loftin said. “Both of those we believe provide a great deal of uncertainty right now for us and the conference."

Loftin said the LHN has no business showing Big 12 football games, and especially high school games that might target top recruits.

“If (they show) one conference game, then maybe we have two or three,” Loftin said. “High school games are very problematic. … If we have an unequal playing field for various schools (concerning recruiting), we think that is a problem. That creates uncertainty.”

Where do I start? These claims are so far-fetched and ridiculous, I don't even know if they deserve to be addressed.

Let me just point this out to you, A&M, before you go on tearing down something that Texas has worked for. You can create your own Aggie Network. Just like any team can start their own network. If you think that the Longhorn Network is giving Texas an advantage, then start your own network and give yourself an advantage. No one is stopping you.

ESPN is putting a lot on the table for this Longhorn Network. To let the NCAA force them to put restrictions on what viewers can see on the network is absurd. Remember, ESPN is not employed by the NCAA. In fact, the only reason the NCAA makes millions and millions of dollars in annual revenue is because of ESPN. So why ESPN is adhering to the NCAA and Texas A&M's lucrative complaints is beyond me.

A&M is blaming the fall of the Big 12 on Texas for its new network, yet the Aggies have been strongly considering switching to the SEC. How does that make sense? Practice what you preach, Aggie Nation.

Listen, I have no problem with A&M moving from the Big 12 to the SEC. If that's what they want, then awesome. But do not talk about the success you would have if you did join the SEC, and then stay in the Big 12. If you truly think that you can beat up on the likes of Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, and LSU, then by all means do it. I support you. But don't just sit there and talk about all that you could do if you switched conferences. Just do it.

Do I think that you have a legitimate chance in the SEC, absolutely not. Don't forget that the last Big 12 title you won was over a decade ago. If you can't win in the Big 12, how is moving to the SEC going to be any better? You have one of the worst defenses in the country, especially with the departure of Von Miller, and your offensive players are not nearly on the same plane as any competition in the SEC. I think that Vanderbilt and Kentucky would finish above the you in the conference standings. But if you think that it would help you get some more attraction from recruits and maybe down the road you would become an elite football program, then by all means go ahead and do it. But do not walk around proclaiming yourselves as a top tier football program when you've lost 12 out of your last 15 bowl games. Oh, and three of those bowl games were against SEC opponents, in which you lost by a combined 72 points. And the last bowl game you've actually won was the Bowl against TCU in 2001.

I'm not trying to rag on Texas A&M here. They have excellent academics, some of the best fans in the country, great facilities and good athletic programs.

But they are not title contenders, and they don't need to act like they are. The Aggies need to either move to the SEC, or shut up. It's that simple. Stop talking about Texas because the more you do that, the more you look like Texas' little sister begging for attention from Mom. If you feel like the SEC is realistic and that you can do well in that conference, then move. If not, stop telling everybody you can, and go about your business.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Dream Shake's Take

Today we sit down with Tom Martin, editor of Houston Rockets blog, The Dream Shake, to discuss Houston's recent draft picks, Yao Ming's retirement, and where the Rockets should go from here.

How do you feel about the Rockets' selections in last month's draft?

Depends who you ask, but for me it was a typical Rockets draft. Good value, good players, but nothing special. Marcus Morris convinced Houston he can play small forward and then likened himself to Carmelo Anthony in his introductory press conference. I don’t think he’s that good, but people underestimate his quickness – there’s a chance he could be a steal at fourteen.

Snagging Donatas Motiejunas at twenty must have made Daryl Morey’s night. There are a lot of questions to be leveled Motiejunas’ way (“Can you play defense, can you rebound, or do you care about either of those things?”), but thankfully, there are guarantees. The dude can shoot and score, plain and simple. He’s no Dirk – you’d think after fifty failed comparisons that people would stop trying – but he has a chance to be of the Andrea Bargnani mold: a talented scorer who plays below his height. In no way does he fill Houston’s gap at center, but he’ll be a nice addition to the roster.

Problem is, where does Donatas go? Houston is stacked with power forwards and literally can’t keep all of its current four-men on the roster. I smell a trade a-brewin’.

Does Jonny Flynn have the potential to be an elite point guard?

Jonny Flynn will never be an elite point guard. Elite is a strong word. That’s Derrick Rose/Chris Paul/Deron Williams company. If Jonny Flynn ever becomes an above-average point guard (think Ty Lawson as he is now, before he gets even better), it’ll be a success story. He’s not an “answer” or any sorts for Houston – just another asset for Morey to get his hands on. I’d expect him to be moved at some point, but with Kyle Lowry currently owning the most expensive contract of the current PG crop, he could be on the move as well.

Was Yao Ming's retirement ultimately good or bad for Houston?

Houston needed Yao to retire. They had to move on. Despite all of the rumors, Houston never made significant amounts of money off Yao Ming. He helped, sure, but it was nothing worth drooling over. His career ended roughly two years ago if you care to be realistic. It was about time both sides moved on.

If you were Houston's GM Daryl Morey, what moves would you try to make in order to make the Rockets a championship-contenting squad?

If I was Morey, I'd go out and get a big man, but there aren’t many available, at least not for the right price. That’s the thing with Morey, though: the price. For all of the good, cost-efficient moves he has made, how many potentially ballsy/risky trades has he passed over that could have perhaps worked in Houston’s favor?

The Rockets don’t need the elite scorer or “closer” that everyone thinks they need: they’ve got plenty of offensive firepower. What they do need is rim protection and a tall, defensive presence inside. Sure, the Rockets’ offense wasn’t great during the fourth quarter last season – thus prompting the “closer” requests from fans – but it was very good at times. The real problem? Houston gave up the most fourth-quarter points per game in the league. The. Most. And it’s all because Chuck Hayes wasn’t about to scare anyone from taking the ball to the hole with the game on the line.

How far do you see Houston going next season?

Next year needs to be a losing season. It needs to see lots of youth and lots of mistakes. For the past two years, the Rockets have straddled the fence between winning ballgames and attempting to rebuild. They’ve been ignoring the youth movement that the roster has experienced, and it led to Rick Adelman’s departure. Now, with Kevin McHale at the helm, Houston’s got a new mentality. While winning is nice – and while one can and should try to win games while developing young players – it’s time Houston stopped benching its youngsters. I want to know if Terrence Williams or Hasheem Thabeet is worth a contract. So do Rockets fans.

Thanks, Tom, I'm definitely looking forward to seeing how Houston's future pans out.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Heisman Trophy Vote!

College football season is just around the corner, and what better way to prepare for it than with your predictions on who will win next season's Heisman trophy? There are several choices to select from, including Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, who passed up on being taken first overall in this year's draft to finish out his senior year of college. Oklahoma's Landry Jones has a great chance to win the award as the starting quarterback for the number one ranked team in the nation. Marcus Lattimore of South Carolina and LaMichael James of Oregon headline this year's top running backs, and Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon is regarded as the best wideout in college football. Ah, so many decisions. So, with that, I present to you . . .

Here's how the vote will work: To the right of the page you will see a poll with several different options to choose from. If you don't see anyone you would vote for, just comment on this story with the name of the player you wish to select. You only get one vote, so make it count. Make sure you get all of your friends to vote so your player can win! The poll will be open for two weeks, so get started now!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Summer Tradischions

Face it - Summer HATES professional sports. Basketball is done. Football is indefinitely missing. All we are left with is the Women's World Cup and the middle of baseball season. Not the most exciting time in an avid sports fan's life. But hey, summer has it's positive side too. Barbecues, lakes, vacations, and so much more. So for the sake of saving my readers from boredom, I've decided to incorporate the monotonous subject of sports with the exciting pastimes of summer. Dig in!

Neighborhood cookouts, national lockouts

Who doesn't like to hang out in the backyard with friends and family, grilling burgers, hot dogs, and the owners of the NFL and NBA for taking away our favorite games. "They're so greedy! Why can't they just agree to terms so we have something to do on Sundays?!" Well, fans, whether I have an answer for you or not, the case is: we will not have football or basketball for some time. There are several stories on different websites claiming progress is being made, but the fact is, we are well over 100 days into the NFL lockout and they've been "making progress" since Day 1. The NBA lockout is just getting underway and its already been projected to carry over into next year's season.

So, if you find yourself thinking that the NFL and NBA are certainly having seasons next year, consider this: You have a better chance of getting fatal food poisoning from that questionably dark red inside of your hamburger than seeing Tom Brady or Chris Paul on ESPN anytime soon. That's right, just throw it away.

Vacation Overseas!

Ideally, most of us like to take a summer trip out the the Caribbean. But there are those who prefer historic sites, like Rome, or Paris, or, if you're Deron Williams, Turkey! It's a beautiful land with subpar basketball (relatively), but what else can he do? He's locked out of the NBA, so he might as well stay active and improve his game while experiencing an entirely different and exciting culture. Good move, Deron.

Yao Ming has a different itinerary. It reportedly involves retirement and returning to his native home in the Far East. We are all thrown off by reports of his decision to retire, but I can't say I was shocked. The guy played just five games last season, averaging a little over 10 points and five boards. Yao is holding a press conference July 20 to announce his plans for the future, but most are expecting him to announce his retirement from the NBA.

Summer Blockbusters

Movie producers save their best work for the summer. Everyone was anticipating the release of "The Hangover II" and "Thor". Whether they were disappointments or not is up to the reader's discretion, but there is absolutely no denying the exceeding of the expectations by Derek Jeter. On July 9th, in front of his home fans, Jeter went 5-5. The sold out crowd came to watch Jeter attempt to join the 3,000 hit club, and they were not disappointed. In his second at-bat, Jeter cranked out a home run for the 3,000th hit of his career. And he wasn't even done. Later on, the future Hall of Famer knocked in the game-winning run to lift the Yankees past the Rays in an epic fashion.

The Zoo Closes on Rainy Days

Tiger Woods is going through some tough times, financially, medically, and athletically. He's announced he will not participate in the British Open and has not set a timetable for his return to golf.

Speaking of Vacation...

The Ohio State football team has vacated all of its wins from the 2010 season. Recruits are changing commitments, Jim Tressel is gone, and the future of Ohio State football is as bright as the bottom of your local lake.

And that's about it for this fine summer. Look out for the U.S. Women's soccer team, who has a chance to do some damage in this year's World Cup in Germany. Other than that, I guess we all just wait for something crazy exciting to happen...until then...go jump in a lake.

Friday, June 24, 2011

NBA Draft Recap: Winners and Losers

The 2011 NBA draft was one filled with great surprises, multiple trades, happy moms and disappointed fans. Now that the dust has cleared, let's take a look at who came out on top in the draft, and who needs to catch up in the free agency.


Detroit Pistons

No way Brandon Knight should have fallen this far. Selecting 8th overall, the Pistons didn't have to think twice about who to select. Knight was projected to go as highly as third in most mock drafts, yet somehow he landed in Detroit's feeble hands. The Pistons also picked up a polished, fundamental player in Kyle Signler, and had a nice selection in the second round with Vernon Macklin, a fierce rebounder out of Florida.

Charlotte Bobcats

After watching him in the Big East tournament, I thought the kid would be a top ten pick. After watching him in the NCAA Tournament, I figured he'd be the top pick in the draft. How any team could see Kemba Walker's performances in big games and still pass up on him is beyond me. His dazzling scoring ability is unstoppable and his ball handling and quickness are hazardous to all opposing defenses. The Bobcats got a steal in Walker at the 9 spot, and when you add in Tennessee's Tobias Harris in the mix, you've got two players that are going to make an impact on day one.

Boston Celtics

Everyone knows it. Boston is aging. The Celtics are aware of it, and in turn picked up two solid young players who have large amounts of potential to energize Boston off the bench and eventually start for the Celts. Oh, and they already have good chemistry, being that they both went to Purdue. JaJuan Johnson is a lean, skillful forward with shot blocking ability, and E'Twaun Moore is a smart, sharp guard who can score effectively and handle the ball well. Doc Rivers has a good group of guys to work with heading into next season.

Angel Morris

The proudest woman on the planet last night was Angel Morris, whose two sons were drafted back-to-back in the first round of the draft. The only problem she has now is deciding whose games to attend, because this is the first time Markieff and Marcus will be on different teams in their entire lives.


Phoenix Suns

It just doesn't get any better for Phoenix. Not only did they miss out on sharpshooter Jimmer Fredette, but they made absolutely no strides of progress in finding a replacement for aging point guard Steve Nash. Aaron Brooks is not going to cut it. There's no doubt Markieff Morris is a solid player and a good selection, but the Suns could have made efforts to sneak up higher in the draft and possibly steal Jimmer Fredette or even Brandon Knight. Looks like it could be another average year out in Phoenix next season.

Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers had four picks. Good, right? Not if they're all in the second round. Yep, Los Angeles missed out on all of the first rounders, and even with four picks in the second round, I don't see any of those players making a difference in L.A. in the near future. It probably won't be too big of a problem right now -- but with Phil Jackson out, Kobe getting older, and Derek Fisher nearing eligibility to collect social security, the could be the beginning of the end for Los Angeles...

Brandon Knight

Poor fellow. Not only did the point guard out of Kentucky slide to the 8th spot in the draft, the joke of a franchise Detroit Pistons snatched him up, consequently ending all of Knight's hopes of becoming an All-Star. Now, instead of having a chance to develop into a strong player, Brandon Knight will mosey around in the booming economic city of Detroit and count the days until his contract expires. All he can do is hope that management in the Motor City improves, or he'll be driving a Ford right over to the Free Agency.

And that's all for this year's draft. Congrats to the Cleveland Cavaliers, who took big steps forward in drafting Kyrie Irving with the first pick and Tristan Thompson out of Texas just three picks later. This wasn't the strongest draft ever, but I do think that we will see some of these guys have tremendous impacts in their rookie seasons.

Oh, and I'm calling it. Derrick Williams 2011-2012 Rookie of the Year.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Smarter Team

It's pretty obvious that the Miami Heat consisted of the most talented basketball players in the NBA. But time and time again the Dallas Mavericks proved that the game of basketball is won by smart players who know their role and play it well. Miami may have had the upper hand in athleticism and talent, but Dallas had intangibles which Miami could not contain.

All great teams have a great point guard. Jason Kidd was the prototypical floor general which Dallas needed to run an effective, fluent offense. How many times did you count where Jason Kidd passed up a decent shot to give a teammate an excellent shot? Several. There were instances where Kidd would catch a pass from a teammate, and before the ball was in his hands for even half a second, he had already delivered a dime to a different teammate. That's what 17 years of experience does for a team. Smart passes, unselfish play, and using your discretion wisely to make the right play. While many people see a washed up player in a 38 year old guard, I see leadership and poise in the clutch.

J.J. Barea is the prime example of an effective role player. Most people have never heard of the guy before the Finals, but the 6 foot speed demon lit up the Miami defense with excellent slashing skills and nice dishes to open players all series long.

Shawn Marion quietly averaged almost 14 points and 6 rebounds throughout the Finals, and was the key factor in the Mavericks' Game 2 upset in Miami, scoring 20 points and pulling down 8 boards. If the Mavericks didn't have Marion's outstanding efforts in Game 2, they probably would have ended up on the wrong end of the scoreboard, and buried in an 0-2 hole.

Who could forget about the big Tyson Chandler, who was rejected by Oklahoma City because of physical health concerns, nearly averaging a double-double in the series? And what about Jason Terry, who picked up the slack when Dirk struggled in Game 6, dropping 27 points on the defenseless Heat? While Miami's stars gave it their best efforts, the Big 3 just could not come up with an answer for the multiple weapons Dallas threw at them.

Props to Pat Riley, however, for doing his best to create a strong supporting cast for James, Wade, and Bosh. Adding Mike Bibby and Mike Miller were good ideas and helped Miami in doses, but the lack of a strong presence at center and still a void at the starting point guard position, the Heat could not secure a championship in the end. Miami's GM needs to look into adding experience and better role players, just like Dallas, if they want what Dallas finally has.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Heat Won...wait, what?

The same issue Miami's had all season came back to haunt them tonight. The Heat gave up a huge 15 point lead with just over six minutes left to play, looking disoriented offensively and letting up on the defensive end.

Miami can't really blame Dirk. He didn't explode for 36 points like their own Dwyane Wade. No, Nowitzki had an average game at best, with 24 points, 11 rebounds and an ugly five turnovers. He was able to convert on the go-ahead layup with just three seconds left, but other than that, he wasn't necessarily an unstoppable force in tonight's game.

Why did Dallas win? They were poised. Most teams look at a scoreboard down 15 points with 6 minutes left and think about what's being served on the plane ride home. The Mavericks play hard every game, and they are certainly not going to give up in the NBA Finals, no matter how much they are down.

The Heat got complacent. My select basketball coach always told me to always pretend the score is 0-0. That way, you aren't too cocky, but you're also not discouraged. You're playing your hardest when the game is tied. But Miami was acting like it was up three or four hundred, and once Dallas began its comeback, the Heat began panicking.

To Dwyane Wade, Mike Bibby, Joel Anthony and Mario Chalmers: You guys deserved a win. Those four players left it all on the floor, while the rest of the Heat finished the game with a lackadaisical attitude.

Chris Bosh should have been riding the bench. He is the reason Miami struggled in the first half, shooting at an awful percentage and taking irrational shots from out of his range. Bosh was also the guy that got burned by slow, 7 foot Dirk Nowitzki in the closing seconds of the game. Sorry Chris, but you get an F- for today's performance.

The Mavericks should be throwing a party right now. They can close the series without having to go back to Miami once for the rest of the Finals. It's not going to be easy, but the light is gleaming at the end of the tunnel.