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.