Thursday, September 29, 2011

9.28.11 podcast EP005

Jeff and Ramon share their thoughts on week 3 of the NFL season, college football, the coming end of the MLB season, as well as weekly staples "The Sports Narrative" and "Football 101".

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Power Rankings 9/27

Sorry for the delay, loyal followers. A new schedule and a wicked bout of allergies have rendered me fairly useless. Never fear, for the show must go on! And your favorite podcasting duo will be up and posted tomorrow night for your enjoyment. No gimmicks with this week's Power Rankings, but each team will be followed by their biggest weakness through 3 weeks. Remember, it's still very early in the season and what you think you know now may not be what you think 14 weeks from now!

1. Green Bay Packers: (NC) biggest weakness - Indifference: The Pack are clearly the class of the NFL through 3 weeks, but they've let lesser teams hang around a little too much.

2. New Orleans Saints: (+1) biggest weakness - Defense: That Who Dat? offense is dynomite and getting better as they work in Ingram into the mix, but they are an all-or-nothing defense that scares me.

3. Baltimore Ravens: (+3) biggest weakness - Consistency: Starting with Flacco, the Ravens can look awe-inspiring at times, and at times can look aw-ful!

4. New England Patriots: (-2) biggest weakness - Pass Defense: No pass rush plus a weak secondary is how you get beat by an upstart Bills team. Better watch out with the Raiders up next.

5. Houston Texans: (-1) biggest weakness - Red Zone Offense: Really miss Arian Foster inside the 20. Cost them against the Saints. Big statement game this week with the Steelers coming to town.

6. Detroit Lions: (+5) biggest weakness - Right Tackle: Looks like the Lions might finally crack the playoffs after the "Lost Millen" decade, but the revolving door at RT scares me, and should scare Stafford.

7. Pittsburgh Steelers: (NC) biggest weakness - Age: Struggling with a hapless Colts team does not inspire confidence. Old teams tend to get old quick, and hurt.

8. Chicago Bears: (+4) biggest weakness - Offensive Line: Jay Cutler gets his butt kicked every single week and he doesn't help his line by hanging on to the ball too long. Also, Roy Williams is terrible!

9. San Diego Chargers: (-1) biggest weakness - Passing Attack: A surprising choice, but Rivers has been very inconsistant, trusting his receivers a little too much. Must cut down the turnovers.

10. Buffalo Bills: (+4): biggest weakness - Youth: The story of the year so far in the NFL. A team full of guys nobody else wanted coached by a guy nobody else wanted. Must learn to take the next step together

11. New York Jets: (-6): biggest weakness - Running Game: Thus far, Shonn Greene has not answered the bell and LT is getting long in the tooth. Can't rely on Sanchez and defense, as the Raiders clearly showed.

12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: (+6) biggest weakness - Offensive Line: While not terrible, their line is inconsistant and causes the offense to go into hibernation for long periods.

13. Atlanta Falcons: (-4) biggest weakness - Left Tackle: Sam Baker and the rest of the O-line has been getting dominated, and Matty Ice has been been shaken and foamy for most of the early season.

14. New York Giants: (+1) biggest weakness - Injuries: Not only did they lose half their defense before the season started, now their holding open tryouts at WR. But winning is the ultimate salve.

15. Philadelphia Eagles: (-5) biggest weakness - Offensive Line: Vick can complain to the refs all he wants, but the guys in front of him are the real culprits. The LB core is a close second in weakness.

16. Oakland Raiders: (+9) biggest weakness - Secondary: It's really too bad they couldn't bring Nnamdi back, because that might be the only thing between them and the playoffs.

17. Dallas Cowboys: (-1) biggest weakness - Injuries: Rob Ryan's defense looks scary good even with a makeshift secondary, but can't afford any more injuries on offense.

18. Washington Redskins: (-5) biggest weakness - Talent Level: Shanahan has this motley collection of guys playing way over their head, and I'm afraid reality is coming soon.

19. Tennessee Titans: (+1) biggest weakness - Kenny Britt Injury: Losing their big play guy for the season is a huge blow. Too bad for a team had just started to get it rolling

20. Carolina Panthers: (-3) biggest weakness - Defense: Cam has been amazing, but winning is about more than one player. Losing 2/3 of your starting LBs really hurts.

21. San Francisco 49ers: (+7) biggest weakness - Alex Smith: I honestly think the Niners would be better off if Harbaugh donned a uniform and QBed this team.

22. Arizona Cardinals: (-3) biggest weakness - Size: The Cards just seemed undersized at all aspects of the game. Gotta figure out something on offense besides Fitzgerald deep.

23. Cleveland Browns: (+1) biggest weakness - Run Defense: Before the season, I questioned who would play DE in their new 4-3 scheme, now the entire DL is MIA.

24. Cincinnati Bengals: (-2) biggest weakness - Pass Offense: With their best WR out for the season, another about to go to big-boy jail, and a rookie throwing to a rookie, gonna be a tough year.

25. St. Louis Rams: (-2) biggest weakness - Injuries: The schedule makers screwed the Rams before they even had a chance. Their one easy game of the first 8 is this week, if they can field a team.

26. Minnesota Vikings: (NC) biggest weakness - Coaching: When you blow 3 straight double-digit leads in a row, the man at the helm must be called into question. McNabb and Frazier.

27. Seattle Seahawks: (+5) biggest weakness - Tavaris Jackson: Finally won a game because of their insane home crowd. Too bad they don't have much to cheer about.

28. Jacksonville Jaguars: (+1) biggest weakness - Offense: When your entire offense is a weakness, that's a problem. Blaine Gabbert will get trial by fire, or rain like last week.

29. Miami Dolphins: (-8) biggest weakness - Tony Sparano: When the owner didn't want the coach to begin with, and the coach didn't want the QB, not a recipe for success.

30. Denver Broncos: (-3) biggest weakness - Coaching: John Fox killed any chance for the Broncos to win by making stupid macho, go for it on 4th down decisions.

31. Indianapolis Colts: (-1) biggest weakness - Missing Peyton: While putting up a valiant effort on Sunday night against Pittsburgh, an entire team built on a man getting stem cell surgery is just bad.

32. Kansas City Chiefs: (-1) biggest weakness - Everything: The only thing left is to see what happens first, Todd Haley gets fired or the Chiefs win a game. I'm betting on the former

Thursday, September 22, 2011

9.22.11 podcast EP004

Jeff and Ramon review week 2 of the NFL season, discuss conference realignment, explain the science of the point spread, and pick week 3 lines.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Week 3 Power Rankings

The war of attrition that is the NFL season is in full force. Taking some teams from contenders to pretenders, while taking others from bad to truly putrid, this is the time of year when the quality of the front office (scouting, drafting, coaching) really begins to shine. Championship teams shine like a stunning platinum Lombardi Trophy, while lesser teams shine like the smelly red cinnamon bun on the back of a baboon. You can just look into the eyes of a die-hard fan to know which team is which. Here's this week's Power Rankings (using Film ratings):

(Citizan Kane Group) - The standard by which others are measured, but time has begun to show tiny flaws.

1. Green Bay Packers (NC): After being wowed like the rest of the league is by Cam Newton for a half, the Pack asserted their pedigree and kept their place at the top.

2. New England Patriots (NC): The defense might be a little weak, but it's opportunistic and will gladly take a win that the Chargers give them.

(Gone with the Wind Group) - Never considered for the #1 spot, but wildly popular and solid

3. New Orleans Saints (+1): After a slow start against the Bears, Who Dat finally began to look like my Superbowl pick

4. Houston Texans (+1): Not really tested yet, but taking care of business each week

5. New York Jets (+3): That defense finally looked as scary as Rex Ryan in a foot fetish video. Tough 3 game road trip ahead to Oak, Balt, and NE

6. Baltimore Ravens (-3): Predictable let down after destroying the Steelers. Gotta bounce back against the banged-up Rams

7. Pittsburgh Steelers (+2): Destroyed a woeful Sea-Chickens team. Looking old on D still

(Star Wars Group) - Lots of fun to watch, lots of holes in the fabric

8. San Diego Chargers (-2): Would be a lot better if they'd stop Plaxico-ing themselves every week

9. Atlanta Falcons (+1): Showed guts Sunday Night, but something is just not right there

10. Philadelphia Eagles (-3): I knew Vick would go out at some point this season, just not this early

11. Detroit Lions (+1): I pretty certain that the Lions being good is a sign of the Apocalypse

12. Chicago Bears (-1): Play with heart, but go up and down like Jay Cutler's blood sugar

(Shawshank Redemption Group) - Newcomers to the group, trying to gain credibility, but quality showing

13. Washington Redskins (+4): So far surviving the once a game "Bad Rex" moment. MNF vs. an injured Dallas team could really plant their flag

14. Buffalo Bills (+7): Struggled with the Raiders, but came from behind to win 3 times. The kind of game winning teams pull out. Get the Pats at home to show what they've really got

15. New York Giants (+3): Overcoming injuries with killer pass rush and running game. A good bad-team, beats the bad teams, lose to good ones

16. Dallas Cowboys (NC): Heroic effort by Romo after being the goat last week, but SO many injuries

17. Carolina Panthers (+9): Had the champs on the ropes, but couldn't finish them. Gotta get the running game going to help out Cam the Man

(The English Patient Group)  - Dreadfully, draedfully boring!

18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-5): Pulled out a win, but against an awful Vikings team. Yawn!

19. Arizona Cardinals (-5): Still on track to be the worst division winner

20. Tennessee Titans (+9): Woke up and shocked the Ravens, but Hasselback probably won't have another game like that again all year

21. Miami Dolphins (-1): Might be the best 0-2 team, but the offense is painful and Reggie Bush appears to be a $12 million dollar cheerleader

22. Cincinnati Bengals (+1): Got some young building blocks in place, gonna grow together. Then leave via free agency

(Nightmare of Elm Street Group) - Somewhere between gory, scary and ridiculous

23. St Louis Rams (-8): Injuries have decimated what should be a good team. Doesn't get much easier with a ticked-off Ravens team coming to town.

24. Cleveland Browns (+3): Struggled with a bad Colts team, but won the game. Looks very soft all around

25. Oakland Raiders (-6): Choked away a game vs the Bills. Great running game, suspect secondary

26. Minnesota Vikings (-4): Already hearing cries for Ponder at QB. Gonna be a long year for Peterson

27. Denver Broncos (+4): Fans finally got to see their beloved Tebow . . . at WR. Injuries have made this into an USFL team

(Any Movie starring Nicolas Cage Group) - Just plain crap-tastic!

28. San Francisco 49ers (-3): Bad QB and young inexperienced coaching. Both will get better in the future

29. Jacksonville Jaguars (-5): The Blaine Gabbert era begins. Good luck, kid, you're gonna need it!

30. Indianapolis Colts (-2): I get the feeling Kerry Collins wishes he had stayed retired

31. Kansas City Chiefs (-1): Losing 3 of your top 5 players for the season is rough. Bye-bye, Todd Haley

32. Seattle Seahawks (NC): They might not win a game all year. Seriously

Thursday, September 15, 2011

9.14.11 podcast EP003

Jeff and Ramon look back at week 1 of the NFL season, discuss the west coast offense, and tell the story of Alex Smith versus Aaron Rodgers.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

9/14 Power Rankings

This week's power rankings should be called "Confirming my Suspicions" because that is what most teams did this week. Any weaknesses that were a concern for some of the "up and coming" teams seemed to run onto the field like a naked streaker. That's what I love most about football: you can't BS it, it makes you prove who you are under the blinding spotlight of competition (something our society as a whole could use more of.) Next to each team will be their movement from last week or NC for no change. Recording the podcast tonight. Enjoy!

Power Rankings:

(Platinum level) -Chicks dig shiny things

1. Green Bay Packers (NC): Aaron Rodgers looks ridiculously good

2. New England Patriots (NC): 650+ yds of offense against a pretty decent Miami D

(Gold Standard) - At almost 2 grand an ounce, not too bad

3. Baltimore Ravens (+6): Served big notice that they are real contenders this year

4. New Orleans Saints (+1): Came darn close to beating the Champs at home. Need to address the fat guys on defense

5. Houston Texans (+5): Just destroyed the hapless Colts and look mean on defense

(Silver Medal) -Flawed, but not terrible 

6. San Diego Chargers (-3): Problems on Special Teams are still there, including losing their kicker.

7. Philadelphia Eagles (NC): A chocolate eclair team, looks really good, but soft and gushy in the middle.

8. New York Jets (-2): Winning with heart and luck can only carry you so far, like the AFC championship game twice

9. Pittsburgh Steelers (-5): Big Ben just isn't right unless he has sexual assault charges or a motorcycle wreck in the off-season

10. Atlanta Falcons (-2): My "unspectacular" grade turned into a "boring" grade on offense. Concern

(Bronze Star) - Honorable performance, just too bad you have to get shot at to get it

11. Chicago Bears (+6): Seemingly ever year they get under sold and over deliver. Not quite a believer yet, though

12. Detroit Lions (-1) As I said last week, the winner of Det/TB will be the bottom wildcard team. I still think that

(Copper Wiring) - Functional, just don't touch the high voltage kind

13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-1): Young team, still a year away

14. Arizona Cardinals (-1): Shreded by a rookie QB, but they'll win the division by default

15. St Louis Rams (-1): Same as last week, brutal schedule will keep them from reaching their potential

16. Dallas Cowboys (+8): Huge leap forward, even bigger if Romo wasn't Donovan McNabb part 2

17. Washington Redskins (+8): The Skins will do as they always do, Win early, fade late to 8-8 or so

(Aluminum Foil) - Use once, then recycle

18. New York Giants (-3): Injuries are gonna cost Coughlin his job

19. Oakland Raiders (-1): Great running game and front 7, if this were the 1930's, they'd be great.

20. Miami Dolphins (-1): Just a wee bit short in every aspect of the game

21. Buffalo Bills (+6): Just destroyed the Chiefs, but you can only jump up so far when you start at 27

22. Minnesota Vikings (NC): They are what we thought they were

(Wooden Nickel) - Surprising at first, disappointing later

23. Cincinnati Bengals (+8): Finally turning all that prison time into toughness on the field

24. Jacksonville Jaguars (+8): Coming from dead last in my poll is quite an accomplishment

25. San Francisco 49ers (+3): A misleading score thanks to Ted Ginn Jr, still dreadful on offense

26. Carolina Panthers (+4): Cam looks pretty special, unfortunatly the defense doesn't

(Pig Iron) - May not be a total pig, but played like it last week

27. Cleveland Browns (-4): D-line looked terrible, and mental mistakes were worse

28. Indianapolis Colts (-12): The theme for their season "Suck for Luck"

29. Tennessee Titans (-9): Bad in every facet, best play was a shuffle pass that broke free. Ugly

30. Kansas City Chiefs (-9): Their disinterest in the preseason turned into disinterest in week 1.

31. Denver Broncos (-2): When your home crowd starts chanting "TE-BOW" in week 1, you've got big problems

32. Seattle Seahawks (-6): I'll say it again, sometimes I think Pete Carroll just sucks on purpose

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Musings from the weekend

Each week after the football weekend, I will throw together my thoughts into a random collection. Enjoy, and look for this week's podcast coming soon!

Scattershooting while wondering what ever happened to Elvis Grbac: (answer at the end of the article)

1. For those of you who missed the Notre Dame/Michigan game this weekend, wait for it to be replayed as an instant classic, TiVO the whole thing, then skip to the fourth quarter. What an incredible finish to a game that was painful for the first 3 quarters.

2. For as much as I believe the Rams are the best team in the terrible NFC West, I looked at those first 8 games (Phil, @NYG, Balt, Wash, bye, @GB, @Dal,NO) as a Bataan Death March that couldn't be overcome, both emotionally and physically. I was proven right a lot quicker than I thought, with the Rams top WR, RB, and QB all going down in week 1.

3. The other biggest injury of the weekend might be safety Eric Berry of the KC Chiefs. A player that is arguably the best player from the 2010 draft, a rookie Pro Bowler, and instantly the leader of that defense is gone for the season. Not sure KC can recover from that, as evidenced by giving up 41 to the freakin Bills!

4. I really enjoy Chad Pennington as a color analyst. Of course it's a total Jets homer thing, but I enjoyed his breakdowns and letting the game come to him. Well done, Chad!

5. I feel Tony Romo is rapidly headed down the same path as Donovan McNabb, incredible in the regular season, but when it gets to nut-cutting time, always comes up short. Sad, because I really like him and want him to succeed. But the pain and anguish guys like Manning and Brady show when things go bad is not the same as Romo's or McNabb's goofy grin in the face of adversity. Healthier for him as a human psychologically, but not what it takes to win.

6. Speaking of that, I loved the comments of Cam Newton after his record-setting performance against the Cards. He sounded humble and honestly hurt that his team lost. You might have to endure quite a bit more of that, Cam, but eventually it will get better with you at the helm. Facing the defending champs this week will be a real dose of reality, but if he just keeps learning, he will more than live up to that #1 pick status.

7. Here's why the NFL is the #1 sport now: after hearing several players were ready to eschew the uniform rules and wear Reebok provided Stars and Stripes gloves and shoes, the league contacted Reebok, got as many for the players as they wanted, and allowed it. Meanwhile, the NY Mets petitioned MLB to wear NYPD and FDNY hats for their home game on 9/11, which was promptly denied. Just another area where MLB doesn't get it!

8. I already growing weary of ESPN shoving this new "quarterback rating" system down our throat. Good job, you hired some nerdy math guys! It's very easy to get caught up in numbers and stats, but they should be used to validate what you see ACTUALLY WATCHING THE GAME, not be the story. Thanks!

9. Let me be a total schill for RedZone channel! 7 straight hours of every game without commercial interuption. If we can do this in America, shouldn't we be able to fix the economy.

10. Very happy with the NFL's treatment of 9/11. Subtle, yet respectful. The way things should be. Though the fact that I saw Bush 4 times as much as Obama seems a little off.

11. Every year, teams that are supposed to be good aren't, and some teams come out of no where. Pittsburgh and Atlanta may be the former, and Detroit and Dallas may be the latter.

12. It appears as though the BIG 12 is done, with OU and OK St ready to bolt for the west coast, and the Aggies already printing SEC gear. My fervent hope is that all the little teams (Texas tech, Baylor, KU, KSU, Mizzou, and ISU) quickly find homes and leave Texas out in the cold, forced to shuffle off to the ACC or in to independence. That would be justice, but justice is not what college football is all about.

13. I'm thinking the Colts and gonna try to pull the football version of the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs had a pretty good, but not great, team for several years, but got decimated by injuries all at once. Instead of trying to patch the holes and stumble on, they just tanked it, played kids, and fell into the #1 pick, which turned out to be Tim Duncan. They went on to win several Championships, bridging the gap between generations. If the Colts just let their young guys learn and stink, get the #1 pick in Andrew Luck, then let him learn at the feet of Peyton for a few years, the Colts could be back on top soon and often.

14. As is usual, I went about .500 (or less) on my picks versus the spread. Which is why I still a day job and don't live in Vegas. HA!

Answer: Elvis Grbac is currently teaching QB camps in his home state of Ohio. It appears as though the shadow of Vinny Testeverde that he could never shake is finally falling off of Joe Flacco. He still gets rattled by pressure, but it looks like he is finally trusting his talent. Baltimore might well be playing in Indy come February.

Thanks for your patronage, please tell your friends! Be good, and be well!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

9.7.11 podcast EP002

Jeff and Ramon preview the 2011 NFL season.

Week 1 Picks

Hey there, football fans and addicted gamblers! This post is for YOU! Week 1 picks against the spread. Merely for entertainment purposes, yada yada yada. Good luck!

Saints at Packers (-4.5) - Saints (to cover, 50/50 on winning)
Lions at Bucs (-1) - Lions (tossup game, don't play if you can avoid it)
Falcons (-3) at Bears - Falcons (pretty solid pick)
Bills at Chiefs (-6) - Bills (upset special)
Colts at Texans (-9) - Texans (grudgingly, hate giving 9)
Eagles (-4.5) at Rams - Eagles (while they are still healthy)
Steelers at Ravens (-2) - Steelers (Flacco has never beaten Big Ben straight up)
Bengals at Browns (-6.5) - Browns (but the points scare me a little)
Titans at Jaguars (-2) - Titans (I can't believe this line, Titans in a route)
Seahawks at 49ers (-5.5) - Seahawks (too many points for A.Smith to cover, but I like SF to win)
Panthers at Cardinals (-7) - Cards (a lot of points, but I think rough start for Cam)
Vikings at Chargers (-8.5) - Chargers (SD usually starts slow, but not here)
Giants (-3) at Redskins - Skins (upset special #2)
Cowboys at Jets (-5) - Jets (this could get ugly)
Patriots (-7) at Dolphins - Dolphins (Pats will win, but Miami D will hang tough)
Raiders at Broncos (-3) - Raiders (ugly game, but Oak running game will be the difference)

Just my gut feeling, but know that I am usually about .500 every week. Good Times!
(P.S. if you'd like over/under numbers or fantasy suggestions, email me at

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

9/7 Power Rankings

With the kickoff just a day and a half away, I thought I'd throw down the obligatory power ranking poll, listing all the teams in my order of quality of Oscar Hosts. For a complete breakdown of every team by division, fantasy studs and sleepers and my pre-season Superbowl picks, listen to the podcast that should be posted sometime on Thursday. Be good and be well!

Power Rankings:

(The Bob Hope Group: The class by which others are graded.)

1. Green Bay Packers (must respect the champs)

2. New England Patriots (also will be referred to as the Evil Empire many times in this blog)

(The Johnny Carson Group: Quality, yet still in the wake of the legend)

3. San Diego Chargers (given health and if Norv Turner tossed that Tiki idol he got in Hawaii last year)

4. Pittsburgh Steelers (though aging quickly)

5. New Orleans Saints (acquiring a real RB make this team very intriguing)

(The Billy Crystal Group: Lovable and entertaining, yet without the respect garnered by his predecessors)

6. New York Jets (2 straight AFC Championship games, but just can't get over the hump)

7. Philadelphia Eagles ("The Dream Team" may be a nightmare hitching your wagon to an oft-injured QB)

8. Atlanta Falcons (solid yet unspectacular, hoping that Julio Jones wakes up the dirty bird fans)

9. Baltimore Ravens (I'm just not convinced that Flacco isn't this generation's Vinny Testeverde)

10. Houston Texans (might finally jump the Colts hump thanks to Peyton's neck)

(The Steve Martin Group: Greatness, but not enough of a sample size to be included with the above)

11. Detroit Lions (These 2 young teams play week 1 in Tampa)

12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (I think the winner makes the playoffs and the loser doesn't)

(The Eddie Murphy Group: On paper, has all the tools to be good, but is very much an unknown quantity)

13. Arizona Cardinals (Will win that crappy division by default)

14. St. Louis Rams (I want to lake them more, but the first 8 games is a brutal stretch)

15. New York Giants (as erratic as an Eli Manning crossing route)

16. Indianapolis Colts (10-6 with Peyton, 6-10 without)

17. Chicago Bears (Picking up a bunch of guys that can't play for other teams is not how you improve)

(The Jon Stewart Group: Might of seemed like a good plan at the time, but the execution proved to be a little harsher than expected)

18. Oakland Raiders (just can't quite seem to plug all the holes in the leaky pirate ship)

19. Miami Dolphins (great defense, but with Henne at QB, say bye-bye Tony Sparano)

20. Tennessee Titans (I like the direction, but new head coach has got some building to still do)

21. Kansas City Chiefs (losing Charlie Weiss is going to hurt that offense a lot)

22. Minnesota Vikings (Adrian Peterson and the 10 dwarves just can't get it done)

(The Chris Rock Group: This just seems like a bad idea all around)

23. Cleveland Browns (letting Mike Holmgren re-build your franchise seems like a bad idea)

24. Dallas Cowboys (that defense might be even worse than last year Ouch!)

25. Washington Redskins (when Grossman and Beck is your QB battle, you really don't have a QB)

26. Seattle Seahawks (sometimes I think Pete Carroll sucks on purpose)

27. Buffalo Bills (it's sad that you are considered an improving team, and that gets you to #27)

(The James Franco Group: I know you are on some kind of drugs right now, sir!)

28. San Francisco 49ers (some really nice wepons with no one to trigger them)

29. Denver Broncos (the Tim Tebow albatross will keep them down for years)

30. Carolina Panthers (Cam Newton will get a big dose of reality but if he lives through he has a real chance)

31. Cincinatti Bengals (with Palmer at QB, this team might be decent, but Mike Brown is an idiot)

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (firing your QB 3 days before the season starts is a sure sign of suck)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

College football is here!

Well, slight snafu with the podcast, but it should be completed tonight and posted sometime tomorrow. Keeping the faith.

Today's posting is an article I wrote recently for website, but didn't get posted due to difference in perception. But I am a large fan of the website and of Stephanie Taylor and wish her nothing but sucess! Enjoy

Sunday Morning Option Quarterback
By Jeff Bowers

As the calendar turns to August (and the mercury reaches triple digits AGAIN!), it’s time to turn our collective sports brains away from the pastoral game of baseball and on to the graceful, brutal, beautiful and traumatic sport of college football. Each Sunday morning, I will join you and your morning coffee with this scatter-shooting, Peter King-esque article with various observations from across the football landscape. But as I am but one man (with 27 TVs), please feel free to send in your own observations that I may have missed to my email address, which I will happily take full credit for having seen myself. (HA!) No, I will probably give you a shout out for the truly masterful bon mot (that’s French for “nugget”). My sincere wish is to entertain, inform and challenge my readers; to expand the perspective of the average college football fan beyond the hue of their teams rooting interests while hopefully making them shoot that morning coffee out of their nose with laughter.

Now as there are no games yet to comment on, (because only you real sickos care about your teams practices) this week’s and next week’s article will take on a slightly different bent. This week’s humble offering will be my manifesto on if I were named “Xtreme Super Czar of NCAA Football.” (Yes, that would be my official title and it would be spelled with the X, despite my spell-check’s best efforts) Next week’s SMOQ article will be an extensive point/counter-point exchange with the help of TheCollegeFootballGirl, as we try to flush out all the things wrong with college football and reach a consensus as to the most logical path forward for the sport. I hope you enjoy and look forward to your feedback.

On Dec 1st, 1971, a great debate was had in print between Bill Miller of my humble school of North Texas State (today UNT) and Bob Woodruff of the University of Tennessee over a college football playoff system in the NCAA news letter. Since that time (and even before) the debate has raged on, with the same issues being brought forth by both sides again and again without ever reaching any kind of resolution. I am extremely sensitive to the arguments both pro and con, but as with all things involved in the NCAA, money is the over-riding factor; and the money lies with a playoff system. My good friend (and NFL draft broadcast partner on KTCK 1310 The Ticket in Dallas, TX) Norm Hitzges was one of the first to publish a definitive college football 16 team playoff system incorporating the bowls in Sport Magazine in the early 80’s. To this day, his plan has served as the blueprint for all the playoff system plans henceforth, with slight tweaks this way or that to make it their own. Against that backdrop, I now present to you my plan as Czar of all college football to reset the system.

Step 1: Realignment
From the office of the Xtreme Super Czar of College Football:
Henceforth all FBS schools(that’s Division I to all you old school folks) must be a part of a 12 to 16 team conference with divisions and a championship game, or be classified as an independent in order to be eligible for the playoffs.
Commentary: With the recent jumping around of teams in conferences, it is time for a uniformity to be laid down in order to facilitate a fair and just playoff system. So the Big 12 (with 10 teams GRR!) needs to suck it up or break up and stop letting Texas bully all the others in their conference. And the Big East needs to subtract some of the 10,000 basketball schools from its conference and add some actual football schools to be legitimate and earn its automatic bid status.

Step 2: Playoff system
From the office of the Xtreme Super Czar of College Football:
The following will be the format of the playoff system:
1.   All regular season games will be concluded by the final weekend of November, and the first weekend of December will be reserved for Championship games.
2.   Each of the 6 major conference champions (assuming there are 6 major conferences) will qualify for a playoff berth, as well as 2 at large teams, and seeding will be determined by the Polls.
3.   The first round of playoffs will begin the third week of December (allowing for travel and finals) and would take place according to the following chart.

Holiday Bowl

San Diego, CA

Fiesta Bowl
Rose Bowl

Glendale, AZ
Pasadena, CA
Championship Game
Cotton Bowl
Sugar Bowl
Tempe, AZ
Arlington, TX
New Orleans, LA

Orange Bowl

Miami, FL

The higher seeds would get their choice of bowl settings of the first four, chosen in order of seeding. The Rose and Sugar Bowls would be played on New Year’s Day, with the Championship game coming on the second Monday of January.
4.   All other bowl games will be considered and encouraged to exist, so long as they do not conflict with any of the playoff bowl games.
5.   If any bowl is deemed unworthy of participation in the playoff, or another bowl wishes to petition to be included, all such inquiries will be considered of a committee of Conference officials and NCAA board members.
Commentary: An elaborate plan, to be sure, but one with merit, I believe, that answers many of the obstacles that have befallen other plans. First, it helps appease the Rose Bowl faction by insuring their status as a “Granddaddy” bowl. Secondly, it helps appease the “it de-emphasizes the regular season” people, because to be in the top 8 is quite a feat, and the higher seeds pick their bowl, so home field advantage plays a role. For example, last season Auburn (automatic bid SEC) would play Virginia Tech (automatic bid ACC) presumably in the Orange Bowl, Oregon (automatic bid Pac-12) would play Oklahoma (automatic Big-12) in the Holiday Bowl,  TCU (automatic bid Big East now) would play Ohio St (at large) in the Cotton Bowl, and Wisconsin (automatic bid Big 10) would play Stanford (at large) in the Fiesta Bowl, with the Orange/Cotton winner in the Sugar Bowl and the Fiesta/Holiday Bowl winner in the Rose Bowl. You can see why realignment is so important to this plan, and why it is step 1 of the plan. Also, the inclusion of the Holiday Bowl is purely for geographic reasons, and other bowls would be considered as substitution, which is why there would be the panel, as well as expansion to 12 or 16 teams as the system warrants.

Step 3: Pay for players
From the office of the Xtreme Super Czar of College Football:
The following system of compensating student athletes shall be available for all schools in participating conferences, as voted on by each conference individually, or to independent schools.
1.   Every scholarship student athlete in your school may be compensated for their time on the field for up to 25 hrs at the rate of the current federally mandated minimum wage.
2.   If a school agrees to participate in this program, all accounts will be monitored and controlled by the school and any “irregularities” must be reported immediately.
3.   Any other compensation provided to the players will be strictly prohibited, including pay for appearances, merchandise, or other exchanges. Violations of over or under paying of athletes will be subject to NCAA sanctions, up to and including expulsion from the compensation program.

Commentary: Ah, the big question that seemingly pops up each off-season in college football of whether or not to pay football players. But in the words of the current mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, never let a crisis go to waste. Here’s my solution: pay them as if they had a part-time job in college, like most undergrads. It is true that these students put in an extraordinary amount of time and effort in their sport, and that this money flows directly to the school, so make them “employees” of the school in addition to their scholarship so that they have the proverbial “spending money” that is always brought up in this argument. But here’s the catch: schools are not just paying their football players, but ALL of their scholarship athletes. So thanks to Title IX, the women’s volleyball team gets compensated at the same rate. Now, you must be thinking “that’s a pretty large expense” and you would be right! That’s how diabolical this plan truly is. Smaller schools simply could not handle the cost of competing at that level, thus thinning the ridiculous amount of FBS schools into “haves” and “have-nots.” And, thanks to realignment (see Step 1) all the schools that can compete at that level will be included into conferences with automatic bids, thus by proxy solving the “Boise State/Utah/TCU” issue as well. The other schools will be allowed to continue to participate in the FBS and even qualify for an at large bid in the playoffs, but the hope is that the compensation rule will be enough of a chip to keep the “big boys” happy and make a smaller school be truly special to qualify for inclusion in the playoffs.

Step 4: Unite the Polls
From the office of the Xtreme Super Czar of College Football:
The Poll system to determine playoff seeding (see Step 2) will be the current BCS computer system with one change. The coaches’ poll will no longer be included in the math, and will be replaced with the AP poll.
Commentary: Details, details. This job is a lot harder than I thought it would be. The big change here just eliminates the discrepancies between the polls, and eliminates the stupid coaches’ poll, which most coaches don’t take seriously anyway and have interns turn in their votes. If you can’t vote responsibly, then you don’t get to vote. That’s why my title is Czar and not President.

Ok, that should get the ball rolling. I’m really looking forward to next week’s point/counterpoint article to really squeeze the juice from this plan and get something we can all ingest happily, as opposed to that blue BCS Kool-Aid they’ve been poisoning us with for far too long. And I’m really looking forward to some actual football games soon! Be good and be well, college football fans.