Friday, November 28, 2008

Keep It Real-l-l-l-l-l Friday

I hope the tryptophan has worn off and your ready to make the final push toward the New Year. We here at LynchyRightNow.Com, can barely contain ourselves. Since the return of Tony Romo the Cowboys are winners of three straight, the Boston College Eagles play for a shot at the ACC title on Saturday (we'll be in attendance), and the Celtics are 13-2. As the children say, it doesn't get much better than this.


Okay, so I caved in. You can call me a sell out, in fact I would prefer you call me that. The next several sentences will be dedicated to Canada's pastime, Hockey. I'm a Massachusetts native, in this commonwealth 24/7/365, all my life. In the 2000's, George Jetson's world hasn't come true. No flying cars, no meals in pill form, and unfortunately no Playboy spread of Judy, instead every New Englander has been awarded with the collective greatest winning streak of major professional sports teams any town has ever seen. Three Super Bowls, two World Series, and one NBA Finals, you could say it has been pretty good to us. The only thing were missing? Lord Stanley's Cup.

Timeout: For more insightful hockey talk check out:

Well, after all those curse busting, banner raising, championship parades, it's time to bring the worlds most coveted trophy back to The Bean. (Part of me wants to argue I'd rather have a Heisman Trophy winner, but were in puck mode.) The black & gold Boston Bruins are currently 14-3 with 4 overtime losses. Their record is good enough for first place in the Northeast division, a division that includes three Canadian franchises and Buffalo, I like it. They've won four of five this month including two against division rivals, Toronto and Buffalo. Veteran center, Marc Savard, is tied for second in the league in total points (27), with 8 goals and 19 assists. The pride of Flint, Michigan, goalie Tim Thomas, has the leagues second best goals against average in 14 games. So I'm doing my part, the Bruins have the leagues 21st best attendance average (15,859) in one of the best sports markets in the country. I'm putting the word out there and I'm even slapping down some coin, I want the Bruins to make a deep run in the playoffs, and raise a black & gold banner to the rafters. Sh*t, this is title town baby and the B's are back, KEEP IT REAL!

The NBA's greatest talent, Lebron James, will become a free agent the summer of 2010. The whole world will in fact witness the most fantastic bidding war for a single athlete since Ronaldinho to AC Milan. Wether he ends up in the Big Apple or not, he won't be in Cleveland. You know who feels bad for the state of Ohio? Not this guy. Call it eminent domain if you will, taking land for the good of the city. Lebron in New York is good for everyone but Cleveland, in some ways it is even good for Cleveland. Like KG in Boston or Kobe in L.A., Lebron in that city, resurrects some things, primarily basketball in The Mecca. The NBA is on it's way back from the dead. During the post-Jordan era, poor marketing, the San Antonio Spurs, and the Shaq v. Kobe quarrel painted a bad portrait of the league. Today, with the dominance of a young Laker team led by their veteran leader Kobe Bryant, a resurgence of basketball in Boston, and Chris Paul's arrival in the South, the NBA has but one piece of the puzzle remaining: Improve New York Hoops. Throughout the next 10 years, if he hasn't already, James will become the face of basketball globally. That face needs to be playing in front of a fan base like New York's and in an arena like Madison Square. If Cleveland wants to reap the benefits of the NBA's popularity, they'll quiet down. KEEP IT REAL, Lebron belongs in New York.

Congratulations Ball State. The Cardinals just completed an undefeated season at 12-0. They defeated Western Michigan 45-22 to complete their record setting season this past Tuesday night. Ball State's historic run included three wins against Michigan, one against Illinois, one against Miami, and one against Kentucky. Wait . . I should clarify something. They Beat Eastern Michigan, Central Michigan, and Western Michigan. They didn't beat Illinois, they beat Northern Illinois. As for Miami, that would be Miami of Ohio not The U and their win against Kentucky was in fact against Western Kentucky. So, were curious why Ball State isn't getting more love than their #15 ranking? That's why. It may be a tough task to remain undefeated throughout the rigors of college football, but if your going to play in Division 1A, schedule some Division 1A opponents, would you? You want to be the next Boise State and you want that kind of respect, go into Oregon and beat them in their place. That is the type of win that impresses pollsters. KEEP IT REAL, Ball State this is your formal invitation to the Purina One Dog Food Bowl.

Buy Out Charlie Weis! Buy Out Charlie Weis! Buy Out Charlie Weis! Come on, everybody sing together. Normally, I don't jump on the firing band wagon, unless it involves Marvin Lewis, Bobby Petrino, Wade Phillips, and or Norv Turner. However, this Weis wagon will be driven by me. He and his team lost to SYRACUSE, the same Syracuse football team that ranks 103rd in total defense in the country. They've watered down their schedule for 2008, and could only add 3 more wins than they had in 2007. This supposed offensive genius, is the head coach of the NCAA's 57th ranked offense. I'm just going to put it out there, if the Patriots admitted to taping the defensive signals, wouldn't Weis have benefited the most? If you know what they are going to do, it's pretty easy to look like a genius when you are calling the plays. Two years removed from one of Notre Dame's best quarterbacks, Brady Quinn, and Weis' offenses look very, very, very average. I've said it before, if I'm a five-star high school recruit, I'm playing in So Cal, Gainesville, or Austin. His offense looks big and slow, if I wanted to watch Big 10 football, I'd turn on Ohio State, not Notre Dame. Weis is overpaid, over hyped, and has underperformed. Weis out at ND.

It's one thing to have America's Team play every Thanksgiving Thursday, it's quite another to have the Detroit Lions play on that same day. I'm all for tradition, but having to watch the anything from the state of Michigan on Thanksgiving is torturous. The Lions have drafted poorly, played poorly, and been managed directly into the NFL abyss. At some point enough is enough, the world should have had to suffer through another Lions debacle on the day we remember to give thanks. To start off, the winless Lions were welcoming a 10-1 Titans team into their place. By the time America tuned in, midway through the second, the Lions were already down 28-3, and we hadn't even sniffed that turkey in the oven. Final score, 47-10. About 50 fans were remaining in the facility, 25 with bags on their heads, 15 holding "Bailout Detroit" signs, and the last ten stuck in the line for the bathroom. This is the Thanksgiving tradition we want to see? The Macy's parade, the Dallas Cowboys, and feeling so full that you need to unbuckle are the only traditions we need. Can the Lions, and can the city of Detroit, KEEP IT REAL!

Lastly, of course the Philadelphia Eagles beat the Arizona Cardinals late Thursday night. Take whatever you know or think you know about the NFL, and throw it out the window. The Cardinals were prepared to take that next step, the step that both the Giants & Jets took last weekend, seriously be considered as a contender. The Eagles had been a part of the first tie game in the NFL since 2002, they benched their veteran quarterback in a three point game the week prior, just before getting polished off by 31 points, and they'd also suffered through a week of media attention that had the head coach getting fired and their quarterback in his last season with the franchise. So who wins? The Eagles. The Cardinals and their MVP candidate, Kurt Warner, are sitting on the division lead and with a win they would clinch, yet what happens? They get straight up blown out. McNabb throws for four touchdowns, gives the Eagles fans something to cheer about and probably delays the inevitable for another couple weeks. The Eagles are bad, the Cardinals are terrible outside of Arizona, and I'm tired of the McNabb/Reid show. Congrats Kurt Warner, your in the NFL's second worst division and can't even finish it off the right way, IN PHILLY! Keep It Real!

That's all for this week folks, and always remember Keep It Real! Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tryptophan Ready

Thanksgiving, the time of year for football, giving thanks, and a tryptophan hangover that'll put you to sleep for a month. As I was thinking of a Thanksgiving special for the readers of LynchyRightNow, one thing came to mind, thanks. So, who deserves some real thanks in today's world?

Let's get after it . . .

Hmmm, right. Here's the first one. NFL owners, who are asleep at the wheel. I'm going to hold off on ripping Al Davis of the Oakland Raiders, the man looks like beetlejuice, on a bad day. However, special thanks from the family of Marvin Lewis to Bengals owner, Mike Brown. Not many guys can refrain from firing a guy who has led his investment to 16 wins in three seasons while his players are arrested more often than Amy Winehouse. Mike Brown, pass the stuffing and thank you. Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie, I'm just going to put it like this, Andy Reid is running a franchise that has been a .500 team and missed the playoffs three times since their trip to the Super Bowl. From a Cowboys fan, as long as Reid is in charge this team is mediocre at best. Thank you Jeffrey Lurie.

Thank you very much to the 2008 BCS. Do I like the BCS? No. I believe it has ruined parts of college football, made it 100% about money, and quietly given jobs to entirely to many former college football players and coaches. Jesse Palmer (The Bachelor) and Lou Holtz to name a couple. But like most terrible things in life, eventually somebody realizes how absurd they really are, George Bush, Windows Vista, and Seinfeld. This year is in fact, the year we discover how absurd the BCS has become. Southern California blew out every team they played by 50 points, slipped up at Oregon State and their season is shot. Texas Tech shocked a top ranked Longhorn squad, and now the Longhorns could be on the outside looking in. Penn State dominated their schedule, including an Oregon State team that they may end up facing in the Rose Bowl, yet they have no shot at a National Title. Thanks, to the 2008 college football season (and in small part to President Elect Obama, who has made a point to mention this system) for showing the entire country how to eliminate three of the countries top programs from title contention. I'll have canned cranberry sauce, please.

Thank you to the Notre Dame basketball team. The men's basketball team is ranked #8 in the country, as of Tuesday. In one week they've beaten the Hoosiers by 38 points and dropped the higher ranked Longhorns in the Maui Invitational. The Fighting Irish hoops squad is widely considered a favorite to make a deep tournament run in March. So, why am I thanking them? Their play this week has if only for a second, taken the focus off the Fighting Irish football team. The same Fighting Irish football squad that should have the biggest problem with the BCS system. Why? The one loss Southern California football team won't be going to the National Championship or the Rose Bowl without help, so the only thing they can do . . . HANG 70 on the Irish in their regular season home finale. The USC defense has a top five defense in the country, they've given up more than 20 points only twice the entire season, and have yet to allow more than 23. Against Washington & Washington State, the Trojans were 2-0 and outscored the opponents by a combined 125-0. With that said, thank you to the Irish hoops team, for delaying the upcoming Irish football beatdown, things don't look good for Charlie Weis, not at all.

The Detroit Lions really should get thanks. They have officially restored my belief that at least one team can go 0-16 in an entire season. The ghost of Matt Millen is still haunting this franchise, it just sucks that Millen won't be around to see his dream come true, a win less team in Detroit. The man responsible for drafting four wide receivers in the top ten in four separate drafts was fired this season, unfortunately he really has nothing to do with how the players perform on the field, so after 12 weeks, the Lions are 0-11. The firing of Millen wasn't the only excitement for the Lions this season, they had a quarterback run out of the back of the endzone, signed a free agent quarterback off a scrap heap, and traded their top offensive weapon. You think they'll win a game? The Titans will throttle them on Thanksgiving, Adrian Peterson comes to Detroit after that, they get Indy with an improving Colts team, Drew Brees in the midst of a record breaking season, and go to Lambeau in the final week. Thank you for restoring hope that I will see a team go 0-16. Pass the carrots.

Thank you to the NFL and quarterbacks like, Tyler Thigpen, Shaun Hill, JaMarcus Russell, Dan Orlovsky, and Senaca Wallace. You have all single handily made it evident that inmate #19078942 a.k.a. Michael Vick will be given a second chance in he NFL. At the end of the day, he could outplay any one of those quarterbacks given five months to work out in NFL facilities and in the right system. Maybe Vick isn't Jason Campbell and maybe he will have some rust (sad pun, totally intended) from being in prison, but one thing we never doubted about Vick was his athleticism. I'm completely sold that some owner in the NFL will give him a shot, with the amount of NFL quaterbacks that get injured in a season, Kyle Orton, Tom Brady, Tony Romo, Matt Schaub, Brodie Croyle, Jon Kitna, and Matt Hasselbeck, one of those owners could see the benefit in having a backup the caliber of what Michael Vick may be. Sure it'll take an apology or two and an owner with brass balls to pull the move off, but it will happen and Michael Vick has injuries to Thank on this Thanksgiving. Pass the turkey!

Hope you all have a Happy Thanksgiving! GOBBLE! GOBBLE!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Six Days Away . . .

Boston College is on their way back to The Heights,victorious after their defensive battle in Winston-Salem on Saturday afternoon. The Maryland Terrapins are returning to their dorms after being beaten thoroughly in College Park by the visiting Seminoles. With the Terrapins loss, they have played their way out of the ACC title game on December 6th and with the Eagles win they are still alive for that same title. An Eagles win against the Terrapins this weekend will send them to Tampa Bay, a Terrapins victory launches Florida State straight to the ACC title game.

Now that you know the situation, we're six days away from an epic ACC showdown:(If I seem to be showing my rooting interest and extreme excitement for all things ACC football, deal with it.) Time to get you prepared:

1. The Boston College offense is in trouble. On BC's final possession of Saturday's game, the Eagles went on a 9 play, 78 yard drive resulting in the go ahead touchdown. Excluding that game winning drive, the Eagles had 65 plays for just 152 yards throughout the entire game. If your scoring at home, that's less than 3 yards per snap. The Boston College offense will be without 5th year senior, Chris Crane, who was knocked out of the game and the season with a broken collar bone on Saturday. An offense that scored a touchdown just once, in 15 possessions, will now be led by redshirt freshman quarterback, Dominique Davis. Davis' numbers weren't all that bad, despite the two turnovers that resulted in Demon Deacon touchdowns, the young quarterback went 13 of 23 and had 103 yards passing. With an inexperienced man under center, the Eagle offense will be forced to rely heavily on their freshman running backs, Josh Haden and Montel Harris. The freshman duo has rushed for over 1,000 yards and average nearly 5 yards a touch. Fortunately for the now young offense, the visiting Terrapin defense is ranked 58th against the rush (1,446) through last weekend and gave up another 172 yards on the ground this past Saturday to Florida State. On a more positive note, BC head coach Jeff Jagodzinski, has rarely asked his offense to go out and win the game for him, an offense ranked 55th in the country in scoring per game will do that to you.

2. How different does a landscape change in one week? Headed into week 11, the Florida State Seminoles were the top ranked team in the ACC Atlantic (#20), welcoming Boston College to their place and looking to take command. By days end, they were on the outside looking in. Boston College had taken their top ten defense into Tallahassee and knocked Florida State off in their backyard. At the start of week 12, the Maryland Terrapins were coming off a huge win against ACC rival and #16 ranked North Carolina, on a game winning field goal. With Florida State falling to Boston College, Maryland took over as the ACC Atlantic's top ranked team(#22) and controlled their own destiny with those same Seminoles visiting College Park in the coming week. By Sunday night, the Terrapins had lost to the Seminoles and coupled with a Boston College victory over Wake Forest, have eliminated themselves from a shot at the ACC title. Which brings us right to week 13, the AP poll has the Boston College Eagles ranked as high as #20, and you guessed it, the ACC Atlantic's top ranked team. The Seminoles visit non-conference foe, Florida, in an in-state rivalry game and await the result of Maryland vs. Boston College. Maryland has been reduced to road block status, while Boston College plays to advance to the title game. Given the play of both Florida State and Maryland as top ranked ACC Atlantic teams, the odds may be stacked against our friends on Chestnut Hill.

3. A top 10 ranked defense, means more than you think. As unfortunate as an injury to your starting quarterback is, Boston College has the most prolific defense this side of the Mason-Dixon. Linebackers, Mike McLaughlin and Mark Herzlich, or as I'm dubbing them, Hawk & Animal (The Road Warriors a.k.a. The Legion of Doom) are as good as any two linebackers in college football, period. Herzlich and McLaughlin have combined for over 155 tackles on the season, 6 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles, and a partridge and a pear tree. If you hadn't watched any BC game this season, and just tuned into watch this past Saturdays at Wake Forest, you would have came away with one sentiment, Mark Herzlich changes the way an offense plays. He pressured Riley Skinner into bad plays, intercepted the 6,000 yard passer twice, and took one all the way back for six. By the way, his other interception led to a late first half field goal, proved to be the difference in the game. Now it isn't all just Hawk & Animal that make the BC defense, their interior lineman, tackles Ron Brace and B.J. Raji, are two of the fiercest DT's in the entire ACC. The Eagles 8th ranked defense gives up just under 280 yards of offense per game, they've yet to give up a 100 yard rushing game since the third week in October, and given their offensive struggles can account for two of their last three wins, ENTIRELY. Boston College is ranked within the top twenty in rushing yards allowed, passing yards allowed, yards allowed per game, yards per play, and total yards. The most telling stat, Boston College leads the entire country in interceptions on the season (23), led by senior strong safety, Paul Anderson and of course, junior linebacker, Mark Herzlich, who have five a piece. For a Maryland offense that hasn't scored more than 17 points in a game since late October, led by a quarterback who has thrown nearly as many interceptions as he has touchdowns, the Terrapins should be careful coming up North.

4. If Maryland can run the ball, be afraid. Now that you know about the vaunted Eagle defense, let me introduce you to someone you may not know, Maryland's top rusher, Da'Rel Scott. Scott is the second leading rusher in the Atlantic Coast Conference. He's rushed for close to 1,000 yards, averages 18-20 carries a game at five yards a clip. Scott has gone over the century mark four times this season, including two of the last three games against conference rivals. In two of Boston College's three losses this season, they've lost after allowing opponents over 100 yards on the ground, including a 100+ yard game against Georgia Tech's Jonathan Dwyer, the ACC's leading rusher. However, more bad news for the Terrapins and Scott, in their last three road games, all conference showdowns, the Terrapins have had an anemic rushing attack. In a 23-13 loss against Virginia Tech in Blacksburgh, Scott ran the ball just 10 times for 11 yards. In a 31-0 loss to Virgnia on the road, Scott ran the ball, 11 carries for under 40 yards. Lastly, in a win over Clemson at Death Valley, Da'Rel averaged 1.7 yards a carry. If the 1-3 road Terrapins plan on blocking Boston College's second straight trip to the ACC title game, they better have some tricks up their sleeves.

The time is 3:30 Saturday afternoon, the place is Boston, Massachusetts. You know the story, you know what is at stake. Be there, because you know I will.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Gobble! Gobble! K.I.R.F.

Tip of the cap to the golfer J.P. Hayes, who recently disqualified himself from the PGA Tour due to an accident which happened while playing in a recent tournament. Hayes pulled out a ball from his golf bag which he couldn't use during the tournament and while he didn't get caught using it, Hayes stood up and excused himself after making the wrong play. He will not get a PGA tour card and unfortunately has to wait for sponsor exemption to play in 2009 PGA golf events. Over the last several days he's been commended for his ownership and ability to "do the right thing." HOWEVER, in the words of Chris Rock "I'm not giving you credit for sh*t you supposed to do." Maybe the rest of golfers on tour wouldn't have turned themselves in unless they were caught, maybe five out of ten people wouldn't return a lost wallet without taking the cash out first, and maybe you don't give extra change back when the cashier gives you more than they should, but your supposed to. I ask what in the world have we come to when we pat a guy on the back for doing things he should do, you should visit your grandmother in the hospital, you should not take an extra ten minutes on your lunch break, and of course, you should turn yourself in when you realize you've broken the rules, even if it is inadvertent. KEEP IT REAL FOLKS!

Biggest week in college and pro football yet.

Texas Tech and Oklahoma play in Norman this weekend and you don't get much bigger than that. Graham Harrell, Michael Crabtree, and Sam Bradford all look to add to their heisman resumes. If Tech wins they remain in the drivers seat for a shot at the National Title. If the Sooners win, the Big 12 South becomes utter chaos, riveting.

Boston College at Winston-Salem (Wake Forest) Don't laugh, the wild card in all this, one team from the ACC is guaranteed to play in a BCS bowl game. Following their win at Florida State the Eagles head to Wake Forest, a win at Wake puts them one game from a second straight appearance in the ACC Championship Game. You know I'll be watching.

New England on South Beach (Miami Dolphins) after stunning the Patriots earlier this season the Dolphins have improved to 6-4 and with a win this week, they would overtake them in the AFC East. The Patriots could be in first place by Sunday night, a win and a Jets loss puts them right back atop the division.

Favre and the Jets head to Tennessee I'm still not buying it Brett, I don't care that you eeked out a win in overtime against the Patriots after surrendering an 18 point lead earlier in the game. Tennessee is big and physical, by the way they haven't lost yet either. The Titans win this game, convincingly.

Sidenote: Woohoo, Adam Jones has been reinstated. Sense any sarcasm? I like Pacman as a player but as a person ehhhh NOT SO MUCH. He still has to sit out another two games and won't return till December, so as far as I'm concerned . . . . . . . MOVING ALONG. KEEP IT REAL!

More football on the slate. For those of you who've been living under a rock for the past four days, the Eagles and Bengals finished with a 13-13 tie on Sunday. This sparked Donovan McNabb, Philly quarterback, to inform us he had no idea you could even end the game in a tie. Really Donovan? Several things need to be addressed here. One, Andy Reid does a poor job of preparing this team to win football games. If you need two overtimes to put away a team like Cincinnati led by Ryan Fitzpatrick, you deserve to get a notch in the loss column. I guarantee the Broncos, Patriots, Colts, Giants, and Titans all are well aware that a game ends in a tie if you don't win it in the first overtime. Two, all this garbage about 50% of players in the league not knowing about this is straight BS. I heard that former, yes FORMER, Baltimore Ravens head coach, Brian Billick agreed that 50% of players probably didn't know the rule. This coming from a guy who continued to march Kyle Boeller out there at quarterback when he had a hall of fame defense on the other side of the ball. A guy whose team gave the Miami Dolphins, the dreadful Miami Dolphins their only win in their 1-15 season of 2007. So stop it, as my buddy Joe said, if he's saying 50% of players don't know that, I'm taking the over EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK. KEEP IT REAL!

Okay, so I'm sometimes a bit of a homer when it comes to things like this next one, but your just going to have to deal with it. I recently read a story that had Tony Romo purchasing a movie ticket for a homeless man sitting outside the theater. Earlier this season we all heard the story how Romo pulled over on the side of the road, after flying back to Dallas on a return flight from Cleveland, and assisting a stranded motorist in changing a tire on their disabled vehicle. After reading the story that put Romo in the movies watching a flick with this homeless man, I'm convinced, Tony Romo is still in awe of being in the NFL. I always wondered what it would be like for me, to be a professional athlete. I'd probably have a fans mentality and seek out autographs, get players cell phone numbers so we could party, and probably buy frivolous things with my money, it's just what I'd do. Romo however, is taking a different route. For the average guy, which was what Romo used to be when he was backing up the likes of Drew Bledsoe, he probably never thought he'd date country music stars and pop icons. Romo probably never imagined being able to attempt a side job as an amateur golfer. Finally, he probably never thought he'd have the type of bank account which he does. So everyday when we see Romo with Jessica Simpson and ask why? Keep in mind, she wouldn't be into any of us and for Romo who was so used to being the average guy, he probably thought the same thing, until she was. When you see a guy like Romo changing tires and helping the homeless see a new movie, I'm sure on some level Romo is still in shock that he's who he is, and does these things as thanks for who he has become. Ask yourself, have you ever pulled over and changed a tire for someone else? I haven't. KEEP IT REAL!

Shhh, don't look now but Trail Blazers rookie center, Greg Oden, is averaging 10 points and 8 boards a game. He isn't even 21 and he's got the one thing you can't teach . . . HEIGHT! Keep it Real!

Last item on the docket:

I can't stand Drew Rosenhaus, when I say can't stand I actually mean loathe. Of every person involved in any way with the NFL, Drew Rosenhaus is the person I dislike the most. I fortunately was able to get most of Thursday morning off from work, ten minutes before I headed to said job I was able to watch a 10-minute interview on ESPN with Mr. Rosenhaus, fun stuff. The purpose of Rosenhaus being interviewed was to give his and his client, Chad Johnson, view of what transpired to result in Johnson being deactivated for last nights game against the Steelers. Rosenhaus blabbed on about how Johnson will play hard the next five games, he's disappointed with his role in the offense, and he also told us that Chad HAD to play with a back up quarterback all season as well. I'd normally rear into Chad about how he annoys the sh*t out of me and I'm sure I wouldn't be the only one. Truth is, Chad needs someone to speak for him, because every time he speaks, nonsense comes out. Unfortunately for the world, Rosenhaus is his mouthpiece, as he was Terrell Owens' and every other football player making major dollars. I won't deny that Drew is great at his job, but does anyone else make you feel more dirty listening to them speak? He makes excuses for his players, commends their horrible behavior as role models and does nothing to have fans embrace those athletes. Rosenhaus is the most uber of agents, and athletes can't get enough of him. I on the other hand, have had enough of him. Please, stay out of the cameras and KEEP IT REAL!


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Six & Four Contenders

I don't know the exact number, but I can't imagine that there has ever been a time in the NFL where nearly 25% of the league has the same record and their still alive in the playoff race. Eight teams are 6-4, this is who the are and what the are:

Miami Do we need any further validation that Bill Parcells can turn a franchise around? The 2007 Miami Dolphins finished the regular season with one victory. The '08 version of the Dolphins are headed into week 12 and they have 600% more wins than they did just a year ago. Thanks to the late offseason addition of former Jet quarterback turned Jet castoff, Chad Pennington, the Dolphins are 6-4 and staring down the barrel of the New England Patriots. Despite their struggles against Oakland last weekend, the Dolphins have beaten the Pats in Foxboro, the Broncos in Denver, and sit 2-1 in their conference with (3) conference games remaining. Former first round draft pick, Ronnie Brown, is finally healthy and paired with Ricky Williams the duo has rushed for over 1,000 yards in their first ten games. 3rd year receiver Greg Camarillo and the darling of Columbus, Ohio, Ted Ginn, have combined for 87 receptions and 1,046 yards. Their defense led by NFL sacks leader (13.5) and resident big mouth, Joey Porter, allow just 313 ypg. That same defense allows the tenth fewest points per game in the league at 19.7, the same defense that dumped future Hall of Famer, Jason Taylor in the offseason. With a win against New England, the Dolphins would be sitting in line for a shot at the Wild Card.

Indianapolis "Just when I thought I was out, you pull me back in" When they were 1-2, they then proceeded to win two straight games and pull back to 3-2. The Colts would follow up their two wins with two more losses and again we would put the Colts on the brink. Peyton and Co. then ripped off three straight wins against New England, Pittsburgh, and Houston to improve to 6-4. To say they've been a roller coaster would be an understatement. However, if we've learned anything from Tony Dungy and Archie's son, they aren't out until their out. Their next four games are against four teams with losing records, including back-2-back games against Cincinnati and Detroit, who have a combined 1 victory. With Jacksonville and Tennessee in weeks 16 & 17, the Colts could still finish off 10-6 which would most likely be good enough for a playoff birth. So much for the Colts being over and out.

Baltimore I thought I knew something about the Ravens, then their top ranked rushing defense gave up 207 points to the Giants last Sunday. The rookie quarterback, Joe Flacco added two more interceptions to his total (9) and was sacked for the 18th time this season. On the other hand, since their three game slide in early October, this was their first slip up. The Ravens 3-1 record in their division keeps them alive in the playoff hunt. A divisional game in week 14 against the Steelers in Baltimore will most likely determine who wins the AFC North. Despite Flacco's recent play, his rookie season has got off to a great start. He's completed at least twelve passes in every start and hasn't thrown for less than 129 yards in any game. For a team who has struggled as bad offensively over the past several years as the Ravens have, Joe Flacco has been a welcomed addition. At 6-4, winning the division might be the only way the Ravens get in. Games against Philadelphia, Washington, Dallas, Jacksonville remaining don't give Ravens fans much promise.

Denver Question: How does a team that allows 143 yards rushing per game and boasts the 29th best defense in the entire league, have a 2-game lead in their division? Answer: Welcome to the AFC West. The Broncos got off to a great start winning four of their first five games. Then they got beat down by three probable playoff teams before eeking out wins in Cleveland and Atlanta. What do I think of the Broncos? No team, you got it, NO TEAM, with a defense this bad will win much more than a trip to the postseason, thats where it ends. Two things win Super Bowls, a solid defense and a quality running game. Their defense speaks for itself and their rushing attack has only had one hundred yard game this season. Fortunately for the Broncos, they have three divisional games remaining and two of them are at Mile High. Congrats, Norv Turner is coaching one of the most talented teams in the NFL (San Diego) and their in your division, and of course they were going to fall off a bit.

New England Perhaps I should tell you to go back to week 2 of the NFL season when I told you that the Patriots wouldn't trip up as bad as people thought. However, what I and the rest of you didn't see coming was Matt Cassel turning into a $40 million dollar free agent. The Patriots are without an injured all world quarterback, multiple talented running backs, a pro bowl safety and linebacker, and still their a game back in the division. They played about as bad a half of football a team can play last week and were down 24-6 before taking the Jets to overtime. They lost current Eagle cornerback, Asante Samuel to free agency and replaced him with ummmmmmm yea, exactly. Is it so crazy to think, that a year after storming through the NFL regular season with a 16-0 record, the Patriots are trying to prove that they can take everything away and still get to the dance? Returning to the backup quarterback, Matt Cassel, the guy has thrown only 7 interceptions in what should be considered as his rookie year. He is the only NFL quarterback in the history, let me repeat, in the HISTORY, of the NFL that has thrown for over 400 yards and ran for over 60 in one game. Not Steve Young, Mike Vick, or Randall Cunningham, only Matt Cassel. One concern, and I'll mention it because it will come into play, Cassel can't connect on the deep ball consistently. Other than that, this team will play their biggest game of the season this next week in Miami. A win in Miami coupled with the Jets eventual loss in Tennessee will put the Patriots back atop the AFC East.

Washington Their four game winning streak at the end of September seems a long ways away. They've dropped three of their last five games and if not for their wins against Cleveland and Detroit, they'd be hovering under .500. With the play of teams like Tampa Bay and Carolina it looks as if our previous forgone conclusion that three NFC East teams will go back to the playoffs may not be accurate, for Washington this is alarming. The Skins have an impact running back who needs to get healthy, his 1063 yards on the season is good for second among the NFL running backs. When healthy, Portis is one of the games best backs and has the ability to carry the this team toward the playoffs. First year head coach, Jim Zorn, has acclimated the young quarterback, Jason Campbell, to the West Coast offense. The 'Skins have 3 of their 6 remaining games against sub .500 opponents, but their real test will be in week 16 against Philadelphia, a must win.

Dallas A 3-0 start, all the talent in the world, and yet they sit at 6-4. Their pro bowl quarterback sat for a month with a broken finger, the entire secondary was decimated, and their rookie phenom Felix Jones had a partially torn hamstring. How did the Cowboys respond? By trading future draft picks for another malcontent receiver. Not a shocker however, this is the type of thing they do in Big D. When the Cowboys won in Washington this past weekend a couple of things were proven. For starters, they are going to become a running team whether they like it or not. The broken finger of Romo makes him limited, it's obvious, but that may be a better thing than we thought. Passes over the middle, draws, dump off passes into the flat, and yes the occasional haul over the middle for fifteen to twenty. Until he's 100%, this is what you get from Tony Romo. Secondly, Marion Barber is the key to this offense and I'm glad Jason Garett gets it now. The Cowboy running back is the most powerful rusher this side of Brandon Jacobs in the NFL. He finds the end zone, the first down, and the open space in the defense. The Cowboys got him out toward the sideline in the first half, tired the defense and then fed them often up the middle. Defenses fear Romo's mobility and therefore cannot throw eight players, with ears pinned back, in the box. There final four games of the season are against the Steelers, Giants, Ravens, and Eagles, no slouches, if your getting in, your going to have to earn it.


Atlanta Matt Ryan and Michal Turner, they are the corner pieces to this puzzle and the Falcons go as far as they go. They don't have an easy game left on their schedule till they get the Rams at home in the final week. Games @ San Diego, @ New Orleans, and @ Minnesota won't be easy for the Falcons and if their looking to get in the playoffs, they'll have to win at least one of those games. This is the readers digest version of Atlanta, they are very good at home 4-1, they've commanded games, they've won games down the stretch, and they've lost close games. This team can pretty much handle everything, and one would hope after living through everything this franchise has been over in recent history. The Falcons will go as far as Turner, Norwood, and the Falcon defense take them.

BAM! Keep It Real Friday 11/21

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

DP is The MVP

Hall of Famer, Cal Ripken Jr. and Phillies slugger, Ryan Howard, have some company. Before Tuesday, only The Ironman and Howard had followed up their rookie of the year honors with an MVP trophy the very next season. Today, Red Sox second baseman, Dustin Pedroia, became the third player in baseball history to achieve these honors.

I could tip my cap to Pedroia for playing in 157 games of a 162 game season, the most of any Red Sox in 2008. I could wax poetic about how very few second basemen in baseball history had the type of season Pedroia did. I could even go through every at bat Pedroia had while he was hitting clean up in the week following the departure of Manny Ramirez, possibly the only player under 5-9 to ever hit in the four spot. But you already know that. In my mind there are three(3) specific reasons, why in fact Dustin Pedroia is the newest Red Sox to win the American Leagues Most Valuable Player:

For years I've seen impact players like Anaheim Angel, Chone Figgins and current Arizona Diamondback, David Eckstein go overlooked. Sure, we give them their due when they drive in a run or steal a bag but these guys never put up the power numbers to award them an MVP trophy. We marvel at how small in stature they are while their play is much larger. In 2008, Dustin Pedroia became one of those guys who put the numbers up to capture that trophy. Pedroia weighs in at close to 180 pounds, and at times his swing looks as if it will pull his smaller frame right out of his cleats, but when he smashes homers (17) over Fenway Park's legendary Green Monster, no athlete is bigger. When Pedroia steals bases (20) to put him in position to score on a soft single to the outfield, can you argue his value? When Pedroia is not only willing but relishes batting anywhere from the top spot in the order to the bottom, can you argue his value? Pedroia is the type of player who can do anything, hit a homer in the clutch, steal a base, lay down a bunt, and his defense . . . I think the 2008 Gold Glove at second base speaks for itself. Like Figgins and Eckstein, Pedroia does the little things and finally a guy who does more than club dingers gets recognized.

After Pedroia and newcomer Jason Bay, name the Boston Red Sox player who is guaranteed he'll be at his position in 2009? Varitek may or may not be back with the Red Sox, Coco has already been sent packing, Mike Lowells career in Boston depends on the decisions of Mark Texiera which in turn will determine the position of Kevin Youkilis, (also an MVP candidate) Lowrie and Ellsbury need to start hitting to ensure their positions long term and J.D. Drew will most likely play no more than 82-100 games. Bay is going to be in a contract year, and Pedroia is the most dominant second baseman in the majors. Do you still want to talk value? As far as most valuable, the guy who hit a season average of .326 would be a good pick. During the major leagues most important months, June, July, and August, Pedroia hit an amazing .360 including August where the second baseman finished the month batting .374, any questions? In June the Red Sox play serious time with the absence of David Ortiz from the lineup, in July they went through another miserable stretch with Manny Ramirez, and in August they had new player Jason Bay getting acclimated to the lineup, Mike Lowell on the DL, and Jason Varitek in the midst of a woeful season long slump. It was Pedroia who carried the lineup, either getting on base or slapping in runs, Pedroia was THE solid, reliable bat, in the Red Sox order. No hitter on any team had more influence on the day-to-day success of their lineup as Pedroia did throughout the heart of the season.

Go ahead, call me a homer and say I have a short memory, but I can't recall a second baseman who is more sure handed than Dustin Pedroia. Among AL second baseman who are noteworthy to me, Pedroia is tops. His six errors in 157 games played are better than that of one time MVP candidate and Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler, who in 26 fewer games had 3x as many errors (18). Better than AL Rookie of the Year candidate and fellow second baseman, Alexei Ramirez who in 26 fewer games had nearly twice as many as errors as Pedroia. It's time we recognize these type of stats when we talk MVP seasons. Home runs and RBI's put runs on the board, but dives in the hole take runs right off that same board. His fielding is more than recognizable. Pedroia's raw intelligence as a baseball player coupled with the fact that his bat is bigger than you think and his glove is a huge asset to the Red Sox made him more valuable than nearly any player in baseball this season.

In just two complete seasons in the major leagues, Dustin Pedroia can now open a trophy case that includes (1) 2007 Rookie of The Year, (1) 2008 Gold Glove, (1) 2007World Series Ring, and (1) 2008 American League Most Valuable Player. Ladies and Gentlemen, it doesn't get much better than that. Next stop: Cooperstown?!?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Keep It Real Viernes

Lets get right to it.

Boston College has the nations premier Catholic college football program, and it's time you admit it. Since the departure of Brady Quinn, (not a Weis recruit) Notre Dame has looked as bad as one can look. Eight wins in twenty-one games for the post-Quinn Fighting Irish, rumors of Coach Weis' job being in jeopardy swirling throughout South Bend, and supposed sensational sophomore quarterback Jimmy Clausen, has thrown 13 interceptions on the season, things are THAT bad. The Irish are an astounding 1-15 in their last 16 games against winning teams. Their record of 27-19 during the Weis regime is awful, considering his first two seasons, with Ty Willingham recruits, the Irish were 19-6. After Notre Dame was handed their six straight loss against the Eagles, a 17-0 shutout at Chestnut Hill, it has never been more evident that bad times loom over the Golden Dome. With Boston College spending time in the top 5 as recently as 2007 and their recent dominance over Notre Dame, I'm confident in saying the nations premier Catholic college football program resides in Newton, Massachusetts. KEEP IT REAL!

The Lakers are straight up, FILTHY. Following their most recent 7-point win at Western Conference powerhouse, New Orleans, the Lakers improved to 7-0 and remain the NBA's only undefeated team. With Lamar Odom, Jordan Farmar, and Trevor Ariza, the Lakers boast the NBA's deepest bench. Luke Walton who averaged nearly 24 minutes a game in 2007 can barely make his way off the pine with a deeper healthier version of L.A. The most telling stat might be that of one Kobe Bryant, arguably the NBA's most dominant player, is on pace to average his fewest amount of minutes per game since his second year in the league and ppg is down on his career average, yet the Lakers still haven't lost. The addition of a healthy, 7 foot tall, 21 year-old center, Andrew Bynum, has given the Lakers the ability to move Pau Gasol to his natural position, where he's averaging 15 points and 10 boards a game. Lakers 2.0 have 8 of their 12 players averaging 20+ minutes per game and 5 players averaging 10 points or more per game. Their defensive efforts have yet to allow a 100 point game, including holding the Hornets and Rockets, two teams they'll surely see in the postseason, to under 90. In their second outing of the season, a 38-point win over the Clippers, Bryant led all Laker scoring with only 16 points. These Lakers are sharing the rock, playing defense, and taking prisoners. If you wanted a Lakers v. Celtics re-match, your on your way to it. KEEP IT REAL!

Buyer, beware of Matt Cassel. I like the fact that Matt Cassel threw the ball 51 times last night. I'm even impressed that he completed 30 passes for 400 yards, but I'm not ready to put him in Canton just yet. Call this your friday morning education; when a team is down 24-6 before halftime and has a list of injured running backs, you've got limited options. What I'm trying to say is, YOU'VE GOT NO OTHER CHOICE BUT TO THROW THE BALL! Cassel made some excellent throws, his confidence has never been higher, and I applaud the young quarterback for that. BUT, if your an NFL team looking for a quarterback in 2009 Matt Cassel might not be as much of a lock as you think. Belicheat is a Hall of Fame coach, he's punched his ticket after reaching four Super Bowls and winning three, the Patriot offense is littered with veterans like Matt Light, Randy Moss, and Wes Welker, and their running backs gain quality yards, all these things factor into a team being able to come back down 24-6. When Randy Moss positions himself correctly on the sideline and hauls in a great catch, that isn't just Matt Cassel. When the tackles force pass rushers outside and the wideouts stretch the field resulting in a 15 yard run toward a first down, that isn't just Cassel. When the head coach constructs an offense built around what the quarterback can do, that to isn't just Cassel. So, I'm putting it out there . . .do not give this young quarterback $40 MILLION dollars. (unless he wins the Super Bowl, because then you pay the man.) KEEP IT REAL

See you next week, the only site that KEEPS IT REAL!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

End of an era . . .

It's hard to argue with the recent success of Joe Dumars and the Detroit Pistons. Since the 2002-2003 season, the Pistons have reached at least the conference finals every year. Only the San Antonio Spurs have enjoyed that type of success reaching four conference finals over that same stretch.

How should we look at those Detroit Pistons? While the Spurs have gone to less conference finals, in the more competitive Western Conference, they've managed to take home three championship trophies. The Pistons on the other hand, are just 2-4 in six straight conference finals, and have managed to turn just one of their championship appearances into a title. Has this been a franchise of sheer dominance or circumstance?

To dissect the run of the Detroit Pistons the first thing one must look at is coaching. The NBA is a league comprised of the worlds most talented athletes, but without an effective coach, that is all they are.

SEE: Kevin Garnett & his playoff woes pre-Doc Rivers defense.

When it comes to the Pistons, they've had three different coaches lead them to the conference finals throughout this current six year run. Rick Carlisle, Larry Brown, and Flip Saunders were all able to take Detroit four wins from the finals. Now we can exclude the performance of Carlisle for several reasons; He never had the benefit of coaching a talent as unique as Rasheed Wallce, he also coached an offensively challenged team led by Ben Wallace, and finally the core of Prince, Rip, and Billups had just been formed that same season. The sweep by the veteran Nets, which dispatched them from the playoffs that season, should have been expected and was. Carlisle replacement, Larry Brown, was by far the most efficient Piston coach during these years. In Browns first season with the Pistons, embattled forward, Rasheed Wallace, was dealt to Detroit with 22 games remaining in the season. Just what the doctor ordered for this young team. The remainder of the '03-'04 season was led by the veteran Wallace and guard Chauncey Billups. Brown was able to guide the newly formed Pistons straight to the NBA Finals where they defeated the L.A. Lakers 4-1 and thus ended the Shaq & Kobe dynasty. The Pistons arrived at their banner ceremony wearing championship belts, not rings, belts. The NBA's baddest team would follow up their championship season by taking the San Antonio Spurs to seven games before losing in the finals. They didn't know it then but that'd be their last appearance in the NBA Finals as currently constructed. The departure of the hall of fame coach, Larry Brown, would open room for former Timberwolves coach, Flip Saunders. The thing we learned most from coach Saunders is, when the inmates run the asylum, it's good for no one. Over the next three seasons we watched the Pistons march toward the Eastern Conference finals each season, losing each time and twice to eventual NBA champions. Ben Wallace's defense had left for Chicago after the 2005 season, Larry Brown was coaching or what we thought was coaching the New York Knicks, and Rasheed was back to being well, Rasheed. The most success this Piston team had was under the coach who reigned them in best, Brown was that coach.

The next thing I'm pointing to is a more blatant mistake of Detroit. The second selection in the 2003 NBA draft. Coming off their first of six trips to the Eastern Conference Finals, the Pistons had the second overall pick in that summers draft. A draft headlined by the likes of Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade. James of course was consensus top pick among everyone in the entire world. But who would be the number two pick? Now I know what your about to say, they hadn't yet acquired Rasheed Wallace, BUT THAT DOESN'T MATTER!!!!!!!! I should tell you that they passed on Anthony, Bosh, and Wade to select Serbian, Darko Milicic. Yea, we didn't know Milicic would be TERRIBLE and we didn't know that Bosh, Wade, and Anthony would all go on to win gold medals in the Olympics. What did we know? We know that Dwayne Wade had been a standout at Marquette and taken his team all the way to the final four, the first time that school had reached that far in the tournament in over twenty years. We know that Chris Bosh played the same position as Darko yet we also knew he was the ACC freshman of the year, former high school player of the year, ACC all-defensive team, and second team all ACC, IN JUST ONE SEASON AT GEORGIA TECH. As for Carmelo, well he was coming off one of the greatest performances by any freshman in college basketball HISTORY! Carmelo had averaged 22 points and ten rebounds a game en route toward a Syracuse national championship that season. He was named NCAA Freshman of the Year, NCAA Tournament MVP, and selected to the second team All-American that same season. But Joe Dumars drafted the unproven, untested, and virtually UNKNOWN Darko Milicic. Any one of those three players could have changed the future of this franchise, it was this selection that Dumars missed on and could have altered everything.

Finally, the EAST just got better around Detroit. It was only a matter of time before the Western Conference dominance got a little less intimidating. Fortunately for Detroit, the last 8 seasons hadn't looked as good for the Eastern Conference, now they do. When the Cavaliers selected Lebron James, the writing should have been on the wall. That fatal draft sent Wade to the Heat, an Eastern Conference team, Bosh to the Raptors, an Eastern Conference team, and of course Bron Bron to the Cavs, an Eastern Conference team. A year later phenom Dwight Howard would be taken by the Orlando Magic with their first overall pick, yet again, an Eastern Conference team. After the departure of Larry Brown, newly appointed head coach, Flip Saunders would take Detroit to the conference finals. They first met a Miami team led by star guard Dwayne Wade and center, Shaquille O'Neal. The Pistons season would end at the hands of a guy they passed on just a couple years prior. The Heat acquired the veteran O'Neal, and off they went. The following season the Pistons would be met by James and the Cavs in the conference finals. James had developed into exactly what people claimed he would while the Pistons stood pat with their aging guard play and limited inside presence. Finally, what some could call the straw that broke the camels back, the Celtics went out and traded for all-world forward, Kevin Garnett. The Celtics went on to make quick work of Detroit in 2007 and finally it was more than evident. The Celtics had traded for Garnett, the James crew in Cleveland was more than a threat, and the Miami Heat were planning to reload through the draft. The Raptors traded for Jermaine O'Neal to pair with their other young big man, Chris Bosh and the Magic were getting better every season led by center Dwight Howard. The Eastern Conference no longer had two teams that could compete, they had a plethora of teams that could.

So here is the Pistons dynasty: 6 Conference Finals, 2 NBA Finals, and 1 Championship Trophy. Guard, Chauncey Billups, has been sent to Denver in exchange for the expiring contract of Allen Iverson. After six straight seasons of championship play while the rest of the conference was on the mat, the Pistons are finally reloading. Who knows what will replace a core that once produced 50-70 win seasons as if they were easy to accomplish. Then again these are the Pistons and they do have one of the most elite scorers of all time in Iverson, paired with Rasheed Wallace in a coming contract year, and the Rip/Prince show is still intact.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Final Verdict

It's unanimous, the Alabama Crimson Tide are national champions. Wait, they aren't? No, they aren't. The Tide has just successfully defended their top ranking this past week, something the Longhorns, Trojans, and Sooners all weren't capable off throughout this season. So after Nick Saban has led his team to a 10-0 start with road wins in Death Valley, between the Hedges at Athens, and in the Bayou against the Tigers, he's yet to capture anything. No postseason birth, no BCS bowl game, and certainly no championship trophy. Just a 10-0 record with their destiny entirely in their hands.

Now maybe I'm the only one who finds a problem with this, but after then Senator Obama and now President Elect Obama states on Monday Night Football that the thing he'd most like to see improved in sports is the way we determine a college football national championship, I'm guessing I'm not the only one. In fact, after last Tuesday night, I'm positive I'm not the only one.

Short list of whose out:

Boise State 9-0 Play somebody. Maybe it isn't your fault that teams won't schedule the dangerous Broncos of the blue field, but blow outs at New Mexico State and Utah State don't do much for me.

Detroit Lions 0-36 Sure, it'd be funny to see an NFL team get taken to the wire against a major top flight collegiate program, but it wouldn't be good for anyone. Especially the Lions.

Ohio State 8-2 It'd probably be different if you played USC again, but they'd probably be ranked #1 if they got another crack at Oregon State. I still don't know how the Big 10 has two top ten ranked teams.

Missouri 8-2 I find it very wrong that they will play for the Big 12 Championship, I'm guessing the Red Raiders, Sooners, or Longhorns will eventually have a problem with it as well.

Ball State 9-0 Your not convincing anyone with Miami of Ohio, Central Michigan, and Western Michigan rounding out your schedule. 12-0 and a first class ticket to the CarQuest Bowl.

The Team I'm Dying To Let In: To My Make Believe Tournament

Florida State 7-2 You wouldn't want to witness Bowden v. Paterno in Round 1? FSU has easily been the most consistent of the ACC Atlantic Division teams at 7-2 and if not for a late win by Georgia Tech in week 8, their 8-1 and ranked among the top 15 in the country. Florida State is my personal message to Urban Meyer, don't sleep on the 'Noles.

Whose In:

8. Utah Utes 10-0 I'm accepting offers for this final slot in the tournament. The Utes get in on record alone, they've got ten wins including the recent comeback victory against the Horned Frogs of Texas Christian. They've beaten Oregon State, won at Michigan, and will play BYU in their season finale. Sorry, I can't even include that win against Michigan, even the Irish handled them. Utah is the lone team from the Mountain West getting any respect from me, and if they lose to BYU, none of them are in. JUST SO WE CAN BE CLEAR.

7. Penn State Nittany Lions 9-1 The world just isn't fair. Destined to be left out of the national championship game, despite an undefeated record, that is until the Iowa Hawkeyes decided to set the BCS back on it's axis. The Nittany Lions beat their conference rivals on the road, (Ohio State in Columbus) handled the same Oregon State team that knocked off the Trojans, and of course beat the Badger out of Wisconsin in Madison. The downfall is, they don't play a conference championship game, oh and their conference is soft. However, a mobile quarterback with a strong arm in tournament play spells danger for slower defenses.

6. Oklahoma Sooners 9-1 They had their shot to take this thing by the proverbial balls. A one and done shot at the Texas Longhorns on a neutral site, the Cotton Bowl, and they blew it. Big Game Bob Stoops did what Big Game Bob Stoops does, choke. Lucky for him, this is America and if they take care of business against Texas Tech in week 11, they'll play themselves right back into national title contention. A playoff would tell us how good the Sooners really are.

5. Texas Longhorns 9-1 Trust me, I get that your still alive and I get that the BCS loves you, but I need you to show me more. I want to see Tech v. Missouri more than I want to see Texas v. Missouri in the Big 12 championship, primarily because they beat you and you shouldn't have let that happen just because it was on the road. 'Bama took care of foes LSU and Georgia on the road, and that's what makes me believe in them more. (disclaimer: I secretly need them to win out along with Tech to emphasize the need for a tournament like this.)

4. Southern California Trojans 8-1 This defense allows just six points per game and since their shocking upset loss to Oregon State, they've outscored six opponents 231-23. A hiccup in Oregon puts them out of reach in the current format but in a 8-team playoff, SC would really be tested. This defense putting pressure on the likes of Colt McCoy, Graham Harrell, and John Parker Wilson, anyone else think they aren't qualified enough? About that 27-21 loss to Oregon State; the points the Beavers scored in that game account for nearly half of the point total the Trojan defense has allowed ALL SEASON LONG. Look out Notre Dame, look out.

3. Florida Gators 8-1 Their one loss makes them the best of the one loss teams in Division 1A college football. The Gators led by Tim Tebow are the class of the SEC, they beat LSU when the Tigers were ranked as high as #4, 51-21. Two weeks later they arrived in Athens, Georgia before quickly dispatching the Bulldogs, 49-10. Their loss comes on a missed extra point against 'Ole Miss back in week 4. However, out of the woods they aren't. Florida has remaining games against South Carolina, which has always proved to be difficult for Meyer and the Gators, and of course Bobby Bowden and the Seminoles, followed by Alabama for the SEC title. If we had a playoff, this team would be in, since we don't there is a very good chance they could be out all together.

2. Alabama Crimson Tide 10-0 I'm not ranking them #1, and I'll tell you why in a second. The Crimson Tide have possibly the three biggest road wins in big time college football, in Death Valley to open the season against a Clemson team that had more hype than any ACC speed program, at Georgia when the 'Dawgs were ranked 3 in the country, finally the most recent victory in the Bayou against an LSU team with a hundred thousand screaming fans after Nick Saban's head. Any questions? This team is on a crash course with Florida to determine who is playing for the crystal football. A game for the ages.

1. Texas Tech Red Raiders 10-0 If a playoff started today I'd make this team the top seed for one simple reason. THEY BEAT THE NUMBER 1 TEAM IN THE COUNTRY ALREADY. That isn't to say that 'Bama wouldn't have taken it to Texas but they didn't get a chance and when the Red Raiders did, they won. Harrell and Co. followed it up with a convincing victory over a one loss top ten ranked team in Oklahoma State. Bottom line is, if Tech wins out they deserve a title shot, this isn't Boise State or Utah who plays in lesser conferences, the Red Raiders play in the Big 12.

Who doesn't want to see an 8-team playoff or some form of it? I've outlined who would make up a tremendous postseason in college football and it's difficult to argue with. Three teams from the Big 12, two from the SEC, Trojans, Nittany Lions, and your darling story in Utah. Again, I can't stress how exciting this would be.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Keep It Real Friday: Pres. 44

Some NBA Love.

Every year we discuss THAT team. The team that everyone thinks will be the NBA's darlings, the team that will run all the way to the title and be the underdog story the entire way. The truth is, that team doesn't exist, and rarely do they ever exist. Since the 1989-1990 season, won by the Detroit Pistons, only seven different cities have had championship parades. 19 NBA Finals since 1990, and only seven different winners? So when it comes to the young Atlanta Hawks, led by Joe Johnson throwing down 28 a night and the veteran Mike Bibby averaging 13 points and 4 assist per game, the regular season will be kind to them; not the postseason. When we talk about the upstart Trailblazers and their often injured center; no chance, not yet. The Pistons are in the midst of both hacking up cap space and guaranteeing they won't go further than the Eastern Conference Finals, hats off. The Rockets have a big 1 and 1/2, McGrady is silly puddy in the playoffs, Artest is one middle finger to a rabid fan away from being suspended, and Yao is as soft as two-ply toilet paper. Finally, for you Jazz fans out there, it's nice to see you've replaced the Suns and Mavs as best teams to never win more than a scratch ticket. Bottom line, only five teams in the NBA have a shot at winning the championship:

Disclaimer: (We now have to stop calling it the world championship because as Spurs coach, and 4-time NBA champ Gregg Popovich, said "at no point in the postseason do we play Italy" well put Pop, well put.)

Boston Celtics i.e. the defending champs. They don't show the championship hangover that most teams do the year after. Pierce came back to Boston lighter, Leon Powe and Tony Allen have looked better, and Kevin Garnett could get amped for a Saturday morning rec league, nevermind the actual NBA regular season.

Cleveland Cavaliers Bron, Bron is back in 2009, and believe it or not, he looks better. Maybe it has something to do with the new gold medal wrapped around his neck, but I'm guessing he's playing for that monster, and when I say monster, I mean MONSTER contract he'll get when he moves to Brooklyn in 2010.

San Antonio Spurs Older, slower, and more injured than they've ever been, the Spurs still went deep in 2008. Popovich is a future hall of fame coach, Duncan is still tops in the NBA among big men, and with Tony Parker becoming the scorer that he has, the Spurs are still a contender, every year, no matter what.

Los Angeles Lakers Bynum is healthy, Odom is coming off the pine, and as expected the Lakers look as good as we thought they would. I remember when the Lakers were offering Kobe to the Bulls in exchange for Ben Gordon and Luol Deng, I'm guessing Deng, Gordon, and Bynum wouldn't have been as formidable, just a guess though.

New Orleans Hornets This team is pretty damn good. Their well coached, level headed, and have the best point guard in the league, hands down. Chandler is their resident 20/10 guy, you know about Chris Paul, and David West is their banger who scores 20 a night. They have sharp shooters in Peja and Posey. While the Lakers and Spurs have won multiple, the Cavs have Lebron, and the Celts are coming off their first in a while, New Orleans may be the most viable city to join those other 7 cities to host parades in June. (and not that parade where co-eds flash you for beaded necklaces) KEEP IT REAL!!?!?!?!!?

Why everyday should be Saturday!

LSU v. Alabama A friend of mine, whose a rabid Tide fan (not the laundry detergent) quoted "If Saban is outside in Baton Rogue, don't worry about Obama's life, worry about his." Clearly football fans of the SEC aren't playing with a full deck, but the University of Alabama is. They've received a gift wrapped shot at the national title. They control their own destiny from here on out, win out and your in. Several things are possible here, Nick Saban becomes one of very few coaches to win a National Title at two different schools, the Crimson Tide cement themselves back into prominence among college football programs, and of course LSU fans dive off a cliff. Truth is, if not for Nick Saban, we aren't talking about Les Miles being a National Championship coach, if not for Nick Saban, LSU fans aren't cheering about much more than a calm hurricane season. Saban brought that program into national prominence, and now he's returning 'Bama to that same stage. KEEP IT REAL LSU!! Nick Saban is back in your lives, not in a good way.

A little baseball hot stove:

On people being interested in Jake Peavy, I'm interested in Beyonce, it doesn't mean I have a shot. The Braves (who couldn't afford Texiera), the Cubs, who are again grasping at straws, and of course every American League team offering way to little to get the Padres to bite. You know who really should be interested in Peavy? THE PADRES! Their season ticket holders pay excellent money I'm sure, and their offseason hype will be based around the three average big leaguers they get in return for their ace. The Dodger fan base look toward Manny, Red Sox toward the shortstop du jour, the Yankee fans toward their new digs, Phillies toward banner raising, and San Diego to a bunch of hyped up youngings. Sounds fun right? WRONG! Keep It Real!

So your Frank McCourt, and your about to make Manny Ramirez the second highest paid player in the game of baseball. I'm glad, because I for one, didn't want to see him in a Yankee uniform. The terms of the deal are something like this; Manny gets something close to $25 million per and an option for a third year, the Dodgers fans get to see one of the greatest sluggers for a couple seasons after watching their seat prices get jacked up, Frank McCourt's team becomes the Yankees West Coast, and in exchange for all that, The Devil gets the soul of Scott Boras. On the flip side, the entire world forgets that Cole Hamels arm just got done winning the Phillies a World Series, kind of like how the Red Sox rode the arm of ace, Josh Beckett to the Series in '07. When will baseball owners realize that an offensive arsenal gets you in the post season, AN ACE WINS YOU A RING! I say politely, KEEP IT REAL FRANK, paying C.C. would have been the wiser choice.

As for Red Sox hot stove: Insert a player, team, and import from a foreign land, then say the Red Sox are one of the six teams interested. In Theo I Trust.

A sad story: My main man Ryan Leaf has just left his job at West Texas A & M as quarterbacks coach. Amongst allegations that Leaf had approached a player on the team about possibly getting him pills to heal a lingering injury from his football days. I'm really not being a wise ass on this one but . . . . he's Ryan Leaf, I mean shouldn't West Texas A & M have seen this one coming? Sure people change, yes they might mature, and of course he isn't on Pacman level but he does have a bit of a checkered past. I do wish Leaf the best in his future, I'm just not sure that West Texas A & M did a whole lot of homework bringing Leaf on board. To think, Peyton is headed to the hall and Leaf is headed to the unemployment line, of life. A real life tale of two.

Remember kids, ALWAYS KEEP IT REAL!