Tuesday Morning QB

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know it’s Wednesday. Sue me. I didn’t get it out yesterday. But it’s here today, after the opening weekend of real football.

College football started last Thursday with a bang, leading into 5 glorious days of the sport we all love.  Opening up was a conference game involving SEC teams South Carolina and Vanderbilt. On the surface this is not something to get too excited about.  But what a game it was to start out the season with. South Carolina has aspirations of SEC glory this year with the return of Heisman Trophy candidate Marcus Lattimore from a serious knee injury which ended his 2011 campaign.  He had a little rust to knock off, fumbling on his first carry, but came back strong with a solid outing with over a 100 yards and 2 TD’s. With the help of tough QB Connor Shaw, who himself hurt his shoulder during the course of the game, they staved off upset to the upstart Commodores from Vanderbilt, 17-13.

New Washington State coach Mike Leach

Thursday also brought back the return of the pirate, embattled coach Mike Leach who opened up his tenure at Washington State. It was great to see him back on the sidelines, even if his team was disappointing, failing to score a TD for only the 3rd time in Leach’s ten year head coaching career.  BYU knocked off the pirate 30-6.

On to Friday night and the marquee matchup between two top 25 teams Michigan State and Boise State.  Although MSU took control of this game, 17-13, it was a slug fest through out and MSU TB Le’Veon Bell running wild on the Broncos D.  But I give so much credit to Boise State, they go into someone elses back yard to start the season every damn year, and usually win! And not just anyone’s backyard, perennial powers such as Georgia, Virginia State, and now Michigan State.  They are a young team, replacing the winnigest QB in NCAA history in Kellen Moore, they will be back, but this year at least we can stop the mid major in the title game talk early.

Michigan State RB Le’Veon Bell

Saturday started off with the earliest start time I can ever remember with Notre Dame taking on Navy in Dublin Ireland. A 7 am kickoff, central time, is awful early to start drinking and tailgating, but I know some of you did! You know who you are.  I actually missed the first half of this game, sleep is important to me, but caught the second half when ND already had control of this game leading to a 50-10 blowout for the Fighting Irish.  But this only led to a full slate of games, not all good. This weekend was peppered with blowouts, stinkers, but like all college football weekends, plenty of upsets and near upsets. Like Pitt losing to FCS school Youngstown State on the debut of their new coaching staff.  And Houston welcomed newly appointed FBS school Texas State by promplty laying down for dead. The Cougars are in a decent mid major conference in Conference USA, Texas State? Haven’t a clue.  Then we get to the sad affairs in Happy Valley, which hasn’t been such a happy place much since it was deemed the child molestation capital of the country, at least the football country, thanks to Jerry Sandusky.  Penn State hoped to forget the ugly past, and start a new with a new regime, headed up by first year head coach Tom O’Brien.   But the good feelings didn’t last long with the upstart Ohio Bobcats rolling into Beaver Stadium ruining things for the Nittany Lions, 24-14.

Beaver Stadium, University Park, PA

This leads us to the big matchup of the weekend. Alabama met Michigan in the annual JerryWorld bowl in Dallas.  Michigan is supposed to be back, they weren’t. There were questions whether Alabama could reload coming off their BCS Championship in 2011, they could. They dominated from the start, racing to score after score on the Wolverine defense.  They dominated enough to jump back into the top spot in the AP poll. And Michigan.. well, they looked like Michigan of recent years, just not very good.

That leaves us with the local boys, OU, OSU and TU. OSU played a glorified High School team, so they really don’t even get a mention here. Damn, Union or Jenks could have beat Savannah State handily as OSU rolled to the tune of 84-0.

TU traveled to Ames, Iowa to take on the Cyclones of Iowa State, a decent Big 12 team as of late. TU was actually favored, which I didn’t quite understand, and I would be correct because ISU was too much for the Golden Hurricane, finishing the Conference USA favorite 38-23.

Now to OU. Not a lot to say. They won. That’s the only good thing that came out of this matchup with UTEP in El Paso, Texas. But they won ugly, very ugly, only leading 10-7 in the 4th quarter before finishing off the Miners late 24-7.  The defense did pitch a shutout, the only UTEP score coming on a blocked punt early in the game. The offense was hit and miss.. and that is saying something. Landry Jones looked much improved moving out of the pocket, but his happy feet were still prevelant through out much of the game behind a revamped and inexperienced offensive line. They say the most improvement comes between week 1 and 2, for me and other Sooner fans let’s hope that is the case.

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Thunder Up In A Big League City!

Is OKC a big league city now? It appears they are. Going to the NBA Finals will do that for you. For a franchise that just four years ago won only 23 games, this is a huge turn around. Did I say huge? Monumental is probably more appropriate.  It wasn’t over night, the Thunder improved each and every year. But a bunch of pundits and so called experts, ridiculed the Thunder management when Clay Bennett moved the fledgling franchise from Seattle to Oklahoma City. Even some of the players, looking at you Nick Collison, expressed their doubt of moving to a fly over state where college football is king. But for those of you lucky enough to be able to put your fanny in a seat at Chesapeake Energy Arena, you have witnessed first hand one of the loudest, rocking atmospheres in all of the Association.

Kevin Durant holding the Western Conference Championship trophy

Everyone in the whole state has been united behind the team. Whether you bleed crimson, orange or even blue and gold. And the players now recognize that as well. One reason Kevin Durant quietly signed his extension last year, in essence marrying him to OKC for the long term.

And now who is next? Miami or Boston? Teams that reside in legitimately big league cities. Well now it’s time to prove they belong. To prove they are not only a big league city, but a big league state.

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Sooner Gymnastics looking good!

British Sooner

The #5 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide Gymnastics rolled into Norman undefeated and they weren’t looking to go home any other way as Defending National Champions. They were also coming back to “right the wrongs” of the last visit to Norman, when the then #1 Bama lost to the Sooners. The Sooners were coming off a season high score at home and on an emotional Senior Night, it was always going to be a fight to the final rotation where one mistake could be the difference. When Bama comes to town, no matter what the sport, you need you A game!

“Alabama is an amazing program. If you want to qualify for the Super Six and contend for a national championship you have to go through Alabama. Sarah (Patterson) has produced one of the best programs year-after-year in the country. They are truly a dynasty. I’m just very proud that our athletes fought hard…

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Bounties? Part Of The Game?

I am very torn on this subject. As it was revealed this week that the New Orleans Saints are guilty of having a bounty system to knock opposing players out of the game. Most notoriously apparently targeting Brett Favre and Kurt Warner during their 2010 Super Bowl run.  The master mind? Defensive Co-ordinator Gregg Williams, who is now the DC of the St Louis Rams. Is this really surprising to anyone?  Not to me. It’s been part of the game for as long as the league has existed probably. But now it has come to the surface. And in a big way.

Then New Orleans DC Gregg Williams

Gregg Williams has already issued an apology with this statement. “I want to express my sincere regret and apology to the NFL, Mr. Benson, and the New Orleans Saints fans for my participation in the ‘pay for performance’ program while I was with the Saints,” Williams said in a statement released by the Rams.  “It was a terrible mistake, and we knew it was wrong while we were doing it. Instead of getting caught up in it, I should have stopped it. I take full responsibility for my role. I am truly sorry. I have learned a hard lesson and I guarantee that I will never participate in or allow this kind of activity to happen again.”  I guess that is an admission of guilt. But why are we singling out the Saints, when everyone is taking part in this. And I have read a couple of articles where the players are getting a pass, and Williams and the Saints organization as a whole are the only villains here. But contrary to what Mike Judge wrote about here, the players have to be culpable, they were the ones laying the hits. 

But then, I have to play devil’s advocate. It IS a violent game. It is dangerous. You are out to inflict a hurt on the opposition. Especially the QB. If they needed incentive to go out there and try to give their team the best chance to win, what is wrong with that, especially in the scope that is the NFL. They know the dangers, they know the risk, and are compensated handsomely. Now, I would never support the practice of late hits, hits on unsuspecting, defenseless players. Never. But is this what it is about? On second thought, that is exactly what this is about. Players are constantly complaining about the commissioners office being hypocrites about player safety, especially in regards to concussions. But who is really the hypocrite as this comes to light? Squarely on the players I think. As Mike Freeman of CBS Sports writes here, and I agree with him. The players should know better, and should be in a position to protect their fellow combatants who have families to support, who are making a living at this violent sport. Aren’t they all part of the same union? Then bounties have to go, and hopefully this is the first step to make it not part of the game.

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Durant For MVP?

Why not? Why is he not getting more play? After winning MVP of the All-Star game I really thought this talk would heat up. Kevin Durant  is arguably the best scorer in the Association right now. Who else, besides maybe Kobe, would you want to have the ball in the final minutes. He has  what Skip Bayless calls clutch gene. Look at last night. The Thunder looked lethargic, slow, just going through the motions for three quarters. Then the final quarter arrives, the Thunder down 11 to start and before you know  it Durant single handily brought his team back scoring 18 points for a 105-102 win on the road. How can you argue with that? He repeatedly does that game in game out. The Thunder also have the best record in the league, although by a slim margin.

All-Star MVP Kevin Durant

I don’t see how they don’t cruise through the Western Conference in a head on collision with either the Miami Heat or Chicago Bulls in the finals. And my money would be on the Heat not the Bulls With the Heat imploding to the young Thunder again. And KD should be the front runner for MVP. You can argue for Lebron James, but he is surrounded by another super star in Dwayne Wade. Although Russell Westbrook is no bum. But he is not a top five player like Wade is. We will see how it plays out, but I think Durant will push people to talk about him more and more in the second half of this shortened season.

 

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It’s A Play-In, Not A Playoff

Major League Baseball is set to agree today to expand it’s playoffs starting as early as 2012.  They are going to add 2 teams, one from each league giving each league 5 teams.  But they aren’t going to add a playoff series, but instead a one game playoff game.  Is this what we want? I think so. How many times have there been one game to decide who gets in? How exciting have those games been? I always tune in. There is something about a one or done situation to get the competitive juices flowing. As a baseball fan I can’t wait for this. I love those end of the season games when they do happen, and now we are guaranteed of this situation every single year! Who wouldn’t like that?

Yankees celebrate their 2010 World Series

Now I know there are purist out there, and I have read some of them today, that claim this is just leading to more dismantling of the tradition of baseball.  And I understand their complaint to some degree. Baseball is the most tradition rich sport in existence. They claim that changes like interleague play, the AL DH, to name a couple are ruining baseball.  I am still not sold on interleague, but I do think it is somewhat good for the fans.. well some match ups. It’s always great to see Yanks – Mets in the regular season, or Red Sox- Reds, national rivalries. Or even regional ones like say Royals- Cardinals.  But other match ups, and there has to be others, you can’t just play the big name series’ with the most to gain, like Mariners- Marlins. Who cares to see that?  So you have to take the bad with the good. Like with everything in sports and life.

But I don’t see how you can lose with a winner take all one game playoff.  The excitement will be off the chart every year. And with that, I am IN.

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