Wednesday, December 4, 2013


                                         BigPLAy's GSPN HEISMANOLOGY!
Where we take Heisman logic and speculate on who should win the Heisman trophy! Yes, the time of year is finally here! What is the Heisman trophy? Only possibly the most prestigious award in all of sports. The Heisman could be the most respected award an athlete can receive; it has a strong tradition and recognizes college football's best player for a season. It has also historically factored in the team record of that player as well as individual statistics. But what separates this award from many is that it really focuses in on the character and integrity of the player it is voting for as well. How is all of this factored into one award? Here is how: This award that has been around since 1935 has a very unique voting process: the votes are made up by ESPN fan voting (1), unbiased sports journalists/media from each region (870) and finally, previous Heisman winners (57). Although the vast majority of the votes come from the media, a good number of them come from previous winners, who theoretically would like to keep this fraternity elite.
What compelled me to write this entry is all of what I mentioned above; this award should go to a person taking all of this above into consideration. We all hear about Jameis Winston, Johnny Manziel, Marcus Mariota, AJ McCarron, but if you discuss the Heisman Race you MUST mention another name: JORDAN LYNCH. The fact that this kid is not being mentioned with the Heisman elite is HEISMAN CRIMINOLOGY! Jordan Lynch is the 2-year starting quarterback for Northern Illinois. Lynch finished 7th in last year’s Heisman voting and himself along with his team are having a better season currently. Now while usually it would be understandable for a player from a lesser known school not to get the attention of the masses, it baffles me how this kid hasn't, considering: 1. They only had 1 loss last year (Big 10 Iowa) before losing to a very good FSU squad in the ORANGE BOWL, 2. They are undefeated and ranked 14th this season, 3. NIU is going on their 4th game this season this week on national primetime ESPN as the only CFB game on tv at that time. I will focus in on Jordan further as we break down the key factors in Heisman voting:
1. TEAM SUCCESS: Yes NIU is not a big BCS conf school (MAC conference), but they DID play in the BCS Orange Bowl last year and are undefeated this season. Other key wins under Lynch: beat Big10's Iowa (8-4) along with Purdue by 30 and have swept through their schedule. He has only lost 2 games as a full time season starter (FSU).
This is where Lynch will get snubbed and somewhat understandably so. It’s not like he plays for a .500 MAC team; they are undefeated, but when going up against undefeated FSU and 1 loss SEC teams he would not have the edge here. The fact of the matter is in the past 40 years only 1 player has won the Heisman without being from a huge program: Ty Detmer, but at the same time, that set the precedent. BYU was 10-3 that season and finished 22nd in the WAC. Basically he won this award off of the strength of his individual dominance (which Lynch has + inferior team accolades), so it can be done! (EDGE: WINSTON)

2. INDIVIDUAL SUCCESS: This is where Jordan Lynch could win the Heisman Trophy. His stats career wise for a full-time 2 year starter are mind boggling, but let's for the purposes of the Heisman obviously focus on this season: 2457 passing, 22 td, 5 int, 1755 rushing (rushed for 1800 his junior season), 20 td. Some previous dual-threat QBs who won the Heisman? Tim Tebow (3286 passing, 32 td, 6 int, 895 rushing, 23 td), Cam Newton (2854 passing, 30 td, 7 int, 1473 rushing, 20 td), RG3 (4293, 37 td, 6 int, 699 yds, 10 td), Johnny Manziel (3706, 26 td, 9 int, 1410 yds, 21 td). All of these guys except for RG3 are part of the prestigious 20 and 20 club (td/rtd), and all won Heismans.
So as you can see, his numbers rival if not surpass those of previous Heisman winners WITH TWO GAMES LEFT. He could end up eclipsing 2000 yds for the season. He has TWICE broken the NCAA record for QB rushing yards in a game, most recently with 321 yds. He is only the fifth NCAA player ever to pass for 5,000 yards and run for 4,000 yards in a career.
In terms of this season's candidates, none of them are remotely close to Jordan in terms of this season’s individual production. What's laughable is that I have even heard some media mention Boston College's Andre Williams for the award because of individual production because of his 2100 yards and 17 tds, when Jordan has more rushing tds, almost the same # of yards, a better team record and oh yeah he plays QB and passes the rock too. This is where he could steal the show. (EDGE: LYNCH)
3. CHARACTER/INTEGRITY: The final piece of the puzzle, as the trophy ‘‘recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence and integrity." This matters more than what you would think in terms of this award. I do not know any voters personally, but the only one I have seen on ESPN (Robert Smith) said he would not vote for anyone who would compromise the integrity of the award. These voters would like to keep this award as prestigious as possible in all aspects. So if we look at the candidates, 2 very strong ones may be eliminated because of this: Johnny Manziel and Jameis Winston. Manziel was under scrutiny the entire offseason for allegedly taking money for autographs as well as for being an all around attention seeking trouble starter. Winston is dealing with sexual assault charges as we speak that have not been resolved and may not be before the ceremony. Although Manziel's case to win the Heisman is not very strong with his on the field play, this may eliminate possibly the best candidate, Winston. Worst case would be the charges are not cleared and Winston wins the Heisman, later to be found guilty of sexual assault. Trust, the voters WILL NOT LET THIS HAPPEN. This leaves 2 squeaky clean program leaders and generals: AJ McCarron and Jordan Lynch. Flip a coin on this one; both of these exhibit the level of integrity Heisman voters look for. (EDGE: LYNCH/MCCARRON).
IF you eliminate Winston from the running for off the field troubles, Jordan Lynch stands just as good a shot as anyone to win this award (if all charges are dropped then yes Winston should win it). Yes McCarron does have a strong case, but this kid is surrounded with NFL starters, has 1 loss (although vs. a very tougher strength of schedule yes) and is not in the hemisphere individual stat wise. Yes, it is very possible that NIU's strength of schedule could keep him out of it, but when they are playing and beating Big10 teams, we cannot act like they are playing Sisters of the Poor out there. Let's keep in mind they beat Iowa, Iowa lost to Ohio State by only 10, beat Michigan, Nebraska and Northwestern. They did belong on the field with FSU, and will probably be in another BCS bowl this year. The race is wide open this season anybody can win it, but the next time you have a discussion about who should win the Heisman Trophy, Jordan Lynch DESERVES to be included and he definitely deserves to be in attendance at the Heisman ceremony.

Friday, February 22, 2013

NFL Combine Weekend: Must NOT see TV

Ahmad Carroll......Aaron Curry..........Darrius Heyward-Bey.........Matt Jones......Charles Rogers.........Mike Mamula........Chad Jackson

Do these names ring a bell? I thought not. But, in the past come February these names, and many more, have rang bells for the wrong reasons. The root of these reasons is THE NFL COMBINE. What is the NFL Combine? Basically, it is a hypecenter if used incorrectly, a place where NFL prospects can gain/lose draft status and money justifiably/unjustifiably. The names above fall under the unjustifiable category. Here is your backdrop on the NFL scouting combine:

The NFLSC started in 1985. There was once a time when NFL teams/scouts had to work all draft prospects out individually to test their TRUE height/weight/speed/injury status/health/athleticism/football IQ, inviting 1 prospect at a time; but in 1985 this all changed. The NFL Scouting Combine gave NFL teams a centralized location and event to assess all of the draft factors above. Since 1987, this meat market has been held in Indianapolis, and due the the recent popularity of offseason NFL activity, has become a televised event.

What are the events and tests at the combine?

The prospects are run through a gauntlet of tests and drills for a weekend. You have your physicals (tests health/injury status), private interviews (teams get 15 minutes to interview a select group of 60 draft prospects up close and personal), drug screening tests, Wonderlic tests (the most bullshit "intelligence" test known to man), the benchpress test, position specific drills, official weigh in, the 40 yard dash...etc. etc....... etc.....The Wonderlic isn't worth the paper its written upon, it is a basic IQ test for NFL athletes that has no carry over to football intelligence. I feel the interviews and physicals are justifiable tests, and the rest are a waste of time for all involved.
This sounds like it makes SOME sense, what is wrong with the scouting combine?

I have no problem with the NFL Scouting Combine being held, what I have a problem with are: the scouting "gurus"/clueless and lost NFL teams that put give ENTIRELY too much merit to this event. I have watched this event foolishly for the past 3 years on NFL Network, I have held on to every 10th of a second and measurement. However, I have come to realize the substance of this event lies clearly in the personal interviews and physicals, which by the way are not on TV.

The NCAA (and NFL) have mandated NCAA FB athletes attend school for a minimum of 3 years before entering the NFL draft; this tells us that the BARE MINIMUM years of film scouts have to watch on a prospect is 2 years (at minimum 24 games). Also take into account, NFL regional scouts visit almost every school 1-4 times throughout a season to get an up front and personal view of prospects during practice and/or at an actual game. The reality is the majority of NFL prospects play football for 4 years, that is a minimum 48 games; if you do the math a scout has seen that player in practice 4-16 times by that point. Why is speed important in football? NFL scouts want to see if you can play fast and run by the defense.....or cover, etc. Think if these prospects have given NFL scouts 48 chances to asses this, and the scouts want further proof?

We also must discuss with the increase in the importance of the combine, the increase in the demand for NFL combine training facilities. You are talking to someone who has trained at one: Velocity Performance in Denver Colorado. For 2 months I did nothing but train for drills that do not carry over to the game of football, I earned what I like to call "manufactured speed".  Manufactured speed is fake, it is learning the techniques and intricacies of a specific drill (40/cone drill) to perform well at it. I can tell you 1st hand that if Patrick Willis was chasing me the last thing I would think about would be "staying low and pumping your arms", football is a reactionary sport and trained drills with canned muscle response can only go so far IMO. Congratulations "combine stars", if Im shocked you ran well, you perfected sprint drills that have minimal carry over to what I will ask you to do when/if I sign you.

When is the combine right?

Depends on your interpretation of "right". Mike Wallace of the Pittsburgh Steelers ran a 4.33 at the NFL scouting combine and is indeed one of the fastest players in the NFL. However, did his film not show that? I believe it did. The combine wasnt "right" in this instance, it re-affirmed what we already knew. If you watched a player who was the slowest player on the field every game of the 48 you saw, but ran a 4.4 at the combine, would you believe he could play fast? I didnt think so. The NFL combine drills are ran without pads or a defense. Mike Wallace/Chris Johnson play fast, so did 4.6 Jerry Rice. The combine should be right, it should affirm what you have seen on film, if not something is wrong (RED FLAG).

When is the combine wrong?

Entirely too many times to count if you put substance into the event. The combine being WRONG is hype central heaven. If the combine has earned you money, you are stealing it. It is the equivalent to reading a book on counting cards and being on fire for a weekend in Vegas on the Blackjack tables, it is short term and unsustainable success that truly holds no bearing. Physically, there is always an unmeasured element that can only be accounted for when watching film. None of the top 10 bench press reppers in combine history have been pro bowlers, weight room strength is overrated. Track speed is overrated. If a player who looked slow on film runs fast at the combine it should be discounted, but NOT vice versa. This is red flag alert central, if you have watched a prospect for 4 years and you finally discover that this prospect ran well for a day, there is no need to buy into it.

Lets look at the 1st round speed position players from 2012: WR - Justin Blackmon (didn't run at the combine), Michael Floyd (4.47), Kendall Wright (4.61), AJ Jenkins (4.39, DNP this season), DB: Morris Claiborne (4.50), Dre Kirkpatrick (4.51), Harrison Smith (4.57). Do any of these 40 times amaze you? No. Did NFL scouts care? No. Should you care? No.

Its nothing short of hilarious to see Mayock and the NFL Network crew praise a DL/QB/OL for running a great 40, in the world of real football these positions will never run 40 yards; let alone straight ahead out of a compact stance when you are looking straight at the ground. I want my DT/OL to be fat with natural strength, I dont need to see them with their shirts off or see them run 40 yards; I want them to look like an out of work coal miner I couldn't care less about their testing.  Do NFL scouts believe they can transform these manufactured track athletes into stars with coaching? Probably so, but thats wishful thinking at best and nothing you should logically invest in (see the Matt Jones bio).

The NFL combine is nothing more than a place for prospects who have shown what they can do for 4 years to re-affirm/disprove it for another 2 days. I personally will rely on a 4 year assessment much more than a 2 days. There is nothing to see here, all performances will be balanced out and justified by film. Either way, I know I won't be watching. The only substantial information received from NFL teams will be received off camera, regardless of what the NFL Network crew try and sell you.

TOM BRADY COMBINE RESULTS: 6'4, 211, 5.2 40 yard dash, 24 inch vert

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: The Most Underrated Legacy in Sports History

Bill Russell is the greatest champion but Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the greatest player in the history of the game.”----Julius Erving

"Without question, no hesitation, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was the best player I ever played against. "-------Bill Walton

I really needed help to guard Kareem. He is the only guy. "--------Wilt Chamberlain

In a day and age of social networking where GREATEST PLAYER EVER lists/conversations are everywhere we look, we have grown accustomed to hearing some of the same names compared and mentioned. Michael Jordan.........Magic Johnson.......Bill Russell......Wilt Chamberlain. What baffles me is that one name is always missing: Kareem Abdul Jabbar. I have said for years that KAJ has the most underrated/under-appreciated legacy in sports history, and it's not even close if you look at his track record. I understand to a certain extent for the younger generation to not be aware of his game and accomplishments, so let's give everyone a run down of what this man accomplished: 

Lew Alcinder was born a phenom from New York City, he was by far the top HS player in America towering at 7'2. He decided to attend UCLA for his collegiate career and play under the greatest coach of all time, John Wooden. While at UCLA, as a freshman he would single handedly lead the freshman UCLA bball team over the Varsity Team, who just happened to be the defending National Champions (dominance). Lew would also go 88-2 over his college career which is absolutely absurd. He would win National Player of the Year twice, was a 3 time First Team All-American and was on 3 NCAA basketball championship teams. He was one of the 1st players to yam on his defenders under the rim, so much so that he led to the dunk being banned for quite some time. As you can tell, he is arguably the greatest college basketball player of all time. This matters greatly when discussing legacy.

After his college career, Lew would show his 1st signs of what would later prove to be a somewhat rebelliant and revolutionary mindframe he carried by boycotting the 1968 Olympics bc of what he felt was injustice in the United States towards African Americans. We will touch a bit more on this attitude further later. He would go on to get drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks in 1969, he did 29 and 15 as a rookie yall! He turned the worst team in the league into the best in 1 season, his 2nd season he would have Milwaukee with the best record in the lg. He would also become and NBA champion and league MVP that same season......think about that. This kid in his 2nd year in the lg was lg MVP with a NBA championship! 

Soon after the championship, his 2nd sign of his revolutionary mindframe was shown when he changed his named to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar because of his religious beliefs. If you think in 1971 that White America was not taking note of his attitude and beliefs you are sorely mistaken. His 3rd NBA season he would win MVP again while doing 34 ppg, the following year he would win MVP again. He won MVP of the lg 3 of his 1st 5 seasons in the lg! He was not only scoring, he was grabbing 15 rpg, shooting 60% with a rolling sky hook and leading the lg in blocked shots. 

In 1975, KAJ would be acquired by the Lakers. We all know about his greatness with the Lakers, but whats important here is that he played 4 seasons with the Lakers before they drafted "his crutch" Magic Johnson. The 1st of those years, he racked up ANOTHER MVP, his 4th. From 1975-1979 (pre-Magic Lakers), Kareem would struggle to win a championship, but his individual accolades would continue to rack up. In the Magic era (1979-1989 Kareems retirement year), Kareem would go on to win 5 championships, another MVP (5), and was an All Star every year during that time.


*Magic Crutch: Most 80's babies and ppl in general really ONLY. remember Kareem playing with the greatest distributor of all time (Magic Johnson). They remember Magic finding him on an open break, they remember Magic aiding Kareem. They remember Kareem's game falling off starting in the mid 80's. OF COURSE his game was beginning to fall off, he is 7'2 on his 15th year in the lg after playing 4 seasons in college! In actuality, this theory couldnt be any further from the truth. These 2 players HELPED EACH OTHER WIN. Magic is not Magic without Kareem, but we know Kareem was Kareem without Magic. Kareem played for 20 years; 10 with Magic, 10 without. In the 10 PRE-Magic, he already had a title and 5 MVPs.

*Timeframe: Ppl act like KAJ was dunking on 6'3 centers on crate rims in the 1920's, this is false. To put it in perspective, Bill Russell was retired by the time KAJ came into the lg. KAJ played against some GREAT big men: Wilt, McHale, Parrish, Walton. He arguably played in the golden age of true big centers. He played until 1989, he did 24/6/2 as recent as 1985.

*Style of Play: How his game LOOKED should have no bearing on his legacy over time. His dunks were grotesque, it looked like a mosquito climbing a wall. His YMCA goggles were horrendous vision spectacles, and his hook shot was sickening to watch for some. WHO CARES! Name any flashy big man: Blake Griffin, Shawn Kemp, Shaq; I guarantee you Kareem would SKYHOOK the shit out of them for 25 in his prime bc he invented and perfected the most unstoppable/unflashy move ever. KAJ was 11 time NBA all defense so good luck reciprocating the effortless buckets he gives you. I want the final result over how it looks any day of the week. 

*Attitude: This is the biggest reason I feel his legacy is undervalued, and it's a shame. He is one of the most interesting ppl sports has ever seen. For one, he has the personality of a penguin. This did nothing but hurt his marketability and lower his ceiling. He did not seem to want the fame and often had a very serious demeanor, he was the polar opposite of the bubbly Magic Johnson. In the 1970's his Muslim revolutionary views rubbed white writers the wrong way, I feel this also hurt his popularity and legacy. He wanted to be a head coach at one point post-career, but most insiders believed he did not have the personality or fire to be a head coach. So instead, he has to settle for being a consultant for the very team he helped build, very disrespectful to his legacy but some feel warranted by his attitude. He has openly criticized the Lakers for what he has felt is a lack of respect towards him post career, which is why I was overjoyed to see his statue finally placed outside the Staples Center in 2012; the respect was overdue in my opinion. He doesn't do interviews post-career about how great he was (Bill Russell), that is not his style. He, like I believe his resume MORE THAN speaks for itself.


If you factor in college/team/winning/individual/statistical accolades into your equation, he is 2nd to none. His longevity - 2nd to none. He has the best combination resume wise of team and individual accomplishments (ex: vs Russell - team accomplishments primarily, Robertson - individual accomplishments primarily). He played defense, he had the clutch gene, and what I think is really important is Kareem's game could truly flourish in any era bc of his style of play. A 7'2 player shooting a rolling hook shot with his arm extended from 15 feet out will forever be unstoppable. Why do ppl praise Olajuwon's post repertoire, go workout with him over the Summer but NOBODY HAS EVER BEEN ABLE TO SHOOT A SKYHOOK EFFECTIVELY since Kareem? How do you think Kareem has a scoring record that will NEVER be broken, that let him do 24 ppg his 15th year in the lg? That shot is a 1 of 1, KAJ is a 1 of 1, and I hope more ppl realize how GREAT of a player he was.


NBA Championships: Michael Jordan - 6, KAJ - 6
MVPs: Michael Jordan: 5 , KAJ - 6
NCAA Championships: Michael Jordan - 1, KAJ - 3
All Star Selections: Michael Jordan - 15,  KAJ - 19
All NBA Selections: Michael Jordan - 11, KAJ - 15
All Defensive Team Selections: Michael Jordan - 9, KAJ -  11
Career NBA points: Michael Jordan - 32292, KAJ - 38387

Is KAJ the greatest of all time? IT IS UP FOR DEBATE, but the next time you bring up the question of who is the greatest, you'd better throw his name in the conversation.


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Magic was right.......

"I love Dr. (Jerry) Buss. I don't believe in Jim Buss. He's made two critical mistakes already. To me, they made two critical mistakes.” (Nov 15, 2012)

This quote from roughly 2 months ago is from none other than the greatest Los Angeles Laker of all time, Magic Johnson. Who better to listen to in regards to the Lakers? What 2 mistakes was he referring to? “"First, hiring Mike Brown -- he wasn't the right coach. He's a great coach but not the right coach for the Lakers. And I don't feel Mike D'Antoni is the right coach for the Lakers. Especially when you have Phil Jackson sitting out there, who wanted to be the Laker coach. Jim Buss decided he didn't want Phil Jackson, he wanted Mike D'Antoni. And that's OK, but why didn't you just say that? But the fans were cheering for Phil Jackson two nights in a row." How is this relevant in Jan. 2013? This begs many questions; let’s explore:

*Why does Magic believe in Jerry Buss and not Jim Buss?

DOCTOR Jerry Buss is the hall of fame majority owner of the Los Angeles Lakers. He purchased the team in 1979 and in primarily responsible for the Lakers being one of the most successful sports franchises since. Under his ownership the Lakers have won 11 NBA championships and have acquired such players as Magic, Kareem, Worthy, Shaq, Kobe on his watch and partly his decision making. Jerry Buss is 78 years old now, and over time has began to step away from the percentage of Lakers’ decision making. The primary decision making is now shared with his son, Jim (along with GM Mitch Kupchak). The changing of power began has been gradual over time and has been in full swing for a few years now. Since Jim has moved to the forefront, the Lakers have completely bombed on 2 head coaching hires (Mike Brown, Mike D’Antoni), and the Lakers have been on a downhill slope on the court, and this year shit has hit the fan completely. What is there to trust about Jim thus far? Absolutely nothing. He is the common denominator in the Lakers’ fall.

*Why did Magic feel D’Antoni wasn’t the right coach for the Lakers?

The prime reason is simple, Mike D’Antoni’s style of coaching could not be a worse fit for the Lakers. The Lakers’ strengths are that they have 2 all star caliber post block 7 footers, a great half court scorer in Kobe Bryant, and the best pick and roll PG in the NBA statistically last year Steve Nash. The utilization of those strengths is the weakness of D’Antoni’s offense. The weaknesses of the Lakers are speed, outside shooting and full court offense/defense, those are the strengths of D’Antoni’s offense. He has no use for a skilled 7 footer in his attack (Pau Gasol), rendering their single advantage over every team in the lg (2 bigs you can't match up with) useless. Kobe Bryant is rumored to have “asked D’Antoni to involve Pau more”, the fact that this is just a question or suggestion by your best player baffles me. D’Antoni has always used a stretch 4 (PF), D’Antoni really would like to have a small forward skill set at power forward if he could.  It’s like putting high octane fuel in an army tank and hoping it goes faster and becomes a race car, it will not work. His best season ever in Phoenix, 2004, that roster did not feature a player OVER 7 feet. The key contributors: Amare Stoudamire, Shawn Marion, Joe Johnson, Steve Nash (8 years younger), Quentin Richardson, Leandro Barbosa…….the characteristics of that roster are the exact opposite of what the Lakers have right now. Doesn’t help that D’Antoni has never been to the NBA finals, let alone have a ring on a win now based roster (a roster built to win NOW, future picks are spent along with the big bucks for superstars). His style of coaching has always been deemed as exciting to watch, but not a blueprint to win with. Not only was he hired over Phil, but also Jerry Sloan/Nate McMillan etc. A real head scratcher.

*Why did Magic/the fans feel Phil Jackson would be a better fit for the Lakers?

We can start with the fact that this is once again a win now based roster, and Phil Jackson has 11 NBA rings, 5 of them with the Lakers. He has a close relationship with the majority of the team, which he coached, and could corral all of the big name egos the team has brought in to mesh (Howard, Nash). He has a style of play 100 % CONDUCIVE to what the Lakers’ strengths are: size and half court scoring ability. He has won championships with “slow” older rosters before. He could essentially get more out of this roster and put this roster in better positions to succeed, physically and mentally. The hiring of him would send a message to the team/league: we mean business, we are back, we fully expect to win at all costs NOW.

*Why wasn’t Phil Jackson chosen if it’s such a no brainer that he was the better choice?

Nobody knows for sure, Phil was “stunned” he was not hired for the job. Reports are that: Phil Jackson wanted an ownership stake and an outrageous salary as well as basketball decision making duties, the Lakers would struggle to grasp the triangle offense, etc. The truth is, I’d bet dollars to donuts the same petty issues Phil had with the Lakers’ decision makers got in the way of what really matters: WINNING. When Phil Jackson left the Lakers, Jim Buss wanted to rid the Lakers of everything associated with Phil, mainly his offense. It’s odd that you would want to get rid of a system and an influence that won you 5 championships. So you take the 2nd best option out of convenience, a trend here. 

MY TAKE: The Jackson/Buss situation is truly a mess, Phil is engaged to Jerry’s daughter/Jim’s sister (Jeanie) to complicate things further. When Phil was criticized in the past by Jim, Jeanie would stand up for her man, UNCLE PHIL. That has to cause a rift in the family, I sense insecurity from Jim, mainly because Phil was so powerful within his organization and within his own family. Was there pettiness on Phil’s end of getting the deal done? Maybe. The bottom line is the hiring of D’Antoni over Jackson may have ended the Lakers’ run of consistent greatness for quite some time. The day of D’Antoni’s hiring was the day the Lakers set a precedent for choosing convenience over winning, a precedent that was never set before with the win at all cost JERRY Buss led Lakers. The common denominator is Jim.

Jim Buss’ forefront resume:
-Hiring Mike Brown (without consulting with Kobe Bryant about it) – this is his 1st shallow minded hire, meaning he hired a coach bc of 1 thing the coach could bring to the situation (Defense), ignoring the totality of what the coach can bring and what the team needs, also choosing a coach with little leverage or say of what goes on in the organization, so he can continue to flex his muscles. Brown’s passive personality also led to his players walking all over him.

-Firing Mike Brown a year later  - 5 games into the season, 4 of those games without his starting PG, you fire the man you felt was the man for the job. He was what you wanted, a defense minded guy who didn’t ruffle feathers and let you make all the decisions, right?

-The trades/transactions getting rid of Lamar Odom, Matt Barnes, Shannon Brown, the loss of future draft picks

-The trading of Dwight Howard for Andrew Bynum – both have their +’s and –‘s, big risk here is you knew Bynum would stay in LA worst case, Howard is a toss up

-The trading for Steve Nash – trading future picks for an already aging roster, going all in

-The hiring of Mike D’Antoni –  See Mike Brown hire above, same blueprint/basis, this time the reason being “for the ease of his offense to be picked up quickly”, completely ignoring the many reasons why it would not be a good fit 

My summary of the Lakers’ recent moves since Phil Jackson/Jim Buss being in the forefront: moves (above) have been made based on convenience and for today, not the best interests of the team moving forward. The CONVENIENCE of: D’Antoni’s offense over Phil’s, hiring passive coaches, making moves for this year neglecting the future, etc.

The Lakers are in a world of trouble, my friends, and I think with the backdrop given above you can see why. With the changing of ownership decision making (Jim Buss), we may be seeing the beginnings of a changing of the guard in the NBA. Everything above is relevant today in terms of the Lakers’ state; this was the set up for it all. They are now stuck with D’Antoni for the foreseeable future, who is unwilling to adapt to a style conducive to his team. Their strengths are being under used. They are aging by the day, injuries are mounting. Their centerpiece for the future (Howard) is no guarantee to re-sign with the team after this season. They have bartered their future for their present (draft picks/youth). The present is grim, the future is frightening. They have also dug themselves a huge hole record wise to even make the playoffs; if they do the seeding will bury them vs. a probable OKC/LAC matchup 1st round. We, like Magic did in November, should have seen this coming.

Friday, June 15, 2012

College Football Playoff System

The college football playoff system - this has been discussed ad nauseam for the past several years, so it seems. This is actually not a new issue, the system of nailing down a full proof policy for selecting a champ in this sport has been going on forever. I LOVE NCAA football, it is my favorite sport by far. However, it has come under some scrutiny about how it's National Champion is decided. Even the government has been involved with the BCS selection process and it's lack of effectiveness! Commissioners of the 11 Football Bowl Subdivision conferences and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick have been meeting this week to discuss the best possible alternative for deciding the national champion ( which will go into effect in 2014). 1 thing is for sure, the current system is going to change, it's not even up for discussion at this point. Here's a breakdown of the current/proposed:

1) CURRENT SYSTEM: The top 2 teams in the BCS face off in a National Championship gave within a pre-determined bowl game/site. The BCS formula is calculated by: 1/3 Harris Poll (human poll), 1/3 Coaches Poll (human), 1/3 Computer based calculations. Most people don't understand how the calculations are made and do not like the computer basis. It does take away from a lot of the clear conflict of interest voting that goes on in most polls.  The current system definitely makes every single week of NCAA FB compelling, not just the final 3 games or so.


a) PLUS ONE SYSTEM - The Plus-One system is gaining popularity because, unlike many other proposed formats, it would not significantly extend the season for players and coaches. THERE IS A LOT OF CONFUSION ON THIS IN THE MEDIA AND ON THE INTERNET: the plus one IS NOT a 4 team playoff, a 4 team playoff would involve seeding (1-4) and a bracket for those 4. This involves playing all bowl games as scheduled normally, AFTER all of the bowl games are played, a national championship game will be decided (#1 vs. #2). The bowl game season should paint a clearer picture of who the true #1 vs. #2 is......key word "should".

+ PROS - only adds 1 game vs. an 8 + team playoff, leaves all bowl traditions intact (Rose Bowl, etc.)
*is the most seamless change by far, literally only adds 1 game to the season, everything else is business as usual.

- CONS - is this really going to make people say "yes, now we know which 2 teams are truly the best"!, (EX: The Pac 12 champ is a 4 loss Oregon team, they play undefeated #2 Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl and Wisconsin wins by 3, meanwhile #3 Oklahoma plays #4 TCU in the Fiesta Bowl and wins by 28, assuming the #1 team wins, you still have a huge controversy on your hands for who plays them, etc.
* who decides who plays in the national championship (new formula, same question)? (BCS?)

b) OFFICIAL PLAYOFF BRACKET - This would include some odd number of teams (4,8,12,16, etc.) - who knows how many would be needed to deem this sufficient. The four team playoff here is the most popular as of right now with most conferences, it looks like this will be the system inevitably. These playoff games would REPLACE the teams' selected bowl games (vs. option 2a) in the semifinals, and add 1 more bowl game for the champ.

+ PROS (4 team) - only adds 1 game to the core schedule
* the playoff element will further narrow down the best teams (vs. 2a)
* will be compelling TV and add much needed intrigue to bowl games

- CONS - who decides which 4 teams play in the playoff (new formula, same question)? are conference champs only allowed? BCS rankings? etc. CRUCIAL here, selection process will make or break this option.
* which bowl games do you eliminate for the semifinals? where are the games played? should a higher seed get home field? etc.
* who gets what seed?
* this will inevitably turn into an 8 or 16 team set up after time. 
* will it minimize the suspense of the regular season? 
* would sitting out starters be an option? (ex: SEC championship game, #1 undefeated Bama vs. #6 Auburn, if the furthest Bama would fall would be 3 or 4 would they sit their players until the semis?)

As you can see, as people are finally getting what they have been asking for for several years now, they are also realizing the SAME ISSUES will arise. Does this alleviate the question of who truly is the best CFB team? In option 2b, yes, but VERY MILDLY. The #5 team in the BCS (or whatever method you use for 2b) is going to be cheated, the same thing as the #3 team now being cheated. The #5 team in the BCS in 2011 was a 1 loss Ohio State team that was LOADED, an undefeated TCU was #2 (once again, can you say without a doubt TCU was better than OSU? NO!). In 2012 the #5 team in the BCS was Oregon, do you think if there was a 4 team BCS playoff last year Oregon wouldn't have felt deserving of being 1 of those 4 teams? What if we add more teams? The best example is NCAA BB, where not 4, not 8, not 16, but SIXTY FOUR teams are selected to the tournament, and after the selection show there is a 2 hour discussion on the teams who deserved a spot in the field of 64. Regardless of the number of teams in a playoff, the snubs will be alive and well. I think the system as is worked perfectly last year, LSU and BAMA were by most accounts the best 2 teams in America. If 85% of America felt they were the best 2 teams, that's the best you can do, it will never be 100%.

Does adding a playoff system TRULY give us a clear cut champ? No. So why are the powers that be meeting? Its simple, for their own interests. Aside from the money of having an extra bowl game (for the bowl sites and teams), the semifinal games can add tremendous exposure for programs, it will be must see TV. All of the major networks will want in, all of the bowl games will want in, all of America will want in. Everyone involved is looking out for their own books and behinds (duh), the Big 10 does not want a playoff, they want the Rose Bowl to remain intact. The SEC DOES want a playoff (4 team) and wants it to where multiple teams from 1 conference can be in the final 4, not just conference champs (hmm, I wonder why). The less top heavy ACC wants a playoff with ONLY conference champs, which would somewhat guarantee a spot for them and cut out the #2 SEC or Big 12 (hmm, I wonder why). Notre Dame doesn't care what the system is, as long as conference champs aren't praised (hmm, I wonder why). These are the powers that will be voting, it doesn't surprise anybody that it will come down to politics amongst the voters.

My opinion is that the 4 team playoff (2b) truly is a slight upgrade from the current system, but an upgrade none the less. As long as we all realize it will not fix the issue of selection controversy and have realistic expectations for it, I believe it will do very well WHEN it is implemented in 2014. It's rare that you see a bowl game aside from the National Championship where 2 top 4 teams play, this would add 2 more of those games to the DRY bowl season. The decision for the system will be made at the end of this month, stay tuned, the decision will be sure to change the face of college football forever.

Friday, April 20, 2012

NFL Draft "Gurus"


[goor-oo, goo-roo] Show IPA
Hinduism . a preceptor giving personal religious instruction.
an intellectual or spiritual guide or leader.
any person who counsels or advises; mentor: The elder senator was her political guru.
a leader in a particular field: the city's cultural gurus.

It is April 20th, which means a few things: 1) Smokers are lighting up like it's Christmas Eve, 2) The NFL Draft is 1 week away! For people like me, the NFL Draft is CAPTIVATING! It starts with the great sport of college football and watching players go from highly touted recruits to college stars, then on to some of our favorite NFL teams. Fans of NFL teams find it intriguing to be able to get better in a matter of a few days. From the college season to the NFL Scouting Combine, where a matter of a tenth of a second can decide millions for you, to pro days where players are evaluated doing scripted workouts they have done 100 times (another topic completely). It is a bit of a circus, and the circus ring leaders for all of the hysteria are your NFL DRAFT GURUS on television.

There are so few NFL draft analysts that you would assume this is some sort of highly skilled profession, or that scouting was some sort of inexact science. Let's first examine what a NFL DRAFT GURU's job entails. For one, they glance at college football during the season, and glance at the NFL during the season, and cover no other sports, they are as seasonal as they come. They do not have to fly to the USC/Notre Dame game to watch it live, they can watch it on film. Secondly, they are there to give their take and scouting eye to the general public tuning into their stations (which is actually rare). And finally, they must be able to project who will go where in the NFL Draft in mock drafts. Some of the more famous draft analysts are Mel Kiper Jr. (THE GURU, ESPN),  Todd McShay (ESPN) and Mike Mayock (NFL NETWORK). Here is some background on each of these people who people look at as modern day football prophets: 

Mel Kiper Jr. - It's no coincidence if you WIKI this dingbat, there is NOTHING RELEVANT THERE. Not where he went to school and was an All American (chuckle), all ESPN info, and I'm sure ESPN wants to keep it that way for their "GURU". All they want you to know about him is that his father was also named Mel Kiper and works for ESPN. I dug a little further, and our genius Mel attended Essex Community College in Baltimore. And as you probably figured, he never actually PLAYED football, so he has no inside opinion on the sport he is a guru analyzing, go figure. He WAS way ahead of his time, he created a draft publication at the age of 19 (1979, how you analyze players at the age of 19 for a sport you never played is beyond me), and ESPN brought him on in 1983. Is he a pioneer? Yes. Do his credentials read GURU? Absolutely not.

Todd McShay - He comes across as the kid who did the athletes' homework in high school and carried their book bags around the campus while he rode the pine.  He too has very limited background information out there, no coincidence. He did play football in high school and walked on at D 1-AA Richmond, but from all accounts was a scrub athlete, but at least he played. He basically piggybacked his way to the top, his grandfather connected him with a former NFL scout who had a scouting service called "The War Room" which McShay interned for. The War Room later became Scouts Inc. and ESPN hopped aboard, however, how McShay got on from being an intern of a service/entity to the face of it is beyond me (POLE SMOKING).

Mike Mayock - Mike to me is one of the good guys. He formulates his OWN opinions by watching countless hours of film, and I feel he does not suck on the man vein of NFL GMs and live off of "inside information". No coincidence that he played football (and baseball) at Boston College and was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers. He also played in the CFL as well. He can also color commentate (which the others can't do). If you think for a second that he does not have an advantage over Kiper/McShay because he actually played FB at it's highest level, please sign out and stop reading my blog. To me, ESPN should hire him and fire the other 2 buffoons.

To me, NFL GMs are actually the scouting GURUs. They get paid money to put their scouting expertise (along with the staff) on the line and actually invest in their decisions, that have consequences. I know for a fact (yes for a fact) that for the most part NFL GMs/insiders believe television analysts are A FUCKING JOKE to put it mildly. At the 1994 NFL draft, Indianapolis Colts general manager Bill Tobin was told that Mel Kiper had questioned his team's choice of linebacker Trev Alberts over quarterback Trent Dilfer. Tobin responded, "Who the heck is Mel Kiper anyway? He has no more credentials to do what he's doing than my neighbor, and my neighbor's a postman." How do you think a GM/scout for a team feels after the draft when he goes on ESPN and sees a former Essex CC grad who never wore a helmet gave his draft a D+? You know who NFL scouts don't take as a joke? Brian Billick (former NFL coach, NFL Network), Bucky Brooks (5 year pro, ex NFL scout, NFL Network), Charley Casserly (24 year NFL exec, responsible for Mario Williams > Reggie Bush, NFL Network). I think we see a trend here, the "gurus" with the most visibility are actually the worst skilled and least respected.

1 of my biggest beefs with these TV draft analysts is that in actuality, we don't know if they watch film. It's no coincidence that come draft time Kiper/McShay both have the same people "flying" up the draft board when there is no new/relevant information about prospects being released, here is why: inside information. All of these guys really do have NFL insiders who let the cat out of the bag, this gets released to the analysts, and they regurgitate it to us. This requires no "tireless" hours of film. The only question is how many hand jobs Kiper has had to give out over the years for this inside information, he is the 2nd most relevant snitch on ESPN after Chris "Lewinski" Mortensen, the 2 of them smoke pole for football gossip make no mistake about it. I would rather Mike and Mike just do a mock draft without watching film than hear some information Kiper got in a text message like it's one of his guru revelations. Us, the viewers want a true unbiased opinion of these prospects based on film (like Mayock), sure the Rams may take Morris Claiborne at pick 6, but if you watched film and you feel that in 5 years that will be a mistake who cares what you are hearing, put your guy there and show us that you are an expert.

I will leave you with this, if you watch ESPN or go to right now, look at the several mock drafts these experts have. What % of accuracy would you guess a guru would get in predicting a draft order (which is the only thing he covers)? 80%? 70%?  If you have ever wondered how much weight these psychic predictions hold, just know Kiper and McShay average 28% accuracy in these from their FINAL mock drafts to the actual draft (a few days later). Fill out your own mock draft this year and put it up against theirs, you will do just as good a job, I'm sure of it, I did last year and beat them by 5%. #AFuckingJoke

Monday, March 12, 2012

NCAA Tournament Interest Examination

It's finally here! It's tournament time! What is the vast majority of America looking forward to right now? The games? Seeing who the best team is? NO! Filling out their bracket(s)! From Barack Obama, to Dick Vitale, to the 50 year old woman who is a receptionist at your job who hasn't watched a basketball game since Bill Walton was at UCLA. Office brackets, online brackets (ESPN, Rivals, Foxsports, etc.), Facebook bracket invites, Twitter bracket invites, etc. Which will you do!?!?!? Get your money into your pools people!!!!!

Selection Sunday is when it allllllllll begins, as the day starts with teams finishing their final touches on their resumes and ends with nonstop analysis. "Bracketology", which makes it sound as if there is a science to picking your teams, is performed on ESPN by various "experts" on NCAA BB that get paid very well to be knowledgeable on the angles of the tournament for hours upon hours, all night long. Their inside information and scientific analysis then leads these experts to select 4 #1 seeds in the final four, with the #1 overall seed taking the crown (WOW, that's pure genius Jay Bilas!). Dick Vitale erupts and picks his sleeper, pay attention to this: "I'm gonna pick FSU TO GO ON A RUN BABYYYYYY!". Wow DickyV thanks, I didn't ever expect a 3 seed to make a run at all! You are a genius!

A lot of the discuss is "Who Got Snubbed", which is arguably the funniest part of Sunday. 68 teams are selected, yet somehow there are 10 schools/parts of the country IRATE that their team didn't get in (NCAA FB take note). You are then drowned with statistical analysis like RPIs (a calculation that is outdated and ineffective) and common knowledge "tips" (pick a 12/5 game people!), further escalating the fuckery. The reality of it is, it is not a science, the same receptionist mentioned above can do better than Jay Bilas at picking a bracket correctly. Are you a wiz for picking Kentucky to win the naty? Absolutely not. The big name traditional powerhouses tend to dominate, the last 4 NCAA champs are UConn, DUKE, UNC, Kansas (#YAWN). In the past 25 years, only 2 teams have won a naty that weren't considered traditional powerhouse programs (Arkansas, UNLV). I believe the receptionist can read, and see a "1" next to the 1 seeds like UNC, and pick accordingly.

Pure hysteria is erupting right now for all of the wrong reasons. March madness is truly one of the amazing times in sports, and should be appreciated for what it is. It is a time when 68 of the top teams actually compete single elimination tournament style, this adds drama, and all to see who is truly the champion. You don't have to be the best team for a series (NCAA baseball), and a great number of teams are selected in true playoff fashion, which NCAA Football can only wish for. The system is fair in selecting so many teams, even recently expanding, trying to give as many teams a fair shot at being the best. Automatic bids from smaller conferences also ensure this.You have a selection committee that spends ALL YEAR on deciding who gets in, their seeds and what regions people play in to make it fair based on your resume.

As the 1st week of March Madness starts out, your optimism and excitement for the greatest time of the year is SKY HIGH, but fizzles day by day! Why? Because day by day your bracket slow goes to shit! You THOUGHT this would be the year didn't you? The year you picked all the games right and didn't fall flat on your face after the 1st weekend for all your friends/co workers to see? WRONG! The lasting memories people have of March Madness end up being a) what happened to your bracket and who you picked (how much money you lost) , b) the under dog/Cinderella stories that made a run. Part of B being so memorable is because those Cinderella stories probably ruined your bracket, and because it's great TV. B is partly only a story to you probably because those Cinderella teams win while your interest is still in the tourney (early on before your bracket becomes rubbish). As you can see, many of us end up making the March madness experience about us personally. To some, UConn is just a school in print, they have never seen them play and they won't watch a game, but the "UConn" on their bracket shapes their whole experience. Quick trivia: Who won the National Championship in 2010? 2009? 2008? Hell, 2011????? I'm willing to be 1 of out every 4 people reading this can answer who won the title even last year! Why? You stopped tuning in when the Sweet 16 hit and your bracket hit a dead end, you watched Basketball Wives Monday night instead of the naty, that's why! You don't remember Kemba Walker putting UConn on his shoulder-blades, but you remember crumbling up your bracket and throwing it in the waste-bin for sure!

Teams like Duke/UNC/Kentucky don't have to win a National Championship to have a "successful" season. Getting to the Elite 8 is a successful season, the Final 4 is a GREAT season. They already got the exposure for recruiting getting that far, and already sold enough regional tickets at that point to make everyone happy. Bowl money is clearly not involved here like in NCAA FB, so I feel the desire to be the best at the end of the day is there, but not as urgent. I truly believe this, so yeah I do lost a bit of interest as time goes on as well. The majority of big teams probably just don't wanna be "that team" that loses to a huge underdog, and I sometimes feel that cruise after that a bit. However, I love this time of year for the right reasons, and will TRY not to get so wrapped up in my bracket this year like a lot of us do that I don't ruin the experience and genius of March Madness.