Category Archives: College Football

Press Your Luck: The 2014 NFL Draft

On Thursday the NFL will promote it’s newest class from amateur sports into professionalism, and maybe, stardom. This is always a stressful time of year. How could it not be? Drafting the wrong player could be more than detrimental to a franchise, setting it back years and years (see the Cleveland Browns and Washington Redskins since 1999).

The level of angst involved in each team’s pick, exceeds and is reminiscent  of, the 80s game show Press Your Luck. The game show consisted of 18 squares that lit up randomly and a button contestants had to push to stop the light on a square. In the squares were cash prizes, vacations, boats and other game show stuff.  There was also a character called the Whammy that would basically erase any prizes the contestants had earned to that point. This of course caused contestants to rock back and forth muttering “no Whammy, no Whammy, no Whammy”, and looking crazier than the Joker in Arkham Asylum. As a kid I watch the cardiac arrest inducing reruns with the same shear glee, I assume, the rest of America did back in 1983. That is until some guy figured out the sequence wasn’t random, won a ton of money and then more or less killed the show.

Pssst...Hey. Houston. Don't mess up.

Pssst…Hey. Houston. Don’t mess up.

There is a similar feeling around the NFL draft. The choices feel very random, and one wrong decisions can screw up everything a team has worked this hard to achieve. With the stakes this high, this is the pinnacle of drama. This year’s draft is set to be the most dramatic of them all. There are a lot of teams in need, and there are question marks all over the place. Thursday the questions, and the games, will begin.

“No Whammy, no Whammy, no Whammy.”

Will The Real Jadeveon Clowney Please Stand Up?

With Jadeveon Clowney, the talent is already there. He’s got the speed strength and size to be dominant at the pro level. There should be no question marks around him. None. Yet here we are wondering if he’ll pan out. The reason, of course, has to do with his effort. Clowney has been accused by numerous (albeit anonymous) sources of taking plays off. While his coaches come to his defense, the criticisms still hang in the air like the remnants of a smelly fart. After all, if the Houston Texans do take Clowney at number 1, can they expect a guy who gives his all every down? Should they expect the guy who allegedly saved himself for the NFL? It’s pretty unclear. Think about it this way, if a guy puts in less effort to keep himself injury free for the NFL it stands to reason that he would do the same thing in a contract year. He might do the same thing if his team looks like it might not make the playoffs, or if they’re getting blown out. This is not to say that Clowney is that kind of guy but once the questions are raised, they just kind of stay there.

Which Jadeveon will we get? The one who (allegedly) takes plays off? Or the Clowney who, all but erased a man from the pages of human history?

In Johnny Football We Trust?

Johnny Manziel needs no introduction. He was college football’s most electric offensive player by far. If you want to talk about a human highlight reel, Johnny Manziel is your guy. He’s also the guy that has been riddled with the biggest questions. He is after all, no stranger to controversy. Johnny is a star and isn’t shy about wanting to live the life style. His parents are affluent and as a result he’s had money to spend. This is important because we’ve seen how he spends it before he’s gotten his own multi-million dollar deal. He hasn’t been really reckless but, ever since Ryan Leaf, going to Vegas with your money is going to give any GM pause (this is before his height and risky play style are referenced).  Johnny is the super athletic and hyper talented guy who, as of this moment, may or may not have his head screwed on right. Manziel earned the nickname Johnny Football, and with good reason, he can flat out ball. My opinion is that football won’t be the thing that gets Johnny off track.

Teddy Bridgewater And The Great Divide.

In his games he demonstrates the savvy, poise, and knowledge of a pro. At his pro day he looked bafflingly terrible. He’s Teddy Bridgewater, the most NFL ready prospect of all the quarterbacks. The pro-style offensive at Louisville prepared him for this. He had full autonomy of the offense. Not known for having the strongest arm, Bridgewater was a brains over brawn kind of guy. He uses his eyes to manipulate the defense, he’s incredibly intelligent showing an understanding of football concepts beyond his years. One pro day should not undermine these qualities. It just seems so strange to see a guy like Bridgewater look that off. Even in his episode of QB camp with Jon Gruden, his throws looked off. His poise and intelligence were there but the throws looks so…average. So the question with Bridgewater is the same as Jadeveon Clowney. Which one is the real one? Usually in these situations you go back to the tape. The tape doesn’t lie (usually) but, that pro day is the little red flag that could. It’s a red flag that’s not going to go anywhere until week 1 of the season.

2014 may prove to be the NFL’s gut check draft. It hardly seems like teams know what they want, even though most of that is the usual misdirection and gamesmanship that has come to define the biggest offseason event in sports. It’s the obsessing about hand size and 40 times, that define this moment. GMs and other front office executives are trying to show some clairvoyance by trying to see and know the very thing they can’t see and can’t know. We sit at home watching it like some sadistic game of Press Your Luck, which says a lot more about us more than it says anything else.

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College Football Week 5 Observations. Angry Football Gods Edition.

Georgia Tops LSU In A Shootout 44-41

Yep, the angry football gods. As in the people that the University of Georgia must have pissed off to have a schedule like this one. It’s one of the toughest opening schedules in recent memory. Now part of that is just par for the course when it comes to being an SEC team. They play tough competition in conference play annually. This does not however, make Georgia’s schedule any less preposterous.

They played, Clemson ranked #8 at the time (a game they lost), South Carolina ranked #6 at the time, and after a bit of a respite against North Texas they ran in to the third possible stumbling block in four games. LSU ranked #6 in the nation was going to be a tough test for a Georgia team, that had already taken tough tests.

Thus the hypothesis about the angry football gods. Perhaps Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray spent his offseason kicking puppies or something, because this is one rough way to start a season. However, since the (presumably) puppy kicking Aaron Murray is one hell of a quarterback things turned out okay. Actually, things turned out better than okay. A 3-1 start is a best case scenario considering the circumstances.

Gone are the days of the old defensively driven ground and pound SEC teams of years past. Gone like my respect for people who listen to Drake. Replacing my respect is a slow burning pity. Replacing the old ground and pound game is something much more useful than pity, it’s an all out aerial assault. Georgia versus LSU was representative of this fact as both signal callers were slinging the rock all over the field. Aaron Murray threw for 298 yards and 4 touchdowns and ran for another touchdown, overshadowing his single interception. LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger passed for 372 yards and 3 touchdowns despite a loss.

Georgia receiver Chris Conley was the primary benefactor of Aaron Murray’s generosity, hauling in 5 receptions for 112 yards and a touchdown. He was one of 9 receivers targeted by Murray that game.

Jarvis Landry caught 10 passes from LSU’s Mettenberger, for a total of 372 yards and 3 touchdowns.

There was not a lot to say about either defense because neither team really stopped the other, though the Georgia defense did get the last laugh when the stopped LSU’s final drive to put the game on ice. But when Georgia has 494 yards of total offense with 298 of them through the air, and LSU has 449 total yards of offense with 372 of those yards in the passing game; it is extremely difficult to give either defense credit for anything at all.

The good news for Georgia? They managed to make it through the most difficult part of their schedule. Their next test is more like a quiz compared to others as they take on the Florida Gators four weeks from now. In the mean time, they should seriously consider keeping Aaron Murray away from puppies (allegedly).

Another Big 12 Team Bites The Dust As West Virginia Upsets Oklahoma State

Oklahoma State had found their guy at quarterback. His name is J.W. Walsh and his game is speed. The Cowboys were running an uptempo offense through him and he seemed perfect for it. He does everything fast. Walsh runs fast and throws fast. The perfect formula running through the anemic West Virginia Mountaineers defense, while keeping their even more anemic offense off the field. Right?

Wrong.

Despite the fact that West Virginia was outclassed in every way. They managed to gut out a victory. Now when I say they were outclassed in every way, I do mean every way. West Virginia’s defense had just given up 37 points the week before to Maryland, in the same game the Mountaineer offense was held scoreless. In this game against Oklahoma St., West Virginia was on their third quarterback this season. They were outclassed.

When the game started, it looked like the game everyone was expecting. A lopsided Cowboy victory. Oklahoma State started their attack with quarterback J.W. Walsh picking apart the Mountaineer defense and scoring almost immediately when Walsh found Josh Stewart for a 73 yard touchdown. From here things get interesting.

First, West Virginia’s defense gets a pick six and keeps them in the game.

Then, the third quarterback of the season, the transfer from Florida State who hadn’t even been with his playbook during the summer, Clint Trickett (who looks like Rev3’s Max Scoville with Don Drapers hair) decided to be a game changer. He started off the game looking like he was going to be a manager, nothing exciting, just hang on and hopefully win the game late. To everyone’s surprise (and Oklahoma State’s chagrin) Trickett threw the ball surprisingly well. Any time he found a receiver in one on one coverage, he let the ball fly. While he wasn’t always successful, more than a few of those passes connected and proved costly for the Cowboys.

Finally, the special teams really played a big part in this game. Big special teams plays and snafus rocked the game’s momentum back and forth. From two laughably short punts from the Cowboys’ Kip Smith, which included a 13 yard punt and 16 yard punt that gave West Virginia incredible field position.

I know I keep mentioning Clint Trickett but, he was truly the surprise of the game. I’m not sure which was more impressive, his stat line, 24/50 completed passes for 309 yards and 1 touchdown (despite 2 interceptions), or his grittiness. Trickett left the game in one series to tend to his injured throwing arm , returning in the next series and driving his team all the way down the field, including to 17 yard passes to keep the drive alive and help his team acquire a 30-21 victory of the Oklahoma St. Cowboys.

Ohio State Overcomes First Real Challenge Of Season, Beating Wisconson 31-24

Braxton Miller returned to reclaim his job as starting quarterback of Ohio State and in so doing, proved why he is an early season Heisman candidate. He made a number of throws all over the field. Most of which found their way to his favorite receiver/full-time security blanket Philly Brown.

Wisconsin’s defense actually did a good  job of containing Braxton Miller in the first half, and keeping the Badgers in the game. Unfortunately for the Badgers with moments to go in the second quarter Braxton Miller tossed a touchdown that really broke the back of Wisconsin. The Badgers, not unlike the US government, remained competitive but quite frankly were never a factor.

On a side note Chris Borland, the senior Wisconsin linebacker, was practically omnipresent on the field. He registered 10 solo tackles in the game. Borland seemed to be involved in every defensive play. He broke up passes and stuffed runs. If a guy in a red jersey got hit, the odds that it was Chris Borland hitting him was extremely high.

In the end, Wisconsin didn’t have the fire power to beat Ohio State and they were entirely too conservative. Joel Stave is a good quarterback for the Badgers and he’s got a solid receiver in Jared Abbrederis, who caught 10 passes for 207 yards in the game, but they weren’t enough for Ohio State. There was no way Stave was out dueling Braxton Miller. With about 7:00 minutes to go in the game on 4th down in a short yardage situation, head coach Gary Andersen opted to punt the ball and rely on his defense rather than give the offense an opportunity to continue their drive. By the time they got the ball back from Ohio State, they needed a miracle and were out of timeouts.

Wisconsin is a quality team but, Ohio State has national championship aspirations with all the man power to do it.

Oklahoma Out Runs Notre Dame, Keeps Season On Track

Bob Stoops and his Oklahoma Sooners went into Notre Dame’s house, ransacked their kitchen, watched their TV, and generally took what they wanted. The Notre Dame fighting Irish offered resistance of course but in the same way that Canelo Alvarez’s face offered resistance to Floyd Mayweather’s fists. Not a whole lot. Notre Dame’s quarterback Tommy Rees, God bless his heart, is a smart guy. For a college athlete to make all of the pre snap reads that he does is pretty incredible. Mike Mayock even acknowledged during the broadcast that most college quarterbacks aren’t changing plays at the line as often as Tommy Rees.

Three plays into the game was all it took for the Fighting Irish to realize that none of it mattered. In the third play of the game the Irish defensive line missed a blitzing Sooner, who promptly clobbered Rees from his blind side resulting in an interception. Rees would go on to throw two more interceptions in the half.

The fact of the matter is that Oklahoma was faster than Notre Dame in every facet of the game. This game was won on the ground, and the Sooners dominated there. Running backs Brennan Clay and Damien Williams picked up first down after first down when they got to the edge. Damien Williams was especially dangerous in space. While the Fighting Irish also ran the ball well with George Atkinson who had 148 yards and 1 touchdown, a lot of short yardage situations fell flat because Oklahoma was able to get to Atkinson quickly and bring him down. Notre Dame had 6 rushing first downs.

Under center for the Sooners, was Blake Bell nicknamed the Belldozer because of his 6’6″ and 250 lbs. frame, which he used as a battering ram to pick up first downs for Oklahoma. Bell also did a decent job in the passing game. On one play Bell completed a pass to Lacoltan Bester for a 26 yard touchdown, showing great poise and allowing the play to develop. He had a few errant throws however that I’m sure the Sooners would like him to overcome as he gains experience.

On the defensive side of the ball. The Sooners were faster and they knew it. The interception that I mentioned earlier was returned for a touchdown with a Notre Dame player in sight. In fact, all three of Notre Dame’s early turnovers were turned into Oklahoma points in one way or another. The Sooners played man coverage most of the game and dared Tommy Rees to pick it apart. Because of their speed and his *cough* inaccuracy *cough* Notre Dame was not able to do anything about it. The last time being Irish looked this miserable there was a potato famine. What? No? Oh yeah, the national championship blood bath against Alabama was pretty bad too.

In football the most deadly kind of poison is speed, and Oklahoma gave it to Notre Dame in large uncompromising doses. The football gods had nothing to do with that at all.

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Jay Bilas Exposes NCAA Shop, Defends Justice.

Go to the NCAA Shop now. Here’s the link: http://www.shopncaasports.com/

Do you see a search bar? No? That’s because there isn’t one. The NCAA Shop disabled it after ESPN analyst Jay Bilas did some searches of players on it’s site. This is important because the NCAA claims not to make money off of players names and likenesses. Yet a simple search on the site proved that this isn’t the case. Typing in a player’s name in the search bar led directly to the correct team and corresponding jersey number.

Does it matter that the player in question was suspended? Or if they are currently being investigated for alleged rule breaking?

Nope . . .

. . . and nope.

This is the NCAA that won’t allow college athletes to sell their own memorabilia under the facade of amateurism. This is the NCAA that suspends them and slaps them on the wrist for doing so and then turns around and sells, what is essentially their name and likeness online. That’s not even the really unfair part. The part that is truly unfair is that there isn’t a whole lot the student athletes can do about it. Not Manziel, nor Bridgewater, nor Clowney. None of them can really stop it. Besides the media no one can hold the NCAA accountable.

As long as fans buy merchandise and video games and the like, it’s the players who get continually screwed. Fans feed the machine. Specifically, the money of fans feed the machine. The NCAA doesn’t care about the spirit of the game or protecting amateurism. They care about having your money in their pocket without having to pay the people that get it there. I’m all for fair but, does that sound fair to you?

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Johnny Manziel Is Not A Smart Man

Johnny Manziel is being investigated for allegedly selling his autograph for a five figure fee. This information came from ESPN’s Outside The Lines.  Two witnesses say that they saw Manziel sign products but that they did not see him receive payment. While the NCAA is very good at investigating things, it’s difficult to believe that this particular investigation is going to bring much result. The circle of information is too small and unless Manziel tells on himself (officially making him dumber than I thought) he wouldn’t get caught for his alleged actions.

While the alleged action of selling autographs isn’t smart, especially given the fact that Manziel’s family is quite wealthy, that’s not why I think Johnny Football is being pretty stupid.

I think Johnny Manziel is being stupid because at this point, he’s displayed the maturity of a six-year-old child. A six-year-old, for those of you who have never been around one, doesn’t think about the future. They can’t grasp the concept of their current actions having future consequences. And why should they? They’re six. When I was six wanted to be a Power Ranger or a Stegosaurus, I can’t quite remember which.

The problem?

Johnny Manziel is 20 years old. He isn’t a child. He’s an adult, and more importantly, he’s an adult that wants to be in the NFL. This is a notion that is becoming increasingly more difficult to believe with every incident. It was the summer of Manziel in the worst way imaginable. In a summer in which Aaron Hernandez was arrested for murder and Tim Tebow joined the Patriots, Johnny managed to dominate the headlines.

The first questionable decision in a conga line of questionable decisions by Johnny Manziel goes back to December 20th of last year in which Johnny had court side seats to see the Dallas Mavericks host the Miami Heat. This is not a bad decision in and of itself but, people questioned how Manziel got his seats, he took to twitter. Which is always a bad idea.

Then January 5th of this year Manziel takes an instagram picture with a fist full of cash and tagged it “casino ballin” which again isn’t wrong, but maybe the world didn’t need to see that. Johnny again seems to be living his life as though he didn’t have the scrutiny of being a Heisman winning quarterback. When the (completely justified) scrutiny came. Manziel again took to twitter. Do you see a theme developing?

Source: (@jmanziel2)

I could do this all day. There is a laundry list of incidents. There was the bottle of Dom Perignon January 6th, the reported shoving a graduate assistant in a March 23rd practice, that thing with the Manning Academy or the twitter rant after a parking ticket on June 16th.

Johnny actually deleted this tweet but a simple google search proves that nothing is really deleted from the internet.

What’s the point? Johnny Manziel is extremely talented. However, he’s short standing at 6’1″ and there are questions about his arm strength. Legitimate questions about Johnny Football’s on the field measurables mean that he should not invite extra questions about his off the field ones. It doesn’t make any sense. Many said that media coverage of these stories were making mountains out of mole hills but, Manziel has provided quite a few mole hills because of the situations that he puts himself in. Then he compounds it by tweeting about all of it.

There is such a thing as “good will,” be it with public perception or the media. When a person runs out, especially a celebrity, it’s difficult to get more. It’s a perfectly adult thing that players coming out of college to enter the pros know. They are aware that their actions can put things in jeopardy. Maybe Manziel doesn’t realize he’s running out. A sure fire sign is usally when you can’t sneeze in any direction without the media reporting it. Johnny may not care what anybody thinks, but he should. The media will continue to exist, criticize and scrutinize  after he becomes a pro and NFL general managers are keeping tabs on everything he does right now. Johnny’s draft stock is being affected as you read this. All of his actions have very real world consequences for him. No team wants to waste a high draft pick on a guy with more red flags than an air craft carrier.

Does he realize this? Because that would be a perfectly adult thing to do. Any thing less would be, well, stupid.

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Nebraska Gets Super-Awesome New Uniforms.

I’m a sucker for cool uniforms and Adidas knocked it out of the park with this one. This looks so sleek and the red in the uniforms actually dominates the uniform. I think all black uniforms are overused quite frankly so this is pretty refreshing. The great Deion Sanders said if you look good, you feel good; feel good, play good. For Nebraska I’d say step one complete. Nebraska fans do seem to believe the uniform should have more white in it.

The Corn Huskers went 9-4 in their first Big Ten season.

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Penn State Penalties Too Much?

Today the NCAA handed down penalties to Penn State,  for the Jerry Sandusky scandal and its cover up, and it was harsher than expected. The NCAA has missed opportunities in the past to really flex their muscle and today they wanted to prove a point. They did that and then some. The penalties are a $60 million fine, a four-year postseason ban and all victories from 1998 to 2011 have been vacated. The NCAA is typically known for not being tough enough, soon enough. No one is really terrified of NCAA penalties as evidenced by SMU in the 80s when they took on many penalties before finally receiving the death penalty in 1987 and more recently by the Miami Hurricanes who have once again violated NCAA recruiting rules.


This was was the NCAAs chance and they dropped the hammer on Penn State, hard. Maybe a little too hard. I think most of these penalties are fair, most, not all. The fine is fair and the money is going to outside programs to help prevent child sexual abuse and aid its victims. I think the four-year postseason ban is fair. It’s a reminder that football should never become so big that it matters more than the human beings it affects. A harsh penalty indeed but, it’s absolutely fair. I do think that one punishment has gone too far. The removal of all of Penn State’s victories dating all the way back to 1998.

It’s clear that the NCAA did this to remove Joe Paterno from the top of the record books. This drops Paterno from first in all time head coaching victories to eighth. This is comes off as an unnecessary demonization of Paterno. When Paterno, according to the Freeh report, chose not to do anything about what Sandusky was doing he made a terrible mistake. The only way he could have done any worse is if he was abusing those boys himself. However, to attempt to remove Paterno from the record books is to pretend that Paterno didn’t also accomplish a lot of good during his time coaching. He helped graduate many students by not putting football above academics and was a widely respected mentor on that campus.

The mistakes Paterno made does not automatically cancel out the good he has done. He didn’t cheat, he won those games fair and square. I say leave the last good thing the man has to his name alone. His reputation is already forever tarnished, as it should be, but he was also a good person. Paterno, like all human beings, was capable of good and evil. Can’t we separate the two?

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The NCAA Needs To Stop Policing A Broken System

The dictionary definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result. This past week the NCAA has taken away USC’s 2004-05 national title, Terrell Pryor and Jim Tressel stepped down from their respective positions, and most recently Tennessee Volunteers athletic director Mike Hamilton who had been with the school eight seasons. This doesn’t even take into account the myriad of other investigations and crackdowns in recent memory. Reggie Bush getting the Heisman ripped from him years after he won it, the Cam Newton saga, and the University of Tennessee investigation into the infractions of Volunteer’s basketball head coach Bruce Pearl. Nor does this cover the whispers and rumors such as the comment made by Rachel McCoy, wife of former Texas quarterback Colt McCoy, in which she was less than subtle hint that Texas might be a part of the improper benefits act as well (gasp).

If the NCAA keeps trying to keep up with, track down, and punish everyone like they’re doing now, they’ll be taking away titles from now until the end of time. The reason being is that there is nothing wrong with their investigations. Those work just fine. Eventually they always catch who they’re looking for. That person always loses their job and what not, but the point of these investigations is to deter teams from breaking the rules in the future. This is clearly not working. Teams continue to bend the rules and cover up the truth and the investigations will keep coming along with the sanctions and removal of titles and so on.

The NCAA needs to cut it’s losses and realize that it’s time for a rule change. I liked the article by Pete Fiutak over at foxsports.com which he advocated allowing the players to make money. I couldn’t agree more. I’m not talking about paying the players, because if you pay a football player then you’ve got to be fair. You’ve got to pay football players, water polo players, and field hockey players. It’ll never end. However we live in the year 2011 and we’ve still got guys getting in trouble for signing stuff? Why? He or she earned his or her fame and notoriety. Why shouldn’t the student athlete be able to market themselves for money? The NCAA makes money off these kids all the time and when Terrell Pryor signs some stuff and sells it that’s a punishable offense. The BCS is thriving on the labor of college students who don’t make any money. College football is a billion dollar business, but apparently not for those who actually run the business. That’s freaking ridiculous and everybody knows it.

The NCAA needs to consider another way of running it’s business because it’s unfair and because their current way of handling it isn’t working. It’s not fair that the BCS, NCAA, and every major TV network can profit of the success of the student athlete, but the athletes themselves have no say and make no money. The coaches, players, and boosters aren’t broken. Maybe the system is.

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