Football Playoff Follies and Acceptance

"Marcus Mariota vs. USC" by Neon Tommy-

“Marcus Mariota vs. USC” by Neon Tommy-

I’m finally coming to grips and coping with the fact that there will never be a great way to determine the “best” team in football.

The first rankings for the college playoff system were released Tuesday night. In case you missed it the committee shares this country’s love for the SEC with the following rankings:

1) Mississippi St
2) Florida St
3) Auburn
4) Ole Miss

Honestly I don’t really care about the “hits” or “misses” of the initial rankings. Sure Notre Dame probably got a little hosed being ranked at 10 considering they lost to the number 2 ranked Florida St on one play, while Ole Miss lost to two loss LSU. The committee is clearly emphasizing strength of wins as well. All in all that doesn’t matter because half of these arguments will take care of themselves over the next couple of weeks when all of these 1 loss teams are match up so arguing about it now seems a little arbitrary.

However, this system has finally led me to realize that I’ll never truly be satisfied with college football’s playoff system. I don’t believe that a four team playoff will ever satisfy my desire to find the “best” team in the nation. I heard a phrase on ESPN Radio this morning where Mike and Mike discussed that it wouldn’t find the “best” team but perhaps “the most accomplished.” Initially I liked that wording better but now I can’t decide if that is just a fancier synonym for an objective that can’t be determined. With 128 Division 1 FBS programs and each team playing only 12 to 13 games you can’t efficiently determine a true “best” or “most accomplished” champion. You throw into the mix a committee that while bound by certain criteria, will never be able to overcome at least some type of subjectivity, good or bad.

The NFL playoffs aren’t really that much better. You can feasibly win the Super Bowl having only played less than half of the league in a given season. The fact that geography and conferencing can affect a playoff almost as much as playoffs is a frustrating concept to come to terms with as well but that is another argument for another time.

Ultimately I’m not sure there is a much more efficient way to determine a “national champion” in college football. The change is an attempt to make it better which I respect, I just have to accept that it will never really be good enough.


Week 8 NFL Picks

aaronrodgers

2 and 4 after such promising signs of redemption. I hate everything so for this week I’m going to give you my picks and then tell you while they are wrong.

Detroit @ Atlanta (Lions -3.5): I have no business picking this game.

Chicago @ New England (Patriots -6): Tom Brady is too old and this is a sucker’s line based the Patriots smacking the Bengals a couple weeks ago and the Bears play much better on the road this season since nobody boos them.

Minnesota @ Tampa Bay (Vikings +2.5): Honest to god I can’t tell you why this pick will or won’t suck.

Houston @ Tennessee (Texans -2.5): Rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger is getting his first start for the Titans and eats so many lucky charms before the game he literally shoots a rainbow out of his ass after his first of five touchdowns.

Philadelphia @ Arizona (Eagles +2.5): Arizona’s defense slams Shady McCoy early, Foles throws interception after interception, and Chip Kelly isn’t present because he is already interviewing for the Florida job.

Green Bay @ New Orleans (Packers +2.5): New Orleans comes out like hurricane and blows away Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. Too Soon?


UNC Deserves Everything It Gets

UNC_Seal

3100 Students over the course of 18 years took “fake” classes at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. I’m a little surprised at the lack of notoriety this story seems to be receiving on the front pages of main stream media. This is possibly one of the biggest academic scandals mixed with athletics in the history of college sports. Every punishment fathomable including the death penalty should be on the table for UNC.

For every dumb rule the NCAA chooses to enforce (see punishing individuals for being paid for signing autographs) these infractions hit at the very core of what the NCAA and college institutions are supposed to believe: STUDENT-Athletes. According to a CNN article, UNC could be charged with one of the most serious charges: lack of Institutional Control. This charge is the gateway to some of the NCAA’s harshest penalties which can include the “death penalty.”

The University of Southern California was hit with this penalty and was forced to vacate championships, lose scholarships, and face post season bans in multiple sports. SMU was hit back in 1986 with the “death penalty” which shattered their football program and athletics department as a whole. (A hit I don’t think they have recovered from).

Look this isn’t recruiting violations, this isn’t signing autographs, this isn’t sneaking extra practices… this is blatant cheating. This was UNC meeting expectations in the shadiest, dirtiest, and most unethical ways possible. It wasn’t over the course of one, two, or even five years. 18 years this went on, and it was even brought to the school’s attention back in 2009. The worst is, the fraud isn’t limited to one sport, multiple sports have been labeled in the report.

I know, I know, I’m not a UNC fan and in fact pretty much loathe them with regards to athletics. This goes beyond athletic rivalry and simple competitive animosity. Academic institutions are responsible for holding kids to certain standards even if they are part of athletic programs that bring their respective universities millions of dollars a year. The easy argument is that if the broad scope of this travesty happens at a place like UNC it is bound to happen at other colleges and universities. That argument may hold some merit and may in fact be true however there is no proof. If this investigation exposes more academic fraud in other institutions then so be it. Maybe it needs to happen so perhaps the priority of college athletics can be reestablished.


Mario Balotelli Was a Mistake

By Egghead06

By Egghead06

It was never going to work out. I wanted to believe that it could I really did. Combine tonight’s first half debacle of a performance with his overall lack of production in numerous opportunities I’ve decided the Mario Balotelli experiment at Liverpool is a failure.

I can give you all the X’s and O’s as to why he won’t work with the style of play that Brendan Rodgers and this Liverpool side are accustomed to playing. He is stagnant and lazy on the field, refusing to work into space and combine with dynamic, faster players around him, and instead demands balls played at his feet, or settles for being a weak target in the air. He has ability, he has flair, yet fails to exploit his talents at the right time. (His one goal for Liverpool this season backs this up.)

However, it is more than that. Balotelli doesn’t get Liverpool and he doesn’t get being a member of a team. I was willing to look past his prior antics with Man City (Why Always Me Shirts, constant rows with the manager, conflicts on the field with teammates…) but I can’t look past them when he does it at Anfield. To take your shirt off at halftime to trade with an opponent that has defended you with less effort than sneezing is absolutely ludicrous. This is a place that accepted Luis Suarez back with open arms after multiple suspensions for classless acts which he repaid in effort and production that put Liverpool back in the Champions League. Fans of Liverpool were willing to give Balotelli a pass and a chance to shine and instead he repaid them with a gesture of selfishness and ignorance.

Some people are standing up for Balotelli even still, saying it is unfair to blame Liverpool’s failures tonight on him. Maybe so, but the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results… and the only results Balotelli fans receive is more insanity.


Don’t Talk about the College Playoff Yet

collegetrophy

We are seven weeks into the college football season and have been blessed with a number of quality teams and headlines. That being said it is still way too early to really begin discussing who should/will be in the 4-team playoff at the end of the season.

Currently there are 3 undefeated teams: Florida State, Ole Miss, and Mississippi State. The Egg Bowl between Ole Miss and Mississippi State will eliminate one of those two teams but with the beast of an SEC conference schedule to go, either team could lose before their in state rivalry match up.

There are also 18 other teams with only one loss this season. So currently 21 teams are up for realistic discussion for a 4-team playoff. That is entirely too many teams to even begin a discussion as to who should have the opportunity to play for the championship at the end of the season. Last week everybody wanted to criticize Alabama as being “mediocre by their standards.” Now after mollywhopping the Aggies they are back in the discussion. Don’t expect any thank you cards or flowers from the Texas A&M staff for motivating the Tide this weekend.

I realize that it is the obligation of sports media to carry on these discussions but lets spend more time analyzing current teams and match ups and less time speculating teams’ chances of competing 3 months from now. Let the schedule take care of the half the discussion which will allow for more relevant conversation in a couple of weeks.


Week 7 NFL Picks

By Jeffrey Beall

By Jeffrey Beall

Back to .500 lets take a look at this week’s games:

Seattle @ St.Louis (Seahawks -6.5): I have a feeling somebody will be quite angry coming off of a loss last week. Perfect opportunity for Richard Sherman to yell about something.

Arizona @ Oakland: (Cardinals -3.5): Is Billy Beane available for football?

Kansas City @ San Diego: (Chargers -4): If only Keenan Allen would be nearly as successful in fantasy as his team has been on the field.

Minnesota @ Buffalo: (Bills -5): The Bills D-line is ridiculously good this year.

New York @ Dallas (Giants +6.5): I don’t trust the Cowboys yet.

Houston @ Pittsburgh (Steelers -3): The model of inconsistency I still want to believe in the Steelers at home on MNF.


Vontaze Burfict is a Dirty Punk

burfict

In case you hadn’t heard, Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict was the subject of criticism this past weekend after his game against the Panthers. As if a game ending in a tie isn’t awful enough, you have this joke of a player on the field giving football players a bad name.

On two separate occasions Burfict was caught twisting Cam Newton and Greg Olsen’s ankles at the tail end of a tackle. Burfict’s tackle on Greg Olsen happened as Olsen fell into the end zone for a touchdown.

Fox Sports NFL

Fox Sports NFL

This guy should be suspended multiple games if not for the rest of the season as this is clear evidence of intentionally trying to hurt a player. Burfict is tied for the team league in penalties this season having only played one full game and led the Bengals last year in penalties that included eight personal foul penalties.

Look I get that it is a violent game and personally have issues with all of the penalties that are called and the hypocrisy of the game. This is different, this is a coward that can’t get the job done on the field when he is supposed to so he is taking cheap, dirty shots that can impact a player’s career.  There are probably other players that do this and haven’t been publicized, well here is the opportunity to send a message. Suspend him for at least 3 games and fine the hell out of him. There is no place in the game for this type of antics.


Todd Gurley Did Nothing Wrong

By Thomson200 (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

By Thomson200 (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Georgia running back Todd Gurley was suspended indefinitely because he received money for signing merchandise. This isn’t the first time a player has been in the news over the past couple years for receiving money for signing autographs (See: Johnny Manziel). Manziel was subsequently suspended one half of the first game of the season last year. They even had video footage of Manziel performing the acts.

Gurley is on track to be nominated and possibly (probably) win the Heisman Trophy this year. I’m not saying his elite status within the college football realm entitles him to break the rules, it is stupid rule that somebody needs to fight to amend or remove from the bylaws. Don’t tell me you can’t change rules in the middle of a season either (See NFL Domestic Violence Policy). If Gurley receives any more of a punishment than Manziel then it is an absolute shame. Currently Georgia University suspended Gurley (the institution that will receives thousands from selling #3 jerseys), probably to follow protocol on handling NCAA violations (the other institution that receives millions from college athletes). The investigation will continue and it sounds like Gurley could be out 2 games. It is ridiculous.

The real crime is how little may have been paid for the autographs and the business owner/store that sells these items will go unpunished. Hopefully the right to sell your own autograph will be a rule that is looked into and ultimately changed because it is a shame to see this asinine rule (one of thousands from the NCAA) mess with a student’s college career.


Week 6 NFL Picks

By Jeffrey Beall

By Jeffrey Beall

Coming off a 5-1 week lets see if the success can continue:

Denver @ New York Jets (Broncos -9.5): Jets don’t have a consistent quarterback anymore and the offense most likely to pick apart a decent Jets defense is Denver.

Washington @ Arizona (Cardinals -3.5): Washington coming off short week and big game against Seattle and have to travel across the country… not favorable.

Chicago @ Atlanta (Falcons -3.5): I’m going to keep riding the Falcons at home because both of these teams are as inconsistent as it gets.

Baltimore @ Tampa Bay (Ravens -3.5): I’m starting to not like these three and a half point spreads

San Francisco @ St. Louis (49ers -3.5): I’ve learned nothing.

San Diego @ Oakland (Chargers -7.5): Because why the hell not Oakland is awful.


Weekend Sports Preview

By Keith Allison (Flickr)

By Keith Allison (Flickr)

I have had a rough past few sports weekend. The Orioles have really been my only saving grace as Liverpool, Virginia Tech, and the 49ers have been inconsistent to poor in their past few performances leaving me to begin my work weeks with even more animosity and rage than usual. So here’s what I’m looking forward to:

Saturday

West Bromwich @ Liverpool: Liverpool are struggling lately. Settling for a point last weekend against Merseyside rival Everton, losing to Basel Wednesday in Champions League and with only 6 points this season, the Reds need 3 points from this matchup.

Virginia Tech @ UNC: Dear Brewer… please don’t throw more than one interception. The fall from the excitement peak that was the Ohio St. game has been long and rough. I want to believe the Hokies can challenge for the ACC although I know they’re far from it.

Tons of other ranked matchups including a handful of SEC matchups that should make for great television and solidify how bad I am at College Pick Em.

Sunday

Orioles @ Tigers: Up 2-0 after a huge comeback in game two the O’s are yet again pulling me through my other teams’ mediocre performances

Kansas City @ San Francisco: Big matchup as the Chiefs are coming off of mollywhopping New England all over the field. Alex Smith returns and I’ve never been more excited for him to throw interceptions.

More football and baseball postseason games and quality EPL matchups as well.

What are you excited for this weekend?


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