Sunday, October 15, 2006

Bobby Johnson has turned the corner at Vandy

Seems funny to say considering we are only 3-4 at this point in the season. But that win over Georgia was more than just a win. More than just a win over a ranked team. More than just a win over a ranked team on the road. This was a turning point for this team.

In previous years, Vandy may hang tough with a good team. May even pull an upset. But the very next week theyd get blown out by a mediocre conference team. Those days are over.

After finishing 5-6 last year with a once in a lifetime player like Jay Cutler, lots of people thought this would be a return to normalcy. A return to struggling to keep up with the bottom dwellars in the conference. But so far this year, we've played every conference game close. The only blowout loss was a 20 point defeat at Michigan(who currently is undefeated and likely the 2nd best team in the nation). The three conferences losses have been by a combined 12 points. And quite frankly, Vandy had a legitimate shot to win all of those games. But it remained the same ole vandy because they couldnt finish the deal. But that changed on saturday. We finally got over the hump and beat a good team on the road.

Last year when Steve Spurrier returned to the SEC to coach South Carolina, he commented one of the big differences in the conference is the talent level at Vandy has gone up. We have SEC caliber player littered across the team. I still think Bobby Johnson is a little too conservative for his own good at times, but he sure can recruit at this school. Chris Nickson, Cassen Jackson-Garrison, Earl Bennett, Sean Walker, Ryan Hamilton, Jon Goff, etc, etc... All of these players could make SEC rosters.

The talent keeps going up. The attitude is changing. The next step is finally get that bowl monkey off our back. who knows, maybe itll by decemeber.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

should NFL schedule be changed?

A question was asked on the AskVic column at recently about the NFL scheduling. currently the way the NFL schedules the season, each team plays the other three in their division twice. home and away. they will play all the times from one AFC and NFC division which is on a rotating basis. the final two games are played against teams that finished in the same spot in other divisions in the conference. for example this year the Jags are playing their AFC south counterparts twice, the AFC North, NFC North, and the Pittsburgh and Kansas City(both of whom finished 2nd in their divisions last year just like the Jags did).

So with this scenario the only teams each franchise is guaranteed a game against are the one's in their own division. The two main benefits is that teams in each division should play schedules that are relatively equal and each team will play all the other franchises in the NFL in a four year span.

Regarding both of those points, I personally could care less about playing all the teams in the league. I have no interest in seeing the Seahawks, Cardinals, Niners, jets, giants, etc.... maybe playing them once in awhile would be cool but i dont need to see these teams every four years. and im sure a good number of the fans of those teams could care less about seeing the Jags or texans.

While I agree that its nice in theory for all the teams in a division to play relatively the same strength of schedule, I think over time that works out. If the Jags luck out and play a relatively easy schedule while the Colts a difficult one, it would be no surprise that the following year the roles would be reveresed. Even with similar schedules, teams luck out by catching opponents when they are cold or banged up.

Id be much more interested in seeing teams play against regional opponents or against teams in which they usually play good games... pseudo-rivalries.

Looking at the Jags for example, Id love to see them play the Steelers and Panthers every year. They were forming a nice rivalry when they both played in the AFC central and even now when they do play, the games are usually very contested and very exciting. The panthers is an obvious choice. Both teams came into the league the same year. Theyve battled to reach certain milestones first. And theyve debated over who has had the most success. This seems like a natural rivalry which would generate tons of interest. Id also like to see the three Florida teams play each other every year. Almost like a Florida Cup. Battle for instate supremacy. Another idea would be to play games against former players or more interesting former coaches. While the Jags do get to play Coughlin and the Giants in his second season there, it could have just as easily been his fourth season when the interested would have almost been gone.

Now these games dont even have to last forever. Of late the Patriots and the Colts have formed a great little rivalry based on all the postseason games and the regular season games with postseason implications. Once this little rivalry is no longer interesting because the teams quit being good, or if Peyton and Brady leave or retire, etc... then they can quit playing each other. Now it just so happens that they have played each other the last three regular seasons but there are no guarantees with this current schedule format.

While this idea admittedly has a college feel to it, especially the Florida Cup idea, I think it would generate a lot of interest in each regular season. While the Jags have lucked out this year with an interesting schedule, the 2005 season was a total bore. I want the schedules to be interesting. Id like to see the Jags play their division opponents, the steelers, panthers, bucs, and dolphins every year.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

College basketball playoff

This is my idea for a new college basketball playoff system.

There has been a lot of talk recently about whether the NCAA should expand their national tournament to 128 teams instead of keeping it at 65. And I agree with some of the arguments on both sides.

Someone in support of the 128 team tournament would argue that for almost all small and mid major conference teams, the regular season is absolutely worthless. Since their only real hope of getting into the national tournament is by winning their conference tourney, then their regular season is basically a warmup for that one chance. Also, the regular season for the best teams in the major conferences are also "essentially" worthless because all they are fighting for are seeds in the tourney. Its not like they are fighting to keep their season alive. So, since you have all these teams whose regular seasons are essentially worthless and the tourney is already somewhat watered down with so many average teams, then you may as well just make the tournament even larger and add a whole nother round of excitement.

Now someone in support of keeping the 65 team tournament would say the product is already watered down enough and is already exciting enough, so why bother changing it? Its already one of the most exciting sporting events of the year and youd be stupid to change it.

And I agree somewhat with both arguments. If youve read my piece on the college football playoff, youd know I dont like the idea of meaningless regular seasons. But on the otherhand, I do love March Madness and wouldnt want to change it. And while listening to both arguments recently, I came up with an idea that would include the best of both worlds. Now its not totally refined and may need some tweaking but I think the general idea is a good one.

As of right now, there are 31 conferences in college basketball. I think each conference should be guaranteed two spots in the national tourney. The first spot should go to the regular season conference champion. And the second spot should go to the conference tournament champion. That would give you a total of 62 entries which would leave 2 spots for atlarge teams.

Now I could be swayed into saying that for some of the minor conferences, the regular season champion and the conference champion would play for just one spot in the tourney. And I could be swayed into saying that some of the minor conferences should be grouped together as to not give as many spots to bad teams. And I could be swayed into saying that maybe the Big East should be rewarded with an extra bid or the divisions should be thought of separately because their conference has so many teams. There would need to be some tweaking. But hear me out...

Back in the day, the only way to make the national tourney was to win your conference tourney. Now, with all the atlarge bids, the major conference tournaments are essentially worthless because the teams that win are probably good enough to have qualified for the national tournament already. Back in the 70's, I guarantee you there were a lot of people who could tell you which schools won the previous 5 ACC tournaments. Now, there isnt a sole on the planet who could. It just doesnt matter. With my plan, these conference tournaments would once again be unbelievable, do or die games with seasons riding on the line.

Now with this plan, the regular season also becomes more important. Late in the college basketball season, we know who the top teams are and which of them are making the tournament. So the only games of real importance are the teams battling for 500 in the major conferences hoping to secure a bid. Again, like in football, i really dont care about Indiana with an 8-6 conference record playing Purdue with a 7-7 conference record battling for one of the bubble spots. I just dont care. I want to see 13-2 Duke playing 14-1 North Carolina with the winner earning a spot in the tournament. Now you could argue that the games for Indiana and Purdue now become meaningless but in my mind, they still have to keep playing well because they still have a shot of winning their conference tourney. And they still want to get a better seed for their conference tourney.

Also lets say the same school wins the regular season and conference tournament championship. You could have the two second place teams play for the second atlarge bid. Again, youd have another do or die, season on the line game which would make it even more exciting.

Now you could argue that this system makes the early nonconference games meaningless. Ive got two responses about that. First, after a bit of tweaking there would probably be more than two atlarge bids and for those schools, the strength and win-loss record against the nonconference schools would come in to play. Also, in the current system, if you think about it, the nonconference schedule really isnt that important anyways. How many bubble teams each year get left out because of a weak schedule? Not very many... three, four, five? Plus, most schools have four or five games against good teams and the rest are cupcakes. So the record against nonconference opponents are usually pretty close for teams of similar talent.

Now you could argue that if you awarded each conference two spots, youd have more lousy teams in the final tournament. But the beauty of the ncaa tournament is all the upsets on the first weekend, and then watching the cream rise to the top from the sweet sixteen on. Well in college basketball, you have 7 major conferences(ACC, Big East, Big10, Big12, C-USA, Pac10, and SEC). Then you have a group of conferences that almost yearly produce a couple of really good teams(Mountain West, A10, MAC, and Missouri Valley). So thats 11 conferences each most likely producing 22 really good teams. Couple that with at least two atlarge bids, there will be plenty of great teams to fill out the sweet 16 with possibly an upset or two along the way.

So basically in my system you would have a series of tournaments throughout the year. The conference regular season would be a round robin tournament with the winner getting an automatic bid. The conference tournaments would produce an automatic bid. Possibly, if you want to tweak some of the smaller conferences and if the major conferences that have the same school win the regular season and conference tournament titles, then you would have what is essentially a play in game getting an automatic bid. And then youd have the 64 team tournament itself. I think the excitement at the end of the year would be just the same but then youd have more excitement throughout the regular season as well.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Magic select JJ Redick in the first round

Not a big fan of this pick. I know Redick is known as a great shooter, but I feel like his potential is limited to college. He really doesnt have the size to be a two guard in the NBA and he certaintly doesnt have the athleticism. I have a hard time believing he could be a fulltime starter. He appears to me like a guy who is more likely to be a situational shooter who comes off the bench. Also, even though he was known as a great shooter in college, his 3 point FG% really wasnt all world. As everyone points out, when Duke played LSU in the ncaa tourney last year, Redick was guarded by players with NBA level athleticism and they totally shut him down. Is that a foreshadower of his pro success or lackthereof?

I was really hoping they would take Ronnie Brewer from Arkansas. He has the size(6'7 with a 7 foot wingspan). He has the athleticism(40+ inch vert). He is a great defender. He hustles on both sides of the floor. He is a good ball handler. He is a good passer. His father played in the NBA which rubbed off.. he has a high basketball IQ. His only true weakness is shooting. But thats something that can be taught with practice. A lot of those other qualities Brewer has cant be taught. I think he would have been a better fit on this team.

I really like what the Magic have done this past year. Jameer Nelson, Carlos Arroyo, Darko Milic, Dwight Howard, Hedo Turkoglu. Fun team to watch. Magic really could use a good shooter but again Redick seems more like a situational, 6th man kind of guy. I think Brewer would have been a better fit.

first of two 2nd round pick is coming up in a few minutes. ill just wait to post this...

and the pick is... James Augustine out of Illinois. if they were going after a forward surprised they didnt take Alexander Johnson out of Florida St. i thought he was a higher ranked prospect. anyways Augustine has some decent reviews. from scouts inc and espn "Augustine might not be drafted very high, but he could be one of those guys who will stick on a roster and have a solid pro career. He is a skilled big man without all the flash. He might be a poor-man's version of Jeff Foster, with a better jump shot. He will be a solid and productive hard worker. Expect him to be selected early in the second round."

one guy still available that ive seen a bunch and like is guillermo diaz out of miami. big time athlete with out of the gym hops. would probably be a guy who comes off the bench as a sparkplug. which is fine for a 2nd round pick in basketball. most of these guys dont make the team.

i think the magic just traded up. looks like the second of two 2nd rounders is... Lior Eliyahu from Israel. Never heard of him. sounds like a guy who will be left in europe for awhile. er... left in israel or wherever he plays.

well time for bed.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Early recruiting news

The Gators already have 6 verbal commits from the same high school.... Lakeland Dreadnaughts. Lakeland is the defending "mythical" national champions finishing first in the USA today high school poll. They are also the two time defending 5A champs in the state. And they havent lost a game in a few years.

Here are some videos courtesy of sunshine preps.

Steve Wilks
Chris Rainey
Ahmad Black
Paul Wilson
LaShawn Pouncey
James Pouncey

Here is a better compilation of Chris Rainey. Link is flaky. doesnt always work. He is the best prospect of the 6 theyve got verbals from. one of the top 3 backs in the state.

And arguably the best player on the team has yet to make a decision but the gators are prolly in the lead...

John Brown

I feel like i should make another plug for so yea, all you coaches out there got a player who you think should be recruited. go to! or call up Derek Williams!

Worst part of the year for sports is now

I used to dislike February the most because football was over and it was 6 months until it began again. But at least youve got conference basketball season coming to a close. plus youve got college baseball starting. and youve got all the build up to the nfl draft starting.

But now my feelings have changed. once this weekend comes to a close, college baseball will be over. although i must admit im not too interested in the finals this year. i could care less about oregon st.

now all we've got are the dog days of summer for baseball. must admit i havent watched a mlb game from start to finish this year. well except for the jacksonville suns games ive gone to. but thats minor league.

the only good thing is we are thiiiis close to football starting once again. jaguars training camp kicks off on july 29th! nearly one month to go. first preseason game is usually the hall of fame game in canton, oh. this year its aug 6th. first jags preseason game is aug 12th. first college games i believe are on august 31st.

almost there....

USA loses to Ghana 2-1.... out of the world cup

finished dead last in the group with 1 point. pretty ugly world cup for america.

the only real bright side is the majority of our best players are some of the youngest on the team.

not really sad to see Pope go. good player whose best days are behind him. not really sad to see reyna go. we need better people in the middle.

someone needs to kick donovan and beasley in the ass before the next cup.

id like to see dempsey sent over to england. thought he looked like the best player on the team but he plays in mls so he can only get so much better unless he goes abroad.

gooch had a rough first game but i thought he was pretty good the rest of the time. he is still really young. hopefully he'll be going to a better european league.

too bad corey gibbs got hurt before the world cup started. i dont know what team he is on now. i thought i read he was without a team leading up to the world cup. hopefully some team in a good euro league will pick him up. i always thought he could be good.

i dont think ill be too sad to see arena go. not like i know a whole lot about soccer strategy. but i do know that in a lot of sports certain coaches are good at taking terrible organizations or teams and turning them into solid programs. yet those same coaches arent good enough to take them to the top. but youve also got some coaches who are the exact opposite. they cant build from the ground up but they know how to make good teams great. maybe im off base but arena doesnt seem like the type to take us to the next level in international soccer. i think he won some college titles with the Hoos and i think he won some MLS titles with DC but the world cup is a different animal. maybe im wrong but i think maybe we need some new blood.

also, i wish we played more games against the best countries. we should play in that south american tourney that mexico plays in. we should play more european teams on european soil. we need to quit playing as many friendlies with canada and guam.

thats my little rant. guess we'll be back in 4 years. cant imagine we wont be able to qualify out of north america.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

USA needs win over Ghana / Czech loss to Italy

welll the USA is two games in to the world cup. looked like shit against the czechs. thought they possessed the ball longer than i thought they would but they couldnt create a decent scoring opportunity to save their lives. got blown out. looked pretty good against italy early on. they really needed to score but could never finish. were lucky to come out with a tie thanks to a pathetic own goal by the italians. plus the refs had a couple close calls that forced us to play 9 vs 10 for the whole 2nd half. still not sure why Arena didnt use his last sub. and why wasnt Beasley running around like a madman after coming in. he was the only guy with fresh legs. shoulda come in like a chicken with its head cut off.

not to kinda rip off what jeff prosser said on the local radio but how in the world could we get that blown out by the czechs? i know their best athletes play soccer and ours dont. blah blah blah. they are smaller than pennsylvania for crying out loud. we're america. we just got our ass kicked by pennsylvania jr!

how bout those italains? they totally play the role of superstars. long wavy hair. act like they get shot after somebody breathes on them. what pussies.

well anyways one more game to go. already got the morning off of work. we need to beat ghana which will be tough. and then we need the prissy italians to beat the czechs.

Friday, May 12, 2006

World Cup 2006 is approaching

If you need a reason to get pumped up, here are all the goals the USA scored from the 2002 tourney... picture quality isnt great...

Jimmy Smith retires

Sad day for jaguar fans. unexpected news for sure.

Smith will go down as one of the top 2 or 3 jaguars in history. In a group with Brunell and Boselli. One of the best receivers in his time. Not sure if he has amassed enough stats to warrant an invitation to the Hall of Fame, but he is borderline.

Ill always remember that diving TD catch against the Broncos in the 96 playoffs. in case ive never mentioned this before, i was there, 14th row 50 yard line! haha