Friday, June 29, 2012

My Favorite Sports Video Games

     I did a blog about a month ago in which I shared my eight favorite sports films. I'm sitting at home, playing Mario Golf on my N64. That list of sports films just suddenly popped into my mind. That's when I decided, "Why not comprise a list of my favorite sports video games?" So here it is (albeit the list is a bit short), my favorite sports video games starting with:

  1. Mario Golf (N64 and GBC): Mario unleashes his inner Tiger Woods as he hits the links alongside Peach, Luigi, Yoshi, Wario and Bowser. You can use the Transfer Pak to play your GBC character on the N64 version. There are six courses and there's even mini-putt.
  2. NFL Blitz: Arcade-style football, attractive women on the loading screen, what more could you ask for? It's one of the few games where you can get away with late hits.
  3. Ken Griffey Jrs' Slugfest (N64): Ken Griffey Jr. was one of my favorite baseball players growing up and this game illustrates why. Great commentary from the late Dave Niehaus, nice controls and a terrific season mode make this game an instant classic in my book.
  4. Mario Superstar Baseball (GC): The only baseball game where you can use a boxing glove for a bat. Has rivalry match-ups, a "toy field" and its own season mode where you can pick up players after you win.
  5. WWE Smackdown: Here Comes the Pain (PS2): Technically, pro wrestling is more along the lines of entertainment than sport. But I'll consider it the latter just for today. There's Create-a-wrestler (You can create a Hulk Hogan-esque character on here), plus the action isn't so PG like today's WWE.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Game of Tradition

     Last season on November 11th (The date was 11-11-11, by the way), the No. 1 ranked North Carolina Tar Heels faced off against the Michigan State Spartans in what was known as the Quicken Loans Carrier Classic. It was an idea originally hatched by Michigan State Athletic Director Mark Hollis and it certainly was one to remember. The two teams played aboard the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson in San Diego with a gorgeous sunset cast upon the Pacific Ocean right before tip-off. United States President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama was in attendance (after all, he does love to take in a game of basketball) as was Spartan alumni Magic Johnson, Tar Heel alumni James Worthy and more than 8,000 servicemen and women. It was the first time in NCAA history that a basketball game had been played on an aircraft carrier. The end result of the inaugural event was a 67-55 victory for North Carolina and the crowd chanting, "U-S-A!! U-S-A!!"
     It was indeed a patriotic game, but it's also a part of the growing number of historic neutral-field games in college sports. Here's a list of some of the upcoming neutral-field games that I'll be looking forward to:

  • College Football: 2012 Cowboys Classic; September 1, Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Michigan Wolverines: Two college football programs with long, rich tradition steeped in their bloodlines. The defending national champions will kick off the 2012 season with a opening tilt against the Michigan Wolverines in one of the largest stadiums in the world, Cowboys Stadium. Led by their Heisman hopeful QB Denard Robinson, the rising Wolverines look to make a statement against Nick Saban's squad in Arlington, Texas. Both teams won their BCS bowl games last season. This should be a better game than last year's bout between LSU and Oregon.
  • College Basketball: Ramstein Air Base, Germany; November 9, Connecticut Huskies vs. Michigan State Spartans: Looking to build off of the success of last year's Carrier Classic, Michigan State AD Mark Hollis has proposed another special basketball game similar to the Carrier Classic. It's a battle of two legendary NCAA basketball coaches as Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo matches wits with Connecticut head coach Jim Calhoun. The game will be played in front of 2,500 enlisted men and women and ESPN is planning on staging and televising the event. Another noteworthy match-up is between MSU senior forward Draymond Green and Connecticut sophomore guard Shabazz Napier. After this game, Michigan State will be playing the Kansas Jayhawks four days later in Atlanta. The season opener has just been approved by the U.S. Department of Defense and will be one of four games on naval ships. The others include:
    • Marquette-Ohio State in Charleston, South Carolina
    • Florida-Georgetown in Jacksonville, Florida
    • Syracuse-San Diego State in San Diego, California.
  • College Football: Emerald Isle Classic; September 1, Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Navy Midshipmen: As a Michigan Wolverines fan, I have to admit that this is the one game that I'm most excited for. Playing in Aviva Stadium in Ireland, Notre Dame is capturing more than the spirit of the Fighting Irish football tradition. They're celebrating the school's well-known Irish heritage as they open the 2012 season against Navy. Their 86th battle with the Midshipmen will start at 9:00 a.m. as they make their return to Dublin in sixteen years. Notre Dame will also wear cleats decorated with the Irish flag during the game. Seriously, how cool is that?? This trip will not only be a big game against a long-time rival, but it'll help Notre Dame players get in touch with their Irish heritage. My schedule for September 1st will certainly be booked.
     Other noteworthy games (all college football) include:
  • College Football; AT&T Red River Rivalry in Dallas; October 13, Oklahoma Sooners vs. Texas Longhorns
  • College Football: Two Straight Games at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta; August 31-September 1, Game 1: Tennessee Volunteers vs. North Carolina State Wolfpack; Game 2: Clemson Tigers vs. Auburn Tigers
  • College Football: New York's College Classic at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey; September 8, USC Trojans vs. Syracuse Orangemen  

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Geek Out Stat: A New Dead-Ball Era?

     Yesterday, New York Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey threw his second consecutive one-hitter against the Baltimore Orioles in a 5-0 win. He struck out 13 O's while walking two in a complete game shutout and was the first MLB pitcher to throw back-to-back one-hitters in nearly 24 years. The knuckle baller matched his previous outing last Wednesday at Tampa in which he threw a complete game and a one-hitter against the Rays. He struck out twelve in a 9-1 win that would make Tim Wakefield and Steve Sparks blush. In fact, he almost had a no-hitter in that game when MLB decided to review Rays center fielder B.J. Upton's single in the first inning. The play consisted of Mets third baseman David Wright being unable to field the ball with his bare hand and the play was ruled a hit for Upton (MLB declined to overturn the call). Nevertheless, Dickey's performance as of late has been second-to-none and has even conjured talks of Dickey possibly winning a Cy Young. His knuckleballs are hitting 80 MPH on the gun. The average knuckleball goes at 68 MPH. The 37-year-old has an ERA of 2.00 while striking out 103 and has a record of 11-1 for the season. Did I mention that his WHIP is 0.89?
     But Dickey wouldn't have been the first Met to throw a no-hitter. Teammate Johan Santana threw a no-no on June 1st versus St. Louis where despite walking five Cardinals, he struck out eight in a 8-0 win. That game had a close call that was quite similar to Upton's infield single last Wednesday. In the sixth inning of Santana's gem, Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltran hit a line drive over third base that ended up hitting the foul line. The ball was ruled foul by third base umpire Adrian Johnson despite the rule that any ball that hits the foul line should be ruled a fair ball.
     Overall, this is turning out to be "The Year of the Pitcher". We've already seen:

  • Two perfect games 
    • April 21, White Sox RHP Philip Humber at Seattle (4-0 win); threw 96 pitches and struck out nine.
    • June 13, Giants RHP Matt Cain vs. Houston (10-0 win); threw 125 pitches and struck out 14.
  • Two no-hitters
    • May 2, Angels RHP Jered Weaver vs. Minnesota (9-0 win); threw 111 pitches, struck out nine and walked just one.
    • June 1, Mets LHP Johan Santana vs. St. Louis (8-0 win); First no-hitter in Mets' history.
  • A combined no-hitter; June 8, six Seattle Mariners pitchers combined to no-hit the Los Angeles Dodgers in a 1-0 victory.
    • SP Kevin Millwood: Six innings pitched, one walk and six strikeouts; left the game after six innings with a mild right groin strain.
    • RP Charlie Furbush: 2/3 IP and a strikeout.
    • RP Stephen Pryor: 1/3 IP, two walks and a strikeout; Pryor was the winning pitcher in this game.
    • RP Lucas Luetge: 1/3 IP; Luetge got his fourth hold of the year.
    • RP Brandon League: 2/3 IP and a strikeout; League got his third hold of the season.
    • CL Tom Wilhelmsen: One IP; Wilhelmsen recorded his third save of the year.
     But it's not like this trend only began this year. 2011 saw three no-hitters thrown that year, all by American League pitchers. The year before that, there were six no-hitters which include two perfect games and a no-hitter during the postseason (Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay threw both the postseason no-hitter and one of the perfect games). What's even more interesting is that Halladay's postseason no-no against Cincinnati is only one of three no-hitters thrown after July in the past five years. Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander has already thrown two goose eggs in his career and came close to throwing a third one on May 18th against the Pirates.
     It seems like throwing a no-hitter is becoming just as easy as throwing 300 yards in an NFL game. Since 2007, there has been 21 no-hitters with four of those being perfect games and one a combined no-hitter. According to the Baseball Almanac, MLB has seen the league batting average dip in the last twelve seasons. It's gone from .271 in 1999 to .255 in 2011. As a matter of fact, the strikeouts per game has risen by almost a whole in that same time frame (From 6.41 in 1999 to 7.10 in in 2011) while the league's average on-base percentage has gone down as well (From .345 in 1999 to .321 in 2011). Is this the dawn of a new era? Maybe. But I bet that the New York Yankees are a little peeved by all of these no-hitters!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Watch This: Nice Kickball Play and Deflection Catch

     I remember playing kickball as a kid in elementary school, but I don't remember anybody (myself included) being able to pull this off:

     If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a kickball. This guy does more than that. He plays 'just plain hard to get out'. The opponents's reaction is quite humorous as well, seeing how frusterated he was at his team for not being able to get the elusive runner out. But does it top this play?

     It certainly doesn't. Considering the odds of being able to pull off this volleyball circus catch, it has a strong case for being one of the best sports plays ever. Throw in the fact that baseball players at the high school level hit the ball much farther than a pop fly to the catcher and it makes the play even more unbelievable. Imagine if some MLB scouts were watching this video or even at the game...

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Suggestion for November

      I want to talk about some political manners in this blog post. I know that politics tends to be such a poisonous subject now-a-days. But what I want to do is suggest an alternative to the usual two-party system that we're accustomed to. You can take it or leave it.
      The 2012 Presidential Election has practically come down to two candidates: GOP nominee Mitt Romney and our current President of the United States and Democratic nominee Barack Obama. Now I will personally admit that I will not be voting for Obama this upcoming November. Fiscally, I don't agree with the notion that spending on certain programs will stimulate the economy. But that doesn't mean that I will be voting for Mitt Romney, especially since he can't identify a CHOCOLATE DONUT. I won't tell you who I'm voting for in November, but I will make the suggestion that you take the time to consider some potential third-party candidates or an independent.
      George Washington warned America of the danger of aligning themselves with one political party and how it would turn the government from a group of people interested in their country's future into a gang of power-hungry tyrants. To put it in English: George Washington loathed political parties. Today, we have partisan cable news stations such as Fox News and MSNBC which spew out "news" and conduct interviews based on their political agendas.
      The number of independent voters (Voters who don't consider themselves liberal or conservative) has steadily grown over the years, dating back to 1966. In fact, more than 2.5 million voters have left either the Democratic or Republican party since the 2008 election. Why is this the case? Let's take a look at what each ideology/party offers:

      Democratic Party: 
  • Allows for social freedom such as women having the right to an abortion and for a gay couple to get married.
  • Focuses more on the creation of jobs rather than the growth of corporations and businesses. They want to see the unemployment rates go down, which is a great thing.
  • Will not go to war for resources; in fact, Democrats tend to hate going to war and consider it a last resort.
  • Enforces a lot of government spending and programs.
  • Focus on the rights of workers such as the UAW and the Screen Actor's Guild.
  • Some people have associated liberalism with socialism and even communism.
  • They are NOT mostly agnostic or atheist. Democrats embrace all religion.
  • Believes in people being free. However, a study done in 2009 by the Meractus Center at George Mason University ranked (Starting with the least free) New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, California and Maryland as the bottom five free states. All five states are considered pro-liberal states.
      Republican Party:
  • Allows for fiscal freedom such as tax cuts and building your business(es) up to financial respectability. They detest government spending.
  • Believes that hard work pays off in the end.
  • Tends to be very tough on social issues like gay rights and abortion. That's because many of them base their stances on their Catholic views.
  • Big business, small government. These are your CEOs, your chairmen, company presidents and the majority of your bosses.
  • Pro-War. Just ask George W. Bush.
  • Not all Republicans are neo-conservatives who are anti-gay and pro-war (The same can be said for the Democratic Party, being that they're not all neo-liberals). Texas Rep. Ron Paul believes in preserving the Constitution and has suggested the idea that the United States withdraw their membership from the United Nations. He also believes that the federal government shouldn't have a say in who marries who. Did you know that Clint Eastwood's a registered Republican, but he considers himself a libertarian?
      So there you have it! The Democratic Party allows for social freedom, but are strict on fiscal issues. Meanwhile, the Republican Party believes in fiscal freedom, yet they believe that our society should be based on Catholic values and moral beliefs. Truth is, the majority of society is fiscally conservative, but socially liberal (Like myself). So who do we submit our vote for if we dislike both parties?
      Why not think outside the box and vote for a third party? Thomas Jefferson once said that "Dissent is the highest form of patriotism", and if there was ever a time for a revolution, it's now. Do you like small government, yet you hate sending our troops to Afghanistan or Iraq? Do you want to end the Fed and prefer a free market, you know, some laissez-faire? Vote for Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson. Hell, write in Ron Paul if you have to. Want grassroots democracy and ecological wisdom? Go Green (As in the Green Party, made famous by Ralph Nader). If you want to, vote for Virgil Goode Jr. and the Constitution Party! Don't even think of sitting out this election! Not voting in an election won't help you get what you want from your country (Or try to, at least) Anyway you cut it, it's time for an actual change.
      No matter who gets inaugurated in January, not everyone's going to be satisfied. But with a national debt that's over a trillion dollars and an unemployment rate that's above 7.5%. there are more displeased American citizens than ever. Do you want change? Don't rely on a single man like Barack Obama or Mitt Romney to try and provide that change. Explore your options and look for the idea that sticks out the most. The power is yours!!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Update: Chad Ochocinco; Fish, Fish Got What I Wish

     It's been reported by Adam Schefter through OCNN that Chad Ochocinco has signed a one-year-deal with New England's division rival, the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins were looking for a veteran target for newly drafted quarterback Ryan Tannehill and it seems that despite his attitude issues, Ochocinco seemed like the perfect fit.
     Last year, the ex-Bengal was targeted 32 times by Tom Brady, but only caught 15 passes for 276 yards and a touchdown. All of these categories were career lows for Ochocinco. His longest reception was for 53 yards and he only produced 51 yards after the catch.
     On a team that has Reggie Bush, Karlos Dansby, Cameron Wake and just traded Brandon Marshall to Chicago for two undisclosed draft picks, Miami is certainly going to have the spotlight often this season. Unfortunately, the Fins aren't going to be all that good this year considering that a 34-year-old Chad Ochocinco is Miami's best receiver. To make matters worse, New England is still the king of the AFC East crop, the Jets still have it and the Buffalo Bills are a young, up-and-coming team. At least the Dolphins will be the center of attention while they're dwelling in the AFC East cellar in 2012.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Some Encouraging Words

     This has got to be the cutest thing ever.
     That kid might have helped the Heat turn around their series against Boston.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Numero Ochocinco

     Today was a day that a man's legacy saw the winding end of a trail. It was a day where we would no longer ask ourselves, "My goodness!! What's he going to do next?!?" It was a day where people wouldn't have a reason to watch the NFL on Sundays anymore...

     ...I'm only kidding. The New England Patriots cut WR Chad Ochocinco today. They've tried negotiating with other teams about a trade before the transaction deadline at the end of the day, which was set at 4 p.m. Unfortunately, not enough interest was struck up to make a deal.
     Ochocinco did tweet this upon hearing the news: "Thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to play for the 'Patriot' organization... fans were f***** wicked awesome, I wish you all the best..." (Schefter, Adam)
     The biggest problem for New England wasn't the former Bengals' ability, but instead his lack of interest in learning the plays. When Ochocinco left the training facility early before OTAs on Thursday, it sparked rumors that his days as a Pat were numbered. The 34-year-old replied by saying that "he was going to an eye doctor's appointment."
     Chad Ochocinco is known worldwide for his touchdown shenanigans every time he scores a touchdown in a game. From  playing golf by putting the football with the plane to "proposing" to a Ben-gals cheerleader to his Ochocinco Hall of Fame jacket, people just can't get enough of the six-time Pro Bowler. He's appeared on Dancing With The Stars (He was eliminated from the final four contestants). He's made "The List", which is comprised of all the defensive backs that have successfully covered him. He has his own catchphrase: "Child, please". If you truly want to know what this means, Google "Sports Soup" and "Chad Ochocinco" and see what you get. He even had his own reality TV show on VH1 called Ochocinco: The Ultimate Catch.
     Anyways, Ochocinco had career lows in touchdowns, receptions and receiving yards in his only year with the Patriots. Chad only amassed 15 receptions for 276 yards and a touchdown. He was getting paid over $6 million for last season, but he agreed to restructure his contract for 2012. He lowered his base salary from the $3 million he was due for this season down to $925,000. This only ensured himself a short-term roster spot, though. New England added Brandon Lloyd, Jabar Gaffney, Donte Stallworth and Anthony Gonzalez to their wide receiving corps. In fact, Deion Branch agreed to a one-year deal to return while Wes Welker received the franchise tag. These transactions pushed Ochocinco so far down the depth charts that many observers weren't surprised at all by his release.
     Now the question is, where will he go? The Dolphins could at least provide newly drafted QB Ryan Tannehill a veteran target. Philip Rivers could feed him deep passes all day in San Diego. Hell, maybe Rex Ryan could use another receiver for Mark Sanchez and the Jets. Whoever picks up Ochocinco better get their popcorn ready. Oh wait, that's a different wide receiver...

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

My Super Eight Favorite Sports Films Ever

     So I'm shuffling through the ole' YouTube, reviving personal childhood memories. That's when I stumbled upon a younger Emilio Estevez (Think Jake Gyllenhaal with twice the hair on his head. You better) and the Mighty Duck movies. I will admit that I did cry when Hans died in the second Mighty Ducks movie and I really hated the Hawks and Team Iceland. I do hope that in an attempt to mark it off my bucket list, I get to emulate the "Flying V" formation in a pick-up hockey game (Trust me, learning how to ice skate will be on my bucket list as well) . Anyways, I decided to create this list of seven eight of my favorite sports movies of all time, starting off with...

  1. The Mighty Ducks/D2 Mighty Ducks/D3 Mighty Ducks: Who doesn't remember this film?! Only in a Disney film will a kid from South Central L.A. play hockey!! Oh and don't forget:
  2. The Sandlot: A group of kids try to retrieve their baseball from a neighbor's vicious dog. But who's the neighbor? None other than Hank Aaron!
  3. Remember The Titans: Strong film about two schools, one all-white and the other an all-black school, forming one high school football squad. Not only that, but they formed a racially integrated unit that was cohesive. Denzel Washington's performance as the head coach is flawless. If a Barack Obama biopic comes out, Denzel better play Obama. Fun Fact: Randy from My Name Is Earl plays one of the linemen.
  4. Rudy: Notre Dame fans, players, coaches and alumni alike love this movie about a steel mill worker from Joliet, Illinois named Rudy Ruettiger. He dreams of playing football for the Fighting Irish. This is in spite of not having enough money to get in and being undersized for a football player (His height: 5'6"; His weight: 165 lbs).
  5. Rocky: Perhaps the greatest movie ever and certainly at the top of my list. You know the story. You know Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa. You know about Adrian. You say, "Yo Adrian!" especially if you're from Philadelphia. And if you've seen Rocky IV, you probably tried to imitate Ivan Drago: "I must break you." I've actually tried the raw egg protein shakes that Rocky drinks in the movie. They actually do wonders. Anyways, enjoy this iconic trailer.
  6. Million Dollar Baby: Kind of like Rocky, only with Hilary Swank instead of Sylvester Stallone. Nevertheless, she still manages to kick just as much ass. Did I mention that Clint Eastwood not only starred in this film as a gruff boxing trainer, but he directed the movie as well? He sort of reminds you of Chuck Norris.
  7. Major League: Long before Charlie Sheen was "winning" with "Goddesses", the Adonis-blooded actor played Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughn. "Wild Thing" kind of reminds me of a more pissed-off Bubbles from The Trailer Park Boys. Anyways, a former Vegas showgirl inherits the Cleveland Indians from her deceased husband. She wants to move the Indians to Miami, (She wants to take their talents to South Beach, which makes me wonder: Did this film Major League actually factor into Lebron's decision to take his talents to South Beach?) release all of the veteran players and sign new players to replace them. But in order to do that, she must keep the attendance at Municipal Stadium in Cleveland (Which was actually filmed in Milwaukee, by the way) under 800,000 for an entire season. But Jake Taylor, "Wild Thing", Willie Mays Hayes and the gang would have none of it. HE WANTS THE RIGHTY, THE VILE THING!!
  8. Space Jam: This is a part of my childhood as well. Probably the most worldwide exposure Shawn Bradley had ever gotten outside of America and Germany. Charles Barkley's hilarious in this movie as well.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Watch This: Evan Longoria's Superhuman Powers

     This video's all sorts of awesome. You can't find a more badass way to save a damsel in distress from danger the way that Evan Longoria does. Seriously, the Rays third baseman may nearly share the same name as a "Desperate Housewife", but Evan Longoria's machismo is off the charts.

     Why isn't Evan Longoria a member of the Avengers? Evan and Robert Downey Jr. would kick all sorts of ass. Did I mention that Longoria's a Gillette Young Gun?

Changing the Landscape

     Remember the Nebraska-Oklahoma rivalry? The head coaching battles between Tom Osborne and Barry Switzer/ Bob Stoops were something else. What about the Backyard Brawl between West Virginia and Pittsburgh? Whoever won that game that year was virtually guaranteed a BCS berth. How about the days of when TCU, Utah and Boise State were BCS busters? Their success peeved both the Bowl Coalition and certain teams (See Missouri, Arkansas and Michigan State) alike. Ahh, those were the days. Back when NCAA FBS Football wasn't all about the money, but rather the moment. But now, these moments are being endangered thanks in part to teams like TCU and Boise St. moving to BCS conferences for more money and an automatic BCS bowl berth.
     Flash back to June 10, 2010. Not since the Big East's major overhaul and TCU's departure for the Mountain West had NCAA FBS football seen any form of conference realignment occur within its boundaries. But on this day, the Big 12 would lose two schools within their conference: the University of Colorado and the University of Nebraska. Colorado would be heading to the Pac 10 while Nebraska would fill the void of twelfth team in the Big 10, although Nebraska didn't move until two days later. There was speculation of the Big 12's potential demise as a conference because schools such as Texas, Missouri and Oklahoma were rumored to be looking into moving to new conferences like the Pac 12 and the SEC. A day later, Boise State had announced their move from the Western Athletic Conference to the Mountain West Conference. This would raise speculation of the MWC possibly gaining an automatic BCS berth as a conference. A day after that, Texas turned down an invitation from the Pac-10 to join their conference. This was in part to the Big 12 benefiting greatly from a new TV deal. Utah would join Colorado in their move to the Pac-10 to form the newly-named Pac-12 just three days later. This week of events would prove to be important in the constant shift of the modern landscape of NCAA FBS football. The following events that occurred after June 17, 2010 (when Utah moved to the Pac-12 conference) include:
  • The Mountain West Conference luring Fresno State and Nevada from the Western Athletic Conference (August 18th, 2010)
  • BYU becoming an Independent in Football and joining the WAC in other sports (August 31, 2010)
  • Pac-12 forms its conference divisions into North and South, consisting of California, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, Washington and Washington State in the North. The South was made up of Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, UCLA, USC and Utah. (October 21, 2010)
  • Nevada and Fresno State agree to play one more season in the WAC amid a lawsuit filed by WAC officials. The lawsuit stated that the two schools failed to provide proper notice to leave the league and would owe the WAC a $5 million departure fee. (October 28, 2010)
  • Texas San-Antonio and Texas State join the WAC's football lineup after the conference would lose Boise State after 2011. Montana turns down an invitation to join. It should be noted that Montana was a member of the Pac-12's precursor conference, the Pacific Coast Conference from 1924 to 1950. (November 11, 2010)
  • TCU originally declares it's moving to the Big East in all sports starting in 2012. (November 29, 2010)
  • Hawaii, the Western Athletic Conference's longest-running member at 32 years, joins the Mountain West Conference only for football and the Big West for other sports, starting in 2012. (December 10, 2010)
  • The Atlantic Coast Conference plucks both Syracuse and Pittsburgh from the Big East, putting the Big East on life-support. (September 18, 2011)
  • Texas A&M aggressively seeks SEC membership out of unhappiness for Texas's newest network, the Longhorn Network. This was the first addition for the Southeastern Conference since it added South Carolina and Arkansas in 1992. (September 25, 2010)
  • TCU pulls back on moving to the Big East. Instead, the Horned Frogs accept an invitation to join the Big 12. (October 10, 2011)
  • The Mountain West Conference and Conference USA announce they'll be merging into a 20-24 team mega conference solely for football operations, starting in 2013. (October 14, 2011)
  • The Big 12 invites West Virginia from the Big East to join its conference. (October 28, 2011)
  • The SEC, already with two schools whose mascots are the Tigers, add a third tiger to the mix, nabbing Missouri from the Big 12. (November 6, 2011)
  • The Big East introduces San Diego State, Boise State, Central Florida, Houston and SMU as the conference's newest members after they lose Pittsburgh, Syracuse and West Virginia. Effective in 2013, the new football-only conference will span four time-zones, over 3,000 miles will eventually feature twelve teams. (December 7, 2011)
  • Memphis joins the Big East after being snubbed by the Big East's expansion in 2005. (February 8, 2012)
     This only scratches the surface of realignment. Now Florida State is rumored to possibly move to the Big 12 while Navy is ending its independent status to join the Big East. Navy will be joined by 2nd-time member Temple, who comes over from the MAC. There are many more moves that can't be crammed into one blog post even by myself. There are also many more moves to come in the future. But conference realignment hasn't been the only component changing the picture of NCAA FBS football.
     Schools such as Ohio State, Penn State and Syracuse have been hit hard with scandals, scams and illegal activity over the past few years. But these issues don't just stem from the players/students themselves. On March 8th, 2011, Ohio State coach Jim Tressel was fined $250,000 by Ohio State for failing to notify the school of violations involving the Ohio State football players and a financial arrangement with Edward Fife, the owner of a tattoo parlor who was under investigation at the time by the FBI for drug trafficking. The arrangement included trading championship rings, jerseys and other football-related rewards for tattoos. This arrangement also resulted in Ohio State suspending five of its players. Tressel would resign on May 30th, 2011 as a result of the scandal. As for Penn State and Syracuse, their assistant coaches, both former and current alike, were involved in child abuse scandals. Former Penn State assistant head coach Jerry Sandusky was accused on November 4, 2011 of molesting ten young males during one of his summer camp programs when he was with the Nittany Lions' football program . Head coach Joe Paterno would be terminated from his position five days later for failing to report any of the incidents to any authorities. This would spark an outrage from students and alumni, causing the students to riot on the State College streets of the campus the night of Paterno's firing. Many more incidents such as ex-Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino's motorcycle crash from a "Bonnie and Clyde" expedition with a younger female companion and North Carolina's not-so-sterling academic reputation have led to some major changes on coaching staffs alike.
     There's talk of a possible playoff system being implemented into NCAA FBS football. The SEC wants the Top 4 teams in the nation to face each other in a two-round playoff. Other conferences such as the Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac 12 and ACC want a playoff system where every conference champion is represented, similar to the tournament done in college basketball. If a playoff system is implemented in the future, it'll certainly be the greatest shift of college football's landscape. Not only will the schools be affected, but the corporations that sponsor the college bowls played in December and January will affected. Nevertheless, it's all a part of the evolution of not just NCAA FBS football, but in all of college sports. This isn't your father's collegiate athletics.

Friday, June 1, 2012

O Captain My Captain!!

     Dear Nick Lidstrom,

     It was a retirement that sent shock waves throughout the sports world. It was inevitable, but it was also sad to see you leave the game that you loved. Most of all, you were revered by many as one of the best in your sport in spite of the position that you played. You assumed the role of Red Wings captain after Steve Yzerman retired in 2006 and led Detroit to two straight Stanley Cup appearances (One of which they won in 2008).
     Nick, you called it quits on Thursday after twenty seasons with the Detroit Red Wings as a defenseman (Which, by the way, is one of my favorite positions in any sport except baseball). You won a gold medal in the 2006 Winter Olympics with Sweden, a World Championship in 1991, four Stanley Cups, the Conn Smythe in 2002 and seven Norris trophies. You're a 12-time all-star who was also named by Sports Illustrated and Sporting News as "The NHL Player of the Decade" and was the first European-born captain of an NHL team to win a Stanley Cup in 2008.
     I remember how tough and durable you were, ending your NHL career with a +/- rating of over 450. You were also a smart, level-headed player, accumulating 514 penalty minutes his entire career. But many of your most lauded attributes never showed up on the score sheets, but rather on the ice and in the locker room.
     "Like Steve Yzerman in the captain role, being that he was quiet and unassuming," Mickey Redmond, color commentator for the Red Wings on FSNDetroit, said of you. "He always led by example."
     You were never a big, bruising defenseman during his career. Many hockey experts believe that the secret to your success and defensive prowess can be contributed to your ability to read the game; this, combined with excellent skating ability, always allowed for you to be at the right spot at the right time. This also made you one of the best players on a penalty-killing unit of any team ever. Instead of delivering a hard check into the boards, you preferred the Allen Iverson style of defense (only with hockey): Steal the puck and create turnovers. Mr. Lidstrom, your mind over matter approach can be attributed to the small amounts of sustained injuries throughout your career. You've also been in the playoffs for every season that you've played since your rookie season in 1991-1992. Not even Yzerman could say that.
     It only seemed like yesterday that you won his first Stanley Cup going into his fifth season. But, boy does time fly by, eh? Thank you Nick Lidstrom for the many little things that you did to help one of my favorite teams win four Stanley Cups. Thank you for doing these things in the most professional manner and for upholding the integrity of the NHL. It'll never be the same not seeing you steal the puck in your own zone anymore.

                Jacob Walters (Long-time Red Wings fan)