Thursday, November 30, 2017

Devils trade for Sami Vatanen,trade Adam Henrique

Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)
The New Jersey Devils apparently are taking their surprisingly fast start to heart (only one point out of first place in the Metropolitan Division) and they are also taking a bad performance in their last game against Florida seriously as the Devils swung a deal to gain a possible impact player at the position that they need most and even though the Devils greatest position of depth was at forward, the player going to a new team is one that the fan base won't be happy about- one that you know in particular...

The Devils acquired defenseman Sami Vatanen and a conditional future third-round pick in exchange for forward Adam Henrique, minor leaguer Joseph Blandisi, and the Devils third-rounder in the 2018 draft.
That's right Adam Henrique.
As in Rachel's Adam Henrique.

I'll get to the hockey part of the trade shortly, but Rachel doesn't know as I type this, and I know she's going to take it hard.
It's part of following sports, players are transient by nature, and players come and go, but when you give your heart to a player for the first time as Rachel did Henrique, it is a blow and it's a big one.
I remember the Toby Harrah for Buddy Bell trade and how it hit me.
I was half as old as Rachel, but the first time is the first time no matter how old you are.
It always is tough and it gets a little better the more you go through it, but the hurt from that first time never goes away...
Sometimes the best you can do is say you are sorry, give a hug, and hope the hurt goes away.
I'd hate to see her dislike Vatanen for this- he's a fine player who didn't ask to be traded for her favorite player...

As for Vatanen, the Devils are acquiring just what they needed entering the season, a young offensive-minded defenseman who can play the power play with a right-handed shot.
Vatanen recently came back from off-season shoulder surgery and in fifteen games for the Ducks has one goal and three assists.
Vatanen had three goals and twenty-one assists in 71 games last season and a career-high in goals (12) came in 2014-15.
The Ducks were looked at all during the summer as a possible trading partner with the Devils since the biggest need for New Jersey was the spot that Anaheim had in surplus.
Vatanen is easily a top-four defenseman for the Devils and arguably becomes their best defenseman upon arrival in Colorado (The Devils are in Denver for tomorrow's game).
The 26-year-old Finnish product is a clear upgrade for the team's blueliners and we'll be glad to have him, I'm sure.

As is usual in pro sports, you generally have to give quality to gain it and Adam Henrique has been a player that has been very popular in New Jersey with fans and was active in the community.
The 27-year-old will be best remembered for his goal in the playoffs vs the New York Rangers that eliminated the Rangers and sent the Devils to the Stanley Cup Finals in their last visit to the playoffs to date.
Henrique was always an effort player, but he had gotten off to a slow start this season with just four goals and ten assists and with plenty of depth in New Jersey and with Anaheim suffering from injuries to their top two centers (Ryan Getzlaff and Ryan Kesler), Henrique will have every opportunity to step right into the Ducks lineup with critical minutes.

Joseph Blandisi spent this season with Binghamton and seemed to fall between the cracks in the Devils system.
Blandisi too should have a chance to start over with a team in desperate current need at forward

In summary -I like the trade on the ice.
Sami Vatanen instantly upgrades the defense and adds some pop from the blue line that the Devils lacked and Adam Henrique was part of a strong bunch of forwards that the team hopes can be replaced.
Look for Pavel Zacha to be given the first chance to slide into Henrique's role.

Off the ice-it hurts.
Adam Henrique was very gracious to Rachel when she was able to meet him and it was Henrique who locked her in as a Devils fan.
Henrique will always be fondly remembered by Devils fans and I'm sad to see him go, despite that it might be better for his career.

I might have more on this later.
Rachel-I'm so so sorry  :(

Cleaning out the inbox:College Football

Cleaning out the inbox returns with another college football edition.

First, I have a series coming on college football that I think you'll enjoy.
If you listened to FightHeads on Monday, you know what it will be about and if not, you'll have to wait!

Also, I'm planning a podcast over the weekend on college football with all of these crazy movements and in one case that seems very close to happening- ridiculous hirings...

I'm firmly a Big 10 fan and the SEC isn't always my brand of fish, but I watch the Paul Finebaum Show all the time and learn a lot about the southern conference because of the show.
As much as I am a Big 10 fan, the Big 10 network hasn't managed to produce a program anywhere nearly as interesting as the Finebaum show or I'd be watching it!
Much of that is likely because of the length of time Finebaum has had to refine the show through the years on radio, but give all of his supporting cast credit-it's a smooth-running machine and is an entertaining few hours (unless you are Rachel, who doesn't find it such as all) each day.
John Crist of Saturday's Down South does a tremendous job for that site (I read his work almost every day) and Crist writes of his day spent behind the scenes with the Finebaum show with Finebaum, part-time co-host Laura Rutledge and producers John Hayes and Mark Kubiak here.
It's a great look at Finebaum, the show, and Rutledge, who you might remember from our recent Confessions as our pick for the next breakout star on ESPN.
Give John Crist a Twitter follow, even if you like college football and not the SEC, and try the Finebaum show on ESPN2, which is a one-hour preamble to the main course on the SEC Network.

Bill Landis of the Cleveland Plain Dealer has a great idea for the Ohio State-Michigan game and it would hopefully mean the end of these alternate uniforms in the game for the Buckeyes.
Have each team wear their home uniforms like both teams do in the UCLA-USC game with their red and blue.
The two teams apparently did this until the mid-'50s and haven't done it since,
It's a great idea to add to the rivalry by adding a throwback aspect to it-I'm all for it!

Michael Weinreb of the Athletic discusses undefeated Central Florida, their league-the AAC, and how the system is truly rigged against the Group of Five schools.
I've always thought the best system is an eight-team tournament-five conference champions, one from the group of five and two at-large selections.
I also wouldn't be against the group of five setting up an eight-team bracket from their schools as a "group of five" championship.
I think that might be even more fun to watch than the actual current championship!

Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes of the Ashland Eagles of my old hometown and their budding Division II powerhouse in the D-II football tournament.
Of course in the classic sense, right after getting some publicity, coach Lee Owens team was eliminated in the quarter-finals.
Owens has been at Ashland for 14 years after being fired by Akron and even though I have read nothing about Owens being a contender or even mentioned for their opening, I wonder if Kent State would be interested in Owens and if offered the job would he take it??
Chris Vannini of The Athletic discusses the pros and cons of the Kent State job here.

I'm just beyond words at the seemingly about to happen hiring of Herm Edwards at Arizona State.
Edwards hasn't coached for ten years (2008, but it'll be ten years when ASU next plays a game) and hasn't coached college football since 1989 and never has been a head coach there.
Considering all of that, Edwards age (63) and that Edwards has never been considered a great X and O guy-college football hasn't seen a disaster like this since Lovie Smith with his current struggles at Illinois and there are tons of parallels- Older NFL coach that hasn't coached in college in years, looking to cash in with one more big retirement check and schools that are often thought of as "sleeping giants" as in schools that should be so much better than they are and are desperate enough to move up the chain to make a hire such as this.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Glowing Puck

If you were around in the 90's and were a hockey fan, you have to remember the picture to your left.

The "Glowing Puck" or its official name Fox Trax isn't fondly remembered by many, but there can be a case for Fox Trax being not only innovative and ahead of its time, but perhaps the time is right to bring it back to broadcasts?

Fox Trax technology was booed at the time by hockey fans as ridiculous and pandering to casual fans that didn't know the game with its blue glow and the red comet tail when the puck was moving over seventy MPH graphics.
The graphics are dated when you look at them today, but Fox Trax was the first step into developing graphics that sports fans love such as the first down line in football, which was a huge step in producing a better football broadcast.

Now for a surprise for the readers here that know me as a tradition based fan that generally doesn't love many of the changes in sports and/or sports television- I really liked Fox Trax.
I thought it really did make the game that was hardest to follow easier to do so and I thought it was fun to watch the colors as the puck moved around the ice.
I understand why veteran fans didn't like it and I was prepared to dislike it as well, but I found that it did what it was supposed to do-make the puck easier to find and the action smoother to follow.
It made hockey a little more easy to grasp for newer fans for sure, but I didn't find it as distracting as others did at all.

ESPN's Greg Wyshynski writes of why the time might be right to bring this back to the telecasts and I agree with him.
After all, look at the differences between today's broadcast technology and that from 1996 and tell me that there cannot be a way to have it be visible enough to do its job and yet not be annoying enough to take away from the game on the ice.
Imagine that with the look of high definition television and I think that is very easily done.
I would think that using it for special occasions at first to gauge the revamp would be a good idea.
An All-Star game, skills competition etc would be a good way to check the use without people going crazy with a playoff introduction.

Hockey is a sport that can be intimidating to learn to new fans as it is and as controversial as the original puck was, I think it can be helpful in attracting new fans and even in teaching the game a bit.
Anything outside the norm that is effective in teaching the game is a good thing.
After all, you are reading the words of a man that learned the rules of hockey from a fellow named Peter Puck.
Back later with more.
I suddenly feel motivated today!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Boxing Challenge: The Krusher is back!

In the boxing challenge, Ramon Malpica and I each scored four points on the three-bout card from New York City by HBO.
The challenge is now 183-167.

In the main event, Sergey Kovalev claimed the final light heavyweight title that Andre Ward vacated after their second fight with a second round shellacking of Vyacheslav Shabranskyy to win the WBO version of the light heavyweight title.
Kovalev looked like the "Krusher" of old as he dropped the made to order Shabranskyy twice in the first and then again in the second before finishing the show.
Kovalev was impressive in the win but didn't prove much against limited opposition.
Kovalev does have options for his next fight against Sullivan Barrera (promoted by Main Events) or mandatory WBO contender Oleksandr Gvozdyk, either of whom would be likely show how much Kovalev has left after his two fight series with Andre Ward.

Sullivan Barrera won a lopsided decision over Felix Valera in the co-feature that was a rough and dirty fight as Valera lost three points to low blows.
Both fighters were dropped in the first round and Barrera was cut, but the deducted points made the fight far more lopsided on the scorecards than it actually was.
I had Barrera a 97-90 winner.

In the opener, late substitute Yuriorkis Gamboa won a majority decision over Jason Sosa.
I didn't see the fight as the robbery that so many did, but Sosa knocked Gamboa down in the seventh and a point deduction on Gamboa, should have cemented the bout for Sosa.
I had Sosa a 96-92 winner on my card.
The "win" will likely earn Gamboa another decent payday down the road and considering the cards, Sosa shouldn't lose too much either..

Monday, November 27, 2017

Flop,Drop,and Roll-Bengals bop Browns 30-16

Photo Credit:Cleveland Plain Dealer
The Cleveland Browns hung in with the Cincinnati Bengals, but a late touchdown set up by a controversial penalty by Jabrill Peppers sent the Browns back to Cleveland with their second loss to the Bengals this season by a 30-16 score.

DeShone Kizer ran for the Browns only touchdown while throwing for 268 yards without an interception, Isaiah Crowell ran for 95 yards on the ground, while rookie kicker Zane Gonzalez kicked three field goals in four attempts for the Cleveland scores.
Cleveland drops to 0-11 with the defeat and will make their only West Coast visit of the season next week in Los Angeles against the Chargers, who have won their last two to improve to 5-6, but more importantly remember being the only team to lose to the Browns last season and the only team to lose in the Hue Jackson/Sashi Brown era.

Brownie Bits

1) Most mentioned play-the personal foul on Jabrill Peppers for a head-first hit and led to the clinching Bengals touchdown.
Peppers did lead with the crown of his helmet and in today's game, that is going to be called almost every time, but the contact wasn't dead on the helmet (he may have made minor contact) and was mostly on the shoulder pad.
I've critical of Peppers play, but he was at least trying to make a play, even if the execution was a bit off.

2) Zane Gonzalez was three for four on field goals, but the miss was wide left, which I read somewhere was in the same area that all of his misses on the season.
Gonzalez is going to be challenged next season-no matter who is in charge.

3) Corey Coleman had a great catch early in the game for a 44 yard gain that had he been hit in stride might have been six points, but he dropped a Kizer pass right in his hands in the end zone and the Browns settled for another Gonzalez field goal.
The drop was inexcusable and I don't recall ever seeing Coleman on the field after that.

4) Another key drop was corner Briean Boddy-Calhoun, who dropped a would-be interception also on a drive that would result in a Bengals touchdown.
The old joke is that defensive backs are receivers with bad hands, but this one would have killed a drive and given the Browns a chance late in the game.

5) I thought DeShone Kizer played pretty well.
The Browns settled more for field goals than I would have preferred, but his receivers still weren't tremendously helpful to him.
Still not ready to abandon the hope for a first pick quarterback, but I do see the occasional improvement from the Notre Dame rookie.

6) Another favorite was a taunting call on Bryce Treggs on a Browns completion that he didn't catch!
How dumb can a marginal player be???

7) Cleveland dodged a dagger when DeShone Kizer was able to return in the second quarter after being checked for a concussion.
In Kizer's absence, Cody Kessler entered the game for a three and out.
Kevin Hogan may not be anything to get excited about, but the Browns do seem to have a better chance to make things happen with Hogan in the second spot than Kessler.

8) I mentioned a drop of Briean Boddy-Calhoun earlier on a pick attempt, but he wasn't the only one.
Jabrill Peppers dropped once and Joe Schobert dropped one in the end zone that would have killed a drive.
Good teams make plays, bad teams say "almost"

9) We've given the run defense credit over the course of the season, but they took a step back as against the weakest running team in the league, the Browns allowed rookie Joe Mixon to run for 114 yards.
It never fails to occur-one step forward and then right back to the starting point.

10) The Browns are now 4-44 in their last 48 games-a number never matched in league history.

11) We wrap with the cozy hug before the game with backup A.J. McCarron, who you'll remember the Browns own ineptness kept them from making an awful trade of a second and third round pick for.
Hue Jackson wasn't a surprise, players and coaches that know each other do this all the time, but the surprise was Jimmy Haslem, who to my knowledge didn't know McCarron previously, acting like they were long time pals.
I don't think I've ever seen an owner do that before...

Remaining games in the race to a victory
At L.A Chargers 5-6
Green Bay 5-6
Baltimore 5-5 (Plays tonight)
At Chicago 3-8
At Pittsburgh 9-2

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Cameragate! Buckeyes Hand Harbaugh another loss 31-20

Photo Credit:Detroit News
The Ohio State Buckeyes battled back from a 14-0 deficit to outscore Michigan 31-6 the rest of the way to earn a 31-20 win in Ann Arbor.
J.K. Dobbins rushed for 101 yards and was one of three Buckeyes (J.T. Barrett and Mike Weber) to score touchdowns on the ground.
Dwayne Haskins came off the bench to complete six of seven passes including the play that might have saved the day-a 27 yard bullet to Austin Mack on a key third and long.
Ohio State finished the regular season at 10-2 and their 8-1 record wins the Big 10 Eastern Division outright.
The Buckeyes are on their way to Indianapolis next Saturday night to face the unbeaten Wisconsin Badgers for what might be for Ohio State and definitely would be for Wisconsin for a trip to the college playoffs...

Olentangy Offerings

1) The big issue in the postgame was the pregame injury to J.T. Barrett that drove him from the game in the third quarter.
It turns out the reason was that a cameraman had collided with Barrett on the field before the game and aggravated a meniscus injury.
Urban Meyer was beside himself about this and if this is true, I can understand why, but until I know more I'm not sure what actually happened.

2) Dwayne Haskins cemented himself as the quarterback for next season and if Joe Burrow, Tate Martell or anyone doesn't like that fact then they need to come to camp loaded for bear and ready to go.
The throw that Haskins made to Austin Mack was the type of throw that big-time passers make by putting the football right where only Mack can catch between two defenders and the type of throw that J.T. Barrett isn't capable of making consistently downfield.

3) That's not as much of a knock on Barrett as it is how high I am on Haskins-Ohio State hasn't had a quarterback like this in a long time and no, Cardale Jones does not count.
There may similarities in size and arm, but Haskins is, even more mobile than Jones.

4) Michigan's quarterback play let them down.
I was discussing the game as it was played with my buddy Ian McArdle and as the game progressed into the second half, we both felt O'Korn would make a mistake that would make a difference.
O'korn did with the interception to Jordan Fuller that was simply an awful throw far away from his receiver Zach Gentry.
Gentry was open-O'Korn just missed him.
Ohio State's quarterback depth saved this day.Michigan's lack of it (two injuries this season) doomed it for them.

5) J.T.Barrett did start slowly with the Buckeyes going three and out on their first three possessions before erasing the lead on the next two Ohio State turns with the football.
A Barrett scoring run from 26 yards was followed by the only passing touchdown of the day as Barrett hit Marcus Baugh for a 25-yard score.

6) A play that might be forgotten about, but swung the game was Denzel Ward's blocked extra point in the third quarter off the edge after Michigan's score to break a tie and move ahead 20-14.
That play loomed larger in the mind of all as the game progressed, first on the J.K. Dobbins score that gave OSU a one point lead rather than a tie and made Michigan play for a touchdown rather than a field goal after Sean Nuernburger drilled a field goal from 44 yards and a 24-20 lead.
Ward's block did all of that.

7) Sam Hubbard finished with two and a half sacks on the day and was the most consistent pass rusher against the Wolverines.
Hubbard participated in Senior Tackle before traveling to Ann Arbor, which makes it pretty clear that Hubbard, who is eligible for the NFL Draft, but not a senior, will be declaring for the draft.

8) The one play that Michigan wishes hadn't gotten away was Josh Metellus dropping a Barrett pass right in his hands in the second quarter.
The score was 14-0 at the time and the Buckeyes would take advantage of the gift with the Barrett touchdown run for the first OSU score of the day.

9) We (among so many others) say it all the time and yet things never change-Ohio State wins when the running game sets up the run/pass from the quarterback.
Ohio State ran J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber a combined seven carries in the first half and twenty in the second.
J.T. Barrett ran eleven times in the first half with Barrett and Dwayne Haskins ran a combined seven in the second half and that's not counting passes by Barrett in the opening half.

10) Lots of complaining about the alternate Nike uniforms.
I'm torn.
I liked them better than the uniforms worn against Penn State, but still not a stitch or line of red on them.
Editor's Note: The aforementioned Mr.McArdle sent me a picture of the jersey-there is some red on it-A small O around the V-Neck.
Hard to see that on television-but it is there!
They would have been great if they were the Oakland Raiders.
I like the black helmets with red buckeyes far better than the matte finish w/o buckeyes worn in last year's win, but still couldn't we wear these things against teams other than Michigan?
For all that I dislike about the Wolverines, it is that school up North that is sticking to tradition.

11) On to Indianapolis (and I will be there or in Detroit next Saturday for the MAC title game) and the undefeated Wisconsin Badgers.
The Badgers in many ways are the toughest conference for over the last twenty years.
Wisconsin has been far more consistent than the Michigan schools or Penn State over that period of time and this team is typical of those squads.
Big, physical and run oriented-this team is going to be a test for the often inconsistent Buckeyes.
I'll either be in Indianapolis or be watching from some place in Ohio on the way from Detroit after watching Toledo vs Akron.
Ohio State is playing with house money at this point, I'll take it..

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Boxing Challenge

The boxing challenge is back with a three fight card from HBO as the challenge prepares to enter the final month of the 2017 version.
I lead Ramon Malpica 179-163.

The main event is the return of the supposedly rejuvenated Sergey Kovalev, who has supposedly turned his personal life around (more on this in the next Cleaning out the inbox) in his return to the ring from his controversial two fight series with the now-retired Andre Ward.
Kovalev's losses may have been controversial, but even Kovalev's fans cannot deny that Kovalev's performance declined by the round in those fights and we'll see how much of that was Ward and how much was it Kovalev's intimidated veneer being stripped away.
Kovalev gets a chance to get one of his old belts back after Andre Ward vacated them as the WBO sanctioned Kovalev's bout against Vyacheslav Shabranskyy for their title.
Shabranskyy looked to be a promising future contender after beating top ten contender Yuneski Gonzalez in December 2015, but a year ago was dropped three times by Sullivan Barrera and looked overmatched.
Shabranskyy will come forward and try to fight Kovalev, but seems to me to have the perfect style to make Kovalev look stronger than ever in his comeback.

The aforementioned Sullivan Barrera is mentioned as Kovalev's next opponent as they are both promoted by Main Events, but Barrera will have to get by Felix Valera to get to that match.
Valera has just one loss, a very respectable decision loss to now WBA champ Dmitry Bivol in his only fight against world class opposition.
Valera must be able to take a shot, as going the distance over twelve rounds against the rock-fisted Bivol is a fine notch to have, but Barrera is more of a boxer/puncher and brings different problems than Bivol...

The opening bout might be better suited to be one of those old pro wrestling "loser leaves town" matches as Jason Sosa, who was dominated by Vasyl Lomachenko last time out, takes on the faded Yuriorkis Gamboa.
The once excellent Gamboa was pounded and stopped after round seven against Robinson Castellanos but will get this opportunity after Castellanos had to drop out of this fight with a back injury.
This might be a very entertaining fight though and could see both men hit the deck a time or two in this junior lightweight ten rounder.

Vacant WBO Light Heavyweight Title.12 rds
Sergey Kovalev vs Vyacheslav Shabranskyy
R.L: Kovalev KO 8
TRS: Kovalev KO 5

Light Heavyweights, 10 Rds.
Sullivan Barrera vs Felix Valera
Both:Barrera Unanimous Decision

Jr.Lightweights.10 Rds
Yuriorkis Gamboa vs Jason Sosa
Both: Sosa Unanimous Decision

Thanksgiving Texas Football-Cougars,Red Raiders and Ed Oliver

Thanksgiving Friday often is thought of as "Black Friday", but I have always thought of it more as Rivalry Friday as there are usually rivalry football games or at minimum-important games.

I miss the days of some of those games from days gone by (I have a great idea on this for a post next week), but it is still a great day and the perfect setup for the next day with even more rivalries-especially The Game.

I've been working a lot of late, so I've been pretty tired, but I took a nap and got up at noon to see the newest team that I pull for as the Houston Cougars hosted the Navy Midshipmen.
I've been very effusive in my praise for Cougar defensive lineman Ed Oliver, who I think deserves the Lombardi and the Outland trophies for the top lineman in the nation.
Oliver is just a sophomore and is so dominant that I love watching Cougar games just to see him play.
Oliver was the dominant force in this one, a 24-14 win finishing with 14 tackles,3.5 of those for losses and two sacks and forced Navy to run away from him and run almost exclusively to the outside because they couldn't get the fullback to do anything against Oliver.
Oliver is so dominant that there is talk of a rule change involving blocking below the waist when a player is being blocked by multiple players because Oliver is being double and triple-teamed on every play!
Oliver injured his knee against Temple on one of these blocks and played through an injured ACL for a few games (This video is the week AFTER the MCL injury and Oliver is running downfield chasing down running backs!), so it has only been the last few games that he is back to full speed.

My favorite two Oliver plays are plays that I have to find a video of, but here's a description-
Against Texas Tech, late in the half, Houston put TEN guys back to defend against the deep pass and rushed only Oliver.
Oliver vs the Tech offensive line and yet it's Oliver who forced a hurry and just missed a sack-1 on 5!
The other came in the loss to Tulane (I think anyway) where Oliver is being blocked by multiple blockers, gets held and dragged to the ground, gets up and chases down the quarterback for the sack anyway!
If you like football and couldn't care less about Houston-watch their bowl game anyway, just for Ed Oliver.
I'm already making plans to see the Cougars when they visit Navy next year.
I always talk about when Ryan and I saw Randy Moss when he played for Marshall against Kent State live.
I want to say the same about seeing Ed Oliver live too.

It's been an interesting year to watch Houston. They finished 7-4 and will be in a bowl game, but it has been an odd 7-4 in the first year under Major Applewhite as the replacement for Tom Herman.
Big wins over South Florida on the road and this win over Navy at home are countered by inexplicable losses to bad teams on the road in Tulsa and Tulane.
And had they not collapsed against 25th ranked (as of today) Memphis in blowing a ten-point lead with less than seven minutes to go -it would be the Cougars traveling to Orlando next week for the AAC title game and an attempt to ruin the undefeated season of Central Florida.

I'm a newer Cougar fan because going back to their days in the SWC, my team there was always the Red Raiders of Texas Tech.
The Red Raiders have slotted into every other year's Thanksgiving game against the Texas Longhorns since Texas A&M left for the SEC.
The Longhorns insist on always being at home for their Thanksgiving day game since the Aggie's departure, so Texas Tech plays Thanksgiving at Texas in odd years with TCU getting the slot in even years.
Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury was thought to need a win to possibly save his job as the Red Raiders entered at 5-6 and needed a win to be bowl eligible.
I've never liked the Longhorns, although with Tom Herman taking the job as head coach there, my fondness for Herman has lightened the dislike for now.

I've been critical of the Big 12 for teams playing video game football with little defense, but there are some signs that there are a few steps in the right direction as TCU and Iowa State are playing decent defense and suddenly I'm seeing Tech play better on the defensive side of the football as it was the defense that stepped up made the plays (twice holding the Horns to field goals with drives that had first and goals inside the Tech five) to keep Tech in the game and then an interception by Justus Parker with just over two minutes to go that was returned 56 yards to the Texas 14.
That play allowed Nick Shimonek, the regular starter that didn't see the field until the 4th quarter to hit Cameron Batson for the game-winning score and a 27-23 Red Raider win.

After the game with Tech now 6-6 and bowl eligible, it was announced that Kingsbury would be returning for 2018.
I think that's a fair thing to do with the requirement to Kingsbury that 6-6 next season will not be enough to return for 2019.
Kingsbury's teams have never had problems scoring points, the problem has been a very porous defense even for the Big 12, which says a lot about the state of the Red Raider defense.
The tide may have turned in Lubbock with a defense that will return 10 starters and might be a sleeper team for 2018.
The question is which do I root for in September when the Cougars travel to West Texas for a rematch with the Red Raiders after this season's 27-24 Tech win.

I'll be back later with a quick boxing challenge for tonight's HBO tripleheader and of course later, we'll have our recap of "The Game"...

Friday, November 24, 2017

Terry Glenn

The Ohio State family lost one of their Buckeyes as Terry Glenn passed at 43 in an auto accident last Monday.

Terry Glenn's story is an interesting one ranging from
his going to Ohio State as a walk-on to his sensational 1995 season and his mercurial NFL career which ranged from outstanding to disappointing.
However, in the wake of the death of Glenn, I learned more about his background and realized that sometimes players with troubled careers start with two strikes against them.
Terry Glenn was a welfare child, had his mother killed and discovered days later and was basically back and forth between family members that were less than caring.
That's not an excuse for failing drug tests, assaulting others and public intoxication, but it is enough to make you think a little bit about what some of the players that have off the field issues have been through in their life.

On the field at Ohio State, Glenn's first two years in Columbus weren't anything to write home about-15 catches for less than 300 yards and zero touchdowns are pretty pedestrian numbers and are more likely to see you play your professional football in Saskatchewan than Seattle.
Suddenly, Glenn became a deep threat that the Buckeyes needed to replace the departed Joey Galloway in catching 64 passes for over 1,400 yards and 17 scores on his way to winning the Fred Biletnikoff award for the nation's top wide receiver.
Glenn's breakout game came early in the 1995 season when he burned the Pitt Panthers for 253 yards and four touchdowns in a 54-14 wipeout that combined with the following year's 72-0 demolition of Pitt was the genesis of the Ohio State hate from a particular Pitt alum named Mark May.
Glenn's biggest play though was his catch and run for an 82 yard score that broke open the Notre Dame game in 1995.

Glenn's pro career started strong as he set records for a rookie with 90 catches and over 1,100 yards with the Patriots.
That didn't last long as he battled with Patriot coaches, first Pete Carroll and then Bill Belichick.
Glenn had a few good years (1999 and 2000), but injuries, coaching issues and off the field problems saw Glenn rarely play on the first New England Super Bowl championship team and even though he played in four games, didn't receive a Super Bowl ring.
Glenn was traded to Green Bay for a year and then was swapped to Dallas with decent but not great numbers for three seasons, before a return to dominance with tremendous seasons in 2006 and 2007 before a knee injury ended his career without a game played in 2008.

Glenn had several incidents after his career ended with various problems, but seemed to have turned his life around in recent years with his foundation that helped foster children.

A checkered pro career that featured some brilliant play and arguably the best one season career in Ohio State history will be what most remember about Terry Glenn.
A player that could have put up huge numbers as a pro, but didn't reach his full potential still gave some excellent memories.

I have a few posts planned for the next few days- A Friday in Texas football, the boxing challenge and results,David Cassidy and of course Ohio State vs you know who...

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving

I wanted to take the time to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and thank you all for making this either an occasional or a regular stop.

I want to thank my family, friends and readers for all that they have brought to my life.
It's hard to believe that this project is nearing 11 years in length and with few exceptions, one of the longest things that I have ever done.

I'm also thankful for all of you (you all know who you are) that bring so much happiness and friendship to me on different levels.

For all that 2017 has been bad (and in the news etc, there has been a lot of bad) 2017 has been very good for me and perhaps sometime in 2018, I can tell you more about it when things clear up.

Thanks again and have a great Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving PPM

It's a Thanksgiving version of the PPM and therefore has to come out on Thanksgiving!

Last Week:9-3
Overall: 97-42

Ohio State over Michigan 20-13
Eastern Michigan over Bowling Green 24-20 (already played)
Houston over Navy 24-21
Texas over Texas Tech 30-26
Middle Tennessee State over Old Dominion 34-21
Boise State over Fresno State 27-14
Washington over Washington State 34-30

Games of the Week
Alabama over Auburn 21-16
Clemson over South Carolina 31-17

Bengals over Browns 24-10
Saints over Rams 31-21

Games of the Week
Lions over Vikings 24-20
Chiefs over Bills 28-17

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Cleaning out the inbox-Non-Sports Edition

We continue to work on that inbox and we move now to an all non-sports inbox, which is pretty popular from what I have been told!

We start with 13th Dimension's article on the 1970's comic- Batman Family, which was a favorite of mine then as a child.
The post talks a little bit about Batman Family and then a brief interview with Bob Rozakis, who did some of the writing for the book.
The comic was generally double-sized, so you received a great day for your fifty cents in mid-70's currency and it had stories from the various members of the Batman Family even down to the gimmick characters-like Bat-Mite!
I even had as a kid, the issue to the left, although it isn't in my collection today.
I also have a fond memory of a Superman Family comic that was a favorite of mine, before going away in a story that I'll tell one day IF three people would ask me to (that'll tell you who's reading this!), but I was a much bigger Batman fan than Superman even to this day.

Marc Maron's WTF podcast had a recent guest from "The Office" days as Jenna Fischer (Pam) did his show.
Fischer has a new book out (The Actor's Life), so she is doing lots of media work promoting the book.
Fischer's Pam Beesley Halpert was named the greatest female character in television history by my Fightheads partner Ramon Malpica on a recent episode which is extremely high praise!

Two goodbyes from the inbox.

Goodbye to astronaut Dick Gordon at the age of 88.
Gordon was a Gemini and Apollo astronaut and was the module pilot on Apollo 10, which is most widely thought of as the fun mission among the crews.
Gordon would have walked on the moon on Apollo 18, had the final two missions not been canceled by budget cuts to NASA.
Gordon also was involved in one of the strangest stories in sports as after his resignation from NASA, Gordon was hired as the general manager of the New Orleans Saints despite never having worked in football at any level.
I know fans under 30 have a hard time realizing this, but for the 70's and mid 80's the Saints were looked at in a very similar manner as fans look at the Browns today as they never had a winning record for the first twenty years of their existence and much of it was for reasons like hiring an astronaut to run football personnel operations.
Almost like hiring a beancounter without experience to do the same today.
The Saints would never win more than five games when Gordon was running the franchise.

Goodbye to the "Fight Doctor" Ferdie Pacheco at the age of 89.
Pacheco was part of the well-known team around Muhammad Ali as his doctor, but might be even better known as the color commentator on NBC boxing telecasts.
Pacheco also was the person in charge of making fights and buying them for NBC, which at the time of weekend boxing was known for having the smallest budget of the three networks.

Editor's Note: I have plans for posts soon on two more passings that happened in the last two days-Former Ohio State wide receiver Terry Glenn and David Cassidy of Partridge Family fame.

CNN writes of what it is like to visit Lenin's Mausoleum in Moscow.
The former Soviet leader has been embalmed since his death in 1924 and it has been one of the tourist stops in Red Square ever since.
On occasion, it comes up to bury Lenin and it usually goes away after time.
I've always wondered just how much work that it takes to keep the corpse from deteriorating.

Esquire writes "You'll never love your E-Reader" and why records and books still have that advantage over the digital version.
The article is right about the loving the physical version and I still love having the physical copy, but I must admit to liking my Kindle and the ease of bringing so many books in one small container.
It's OK to like both.

As I read about E-Readers, Esquire had another article on the up's and down's of Vans Shoes, their history and why they are currently thriving.
My favorite pair of shoes ever were Vans and I only had the model once.
We had a Vans at the local outlet for a while and when they went out of business they were blowing out the inventory.
Ryan was at this store with our friend Joe Plum and saw these shoes.
They decided to take a chance and buy them for me and I loved them!
I still even have them still battered at the house and even though the lack of support that Vans have for us older folks-The Duke Kahanamoku Surf Shoe isn't made anymore, but if I was ever able to find a pair in size 13, I would jump on them-price permitting of course
My favorite shoe of all time-Thanks to Ryan and Joe!
I think I'll go cry now...

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Nature Boy

The Nature Boy.

One does not have to be a wrestling fan of close to 45 years to know just who that is.
Non or casual wrestling hear that nickname and know who that is- Ric Flair.

Arguably and most people's choice as the greatest pro wrestler of all time (Check my list out from 2011),
Ric Flair has almost become better known to a large chunk of the public for his refusal to give up the wrestling business and his occasional embarrassing outburst outside the ring.

When I heard of the ESPN 30 for 30 program deciding to film an episode on Flair, I was excited.
ESPN's commitment to making quality films about sports has been a strong one and many of these ranks with some of the best work that a filmmaker can do.
I was all prepared to love the film because I was a fan of Flair at his peak and was hoping he hadn't become too much like the washed up "Mountain Rivera" that was in wrestling because he had to or was there because that's all he knows.
And what I came away with after the film thinking Flair really was Mountain Rivera without the manager that he needed to bail out.

I found the film to be interesting yet uneven.
I didn't mind what I was surprised to see Flair criticized for in spots online-the taking of the Buddy Rogers "Nature Boy" gimmick.
In pro wrestling, there is almost nothing original, so I didn't have an issue with that and I thought Flair was more than respectful in giving Rogers plenty of credit.
I would liked to have seen more contemporaries of Flair given more spots to talk about his career and I thought the film would have been suited to more of those appearances and less from the "celebrity" fans such as Michelle Beadle.
I'm generally not a fan of appearances from those types and I think it takes time away from opinions from sources that have legitimate backgrounds.

I also thought that that the film showed Flair as wrestling's Peter Pan that never grew up despite being almost seventy years old.
There's only so long, no matter the subject or how much you like them, that you can be beaten over the head by the same topics- I got it, Flair had a lot of women, was a functioning alcoholic, was a philandering husband and an absent father, except to his youngest son Reid, who was more of a buddy than a son.
It belabored the point and almost dehumanized Flair a bit.

The wrestling part of the film was lighter than I expected and the personal half of the film made realize that as much as I was a fan of Ric Flair the wrestler, I didn't really like Ric Flair the man.
I knew the background of Flair, I had read his book, watched his shoot interviews and had heard all the stories, so I didn't really learn anything new, but the more I watched, the more I was torn- but either side wasn't good.
Did I feel bad for Flair or did I dislike him?
I felt bad for the loss of his son, Reid and no parent should have to deal with that type of pain, but he didn't make me feel empathy for much other than that.

I don't want to say that "Nature Boy" was a bad film, just a different one than I expected and I was
left a little empty by it.
What I wonder is this- was I half empty from the film or Ric Flair himself???

Back later with more and perhaps another inbox cleaning.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Fumbling away an opportunity-Jaguars beat Browns 19-7

The Cleveland Browns defense played very well against the Jacksonville Jaguars and helped to keep them in a game that they really had no business being in.
The offense on the other hand botched almost every chance that they had to score and two fumbles by DeShone Kizer with under two minutes left in the game ended any hope as the Jaguars finished off the Browns 19-7 in blustery Cleveland.
Kizer hit Duke Johnson in the second quarter on a 27-yard catch and run for the only Cleveland score.
The now 0-10 Browns travel to Cincinnati next Sunday for a rematch from a week four blasting at the hands of the Bengals 31-7.

Brownie Bits

1) DeShone Kizer didn't play very well.
Two interceptions and the two aforementioned fumbles on hits from Jacksonville pass rushers on the day and three of the four turnovers in the final nine minutes.
Kizer's throw to Corey Coleman was nowhere near him and it wasn't difficult for A.J. Bouye to make the interception.
This was a winnable game because.

2) Jacksonville for a team that is now 7-3 did next to nothing on offense to impress me.
The Jaguars have a defense that is very impressive, but the offense led by Blake Bortles, who is more like a veteran DeShone Kizer than a playoff level quarterback was generally shut down and their receivers are far from playoff level.
The defense may take this bunch to the playoffs and it might have to win it for them once they get there.

3) Leonard Fournette did rush for 111 yards for Jacksonville, but it took 28 carries to get that total.
Other than a 29 yard run, the Browns run defense controlled the Jaguar rookie back, who is the only top-notch weapon Jacksonville has.

4) The Browns defense is somewhat overrated by fans, mainly because compared to the offense it looks great, but credit is due as for the improved run defense.
It's tough to run the ball against the Browns, at least compared to the pass defense anyway/

5) And there's Jabrill Peppers, who dropped a punt in Browns territory and failed to fall on a fumble that could have kept the game within three points (Jacksonville kicked a field goal to move the lead to six points).
Jacksonville turned the ball over after Peppers fumbled, but the Browns pick of him late in round one looks worse and worse by the week.
The question is will the next staff be able to rebuild him to get any type of use out of him.

6)  Contrast Peppers to that of Budda Baker, who the Cardinals picked as their safety early in round two.
Baker made his first start yesterday against Houston and notched these numbers: Eleven SOLO tackles,1 sack, a forced fumble and a batted down pass.
Cleveland has those "electric" ball skills of Jabrill Peppers....

7) Corey Coleman returned from his broken hand and caught six passes (a career high) for 80 yards.
Coleman didn't drop any passes either, which in Cleveland makes him a number one receiver.

8) Emmanuel Ogbah was having a big game, having knocked down two passes and was involved in some pressures on Blake Bortles before leaving the game with an injured foot.
The foot turned out to be broken and Ogbah will miss the rest of the season.

9) Two Jaguars dominated in this game on defense but the one that hurt the most was defensive end Yannick Ngakoue.
Ngakoue finished with two and a half sacks on the day with several other pressures on DeShone Kizer and forced two Browns fumbles including the game-winner that Telvin Smith (interception and a fumble recovery) fell on in the end zone to end the game at 19-7.
Ngakoue was a third-round pick in 2016 out of Maryland that could have been a Brown, but four picks before the Browns took another player at the same position-Carl Nassib.

10) Cleveland's leading rusher? DeShone Kizer with 20 yards.
In a bad weather game, the Browns top rusher was their quarterback with twenty yards.
Talk about not giving yourself a chance to win..

11) Always when these two teams hook up with two of ugliest uniforms in the games.
I hate that two tone helmet that the Jaguars use and both teams with the jersey styles that are so busy that bees stay away from them.

Remaining games in the race to a victory with opponents record
At Cincinnati 4-6
At L.A. Chargers 4-6
Green Bay 5-5
Baltimore 5-5
At Chicago 3-7
At Pittsburgh 8-2

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Boxing Challenge-Frampton survives again!

For a small week in the boxing challenge, I was pleasantly surprised with some closer than expected bouts...

Former junior featherweight and featherweight champion Carl Frampton returned to the ring after a ten month layoff and his first career loss (to Leo Santa Cruz) and was surprisingly tested by Horatio Garcia before winning a unanimous decision.
Frampton started fast, but lost some rounds down the stretch and was even ruled to have been knocked down in the seventh even though I didn't see it that way.
I scored Frampton a very narrow 95-94 winner (6-4 in rounds with a point lost for the knockdown) and I'm not sure that Garcia wouldn't have pulled the decision out had the fight been scheduled for twelve rounds.

On the undercard, IBF junior bantamweight champion Jerwin Ancajas was very impressive in knocking out Jamie Conlan in the sixth round.
Ancajas scored four knockdowns in the fight and seemed to have too much strength and power for the tough Conlan, who crumpled every time that Ancajas reached him to the body.
Conlan, the brother of highly touted prospect Michael Conlan, was thought to have a chance to defeat Ancajas by some (including me), but Ancajas looks to be a coming star in the suddenly talent packed junior bantamweight division.

In Las Vegas on a PBC card, Julian Williams won a unanimous decision that was far wider on the scorecards than I had it (96-94 for Williams) over former champion Ishe Smith.
The fight was much more exciting than I thought it would be entering the matchup and the veteran Smith, who has made a career out of boring distance fights, suddenly at 39 has become a fighter that is fun to watch.
The downside for this change in attitude is Smith is taking more punches and with slowed skills might wind up getting hurt if he continues to fight and this might be a good way to go out for the veteran.
As for J-Rock Williams, he doesn't look to have completely recovered from his brutal knockout loss to Jermall Charlo.
Williams looks a bit tentative when he gets hit and to fight a really close bout with the fading Smith doesn't bode well if he returns to championship contention.

In the boxing challenge, Ramon Malpica scored five points to my four and closed the overall gap to 179-163.
We both received two points each for the wins by Frampton and Williams, but Ramon added one for the Jerwin Ancajas win where I picked Conlan to pull the upset.

More talk on boxing on Monday night on FightHeads!

Squeezing the Orange-Ohio State beats Illinois 52-14

Photo Credit;Cleveland Plain Dealer 
Ohio State was expected to name their score in their final home game of the season against the Illinois Fighting Illini and did just that in a 52-14 squashing.
Illinois didn't score until the second half and due to a fumble returned for a touchdown, only scored one touchdown and that against the Buckeye backups.
Mike Weber rushed for 108 yards and two touchdowns in the romp with J.T. Barrett throwing for two and rushing for one.
With the win and Michigan's loss to Wisconsin, Ohio State improved to 9-2 (6-1 Big 10) clinches the Big 10 East and will play Wisconsin in Indianapolis for the Big Ten title regardless of the results of next weeks game against you know who.

Olentangy Offerings

1) Going to be honest-I didn't watch a lot of this game live.
Being that Illinois was winless in conference and on an eight game losing streak coming into Columbus, one didn't have to be the Emerald Seer to see that this shouldn't be close.
So I rolled the disc in another room with the game so I could flip back and forth between the Buckeyes and the Houston-Tulane game on ESPN News.
I would never do that in a game that was even remotely close, but this one turned out the way I expected.

2) Mike Weber looks to be back to form and the Kevin Wilson coordinated offense is starting to realize as other OC's did before him that the Ohio State offense runs best through the backs and not through the quarterback.
When the running game is pushing defenders downfield, the Buckeyes offense works best.

3) The biggest story from this games was after Illinois scored their first touchdown off a Dwayne Haskins fumble, Urban Meyer quickly returned the starters to the lineup with a 38-7 lead.
The Buckeyes scored a touchdown with the starters before Meyer felt comfortable enough to sit them for good.

4) I understood the reasoning for the decision, but I didn't think that it was very smart.
In a game that really was decided already and in poor weather, the Buckeyes were lucky to resist the injury bug and avoid a key injury.

5) I have really liked the play of Chris Worley in the last two games since being moved to the outside from the middle.
Worley had been a bit of a disappointment in the middle but has looked more comfortable in his familiar spot outside.

6) I know Dwayne Haskins fumbled, but his touchdown pass to Binjimin Victor was the type of throw that gifted throwers make and not the spread quarterbacks.
There will be a learning curve next season with Haskins at the controls for Urban Meyer and Kevin Wilson, but it's going to be an interesting, if not improved Buckeye team next season with Dwayne Haskins.

7) Illinois threw for just 16 yards and completed just four passes.
Illinois is a program that I've always thought had potential, but other than an occasional shot in the dark usually struggles.
All the ingredients are there to be at least a perennial middle of the pack like a Minnesota that goes fairly regularly to small bowl games, but they cannot even reach that low bar.

8) That leads me to Lovie Smith, who Illinois is paying 21 million for six years to preside over this trainwreck.
Smith looks almost uninterested on the sideline and even though some of the fault for this disaster has to go to former head coach Tim Beckman for the lack of veteran talent, Smith's young players don't show a lot of promise to think better times are ahead.
The question to me isn't this- does Lovie Smith survive to the end of his contract, the question is does Smith survive to see 2019?

9) J.T. Barrett threw his 100th touchdown pass and became the first Big Ten player to hit that number.
I suppose that is doable since it seems like Barrett has been here since the Bush administration!

10) That leads us to next Saturday and a desperate Mr.Jim Harbaugh.
Harbaugh's teams would finish 8-4 with a loss and that loss would leave him with a 1-5 record against rivals Ohio State and Michigan State.
The bluster and wind that Harbaugh created is already beginning to make their fans wonder about Harbaugh despite great recruiting classes and if that occurs next Saturday in Ann Arbor, it is going to a long off season for Michigan and the pressure that is present will increase a great deal.
Michigan has nothing to play for other than pride, but a victory for them would relieve the pressure and show their fans that things are headed up.
For a game that is strictly for pride (Ohio State is in the Big 10 title game win or lose), there is plenty on the line...

Friday, November 17, 2017

Boxing Challenge

A very small boxing challenge with two bouts from Northern Ireland that doesn't have American television and another with American television that few people can see.

Two division champion Carl Frampton returns for the first time since losing the second of his two fights against Leo Santa Cruz against Horatio Garcia in what is a tuneup bout for a bigger next fight against any of three featherweight champions that have been mentioned-A third bout against Santa Cruz, IBF champ Lee Selby and WBO beltholder Oscar Valdez.

The co-feature has IBF junior bantamweight champ Jerwin Ancajas defending against hometown hero Jamie Conlan.
The winner is a major force in the suddenly hot junior bantamweight division and the style of the brawling Conlan against Ancajas, who doesn't  mind mixing it up makes this a fight to be seen- even if you cannot see it live.

Bounce TV is a small network that next to no one has, yet PBC runs fight cards every once in a while there.
The main event isn't bad this time though as former title challenger Julian "J-Rock" Williams has his first major fight since being knocked out by Jermall Charlo against former world champion Ishe Smith.
Smith gets decent fights constantly usually due to the influence of Smith's top backer, Floyd Mayweather and usually goes rounds, even if he's a bit past his prime.
This fight normally wouldn't be enough to be on the challenge on its own, but since the two fights from Northern Ireland are on the weekend, I tossed it on the card.

I lead the boxing challenge over Ramon Malpica 175-158

Featherweights. 10 Rds
Carl Frampton vs Horatio Garcia
Both: Frampton Unanimous Decision

IBF Junior Bantamweight title,12 Rds
Jerwin Ancajas vs Jamie Conlan
R.L:  Ancajas Unanimous Decision
TRS: Conlan Split Decision

Junior Middleweights. 10 Rds
Julian Williams vs Ishe Smith
Both: Williams Unanimous Decision


Another week with the PPM after a very good week last week with some big games.
The games aren't quite as big this week, but still the important stretch run.

Last week:11-3

Ohio State over Illinois 52-10
Toledo over Bowling Green 39-20 (Already Played)
Middle Tennessee over Western Kentucky 31-22
TCU over Texas Tech 42-34
Houston over Tulane 28-13
Boise State over Air Force 43-30
Washington over Utah 28-17

Game of the Week
Wisconsin over Michigan 24-14

Jaguars over Browns 27-10
Saints over Redskins 35-24

Games of the Week
Rams over Vikings 30-20
Eagles over Cowboys 34-27

Cleaning out the inbox-College Football

I am planning on a special post that I've been talking to different people for their perspectives yesterday and I wanted to finish it today, but I still feel that it needs refinement.

Hang in there and I hope to get that and the Ric Flair piece finished over the next few days.

Texas Tech and TCU have been conference rivals (SWC), not (Texas Tech was an expansion Big 12 member, TCU moved to the Mountain West first before receiving their Big 12 invitation), but haven't played for a trophy since 1970.
The Red Raiders and Horned Frogs decided to change that with the return of the Saddle Trophy for this year's game.
Why the return of the trophy? Because after playing for the saddle for years after the Red Raiders win in 1970, the trophy disappeared and hasn't been seen since.
I love trophy games when they come organically and aren't forced into existence, so the return here makes lots of sense.
TCU currently plays for the Iron Skillet against the SMU Mustangs, while Tech shares the Chancellor's Spurs trophy with the Texas Longhorns.

I recently mentioned that I've watched a lot more Pac 12 football this season and that I like watching their games for various reasons.
However, the league does have some problems that need fixing and Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury-News takes a swing with what he calls a radical solution and what I would say is an amazing and simple plan to address issues with the conference.
My only questions are these-Why haven't I heard of Wilner before this and how in the world hasn't the Pac 12 picked up the phone and called Wilner for some counsel?

David Briggs of the Toledo Blade writes of the poor attendance of the battle for I-75 earlier this week between the Toledo Rockets and Bowling Green Falcons and Briggs raises an excellent point- is the amount of money that the MAC receives from ESPN to play these November games on weekdays along with the exposure worth the hassle and lost attendance numbers to their fans?
It's a good question and for as much as I like being able to watch MAC football during the week, the deal with ESPN has to hit attendance hard and I wonder just how many high school recruits are sitting in their living rooms watching Central Michigan play Akron on a Wednesday night...

Awful Announcing writes that the Mountain West has issues with television as well in a different manner as their problem is with the late night starts to have their games televised to the East Coast.
The Pac 12 has been complaining about this as well, but their contract is far more substantial than that of the Mountain West and the MWC has to wonder (like the MAC) if the money that they bring in from ESPN and CBS Sports Network is worth the bother to their fans and the lost attendance.
The Mountain West contract still has three years to run, so they have time to figure things out.
It really is an intriguing issue to consider for Group of Five schools and one that affects the bottom line of schools that don't have nearly the budget of larger conference schools.

Another note on Bowling Green, which seems to be a program in flux under second-year head coach Mike Jinks.
Jinks had never been a head coach at any college level or even a coordinator when the Falcons selected him to replace Dino Babers, who left to go to Syracuse.
Jinks also seemed to be a questionable hire, having spent his entire coaching career in Texas, which meant no familarity with the Midwest and the main recruiting base for schools in the MAC.
I make no claims about the recruiting levels in the MAC, but that doesn't seem to be a recipe for a successful program and it'll be difficult to quickly turn things around for the next coach at those schools.
The MAC at its base is a transient league for head coaches as coaches that succeed there usually don't last long as they move to Power five jobs, but that has its issues as schools that hit the bottom of the league with a thud, not a bounce.
Bowling Green has had three of their last four head coaches move on to Power five jobs with success (Urban Meyer, Dave Clawson, and Babers) and the other (Gregg Brandon) was fired after six years with an overall winning record (44-30).
With one game to go in the season, Jinks is just 6-17 and even though two years isn't really long enough to judge competely, can a school with the tradition of Bowling Green afford to gamble on another a year or two after falling from 10-4 to possibly 2-10 ( with a possible loss in the season finale to Eastern Michigan) in just two years?
It'll be interesting to see if Jinks is given more time or if BG cuts their losses and looks elsewhere for the latest MAC coaching star...

Thursday, November 16, 2017


I quite enjoyed Confessionals when I first wrote about this back in July and I thought it was time to revisit now.

Keep in mind some of these are things I haven't written/told about and others are general knowledge...

1) I'll be doing a Ric Flair piece this week on his 30 for 30, but here's a sneak peek- I was a little disappointed in it...

2) If anyone comes to town to visit me and wants to go out to eat at a place that they can't visit at home-I only have two non-chain staples.
Washington Chicken and Vince's Pizza.
Vince's isn't for the pizza (I know you have to be tired of hearing me rave about Ohio pizza) it's for the terrific burgers that they sell...

3) I go back and forth over the last 10-15 years on my favorite comedy (non-premium channel) between The Office and Parks and Recreation.
Love them both and seem to give one a hairline edge over the other-When I am watching that particular one.

4) If we are in one of those "pick to save the world" scenarios- I'll take Parks for just one reason.
They didn't have a bad season as the Office did in the next to last season when they force-fed James Spader in as the new CEO as "Robert California".
The season is fine when Spader isn't in it, but when he is- not so swift.

5) If you follow me on Twitter, you probably see me follow lots of different people from lots of different areas, but I'd guess if I had to guess on what the most "liked" topic was (in amount of liking other people's non-sports posts on my timeline), I'd wager it's actress Amy Acker.
This is because of the people that follow me from the days of "Person of Interest" television and their Acker pics on the timeline are always showing up.

6) As much as I like Acker, her new show "The Gifted" isn't doing much for me so far.
It's not bad, it's just not catching my interest in the way that a first-year show should.
It's too bad because I was really hoping to love it.

7) I know that you know that my favorite football conference is the Big 10 and you likely know that I see a lot of Boise State and Houston along with rooting for Bowling Green, but this year, I've really enjoyed the Pac 12.
I know their champion won't be in the title chase this year, but the games are generally fun to watch and almost anyone has a chance of beating anyone else.

8) It's been at least 15 years since I cared enough even to be mildly interested in pro wrestling, but my YouTube guilty pleasure is wrestling from the NWA in the 1980's.
Other than music and odd TV clips, the Crockett promotion is my YT winner for most often viewed.

9) I know I've been quoted as saying that the next big female star in sports television is going to be Olivia Harlan and she may very well be, but I've changed my mind- it's Laura Rutledge.
Rutledge sits in on Monday's and Tuesday's on the Paul Finebaum Show (I know what's a Big Ten guy watching an SEC show for, but it's entertaining and the BTN attempts at this type of show have been dreadful) and she's incredibly knowledgeable.
Rutledge is going to be a huge star in the football television game and she's so good that I wouldn't mind seeing her give play by play a shot someday,

10) I'm stretching my stadium radius farther than I ever thought possible (25 + new stadiums between 2016 & 2017) and it's to the point that there won't be too much more that I'll add in a given year.
So when I'm asked these questions- Which new place (within possibility) do you want to see most in 2018 and which place would I like to go back to most, I have to think about it.

Here goes;
I'm going to go with one place that is most realistic for 2018 and one that I want to do but is unlikely.
Kingsport, Tennessee is the most realistic as it can be done in a day (Albeit a very long day) and would complete the Appalachian League for me.
My most wanted and unlikely stop is a tie between Myrtle Beach South Carolina (I've visited the stadium, but not for a game) and Dayton, Ohio.
Myrtle Beach would complete the Carolina League for me, while Dayton would finish the state of Ohio, so both have appeal.

For the place that I liked so much that I would like to return to again, it's a three-way tie.
I really liked Buies Creek North Carolina, the autographing was great and it's only going to be used for one more season before the new stadium in Fayetteville North Carolina is up and ready for 2019.
I also really liked BB&T Ballpark in Winston-Salem North Carolina.
I didn't get to spend as much time there because we had to hit Danville VA that night, but I liked it enough that I'd like to spend more time there.
The main AAA field was Louisville, I just loved the stadium and even though I didn't get one card signed, the ballpark was great and I really liked the city.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Cleaning out the inbox-

Photo Credit: Hartford Courant
Chipping away further on the inbox cleaning, we move to this past weekend's game for the Civil Conflict Trophy between undefeated Central Florida and Connecticut, which UCF won 49-24.

As most of you that read here know that I absolutely love silly stuff like the Civil Conflict Trophy, which was created by now-former Connecticut coach Bob Diaco in an interesting, but unsuccessful attempt to make someone care about two conference teams that are over a thousand miles apart that are forced to play each other every year (for now anyway) as part of the shifting tectonic plates are known as conference alliances in college football.
Central Florida had no interest in Diaco's idea and after they defeated the Huskies last year, left the trophy on the sideline (in the picture, it is the small object around the 40-yard line) and abandoned it.
Now the question is- where is the trophy?
UCF left it, UConn claims to have searched all over and can't find it, Diaco was fired and when contacted, acted like he was recalling kidney stones and no one has stepped forward with ideas on its current location.
ESPN writes about the situation here and the Hartford Courant has a version here.
Diaco did have a point in trying to create something with the American conference being so spread out and needing some ideas to help fan interest, but this was doomed from day one all things considered.
Here's the classic explanation at the press conference following the UCF win by Diaco on the "rivalry"

Eleven Warriors is my go-to site for Ohio State news and while they didn't break any news this cleaning, they did write this piece on the former home of Buckeye basketball - St.John Arena.
The now-61-year-old arena still hosts the Buckeye volleyball teams, gymnastics teams, and the wrestling team, but hasn't hosted the team since the Schottenstein Center opened in 1998.
Arena's like St.John are so much more "home court friendly" than the latest wave of new arena's and Ohio State (much like Maryland) may have gained in dollars and facilities with the move up, but lost so much in competitive advantage.

This is a few weeks old, but the Milwaukee Bucks used a replica of their 1970's court at the Mecca for a game vs Boston.
I wish more teams would do things like this, but two notes on this- first off, every time I read an article on the Mecca and it mentions the designer Robert Indiana, I cannot help but think of the horrible "The Office" character "Robert California", who almost singlehandedly ruined the show's eighth season.
The other?
The noted expert on everything Kyrie Irving, who insisted that the Bucks were using the original court because "in three steps I could tell the difference in my knees".
I would expect nothing less from a person that believes that the Earth is flat and that men have never walked on the moon.

Most of you know my love for Group of Five (football)/Mid-Major (basketball) sports and you are currently seeing with Houston (AAC) and Boise State (Mountain West) and before joining the Big East Xavier in hoops, but I didn't if I've mentioned being a fan of Wichita State Basketball before I wrote earlier this year about Wichita joining the AAC.
I was asked recently while talking about this with someone (I cannot remember online or in-person) that asked about choosing between Wichita State and Houston.
My answer was easy, Wichita State doesn't play football and I really dislike Houston's scandal-plagued coach (at multiple schools) Kelvin Sampson, so problem solved!
ESPN writes about the Shockers starting the season ranked in the top ten and their move to the AAC from the Missouri Valley.

ESPN finishes this inbox with what I thought was a really interesting article on how college teams take care of their live mascots.
The article covers six different schools, how they take care of the mascot and routines that are dealt with on gameday appearances.
I thought it was interesting and answered some questions that I've had through the years on just this topic.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Boxing Challenge-Beterbiev wins a title,Jacobs returns to ring

A five-fight weekend in the boxing challenge didn't exactly fill the world with action, but not every fight can be a war, but they still had significance on the overall scene.

On ESPN, hometown junior welterweight Jose Ramirez sold out an arena in Fresno, California and impressively blew out Mike Reed in the second round in a junior welterweight eliminator.
I think selling out a 12,000 seat arena might have been more impressive than stopping Reed, but Ramirez is going to make some fun fights to watch as he moves up the ladder and in his next fight for the vacant WBC title (one of the belts dropped by Terence Crawford) against Amir Imam.

In the co-feature, Artur Beterbiev won every round against Enrico Koelling before stopping him in the final round to preserve his flawless knockout streak and win the vacant IBF light heavyweight title.
One round was pretty much the same as the next, so the fight wasn't that great however Beterbiev wins a title and adds himself to the top of an interesting light heavyweight division.

On HBO, Daniel Jacobs won almost every round (119-109 on my card) in a unanimous decision over Luis Arias.
I thought Jacobs looked good, not great and it'll be worth a look in his next fight against whoever that will be to see if Jacobs is truly a top five fighter or one that bulked up to have an advantage against Gennady Golovkin in his biggest bout.
I always laugh when fighters talk about the importance of staying active as Jacobs did in his post-fight interview that has a background of fighting once or twice a year.
Attention fighters:If you REALLY want to stay active-Do NOT sign with Al Haymon and the PBC.
Jacobs may be serious now as he is with Eddie Hearn.

In two fights that I have yet to see in the challenge-
Heavyweight Jarrell "Big Baby" Miller stopped veteran journeyman Mariusz Wach in the ninth round.
Wach was ranked in the top ten for some reason, so this win should move Miller up the rankings of the sanctioning bodies.

In the U.K. Liam Smith won a unanimous decision over Liam Williams in a rematch of their bloody war from the summer.
Unfair for me to say since I have not seen the fight yet, but I have seen a few (a few) that thought Williams clearly won...

In the challenge, Ramon Malpica earned seven points to my six and pulled to 175-158 for the year.
Ramon's seven points were acquired as followed:
Two points each with wins from Beterbiev, Miller and Smith and one from the win by Daniel Jacobs.

My six were as noted;
Two points each from Beterbiev and Jacobs and one point each from Ramirez and Miller.

Join me tonight at 8 EST on Fightheads to talk boxing at  (646) 787-1746