Friday, November 30, 2007

Santana to Yanks? Not at that price...

The Yankees better not trade Phil Hughes, Melky Cabrera and another top prospect for Johan Santana. Yes, having Santana would be amazing, but that's just too high of a price to pay. On the other hand, the Yankees' goal must be to block Boston from making a deal because they're offering the Twins peanuts compared to the Yanks. A one-two punch of Beckett and Santana would be insane and not something I'd look forward to.

JoePa's Salary Release = Overrated

When it comes right down to it, the fact that Joe Paterno's base salary of $512,664 was released means nothing. These coaches typically make the majority of their money through various endorsements and incentives. For example, according to The Daily Collegian, Jim Tressel makes a base salary of $386,000. However, with additional compensation, he makes millions. Bobby Bowden makes a base salary of $165,000 but can also make much more based on FSU's accomplishments.

The fact of the matter is, we don't know how much Paterno makes for TV appearances, performance incentives, and other various deals. Penn State has already declared they will not reveal that total. Odds are, JoePa probably makes millions, just as other coaches do. The $512,664 that he receives is simply for being the coach of the Penn State football team. In all honesty, I believe that might be a little too much. I feel like Paterno should be paying Penn State because he gets free sideline passes to every game and free transportation to road games. Ok, that might be a little harsh but I really want to know what Paterno does for the football team (outside of being a figurehead) before I make a sound judgment on what he should be paid. Bradley runs the defense, and Hall (regrettably) runs the offense. JoePa only seems to bark at guys when they're sucking and refuse to open up the playbook...at that's it.

Anyways, he gives a lot of his income back to the school (it has totaled millions) so it almost becomes a moot point. Either way, he still is in the upper tier for income amongst college coaches and probably should be based on his successes and track record.

Penn State Accepts Invitation to Alamo Bowl (December 29th, ESPN)


Penn State Athletic Director Tim Curley announced this afternoon that Penn State has received and accepted an invitation to the Valero Alamo Bowl to be played 6pm EST December 29th. ESPN will broadcast the game. The Alamo Bowl, held in the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, held the 4th pick out of the Big Ten bowl eligible teams. Although the major bowl selections have not been made (all will be finished by Sunday evening), it appears that Penn State gets the nod over Michigan and Illinois. Unless Ohio State is granted a chance to play in the National Championship game, a scenario that can only happen if Missouri and/or West Virginia lose Saturday, whoever doesn't get the invitation to the Capital One Bowl gets the shaft. While it is not required that the bowls select the teams in order of conference finish, it is recommended and usually followed. Either Michigan or Illinois is screwed if Ohio State goes to the Rose. Only one goes to the Capital One. The other free falls to the Champs Sports Bowl. Wisconsin has accepted a bid for the Outback Bowl. Anyway, I'm torn. I know many Penn State fans were excited about a chance to go to Orlando (the site of the Champs Sports Bowl). The downside of getting to play in the Alamo Bowl is having to (possibly) play Texas Tech. Sure they finished 5th in the Big 12 (4-4, 8-4). But their passing offense is crazy good (#1 in the NATION at ~476 yards/game; 5,707 yards and 48 TDs on the season). Their rushing offense is less than stellar. OK, actually it is the WORST in Division 1-A. But what is the bane of the Penn State defense? PASS D!!! Grrrreat. We should be playing nickel and dime all game. Heck, our four down lineman and Connor should eliminate their running game. Negative rushing yards anyone? I'll go into a bigger preview/detail IF the Nittany Lions even play the Red Raiders. There is a chance we take on Texas A&M. That would be much better.

Celebrating 250 Posts

Touche, McDonati. Touche.

November has been a down month here at Sports Fountainhead. Blame the Thanksgiving holiday and increase workload at school and work for the contributors. But never fear, this article marks the 250th post on Sports Fountainhead 2.0! Yay! We are so young. Sports Fountainhead 2.0 debuted on August 9th, 2007 and 114 days later we arrive at 250 posts (an average of ~2.19 posts a day...I attribute the .19 posts to Steely McDonati). While some posts are merely jabs at other writers (see picture above) and don't contribute anything to the site, others are quite great. Well written, informative, argumentative, and above all else, sports related. Below I have linked to my favorite articles written by all of the contributors to this site. If you are new to the site and haven't used the archive, here is your chance to read some of the greatest articles to ever grace Sports Fountainhead. Enjoy!
So that about does it. There were many more I wanted to choose but some of these were my favorites/interesting/crazy/funny/etc. I'd like to thank our readers and all of the contributors. The first four months of Sports Fountainhead 2.0 have been awesome. I hope everyone agrees. Thanks again.

Top 25 & NFL Hot 12

For the first time in two weeks, the Sports Fountainhead Top 25 and NFL Hot 12 will be updated this afternoon (yeah, I know, still late but come on...) by 3pm. Next week's Top 25 will be released by Monday and the new Hot 12 will be out Tuesday. No, really. I promise! Next week's Top 25 will be the last until after the National Championship game. The Hot 12 will continue as normal.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Are you happy now Patriot News?

Did learning that JoePa makes a measly (with respect to other coaches) salary make you happy? This five year long inquiry that went through multiple court rooms, including the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, is utterly ridiculous. And the final outcome - the release of legendary Penn State Coach Joe Paterno's salary - makes it seem even worse. I'm willing to bet that the staff at the Harrisburg Patriot News thought Paterno was making $1-$2 million annually. FAR FROM IT! For a coach that has been on the Nittany Lions football staff since 1950 and Head Coach for the last 41 years, a salary of $512,664 in 2007 ($490,638 in 2006) is nothing to a large University such as Penn State. While nearly all professional coaches (and athletes for that matter) are overpaid in my eyes, it's what the business dictates. For reference, I've listed some recent salaries for coaches in NCAA football and basketball, NFL, NBA, and MLB. All figures are the coach's salary per year.

College Football (for 2006 from ESPN and College Sports Report)

  • Nick Saban (Alabama) - $4 million
  • Bob Stoops (Oklahoma) - $3.4 million
  • Charlie Weis (Notre Dame) - $3.3 million
  • Pete Carroll (USC) - $3 million
  • Kirk Ferentz (Iowa) - $2.8 million
  • Jim Tressel (Ohio State) - $2.5 million
  • Urban Meyer (Florida) - $2 million
*NOTE: College Sports Report figures were for the 2006 season and may contain errors (they had JoePa listed as $2 million which we now know is not true)

College Basketball (for 2005-2006 season; from USA Today)
  • Tubby Smith (Kentucky) - $2.2 million
  • Thad Matta (Ohio State) - $1.8 million
  • Rick Bames (Texas) - $1.8 million
  • Tom Izzo (Michigan State) - $1.8 million
  • Jim Calhoun Connecticut) - $1.5 million
  • Roy Williams (North Carolina) - $1.4 million
  • Billy Donovan (Florida) - $1.4 million
  • Mike Krzyzewski (Duke) - $1.25 million
NFL (unfortunately these are from the 2003-2004 season; from Forbes)
  • Steve Spurrier (Redskins) - $5 million
  • Mike Holmgren (Seahawks) - $4.5 million
  • Bill Parcells (Cowboys) - $4.5 million
  • Mike Shanahan (Broncos) - $4.1 million
  • Mike Martz (Rams) - $3.5 million
  • Jon Gruden (Buccaneers) - $3.5 million
NBA (for 2005-2006 season; from New York Daily News and Inside Hoops)
  • Rick Adelman (Kings) - $6.9 million
  • Jerry Sloan (Jazz) - $5.5 million
  • Larry Brown (Pistons) - $5 million
  • Doc Rivers (Celtics) - $5 million
  • Jeff Van Gundy (Rockets) - $5 million
  • Gregg Popovich (Spurs) - $4 million
MLB (for 2007 season; from Biz of Baseball)
  • Joe Torre (Yankees) - $7.5 million
  • Lou Piniella (Cubs) - $3.5 million
  • Bobby Cox (Braves) - $3 million
  • Tony La Russa (Cardinals) - $2.8 million
  • Mike Scioscia (Angels) -$2 million
  • Jim Leyland (Tigers) - $2 million
  • Bruce Bochy (Giants) - $1.75 million
  • Terry Francona (Red Sox) - $1.65 million
  • Phil Garner (Astros) - $1.5 million
So there you go. All of those coaches, from various sports played on various levels, made more than JoePa for that year. And many of them still are. Ridiculous? Probably. While it's easy to justify professional coaches making more, should a vast majority be? How many titles did Steve Spurrier bring Washington? Nick Saban sure had a wonderful year 1. And do I even need to mention Weis' year 3? With respect to what these coaches (and many unlisted ones) are making, it is blatantly obvious that JoePa is underpaid for his success. Even though his teams have underachieved in this decade (save for 2005), JoePa is definitely worth more than $500,000 in this day and age. He has produced 371 wins, 2 national championships, 22 bowl victories, 33 bowl appearances, five undefeated seasons, and numerous Coach of the Year Awards as head coach at Penn State.


What would you pay a coach that has a track record and resume as good as Paterno's? I'm guessing it is more than $500,000.


Oh this isn't over yet. Paterno is quite the respectable coach. Penn State players have consistently demonstrated above-average academic success compared to Division 1-A schools nationwide. Over the past five years, the Nittany Lions' graduation rate as measured by the NCAA was the highest in the country three times, most recently exceeding the national average of 64 percent by 19 points. And he is charitable. Joe Paterno and his wife Sue have donated more than $4 million back to Penn State over the years. They also were the backbone for the University raising 13.5 million for an addition to the Pattee Library. The new section is called Paterno.

To summarize, I applaud the Patriot News for pursuing this. They come out looking like idiots and Paterno is seen as underpaid (again, in relation to other coaches). Thank you Harrisburg media.

Actually, I do need a job

In reference to E's post about the head football coaching job now open at Michigan, and since I will be graduating in the next month, I decided to submit my resume for consideration.

Unfortunately, all the online application process consisted of was the usual pre-screening questions, like have you ever been convicted of a felony, are you a white male because we won't hire you otherwise, etc. No prompt for a personal statement or anything like that. I promise to keep you all updated on any developments with this job.

Sports Unfiltered with Dennis Miller - November 27th

Clips from Sports Unfiltered on November 27th:

Dennis Miller Interviews Michael Irvin & Denny McClain

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Need a Job?

UMich is now accepting applications for a newly open position. Check it out.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Dolphins not as bad as casual fans tend to believe

The Dolphins will not go winless in 2007.


That's right, I said it. They are not. Sure they're 0-11 and haven't scored an offensive TD since the 3rd quarter of their 13-10 loss to the Bills on November 11th (a span of 9 quarters). Some so-called football "fans" believe that the 2007 Dolphins are the NFL's worst team - ever. Pathetic. Does the casual fan just look at records? Yeah they do. So of course 0-11 looks terrible. And a team hasn't gone winless since the 1976 Bucs lost all 14 games. But what these casual fans don't realize or care about are the actual effort or extenuating circumstances. They just believe all of what the media and other casual fans say: that this team sucks. Yes they are bad. But how many people know that this team has lost SIX games by 3 points? That is more than half of their games played so far. What if it had been the other way around? What if they won those six games bye 3 and were at 6-5? They'd be getting praised like the Browns are. But of course they didn't win any of those games. The casual fans also don't see that the Dolphins have used almost 10 different combinations at safety, the second most important position on the defense (next to middle linebacker). The injuries this team has had to go through is extensive. Trent Green, Ronnie Brown, Zach Thomas, Matt Roth, Renaldo Hill, Traveres Tillman, Yeremiah Bell, Chase Page, and now Ricky Williams, have all missed multiple games with injuries (and a handful are done for the year).

This isn't meant to be an excuse. They are bad. They are also unlucky. And if a team these next 5 weeks takes them lightly the Dolphins will get the one win that has eluded them thus far. The Dolphins will not go winless. Be wary Jets, Bills, Ravens, Patriots (yes, even they should be worried), and Bengals. The Dolphins look much worse on paper than they do on the field.

RIP Sean Taylor

Another sad and unfortunate event for an NFL team outside the realm of football. Less than a year after Darrent Williams (Broncos) was gunned down in a drive-by shooting, Sean Taylor (Redskins) dies of a gun shot wound to the upper leg. Both players had massive potential; Taylor made his first Pro Bowl last year.

While the police continue to investigate, little is known about the tragic event. There have been reports of a burglary gone bad but nothing has been made definitive yet. I'm sure we will be hearing a lot more in the coming days.

Taylor was a superstar safety at the University of Miami (Florida). He played a significant amount of his freshman season (2001) as a nickel and dime back for the eventual National Champion Hurricanes. He started his sophomore and junior season and received numerous awards as a ball-hawking, hard-hitting safety. Taylor skipped his senior season and was drafted 5th overall by the Redskins in 2004. He was a private person, rarely giving interviews. Teammates and close friends say that his life changed when his daughter was born 18 months ago.


RIP Sean Taylor



Glass Half Empty

Good job, Heinz Field. You thought that you could have a grass playing surface in a football stadium in the Northeast during the fall/winter months, and have not only the Steelers play there, but the Pitt Panthers and four high school games in the SAME DAY? You thought you could have these four HS games on Friday, a Pitt game on Saturday, and a Steelers game on Monday? You didn't think that there would be any consequences on the field? Instead, you embarrassed yourselves and the city of Pittsburgh by putting new sod on the field, creating a quicksand like playing surface after it rained, not to mention having the paint from the yard lines completely wash off, making it look like a soccer pitch? The result was one of the most embarrassing games in NFL history, a 3-0 Steelers win over the winless Dolphins. Normally such low scores are reserved for games during catastrophic weather events (first games that come to mind are the Jets beating the Steelers 6-0 in a blizzard in 2003, and some New England game in the early 90's that was in some kind of early fall Nor'Easter that was like 3-0 or 6-0 - can't remember who they played), but it was just a run of the mill rainy day in Pittsburgh in November. It was the horrible mismanagement of the playing surface that made this game so ugly. Hopefully this can convince the Heinz Field management to switch to an artificial playing surface, much like the Patriots did in midseason a couple years back.

I really don't think the Steelers played that terribly, and that the score would have been more like 20-3 if the conditions were normal. They dominated field position throughout the game. Parker had a decent game despite not being able to cut. Ben shook off an early pick by old friend J-Peazy to go 18/21, which is pretty remarkable given the conditions. His YPC were low however, which can be attributed to the field slowing down our receivers and not letting them get downfield fast. Our O-line allowed four sacks which is troublesome, but again that can be blamed on not really being able to plant. Hines Ward was huge with 7 catches but Heath Miller didn't catch any and had two extremely costly points that took points off the board. Defense was excellent as expected, shutting down the running game, knocking Ricky Williams out in his return to the league, and forcing QB John Beck to beat them. Beck, the rookie from BYU, didn't play terribly for being a rookie, but there was no way he was going to be able to beat us in those conditions. Jeff Reed hooked one field goal attempt in the slop, but had the most clutch 25 yarder in history to end the game. Sepulveda put just about all his punts inside the 20.

No bones about it, this was an ugly game. But it's probably best for the Steelers, and their fans, to just forget about it and not make too much of it. Just be glad we got the win, and hope that some major improvements are made in time for Sunday against Cincinnati.

Glass Half Full

Steelers shutout Dolphins! YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYY!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Sports Unfiltered with Dennis Miller - November 20th

Here are a few clips form the show Sports Unfiltered with Dennis Miller. It airs on Versus on Tuesday's after NHL action. Clips from November 20th:


Steroid Rant

Jose Canseco Interview

Warren Sapp Interview

Some Down Time

Sorry for the lack of posting and updates on my part. I wasn't around the computer much over the Thanksgiving break and holiday weekend. I will post the new Top 25 and Hot 12 as soon as I have the contributors picks.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

This one flew under the radar...

Justin King was named to the All-Big Ten first team?! Are you serious? His performance this year downright embarrassing, especially for a person hyped as much as he is. I don't feel like wasting my time writing a post about why he should not have gotten those honors. It'd be too easy anyway.

Anyways, congrats to Connor, Evans, Boone, and Shipley who all made the team as well.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Mountaineers and Buckeyes??

Just when you thought the National Title Game picture couldn't get any weirder...it does. With LSU and ASU falling, the door is wide open for those two coveted slots. Tomorrow, Kansas or Missouri will have their hopes smashed after the big showdown at Arrowhead. However, when all the dust settles at the beginning of December, who will be on top? Right now, it's anyone's guess. The possibilities are endless. Here are some odds (given in the order of the current BCS Standings) on who will be playing in New Orleans in January.

LSU (35-1): LSU pretty much blew their chance at playing for the title in their own backyard when they fell to Arkansas. However, there is still a remote chance that they will be playing for the title. I think it's safe to say Ohio State will get a bid over them but they basically need a lot of sympathy from the voters and for Kansas, Missouri, Virginia Tech, and West Virginia to lose and to win the SEC title. Kansas or Missou has to lose and the winner could very well lose to OU. They might get lucky and stay over VT in the polls, primarily because they're crushed them earlier this year but if not, they still have to beat UVA and BC again. If Tennessee loses @UK tomorrow, LSU will take on Georgia for the SEC. If UT wins, then Georgia (currently sitting at #7 in the BCS) could remain ahead of LSU if they don't have to face them. Pretty much, LSU wants to face Georgia to assure themselves a spot ahead of them. WVU has to beat UConn and Pitt. Shouldn't be too difficult but I really think the jury is still out on UConn and anything can happen in the Backyard Brawl. Again, they're in big trouble but all hope is not lost.

Kansas (10-1): Kansas has played damn well this year. Unfortunately, they haven't played damn well against a top tier team yet because they haven't faced any. They control their own destiny but have to get through Missouri and Oklahoma to reach their goal. Can they do it? Probably. Will they? Not so sure.

West Virginia (2-1): I give the Mountaineers pretty good odds to reach the title game. They finish out the season at home against UConn and Pitt, which is certainly a good thing. While those two games aren't pushovers by any stretch, I don't see them losing either of them. They're just too good and have played solid football since losing at South Florida. Their last two games have been relatively close calls but I think it's slightly safe to say that games against UL and @Cincy are a bit more rough than home dates with the Huskies and Panthers.

Missouri (12-1): Their odds are a little bit worse than Kansas' because they've already lost to Oklahoma (so I know for sure OU can beat them). Either way, like Kansas, they control their own destiny and land in New Orleans with wins over the Jayhawks and Sooners in the last two weeks of the season.

Ohio State (4-1): If we've learned anything this college football season, it's that you're the safest when you don't play. Ohio State has the luxury of sitting back and waiting to see if everyone ahead of them screws up. LSU and Kansas or Missouri are going to fall behind them in the BCS Standings this week, virtually assuring them of the #3 spot behind WVU (assuming they win) and the winner of Kansas v. Missouri. The way I see it, OSU needs 1 of 3 things to happen to make it to New Orleans.

1-Oklahoma to win the Big 12
2-WVU to lose to UConn
3-WVU to lose to Pitt

If any of those three things happen, I really don't see another team beating them out for a slot in the National Title Game.

Arizona State (1000-1): Losing to USC effectively took them out of the race. It's a shame too because a win over the Trojans could have possibly pushed them over the Buckeyes and into 3rd place in the BCS.

Georgia (50-1): Somewhat of a dark horse in this race. If Kansas, Missouri and West Virginia all lose, Georgia could find their way into the title game. A win over LSU in the SEC Title game would give them a lot of props, though they need UT to lose tomorrow for that matchup to happen. There's even the outside chance that staying out of the SEC title game could help them, especially if UT beats LSU. I'm sure they'd like to be able to make it to New Orleans without having to go through LSU but it might be what it takes.

Virginia Tech (40-1): There's no telling how the computers will react to wins over Virginia and BC. The computers have BC as a top 10 team and UVA on the outside, looking in. If the Hokies can beat them, and have WVU, KU, and Missou all fall, there's no telling what might happen. It's pretty much a toss up as to where they will stand relative to LSU this week but that will be made more clear come Sunday. If LSU falls in the SEC Title game, then they're obviously out of the picture anyway.

Rest of Field (80-1): Crazier things have happened this year. I mean heck, USF used to have the #2 BCS spot. Either way, the field pretty much consists of Oklahoma, Oregon and USC. All three of those teams basically need every team currently ahead of them in the BCS standings (outside of OSU) to lose. Highly unlikely, but it could still happen.

With all that being said, I would currently put my money on a WVU v. OSU national title game. I really don't see Oklahoma losing the Big 12 and WVU should definitely win out. Sure, I'm biased because they're the two conferences that I follow the most but still, I would really like to see that game. You never see any good Big East v. Big Ten matchups in football and that would be one heck of a game. One way or the other, nothing in college football is even certain. For all I know Hawaii could end up in the title game...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Pens in bad shape/Thanksgiving!

You may remember me writing a week or two ago that I wasn't concerned about the Penguins slow start. Well, scratch that - now I am very concerned. After getting beat last night by the Devils at home, that wrapped up a stretch of 9 games against Atlantic Division opponents in which they won only 2, and were able to force overtime in another. That's 5 points for, and 14 points given to our division rivals. Not good news. The Pens' record is now 8-13 (2) (OT losses = losses in McDonati's mind), the 18 points better than only Buffalo and Washington in the East. To put things in perspective, the Penguins have 4 wins at Mellon Arena this season. The Devils have 3. And the Devils are only 2 points ahead of us.

So what is the problem? Scoring goals, goaltending, defense, and consistent effort from the entire team. Crosby and Malkin have been as incredible as you would expect, but everyone else tends to stand around and watch. Jordan Staal is having a big time sophomore slump (2 pts), Roberts and Recchi are showing their age, energy guys like Colby Armstrong and Maxime Talbot are off and on hurt, and we don't seem to getting many calls (which is more of an effort thing). Fleury/Sabourin will make some spectacular saves, and then let in some head-scratching goals, often in bunches. We blow early leads, or we fall behind early and can't catch up. We seem to invent different ways to lose each night.

Tonight, the Pens travel to Ottawa (no Thanksgiving in Canada) to battle the Senators for the first time since the playoff debacle. At first, one would think it's not a good thing to be playing the NHL's top team in a stretch like this, but it might be just what the doctor ordered for the Pens. Reason: they're getting out of that wretched Igloo. The ice surface at the dump known as Mellon Arena is absolutely terrible. The puck bounces like a basketball out there. That spells big problems for teams like the Pens who rely on fast skating and smooth passes and offensive pressure, and plays right into the hands of defensive-minded teams like the Devils and Flyers. Getting onto some Canadian ice, which is much more well-maintained than in America, could be just the spark that the team needs to finally start turning its talent into goals, and then into points in the standings. Sure, Fleury will probably allow about 4 to the Sens, but if we can score 5 no one will complain. There's still lots of time to turn the season around, but they should start doing it sooner rather than later.


In other news, it's Thanksgiving!! Yayyayayay! The football games on tap today:

Packers at Lions: Brett Favre on Thanksgiving! He's so great! He's like Tom Brady, only older!! <3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3 (synopsis of what Joe Buck and Troy Aikman will be saying the entire broadcast)

Jets at Cowboys: The Jets' 2-8 record is NOT indicative of one of the teams that northern New Jersey calls its own. They are feisty, and will (read: BETTER) give the 'Boys a good game in Dallas (read: to ease the pain of certain Steelers' fans who are bitter from this past weekend) tonight.

Colts at Falcons: ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.
The tryptophan will have truly kicked in by this point, and if you're "lucky" enough to have the NFL Network, this game won't help you stay awake.

USC at Arizona State: Back in my day, you watched Barry Sanders in the morning and the Crackhead Cowboys in the afternoon and you liked it. Now you have these NFL Network games, and even college games at night. And this one might be the best of the day, as the Trojans and Sun Devils battle for a Rose Bowl berth. ASU still has only the 1 loss to Oregon, and is the team no one seems to be talking about anymore for the BCS. But their chances are still alive. Beat USC tonight and they'll likely jump over idle Ohio State. Then if LSU loses to Georgia/Tennessee or Kansas/Missouri loses to Oklahoma, they could slip right in there with WVU. And the Mountaineers aren't guaranteed to beat 2 loss UConn this weekend. That said, I think the Trojans crush them tonight. Fight on!

And we talkin about...basketball? Yep, the Old Spice Classic in Orlando begins today, including none other than your Penn State Nittany Lions, who will not be ignored by this blog! The 8 team field includes South Carolina, who we play today (12pm ESPN2), NC State, Villanova, George Mason (with Jordan Norwood's brother), and Kansas State. So we should get some indication of whether we can be more competitive in the Big Ten this season, and a couple wins here would be great for building the NIT resume (let's not get ahead of ourselves).

Oh yeah, and there's even a hockey game as mentioned above.

So it's a day chock full of sports, and food, and sleep! From all at Sports Fountainhead, we wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Online Adventures

First things first, Happy Thanksgiving!

To those of you that don't know (which is probably everybody but TAS and my girlfriend), playing NCAA Football 2007 online has become one of my favorite hobbies (if you play, add me, my user name is SIRnittany...I know, very original). It's really neat...Brad Nessler even wished me a Happy Thanksgiving tonight as I started up a game. Playing online is a completely different experience than playing the computer in any capacity and in my opinion, is a ton more fun. Not only is it cooler knowing that you're actually playing another human, but the games can get very interesting (in ways that the computer wouldn't let happen) and the chats with opponents can vary from annoying to friendly to downright weird. That being said, I'll get into some of my more fun and interesting stories from online gaming...

When you play the computer, the one thing it actually does fairly well is ball control and running out the clock if it's winning. That isn't always the case when you're playing another person as some people tend to get arrogant.

Example #1: I was playing this kid (I was WVU, he was Auburn) and he had a 3 point lead with less than a minute to go and a first down (and I had no timeouts). All he had to do was sit on it and he won. Did he? No. He decides to be a smart-ass and throws for a 40 yard TD to go up 20-10. While I was thoroughly annoyed at what seemed to be an attempt to run up the score, I realized this also meant I actually had a shot at a comeback. Well, long story short, I get a fast TD, recover an onsides kick, and now I have the ball with 15 seconds left on his 40. All I have to do is throw a quick out and I can tie it with a FG (WVU's kicker is pretty good). Nope. I decide to be a smart-ass, and throw a 40 yard TD pass to win the game as time expires. Sucker.

Example
#2: I was WVU @ Texas. The person I was playing had the ball with 40 seconds left on my 20 (again, I had no timeouts). We were tied and all he had to do was sit on it and kick a FG as time expired. Of course he didn't, and threw for a TD with 20 seconds left. I get the kickoff, throw back to back 40 yard passes...tie game. I ended up losing in triple-OT (because of a lame fumble) but the point stands...people online really don't know how to take a win when its handed to them. (Btw...I smashed him 44-14 in a rematch...he deserved it)

When you play online, you also run the risk of facing that one guy that whines and moans because he feels like you're running the same play all the time. He'll relentlessly harass you with chat messages like "thats cheap" and "ur lame." Well, "lol" at those people because odds are you are kicking his or her ass if they are saying such things.

Example #1:
Currently, I have a level 3 ranking online which is decent and I was playing this kid with a level 14 ranking which is pretty darn good. I ended up thoroughly whipping him (41-13) with WVU through the typical option, run attack and some shots down the field. Of course, he had the need to tell me that I was doing HB Direct too much (which I had only run a couple times but he claimed to be annoyed that I was running it on third down) and that I was taking too many shots down the field. Well smart guy, for one, you should almost always have a CB spy when taking on WVU to contain Slaton and White to a degree. And secondly...when you establish a solid running game, that's supposed to open up the passing game down the field. Either way, he couldn't even score so he basically didn't even have the right to really complain. The ironic thing was after that game, I was handed my most humbling loss in a long time, falling to ASU all while throwing 4 INTs (I never knew their TE was a beast...).

Finally, you'll run into that really weird kid/odd situation. The following story was basically my motivation for writing this blog.

Ok, so I'm playing this kid who is using Ohio State. We had struck up somewhat of a nice chat earlier and then got to it. Game started out pretty well, but late in the first, I was beginning to pull away a little and a minute into the second quarter, I was up 21-7. All of a sudden he pauses the game and the following chat takes place:

Him: brb phone
Him: hold on
Me: ok
Pause of about a few minutes or so...
Him: Omg....my aunt just...died
Him: i can't believe it...
Him: she's like...gone!!

Now let's pause here a moment. What the hell am I supposed to do in a situation like that? I'm not gonna lie, that "she's like gone" comment raised my suspicions but who knows, maybe he just didn't know how to express his disbelief. Being the classy individual that I am, I responded with:

Me: Oh geez...are you for real?
Him: Yeah
Him: I can't do this...its too hard
Him: I'm sorry
Me: Sorry man.

At that point, he offered me a friendly quit (nobody gets charged with a win or loss) and that was that as I accepted. This kid is either having a really crappy night or pulled my leg like no other. My guess is he pulls this line with other people (and asks for friendly quits when he's down) because he was 6-2, and he did not play like someone who should have that record. Heck, my record is 33-22 and I was easily beating him down (though I have won 15 of 17).

Either way, I'm still slightly confused/concerned about that whole ordeal but it proved yet another lesson in online gaming: expect the unexpected. You'll never have a computer telling you its relative just died to get out of playing with you. Nonetheless, online gaming is awesome, and if you're not into it already, you should be.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Hooray not Nittany Lions!

While the Nittany Lions have done nothing but frustrate the hell out of me in a plethora of ways, my favorite 4 professional sport teams have done nothing but help alleviate that stress.

New Orleans Hornets: I already gave you a full post on these guys but they're still looking good at 9-3. Yeah, Paul twisted his ankle the night I wrote that post and now Tyson Chandler is a little gimpy but things don't look too bad...yet.

New Jersey Devils: Ok, on the whole, they've been incredibly unimpressive. The offense has been anemic and the defense is spotty but hey, we're tied with the Penguins. However, Martin Brodeur just got his 500th career win the other night, which is cause for celebration. He joins only Patrick Roy in that elite category. If Martin can go full throttle for another few years, he should easily overtake Roy's career win record. If everything goes right, 700 wins is a possibility.

New York Yankees: It was only a few weeks ago that it seemed like the sky was falling in the Bronx. Torre departed town in a not-so-good fashion and Alex Rodriguez, pardon me, Scott Boras opted out of the richest contract in baseball. Today, Girardi seems like a solid pick for coach and Rodriguez wants to remain a Yankee after all. The best part about Rodriguez coming back was that he did it without Boras. Boras was handing the situation with the Yankees like a complete moron (surprise, surprise) and A-Rod realized that, going to none other than Warren Buffet for advice. Buffet told him to forget about Boras and contact the Yankees without him. He did and now A-Rod remains in the Bronx. All is well. Posada and Rivera even resigned too which is huge.

New York Jets: Heading into last weekend, I wanted two more things out of this NFL season. For the Jets to beat the Patriots and the Steelers. Kind of odd considering I root for the Steelers if they're not playing the Colts or Jets but whatever. Either way, it has been a while since the Jets did anything worth cheering about but that changed Sunday with a victory over the Steelers. I could have told you before the game that the Jets would win (I predicted 17-16...19-16 was pretty damn close). It had all the makings for a trap. The Steelers see 1-8 and think easy win, especially considering how they've easily dismantled many teams so far this year. In the words of Lee Corso, "not so fast, my friend." The Jets have been in every game that they've played with the exception of the opener against the Pats (but that's only because New England cheated). They've basically just shot themselves in the foot in every game this year. Whether it be a huge defensive lapse or a poor decision by Pennington (does that not sound like the PSU D and Morelli?), the Jets couldn't pull one off. However, coming off a bye and catching the Steelers off-guard proved to work well for the Jets. Their blitzing packages were incredibly impressive as they sacked Roethlisberger 7 times. Thomas Jones had his best game a a Jet, dancing around the Steeler D-Line for over 100 yards, something that hasn't happened in nearly 3 full seasons. While I will admit, Santonio Holmes going down for Pittsburgh greatly impacted the Steeler offense, the same thing happened to the Jets with Coles. Did you not see the 9038093475 passes dropped by Brad Smith? Either way, the Jets sat back and let the Steelers do the screwing up (via penalties) and it paid off. Nugent came through in the clutch (unlike his predecessor Doug Brien) and the rest is history. The amount of coke consumed by Steely McDonati would have had no effect.

Now if only the Jets can beat the Patriots in December, this NFL season will have been worth it. Never doubt the Man-Genius....he may be 2-8, but he's still one heck of a smart 2-8 coach, especially against his old boss that he despises. That win might even be enough to help me forget about this utterly unimpressive Nittany Lion season.

Monday, November 19, 2007

24 Horrible Horrible Horrible Hours

So I leave my home here in Pittsburgh about 6 ish Saturday night to go see the Pens play the Rangers at Mellon Arena. At the time, PSU was up on MSU 31-21 in the 4th qtr, and I was about to see one of the most exciting teams in hockey play in person. I was a happy dude. So I stop at the 7-11 to get some cash and a drink on my way - and notice that there's a flat on my Kia. Shit. Gametime is in an hour. I've never changed a flat before. It's about 40 degrees and raining simultaneously. Mood starts to drop. So I grab my owner's manual and begin to figure out the process, and its making progress, when I get a text message from Penn State (who I thought was only supposed to send me these things when school was cancelled). "PSU loses season finale to MSU 35-31." WHAT THE F***! I guess Justin King and Scirotto just stood around with their thumbs up their asses in the 4th qtr and the Spartans came back, and the Ford Taurus (Morelli) didn't exactly come through under pressure. Whatever, we're mediocre anyways, I don't care, I was disgusted with that team win or lose. So I finally fix the tire, and it's 7:30, time for the opening faceoff. So I rush to the arena, only it's hard to rush WHEN YOU'RE ON A FREAKIN DONUT!! I have the game on the radio, and you guessed it: the Pens score 2 goals before I get there to go up 2-0. All of my hard earned money spent on these tickets, and it's still Mike Lange telling me when Crosby scores. So I get there during intermission, and find my seats. At least I'm gonna get to see a win, and hopefully they can put up a couple more goals. 49 seconds, 49 MOTHER ***** SECONDS into the 2nd period, goal Rangers. By Michael freakin Rosival (sp?). Michael Rosival played for the Penguins for many years, and uh NEVER SCORED. The Rangers would go on to score twice more in the period (including another by Rosival &%&***%^&$%^**$) and take a 3-2 lead. We would manage to tie it in the third, only to lose it in overtime 4-3. Essentially I had paid $100 for a 4-1 loss. So it was a horrible day, both in sports and real life, but I could sleep on it and tomorrow would be a new one, right?

I'm very superstitious when it comes to the Steelers. This is the ideal situation, when all these conditions are satisfied, they never lose:

1) I go over my friend Eric's (not E, a different Eric) and watch on his monstrous HD television, him on the couch to the left of the TV, me on the couch to the right.

2) I wear one of my jerseys, either 7 Roethlisberger for games against AFC teams or 83 Miller for games against NFC teams.

3) Coke is being consumed at the beginning of the game. Not Pepsi, not Diet Coke, COKE.

I'm sure you're laughing now and being like, that can't have any effect on how they play on the field, let me present this evidence from the 2007 season:

Week 1: All 3 conditions satisfied; Steelers 34, Browns 7.
Week 2: All 3 conditions satisfied; Steelers 26, Bills 3.
Week 3: All 3 conditions satisfied; Steelers 37, Niners 16.
Week 4: 0 of 3 conditions satisfied; Cardinals 21, Steelers 14.
Week 5: All 3 conditions satisfied; Steelers 21, Seahawks 0.
Week 6: Bye
Week 7: 1 of 3 conditions satisfied; Broncos 31, Steelers 28.
Week 8: All 3 conditions satisfied; Steelers 24, Bengals 13.
Week 9: All 3 condtions satisfied; Steelers 38, Ravens 7.
Week 10: 1.5 of 3 conditions satisfied; Steelers 31, Browns 28 (Started drinking Coke after kickoff, and the Steelers responded by waiting till the second half to come back).

Which brings us to Week 11, against the one win Jets. 2 out of 3 conditions were already out the window, as I am in Pittsburgh now and can't go to Eric's, and I forgot to pack either of my jerseys. But the season has shown that as long as I am watching and I have the coke, it should be okay, just not very pretty (see Browns game). That's where the problem came. The plan for Sunday was to go out for dinner with my mom, stepdad, grandpap, and his FWB. The geniuses made dinner reservations for 4 PM. The Steelers game started at 4 pm. I really had no choice, as I want to show some maturity around my family at the age of 22 and not seem like some crazed lunatic fan (which I am). At least Max & Erma's served Coke products, but it didn't do any good, as I begin getting angry text messages from Eric about how we're down by 10 and it's all my fault. It's actually 10-7 when we leave the restaurant, so we go home. If I start drinking coke now everything should be fine. No Coke in the fridge at home. I go to run out and get Coke, except that my car is blocked in the driveway by my mom's caravan. I ask her to move it so I can go get Coke, and she basically says I'm crazy and I need to let go of my superstitions. And she is kinda right. So I sit in my living room and watch helplessly as we lose to the freakin Jets in OT. Yes, there are other reasons we lost. We couldn't tackle anybody and had some incredibly awful conservative play calling. But those things happened because I was unable to follow my superstitions. No one will ever convince me otherwise.

So in the span of 24 hours, all 3 of my teams lost close games to teams that either wore green or were from New York - or both. All 3 we had leads in, all 3 we gave up. 2 went to overtime, the other was decided in the final minutes. Yuck yuck yuck.

NFL notes

Oh, I'm surprised nobody's mentioned it thus far (unless I missed it), but the Jets beat the Steelers in overtime yesterday. McDonati's probably still too bummed and E's probably too drunk to post about it, so I thought I would.

And yeah, the Eagles were down to the Dolphins at the half. McNabb got hurt again. This is nothing new in Philadelphia.

The long-awaited return

I received a letter from a fan the other day, and I'd like to share it with you...

Dear Tom,

When are you going to be returning to Sports Fountainhead? Your contributions used to be so thoughtful and witty. My internet surfing experience just won't be the same until you come back and grace the blog with your presence again.

I left some split pea soup in the fridge, because I know it's your favorite. I'll be home from work at 4pm.

Love,
Mom

Yes, thank you, uh, erm, "Mom", for your insightful words of encouragement. And I am back. It's been a rough few weeks with exams, commitments, and the like, but with the holiday upon us, I can return to blogging again. Trust me, it wasn't easy being away. I wanted to blog badly when Navy beat Notre Dame. Or Air Force. I wanted to blog when Billy Gillespie and Kentucky lost to Gardner-Webb. Or when Michigan State lost to Grand Valley State (with Drew Nietzel). Or when Wyoming's coach flipped the bird. Or when Brent Musburger had his annual orgasm at the Ohio State-Michigan game.

Well, at least it's not too late to blog about Louisiana-Monroe beating Alabama last weekend. People in Tuscaloosa are still hung over after drinking all the Kool-Aid they served at 'Bama's spring game. Now their savior is 6-5 in his first season with a 3-game skid.

Also not too late to mention that Penn State's women's volleyball team won their 5th-straight outright Big Ten title last weekend, an unprecedented mark in the conference. I was in town Friday during the thrilling 3-1 victory over #9 Wisconsin -- these ladies are damn good, but then again they usually are.

And, oh yeah, Lloyd Carr's retiring. Yawn. Tell me something I don't know.

Anyway, I planned on taking the wood to our Nittany Lion football squad today, but I'll restrain myself ... slightly. The day had disappointment written all over it, really. It was grey and gloomy, that general feeling of malaise in the air. I had left State College early Saturday morning to come home, as students are enjoying a (well-deserved!) week-long Thanksgiving break.

The Lions decided to get fancy, and trick plays were abound. I think we're just wondering where they've been for the first 11 games. Did it really take us four months to figure out how to run these plays or were we saving them for a grandiose finale?! The coaches do need to admit, though, that Morelli in the WR position has never fooled anyone and has never worked. But the two fake FGs were brilliant. First, Kevin Kelly pooches it from about the 37-yard line, and we down it on the MSU 1. Then, up 17-7 in the 3rd quarter, Boone fakes a high snap and Kelly runs it in for six! Wow! Holy Spartans, Batman!

So, okay, we're up 24-7 in the 3rd, and their crowd's out of it. Things are so bad that our kicker is now running rampant in Spartan Stadium. So, you know, it's been a long day, I drove a while ... it might be a good time to put my head down and rest. I start nodding off slightly. I'm semi-conscious when MSU marches down the field and makes it a 24-14 game. I'm even closer to dreamland when we go back up 31-14. Well, all is good, I think I'll just close my eyes and...

"Tom, I thought I'd wake you up. Michigan State just scored and took the lead."

Aw, crap.

Don't ask me how. Don't ask me why. I was asleep, which I thought might be okay when your team is up 17 points in the third! Oh, but look, it's okay, some guy named Carter wearing the number 32 is running through the MSU defense. Phew, that was close. Oh, there he goes, running it again. We're within striking range!

Dammit, what is Morelli doing holding the ball and dropping back?! Game over.

Doesn't it say something when your fourth-string running back who has never played in a game before can move the ball at will when your senior quarterback with two years experience completely halts the drive?

Well, look, I'm not going to cry over spilled milk anymore, this is in the past. Let's look ahead. Can a decent bowl victory erase the calamity that is the 2007 season? With all the troubles off the field, our inexperienced two-year starting QB, and our hot-shot recruit who has made our secondary look like swiss cheese ... can we forget? I mean, in 2006, we at least lost to all the big boys -- overrated Notre Dame, Ohio State, Michigan, and overrated Wisconsin, three of those losses on the road. Now, switch out Notre Dame and replace it with a decent Illinois team. Okay, now switch out 12-1 Wisconsin and replace it with ... 7-5 Michigan State. Three losses on the road. Can a bowl win really make us forget?

Looking farther ahead, like a good fan should when his team is in disarray, some of the question marks we had to start 2007 no longer exist for 2008. There is no running back problem, as Evan Royster looks really solid and it sounds like we have a good backup in... whoever Carter is. The two people I'll really miss in the senior class are Matt Hahn and Dan Connor. Sean Lee's been waiting for this moment to step up as a leader for a while, and he'll shine. I don't worry about our LBs at all. The O-line has really brought it together this year, and I'm pretty sure most if not all will be returning. Who woulda thunk our O-line would be a bright spot?

That's not to say there aren't glaring question marks. I don't know whether or not I'll be happy if Justin King declares for the draft. If he really cares about a career, he won't. Not after his abysmal performance this season. But then again, if he does, maybe it'll mark a new day for the secondary. If not, I hope JoePa whips him around and shows him what's what before August '08. Clark has shown promise at QB, but little else, as we haven't seen him too much on the field. However, I will say that he probably had more playing time before starting than Morelli did. Penn State's version of Jimmy Clausen (AKA "the answer to all our problems"), Pat Devlin, will still be still untested as our backup, despite the whole student section seemingly on his bandwagon. Not me. Until he can prove he deserves to be there more than Clark, I'm sticking with JoePa and his (assumed) decision to play Clark next year.

So, maybe we're getting ahead of ourselves. Let's get to Orlando, win the Champs Sports Bowl, and finish this season 9-4 ... again. And hey, if JoePa can't pass Bobby Bowden for most career wins, let's at least take another Bowden to the woodshed and hope we play Clemson. Although that Cullen Harper is a pretty good player.

This week, I hope to put a final update on my "Buy or Sell" predictions, and evaluate some of the performances by first-year coaches this year.

We Did Beat Michigan State...

...at giving blood. From the Penn State Faculty/Staff (UP) Newswire:

Penn State came from behind to beat Michigan State 2,170 to 1,935 in the 14th Annual Penn State-Michigan State Blood Donor Challenge.The winning school was announced on the field before the game Saturday, Nov. 24, at Michigan State. This is the second year that Penn State dominated the match. The challenge is a friendly rivalry aimed at increasing blood inventories before the winter holidays. "What an outstanding finish," said Wendi Keeler, American Red Cross field representative for Penn State. "Penn State not only came from behind to beat MSU by 235 units of blood, we beat our own goal by 170 units by breaking the 2,000 unit mark." Keeler expressed her appreciation to the 2,500-plus donors and all of the event's sponsors.
WE ARE PENN STATE. In all seriousness, great job. It's wonderful to see these 2 schools giving blood in a useful capacity. Penn State has now won 2 years in a row. This was the 14th year of competition. I couldn't find results from years 1-12. I think it's pretty even. If I recall a plaque in the HUB, PSU dominated early then MSU caught up and now PSU is back. But I could be completely wrong.

We are the Champions

To brighten up my sports life, I learned today that I won my Fantasy College Football League. I wrote about finding fantasy College Football back in August. I promptly joined three leagues through CBS Sports and drafted within a few days. I figured out quickly that, like some winners of the Heisman (see Smith, Troy; White, Jason; and Crouch, Eric), the best fantasy College Football players are not the best NFL prospects. While I thought I had a good team with the Lafayette Lions in the Penn State University League, I finished 1-9, missed the playoffs, and scored a measly 1252 points (125.2 points/game). The league champion scored 2,047.2 points over 12 games (170.6 pts/game average). It's safe to say that fantasy College Football scores are much higher than your average NFL fantasy games, where 90 points is usually considered competitive and will produce an above average team. My big name players on the Lions were Rutgers RBs (namely Ray Rice), California WRs (mostly DeSean Jackson), and Oregon QBs (Dennis Dixon predominantly). No dice. Bad team, apparently. With team 2, the Sinking Spring Turtles in the Steel City Football League, I would surely have better luck. And I did. At 2-7-1. WOW! I managed 1402.8 points in this league over 10 games. My last team, the Tippecanoe Tornadoes, was more for fun and I drafted players I wanted and wasn't trying to win. Result? CHAMPIONS!!! An 8-2 regular season followed by a 2-0 playoff run. I had the highest scoring team at 2007.2 points through 12 games. I even played the second hardest schedule. Damn, we were gooooood. Who was on my team you ask? Check this out:

  • Texas Tech QBs (Graham Harrell...yeah that'll do nicely)
  • Penn State RBs (thank you Kinlaw!)
  • Wisconsin RBs (thank God P.J. Hill has a stud freshman backup)
  • Purdue WRs (Dorien Bryant and outlaw Selwyn Lymon)
  • Missouri TEs (Martin Rucker et. al.)
  • Arkansas Ks (Alex Tejada)
  • Penn State D/ST
Not really NFL prospects. Harrell may be a late round choice, Bryant and Rucker could go in the 3rd, and Hill wasn't dominant. But in fantasy College Football world, I ruled all. My bench included Penn State QBs (HA! Like I'd ever play them!), Auburn RBs, LSU WRs (damn you Doucet), and Penn State WRs and TEs. Like I said, this league was for fun so I snatched every PSU player except Ks (sorry Kevin Kelly). And I won! So I guess PSU isn't bad at all forms of football. Hell, they help me win when most of them are riding the pine.



With the uninspired and hapless play by Penn State, the Dolphins looking to make the wrong kind of history, the Flyers sporadic play, and it months before the Phillies play meaningful games, fantasy sports are all I have. Thank you Tippecanoe Tornadoes. You are my sports pride (and that is so sad).

P.S. - FYI, I'm also 9-2 in my normal Fantasy Football league. All hail Tony Romo!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Can PSU audition for Extreme Makeover?

I'll be the first to admit that it looks like I'm overreacting after a pathetic lost in the Spartans but hear me out. Paterno is really looking like a complete buffoon lately.

I'll start with the team's character. It's the most embarrassing team I've ever had to root for. I hate having to come back home to the 'hahas' about how the latest Nittany Lion has just been arrested or charged with something. JoePa took a stand, or at least seemed to, when ordering the team to clean up the stadium after home football games. He also told the powers that be at PSU that the players involved in the infamous Meridian Apartment incident in April would lose playing time.

To start, the football players didn't clean the entire stadium. I'm no mathematician but I'm sure there's at least 100 students with the team that can help clean. For that many people to clean up (what I've heard to be) a quarter to half of the stadium is a joke, especially after JoePa tried to insinuate that the team would clean the entire stadium. Other student organizations cleaning the stadium with the football team were instructed not to say anything about the football team. I wonder why... Now about playing time. The two key players in the Meridian fight, Anthony Scirrotto and Chris Baker saw absolutely ZERO deduction in playing time. Scirrotto started every single game this season and Baker started a bunch too...until he got charged with yet another crime. The latest incident that occurred outside the HUB the night after the Iowa game is the latest black eye to the program. The Daily Collegian said reports had roughly 15 football players involved in the fight. Why is it that everytime some messes with a football player, that football player has to call the whole team to come and beat the crap out of somebody? Seriously...grow up. I know you're a band of brothers and whatnot but this is just pathetic. Ironically, Chris Baker is the one who called up the players, and in due time they arrived. Once they got there, they allegedly pummeled and stomped on the victim as he lay on the ground. Chris Bell apparently also thought it was necessary to jump off a chair and elbow drop the guy.

A little sidebar comment here but Chris, are you retarded? One, for actually doing what you did but two, you think that's really healthy for your elbow?

Either way, Baker has all but proved he's a no good goon that only sheds negative light on the Penn State football program. Paterno needs to take the hard line approach and kick Baker, LB Navorro Bowman, and anyone else potentially charged in beating up this guy off the team. This year, PSU is more known for off the field embarrassments than on the field accomplishments (not that there were really any of those to begin with). Anyone who is involved in any sort of violent crime should be swiftly booted off the team. If Scirotto gets convicted once his trial starts, I fully expect him to be off the team. If not, it's just one more example of Paterno sacrificing face for big contributer to the team.

One more gripe at the character of the team. I'm still irritated with how the team treated the fans after senior day (v. Purdue). After the game, Terrell Golden was the only player to come to the student section and thank the fans/students. Everyone else just went into the locker room. We even won the game and they just bailed. Arguably the best student section in the nation, that stands there game after game in support...and they get nothing, not even a wave in return. Sad. Just sad.

Since I've already used up a bunch of space talking about the character of the team, I'll keep it brief with the play. I'm more embarrassed by the play of this team than by the play of the 4-7 team of 2004. At least then, we knew we were a year away and the offense had few weapons. This year, we have plenty of talent on defense, but can't even make the big tackle. On offense, Morelli shouldn't even be starting. He's proven time and time again that he's dumb as rocks. All you have to do is look at the last two drives in today's game. Hey, let's throw a 3-yard pass from our own 20 over the middle of the field with 10 seconds left and no timeouts! Maybe the guys were covered downfield but are you serious? At least heave it up there. The 21 point collapse was terrible too. The Lions showed no character on the field and deserved to lose with the attitude they showed...that I blame on the coaching staff.

Galen Hall, please leave. Jay Paterno, please leave. Joe Paterno, unless you can actually motivate your team to play well and teach your players how to stay out of trouble (or at least discipline them appropriately), please leave.

I'm not calling for Paterno to step down but I'm damn close. The image this team portrays on and off the field is nothing short of pathetic and I don't see any change in sight...yet.

Another Pathetic Road Showing

When will this team learn how to win on the road? When will they learn to play good man and zone coverage? When will the retarded offensive play calling committee be disbanded? That was horrendous. Absolutely abysmal. Have fun at the Insight Bowl. Underachievers. Pathetic.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Western Conference Contender???

Think fast...who has the best record in the NBA Western Conference? San Antonio?

Ok, you guessed right. But only half right.

Somebody else is currently tied atop the Western Conference standings 10 games into the young NBA season with those Spurs. That team is none other than my beloved New Orleans Hornets (8-2). To many people this may come as somewhat of a surprise. To those that know the terrible luck New Orleans has had with injuries over the past couple of years, it shouldn't.

In previous years, the Hornets were always somewhat of a 'sleeper' team in the West, but could never amount to anything due to injuries and very streaky play. Now, with a healthy lineup (knock on wood), they're showing the NBA what they are capable of. The starting lineup the put on the floor is very impressive, and highly underrated. They have one of the best PGs in the game in Chris Paul starting in the back court with veteran Morris Peterson. For forwards, they have the old, but still effective 3-point assassin (as long as he's not hurt) Peja Stojakovic and the young and very effective (as long as he's not hurt) David West. On top of that, they have Tyson Chandler, a 7'1 monster at center. That combination along with a solid bench has been giving the opposition fits so far this year.

The Hornets' ability to spread the ball around has also been key. All 5 starters average between 10.2-18.6 ppg while Chris Paul leads the NBA with a sick 10.6 assists per game. With that balance, they've gone 5-1 on road so far (road games being a weakness in the past) with two of those road wins coming against solid teams in Los Angeles (v. Lakers) and Denver. If the Hornets can keep up the pace (and stay healthy!!), the sky is the limit for them. Having San Antonio and Dallas in same division is certainly no fun, but they have the talent to keep pace throughout the year.

Hopefully they'll still be in the thick of the Southwest Division race when I head down to New Orleans at the end of January to cheer them on.......I mean attend a conference.......

Oregon - no excuses

Oregon came into last night's game in Arizona primed to make a run at the national title, being ranked at #2 in the BCS (though many speculated they would have been passed by the Big 12 champ). Well, all that is moot now after one of the most uninspiring football games I've ever seen on either end. Oregon QB and Heisman candidate Dennis Dixon hurt his knee early, and pretty much the entire team quit after that. The backup was Ryan Leaf's brother, and the coaches didn't adjust the play-calling, running the spread option with Ryan Leaf's brother. It would have been like if PSU kept the Michael Robinson offense for Morelli. Ryan Leaf's brother also is from the Kyle Orton school of "don't throw the ball more than 10 yards downfield so my completion percentage will look pretty", which is bad for a team that is behind by a lot. Why were they behind by a lot? Because of piss poor effort on defense and special teams in the first half after Dixon's injury. Last time I checked, Dixon doesn't play defense or special teams, so they weren't losing anything there. The blame for this loss has to fall on Mike Belotti and the Ducks coaching staff. In a game as physical as football, you have to be prepared for injuries to your key players. The Ducks clearly were not prepared for Dixon's injury, as evidenced by the lack of adjusting the play calling to Ryan Leaf's brother's skill set (which admittedly, is less) and the obvious lack of heart shown by the entire team. Truly great teams are able to win despite injuries, especially against an extremely mediocre team like Arizona. Oregon (#1 in the SFH poll) obviously isn't a great team.


This does clear up the BCS picture a bit. The title game at this point would appear to be LSU against the Big 12 champ (Kansas, Oklahoma, or Missouri). If LSU slips in the SEC title game or something bizarre happens in the Big 12, Arizona State (if they beat USC) and even Ohio State (if they beat Michigan) would be back in the picture. It still appears that a lot would need to happen for WVU to sneak into the Top 2, despite being ahead of ASU and OSU at the moment.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Top 25 Updated

Oregon slide into the SF Top 25...after receiving 0 (yes, ZERO) first place votes (FPVs). With the parity and unspectacular play in the college game this year, no one knows what will happen. LSU received 2 FPVs and Kansas and Oklahoma each got one. But Oregon, with none, takes #1 with 96 points and all four 2nd place votes. The NFL Hot 12 will be out soon. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Stay-Rod??

While many reports are only now surfacing that A-Rod has reached out to the Yankees about returning, apparently it is old hat for some people. According to my dad, John Sterling (the radio voice of the Yankees who was being interviewed on NY Sports Radio) says that he has known for 2 days now (via an anonymous source) that A-Rod has talked to the Steinbrenners. Apparently, that anonymous source told Sterling today that staying was basically a done deal. A-Rod reaching out to the Yankees without Boras involved meant a lot to the Steinbrenners (and it means a lot to me as a fan too). That might have been all it took...that and the fact LAA was the only team slightly interested in signing him.

Either way, A-Rod would be wise to stay. He can break Bonds' record in pinstripes (can't wait for that day) and he can be the face of the new stadium, along with Jeter, when it opens in 2009. Not only that, but he's a lock to be considered a Yankee legend for years to come.

Let's just hope Boras doesn't stick his head in the middle of this again.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Welcome back Brownies!

Back in 1996, when the Cleveland Browns first left town for Baltimore, Pittsburgh fans weren't happy. Local radio station WDVE even produced a song with a stereotypical Pittsburgher lamenting about the loss of the Browns, and how we had no one to violently cheer against. Steelers fans hate the Browns, but we love to hate them. They came back as an expansion team in 1999, but it wasn't the same, mainly because they were horrible and our games weren't very competitive. The only year the Browns have been good was 2002, when we played them 3 times including playoffs and won each by a field goal (including one of the largest 4th qtr playoff comebacks ever, which no one remembers because of a bigger comeback in the Niners/Giants game the same f-ing day). In fact, in recent years I've caught myself cheering for the Browns against the Ravens, Bengals, and even Team X(!). [The Patriots will hereby always be referred to by me as Team X on this blog - see last week's NFL Recap].

So while it's nice to beat them 41-0 (2005), 27-7 (2006) or 34-7 (2007 Week 1), it was really nice seeing them come into Heinz Field yesterday in second place, one game behind us. We finally had a Browns/Steelers game that meant something. Heck, even Nantz and Simms were calling the game! And I'll admit that I did not expect the Browns to give much a game despite their 5-3 record, boy was I wrong. They came out in the first half, and took advantage of a team who was still on a high from the Baltimore game, and probably remembered the 34-7 win earlier this season, and jumped out to a 21-6 lead. So while it looked like the tide was turning in the AFC North, and Phil Simms was talking about how good Browns QB Derek Anderson was (when he probably never even heard of him before this season), I bet that not a single fan in Heinz Field had any doubt about what would transpire after halftime. The defense said "Hey, uh, let's cover people" and they did just that, as the Browns offense sputtered in the 2nd half and Phil Simms went back to not knowing who Derek Anderson was. And Big Ben said "Hey, I'm awesome" and he went out and threw 2 TD's and had a 30 yard TD scramble in the 2nd half (who said you wouldn't see magnificent running from #7 this year?). After our special teams allowed a ridiculous touchdown on a kickoff return to give up the lead again, the offense said "no problem" and took it back. And then at the end, it was Phil Dawson from 53 at the open end to tie it, and please: just ask Doug Brien, you ain't making that kick in Pittsburgh. Steelers win a wildly entertaining game, 31-28.

There has much debate about Mr. Roethlisberger recently, and how good he is. Pittsburgh blog Mondesi's House had a good post the other day about how national media experts have him ranked as low as 17th (granted, before this season started), and even now people aren't putting him in their top 5. That's fine, he can be ignored as much as he wants if that means defenses won't be prepared for him. But let's see: In this season, the first of his career where we're throwing and running the ball equally, he's got 22 TD passes, second only to QB X. (Remember, Team X throws the ball on nearly every down. If we did that, the gap between 1 and 2 might be a lot closer.) His QB rating is somewhere over 100, also second to QB X. Here's who I honestly think are the best QB's in the NFL right now.

1 QB X (can't really argue)
2 P. Manning (threw 6 INT's last night, but offense was depleted and still almost won)
3 Roethlisberger
4 Romo
5 Favre

Not Carson Palmer, who threw for 5 fewer TD passes than Ben in their win against the Ravens. Not Derek Anderson, who hasn't even been starting for a full year yet. Not Drew Brees, who can't even beat the Rams. Big Ben is clearly the 3rd best QB in the league right now, and the gap between him and Manning ain't as large as you would think (who won their only playoff meeting?).

So let's look at the Steelers' remaining schedule:

@ Jets Win
Dolphins Win
Bengals Win
@ Team X ?
Jaguars ?
@ Rams Win
@ Ravens Win

Provided we don't choke any games that we should win away, we're looking at a record of no worse than 12-4. The AFC North is pretty much locked up at this point, and with the Colts losing at San Diego last night, we're in a tie for the 2nd seed. So this looks like it should be a fun November, December, and January, and just remember: if the Steelers can't beat Team X in December, we could very well get another crack in the playoffs.

UPDATE: The Steelers currently own the conference tiebreaker over the Colts, so we hold our own destiny for the 2nd seed in the AFC.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Pat Forde is an Imbecile

Yet again, Pat Forde shows us why he has little if any credibility to be a college football writer.

After Michigan's loss to Wisconsin yesterday, Forde wasted no time rejoining the "Michigan was always overrated" camp. Admittedly, being a die hard Wolverine fan, I am biased myself but I can at least respect criticism when it's warranted (i.e. after our embarrassing loss to Oregon). What does Forde use to establish his claim? Yes, our defense played poorly, allowing Wisconsin to put up 477 yards of offense. However, down only 2 points in the 4th quarter, Michigan was still in a great position to win the game...blame Ryan Mallett's rash decision to throw into triple coverage and pay the price with a pick.

Forde goes as far as saying that Michigan has "no business playing for a Big Ten title against Ohio State". Are you effing kidding me? We have ONE loss in the B10 that came on the road at one of the toughest environments to play in and we didn't have our best two offensive players! Up to this point, what makes Ohio State (or any other Big Ten team) any worthier to win the Big Ten? (Let me remind you that Ohio State lost at home to an Illinois team that Michigan defeated on the road.)

Yes, Michigan is not a NC contender and maybe not even a top 10 team this year given its young defense and injury plagued offense. Yesterday's loss was disappointing but that shouldn't take anything away from the 8 wins we had going into that game. In a season that has been the least bit kind to the powerhouse programs, Michigan has managed to stay in there and still be in a position to compete for a BCS bowl.

Maybe Forde should just stick with covering horse racing where absurd and ridiculous statements won't reflect as poorly on a sports writer.

Again, Champs Sports Bowl Anyone?

While seeing Michigan and OSU getting knocked off today was fun, it presents a major problem to Penn State. Penn State has been knocked out of playing in the Outback Bowl because of Illinois' upset victory over the Buckeyes. Plus, with OSU and Michigan losing, that means the loser next week will be out of contention for a BCS at large bid. Heck, if OSU loses, than they're the ones playing in the Outback Bowl as Illinois will climb to #2 in the conference (assuming they win next week). The Illinois win clinches them at least the #3 slot in the Big Ten standings because of victories over both the Nittany Lions and Badgers.

Right now, Wisconsin and Penn State sit tied for 4th in conference at 4-3 apiece. Wisconsin travels to Minneapolis next week (meaning they get a week off/free win) while the Lions journey to East Lansing to play a UCLA-ish Michigan State team. However, do the outcomes of these games really matter? From what I can find online, the Alamo Bowl and Champs Sports Bowl both say they take either the #4 or #5 team from the Big Ten. Those two teams are already going to be PSU and UW. What really matters is what bowl wants what team. My guess is that the Champs Bowl is going to go for PSU, probably because they can get a decent base of PSU fans to Orlando (or at least more than Wisconsin). However, I would rather the Alamo Bowl go to PSU.

If Penn State ends up in the Champs Sports Bowl, they'll be facing the #4 ACC team. Right now, the opponent would likely be Wake Forest. An interesting game, but I'd rather face the #4 Big 12 school which right now looks to be Texas. While that would in a sense be a home game for the Longhorns, I think it would be fun and interesting to see how we perform. A game against WF would probably be boring. Either we'd beat them fairly easily or Morelli would play like an idiot and let it stay close up until the end.

One way or the other, bye-bye Outback Bowl.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

This is one of the most ridiculous things I've ever read

Read this article.

I didn't think it was possible for me to hate a team/fan base more than the Yankees...and baseball isn't even my favorite sport! I now hate anything and everything that emanates out of Boston/New England. While it is the Red Sox fans and everything about the Patriots (fans, players, coaches, organization) that I HATE the most, I will never route for the Celtics or Bruins either. The amount of arrogance and "we're the center of the world" mentality is unbearable now. Just read this article by "The Sports Guy" Bill Simmons. He is an idiot. As is the rest of the Patriots fan base. Here are few quotes to whet your appetite:

In a 24-hour span last weekend, I watched "Victory" on cable and the Patriots-Colts battle on CBS. The two events had more in common than you might think.
Yep that's Bill Simmons comparing the Colts-Patriots showdown to a fictional movie about prisoners of war playing against a German soccer team during the German's occupation of France during WWII. The POWs plan to escape during halftime of the game. If the comparison of something revolving around WWII and the Nazi's to a FOOTBALL game doesn't piss you off, what will? Seriously "Sports Guy"? What is your problem? On to another quote from Bill...
Was everything that "happened" (for lack of a better word) in Indy just a one-time deal? Was it just an elaborate coincidence the Patriots couldn't buy a single break for the entire game? Was the NFL unveiling a new way of evening the score against New England because a $500,000 fine and the loss of a No. 1 pick weren't enough? Did the league decide no NFL team could conventionally stop the Pats, so they'll have to play against opponents AND referees for the rest of the season?
Here's that New England vs The World mentality that I love so much. You were caught cheating and everyone else is at fault for hating you? Wanting you to lose?
But if you're a fan of the Patriots, you've never felt as passionately about them as you do right now. The same "us against them" mentality that galvanized the coaches and players ended up galvanizing the fans as well. You should see some of the texts and e-mails I received from friends during Sunday's game -- genuine anger and incoherence from some of the most rational people I know -- or the remains of my living room remote control, which didn't survive a 95-mph throw across the room after the no-call on Faulk. Like everyone else who loves the Patriots, this season has become so personal that it's difficult to adequately describe. It's almost like watching a family member get raked through the coals...
Yep that's exactly what it is like, Bill. I bet the team really gives a shit about you. What have they ever done for you personally? I doubt most Patriots fan have coherence or are rational if they believe the propaganda and ridiculous swill you're spewing right now.
Upon my return home, I e-mailed a few Patriot friends to remind them that the 2-6 Niners had lost again and we were looking at a top-five pick. Just for kicks, I included Mel Kiper's top 10 prospects to whet everyone's collective appetite.

After a few minutes, one of them happily e-mailed back, "I love it, [bleep] everybody!"

For better or worse, that's our mantra for the 2007 season. After the legitimacy of the three Super Bowl titles was questioned, there was only one response: 19-0. The players keep saying they're taking it one game at a time; I say they're full of crap. They want to join the '72 Dolphins and destroy everyone along the way. Why? Because bleep everybody, that's why. After Welker clinched the Colts game with a crucial first-down catch, he defiantly hopped up and screamed at the poor cornerback covering him, "YOU F------ SUCK!" Unquestionably, it was the defining play of the season -- not just that the Patriots converted the exact same situation that killed them last January (when they could have clinched a Super Bowl trip with one more completion on third-and-short), but that Welker displayed such arrogant disdain after finishing the Colts off.

Normally, I hate crap like that. Not this time.

Once you enter "bleep-everybody" mode, it becomes a state of mind. You can't shake it.
Do I really need to say anything? You honestly support a player saying "You fucking suck!"? Or "I love it, fuck everybody!"? Wow. Classless and sad.
The players have always handled themselves with class, on and off the field. When everyone wanted them punished after CameraGate, they took their penalty without a whimper.
Yeah. The Patriots players are "classy". They didn't say anything. And you're right. They didn't. Wow. Good for them. Their coach gets caught cheating and they don't stand up for the sanctity of the game or for fair play, the exact basis for your entirely off-base article. I applaud them for being mute and sticking by a cheater. I really do.
If the undefeated season doesn't happen for the Patriots, let's hope it's because they were outplayed and not because of something more sinister. And let's hope this is the final time an NFL game gets compared to a soccer movie starring Sly Stallone and a bunch of Nazis ... and the comparison isn't a stretch.
Shut up, Bill. Just shut up. Remember, you're the idiot the brought up this comparison.