Friday, December 19, 2008

2008 Simulated National Championship Match Up



January 6th, 2009

presented by Sports Fountainhead

2008 NCAA FBS Simulated Tournament: National Semifinals

Now that you have had about 8 hours to soak in the Final Four matchups, I'm here with those results!

12 Cincinnati vs 8 Penn State
Round 3, Game 1 Results

Final Score
48-13, Penn State

Game Statistics
Tony Pike, Cincinnati - 13 of 24, 284 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs
Daryll Clark, Penn State - 23 of 36, 295 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs

Jacob Ramsey, Cincinnati - 13 rushes, 37 yards, 0 TDs, 1 fumble
Evan Royster, Penn State - 24 rushes, 101 yards, 2 TDs, 1 fumble

Ben Guidugli, Cincinnati - 2 catches, 97 yards, 1 TD, 1 drop
Derrick Williams, Penn State - 7 catches, 112 yards, 0 TDs, 1 drop

Jake Rogers, Cincinnati - 0 for 0
Kevin Kelly, Penn State - 2 for 3

10 Ohio State vs 3 Texas
Round 3, Game 2 Results

Final Score
41-23, Ohio State

Game Statistics
Colt McCoy, Texas - 19 of 50, 349 yards, 3 TDs, 3 INTs
Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State - 19 of 41, 286 yards, 3 TDs, 2 INTs

Vondrell McGee, Texas - 11 rushes, 54 yards, 0 TDs, 1 fumble
Chris Wells, Ohio State - 31 rushes, 79 yards, 2 TDs, 1 fumble

Peter Ullman, Texas - 4 catches, 107 yards, 1 TD, 1 drop
Brian Robiskie, Ohio State - 6 catches, 110 yards, 2 TDs, 2 drops

Hunter Lawrence, Texas - 0 for 3
Aaron Pettrey, Ohio State - 2 for 4

Yep, both Big 10 teams in the Title Game. Suck on that, national media! Though this isn't reality, I can't say this would never happen. The game of football is about match ups; some teams just match up better (it also helps when EA over rates your players JamesLaurinaitis).

Penn State vs Ohio State for the 2008 FBS Simulated National Championship.

Penn State actually trailed Cincinnati, who looked primed for another upset, 13-10 after the 1st quarter. Then the Nittany Lions woke up and hammered the Bearcats. Penn State and Ohio State match up well in the video game. Both have strong defenses (if they exist in EAs world) and, based on these stats, really strong offenses. Ohio State is vastly overrated in this game so I think they'll beat Penn State. I predict a final score of 44-31, Buckeyes. Not what I want, obviously, but I don't have much face in the simulation coming out rosy for Penn State in south Florida.

We'll find out a few days before the REAL national title game...

2008 NCAA FBS Simulated Tournament: Round 2

From the Elite Eight to the Final Four, here are the results for round 2 of the 2008 Simulated College Football Playoff. Again, only two games finished as expected. UPSETS!!!

8 Penn State vs 1 Oklahoma
Round 2, Game 1 Results

Final Score
35-31, Penn State

Game Statistics
Sam Bradford, Oklahoma - 28 of 43, 315 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs
Daryll Clark, Penn State - 28 of 42, 445 yards, 4 TDs, 3 INTs

Jermie Calhoun, Oklahoma - 9 rushes, 83 yards, 1 TD, 0 fumbles
Stephfon Green, Penn State - 19 rushes, 77 yards, 1 TD, 0 fumbles

Juaquin Iglesias, Oklahoma - 7 cactches, 87 yards, 0 TDs, 4 drops
Derrick Williams, Penn State - 8 catches, 174 yards, 1 TD, 3 drops

Tress Way, Oklahoma - 1 for 2
Kevin Kelly, Penn State - 0 for 0

*more information on this match following the rest of the results*

12 Cincinnati vs 4 Alabama
Round 2, Game 2 Results

Final Score
38-21, Cincinnati

Game Statistics
John Parker Wilson, Alabama - 20 of 35, 295 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs
Tony Pike, Cincinnati - 24 of 39, 296 yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT

Glen Coffee, Alabama - 22 rushes, 58 yards, 0 TDs, 0 fumbles
John Goebel, Cincinnati - 14 rushes, 81 yards, 1 TD, 3 fumbles

Julio Jones, Alabama - 5 catches, 87 yards, 2 TDs, 2 drops
Marcus Barnett, Cincinnati - 6 catches, 90 yards, 1 TD, 1 drop

Leigh Tiffin, Alabama - 0 for 0
Jake Rogers, Cincinnati - 0 for 1

11 TCU vs 3 Texas
Round 2, Game 3 Results

Final Score
47-27, Texas

Game Statistics
Andy Dalton, TCU - 11 of 26, 350 yards, 4 TDs, 2 INTs
Colt McCoy, Texas - 33 of 47, 382 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INTs

Joseph Turner, TCU - 17 rushes, 67 yards, 0 TDs, 1 fumble
Vondrell McGee, Texas - 26 rushes, 93 yards, 1 TD, 2 fumbles

Walter Bryant, TCU - 3 catches, 187 yards, 2 TDs, 0 drops
Quan Cosby, Texas - 6 catches, 104 yards, 0 TDs, 0 drops

Ross Evans, TCU - 0 for 0
Hunter Lawrence, Texas - 4 for 7

15 Georgia vs 10 Ohio State
Round 2, Game 4 Results

Final Score
31-24, Ohio State

Game Statistics
Matthew Stafford, Georgia - 28 of 47, 422 yards, 2 TDs, 4 INTs
Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State - 12 of 28, 136 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs

Caleb King, Georgia - 24 rushes, 58 yards, 1 TD, 1 fumble
Chris Wells, Ohio State - 17 rushes, 61 yards, 1 TD, 0 fumbles

Mohamed Massaquoi, Georgia - 6 catches, 133 yards, 1 TD, 2 drops
Brian Robiskie, Ohio State - 2 catches, 32 yards, 0 TDs, 0 drops

Blair Walsh, Georgia - 1 for 2
Aaron Pettrey, Ohio State - 1 for 2

Wow. The Penn State-Oklahoma game was so exciting I wish I could upload it to YouTube. If that game had happened in real life, during a do-or-die playoff it would have gone down in history. Penn State knocks off #1 seed Oklahoma. Here's how it happened:
  • 1st quarter - TD Oklahoma, Bradford run, 7-0 Oklahoma
  • 1st quarter - FG Oklahoma, Way kick, 10-0 Oklahoma
  • 1st quarter - TD Penn State, Clark to Williams, 10-7 Oklahoma
  • 2nd quarter - TD Penn State, Green run, 14-10 Penn State
  • 2nd quarter - TD Oklahoma, Bradford to Tennell, 17-14 Oklahoma
  • 3rd quarter - TD Penn State, Clark to Shuler*, 21-17 Penn State
  • 3rd quarter - TD Oklahoma, Calhoun run, 24-21 Oklahoma
  • 4th quarter - TD Oklahoma, Bradford to Clapp, 31-21 Oklahoma
  • 4th quarter - TD Penn State, Clark to Edwards, 31-28 Oklahoma
  • 4th quarter - TD Penn State, Clark to Shuler**, 35-31 Penn State
  • FINAL SCORE: Penn State 35, Oklahoma 31
*The pass to Shuler to put Penn State back on top at the beginning of the 3rd was for 75 yards!
**Shuler's 2nd TD reception from Clark came with 2:45 left in the game.

That game was absolutely crazy. Clark struggled early but really settled down in the 2nd half. This was, by far, the best game of the simulation after 12 games.

The Georgia-Ohio State match was a good one too. Georgia, minus Knowshon Moreno due to injury suffered versus Florida, played hard and relied on Matthew Stafford. It just wasn't enough. The Bulldogs cut the lead to 7 with under a minute to play but the onside kick attempt failed.

How about Cincinnati? They are on quite the roll. They knocked off #5 USC and now #4 Alabama. Up next? #8 Penn State. Gulp.

We get an actual BCS Bowl Match Up in the other half of the Simulated Final Four, as Ohio State plays Texas. The Ohio State offense has been clicking in the first two rounds, but so has Texas'. It will most likely be shootout. As much as I would like to see an all Big 10 title game, most of the nation wouldn't. I guess the best outlook would be Penn State vs Texas for the title, something that could have happened this year.

The results of the Final Four will be up late tonight. I am making you wait until after the New Year for the Championship Game reults however. The updated bracket is below...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Why Do I Even Bother Reading This Stuff?

Tim Tebow has asked the NFL Advisory Committee to project where he'd be selected in the 2009 draft if he were to leave Florida after his junior season. This is a hot topic for many people because

  • he is a QB
  • he plays in a collegiate offense that doesn't translate to the NFL
  • he has a year of eligibility left
You have people from Florida defending his talents (of which there are many) and yearning for him to return, you have the draft connoisseurs attempting to evaluate his stock, and you have those that hate him because he is everything they want to be.

The ridiculousness that is web site comments is hard to swallow. I'm sure you've read comments on YouTube videos and fully understand this. ESPN has been doing article comments for ~2 years now and they are just as ridiculous as those found elsewhere around the web. You have people claiming things that are downright stupid; you have those that just try to pick a fight; you have many that will defend their teams and players from their teams no matter their performance on (and off) the field. The list goes on.

At the bottom of this article you can see the THOUSANDS of comments people had regarding Tebow looking into his draft stock. I don't know why I chose to read the first 50 but I wish I hadn't; in fact I wish I'd never read comments ANYWHERE. The utter ignorance and stupidity that most commenter's leave is pathetic. I have grabbed 2 of the first 50 comments on the article and would like a chance to explain why they make no sense.

OK so first the 'jonnyc2289' remark. Late second round is feasible for Tim Tebow just because of his skills and the fact that he'd make any coach look like a genius were he able to transition Tebow into the NFL game (because he is definitely not ready for it). What I don't get from 'jonnyc' is the Dolphins thing? Why on Earth would Miami take him? This is just an example of blind ignorance. 'jonnyc' obviously has no clue as to the state of the Dolphins this season. They have a veteran in the midst of the best season of his career and two 2nd round draft picks waiting in the wings. Chad Henne was chosen by the current regime as the QB of the future. He proved in preseason and training camp that, with a little time, he can be at least an adequate NFL QB. 'jonnyc' apparently just eats up what the talking heads say and take it as truth... like they all said Miami wouldn't win more than 4 games this season.

Now to beastMODE41487. Seriously? One of the most dominant players to ever play college football? Come on, it's a bit early for that. Sure he's won a Heisman and has a National Championship under his belt. But he also wasn't the starter when they won it. He most certainly COULD be one of the best ever at the college level but he MUST win the title this year, as the starter, AND come back next season and have another great year. The "best player ever" stuff gets thrown around way too often. I'd be willing to argue that there are at least 50 past collegiate players that were more dominant than Tebow up until this moment.

And the last part about ESPN... the article was just that, an article. I occasionally get pissed at ESPNs bias on certain subjects but the article didn't project anything at all. There was no "insight" given, other than simply stating
Most NFL analysts do not believe Tebow will be a high pick in the draft, regardless of when he comes out, because he's not considered a prototypical NFL passer. ESPN's Todd McShay, director of college football scouting for Scouts Inc., said recently that he doesn't believe Tebow will be drafted in either the first or second round if he leaves Florida.
McShay says that, not ESPN. ESPN hasn't run a story on how Tebow would be a middle round draft pick and are denouncing his throwing mechanics. McShat, an ESPN employee through Scouts Inc., believes so. If you have a problem with that part of the article your beef is with McShay, not ESPN.

My take on Tim Tebow is this: he is a very gifted, young athlete, as well as a high character guy. He will be drafted. As a QB? Maybe. He just doesn't have the elite speed or proper throwing mechanics to be a dominant NFL QB. His attitude is a breath of fresh air in the, quite frankly, putrid smell the professional sports leagues are casting nowadays. But Tim Tebow is not a 1st or 2nd round pick. Period. He is a project and you don't draft guys in the 1st and 2nd round that based on skills that worked at the collegiate level. As of now, if he declared, I see him going in rounds three or four.

2008 NCAA FBS Simulated Tournament: Round 1, Part 2

The statistics and scores are on their way (should be up by 7:30 PM ET). If you'd like to see who won and the matchups for round 2, click the image. There were plenty of upsets in round 1, part 2!

14 Georgia Tech vs 3 Texas
Round 1, Game 5 Results

Final Score
51-21, Texas

Game Statistics
Calvin Booker, Georgia Tech - 8 of 8, 189 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs
Colt McCoy, Texas - 22 of 35, 383 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs

Jamaal Evans, Georgia Tech - 14 rushes, 65 yards, 1 TD, 0 fumbles
Vondrell McGee, Texas - 16 rushes, 71 yards, 3 TDs, 0 fumbles

Greg Smith, Georgia Tech - 3 catches, 122 yards, 1 TD, 0 drops
Jordan Shipley, Texas - 8 catches, 153 yards, 0 TDs, 0 drops

Iain Vance, Georgia Tech - 0 for 1
Hunter Lawrence, Texas - 3 for 5

11 TCU vs 6 Utah
Round 1, Game 6 Results

Final Score
47-14, TCU

Game Statistics
Brian Johnson, Utah - 12 of 29, 197 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs
Andy Dalton, TCU - 23 of 36, 279 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT

Brian Johnson, Utah - 13 rushes, 56 yards, 0 TDs, 0 fumbles
Aaron Brown, TCU - 25 rushes, 126 yards, 1 TD, 2 fumbles

Aiona Key, Utah - 5 catches, 124 yards, 2 TDs, 1 drop
Walter Bryant, TCU - 5 catches, 98 yards, 1 TD, 1 drop

Louie Sakoda, Utah - 0 for 0
Ross Evans, TCU - 4 for 4

10 Ohio State vs 7 Texas Tech
Round 1, Game 7 Results

Final Score
56-19, Ohio State

Game Statistics
Graham Harrell, Texas Tech - 27 of 42, 335 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State - 17 of 23, 341 yards, 5 TDs, 0 INTs

Graham Harrell, Texas Tech - 5 rushes, 14 yards, 0 TDs, 0 fumbles
Chris Wells, Ohio State - 13 rushes, 82 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs

Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech - 7 catches, 97 yards, 1 TD, 3 drops
Brian Robiskie, Ohio State - 7 catches, 167 yards, 3 TDs, 1 drop

Donnie Carona, Texas Tech - 1 for 1
Aaron Pettrey, Ohio State - 4 for 8

15 Georgia vs 2 Florida
Round 1, Game 8 Results

Final Score
42-37, Georgia

Game Statistics
Tim Tebow, Florida - 26 of 45, 401 yards, 5 TDs, 1 INT
Matthew Stafford, Georgia - 24 of 32, 279 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs

Emmanuel Moody, Florida - 9 rushes, 41 yards, 0 TDs, 0 fumbles
Caleb King, Georgia - 17 rushes, 89 yards, 1 TD, 2 fumbles

Percy Harvin, Florida - 9 catches, 141 yards, 0 TDs, 2 drops
Mohamed Massaquoi, Georgia - 8 catches, 118 yards, 2 TDs, 0 drops

Caleb Sturgis, Florida - 1 for 2
Blair Walsh, Georgia - 2 for 3

Wow, what a conclusion to round one! The field of 8 is set and it features 4 favored teams and 4 underdogs from the first round. But before we move on to the Elite Eight, let's recap round one, part two. Offense was the name of the game in these matchups. Each victorious team scored 42 points or more, including a 56 point outburst by Ohio State. Terrelle Pryor was by far the MVP of round one, in any game. He played out of his mind. Beanie Wells barely had to do anything. The best game was easily Georgia/Florida. It was the only close game so it's an easy choice. What really made it interesting though was the lead changes. Each team, at some point, had at least a 14 point lead. The game came down to the wire but the Bulldogs defense was able to stuff Tim Tebow inside the red zone to save the game.

You may notice a few people absent from the stat. leaders. Georgia Tech's QB, Josh Nesbitt, left the game early with an injury. This was also the case with Georgia's Knowshon Moreno, will miss the second round game versus Ohio State. Moreno would be available for the national semifinal should the Bulldogs make it.

Updated bracket below. The Elite Eight will become the Final Four tomorrow evening!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Penn State Excitement Overload

Penn State had an amazing December 16th.

The University announced today that Penn State Head Coach Joe Paterno has signed a 3-year contract extension through the 2011 college football season.

According to a few web sites, 4-star dual-threat QB recruit Kevin Newsome has chosen the Nittany Lions over Virginia Tech and Boston College. Newsome, from Virginia, was originally committed to the Michigan Wolverines but reopened his recruitment and has selected Penn State. This is huge for the Nittany Lions. With Pat Devlin transferring there will be exactly 1 scholarship QB on the roster next fall - starter Daryll Clark, who will be a senior. Newsome will get a chance to learn from Clark for a year and then, presumably, start in 2010 as either a redshirt freshman or as a sophomore.

The last of the exciting Penn State news is that redshirt sophomore DE Aaron Maybin, a possible Top 10 pick in the 2009 draft should he declare, has been selected to the Associated Press All-America 1st team. Maybin has registered 12 sacks so far this season, good for 4th in the nation. Other Nittany Lions to be recognized were center A.Q. Shipley, named to the AP 2nd team, and OG Rich Ohrnberger and WR/KR Derrick Williams, assigned to the 3rd team.

Wow, quite the evening for PSU!


Saturday, December 13, 2008

2008 NCAA FBS Simulated Tournament: Round 1, Part 1

The first half of the first round of the 2008 SPORTS FOUNTAINHEAD SIMULATED COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF has been completed! Results and statistics, as well as the updated bracket, are below.

16 Virginia Tech vs 1 Oklahoma
Round 1, Game 1 Results

Final Score
26-0, Oklahoma

Game Statistics
Sean Glennon, Virginia Tech - 8 of 17, 135 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT
Sam Bradford, Oklahoma - 14 of 25, 167 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs

Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech - 17 rushes, 46 yards, 0 TDs, 1 fumble
DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma - 37 rushes, 178 yards, 0 TDs, 0 fumbles

Zach Luckett, Virginia Tech - 5 catches, 82 yards, 0 TDs, 3 drops
Adron Tennell, Oklahoma - 7 catches, 126 yards, 1 TD, 3 drops

Dustin Keys, Virginia Tech - 0 for 2
Tress Way, Oklahoma - 4 for 6

9 Boise State vs 8 Penn State
Round 1, Game 2 Results

Final Score
43-22, Penn State

Game Statistics
Bush Hamdan, Boise State - 18 of 25, 232 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs
Daryll Clark, Penn State - 26 of 36, 311 yards, 5 TDs, 2 INTs

D.J. Harper, Boise State - 21 rushes, 60 yards, 0 TDs, 0 fumbles
Evan Royster, Penn State - 36 rushes, 159 yards, 1 TD, 0 fumbles

Vinny Perretta, Boise State - 6 catches, 110 yards, 1 TD, 0 drops
Deon Butler, Penn State - 10 catches, 113 yards, 3 TDs, 1 drop

Kyle Brotzman, Boise State - 2 for 3
Kevin Kelly, Penn State - 0 for 0

12 Cincinnati vs 5 USC
Round 1, Game 3 Results

Final Score
48-27, Cincinnati

Game Statistics
Tony Pike, Cincinnati - 26 of 34, 300 yards, 5 TDs, 0 INTs
Mark Sanchez, USC - 17 of 33, 251 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs

Jacob Ramsey, Cincinnati - 20 rushes, 69 yards, 1 TD, 1 fumble
Joe McKnight, USC - 14 rushes, 75 yards, 1 TD, 1 fumble

Marcus Barnett, Cincinnati - 7 catches, 100 yards, 1 TD, 1 drop
Patrick Turner, USC - 3 catches, 66 yards, 0 TDs, 1 drop

Jake Rogers, Cincinnati - 2 for 2
David Buehler, USC - 0 for 3

13 Oklahoma State vs 4 Alabama
Round 1, Game 4 Results

Final Score
48-21, Alabama

Game Statistics
Zac Robinson, Oklahoma State - 14 of 32, 216 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs
John Parker Wilson, Alabama - 26 of 44, 539 yards, 5 TDs, 1 INT

Keith Toston, Oklahoma State - 23 rushes, 115 yards, 2 TDs, 0 fumbles
Glen Coffee, Alabama - 27 rushes, 108 yards, 0 TDs, 0 fumbles

Jeremy Boradway, Oklahoma State - 3 catches, 98 yards, 1 TD, 3 drops
Mike McCoy, Alabama - 7 catches, 232 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT

Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State -o for 1
Leigh Tiffin, Alabama - 2 for 3

Click to enlarge.

So we have an upset! Big East Champion Cincinnati defeats the "OMG! BEST TEAM EVAH!" USC. Preview of things to come in real life?

On deck for tomorrow is the results from Round 1, Part 2.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Field is Set for 2008

Alright everybody here it is, the SECOND ANNUAL SPORTS FOUNTAINHEAD SIMULATED COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF! I will be simulating the games courtesy of EA Sports NCAA Football 2009 on the Xbox 360 gaming system. All my rosters are UNEDITED, save for player names (from Game Rosters).

There have been a few changes to the tournament this year. First off, instead of using the Sports Fountainhead blogger college football rankings we will use the BCS standings. The top 16 teams make this tournament. The only exception would be that all BCS conference teams make the field. So for instance this season Virginia Tech, the ACC Champions, finished ranked 19th in the BCS standings. They get bumped into the final spot of the field. Only at-large (i.e. non-conference winners) teams may be bumped out of the playoff. Unfortunately that means BYU is out this year. Sorry mormons. Also, the bowl games have been shuffled with the 3rd Place Consolation Game being dropped. Once the field is cut to 8, those 4 matchups will be played at the BCS Bowls as the Rose, Fiesta, Orange, and Sugar Bowls. The Nationa Semifinal Games will be played at 2 of the 4 BCS Bowl locations (but not considered the actual bowl game). The National Semifinal Games shall be played at the 2 bowls that are not hosting the National Title Game and did not host the National Title Game the year before. So this year the Louisiana Superdome will only host the Sugar Bowl. All the other bowls get 2 games. Also, there are no play-in games this year. because we are using the BCS rankings they aren't necessary.

With that taken care of, here are a few reminders... I am not playing as one of the teams. I set up the game and then use the 'Super Sim' ability to go to the end. I will be compiling statistics for every game and reporting on the outcomes. I hope to have the first part of round one completed tonight for posting tomorrow. This whole thing should be finished within a week. Below is the playoff bracket.

Click on image to enlarge playoff bracket.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Exceeding Expectations: The 2008 Miami Dolphins

It's become commonplace to state this recently, but it bears mentioning here too: the Miami Dolphins control their own destiny. Win their next three games (vs San Francisco, @ Kansas City, @ NY Jets) and the Dolphins - yes, the Dolphins - will win the AFC East. It would be their first playoff appearance since the 2001 season, when they lost a Wild Card matchup against the Baltimore Ravens.

How did this happen? How could a team that was a meager 1-15 just a year ago become competitive and push for not only a playoff berth, but a division title? There are plenty of reasons.

  • BILL PARCELLS - It all started with the hiring of Bill Parcells, nearly a year ago to be the Executive Vice President of Football Operations. On that date the Dolphins began their rebuilding. The moves he made over the next month were huge building blocks for the rejuvenation of this once proud franchise.
  • JEFF IRELAND - Another huge step to righting the ship was hiring Jeff Irleand on January 2nd, 2008. Ireland replaced Randy Mueller, who never quite grasped talent evaluation at the college level. Though Mueller technically only had the final say over roster moves for one year (former head coach Nick Saban had the final say over the personnel during his two year regime), the 2007 Dolphins draft has been a bit of a disappointment. The final judgment on his lone class can't really be passed until after next season (you have one more year to prove yourselves, Ginn, Satele, and Soliai).
  • TONY SPARANO - After searching for a new head coch for close to two weeks, Tony Sparano was officially hired on January16th, 2008. Sparano has been a pleasant surprise. He has shown the ability to motivate players, learn on the fly, and make needed adjustments. His evaluation of the proper play calling during key situations has been huge to the Dolphins success thus far.
  • ASSISTANT COACHES - The other coaching staff positions that were filled have been a huge success to date as well. QBs Coach David Lee, hired before Sparano, has done wonderful things with the two Chads (Pennington and Henne, more on both later). Hiring D coordinator Paul Pasqualoni has done wonders for the defense. Under Pasqualoni the Dolphins have vastly improved. After ranking 23rd in total defense in 2007 (342.2 yards/game), the team has improved to 13th through 13 games this season (317.2 yards/game). They are allowing only 20 points/game this season, down 7.3 points/game from '07. Through 13 games they have already eclipsed their sack total from last season. A big reason for this huge improvement is the run defense. In 2008 the Dolphins are allowing under 100 yards rushing/game (96.0, 11th in NFL). Last year they gave up an average of 153.5 rushing yards/game, dead last in the league. The last major staff position filled was offensive coordinator, which went to Dan Henning. As we'll see later, he's done plenty for this team.
  • ROSTER PURGE - Once the coaching staff was assembled it was time to overturn the roster. Gone were underachievers and overpayed veterans; young and "cheap" was in. QB Trent Green was one of the first to go, indicating that the Dolphins would be turning to their 13th starting QB since Dan Marino retired. The biggest offseason move - the one hardest to swallow for many Dolfans - was the release of Zach Thomas. Thomas had been the heart and soul of Miami for over a decade. The perennial pro bowler left everything on the field. It was a sad day to see him go. After the initial purge the front office began restocking.
  • FREE AGENCY/TRADES - During free agency resigned starters Yeremiah Bell and Michael Lehan. They added some beef to the o-line (Justin Smiley) and much needed depth at LB (Charlie Anderson, Reggie Torbor). The biggest additions came via trades, both with the Dallas Cowboys. After missing most of the 2007, NT Jason Ferguson was no loner needed in Dallas. Miami took advantage and added the behemoth to fix the porous run defense (as you saw earlier, he has helped a ton). Later on they went back to Dallas and absolutely fleeced them for TE Anthony Fasano and LB Akin Ayodele, both starter for Miami. The cost? A mere 4th round pick. This initial free agency period was up and down as they churned through the roster to find the right players. Many signed have since been let go as upgrades were sought. The only major miss by the front office has been WR Ernest Wilford, who was signed to be a starter opposite Ted Ginn. He has been inactive for a few games and has rarely seen the field. They fared better in the draft.
  • THE DRAFT - The 2008 draft was a huge success for Miami. Not only did they secure their starting LT for the next 10+ years, they added a QB of the future (Chad Henne) and two future starters at DE (Phillip Merling and Kendall Langford). There's a possibility they even found a late round gem in OG Donald Thomas. Unfortunately Thomas' rookie season was cut short due to injury. You couldn't have asked much more from this first draft class as there are potentially five starters in the group, plus two additional depth players (RB Lex Hilliard, DE Lionel Dotson).
  • THE FUTURE - Though this next point hasn't had a direct effect on the 2008 season, it will help for the future. A few days prior to training camp the Dolphins traded 2006 Defensive Player of the Year Jason Taylor to the Washington Redskins for a 2009 2nd round pick and a 2010 sixth rounder. For the second year in a row Miami will have two 2nd round picks to work with. They struck gold in '08 (Merling, Henne). Can it happen again?
  • FINDING UNHERALDED TALENT - In addition to their nice bounty in the draft, they also hit on two undrafted free agents. WR Davone Bess is now a starter following the season ending injury to Greg Camarillo. Bess has done a decent job returning kicks but has a birght future as a slot receiver. The other big UDFA acquisition was K Dan Carpenter. Carpenter has been stellar this far, hitting 19 of 22 FGs and all his extra points. When Miami cut Jay Feely some people felt it was a big mistake. Not so. Carpenter has been money and may be on his way to the Pro Bowl.
  • CHAD PENNINGTON - Two weeks into training camp arguably the biggest offseason move was made. QB Chad Pennington, cut by the New York Jets after acquiring Brett Favre, was signed. All Pennington has done in 2008 is outperform Brett Favre. And that's being noted elsewhere, too. Through 13 games, Pennington is 261 of 393 (66.4%) for 3,062 yards with 12 TDs and 6 INTs resulting in a rating of 93.7, good for 6th in the NFL and 2nd in the AFC behind only Philip Rivers. Pennington is one of the biggest reasons Miami is in the hunt for a division title.
  • GAME PLANS - The coaches, both offensively and defensively, have shown the ability to not only adjust properly during the game but also to come into the game with a way to win. Take the now notorious "wildcat" for example. Considered a gimmick by many at the beginning, implementing and deciding to use this old formation has come in handy. During it's debut it helped to destroy the Patriots in New England. Since then it has been held in check but it still provides a wrinkle that can be unleashed at any time.
  • TURNOVERS - More specifically, a lack thereof. The Dolphins have turned the ball over a mere 11 times (6 INTs, 5 fumbles). They are +11 in the all important turnover differential.
  • LUCK - Sure every turn around needs it. The Dolphins were one of the unluckiest teams in the league last year. They lost six games by three points last year. This year they are 2-1 in games decided by 3 points or less.
  • SCHEDULE - The best cure for losing is winning. And the easiest way to win is to play inferior opponents. This year that would mean getting to play the West Divisions in each conference. Well guess what division got to do that this year? Yep, the AFC East. Miami has played Denver (Win), San Diego (Win), Oakland (Win), Arizona (Loss), Seattle (Win), and St. Louis (Win). They have San Francisco this week and travel to Kansas City during the penultimate week of the season. Win the next two games, secure a 10-5 record, and the Dolphins will have gone 7-1 against teams from the West. You don't get to choose your schedule or who is good/bad in a given year so we can't penalize the AFC East teams for this. It is what is. However, the team still had to play and win those games, games they should win. And they have.

So there it is. That somewhat chronological list helps explain why the Miami Dolphins, 1-15 in 2007, are currently 8-5 and control their own destiny for the playoffs. If the Dolphins could change just one play in two of their losses, they could be 10-3 (Jets week 1, Texans week 6). That just goes to show that this team is almost always in the game and has a chance to win every week, no matter the opponent. They may not be the best team out their but they play hard.

Will the Dolphins make the playoffs this year and complete the greatest turnaround in NFL history? Maybe. No matter what happens these last three weeks, even if they implode and finish 8-8, this season was a huge success. I had predicted Miami to finish between 5-11 and 7-9. They have already proved me wrong. This season has laid the foundation for a team to be competitive every year for the next 5-7 years. Maybe more. They weren't expected to be competitive until 2010. They are already. With another offseason they could prove that they are back and ready to compete for another Super Bowl title.

With the triumvirate of Parcells-Ireland-Sparano, as well as the rest of the coaching and front office staff, the sky's the limit.

Penn State's Shipley Wins Rimington Trophy

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Penn State senior center A.Q. Shipley will be awarded the Rimington Trophy during the ESPN/Home Depot College Football Awards Show, being taped tomorrow night. The Rimington Trophy is awarded annually to the best center in college football. First awarded in 2000, no Penn State player has ever won the award. Until now.

From the Post-Gazette:

Shipley was one of six finalists for the award. He beat out Arkansas' Jonathan Luigs, last year's Rimington winner. Other finalists include Alabama's Antoine Caldwell, California's Alex Mack, Oregon's Max Unger and Louisville's Eric Wood.

The Rimington Trophy committee selects its winner based on four All-American teams that will be announced this month -- American Football Coaches Association, Walter Camp Foundation, Football Writers Association of America and Sporting News.

Shipley, a three-year starter and co-captain, will officially be presented with the award Jan. 17 during a ceremony in Lincoln, Neb.


Shipley has become the anchor of the Lions' best offensive line since 1995.

No. 6 Penn State ranks 11th nationally in scoring offense (40.2 points per game), and 15th in rushing (211.6 yards per game) and total offense (452.2 ypg). And the offensive line leads the Big Ten and ranks No. 9 in the country in fewest sacks allowed this year (12).

Shipley is one of 17 seniors who have led the Lions to a 40-10 record, a 3-0 mark in bowl games and a share of two Big Ten titles. He said last month that he couldn't wait to play in the Rose Bowl New Year's Day. The Lions' opponent will be No. 5 Southern California. Both traditional powers are 11-1.

Congratulations, A.Q.! Let's keep those postseason awards coming!

On a site note, I will be posting the results of the college football predictions from the ESPN "experts" in the next day or so. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Wanted: Our Percentage Point Back

Those folks in Texas sure are funny. Despite beating Oklahoma on a neutral field, Texas won't be playing for the Big XII Championship this Saturday vs Missouri. To have some fun and vent in a non-violent way, this was in the police blotter area of Texas' "Campus Watch" yesterday:

Several UT staff members, faculty, students, and Texas Ex's discovered a fraction of a percentage point had been taken and was transported across state lines. The percentage point was discovered north of the Red River at the campus of another Big 12 South University.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Wilson Cracks ESPN Top 50

My high school has finally broken through. After dominating their non-division and Lancaster-Lebanon League schedules, combined with thorough beatdowns in every game of the District playoffs, Wilson (West Lawn, PA) has made ESPNs FAB 50. The FAB 50 is a poll of the best high school football programs around the nation. The FAB 50 is determined by 3 independent polls and voters chosen by ESPN. In addition to the nationwide rankings, there are regional rankings. In the East Region Top 20, Wilson comes in at #7 (The East Region contains Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia).

This is the first week Wilson has made the FAB 50, coming in at #50. They are one of four teams left vying for the Pennsylvania AAAA State Championship. Two of the other three contenders are ranked in the FAB 50. The Bethel Park Black Hawks (Bethel Park, PA) jumped from 28th to 18th this week after defeating former FAB 50 #4 Gateway (Monroeville, PA) and #49 State College (State College, PA) in consecutive weeks. Wilson takes on Bethel Park on Saturday at 1pm in State College.

In the other state semifinal matchup will be FAB 50 #18 North Penn (Lansdale, PA). North Penn tore up Neshaminy on their way to a date with Liberty (Bethlehem, PA).

Wilson went 10-0 in the regular season, enforcing a "mercy rule" against 8 of 10 opponents. The 1st team defense gave up only 3 TDs throughout those 10 games.

They steamrolled through the district playoffs, 4-0, capturing the 2008 District 3 Championship by pushing aside Cumberland Valley, 35-7, on November 29th. They initiated the "mercy rule" in all four district playoff games. You can see their 2008 schedule and results below. Must of the opponents points scored came against the second team and JV defenders.

The "mercy rule" begins when a team is beating their opponent by 35+ points. The clock doesn't stop on incompletions or when players go out of bounds. It is meant to keep scores reasonable.

You can view the 2008 PIAA AAAA State Football Playoffs bracket here, the Wilson website (by the PIAA) here, the Wilson School District site here, and the amazing PA High School Helmet Project here.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Post-Thanksgiving Post of Randomness!

Well it's the best time of the year once again! You know the time, Thanksgiving through the first week of January. You have the best holidays, the best weather (snow!), and the exciting close of football seasons. My opinions, obviously, but that's how I feel. Probably the most controversial of those three is the end of football season. No not that it's ending; no one likes that! I mean who's good and who's not? Who should play for a title? Of course, we don't have to worry about that in the NFL. There's this little thing called the PLAYOFFS which helps determine who's the best year in and year out. On to the bullets!

  • Speaking of a college football playoff, have fun with that whole Big 12 thing. Three teams with identical conference records and an endless cycle of who beat who. Texas beat Oklahoma. Oklahoma beat Texas Tech. Texas Tech beat Texas. Yuck. Who do I think is the best team? Oklahoma appears that way now but I can't shake the fact that they lost to Texas on a neutral field. Yes, I'm dancing around the question. OK, fine! I'll stick with Texas but I wouldn't be too upset with Oklahoma. I'm not gonna fight anyone about it.
  • Texas Tech is still a fraud. I don't care if Graham Harrell had smashed fingers, beating Baylor by 7 is unacceptable. How are they still in front of Penn State in the BCS?
  • Penn State vs USC in the Rose Bowl. The arrogance of USC (and the LA media) is starting to rear its ugly head...
    "If it's not in the national championship game, yeah, it's a disappointment," Maiava said. "But this is what we do. We win the Pac-10 and then own the Rose Bowl. That's our thing around here."
    -- Kaluka Maiava, USC senior LB
    As written here before, Pasadena is a nice place to visit, but the Trojans don't
    want to live there.

    They don't need it for reputation.

    They don't need it for recruiting.

    They needed a Fiesta against a high-scoring Big 12 team, some Sugar against a traditional SEC power, anything that could enhance their national presence and propel them into next season's polls. They don't need another Rose bouquet against another Big Ten vase.

    At this point, I should apologize to those e-mailers from Penn State, who were outraged when I included the Nittany Lions in a list of slow teams from the Midwest. I was wrong.

    They're not really from the Midwest.

-- Bill Plaschke, LA Times columnist
  • In other PSU news, Sporting News Today says you can now smell like Penn State football.
    Penn State has an official perfume and cologne, which the developer says captures the essence of the school's blue and white colors, based on "campus flowers and trees."
    The Associated Press reports Masik Collegiate Fragrances of Harrisburg, PA., developed the scent and says the perfume exudes vanilla, lilac, rose and white patchouli. The cologne smells of blue cypress and cracked pepper vapor.
  • The Dolphins have officially eclipsed my preseason win prediction of 6. I've been saying they'd go 6-10 (OK 5-11 give or take a win) since July. At 7-5 the Dolphins have not only overachieved in my eyes, they can still make the playoffs and EVEN WIN THE DIVISION. Seriously. Check it out:
    If the Dolphins win out, they'd sit at 11-5. The Patriots, at best, would also be 11-5. And if the Jets won all their games except for their final one against the Dolphins, they would also be 11-5. Onto the tie-breakers.

    #1: Head-to-head - Each team would have split with each other. No winner.
    #2: Division record - All 3 teams would be at 4-2.
    #3: Common games - Other than division games, each team played 8 common games against the teams from the AFC and NFC West. The Dolphins would be 7-1, as would the Patriots. The Jets would only be 5-3. They're out.
    #4: Conference record - Dolphins would be 8-4. Pats 7-5. Dolphins are champs.

    So even after that tough loss at home to the Pats, the Dolphins do indeed control their own destiny. Not bad. A team that won just 1 game a season ago now controls their own destiny with 4 games left.

  • Thanksgiving was awesome, thanks for asking. How was yours?
So there's a little round-up of the past week in college football and the NFL. I'll have more on the Dolphins later.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Penn State Dominates All-Big Ten Selections

The 2008 All-Big Ten selections by the conference coaches and media are out and Penn State has many representatives. The Nittany Lions had nine first team members on the coaches ballot and seven from the media. Two more were voted to the second team by the coaches and six more by the media.

Daryll Clark was the first team QB on both the coaches and media teams. Joining him as first team selections on both ballots is the entire left side of the offensive line. Gerald Cadogan, Rich Ohrnberger, and A.Q Shipley, who was voted offensive lineman of the year, are first teamers two times over. Defensively, Aaron maybin and Navorro Bowman made both first teams.

Penn State had a slew of honorable mentions as well.

Joe Paterno collected his third Dave McClain Coach of the Year award.

Perhaps the thing that irks me the most is the unanimous selection of overrated Ohio State linebacker James Laurinaitis. He is notorious among the blogosphere for showing up late to plays and collecting tackles by jumping on the pile. He is troutinely dominated by strong offensive lineman and a dynamic ground game. He is not worthy of all the praise he gets. Is he the best MLB in the Big Ten? Probably. But unanimous and Defensive Player of the Year? NO WAY. He is going to get manhandled in the NFL. I feel bad for the team that drafts him in the 1st round. His talent should relegate him to the late 1st early 2nd AT BEST.

All of the 2008 All-Big Ten selections can be found here or by clicking on the picture below. The Penn State members are boxed in navy.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

BCS Remains Complete Joke

How can a team that loses by 44 stay ahead of a team that won by 31 (and who's only loss is by 1 on a last-second FG)? Only in the BCS. The Big Ten slap-fest continued in the latest iteration of the BCS standings, which were released tonight. The 2008 Big Ten Champions stayed in 8th place overall. All but one of their victories was by 14 or more points. They trashed an Oregon State team that beat USC. They went to Columbus and beat Ohio State. There was one hiccup; one misstep. A 1-point loss to a resurgent Iowa team. But Big 12 teams forget how to play defense yet they are perceived as better? What a joke!

I'm not saying Penn State should be #1. They may or may not be Top 5 right now. But they aren't 8. No lower than 6, I say. In front of an OVERRATED Texas Tech team and Utah. Utah squeaked by Michigan (hardly a tough game this season), narrowly escaped Air Force, beat Oregon State by 3, and struggled mightily againts New Mexico. Their wins over TCU and BYU are nice. But can you really tell me they are better than Penn State? They deserved to be in the Top 25. I'd say between 12-18.

The real culprit is those damn computers they use. Penn State is ranked 7th (Anderson & Hester), 10th (Billingsley), 7th (Colley Matrix), 9th (Massey), 8th (Sagarin), and 11th (Wolfe). What a joke. 11th? Wolfe's updated rankings haven't been published yet but last week we were still behind Georgia and Oklahoma State.

The sad truth about computer rankings is you can manipulate the statistics and numbers until you get what you want. I'm not saying these gentlemen have done that. I'm saying that I could make a computer ranking system that would look much different than this using the same underlying inputs.

I have tried making my own in the past. Perhaps I'll revisit that to demonstrate what I mean. Through week 8 of this season Penn State was ranked #1 in my computer model - and by a large margin. That would obviously be different now. I wonder where they would be?

BCS still is crap, we need a playoff. On any given Saturday, any team can win. Let them figure this out on the field, not through computers.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

ABCs Mike Patrick makes bold statement

During this evening's Michigan State-Penn State "Big Ten Championship" game, ABC announcer Mike Patrick made quite the statement about the 1994 PSU team. After talking about the number of time PSU has been in the Rose Bowl (this will be only the 3rd), Patrick stated that JoePa has had 4 teams go undefeated and NOT win a National Championship. The 1994 squad, headlined by Kerry Collins, Ki-Jana Carter, and Bobby Engram, was the last. Patrick then said that he had seen Penn State play multiple times that season and said that THEY WERE UNDOUBTEDLY THE BEST TEAM IN THE NATION. Take that, Nebraska!

Penn State, the REAL 1994 National Champions!

Oh and by the way, Penn State CRUSHES Michigan State, 49-18, to win the 2008 Big Ten Championship and will head to the Rose Bowl for a showdown with USC/Oregon State on 1/1/2009.

WTF was D'Antonio doing at the end of the game? Two TOs with 9 seconds left? Down 31?!?!? WTF?!?!?!

Michigan State-Penn State Prediction

Short and sweet this week.

This is a huge game for both teams. If Penn State wins they go to the Rose Bowl. If Michigan State wins they win a share of the Big Ten title with Ohio State (as long as they beat Michigan). It's freezing in State College today and there is the possibility for some snow. Winds will be relatively strong and they, plus the cold, could impact the game. Look for this to be reminiscent of the Iowa game (groan). Not a big offensive day for either team. Who will make the big play? Because of the emotion on the Penn State side - senior day, final game at Beaver Stadium for them, chance for a 2nd Big ten title in 4 years - I think they come out on top. But it'll be a hard-nose, ground it out type of game.

Michigan State 16, Penn State 27

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Albert Pujols, Hypocrite

Let me preface this post by saying I respect and admire Cardinals 1B Albert Pujols. He is an amazing baseball talent and will end up being one of the best to ever play the game. His off-the-filed work with charities is worth mentioning and is incredibly noble.

With that said he is a wee-bit of a whiner and, now, a hypocrite. In 2006, the year the Cardinals won the World Series, Phillies 1B Ryan Howard won the NL MVP award over Pujols. When the award was announced, Pujols had this to say

I see it this way: Someone who doesn't take his team to the playoffs doesn't deserve to win the MVP.
Boo-hoo. Sour grapes. Now the tables have turned. Howard, the league leader in HRs and RBIs, takes his team to not only the playoffs but a World Series win and is not selected MVP. He comes in second to a guy (Pujols) not in the playoffs (the Cardinals were 4th in the NL Central). What does Albert say now, two years after complaining about this very situation?
I think the writers made the right choice in 2006. He did deserve it.
Nothing like saying "everything's OK now, nothing to see here" after you win. Hypocrisy in all of its glory.

Do I endorse Howard for MVP this year? No. I wanted Pujols to win it. Why? He was clearly the best INDIVIDUAL. The nonsense about having to take your team to the playoffs is BS. The MVP award is for the INDIVIDUAL. A World Series title is a team thing. Pujols' comments in 2006 were dripping with jealousy and anger. Now he gets a taste of his own medicine and his words come back to bite him.

Oh, and by the way, the Cardinals record in 2006 - the year they won the World Series - was worse than the Phillies that year. Just sayin', Albert.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Indiana-Penn State Prediction

Not even close.

At least, it shouldn't be.

This Penn State team is bound to be pissed off after choking against a mediocre Iowa team. There's no doubt in my mind Penn State is the better team. But they didn't prove it. No excuses.

Despite almost no chance of getting to play in the National Championship, all is not lost. If Penn State wins out they go to the Rose Bowl. It's that simple. That all starts tomorrow with Indiana.

Indiana is nowhere near as talented as they were in 2007, due to the loss of James Hardy (draft) and the injuries to the secondary and QBs. Plus, where has Greg Middleton been?

Penn State is the better team, on paper, for the 11th straight game. Unfortunately there record sits at 9-1 instead of 10-0. How will they respond?

I think they'll play like a team possessed; the team everyone wanted to see these last 3 weeks. Too bad it'll come a week too late.

Indiana 13, Penn State 45

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sports Fountainhead gear!

I know all of you have a TON of money just sitting around the house. And many (read: zero) of you have asked for merchandise sporting the SF logo and slogan (which, by the way, is now officially "The second-hand sports blog" because that has to do with the book, The Fountainhead, where the sites name comes from as well as us not being any ones first means of information, i.e. second-hand). I have finally finished and opened the Sports Fountainhead store at Cafe Press! Inside you can buy all sort of goodies from the standard tees and sweatshirts to buttons and magnets and even a cute teddy bear for your gf, or in some cases, your mom.

I also want to point out that from time-to-time I will donate all of the proceeds to a charity of the bloggers choice. I am making the first decision and, to no one's surprise, any money the store makes between 12/1/2008 and 1/31/2009 will be donated to THON 2009 (through the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, naturally). For those of you who don't know what THON is, go here.

So hop to it! Head on over to the official Sports Fountainhead store and buy that SF thong you've always craved (seriously, it's there if you want one).

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My thoughts exactly

While reading a recent article by ESPN Ombudsman Le Anne Schreiber, the last bullet point under the "Fine points from fans" section caught my eye. And I just smiled.

Finally, a viewer from Castle Rock, Colo., speaking for himself, me and many others: "I am sick and tired of ESPN's obsession with Brett Favre!"
I am so glad I don't live in New York/New Jersey for fear of hearing more about the over-hyped, overrated, prima donna.

P.S. - Be sure to check out the Ombudsman's articles frequently. Her stuff is some of the best out there. Schreiber analyzes ESPNs use of their various media outlets and voices her opinion on how they handle certain story's. For someone who hates the media, her work is gold.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Absolutely pathetic

That's pretty much all for now. I'm sure I'll have more to say later. I'm too pissed for rational thoughts.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Penn State-Iowa Prediction

It's been almost 2 weeks now since Penn State defeated Ohio State at The Horseshoe. Not much has changed. The Big Ten is still the nations punching bag and Penn State remains 3rd in the BCS, despite #1 Texas' loss to Texas Tech. But don't worry, things will work out. It has just been that kind of year.

The Nittany Lions travel to Iowa for a Saturday afternoon showdown (3:30pm on ABC, ESPN, or Big Ten Network, dependent on where you live). Iowa has been up and down this year. They seem to either blow teams out (Maine, FIU, Indiana, Wisconsin) or lose a close one (Pitt, Northwestern, Michigan State, Illinois). There was also an uninspiring W versus rival Iowa State. So they sit at 5-4. They are very much a dangerous team, despite 56% win percentage. They have a strong and dynamic tailback in Shonn Greene. If QB Ricky Stanzi plays like a college QB should (i.e. limit turnovers) they will be competitive. Their defense is solid, too.

Penn State matches up pretty well with the Hawkeyes. The d-line and LBs showed 2 weeks ago they can shut down a strong running game, forcing an inexperienced QB to beat them. Pryor didn't, can Stanzi? Doubtful. The Penn State team will be out for blood this week as a result of the continuous lack of respect they get from the media and pollsters. For the Lions to make it to the BCS National Championship game they not only have to beat Iowa, they must do so convincingly.

This being a road game is all that keeps the score somewhat respectable. The PSU 'O' is going to show it's for real. I fully expect them to get close to their season average points/game (~41.7). The Hawkeyes will put up a fight but Penn State is the better team. It's over by the end of the 3rd.

Penn State 38, Iowa 17

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Sports Propaganda

Chris Speakman is a lifelong lover of sports and history. Combining those two passions has resulted in one of the most original pieces of sports memorabilia I have ever seen. Sports Propaganda are classic, World War II style posters that promote MLB team and players much like the "I Want You" Uncle Sam posters or Rosie the Riveter. These prints, while currently limited in teams and players, are absolutely wonderful. Here are his Phillies prints.

Because of the way they are made these are not cheap. They generally run about $55 and each is limited. They are officially licensed by MLB and the MLBPA.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Chamomiles Davis, my thoughts exactly

I kept the celebration restrained so as not to wake up my eight-month-old son. And in considering that I realized something: This championship is for him. And for every Philly son and daughter 25 and under who have spent their entire lives watching other cities have parade after parade, wondering "When will it be our turn?"

I'm 35, which makes me old enough to remember (vaguely) the excitement of the Phillies winning the 1980 World Series. What I remember with greater clarity, however, are the more recent spate of disappointments: the slider to Joe Carter; the Flyers' being swept at the hands of the Red Wing juggernaut; the elevation of hope when the Sixers took Game 1 in L.A. but then dropped the next four; the last five minutes in Jacksonville. A kick to the balls every four years, giving us just enough time to recuperate from the last one.

My sister was born in November 1983, five months after the Sixers swept the Lakers for the O'Brien Trophy. Last night marked the first time since she was born that a Philly team had won anything significant. At least I was alive when the city got two Stanley Cups, a World Series championship and an NBA title. Yes, I was a teenybopper when most of that happened, but still I was there.

As I read through the increasing number of half-drunk, half-ecstatic comments written here and elsewhere over the last 14 hours, I couldn't help but notice how many 23-, 24- and 25-year-olds are represented among them. For those men and women, this championship bears a significance that us older fans can appreciate but not truly understand. This one is their first -- ever -- in a lifetime.

For my son's sake, I hope he'll have plenty more to celebrate by the time he's old enough to really enjoy them. In the meantime: Sleep tight, little man. You're among winners.

-- Chamomiles Davis, on The 700 Level


We are the champions

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


That about sums it up

In Philadelphia, folks are used to seeing the sky fall on their greatest sports parades.

Just usually, it's not quite this literally.

In Philadelphia, a place I confess I've lived most of my life, they know stuff happens in sports. They just wonder why it's mostly bad stuff. Especially when things seem way too good -- by which we mean way too non-Philadelphian -- to be true.

So Game 5 of the 2008 World Series fits right in. It's so utterly Philadelphian, they should place a DVD of it in William Penn's hand, way up there on top of City Hall.


So this is now more than a mere sporting event, friends. It's a life-altering event for an entire community. Do these people get their parade and release their demons? Or does one horrendously ill-timed act of nature drive them deeper into the Cuckoo's Nest?

It will all be played out on a soggy October baseball field. Only in Philadelphia.

-- Jayson Stark,

Complete euphoria, or worst nightmare awaits all Philadelphians (10/29/2008)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

This picture says it all

World Series postponed, again

MLB Press Release:

PHILADELPHIA - Game Five of the 2008 World Series will not resume tonight due to inclement weather. Game Five is now tentatively scheduled to resume on Wednesday evening at 8:37 p.m. (ET), weather permitting.

Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig said: "While obviously we want to finish Game Five as soon as possible, the forecast for today does not allow for us to continue the game this evening. We are closely monitoring tomorrow's forecast and will continue to monitor the weather on an hourly basis. We will advise fans as soon as we are able to make any final decisions with respect to tomorrow's schedule."

Monday, October 27, 2008

More to come...

I'll have a Sunday roundup done tomorrow. Now it is time to watch Game 5 of the World Series. Can the Cole Hamels and the rest of the Phillies end 100 seasons of losing and bring Philadelphia not only their first championship since 1983 but just their 2nd World Series title in 126 years? It starts now.

Oh what a night

I know this is two days late but I had to say something about the evening/night in sports on Saturday, October 25th, 2008.


Just wow.

As a sports fan that has never seen any of my favorite teams win a title (Penn State football, Miami Dolphins, Philadelphia Phillies, Philadelphia Flyers), the past 6 months have been pretty damn sweet. And yet, that elusive championship is yet to be wrangled. But perhaps that is all about to end.

The Phillies are ONE WIN AWAY thanks to a dynamic pitching performance last night by Joe Blanton and some power hitting (finally) from Ryan Howard and Co. But let's put last night on the back burner (that'll be a separate post in a bit). Let's turn the clock back to Saturday evening (~4pm).

(AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)

The team flying lowest on the radar are the Philadelphia Flyers. The season is so very young; as of Saturday only 7 games had been played, with the 8th a showdown with the Devils starting at 4pm. The start time was actually moved up to accommodate fans that wanted to watch the Phillies World Series game later that night. The Flyers had started the season 0-3-3 before vanquishing the Devils the night before 6-3. The home-and-home continued Saturday. The Flyers got on the board first. About 10 minutes into the game Mike Knuble netted the puck for a 1-0 lead, where the score would remain through one period. Unfortunately only 27 seconds into period two the Devils Zach Parise tied the game at 1. About 9 minutes later Scott Hartnell put the Flyers back on top, 2-1. The Devils would answer. With under 2 minutes remaining in the second, Brion Gionta tied the game at 2 on the Power Play. The teams would not score in the 3rd, sending the game to OT. With a little less than 2 minutes left before a shootout would decide the winner, Flyers center Jeff Carter tipped home a shot past Martin Brodeur, giving the Flyers a much needed 3-2 win. The Flyers started of the festivities with a win; 1 for 1. Now, on to sports experience two.

(AP Photo/Terry Gilliam)

That would be the Big Ten football matchup, Penn State at Ohio State. It has been well published that the Nittany Lions have never beaten the Buckeyes in Columbus since joining the Big Ten. Their last win at the Horseshoe (Columbus Stadium) was in 1978. The game was hyped beyond belief for a game that takes place every year. Penn State (#3 BCS) vs Ohio State (#9 BCS) would turn out to be a defensive showdown. Neither team scored in the 1st quarter and at the half each tem had only mustered a field goal. Things wouldn't get much better for either offense. The PSU d-line and linebackers played the best they had all season. They were stuffing Beanie Wells and trapping super frosh Terrelle Pryor. The Buckeyes did manage to take the lead, 6-3, after three quarters of play. Kevin Kelly, who is having a great year, missed a 45-yarder that could have tied the game at the end of the 3rd. Little happened until there was less than 7 minutes remaining in the game. On 3rd and 1 from midfield, Pryor went for the QB sneak. However, he did not go right up the middle, following his blockers. Instead he tried to take it outside for a big play. He was met behind the line by PSU Safety Mark Rubin. While he went to tackle Pryor, Rubin's hand smacked the ball loose. The players scrambled for a few seconds to get a handle on the ball. PSU DE Maurice Evans pushed Wells away and a few players failed to grab it. Finally 2 or 3 Penn State players surrounded it. After the pile cleared, PSU LB Navorro Bowman emerged with the ball. This play changed the game. With starting QB Daryll Clark sidelined with a mild concussion, Pat Devlin took the reins. He didn't disappoint. His only attempted pass was incomplete. But it drew a pass interference penalty on Ohio State; altosy as good as a completion. The Nittany Lions would finally get a TD on 3rd and goal on a Devlin sneak. 10-6, Penn State with less than 6 minutes to play. The PSU defense did their job and forced the Buckeyes to punt. Devlin again led the Nittany Lion offense down the field and inside the 30 before Kelly booted a FG to expand the lead to 7, 13-6 Penn State with about 1 minute to go. Ohio State needed a TD to force OT. After a touchback, Pryor lead the Buckeyes downfield and were in Penn State territory with about 30 seconds to play. At this time Pryor launched a pass towards the end zone. The camera finally made it to the ball location and Penn State fans breathed a sigh of relief as they saw CB Lydell Sargeant in position for the pick. He mad the play and effectively ended Ohio State's hopes. Penn State was victorious. 9-0.

(AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Phew. As if Flyers and Penn State wins weren't enough, there was also a little matter of Game 3 of the World Series. It was the first World Series game in Philadelphia since 1993. And it was delayed for 91 minutes. The first pitch, by ageless Jamie Moyer, was after 10pm Eastern. It was a cool, rain-soaked night in Philadelphia. Whoever won game 3 of the World Series would hold a 2 games to 1 lead. Over 2/3rds of game 3 winners went on to win the Series. Though each game is important, 1 and 3 seem to matter most. Unlike his previous postseason starts, Moyer was on fire. He made it through 6.1 innings and left with the Phillies leading 4-2. Unfortunately an early shoddy call and later a Carlos Ruiz throwing error would prohibit the 45 year old from notching his first World Series victory. The score was 4-4 in the bottom of the 9th. Defensive replacement Eric Bruntlett was at bat. An errant pitch from Rays pitcher J.P. Howell plunked Bruntlett in the thigh. The winning run was on base. Unfortunately the Phillies had been struggling for the 3rd consecutive game with runners on base. A few pitches later things got even more interesting. A wild pitch by Grant Balfour and throwing error by Dioner Navarro meant Bruntlett was at 3rd with no men out. Rays Manager Joe Maddon called for two consecutive intentional walks - to Shane Victorino and pinch hitter Greg Dobbs - to load the bases. He also brought in RF Ben Zobrist to play right behind 2nd base. That's right, 5 infielders. Their hope was Ruiz would ground into a double play and they could extend this game. On a 2-2 pitch from Balfour, Ruiz hit a dribble down the 3rd base line. It was close to the foul line but out of fear of it staying fair, Rays 3B Evan Longoria picked it up and threw home to tray and catch the streaking Bruntlett. The throw was nowhere close. Bruntlett slid in safe. Game over. Phillies win and are up 2 games to 1.

Oh what a night. The sports day that started at 4pm on Saturday didn't officially end until 1:47am Sunday. And there was more to come. Much, much more.