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.