Friday, January 30, 2009

Big Stupid Sports Weekend

In honor of the Stupid Bowl and all things NFL football, I'm taking the weekend off from blogging and will be gorging myself on cars, beer, football and cigars.

In the interim here's a little of "Houston's Own" Beyonce performing her best song in my opinion. (mainly because this has become a burrowing ear-worm to me lately and I feel the need to share.)

Eat too much this weekend.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Make it S-T-O-P!!!!

There's nothing more trying to the sports fan then the seemingly endless two-week run-up to the Stupid Bowl. Not only is the media full of personal interest stories you also have to deal with the inevitable sideshows and lunacy that's a result of untalented sports writers running out of things to say about a less-than-compelling matchup.

In short, it sucks.

This could all go away and the game could be played the week after the Conference Championship Games if the Stupid Bowl had anything to do with Football. We all know by now that it doesn't.

The Stupid Bowl is about money and silly, petty people throwing 'pimp n' ho' balls, getting way to drunk and local citizens heading to parties that they can't afford during a recession in order to maybe 'get a hook-up' with someone who's marginally famous. A borderline celeb such as Kathy Griffen would be a queen at these parties because, well, she's someone that the drunk masses have seen before on TV. Kevin Federline has been seen at Stupid Bowl parties for crying out loud.

When the Stupid Bowl came to Houston we were greeted with Gina Gaston in fishnets.

Somebody, somewhere has to put an end to this madness before the cliches get out of hand.

I'm looking at YOU Roger Gooddell.

Monday, January 26, 2009

See, I TOLD you I can do this writing thing....

I've got two articles in the upcoming issue of IronMan Magazine (March 2009 edition) I have two training articles that will be running on back and bicep training respectively.

On page 150 they're running a back training article I wrote with Derik Farnsworth, a bodybuilder who's also a lifetime natural (read: steroid free) Professional.


On page 218 they run a biceps training article that I wrote featuring Mark Perry one of the top amateur bodybuilders in the World today.

If professional bodybuilding is not your thing, IronMan is worth the price regardless because most of their publication deals with training and nutrition for non-competitors, and the articles I wrote break down how you can use techniques of the pros in your own workouts.

The magazine should be on stands soon.

A Little humor at the expense of our friends at aTm

"If you made money off the Baylor game, please leave the room"

Keep laughing aTm, you'll turn it around soon.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sport Shorts (01/25/09)

The "smack yo' beyotch up" edition...

UH's Coleman apologizes for stepping on Arizona player. [Michael Murphy,] - Had this been a UT-Austin player, Justice would have already penned three blog posts and a special Sunday column telling people to lay off the kid. As it is, dumb move in a loss that further dims Houston's already bleak Tourney hopes.

East beats West in OT in NHL all-star game. [AP via] - Exhibit A of why Houston has no business getting a NHL team: Great all-star game, no one from here even knew it was being played.

Can White pull off another 'win-win' deal? [Tom Kirkendall, Houston's Clear Thinkers] - A good analysis of the folly that is Minor League Soccer, better than the 'atta-boy, they deserve a stadium dreck that's being pushed on Houston by the Chron.

Coach in 100-0 girls basketball blowout fired. [AP via] - I feel for the losing team, but nothing is worse than seeing your opponent goof it up because they don't want to 'embarrass' you.

Early Houston Football Recruiting grade: A [] - Coach Sumlin is bringing in a higher quality of recruit than did coach Briles. Dugat from Dayton, Robertson from Cleveland and Steward from Hightower have the potential to be defensive stars.

Monday, January 19, 2009

No, the Texans aren't the Cardinals and here's why..

Chron NFL writer John McClain compares the Houston Texans to the NFC Champion Arizona Cardinals today in a column that, sort of, made me scratch my head.

First off, there's not much in the article linking the Texans to the Cardinals success, except (maybe) some parallels between stellar Cardinal reciever Larry Fitzgerald and All-pro Texans receiver Andre Johnson. Outside of that the teams are totally different.

Wide Reciever - Look past the number ones and there's no comparison between the Cardinals and the Texans. Cardinals number 2 Anquan Bouldin would be a number one receiver an almost every other team. He's got toughness, grit and determination to make catches, and take hits as a result, that many other receivers are lacking. The Cardinals number three wide receiver is Steve Breaston, a young speed guy with good hands. The Texans speed reciever is....Jacoby Jones, a burner with stone hands who's 2nd half of the season was a case study in how not to hang onto the ball.

Records - Yes, BOTH teams were 8-8 last year and the Cardinals 'backed' into the playoffs this year. The Cardinals also have one important luxury that the Texans don't, they play in a terrible division. 9-7 Next year will not make the playoffs in the AFC South. There's too much strength in all the divisions except the West, where 8-8 won this year. Odds are next year either the Titans or the Colts will be Division Champions, so the Texans will have to go the WC route. Ask 11-5 New England how that worked out for them.

Coaching - Kubiak is no Whisenhunt. Sorry Texans fans but its true. The local-media fawning over "Denver as a model" is proving to be a paper tiger, especially after the 'great Bronco meltdown of 2008' illustrated the flaws inherent in a system focusing on offense at the expense of Defense in today's NFL. The Cardinals are an offensive team, but they've successfully imported their defensive philosophy from Pittsburgh. That's right AFC Championship Pittsburgh.

Quarterback - Schaub is no Warner, and he's certainly no Ben Rothlisberger. There's evidence that Schaub will become a competent starting QB in the league, but he probably won't develop into they type of leader that carries a team on his back when things are going wrong a la Peyton Manning. For Schaub and the Texans to succeed there has to be a better showing from the defense. Given the general lack of talent and quality-depth across the board on the defensive side of the ball, I don't expect Frank Bush to change that overnight.

Defense - Speaking of Frank Bush, his biggest problem is that he's a proponent of the Denver 'style' of defense. The talk right now is of an 'aggressive-attacking' scheme that pressures the opposing team's quarterback and gets after the ball. We've heard this before, most recently with Richard Smith. Truth be told the Texans are going to have little success implementing any defensive system until they upgrade talent, especially on the Defensive Line (this despite three straight D-line first round picks in the draft), Linebackers and Safety. Another cover corner wouldn't hurt either. It's that bad.

None of this means that the Texans can't put things together and make a playoff run next season. They have a (relatively) high-powered offense with quality weapons in Johnson, Owen Daniels and Steve Slaton, a developing Offensive line that's well coached and continuity in the offensive staff. The 2009 NFL season could include a Texans playoff run but I'd lay those odds at about 10-1 because of the issues I've deliniated above. It will be interesting to see where Vegas puts them at the begining of next season.

That wouldn't be a bad bet to make if you're looking for a semi-longshot that might hit, for entertainment purposes only of course. (In other words: this ain't gambling advice, just idle Texans chatter)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

NFC Question for the day...(so far)

Is Arizona this good?

Or is Philly this poor?

Right now the Cardinals are slicing through the Eagles as if the latter's defense isn't even there. Donovan McNabb is in the middle of another one of his big game meltdowns, and Andy Reid looks as clueless on the sideline as he did in fulfilling his duties as a father last year.

Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Texans promote Frank Bush, media fawns, fans yawn.

Such is the reality of a team that's gone their first seven years without a winning season...

Work Begins now for Frank Bush with Texans

[Megan Manfull,]
It's clear the Texans' new defensive coordinator has a head start with the Texans. He knows the personnel. He knows what has somewhat worked, and he knows what hasn't worked. Now, it's his job to make the changes.

Initial Thoughts on the Frank Bush hiring as defensive coordinator.

[Stephanie Stradley, Texans Chick @]
Sigh. I'm not sure if there were going to be any ideal fits for defensive coordinator for the Texans this offseason, but can someone give me a convincing case why Texan fans should be excited about the Frank Bush hire?

According to the Chronicle story, Bush was the only person interviewed for the job. The only one.

The "Chron article" mentioned in Stephanie's lede can be found here.

[John McClain,]
Bush's promotion wasn't a surprise. He was the leading candidate and the only one interviewed for the defensive coordinator position that became available when Richard Smith was fired after the season.

(Note: The Texans didn't have "Rooney Rule" issues due to the fact that Bush is a minority candidate)**{As Kevin points out in the comments, this isn't a "Rooney Rule" position. I thought I had heard that they expanded the rule to include coordinators, but a quick Google search proves I was wrong. Been making a lot of errors of late, not sure why. I apologize to my readers}

So, here we are Texans fans, fresh off the hiring of oft-criticized Rick Smith, who had no previous coordinator experience before assuming the role with the Texans, the Texans hire Frank Bush; a man with no previous coordinator experience. For those of you in the 'glass half full' camp at least Bush has been saying the right things in interviews: He wan't to play an 'aggressive' 4-3 defense He thinks the Texans have the talent to compete and make the playoffs, etc. You know, the same stuff we've been hearing from the Kubiak and crew since they took over. The question now is whether lack of success on the field is still the result of Charlie Casserley's poor personnel decisions.

It should be noted that Frank Bush is one of Kubiak's "Denver connection" coaches whose task, it would seem, is to make over the Texans into a "Denver south" version of team (formerly Shanahan). The the model on which the Texans have been designed just crashed ingloriously is obviously of no consequence, that many NFL experts are questioning the quality of the Denver system should also be ignored, at least, it should be ignored if you rely on local media for all things Texan. They haven't so much as questioned the system.

It's too early to catagorize the Frank Bush hiring as either genius or disaster, only after next season will we know for sure. How the Texans do in the upcoming draft will speak volumes as well. This is a team that depserately needs help at line-backer, defensive backfield and on the d-line opposite of Mario Williams. As much as it pains me to say it, they also need defensive help in the interior line. Now, as before the season, the Texans only have three 'plus' players on their defense: Mario Williams, Dunta Robinson and DeMeco Ryans.

The question that will be answered next year is whether the problem was with the coordinator, or with the Denver defensive system that couldn't stop a stiff Jr. High Marching band at Mile High? If its the latter then the Texans are in for a long, rough year, and could be looking at a third head coach. Let's hope, for Houston football fans, that the problems lie with the former choice.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A weekend of sub-par football.

Outside of the normal storylines, Home-team futility, falling favorites and accusations of official incompetence, I think the biggest story of the NFL playoffs so far has been the relatively low-quality play on the field by all teams, not just the losers in the first round.

The NFL Playoffs are marketed as the "best of the best", there's no month-plus gap between games that leads to Big Ten style Rust or dubious bowl tie-ins that ensure two mediocre teams take the field. These are supposed to be the 'best of the best' putting it all on the line with no prize for second.

What does that get us?

Jake Delhomme turning the ball over five times in a loss to Arizona.

Tennessee forgetting how to run the ball.

Eli Manning throwing up lame duck after lame duck against a Philly defense that will never be mistaken as one of te league's elite (although they are above average)

No LaDanian Tomlinson and a fish-out-of-water Charger's team looking ineffective against the Steelers.

The sad reality is that we're looking at the possibility of a Baltimore/Arizona Superbowl. Only slightly better would be a Baltimore/Philly tie pitting two anemic offenses against each other in a game that could be won by a score of 2-0. Not that I have anything against Ray Lewis or Baltimore, of Brian Dawkins and the Eagles, its just that I want to see great plays when I watch the NFL.

Part of the reason is the insular nature of NFL offensive coordinators. NFL offenses are stuck in the 70's. There's no innovation or outside-the-box thinking, just one-back, two-wideout "pro-sets" running the same plays with different names. Unlike College Football (where all of the real offensive genius lies) NFL defenses basically prepare for the same schemes every week, with only minor changes and tendencies and better players at key positions. Sure, the Steelers may run the ball more than Arizona, but when you watch them line up what's the difference? Where's the empty backfield set and the short passing game, moving the ball down the field? The no-huddle offense designed to tire out some of these (admittedly) great defenses?

All in all it leads to boring football played by Millionaire's with which the fans have only a passing interest. Need proof? At most NFL games its been conceded that tailgating is as much (if not more) a part of the game as the game. The Stupid Bowl has become an orgy of 'Pimp n' Ho' balls, office pools, wagering, advertising, and general partying with very few paying more than fleeting attention to the game. A large part of the reason for this is due to the fact that the game itself is typically not very good.

Now that the College Football season is wrapped up with an orange and blue bow on top I'm starting my sports transition to College Hoops. With pre-season out of the way and conference play beginning in earnest its nigh time to begin getting an idea of how my bracket's going to look come March. Oh sure, I'll watch the NFL Playoffs and the Stupid Bowl out of some sense of sports obligation, I will probably also enter into friendly bets with friends and family concerning the score. At the end of the day, however, I'm not going to care about who wins or loses. The eventual winner will be the one who played the least terribly throughout the playoffs.

Where's the attraction in that?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

A bad idea that needs to go away

Steroid testing of Texas High School Athletes...

[Jim Vertuno, AP via]
By the tens of thousands, Texas student-athletes have been pulled out of class to urinate in a cup for the nation’s largest high school steroids testing program.

Boys and girls in all sports, from football to tennis to cross country, have been randomly selected.

The results so far have found little to confirm fears that steroid use is a rampant problem. When the first 10,000 tests found only four positive results, critics declared the two-year program a waste of time and money.

Now state lawmakers must decide whether to keep the $6 million program chugging along, scale it down or eliminate it. The 2009 legislative session starts Tuesday.

The Texas legislator who sponsored the testing bill in 2007 calls it an “incredible success.”

The point of testing was to act as a deterrent against steroid use, not catch teens using drugs, said Rep. Dan Flynn, a Republican.

“We don’t have a bunch of pelts hanging on the wall,” Flynn said. “The success is that we haven’t had a lot of positive tests.”

Representative Flynn's catagorization of spending $1.5 Million dollars for each positive result highlights the idiocy behind the current wave of anti-steroid mania that's sweeping through the halls of leadership.

Not that 3CB is "pro-steroid" mind you. I'm decidedly anti-performance enhancement beyond nutritional supplements and state-of-the-art training. (yes, training is performance enhancement as well.) What I'm against is going on a witch-hunt to protect people from themselves spending Millions of dollars on testing that's not effective at deterring use, or catching users for that matter.

There's a saying in bodybuilding that "Only those stupid enough to fail a steroid test actually fail a steroid test." This adage was proven recently when the International Federation of Bodybuilders "augmented" their testing program and failed to catch a single drug cheat. According to outsider's they have in place a decent random testing system, and can't catch their athletes using steroids.

No offense to Rep. Flynn, but it seems that an even bigger success would be to stop wasting $6 Million per year on a program of dubious worth.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Florida is the Best Team in all the Land.

Getting back to Football: Florida sweeps #1 in both major polls...

[AP via]
Florida is No. 1 in the AP Top 25. Utah is perfect at No. 2, though not perfectly happy.

Texas and Southern California also claimed to be the best — but media voters didn’t think so.

The Gators received 48 first-place votes and 1,606 points in the poll released early Friday, after they beat Oklahoma 24-14 in the BCS national title game.

Utah, the only team in major college football to go undefeated this season, got 16 first-place votes and 1,519 points.

“I thought we had an outside chance,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said in a telephone interview with the AP. “There was enough national sentiment, I thought we might get the No. 1 slot. It wasn’t to be.”

Florida won its third AP national championship and second in the last three seasons. Steve Spurrier and Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel led the Gators to the 1996 title.

No. 3 USC received one first-place vote. Texas was No. 4 and will have to settle for finishing ahead of fifth-ranked Oklahoma.

Utah received 16 first place votes, including the vote of the Chron's Longhorn beat writer.

Of course, they don't give a vote to opinionated bloggers with no credentials, but if they did...

1. Florida
2. Utah
3. USC
4. Texas
5. Oklahoma
6. TCU
7. Boise State
8. Oregon
9. Alabama
10. Penn State
11. Georgia
12. Texas Tech
13. Ohio State
14. Misissippi
15. W. Virginia
16. Cincinnati
17. Va Tech
18. Mizzou
19. Oklahoma State
20. Tulsa
21. Rice
22. Oregon State
23. Nebraska
24. Iowa
25. LSU

Let's (not) talk Tebow.

"With all of the negativity in the world, if people could just spend five minutes with Tim Tebow..." - Fox announcer Thom Brennanman.

OK, Florida beat Oklahoma 24-21 to claim the B(C)S title. I get that. It was a good game until the 4th quarter, when Oklahoma tired and Florida's speed took over. I get that. Urban Meyer is one of the best coaches, and has one of the most innovative offenses in the world. Yup, I'm still with you.

So why are we having to hear over and over again about the greatness that is Tim Tebow?

We've been down this road before replacing "Tim Tebow" with "Vince Young". It's almost as if sports writers don't get their gold-plated laptops until they slather the star du jour with superlatives. How bad has it gotten? I've heard rumor that the blind and lame are converging on the University of Florida campus just for a chance to touch Tebow's wristband and be healed.

What this illustrates is the relatively poor bench depth in sports writing. If you can't write or say something constructive on the game (say, how Oklahoma shot itself in the foot in the first half, how Percy Harvin was the difference maker, or question why Bob Stoops ran the ball so often for example) then the fall-back is to slather the star QB with superlatives like a giddy High-school freshman cheerleader twirling her curls with her finger and looking up with hopeful doe-eyes at the star player.

"There is no greater a leader in College Football history than Tim Tebow" - Kirk Herbstreet, ESPN

Granted, Tim Tebow is probably the player most representative of today's College football which utilizes spread offenses requiring a mobile quarterback with simple pass-routes ran by lightning fast recievers. He's got a football resume that's second to none (1 Heisman trophy, 3rd place in the Heisman voting the next year, 2 National Championships), and he's relatively free of scandal. By all accounts, he's a nice guy. But why the need to deify the guy? Isn't it enough that he's a good quarterback and a good team captain without tripping over yourself in an effort to see who can perform the most blatant act of over-the-air, verbal intercourse with the guy?

Florida is standing astride history with their second B(C)S title in three years because Urban Meyer is a great coach. They won the first title with Charlie Batch calling the signals. Tebow came in and did his patented "jump pass" (which made NFL offensive coordinators cringe) for a touchdown and a star was born. Last year Tebow had the greatest statistical year ever by a quarterback, and his team was beaten in the Capital One Bowl by an average Michigan team (known previously for a humiliating home loss to Appelachian State earlier in the year).

Missing from the Capital One Bowl? Percy Harvin. The real battery that powers the Florida offensive engine. Oklahoma had no answer for Harvin, who many say was on the field at less than 100%. When Harvin touched the ball, good things happened for Florida. On the Gators second touchdown, after Tebow had failed twice to punch the ball across the line, it was Harvin via a direct snap that plunged in. Tebow threw two interceptions that gave the Sooners field position, and Florida's defense rose up and pulled the Gators out of the fire. Yet all the announcers wanted to talk about was Tim Tebow's Spring missionary trip to perform castrations on young boys in the Philippines. It was that bad.

Now granted, sportswriters have never been ranked high in the annals of watchdog reporters. Ty Cobb was given a free pass for his boorishness as was Pete Rose. The notoriously "tough" NY press overlooked scores of Yankee scandals throughout the years, including the alcoholism of Babe Ruth and Micky Mantle. ESPN self-promotes and attributes news broken by other outlets to their own beat writers, often ignoring media reports that broke several hours prior. Local sports columnists are even worse, a mixture of hopelessly biased homers or out of touch elitists who view themselves as the moral compass of the games they cover. (Yes, I'm looking at YOU Skip Bayless) There's often a tendency in sports writing to try and make history instead of just reporting on it. "Game of the decade/year" is thrown around like candy, sometimes before the first quarter/inning/half has played out. Some bold reporters even attempt to classify a game for the ages before its even been played. (Hi Chris Berman!)

Because of this its only natural for those with lesser talent to attempt to their subjects to rediculous heights. This has been a common practice since Howard Cosell gained fame through his association (and fawning coverage) of Muhammed Ali. The problem? Ali was a flawed man. A great champion, a great boxer, and a good man, but a flawed man with many of the same internal demons tormenting him that we all face daily. What he could do is box better than almost anyone else before or since. History, not Cosell, has determined this to be true.

History might reveal the same thing about Tebow. He might go down as one of the greatest College Football Players ever. We'll only know the answer to that in time, attempts by the media to deify him notwithstanding. They tried the same thing with Vince Young and its looking more and more like they were wrong. Just as VY could go down in history as a good college QB who didn't have the skill set to become a good NFL QB, its still possible that Tim Tebow could find himself in the same boat. If that's the case then he'll join VY and a host of other College QB's in a pretty high-rent district. Sure, its not curing cancer or recieving the Holy power of Divine healing, but its probably the most accurate placement for Tebow in the long run.

Unless he comes back for his Senior season and improves his passing that is....

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

We're #...huh?

It's a New Year's tradition that rivals black eyed peas and coleslaw in terms of longevity (and, some would say, heartburn). Who, exactly, is the #1 team in all the land?

Jerome Solomon says Utah...
Brian Johnson says Utah is the best team in the country, and the Utah quarterback gives a simple yet compelling argument for voting Utah No. 1.

“Check the résumé: We won every game,” Johnson said.

Yeah, but … but … but …

Had to get a hold of myself.

It’s awfully difficult to debate someone whose most basic point is something which isn’t debatable.

Richard Justice says the University of Texas at Austin (And tries {again} to anger half the State in the process)
Here's the bottom line. Texas lost one game by one play. USC can't make that claim. Only Florida can make a case for being as good as Texas, and if the world was right, Florida and Texas would be playing Thursday.

Bill Plashke lays out the case for USC.
USC cannot win the Bowl Championship Series national title, but the fifth-ranked Trojans can still win an AP national championship.

After a breathtaking Pasadena afternoon marked by streaks of cardinal flying over lumps of white, couldn't they?

Unless something more inspiring happens in the final week of the bowl season, shouldn't they?

What about he winner of the B(C)S championship game? Don't they deserve a mention?

The answer to all of these questions is "Yes". Each and every one of these B(C)S bowl game winners has a solid case to be the #1 team in the land, and all of them have glaring weaknesses that lead you to point to another team for #1. That's the unfortunate reality that the dollar driven B(C)S has yoked to College Football.

It really is that bad. Even defenders of the Bowl System can't believe all that they regurgitate:

"It's Tradition" - Bull. Tradition is Touchdown Jesus, Dotting the i, "Hail to the Victors", "The 12th Man", Boomer, The cadets and midshipmen walking in and the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. Let's be honest. There's no 'tradition' in the Chick-fil-a bowl, or the Capitol One Bowl, or the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl. No-one sits around and listens to Grandad tell stories about how the Four Horsemen played their greatest game at the Meineke Car Car Bowl. The one Bowl Game that had a little tradition, The Rose Bowl, sold it down the river for a chance to see UT-Austin play USC for the National Championship.

"It's a reward for the kids". - Honestly, does a team that finished 6-6 really deserve a reward? And if you contend they do, then how is an 8 team playoff possibly going to affect the Texas Bowl where Rice plays Western Michigan? Will fans stay away from an FAU/Central Michigan New Orleans bowl because a playoff is in place? Of course not. Keep the existing bowl system in place for the lower-tiers if you want to. The major bowls can become the first rounds of the playoffs. Heck, we can even go back to the "tradional" (see above) conference match-ups if you like.

"Academics make a playoff impossible" - Really? Then why did you add the 12th game in the schedule, Conference Championship Games and a B(C)S Championship Game? If a team plays a full schedule, the championship game and a bowl game that's 14 games. If you reduce the schedule to 11 games, keep the conference championship games and go to an 8 team playoff then the highest number of games a team can play is 15. That's one more week. You mean to tell me these players are so weak mentally that one extra week of practice (for two teams) is going to upset the delicate balance that are a schools' graduation rates?

The fact is you can have an 8-team playoff and keep the bowl system relatively intact. All you need to do is take the conference winners with automatic qualifier status and you have six of the eight. (ACC, PAC-10, Big Tenelven, Big XII, SEC, ACC). IF one of the non-automatic qualifying champions (C-USA, WAC etc.) win their conference and are either undefeated or ranked in the final Top Ten they're in. If there's still an open slot (or two) then you fill those with the team(s) that are ranked the highest. The first round would look something like this:

Rose Bowl: Big Tenelven Champ vs. Pac-10 Champ (tradition is satisfied)

Fiesta Bowl: Big XII vs. Wild Card 1

Orange Bowl: ACC vs. Big East

Sugar Bowl: SEC vs. Wild Card 2

Round Two would look something like this:

Fed Ex Air/Ground Semifinal Bowl: Fiesta Bowl Winner vs. Orange Bowl Winner.

UPS What can Brown do for You? Semifinal Bowl: Rose Bowl vs. Sugar Bowl Winner.

B(C)S Championship Game: The remaining two.

Yes, this year, under this scenario someone like Texas Tech or Alabama would be left out. To that I say: "Don't get blown out by the eventual conference champion on National Television."

No system is perfect, but I'd much rather have the 8th place team in the Country griping that they got left out than the 3rd place team in the Country. Besides, Tech could still go out and lose to Ole' Miss in the Cotton Bowl if they wanted to.

Sports Talk Radio...who knew?

If you would have told me in August that the first local sports story in 2009 would center around sports talk radio I would have accused you of spending too much time at Nick's Place drinking beer.

Shows what I know.

Amazingly, this run of press that Sports talk radio is enjoying is being driven by a listenership that totals less than 5% of Houston's population. (If that) Part of the problem is the dismal Houston sports scene. When you hang your sporting hat on the Texans, Astros and Rockets the cupboard is likely to be bare. Granted, there's a lot of grist for the mill currently as the Rockets are concerned, the Astros are perennial weak-sauce contenders (especially during the hot-stove period) and about all that needs to be said about the Texans has already been said.

It also doesn't help conversation that Houston is a very sports media-friendly town. The Chronicle has more apologists on their staff for the local professional franchises than Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and Gov. Blago combined. PR professionals have to take off the training wheels before writing sports for the Chron. Whether its John McClain dusting off his 'sage old insider' routine, Richard Justice assuring us all is well as the tanks roll into the city, Jerome Solomon once again telling fans that they're 'idiots' for being critical, or Megan Manfull, Jonathan Feigan et. all on the writers' pool dishing out glorified PR releases, its hard to find an area where Houston sports fans can get really worked up into a sufficient lather that listening to it on the radio is a big deal. (And no, we're not going to mention College Sports, Houston is not a College sports town)

Aside from all of this the biggest hurdle Houston has to clear in order to be considered a quality sports town is that the current teams have to build up some emotional equity with fans. This is hard to do because of two reasons:

1. Most Houstonians are transplants and come with pre-existing loyalties.
2. The level of History in Houston franchses is lacking in comparison to other, more sports-crazy Cities.

When it comes to the first point....Guilty as charged. Not only do I root for teams outside of Houston (Michigan, SF 49'er's, Detroit Red Wings, Texas Rangers) but the Houston team that I was invested in is no longer in town. (Oilers) The problem that I have rooting for the Texans is not that they are a sorry franchise, but that they're not....the Oilers.

"What, do you want to return to the days when Houston didn't have the NFL?" Texans fans will say in response to nay-sayers.

Yes, I do. The reason being is that I enjoyed receiving the best NFL matchups on TV every Sunday, instead of the "Texans vs. whoever" clunker that we are saddled with now. It's the same reason I don't go to many UH football games (despite having graduated from a campus in their system). Why go to Robertson to watch UH vs. Tulane when Georgia vs. Florida is the CBS/SEC Game of the Week?

I missed a lot of good football for about three years going to UH Cougar games. I watched a lot of bad football (and bad coaching) when Art Briles was at the helm. I like Kevin Sumlin as a coach, but I'm not willing to give up my afternoons at Stag's Head checking out the biggest College Football games.

Here's the rub. At the end of the day I'm a huge sports fan. I'll watch and talk about most sporting events, not just the major events. I have a passion for football (soccer) played at the highest (read: International) level, International Rugby, College American Football, NFL football, College Basketball (though not the NBA), Baseball, Golf, Hockey, Open-wheel racing, track and field, boxing, MMA, powerlifting, bodybuilding, extreme sports you name it. If its a competition I like to watch. Because of that I'm a dedicated sports-talk fan.

The problem is, most of it on Houston's airwaves isn't very good. The fourth largest City in America should have better.

That's why I'm rooting for the guys over at KGOW. They have their weak shows (Ken Hoffman) and areas where they can improve (get rid of Justice) but overall they're putting out the most entertaining sports talk around right now. It's not polished, its not 'corporate', it's just 'fun'. If they could persuade Charlie Palillo to come over it'd be the best station in Houston hands down, as it is I swap between Shawn & John and Charlie's show depending on the topic. As-is however KGOW is the best.

Which explains why they're leading the pack right now.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Texans fire strength coach, Head trainer

This is a mistake...

[John McClain,]
The Texans continued to make changes in their staff today when strength and rehabilitation coach Dan Riley and head trainer Kevin Bastin were told their contracts were not being renewed.

Riley and Bastin had been with the Texans since their first season of 2002. A search is on the way for their replacements.

Funny, I always considered this to be one of the Texans strong suits. The team rarely seemed to fatique in the fourth quarter, and their triage unit seemed fairly effective during games. By all accounts, the Texans Strength & Conditioning Staff wasn't involved in the Pittman debacle and were one of the few S&C programs in the league to stricly limit the type and amount of supplementation the players could ingest.

Cost cutting? Perhaps. A mistake? On the S&C side, certainly. Dan Riley is one of the best.