Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Don't lie to the NCAA

Or they will kick you out of the club...

Way out of the club.

Let's face it. There's no bigger lie in this world than the one told by the NCAA regarding "amateur athletes". Heck, even the Olympics (that bastion of honest amateur athletic competition *snicker*) has seen the writing on the wall and is admitting pros now. If, for no other reason, than to keep revenues up.

Here's the deal: For years, baseball was not considered a "revenue sport" in College because most of the top talent was leaving High School and heading directly to the Minor Leagues in order to get paid for playing sports at an earlier age. Only recently has the emergence of the College World Series as a television event started to turn that worm. Despite this, most (not all) top prospects still leave high school and proceed directly to the Rookie leagues. It hasn't been the same in College Basketball & Football, which have always profited by the lack of developmental pro leagues in their respective sports.

Because of this the NCAA has been able to apply all kinds of silly restrictions on so-called student-athletes forcing Universities to spend un-told amounts of money on compliance alone. The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer, and the NCAA laughs all the way to the bank.

What I'd like to see is the entire system turned on its head. There's now a D-League in the NBA, wouldn't it be nice to see them get players right out of High School? And how about this UFL in football? Let's drop the minimum draft age and turn it into a full-fledged NFL D-league and get all of the top talent in the so-called "revenue" sports out from under the revenue-averse-for-athletes NCAA. Let's bring College sports back to what they were before the advent of big-time pro athletics and let the kids that want to be professional athletes be professional athletes.

The NCAA is determined that we don't lie to it. That we're forthright and honest, well OK. I'm honest when I say I'm sick and tired of the NCAA putting schools like SMU on the death penalty while other schools get off with a slap on the writs. I'm tired of the NCAA treating college athletes like second-class citizens while coaches and schools make Millions. In a recent survey College Presidents stated that they felt College Coaches earn too much money, while it may be that much of this is driven by jealousy over home size, there's some truth to it as well. College coaches do make too much, considering they're working with what basically amounts to free labor.

Let's tell the truth to the NCAA and set up professional developmental teams in Football and Basketball in all States. We want our athletics with a little less hypocrisy if you please, and a healthy side of "stop making mountains out of molehills."

The Big XII: Hell if I can figure it out...

Last week I was encouraging you to hug an Aggie. They needed it after being thrashed by K-State 59-0 and looking forward to a Texas Tech team that beat K-State 66-14. By all accounts Tech should have handed aTm their hats.

As you know by now that didn't happen. Just another crazy result in the now crazy Big XII, a land where Nebraska beats Mizzou one week and then loses a sloppy game to Iowa State. (Iowa State? What?)

Then you have Oklahoma, which looked terrible against BYU, like world-beaters against Tulsa, not-so-great against a only mediocre Miami team, OK against Texas, and then back to world-beaters against a Kansas team that was humming along until falling to that powerhouse Colorado who then got handled easily by that powerhouse Kansas State, which is now in 1st place in the Big XII North.

This we know:

UT-Austin is good, but not that good. Certainly not good enough that a one or two loss season is beyond the pale.

Everyone else is down. Maybe even way down. When the team in 1st place in the North division has a loss to Louisiana Lafayette on their record things are not going well. Nothing against the Ragin Cajun's mind you, they're a decent team, but there's no way a middle of the pack Sun Belt team should ever stand toe to toe with a division-leader in one of the power conferences....

...unless that conference is the Big XII. Or should be say...the Former Southwest Conference schools and what's left of the Big 8 football tradition. (excepting OU and OSU)

What's going to happen next week? You tell me.

Monday, October 26, 2009


So, the Texans beat the 49'ers 24-21. I can't give grades on this game due to the fact that I spent most of it in the waiting room of the local clinic to see the PA so I could get a prescription for my bronchitis.

Needless to say, I'm pretty upset that the 49'ers couldn't beat an average team like the Texans, but I'm happy for Texans fans because they COULD beat an average team like the 49'ers.

I don't think either team has the playoffs in their future, but I've been wrong before.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sam Houston vs. Stephen F. Austin - Reliant Stadium

This sounds like a good idea...

[Joseph Duarte, ChronBlog]
Sam Houston State and Stephen F. Austin have agreed to a four-year agreement to play their annual “Battle of the Piney Woods” football series at Reliant Stadium through 2013, organizers and school officials announced Tuesday.
Great idea. Two small area schools, who have a pretty fierce rivalry that flies under the radar locally, getting a chance to play ball in the Regional NFL stadium. This is a theory that works well in other areas, and I don't see any reason it can't work in Houston.

The wife is a SHSU grad so I'm sure we'll be heading down to many of these games. Sam Houston home games are a good time, albeit on a much smaller scale.

On another note: Are those REALLY UH & Rice fans I see in the comments taking shots at the two schools for attendance???

It wasn't too many years prior UH fan that SHSU was coming close to outdrawing you. They're still close to outdrawing Rice. (And, this year, both teams are playing better football) Those who live in glass houses etc. etc.

Besides, D-1 schools picking on D-1AA schools is weak sauce. Sort of like Kansas State picking on poor aTm.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Flatlining the Cardiac Cats

So this is what happens when the Texans put together a full-game effort?

It's euphoria day in Houston as ChronBlog pundits tell us that the Texans have turned a corner, that Kubiak is a genius and that the defense is a group of world-beaters who've just been misunderstood until now.

Uh..OK. I'm not buying it, but OK.

The facts are that the Texans are still on pace to finish around .500, and that they're behind schedule with the hard part of their 2009 season still to play. The defense played better, but hey, it's the Bengals....

On to grades...

Quarterback A-
Easily Matt Schaub's best game of the year. He still gets careless under heavy pressure (he had one interception, and one that should have been a pick/six which was dropped) but he's got a decent arm and is usually fairly accurate. Still checks down too quickly for my taste, but a good game this week.

Running Backs C+
Steve Slaton finally got going, in the passing game. The running game is so bad that Kubiak finally gave up on it and implemented a short passing game to take its place.

Wide Receivers A
I've said it before and I'll say it again: It's too bad that Andre Johnson is stuck playing for the Texans. If he were on a winning team there would be no debate as to who is the best receiver in the NFL. Owen Daniels had a good game, as did Kevin Walter and Jacoby Jones. All around good effort from this unit.

Offensive Line C-
Still not able to open up anything in the run game, and giving them a high grade ignores the fact that Schaub was under pressure almost all game. That being said, this unit played about as well as they are capable of playing.

Defensive Line B+
Consistent pass pressure is still a concern, but they did a good job in run defense taking up blockers and allowing the LB's to stuff Benson time and again. That doesn't show up on the stat sheet, but it shouldn't be overlooked. Conner Barwin had his best game to date.

Linebackers A+
Easily the best unit on the field when Texans are on defense. Brian Cushing should get consideration for Defensive Rookie of the Year if he can stay healthy, and DaMeco Ryans is making a strong case for a Pro Bowl berth. Add to that Cushing's game-clinching INT and you have the makings of a good grade.

Defensive Backfield C+
Coverage is still spotty. As a matter of fact, the CB's couldn't cover if you handed them a blanket. What made up for it was hustle. Running to the receiver after the fact and forcing turnovers. Against the Bengals that paid off, against a better WR corps that could come back to bite them.

Coaching A
Give Kubiak his due: He finally made the decisions he needed to make in order to put the players in a position to win. For that alone he deserves an A. For finally winning a challenge? Well....

Full disclosure: Next week I'll be rooting against the Texans as the 49'ers come calling. I grew up a 49'ers fan and remain one today.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Hug an Aggie

God knows they're going to need it....

There's a lot that could be blamed for this game, Obama speaking in College Station, still-sub-par talent levels from the Franchione era, a campus environment not conducive to attracting modern recruits, but all of those are just band-aids on the cancer that has become an overly insular aTm football program.

By "insular" I mean all of the important decisions are being made by a handful of influential individuals with nary an opposing viewpoint allowed to creep in. Sherman was hired, in large part, because he was "part of the family" an Aggie with deep roots, given the seal of approval by Aggies with deep roots. Even Franchione, hired in part because he was outside of the program, still was considered to be a kindred spirit amongst the check scratchers and the moneyed Aggie elite.

There are also those who feel that the Aggies are suffering from firingagoodcoachisitis, for their un-ceremonial dumping of RC Slocum despite his 123-47-2 lifetime record as an Aggie.

Whatever the reason, last night's result ventured into 1-AA territory, as a middling Kansas State team housed an outmatched, out-talented, unfocused and startlingly slow Aggie team.

If you are close to an Aggie today you might want to give them a hug. Forget competing for a Big-12 championship, these Aggies are suddenly going to have to hustle to make it to the Houston Bowl. (or any bowl for that matter)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Bemidji Update

The Fighting Beavers of Bemidji State University beat No. 14 Wayne State 21-10 last Saturday to improve to 4-2 in the NSIC conference and 5-2 for the season.

Next up, the Beavers take on the Golden Eagles of Minnesota - Crookston continuing their quest for an NCAA DII playoff berth.

I am not messing with Notre Dame's God....

If you listen to Notre Dame fans, they're God's favorite football team. If that's the case then Notre Dame's God has had enough of them getting taken to the woodshed by USC.

Need proof?

Trojans are dropping like flies. First there was Stafon Johnson's horrible weightlifting injury, and now we have an injury to C.J. Gable.

It's almost as if Notre Dame's God has money on the Irish and is sick and tired of losing....

Two things:

1. I am NOT messing with Notre Dame's God. You probably shouldn't either. The last thing I need is for a Notre Dame assistant coach on a recruiting trip to slam into me on I-10.

2. If Notre Dame should lose (and I believe they will) you might want to give Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weiss as wide berth for a few weeks. If Notre Dame's Almighty is too heavily invested in this game he could drop a piano on the guy.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Come down off the bridge....

...Texans fans, Richard Justice is here to tell you that everything is all right. As a matter of fact, that 2-3 grouping of persistent mediocrity and inconsistency is just on the cusp of greatness. I mean real, honest to God greatness. The kind of stuff of which legends are made. (or, at least, sappy NFL films with the good voice-over guy)

In a way, you have to feel for Houston's media. After 3 years of telling us all would be well during Kubiak's reign they've got nothing else to fall back on but the 'we're close' tab. More sober pundits are able to keep all of this in the proper perspective.

As for me? Well, I hardly make a claim to constant sobriety, but I did say 8-8 or 9-7 was the ceiling for this team....

On to grades.

Quarterback: B-
It's easy to be hard on Schaub, but the fact is he played a decent game, and was outstanding in the second half. He'll never be a "top-flight" QB, but he could be a playoff QB with the right pieces around him.

Running Backs D-
There's just not much to say about this unit right now that's any good.

Wide Receivers A-
It's too bad that Andre Johnson is stuck on such a sorry team. He's an All-Pro talent with an outstanding work ethic.

Offensive Line C-
Actually, not a bad game from this unit, except in the running game. The Center position is desperately in need of an upgrade. Pass protection was fair.

Defensive Line D+
Too much time for Kurt Warner to sit back and survey the field. The lack of a consistent pass rush is killing this defense.

Linebackers B-
Consistent, but nothing spectacular.

Defensive backs D-
Let's be honest with ourselves: No one one this unit would start for almost any other NFL team. There's no talent, no coverage ability and not much to talk positively about.

Coaching C-
Terrible game plan, decent halftime adjustments. Whatever you say about the coaching staff you have to admit they did a good job in the locker room at halftime.

Now for the bad news: The next two games against Cincinnati (4-1) and San Francisco (3-2) were both considered to be easy "W" games in the pre-season when pundits were making wild-eyed predictions of 10-6, 11-5 and playoff contention. It's probable that this inconsistent team that doesn't know how to win will be 2-5 heading into the bye week....and the toughest part of their schedule.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Anything you can do...

I can do too! (notice I didn't say better).

Monday, the Houston Press ran a story on six-man football being played in the Houston area. Having once played six-man myself, during Jr. High, at a private school in Midland, TX. I found it to be one of the more interesting write-ups to date in Paul Knight's "Friday Night Lights" series. These have proven to be interesting looks at the local High School football scene, unfortunately Knight has shown an inability to mask his disdain for almost anyone outside the Loop, which has detracted from the writing. That said, they're a damn-sight better than the "technology/social media" crap posts that are dutifully posted and then summarily ignored by the readers (judging by the comments).

Not to be outdone, the ever-diligent ChronBlog sports editors have decided they need a six-man story of their own. As was the case with Knight's story, its a good read. I have to admit that this surprised me because, to date, I've not been too impressed with the copy produced by Jenny Dial. Granted, it's been better than say...a blog post by Richard Justice but nothing special.

Regardless of all that, it's nice to see six-man get a little press time. Typically these are small schools with small budgets who's players don't have a prayer of moving on to the next level. (except, in some odd case, as a walk-on) When viewed from that perspective it could be the most entertaining local HS football of all.

Monday, October 05, 2009

At least they didn't spike themselves

That's the new upside for the Raiders, the new benchmark for NFL futility now that the Lions are off the schneid. Not surprisingly, ChronBlog cheerleaders are out in full force. Of course, they're wrong, their analysis is sloppy and superficial but....hey....It's ChronBlog (Which, oddly enough, has become the new benchmark for Media futility, especially in their sports coverage*)

Solomon's column (usually one of the more level-headed sports columns in Chron-Blog, if not always accurate) really contained the most errors, from Dunta Robinson being a player to the Texans being in a battle with Indy for first place...huh? About the only thing I agree with him on is that Matt Schaub is better than Tony Romo. However, winning that battle is like being told you've won the congeniality award at the Beauty pageant....great.

As has become the norm, it's time for grades. I'm sure mine will be a little bit different than McClain's.

Quarterback: B- - For one half, Schaub looked pretty good, then the second half came and the game turned into a sleep aid. Against a defense as terrible as the one the Raiders are fielding there's really no excuse.

Running Backs: D - Steve Slaton can't find a hole and the best part of the Texans running game was Ryan Moats. That tells you pretty much all you need to know.

Wide Receivers: C+ - No one could get open in the second half, Daniels dropped a ton of passes and no one seems to have any idea how to get Andre Johnson the ball on a consistent basis. In the first half they were great.

Offensive Line: D+ - Did a better job against the pass rush (which isn't saying much) but still got pushed around in the run game like they were playing patty cake with a defense that wanted to run them over. It's a recurring theme, but the second half offense was abysmal.

Defensive Line: B+ - For a team with one total sack coming into the game the appearance of Smith and Amobi was welcome news. Granted, they turned it up against the worst team in the league, but still.

Linebackers: A - The LB's were the Texans best, most consistent unit of the afternoon. Play after big play was made by Ryans, Cushing and Diles. Cushing's best game as a Texans by far.

Defensive Backs: F - I know, I know, you think I'm being too hard on them right? Well, go back and take a look at the game again, and watch all of the times a wide open Raider receiver either dropped the ball or was overthrown. Too many. Yes, they make some plays, forced fumbles etc. but often those are made after a completion that shouldn't have been made in the first place were the cornerbacks and safeties in good cover position. The reason the run defense was better was due to the LB's and not to this group.

Coaching: A- - I thought the coaches did a good job this week. It was an easy game to come out flat for. The defensive scheme was smart, gearing to stop the run, as was the offensive game plan, relying on the short pass in lieu of a running game. I'm never going to be a big Kubiak fan as far as game management and talent evaluation goes, but they did a good job this week.

Texans fans are giddy after beating a glorified Top 5 College team 29-6. Talk of playoffs and 'respect' are in the air. Despite their recent struggles, I expect the Arizona Cardinals to put an end to all of that silliness next week. He may be getting old, but Kurt Warner is a damn sight better than JaMarcus Russell, and Fitzgerald, Bouldin & Co. aren't going to make the drops that Murphy and Heyward-Bey were making on a consistent basis.

As you can tell by the grades, there are still gaping holes in the Texans that aren't going to be addressed until the talent is upgraded significantly.

*Who knew that John P. Lopez leaving would be considered a downgrade in quality?

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Back off the ledge Cougar fans

So, your team got housed by UTEP and ChronBlog's resident UT flack is piling it on (while somehow, curiously, morphing this into a win for UT). Your B(C)S buster hopes got buried under and avalanche of Miner offense and you still can't find 3 out of 4 lost helmets.

It's going to be OK.

Let's look at the facts:

1. This years Cougars are a young lot, with several underclassmen starting on defense. This situation was made worse by last week's injury of your defensive leader.

2. Conference games on the road are hard to win. I don't care which conference you're talking about.

3. UH has a target on their backs. Get used to this. Fair or not you're the targeted team in C-USA now.

The one concern that I had was that I heard too much talk of lost helmets and no respect from the pollsters, and very little talk about UTEP. Not only from the media, but from your coaching staff as well. When you overlook a team like UTEP, with a prolific offense and a good coach, you end up losing by 17 in the National spotlight.

The good news is the season's goals are still in reach. I refer, of course, to the goals that were there before the season began. Conference USA is still out there for the taking, as is a berth in the Liberty bowl against an SEC team. The B(C)S dream was all fool's gold, the odds are stacked against too many teams, especially with Boise State an almost certain lock to get the nod. (never mind that TCU is probably the better team)

So, come down off the ledge will 'ya?

Now is not the time to worry about one loss on a 12-game schedule. Don't worry about what the Longhorns are saying, they never make sense anyway.

And hey, at least you're not Baylor.

UPDATE: Houston falls out of the Top 25 - Which illustrates just how ridiculous the polls really are this year. College Football is the best football in the land, but the ranking systems are fatally flawed.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Nike: Vick Who?

When ESPN breaks a story, you're better off waiting for confirmation before running with it as gospel. Perhaps no sports media outlet has mastered the art of running unconfirmed innuendo or aside as news, and gotten away with it a majority of the time. When the information is wrong, however, no one gets called to the carpet.

Such is the case with the Michael Vick/Nike "endorsement" story, first broken by ESPN "news services".
Michael Vick is back with Nike two years after the company severed ties over the quarterback's involvement in a dogfighting ring.

"Mike has a long-standing, great relationship with Nike, and he looks forward to continuing that relationship," his agent, Joel Segal, said Wednesday.

Today however, Nike flags Vick's agent for a false start:
"Nike does not have a contractual relationship with Michael Vick. We have agreed to supply product to Michael Vick as we do a number of athletes who are not under contract with Nike," the company said in a statement.
Which seems more likely to me, considering that Vick has yet to make any impact in the league, or show any sign that he's going to become the impact starting quarterback he once had the potential to be.

Fair or not, Vick is toxic right now to a company from a PR standpoint. Yes, he's back in the league and deserves to make a living, but endorsement deals are viewed by the public as a different deal altogether. If Nike jumps right back onto the Vick bandwagon then the PR hit could be immense. The term: "soulless corporation" comes to mind. NO ONE on Madison Ave. wants to have to market around that tag.

I don't care how talented Vick is.

As for ESPN? I love their actual sports coverage, as I feel they always do a good job producing the actual events. When it comes to pure analysis however there are many other outlets who are doing it better, and with less self-promotion. Where the NFL is concerned there's also better coverage to be found that doesn't involve the analysts performing on-air oral sex to Brett Favre everytime the latter throws a pass that's not intercepted.