Thursday, December 30, 2010

Why Leach is a good idea for Maryland.

(But why they're going to struggle for a bit after hiring him)

Apparently, the Mike Leach/Maryland courtship is progressing well. This is good news if you're a Terp fan. Because Maryland and Texas Tech have a lot in common.

1. Prior to Leach, both teams played somewhere around .500 ball. Ralph Freigan was a successful (and popular) coach, as was Spike Dykes.

2. Both teams, recently (prior to Leach) found themselves in conferences where they have trouble competing against the big dogs. For Tech it was aTm, OU and UT-Austin, for Maryland it's VaTech, Miami and Fl State.

3. Both teams can get second tear athletes, but have difficulty consistently getting top tier athletes. Leach has shown the ability to excel with the 2nd tier, and he can coach them up (on offense) to the 1st tier.

4. The ACC can be had right now. As could the Big XII as they weakened over time.

All that said, expect Maryland to suffer for a couple of years. Why?

The curse of firing a coach on the heels of an 8-win season.

Don't worry though Terps fans. Fear the turtle will be very real in about three years. It will just be lean for the next two.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Texans Postmortem

After today's game (at the end of the 3rd Quarter, the Texans are down 31-10 to the troubled Tennessee Titans*) there won't even be a mathematical hope for Texans players to hand their post-game interview hats on. A season that started with high-hopes (by some) and expectations of making the play-offs (by some) will have figuratively ended with a resounding thud at the home of the team that used to hold a place in Houston's heart.**

The sad thing is, what will follow will be platitudes and sound-bytes from a clueless coach, players who don't know how to win and an owner who only pays lip-service to winning but seems content just keep running up season ticket sales while sticking with mediocrity (or worse) on the field. "It's better than when we had no team!" Texans supporters will say, a feeling to which I respond "No, it's really not."

At least when there wasn't an NFL team in Houston television options included the best league match-ups of the day***. Today, for example, Houston fans could have watched the Saints vs. Ravens, or Jacksonville vs. Indy. Both games are matches where each team has very real playoff hopes. Instead, in Houston, we're stuck with watching a team come out flat in the first half with a defense that's incapable of stopping a hard-charging Jr. High marching band. It's bad football, Kubiak football, Denver Broncos football.

It should be obvious to Texans fans that the team has selected the incorrect model. After the retirement of John Elway (one of the greatest quarterbacks ever to play the game) Shanahan's NFL recipe has been mediocre, at best. Who does that remind you of?

That's right, Gary Kubiak.

Of course, there's little hope that McNair is going to blow this mess up and start over next year. As he said in last week's interview, he feels the team is "on the right path" and "on the cusp" of being a playoff contender. What this means is that Houston football fans have another average team to look forward to next year (when, and if, the year finally starts) with no significant changes to a roster that only has two or three NFL quality players on the 2-deep. In a football mad city like Houston (In a football mad state like Texas) that shouldn't fly.

As it stands now I'm already picking the 2011 Texans to finish somewhere around 8-8. I don't see Kubiak getting let go so I don't see much improvement. The schedule will depend on whether I pick them to go 6-10 or 8-8 but it won't be any higher. This is the most irrelevant team in the NFL right now, unless the ownership catches a clue this won't change any time soon.

*If the Texans were really serious about winning, Kubiak and staff would be summarily dismissed after this stinker of a performance. Look at Dallas, they fell out of the playoff race, got humiliated on TV and their coach was gone. Say what you want about Jerry Jones at least the guy tries to win.

**In many cases, they still do. The biggest reason I'm not a Texans fan is because they're not the Oilers.

***Well, OK, and the Dallas Cowboys.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Goodbye Sumlin. (UPDATED)

There's nothing official yet but given the number of college football coaching vacancies (or soon to be vacancies) there's little chance Kevin Sumlin will be the head ball coach for Houston next year.

Last year I suggested that the University get their succession plans in order, keep a coach in the system in the manner of Boise St. after Dan Hawkins or TCU after Francione. It doesn't appear that they did this.

The problem now is that it appears that Holgerson is going to get a much better offer than UH can provide. Thus endeth the run?

Boy was I wrong.

When Florida hired former Texas D-coordinator Will Muschamp it became pretty clear that the coaching dominoes were not going to fall as I initially thought. Now Miami has selected Al Golden, and it appears that Gus Malzahn is heading to Vandy and I don't see either Temple or the O-coordinator position at Auburn being of interest to Sumlin so.......

He's going to get a chance to fix this mess it appears.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Houston Texans: We know this

On the heels of their 20-0 shellacking of the Titan's B team.

The Texans can beat the bad teams, but lose to the good teams. Pretty much the epitome of average....

Andre Johnson vs. Courtland Finnegan would end via KO in the first round, Johnson over Finnegan.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Think about this.....

LSU is closer to TCU than TCU is to Oregon in the latest round of B(C)S standings.

My prediction: If LSU wins out they'll jump over both an undefeated TCU and Boise St. to play an undefeated Oregon in the Championship Game.

7-9 could be optimistic.

At the beginning of the Football season my official pick for the Texans was 8-8. This was after several weeks of hovering around 7-9.

After today's debacle 8-8 is unlikely, and 7-9 appears to be iffy as well....

Let's look at the remaining schedule:

Week 11: @ NY Jets - L. The Jets have one of the best teams in the NFL, the Texans are mediocre. You do the math. 4-6

Week 12: Tennessee Titans - L. The Titans could have the best team in the division this year. Vince Young will start, he'll beat the team in the 4th QTR. And I haven't even mentioned Randy Moss yet, who could have 300 yards receiving against this pathetic D backfield. 4-7

Week 13: @Philadelphia Eagles - L. Mike Vick is playing lights out right now, and that defense is pretty good. Add to that a short week and a Texans team coming off what is always a hard-hitting division game and you have six losses in a row. 4-8

Week 14: Baltimore Ravens - L. Yes, the Texans have a long week to prepare, but the Ravens will be in desperation mode while the Texans will have already passed the breaking point. Amazingly, the media will still be saying there's a chance. 4-9

Week 15: @ Tennessee Titans - L. See above. 4-10

Week 16: @ Denver Broncos - W. Since nothing will be on the line I fully expect many Texans (Amobi Okoye, Mario Williams, Jacoby Jones) to play their best games of the season. As such, with nothing to play for they'll win. As usual. 5-10

Week 17: Jacksonville Jaguars - W. I have no reason for calling this a win other than that (as we saw today) the two teams are pretty even, and I think the Texans should beat them at home. 6-10

That's right: 6-10. That's the most probable finish for this team right now. Yes they could do better, but the could do worse as well. Most pundits, coming into this game, saw the two against the Jaguars as wins and the two against the Titans to be a home/home split. Of course, those picks were made with the assumption the Texans are on par with the Colts and Titans. We know now this isn't true, they're on par with the Jaguars, at the bottom of the Division.

One final thought: The "most unlucky team in the world" meme being pushed by Richard Justice, Jerome Solomon and John McClain of ChronBlog is just bad analysis. If you don't believe me, consider this paragraph from McClain's news piece on the loss:
Counting the Hail Mary, the Jaguars bombarded the NFL’s worst defense for 491 yards, including 342 passing by Garrard. Jones-Drew generated 100 of the 165 yards rushing.
The Texans defense is historically bad, the offense plays in fits and starts, often going off-script on play-calling (supposedly Kubiak's specialty) their special teams are dodgy at best, sub-standard if you're being honest, and they're poorly coached to boot. The team has spent Millions of dollars on defensive linemen and they have one of the worst pass rushes in the NFL. They've drafted defensive backs, and they have one of the worst passing defenses in history. It's not luck, it's suck.

The Texans suck. It really is that simple.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Dear Boise St.

Enjoy the number one B(C)S ranking you'll get tomorrow, make sure you keep it warm for either Oregon or Oklahoma before they pass you and your sub-par schedule.


PAC-X (+II), Big XII (-II)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Bad Timing....

In Last week's game between The University of Central Florida Golden Knights and the University of Alabama-Birmingham Blazers there was one key ingredient missing....


Important note: Make sure one of the letters goes on a beer run or bathroom break during a pause in the action...lest your team score.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Wednesday Thought.....

Tackling is a lost art in College Football.

That is all.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Week 4 College Football Pick 'Em

Next week is the week when I think the first College Football Polls should be released. Almost all teams have played four games, some have played conference match ups and almost everyone has played someone that matters (Yes, I'm looking at you Cornhuskers).

The season is well and truly under way. To mark that milestone I'm bringing back the totally worthless, you get what you paid for, guaranteed to not win you a single, damn thing 3CB College Football picks.

Here we go:

Nebraska v. Kansas State. - Since Nebraska has decided to start the season playing Our Lady of the perpetually lame and Washington....Yup, Washington is their marquee game, we really don't know much about the team from Lincoln. K-State has a win over what's looking to be a pretty good UCLA team and then they've looked pretty bad overall. Daniel Thomas is the real deal, but I'm guessing the renewed blackshirts will shut him down and Nebraska will get a good conference win on the road.
NEB 24 KSU 10

Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma State - The thought here is that aTm, if they're ever going to make a run, will have to start it with this game. The problem is Okie St. seems to be a little bit better than the pundits (including me) thought this year. Dana Holgerson always gets the most out of the offense, and the defense (although they haven't played anyone of note yet) seems to be a little stiffer than last year's version. I'm not a believer in the resurgence of aTm, but I'm not a believer in T. Boone Pickens U either.
aTm 37 OSU 35

Red River Shoot Out - Normally this would be the big game of the week, but Texas' humiliation last week against UCLA and Oklahoma's lackluster performances against everyone not from Tallahassee has taken the shine off of one of the best rivalries in the country. (At least this year) Nevertheless, I'm expecting a hard-hitting, low-scoring game in which turnovers and a huge special teams play make the difference. I also expect DeMarco Murray to run wild.
OU 17 UT 3

Wisconsin vs. Michigan State - The top 25 match up that no-one is talking about this week. Partially because of the other great games on the schedule but mostly because of Spartan Coach Mark Dantonio's health. Sparty is faster, Wisky is bigger. Sparty has the emotion and home-field advantage, which is a LOT in College Football. Not enough though.
Wisc 24 Mich St 17

Southern Methodist University vs. Rice - For the local crowd....Under June Jones SMU is much improved, running the Run n' shoot offense well but.....Oh that terrible defense. Much like Houston the Ponies can't stop a stiff Jr. High marching band. Rice could make some hay with their running game against that defense, but I'm guessing they won't.
SMU 42 Rice 17

Penn State vs. Iowa - Another Top 25 match up that's flying under the radar. In this case it's probably because the two teams that are playing are just not all that good. The fighting Paternos have a Freshman QB and just aren't all that interesting when they don't play in Happy Valley, and Iowa's most defining characteristic is their pink visitor's locker rooms. Snorrrre..........
Penn St. 20 Iowa 17

Stanford Vs. Oregon - Mea Culpa time....When the season started I said Oregon, Texas, Florida and Pitt were the four most overrated teams in the Country. Hey, three out of four ain't all that bad right? Stanford has a great QB in Andrew Luck, a good coach, a suspect defense and a silly mascot. Oregon has one of the most explosive offenses in College Football, always entertaining uniforms, a fast, dangerous defense and a mascot that will tea-bag your ass if you don't agree. Advantage Oregon.
Stan 24 Ore 52

Florida Vs. Alabama - Leave it to the SEC to suck up all the oxygen for the rest of the College Football World but c'est la vie. Until they're beaten Alabama is the #1 team in the Country and I don't think Florida's re-building offense can score enough points to beat them here. Arkansas exposed 'Bama's defense, but the Gator's passing game is suck. The Tide's style of play might make this seem closer than it really is.
Fla 10 Bama 31

And you thought overtrained athlete's syndrome was a bad excuse....

.......try "it was the steak" defense on for size....

(Contador blames bad meat for positive doping test, Ciaran Giles and John Leicester, AP via ChronBlog Sports)
Three-time Tour de France champion Alberto Contador blamed contaminated steak for his positive doping test, vowing Thursday to clear his name so that cycling's latest drug scandal doesn't "destroy everything that I have done."

The Spanish rider was provisionally suspended after a World Anti-Doping Agency lab in Germany found a "very small concentration" of the banned substance clenbuterol in his urine sample on July 21 at the Tour, according the International Cycling Union, the sport's governing body.

Amazingly, unlike overtrained athlete's syndrome, there is some scientific evidence that this type of drug contamination is possible.

However, the hurdle that Contador must still climb is why none of his teammates tested positive for the same substance. Especially Alexsander Vinikorov, who was coming back from a drug ban and is, behind Lance Armstrong, one of the most tested riders in the peleton.

When evaluating drug cheat accusations the simplest explenation is often the most likely.....they took the drug. That's why so many suspensions are upheld upon appeal.

Even Floyd Landis, who had some solid science behind him explaining his reults, turned out to be a drug cheat. Will Contador? Time will tell, but don't be surprised if his Tour win is vacated in the near future.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Big XII (-II) Running backs

If last year was the year of the quarterback....

Then this year should be the year of the running back.

Daniel Thomas, Kansas State University 552 yds rushing through three games.

Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State University 473 yards through three games.

DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma 369 yds rushing and 6 td's through three games.

Christine Michael, aTm 331 yds rushing through three games.

With a group of young quarterbacks expect these stats to continue.

Friday, September 24, 2010


Your College football most overrated list......

TCU - #4 in the Nation? (AP Top 25 edition) With that schedule? The most overrated team in the land.

Texas - #4 in the Nation? (USA SID coaches' poll edition) With that offense?

Florida - Not a top ten team. A shadow of their former self until they get the offense sorted.

Wisconsin - Play somebody....anybody that's relevant. Please.

LSU - #15(AP) or #12(USA Today) in the Nation? With that offense?

Michigan - With that defense they won't finish the season in the top 25.

Pittsburgh - How in the world is this sorry team still among "others receiving votes?"

Houston - Ditto.

James Madison - Great win against a terrible Ole Miss team. Would lose to every other team in the top 25. (Or the SEC for that matter) Whichever 8 idiots voted for them should lose their AP vote for life.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Two things UH must change...

It was uglier than the score suggested. Last night's 31-13 humbling by UCLA wasn't just a loss that will knock Houston out of the Top 25, it was an egg-laying on a National stage that will set an image of the Cougars in the minds of the national media that's going to linger for a long time.

It wasn't supposed to be this way. This was the year that the Cougars were supposed to ARRIVE, the year that they joined TCU and Boise St. as the "B(C)S busters" fans feel they should be. Unfortunately they're missing two key ingredients, things that must change if they want to have long-standing success going forward.

Defense - It was bad enough that the Bruins running back was running over Cougar defensive linemen like they were unanchored tackling dummies, then you had to suffer the indignity of the quarterback carrying a Cougar cornerback five yards into the end-zone for a score.

The Cougars need to find, and develop, a defensive identity in the worst way. The "hot knife through butter" strategy they're currently using isn't going to cut it when real teams are on the schedule. UCLA was a bad Pac-10 team, and they physically dominated the Baby Cougar defense. Mad Dogs? Try whipped puppies. The Cougar defense was too slow, too weak, and in too poor of position on several plays to have any credibility. How many times did UCLA QB Prince fake the hand-off and run around an abandoned edge for a big gain? Too many. The line can't stop the run, the linebackers are out of position and the secondary couldn't cover if you gave them a blanket.

What people often forget is that TCU and Boise St. both have violent defenses that play with discipline, speed and reckless abandon. UH has none of that. That needs to change.

Referendum - Yesterday's loss didn't mean that UH football is dead in the water, it didn't mean that the Cougars are not a good team, and it wasn't a referendum on the future of UH football. These are all things that UT-Austin and aTm fans are clogging up the comments of newspapers and message boards all over Houston. Cougar fans need to learn to ignore this. Last night's game was only a referendum on the program if Robertson Stadium is half-full next Saturday. If Cougar fans give up, if the nay-sayers convince people to quit on the team, if the "fire Kevin Sumlin" idiots are allowed to hold sway? Then yes, UH football is in trouble. If one loss is enough to shut-down Cougar Nation then perhaps a move to D1-AA should be examined.

A loss is a loss it sucks, but it doesn't have to mean that the program is lost for good. The best way to ensure the continued success of Cougar football is to fill Robertson Stadium on Saturday, and then ignore the screams of fans from other schools. While I'm not a Cougar fan, I do pull for them. Mostly because I attended a school in their system and they're the 'home town' school The Cougars have a chance to do some good things this year still. Maybe not as much as they wanted too, but some good things. Fan support will be key.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Aaaaand....They're Off!

So now it appears there will be racing at Sam Houston Race Park this year. Albeit with a reduced schedule.

I still hold by the position that none of this is going to matter one iota unless they bring in a competent management team that understands how to structure wagers in the modern racing environment. Yes, SHRP has issues with location, being overbuilt and the general malaise felt toward the racing industry by just about everyone.

But that overshadows the fact that there ARE tracks in America that are making a good go of it, and they're doing it through creative marketing and wagering. New wagering options like multi-track Pick 4's, guaranteed exotics with carry-overs and promotions designed around certain bets are working, and they're working well.

Horse track owners need to get back to the basics of making a night at the races fun. And even MORE fun if you throw some money down on a race. I lost count of the people I saw at the track for a concert etc. that weren't laying down a single bet on a single race. That's a recipe for disaster.

More betting = bigger payouts = more betting = bigger purses for races = better quality of horses = bigger crowds etc....

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Good win by the Texans....

...good running game, good defense and they FINALLY closed out a win.

But no, Mr. Zierlein....I'm still not a "fan" of the Texans.

I pull for the Texans b/c they're from Houston and I have a lot of friends that are Texans fans, but I root for the 49'ers. Always will, no matter how bad they are.

Assuming the entire town to be front runners is a little presumptuous. Maybe you should go back to cracking on Barry Warner and SportsRadio 610?

Also: Arrian Foster was a beast today, an absolute beast.

The (totally meaningless) Texans Prediction

Taking a look at this schedule and after watching pre-season....

My prediction for the 2010 Houston Texans is 8-8.

This includes a win against the Colts in Week One.

The defensive backfield is just too questionable as is the defensive line.

Maybe next year.

Monday, September 06, 2010

College Football Week One:

What we still don't know.....

1. Who's the best team in the land?

- Alabama and Ohio State rolled, but against inferior competition.

- Florida, Texas and Oklahoma all struggled mightily against teams they should have hung half-a-hundred on by halftime.

- TCU (and their weak-assed schedule) hung in there, but I don't see them vaulting over the teams in front of them, if two or more go undefeated.

- Yes, New Mexico is terrible, but Oregon looked every bit the Pac-10 champion to be.

- We'll find out a little bit about Boise St. tonight.

2. How good is Michigan?

- Local coverage is glowing (poorly written, but glowing). However, eventually the Wolverines are going to face a team that can catch the ball down the field. When they do that defense is going to be exposed. Next week is a good test against Notre Dame.

3. How bad are these teams?

- Ole Miss and Kansas both lost to D-1AA schools. Leading pundits across the land to declare them dead for the season. No only is this short-sighted, but it reveals an ignorance about the quality of football being played in College Football's 2nd Division.

- Pitt...Is there a worse coach in a D-1 automatic qualifying conference than Dave Wannstadt?

Game capsules:

ECU 51 Tulsa 49 - This year's CUSA could remind fans of the 80's Wacky WAC Conference where offense was king and defense didn't matter. If you watch one replay this week make sure it's the last minute Hail Mary from this game.

UH 68 Tx State 28 - Houston could be pretty good this year, but this week's game is not an indicator. Next week will be far more telling.

Baylor 34 Sam Houston St 3 - Well....Griffin looked healthy, and that's about all we saw out of Baylor in this game.

Kansas St. 31 UCLA 22 - My feeling is that K-State is going to be over-matched this year against Nebraska, but Daniel Thomas is probably the best back in the Conference.

Ok State 65 Wa St 17 - The Ok State Baylor game for the bottom of the Big XII (-II) South cellar) could be among the more entertaining games of the year.

Nebraska 49 W Kentucky 10 - My feeling is that Nebraska could have the best team in the Big XII (-II) this year, but I'm not using a win over this terrible MAC team as evidence of that.

UGA 55 ULaLa 7 - The secret here is that, for a Sun Belt conference team, ULaLa isn't that bad. Keep in mind they're still a SunBelt Conference team however.

aTm 48 SFA 7 - Meh. There's no glory in beating a team one division below you.

Mizzou 23 Illinois 13 - Possibly the 2nd best win by a Big XII (-II) team this week behind K-State's win over UCLA.

Colorado 24 CSU 3 - Waiting to make the jump to the Pac 10 (+2).

Ole Miss 48 Jack St49 - The game of the week bar none.

TTU 35 SMU 27 - An inauspicious start for the the Tommy Tuberville era. Now what the faithful were expecting to be sure.

ND 23 Pur 12 - Didn't see any evidence that NBC's new commercial policy did anything to help the vaunted hurry up offense of Kelly. Next week is key for the Irish.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

It's College Football Season....

....and all is good.

Go Michigan & Fire Coach Rod! (just wanted to get that in early)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Can we Spike? Huh? Can We?

Pity the poor Houston Texans Houston's fan, saddled with the rooting for the worst expansion franchise in NFL history, pre-season optimisim is often reduced to convincing themselves that the Cowboy game matters.

Except that it doesn't. Not in any way that's meaningful to sports fans across the Country that is.

To Houston? You bet it matters. If you want to know why think about that picture above. On the one hand, you have Dallas. Cool, confident with a brawny National reputation that doesn't worry too much about what everyone else thinks. On the other hand you have Houston. Yappy, sometimes annoying, and way too concerned about being taken seriously by the big boys. Oh the travesty of the Texans not being given prime-time games (despite the fact that they sucked, and their brand of football was borderline unwatchable at times) during the early years of the franchise while Dallas hogged the airwaves. Dallas has gone 10 years without a playoff win...blah....blah....blah.

The hard facts are the Cowboys are still the premier team in Texas except for within the Houston Metro area. Even then there are people who grew up rooting for other teams who might follow the Texans (heck, we might even pull for them) but they're never going to replace the Cowboys (or, in my case, the 49ers) as team number one.

This is a PRE-season game. The only thing that matters is that the One's & Two's look good. Whoever winds up at the top of the scoreboard at the end of the game is inconsequential....unless you're trying to get the attention of the fans of the Big Dog that is*, then it might seem to you to be the most important thing in the world.

Perspective Texans fans. Perspective.

*Yeah, yeah I the cartoon world Chester the Terrier eventually "bested" Spike and proved him to be a coward. But that's a child's game, in which we try to teach our kids that life doesn't suck and the good guys always win. In the REAL world, Spike beats the crap out of Chester 10 times and Sunday. The Texans want respect? Start winning some games.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

AP Top 25

Here 'ya go...

1 Alabama
2 Ohio State
3 Boise State
4 Florida
5 Texas
7 Oklahoma
8 Nebraska
9 Iowa
10 Virginia Tech
11 Oregon
12 Wisconsin
13 Miami (FL)
14 USC
15 Pittsburgh
16 Georgia Tech
17 Arkansas
18 North Carolina
19 Penn State
20 Florida State
21 LSU
22 Auburn
23 Georgia
24 Oregon State
25 West Virginia

Same thing I said about the USA Today Poll: Florida, Texas & Oregon are all overrated. Georgia, Oregon State & Georgia Tech are underrated. USC should not be on there.

Pre-season polls are meaningless, and they shouldn't have them until after the 4th week of the season.

That's just about the only way to describe the Houston Texans' 38-20 pre-season drubbing by the Saints on Saturday. What a difference a week (and an opponent) makes eh? Last week I Tweeted that some perspective was in order. After all, the Cardinals are going to be lucky to finish 6-10. Against a playoff team, a team that's good, the Texans looked like.....a team that's going to finish somewhere between 6-10 & 8-8 but no better.


- The Trindon Holliday experiment is a failure. If August 31st is not his last day with the Texans Rick Smith & Kubiak should be given exams for mental distress.

- Mario Williams is still a 40% of the time good player. That's not good enough.

- The Kubiak praise by Houston media is overblown. Coach Peyton is in his 5th year with the team as well. He's got a Super Bowl Championship to show for it, Kubiak has a non-losing record....overrated.

- The running game for the Texans is still a crap-shoot. Foster is young, Slaton is a shell & Tate is on the shelf for the year. Ugh.

- The Texans' defense is still a soft, soft unit who has trouble stopping a stiff Jr. High unit on 3rd down.

Looks like another year of Sundays spent doing anything other than watching bad football on TV. On the bright side, my yard should look great.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The end of horse racing in Houston?

That could be the case according to this recount of a recent meeting at Sam Houston Race Park as told by Steven Long of Horseback Magazine. (h/t: Houston Press)

(Battle lines drawn on Texas Racing, Steven Long,
Andrea Yong of Houston’s Sam Houston Race Park expressed a stark reality. She runs a track whose parent company has lost tens of millions in recent years in its aluminum, real estate, and forestry business. And Maxxam Corporation has repeatedly stumbled in management at SHRP putting the track in a precarious position that Young admits.

“We don’t have the money to run 60 dates,” she said. “We have the money to run 22 dates.”

Rumors have been racing across the backside of Sam Houston Race Park for weeks that the track has been sold. Whether it’s true, or wishful thinking on the part of horsemen disgusted with track management, it is undeniable that the track is troubled. Track officials stoutly deny off the record that the rumors are true.

Young spoke of the proposal of an abbreviated race schedule for next year in which Quarter Horse racing will be mixed with American Paint Horse racing and Arabian racing.
Either way, the thoroughbred season has been given over to Lone Star Park which means there will be no Fall thoroughbred season at Sam Houston which means there will be no live Horse Racing at the Park until 2011. A glance at the Track's calendar shows no current live races on the schedule. No overnights, no stakes races, no nothing. Just simulcast betting and the ZiegenBock Music Festival. Joy.

One can only hope that the rumors of a possible track sale by the cash-strapped, and horse-racing inept, Maxxam results in new track management and a renewed commitment to the Texas Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse industry. It'd also be nice to bring in someone to administer the wagering who has an understanding of what it is the serious sports bettor is looking for. Sam Houston's betting structure is severely behind the times. With no guaranteed pick-four, no pick six whatsoever and very limited Trifecta options the betting strategy seems to be to lock in on the low-dollar quinella bettor. The top tracks in the country are experimenting with multiple track pick 6's etc. Sam Houston and Lone Star should have been doing that years ago.

Instead they just watch purses go down, betting handles go down, and interest drop as a result. Maxxam has tried to run SHRP on the cheap. We're now seeing the results of that management decision.

2010 Season Preview: Big XII (-II) South

Continuing the 3CB 2010 College Football preview, let's take a look at the Big XII (-II) South.

Who wins this division hinges on one thing: Who you feel is going to win the Red River Rivalry Shootout played during the State Fair of Texas, this year on October 2nd.

Division Winner: Oklahoma is my pick in the RRS, so they're my pick to win the division. Whether or not they can beat Nebraska in the championship game is another story.....

Division First Loser: Texas - Much will be made about their talent, their coaching and their quarterback. Texas doesn't rebuild, they re-load under the system created by Mack Brown. One thing: It takes time to reload, and the weapons they have this year are not as mature as the one's they've had in past years.

Division Third Place: Texas A&M - This doesn't mean that I'm sold on the Aggies as having returned to prominence. It's more a declaration of my disbelief in the rest of the division.

Division Fourth Place: Texas Tech - After aTm it really becomes a crap-shoot. Will Tech be any good under their new mediocre coach? Fringe bowl, angry fans.

Division Fifth Place: Baylor - It's hard for me to put any Art Briles' coached team anywhere other than the cellar, but as bad of a coach as I think he is, Gundy of OSU is probably worse.

Division Cellar Dweller: Oklahoma State - With any luck, this season will be the last in the Mike Gundy era, and OSU can get a real football coach who pays a little attention to defense. My late Grandfather, an OSU alum and life-long fan, said "Oh God not Gundy" when he found out who the coaching pick was then, I think he'd be willing to see a bad season in order to get the guy out this year. T. Boone Pickens is wanting to see a better ROI on his investment than 2nd place and some funny-looking sideline cards.

Texans Pre-season game one....

More of the same....

It wouldn't be a Houston Texans game without.....

1. An Andre Johnson Touchdown where Matt Schaub throws a good pass that's caught by a receiver who cannot be covered man on man.

2. A "promising" 20 some-odd yard run by an untested running back that has everyone saying the running game woes are solved.

3. A terrible injury that has people already predicting doom. (Get well Ben Tate!)

4. A Steve Slaton fumble at the goal-line that has fans angry, and the pundits assuring everyone it's not that bad.

5. Defeat grasped from the jaws of victory due to poor clock management by the coaching staff, and an aversion (an understandable aversion it should be noted) to kick a field goal to force overtime.

4 Best:

1. Andre Johnson - The best receiver in the NFL proved why in his limited engagement.

2. Mario Williams - What hurt hip? Was in Matt Leinhart's face all game. THIS is what Mario can be when he decides to play.

3. Darrell Sharpton - Reports are he's not being considered as a starter while Cushing is out. That could change if he keeps playing well.

4. James Casey - Was all over the place in the 2nd quarter. Made a case for more playing time.

4 Worst:

1. Steve Slaton - More and more it's appearing that the mistake was everyone thinking he was an NFL caliber running back in the first place.

2. Trindon Holliday - At least very few people had any misgivings about his NFL quality. If he survives the first cut I'll be surprised.

3. Texans CB's - They didn't cover well & were bailed out by the safeties and line-backers. This will be hidden as long as their is QB pressure, but on plays where there's not?

4. Connor Barwin - One pressure from a guy who's supposed to be the reason the Texans don't need to pick up Aaron Schoebel? Yeah, they didn't need Thomas Jones either.

The good news is the Texans were ahead 16-0 at halftime. The bad news is they're still kicking more FG's than scoring TD's and Kubiak still has a maddening tendency to call off the dogs too early in the game. The 2nd half, and the final score, doesn't matter. If you think it does then go and take a drink of perspective: Most of the guys who gave up the lead in the 2nd half won't be on the roster come game one of the regular season.

Monday, August 09, 2010

2010 Season Preview: Big XII (-II) North

As College Football inches closer it's time to think about taking a look at some of the Conference races that matter both locally and Nationally. Why not start with the newsmakers of the Summer, the Big XII (-II) North:

Division Winner: Nebraska - Before heading out to Big Tenleven(+1) greener pastures the Cornhuskers are hoping to get one last shot at conference glory. Prediction: They get the chance and finish in the Top 10 rankings. (Note: UN doesn't have to play OU this year unless the two meet in the Big XII(-2) championship game. That's a plus for the Huskers.)

Division First Loser: Kansas State - Last year's team finished 4-4 in league play and tied with Mizzou for 2nd place. This year I think they finish 5-3 and become the first losers solo. The wife (born across the street from what is now called Bill Snyder Family Stadium) is picking them to pass Nebraska and finish first. Unfortunately, I don't see it. Nebraska is loaded this year.

Division 3rd place: Iowa State - Here's where I diverge from the common wisdom. I think Mizzou will be a little off this year, and Iowa State is on the come. The Gene Chizik expiriment was a failure, and now 2nd year coach Paul Rhodes is trying to put his brand on the team. Arnaut, the QB is a game changer.

Division 4th place: Missouri - True, they don't have to play the Longhorns this year, but Sr. graduation and the realities of being a middle-of-the-road school in the same conference as Texas and OU requires a school like Mizzou to have rebuilding years. This year will be Mizzou's rebuilding year.

Division 5th place: Kansas - Don't give up on the Jayhawks just yet. New coach Turner Gill is the genuine article and while the cupboard is bare this year, expect them to play hard and pull off an upset or two before the season is over.

Division cellar dweller: Colorado - The most interesting thing about a Buffalo's football game is Ralphie running across the field before kickoff. Colorado is a mess, with a bad coach, a terrible QB (who just happens to be the coaches son) and no money to bring in a new coach they can't get out of the conference fast enough.

Don't give Uncle Drayton any ideas.

Plymoth Argyle bans photographers, newspapers resort to cartoons.

Apparently the team is looking to charge for "official" photos.

Although, when you think about it, ChronBlog might as well pay for photos, they've already decided to rely on others to report significant local sports news right?

McNair's evidence (Updated)

According to SI's Peter King it's Overtrained athlete's syndrome.

I'm not sure if they thought this one through.....

(The Overtraining syndrome. Mark Jenkins, MD, Rice University)
There have been several clinical studies done on athletes with the overtraining syndrome. Exercise physiologic, psychological, and biochemical laboratory testing have been done. Findings in these studies have shown decreased performance in exercise testing, decreased mood state, and, in some, increased cortisol levels -- the body's "stress" hormone. A decrease in testosterone, altered immune status, and an increase in muscular break down products have also been identified.

I've read pretty much the same thing in every study I've seen (admittedly, not many, or enough to be considered comprehensive. I've currently got requests out to get more), none of which mention hCG at all, much less elevated levels.

Good luck to Mr. McNair, but I can't see how this argument will be sufficient to reduce or overturn the suspension.

Update: There is a chance that Cushing's story could hold water, despite my continued belief that the league is going to do nothing about it.

In this well-sourced article (.PDF) by Dr. Dan Gwartney it's suggested that hCG stimulates production of testosterone. If, as suggested by Dr. Mark Jenkins of Rice University, overtraining syndrome causes a testosterone deficiency then it's plausible that elevated hCG could exist as a countermeasure to lowered hormone levels.

Possible but, not yet proven as near as I can tell. I've got requests out to better researchers (with better research skills and tools than I have) for any information they can find on this issue, if something comes my way I'll be sure to share.

It's important to note that, even if the scenario I outlined above was plausible, or if that's even the defense that Cushing is going to use after all, he hasn't made it totally public yet, that minus peer-reviewed studies backing up those claims there's probably very little the NFL is going to do.

Except...maybe, fight this thing out in court.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Lamar University playing football.

It used to be illegal in the City of Beaumont, but now, Lamar University is about to field a football team for the first time since 1989.

They're playing Sam Houston State University on October 2nd in Beaumont. I'll be watching the Red River Shootout on that day but, if you're not interested in OU vs. UT, you might head over to Beaumont to check it out.

They start the season against McNeese St. Sept. 4th in Lake Charles. If you're not interested in good football you can drive to Lake Charles and watch that rout.

That being said, I plan to make a trip to Beaumont NEXT season to see the Cardinal play. Football is good, even in Beaumont.

3 Areas of Focus

Last week, on SportsRadio 610 I listened to a conversation focusing on three Texans players the hosts and callers thought needed to "take it to the next level" for the team to be successful. There were some good names thrown out: Connor Barwin, Gary Kubiak, Steve Slaton...Good choices all.

Meant to illustrate that the Texans are close to the playoffs, that so many players & coaches were named reveals just how weak the Texans are in many key areas. More than three Texans, I think there are three AREAS in which the team must show improvement to make a run at the playoffs.....

1. Backfields. - Steve Slaton, Arrian Foster & Ben Tate HAVE to run the ball better in order for the Texans to be a playoff contender. Last year the Texans ranked 30th (out of 32 teams) in rushing. Moving up to the middle of the pack would help them greatly. Also, the Defensive back needs to cover better, stop giving up the big play, and create turnovers. They have to do this with a starting roster that would be sitting on the bench for all but a few of the worst teams in the league.

2. Line play - On both sides of the ball. Not only does the O-line need to grasp the zone blocking scheme, but the D-line needs to get pressure on the opposing teams quarterback. Both of these units need to step up as a group.

3. Coaching - Time management, play calling and game preparation have to get better for the Texans to succeed. They won't win with Kubiak repeatedly saying "my fault" at the end of every game.

My early impression was 5-11, that's tempered a little, but I still don't see them finishing above .500 this year.

Friday, August 06, 2010

The SID Pre-season Top 25 released.

I know, I know, it's called the coaches poll, but it's about as credible as any pre-season top25 I could come up with (possibly even less) or ANY pre-season ranking for that matter.

Anyway, for better or worse: here it is...

(USA Today Pre-Season Top 25 Coaches Poll, USA
1. Alabama (
2. Ohio State
3. Florida
4. Texas
5. Boise State
6. Virginia Tech
7. TCU
8. Oklahoma
9. Nebraska
10. Iowa
11. Oregon
12. Wisconsin
13. Miami (Fla.)
14. Penn State
15. Pittsburgh
16. LSU
17. Georgia Tech
18. North Carolina
19. Arkansas
20. Florida State
21. Georgia
22. Oregon State
23. Auburn
24t. Utah
24t. West Virginia
Follow the links above if you want to see "others receiving votes", last year's record and final rankings, points, etc.

My thoughts:

The following teams are ranked too high: Florida, Texas, Nebraska, Oregon, LSU, Florida State & North Carolina.

Major conferences rule: That's how it goes in this poll, since the B(C)S conferences have the most votes, and rarely do the big conference SID's get anything right regarding the non B(C)S schools.

Boise St. is ranked too low: Yes, Boise are acting like idiots by cancelling the series with in-State rival Idaho once the latter is starting to get good again, but they're still going to be one of the top 3 in the Country. If they can run the table again they might get in the B(C)S championship game.

Houston not in the Top 25? What? With that offense and an improving defense? Wow.

All that being said I've got a feeling that the soon-to-be-released AP poll will fix many of the errors that are always present in the SID poll. Unfortunately it's this poll that's tied to the monstrosity that is the B(C)S computer ranking system so there you go.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Armstrong bunkers down.

No matter your feelings regarding the best Tour de France rider ever, things aren't looking good for Austin's favorite cycling son.

It'd be one thing if the charges of systemic doping were coming from Floyd Landis. After all, the guys a jerk and an admitted liar. I really believe Armstrong could weather that. But with "other cyclists" now jumping on the anti-Lance band-wagon things are looking bleak.

Instead of focusing on Armstrong though, it would be nice if the story would focus more on USADA, whose investigative methods have never been on the up & up. Millions of dollars are spent by the Government every year to fund this agency's witch-hunts against athletes sometimes garnering convictions, but what is gained?

Then there's this: Since cycling entered it's "doping era" Lance Armstrong has NEVER tested positive for a banned substance. Think what you want about Lance, that's a powerful statement for "reasonable doubt" if ever I've seen one.

Unfortunately USADA isn't about reasonable doubt. You're guilty until proven innocent and bargained testimony is often considered damning. Given that, relatively weak, standard of evidence Lance is in for a tougher climb than the Alp D'Huez.

Yup, Happ is an Astro

Last night he gave up a moon shot HR to Albert Pujols.

Welcome to the team sir.

And don't worry, those Pujols home-runs DO come back down eventually, it only seems like they're going to reach orbit.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Grass Clippings (08/04/10)

No batting slump here.....

Clemson's got high hopes and a highly touted QB that's returning. Hmmm....When have we heard THAT before? (They're still Clemson, and it's still the ACC.....8-4)

Maybe the Vikings could borrow Mrs. White's catapult?

The Mike Shanahan/Albert Haynesworth mano-a-mano continues. With no end in sight. Despite all of this I predict the Redskins will be dangerous this year. (If, for nothing else, they have a proven winner at QB in McNabb)

It's a bowl game or the bricks Coach Rod.

Georgia: Baby QB's, a BEAST of an Offensive Line and a new defense. What could possibly go wrong?

I give you the hottest coaching seat in College Football. Les Miles' team had better win, or there are going to be howls for blood in Baton Rouge.

Colleges should research the connections between orange in uniforms and players doing stupid things. Granted, that doesn't explain Oregon, but there's always an outlier.

Times they are a-changin' in Hunstville. As Willie Fritz takes over the reins as head coach here's hoping that he discovers the defense that his predecessor lost. SHSU has had great offenses and a dog's dinner for defense for a few years now.

The Case Keenum buzz grows. Will the Cougars have their first player in New York since the Run n' Shoot days?

The Golden Dome vs. Burnt Orange?

It could happen, thus settling, once and for all, the argument over who is King of the T-shirt fans.

The Golden Domers are famous for the obnoxious nature of those who never set foot on the campus but UT-Austin takes a back-seat to no one in that area. Especially in Houston.

Lance Berkman's new best friend..... A-Rod.

If Rodriguez was still bombing HR's and 600 was in the rearview mirror then Yankees fans would be raking Lance over the coals.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Grass Clippings (08/03/10)


Can the Cowboys win it all by skimping on the kicker? That's been Jones' MO, to not spend a lot of money on the kicking game. Even before Romo it's bitten him.

The Red Wings are gearing up for another title run. About damn time.

Booooooo! Weekley.

Be careful what you wish for Berkman, You just might get it.

Suddenly Boise State is the epitome of everything they've griped about over the past five years. (Odd that they feigned superiority just as Idaho was showing signs of getting pretty good isn't it?) Justice would have them frozen out of the B(C)S Championship game this year as well.

The real story is that Andre Davis has been so bad he's making two receivers who shouldn't be in the league (Trindon Holliday and Dorin Dickerson) look good by comparison. Also that the Texans irrationally overpaid him based on one game's performance. In ChronBlog's world however, Davis becomes a "great" player and Trindon Holliday is a legitimate WR threat. Oy.

Under Kubiak, and his too-conservative coaching style, this is the most important battle in camp.

No Richard, what the Texans need is a cover corner and a defensive lineman w/the ability to pressure the opposing quarterback, not the toughness of a street free agent. They already have that last thing.

Speaking of Justice, the master of pulling out meaningless data and overstating it's importance strikes again. Most serious publications that I've seen have the Texans around .500 again (or worse). Were Houston a real media town.....

Monday, August 02, 2010

Grass clippings (08/02/2010)

Getting closer.....

Kansas Football Coach Turner Gill, James Jordan, - As bad as the Mangino firing was, the Gill hire was better. I'm expecting KU to be stronger than most think this year. Maybe not a contender in the Big XII-II N, but definitely in a Bowl. (Also: Kansas Football Preview)

It's Big X+II media day!! - Hours and hours of coaches sitting around grumpily avoiding giving the answers to even the questions to which everyone knows the answer. (Also: Ohio State Football Preview)

Of course, Vegas has odds. - I think they're wrong, but more on that in a later post. (Also: Why Boise St. Deserves the #1 ranking.)

Construction on Lindsay St. will not be done by beginning of season. The wife and I were up there around Memorial Day, logistics is a MESS with an empty stadium. Imagine with 85K + trying to get around. Yuck.

Will former UH Offensive Coordinator Dana Holgerson help the Poke's Offense? One pundit thinks so (but next year probably) Will Pickens let Gundy be around to see it?

It's a bowl or nothing Coach Rod. No Pressure.

Something (potentially) awful this way comes.

My early review of the Texans schedule for the 2010-2011 season returned the following record:


That can't be right. Typically, after further review, I give them the benefit of the doubt on one or two games and end up around 7-9 or 8-8. I've just never looked at the schedule and felt so strongly that disaster was coming as I do this year.

- No consistent running game.

- Chester Pitts (the Texans most consistent O-lineman) is playing in Seattle this year. No one seems to take issue with that but me.

- Possibly the worst defensive backfield in the league.

- An under-achieving D-line

- Many questions on special teams. (I actually heard sports professionals on the radio today hyping Trindon Holliday.)

- An unproven, non-winning, coaching staff.

- No reliable backup for when Matt Shaub goes down.

But Five and Eleven?


Sunday, August 01, 2010

Haskell Day (UPDATED)

Outside of the first two legs of the Triple Crown and the Breeder's Cup, this is one of the biggest days in American horse racing. Far better than the Belmont Stakes and at a much more reasonable length (1 1/8 miles instead of 1 1/2 miles) at a much better facility in my mind this race should be the third leg of the Triple Crown. Of course, tradition states that it's a necessity to make 3yr olds run a distance that they probably shouldn't, a distance that wears them out and, in some cases, ruins their future careers, in order to find a true champion.
Tradition aside, the Haskell usually has a stronger field, an equal purse, and is ran under better conditions.

Early "smart" money is on Trappe Shot, who basically ran one really good race at Monmouth. The problem is Trappe Shot has never faced the quality of competition that he'll see here. (He didn't stand for the TC races and there's probably a reason for that)

Here's your field (including post-positions and morning-line odds):

1. Lookin' at Lucky (5-2)
2. Afleet Again (12-1)
3. Ice Box (9-2)
4. First Dude (6-1)
5. Our Dark Knight (15-1)
6. Super Saver (3-1)
7. Scratched (UptownCharlieBrown)
8. Trappe Shot (3-1)

Predictions: 1 - 3 - 2 - 8

My Bets: (For entertainment purposes only*)

$20 win: 1
$10 Ex box: 1-2-3
$2 Supr 1 - 3 - 2 - 8 (you know, for fun)

The wife: $2 show on 4.


Finish: 1 - 8 - 4 w/Lookin' At Lucky running away with it to win by 5 lengths. Very chalky, not the best of betting races but a dominating performance by the Even Money favorite.

*Remember: Online gambling is ILLEGAL in Texas. However, you can go to a race track and bet this race on simulcasting. That's where I'll be this afternoon, placing these bets legally. As with any betting, there's risk, and I'll probably be wrong. In other words: Pick your own dang winners.)

Adios Lance...

The Great Astros fire sale of 2010 continues.

Too bad they didn't get anything worth-while back for their two top players isn't it? Ah well, what do you expect from the worst-ran franchise in Houston?

Now you have a lazy-assed Carols Lee and a group of marginal-in-the-majors daily players to look forward to for the next couple of years. Well, that and a couple of pitchers (Myers, Wandy) who would be third or fourth staters, at best, for most major-league teams. How bad is it? Ed Wade is seriously considering signing Myers to a multi-year deal to make him the 'anchor' in the rotation.


On the bright side: Bourne can steal a base (or three). If only Hunter Pence would accept coaching they might have something to build on......

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Bye Roy...

Have a cheese steak for me would ya?

On the surface this looks like a good deal for both teams. Philly gets an ace for a (hopefully) deep playoff run, and a staff anchor for next year, the Astros get younger, and more arms in the system. They also get a solid #2 starter in Happ that shows the potential to be around for many years.

Now, if the 'Stros could just find a sucker trading partner for Lee and a team needing Berkman we'd be onto something.

Until then, this is a good start.

Monday, July 26, 2010

38 days and counting.

September 2nd.

Mark it down, stock up the beer fridge and get ready to roll because College Football is just over a month away.

Also, Download and print out your helmet schedule, circle the big games and make your plans now.

Some early thoughts: (With much more to come later)

1. This could be Georgia's year. Some say, for Mark Richt's sake, it had BETTER be Georgia's year.

2. Michigan goes to a bowl, or Coach Rod needs to be shown the way out of the door. First step: Beat UConn.

3. Other coaches on the hot seat: Les Miles, Mike Gundy. Prediction: Neither will be coaching their respective teams in 2012.

4. The Pre-Season Top 25 isn't going to mean much this year. Too many teams have questions and turn-over.

5. Most over-rated: Florida. Now that the chosen one is gone they're going to have to re-vamp their entire offense. Good defense, no points.

3CB ready.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The only thing more ridiculous....

...than fans of the US Men's National Team thinking they had a chance at going far in this year's World Cup are the idiotic comments of people cracking on the World's game out of ignorance.

Football will never be real popular in America because too many Americans view the rest of the World's citizens as somehow inferior. Hell, there are people out there (especially in the South) that denigrate the NBA because it's not.....American Football. What really cracks me up is the inability of most people just to STFU about it all. So you don't like footy. Cool. I don't like the Texas Longhorns. I just shut up about it because who cares right?

The fact is that America's football program has a LONG way to go to be competitive with the elite teams of the world. We've gone just about as far as we can under the current system, a system that's designed with the wealthy, young footballer in mind. What the US needs to do is remember that the game is best grown when grown organically. Put the kids out there, and tell them to score.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

I'm only going to say this once.....

Despite breathless predictions of greatness by Johnny-come-lately Americans to the game of football....

Minor League Soccer is nowhere NEAR the same level of soccer at the National Level. What you see on the field, in terms of quality, at Robertson (soon to by Dynamo) stadium is much slower, much less skilled, and far more pedestrian a bring of football than what you're seeing on television this month.

Every four years the US has a brief infatuation with the beautiful game and then proceeds to ignore it while the rest of the world remains football mad. As American football ramps up memories of Landon Donovan's brilliant game-ending goal will fade and MLS will once again find itself wallowing in the second tier of professional sports in America.

Not that the second-tier is a bad place to be. It sure as hell beats the "no-tier" status of 30 years ago. Consider this: 30 years prior every American player on the National team roster played overseas. Now roughly 40% of players invited to camp are MLS players. That's not too bad. Donovan, America's best player, is an MLS star that should take advantage of this opportunity and cash in at the Premiership or Serie A. He's not going to get too many more opportunities.

Oh, and Dear Arsenal,

Please talk to Everton about acquiring Tim Howard.

That is all.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Much ado about nothing....

Next time, Y'all work it out amongst yourselves and spare all of us the drama OK?

So, the only thing (for now) that's changing is that Nebraska and Colorado are gone, and UT is getting their own teevee network.

I've got a good idea for the first program. Starring Vince Young.

Word is Texas State Representative Garnet Coleman has "written an e-mail" advocating for the inclusion of UH and TCU. Won't happen. BYU and Air Force would be MUCH more appealing than a team that draws 20K and has forwarded a dodgy stadium plan that relies a LOT on naming rights to pay for it. TCU would probably be interested, but I'm not so sure a weakened Big X(-II) is all that much better than a strengthened Mountain West. I mean, Texas is, but everyone else?

So, for now:

The Big Tenelven becomes the Big Twelve (with a championship game one supposes) and the Big XII becomes the Big Ten (sans championship game, and all of the revenues that generates) while the PAC-10 morphs into the PAC-11 and ALSO doesn't have a championship game.

The SEC is still a better football conference than any of them.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Shuffling the Deck Chairs

Or....Why UH is going to be left holding the bag again.

So, Nebraska's out opening the way for a storm of realignments that's projected to end up with UT, aTm, TTech, OU, OSU & Colorado (huh?) heading West in search of the proverbial pot of gold in for from of PacHUGE conference affiliation.

I've no doubt that this will happen, the PacHUGE will roll out their own TeeVee network and thousands of Longhorns will book annual trips to their ideological home base of California. All will be well in PacHUGE land as money will again grow on trees.

Which leaves us with Baylor, Mizzouri, Kansas, Kansas St. and Iowa State, formerly of the (now-defunct) Big XII and wondering how in the hell they're going to fill their dance card and (of primary importance) keep the revenue pouring in.

This is especially hard on Baylor, who is just finally starting to show signs of life after hitting the sports equivalent of skid row during the 90's and early aughts. Kansas still has their storied basketball program so they'll be OK, K-State has well...Kansas and their storied basketball program so they'll be OK as well, Mizzou will probably end up in the Big Tenelven along with Cincinnati (maybe?) Making the league the Big XIV or XVI if Iowa State and a school to be named later decides to fly with them. Baylor however has a problem. Namely, they are going to be stuck sans a trading partner. In the world of major college athletics that's a BIG problem to have.

They're also geographically isolated, not an idea fit for the PacHUGE (which is why financially shaky Colorado will get the nod) and nowhere near any of the other major players. They're a college without a place to dock if the expected plays out.

Assuming one of the above scenarios play out. (The one I see as the most likely involves four "super" conferences of 16 teams each) The best option for Baylor is to cuddle up to Kansas basketball (and by extension K-State) give Boise St. a wink and a nod and go knocking on the Mountain West's door. They're talking about this already in the Rocky Mountain States and it makes a lot of sense. By adding Baylor, the Kansas schools and Boise St. the Mountain West immediately positions itself to take the place of the Big XII in the B(C)S, leaving the WAC, C-SUA, Sun Belt, MAC and whoever else is left standing on the outside looking in.

Which brings us to the University of Houston. My (sorta) alma-mater and perpetual bridesmaid in realignment talks. To be honest, I don't see anywhere for UH to go. IF conference expansion to 16 teams becomes a reality, then I see the SEC bringing in Georgia Tech, Clemson, Miami and Fla. State from the ACC, the ACC cannibalizing the Big East and C-USA eastern division and then???

Possibly the C-USA gets weaker by having to absorb Sun Belt schools and the Sun Belt does what it always does...snap up teams that move from Div 1-AA (Sam Houston, Texas St. etc.) There is a small possibility that Boise St. doesn't want to go, in which case Baylor and the Kansas schools might look to UH as a second option, or they might look elsewhere in the WAC. There are, at least, four or five WAC schools that would bring better facilities and alumni bases to a potential B(C)S member conference (Fresno St. anyone?) than could UH in their current state.

Or, none of this could happen and the Big XII just adds one team and we move on. I don't foresee that happening however, I think we're in for a massive reorganization in College sports ahead of the next round of TV deals.

The question now is: Who gets left out?

I think that one answer of local interest is definitely going to be UH & Rice.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Handicapping the World Cup

It's World Cup time which means that most US news organizations are getting it wrong...again.

From shoddy game analysis to poor field analysis these are the things that the United States soccer fan has to deal with. (My favorite gaffe is "American" soccer. Which "America" do you mean?)

As a fan of football without a strong rooting interest (you don't REALLY think the CONCACAF teams are going to make an impact do you?) all that's mandatory to know is....

1. Who's going to win.
2. The World Cup Ball controversy is not that important.
3. How to spot Carla Bruni in the crowd if she attends one of France's games.
4. Dutch fans are best.
5. The Ivory Coast (Cote d'Ivoire) has a dangerous, quick-scoring team that no one wants any part of in the knockout round.

Numbers 2-5 are pretty self explanatory, just follow the links and do a little studying. As for who's going to win?

Here are my odds and quick thoughts: (And yes, I'm going with co-favorites)

Argentina 4/1 - One word: Messi. There's historical precedent in football in support of the 'great man' theory for picking winners provided the supporting cast isn't dog food. Team Argentina is not dog food.

Spain 4/1 - Possibly the best overall team in the tournament. A team that used to suffer from constriction of the larynx during big tournaments. That perception changed after their Euro 2010 win, but they still have yet to win on the big stage.

Brazil 5/1 - The most famous team in the US mainly because most people's football knowledge begins and ends with Pele. They have a ton of talent, a bunch of guys with one name, and terrible defense and goal-minding. That being said they'll make it through to, at least, the Semis.

Italy 10/1 - You can never count out the defending champions, despite the fact that ChronBlog's truly awful football reporter declared their defense to be slow based on a friendly...against Mexico. If you don't understand why that's a bad guager then you need to stop writing about sports and just walk away. If you don't think the Azzurri will be on top form.......

England 12/1 - Personally, I'm not sold on the Three Lions chances, given their run of injuries (despite the fact he's over the hill, they're going to miss the set-piece ability of Beckham, and losing team captain Ferdinand is going to be huge) despite this they still have a good offense and an attacking style. Look for a result against the US team which should propel them to the knockout rounds as a #1 seed coming out of the group.

Netherlands 14/1 - Know this: The Oranje fans are going to be loud. Wesley Sneidjer is the best player you haven't heard of. Sadly Yolanthe Sneidjer will not be at the tournament according to official reports.

Germany 20/1 - Germany can still play, they drew a relatively easy group so that gives their offense (missing of late) time to get before they presumably get an easy opponent in the first knockout round. It's conceivable that Germany won't have to face serious opposition this World Cup until the Semis. At that point they'll be exposed.

Ivory Coast 25/1 - I said it earlier, this team is dangerous. Easily the best team on the African continent.

France 30/1 - The French are old, slow and lucky to be here. If not for a bogus hand-ball goal by Henry I'd be discussing Scotland's prospects right now. They won't win, I'm not even convinced they're going to make it to the knockout round.

Slim Chance 100/1 - USA, Mexico, Denmark, Greece, Ghana, Paraguay, Portugual & Serbia It ain't gonna happen.

No Chance 500/1 - Everyone else. North Korea, New Zealand & South Africa are the three worst teams here with Honduras running close to them. Fodder.

And that's pretty much it. Everything else, players,

Thursday, May 20, 2010

So much for Floyd Landis.

Full disclosure: I have, in the past, stood up for Landis, I believed him when he said he was clean because he presented a compelling case that he didn't use drugs, and his lawyers punched many holes in the testing protocols of the French labs. I was wrong, Landis is a liar and should be banned for life from cycling.

How can you take anything he says seriously?

(Landis, Admitting Doping, Accuses Top U.S. Cyclists, Juliet Macur & Michael S. Schmidt, New York Times)
After four years of maintaining his innocence about doping charges that ruined his reputation and caused him to be stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title, the American cyclist Floyd Landis has sent e-mail messages to several cycling officials in the United States and in Europe in which he admits using performance-enhancing drugs for most of his career.
He also throws Lance Armstrong, George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer & David Zabriskie (almost every big-name US cyclist) under the bus without a shred of documentary evidence to back up his claims.

After (falsely) claiming innocence for four years he's suddenly come out and said that everything he's been fighting against, is 100% true. That he has, in fact, been lying to us all this time.

Yet we're supposed to believe him now....because he's having trouble getting back on a top team and he's got a book to sell.

At this point I think it's also fair to question the 'evidence' that Landis produced during his trial. Was it doctored to appear that it had been tampered with? We'll probably never know because Landis probably isn't going to say. Even if he did say anything about it you shouldn't believe it. Nothing that guy says should be given any credence from this point forward.

Goodbye Floyd, sport is better without you in it. I really feel sorry for all of those fans you fleeced into giving you money to pay for your legal fight. I'm sure you're not going to offer refunds.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A tarnished crown.

I predicted this would happen, yesterday after the Preakness....

(Derby and Preakness winners to skip Belmont, The Sports Network via The Miami Herald, 05/16/10)
Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver and Preakness Stakes champ Lookin At Lucky will both skip the Belmont Stakes.
According to the Daily Racing Form, both respective trainers, Todd Pletcher and Bob Baffert, said Sunday morning that both would be kept out of thoroughbred racing's third jewel of the Triple Crown, set for June 5 at Belmont Park.

Read more:
Unless you have a horse who's won the first two jewels of the Triple Crown, why put a 3yr old in a situation where they're going to have to A) run at a distance (1 1/2 miles) that they'll probably never run again and B) be placed in a position where they have to run 3 races in five weeks?

Don't misunderstand this, I enjoy the Belmont Stakes and, while it's not my favorite horse race (that would be the Breeder's Cup Classic FWIW) it's still a meaningful race. The problem that The Belmont is facing is cost/benefit. There's the aforementioned distance, which can wear out a 3yr old colt being typically ran by older horses, coupled with a paltry (by modern horse racing standards) $1 MM purse. There are plenty of graded stakes races to ran some of which mach, or exceed, the $1MM mark. Given that, why would a trainer think about entering a worn out young horse into a race that's distanced for 4y/o and up?

It sounds as if First Dude and Dublin are going to run, and there will be the usual crop of 'new shooters' in the field which should make it interesting. If all else fails bet all of the Nick Zito or D. Wayne Lukas horses to win. based on recent history that's a winning strategy.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Nothing wrong with pulling for the home team.

El Tri are coming to Houston, and ChronBlog sends out its beat writer to gush....

(Mexico is the star of this big show, Jose de Jesus Ortiz, ChronBlog)
Reliant Stadium will be packed and rocking tonight, with people from 32 different states and four countries on hand for an exhibition of epic proportions.

And no, the drawing card isn't a twin bill featuring power couple BeyoncĂ© and Jay-Z. Or teen idols Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber or Taylor Swift. Rather, it's El Tri — as the Mexican national soccer team is known — that should raise the roof, and don't doubt that the players have rock-star status here.
Ignoring the brutal prose and grammar errors above, get ready for the "send ICE to do a round-up" blather coming from the nativists. These things tend to happen whenever el Tri hits Houston. It's a way of life.

That many of these complaints come from people waving a Confederate battle flag (A separate country that lost a war to the US lest some forget) or that wrap themselves in the Irish flag come St. Paddy's Day. (before throwing up all over it) sometimes gets lost in all of the hue and cry surrounding the game*.

A game that's being touted as "a glimpse of what the World Cup is like" FWIW. Never mind that it's not. It's nothing near like what the World Cup atmosphere is going to be like.

For starters, look at the teams that are going to be playing. You have Angloa, which won't be in the tournament and, Mexico. The second best team in CONCACAF, arguably the second worst region in FIFA. (behind Africa) Plus, it's a friendly, and friendlies never inspire the same type of reaction as matches with meaning. I'm sorry, that's just the way it is.

Unfortunately what you read in the Ortiz piece is normal for Houston soccer coverage. This city has a blind spot when it comes to the beautiful game. (As a matter of fact, they have a blind spot when covering most sports.) Part of the reason is senseless cheer leading for the Houston Dynamo who, since their championship run, have been a good team in decline with serious issues in the midfield and forward positions, an ailing goalie, and a general manager who's not much more than a figurehead.

The Dynamo do have a good coach however, which is something Mexico is lacking. Mexico does have a decent front-line however, a dodgy midfield and a suspect goalie. All that being said they should beat an out-gunned Angola team somewhere in the 3-0 range.

Hopefully there's not a post-game shooting this time. The Mexican soccer fans deserve better.

*As for me, go Scotland! (wrongly excluded from this year's festivities due to blind, dumb FIFA game officials.)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Not this World Cup

Nike sure can pick 'em can't they?

And, by this blog post, I mean no disrespect to Freddy Adu. As a youth he had flashes of "Oh my God" brilliance inter-spread between long stretches of snooze inducing football.

2010 was supposed to be the year of Adu.

Instead, the US will spend another year wondering why the hell they can't score at the World Cup.The lack of creativity in the US offense is shocking. A fully developed Adu could have been the answer, but he was rushed along and not allowed to mature properly.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Death to BMI

Waist to Height ratio (WHtR) is a much better determinant of your health.

It's high time we cast off BMI to the fitness scrapheap.

A question of sP(ED)ort

To whom are we supposed to turn for information?

Yes, he's an odd-ball, but SI's Peter King is one of the better NFL sources to turn to for league information and decent commentary on NFL issues of the day. That was why his citing of public encyclopedia Wikipedia when commenting on the Brian Cushing HcG issue has struck a cord with some fans. How much of a cord? Enough that they edited the HcG Wikipedia page twice just to prove a point.

(screenshots taken from Wikipedia page on Human chorionic gnadotropin)

Certainly there are better sources than Wikipedia to judge a man's drug use, but that pales in comparison to Sport's Radio 610 morning host John Lopez' twitter kangaroo trial where Cushing was convicted on heresy and guilt by association.

In short, the information that we're receiving from sports talkers and reporters on Cushing's testing is, for the most part, wrong.

For one thing, it's only 'reported' that Cushing tested positive for HcG we don't know this for a fact. For argument's sake, however, lets assume the reports are true.

HcG is NOT a 'masking agent'. The purpose of masking agents is to cover steroid injection through the use of an agent that (theoretically) won't show up in testing but will alter the body's hormonal composition. HcG doesn't do that. Yes, it does alter the body's hormonal composition, but it's (obviously) not invisible to testing protocols. If anything HcG would fall under the umbrella of "Post cycle therapy" (PCT). The use of PCT compounds is typically undertaken to lessen the effects of steroid side-effects. Medically, it's a fertility drug that stimulates the release of the eggs in women, and increases sperm count for men. There are instances where off-label administration of HcG can be used for weight loss, especially to treat obesity.

Given those facts you either believe that Cushing was trying to lose weight (hard to see from an NFL player) or was trying to have a baby. The other option is that he was on steroids and using HcG in his PCT routine. Casting aside any rare uses, those are the three options that make sense.

A larger question that this brings to the fore is society's feelings toward PED's in sport. In summary: Why do we care what these athletes are taking and are we really prepared to make the changes necessary to root drugs out?

Many observers consider PED's to be the Pandora's Box of athletics, now that it's open it can never be closed. To be sure there will always be those who are unscrupulous and willing to break every rule in order to get to the top. If people are willing to cheat on The Amazing Race to win, why wouldn't they cheat when the stakes are much, much higher?

Removing PED's from sport totally requires three things: 1. Olympic-style testing 2. Public display of results. 3. Long, meaningful bans for rule-breakers.

By Olympic testing I mean random blood tests that can be conducted at any time during the year. When the collector shows up, the athlete has to give a sample. All athletes would be put on a heavy rotation. Displaying drug-test results publicly has met stiff opposition due to HIPA. There would probably need to be adjustments to the law to allow this. Making the suspensions meaningful is not hard at all. The minimum punishment for a first offense should be one year, the second offense should be a lifetime ban. Enact all of these in every sport, and you could get to a point that the games we watch are about 90% clean, with only the top 10% being clever enough to beat the test...for a while.

Or, my preferred option, we can all just accept the fact that sport has always been about pushing the envelope to be faster, stronger etc. and make sure that athletes are provided with the safest environment possible in which to practice their craft, that the NFL takes care of them after the fact, and that the drugs used are taxed to the gills.

Either way something has to change.