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,