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June 2010

One Dog’s Predicament: The Story of Russ the Mercenary

Published on: 30th June, 2010

One Dog's Predicament: The Story of Russ the Mercenary  | read this item

Superstitions and the belief of luck in sports are often based on pivotal insignificance.

As sports fans, we find the smallest fractions of information, maximize its value in our minds, and eventually buy into the concept that this means the world for our teams. You know the examples, you might even have a few of your own: a rabbit’s foot, a lucky T-shirt, an incoherently skewed statistic, a game-day ritual, rubbing your first born child’s bald head while humming the tune to some embarrassingly inspiring Olivia Newton John song. Whatever.

The fact is that we buy into these beliefs, until they become part of the game itself:

“My South Florida Bulls are 13-1 when I eat nachos during the fourth quarter. This is working!”

“Steve Avery always gets out of early jams as long as Leo Mazzone rocks back and forth at least 75 times per batter. Somebody count, this is important.”

“If Chris Collins can restrain from giving Coach K a full-body oil massage at halftime, we might just have a chance to pull off this victory. Krzyzewski always coaches better when he is tense…and, of course, when Wojo is bent over in front of him and slapping the floor. We are in this!”

This all means something to us as fans; hell, to an extent, the players and coaches as well. Maybe even more so. If there was a poll released tomorrow on which group is more superstitious — athletes or fans — you can bet the outcome would be fairly even. The reality is that nobody wants to ruin a good thing, to bring a screeching halt to good luck or karma in the middle of a team’s hot streak. Whatever you want to call it — superstition, myth, luck, legend, ludicrous — some part of us as fans believe, or want to. Would you stop wearing your lucky Superman boxers, the ones you wore the entire undefeated season, just as your team made it to the NCAA title game? Would Patrick Kane cut his Playoff mullet or beard before a Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals?

The answer is a resounding “NO”.

But despite this ever-present truth in the world of sports, for both athletes and fans, the University of Georgia is still deciding to go against the grain. The Athletic Association has made their decision, and made it their final one. But do not be surprised if it turns out to be a fatal one, also. Bulldog fans should be worried. Bulldog players should be worried. Coach Richt and his staff should be worried. That crazy bald guy with a Bulldog painted on top of his not-so-attractive head should be worried. Seriously…fret away.

This whole story truly began with a tragedy.

This tragedy did not reach Shakespearean proportions, but it was a truly heartbreaking loss nonetheless for the Bulldog faithful. The loss reverberated across Athens, the Southeast, and wherever else Georgia fans had supplanted themselves around the world. It truly hit home…and hard.

The University of Georgia had lost one of its own.

When Uga VII passed away last November, a void was left on the sidelines — an important void. A mythical void, if you will.

The line of English bulldogs that has paced — or lazily sat on ice — the sidelines of Sanford Stadium traces back all the way to 1958, 51-plus years of a belief system that the lineage brought good fortune and encouragement to generations of players and fans who supported the Red and Black. So when that expected death took place in the Bulldog family, people took notice. Most were surprised, some cried, others thought, “What the heck is the big deal about a dog?”

To be completely honest, I found the entire ordeal to be blown a bit out of proportion — pushing me more into that latter group of people, likely just because Red and Black does not run through my veins. I do not even think I should have to capitalize those letters, but I’m scared of causing a riot if they are not. Anyways, on the day of Uga VII’s passing, I even distinctly remember sarcastically writing: “Sources: Uga VII leaves death note, claims couldn’t take watching Georgia play defense for one more weekend.”

So needless to say, there was one student in Athens was not in utter shock and despair.

Regardless, it did matter to Georgia fans.


But then, something strange happened. Russ, Uga VII’s half-brother, took the title of UGA mascot for the rest of the season only to be replaced by a younger pup in the lineage the following season. That was the initial plan.

So the five-year-old Russ took to the sidelines, taking one for the team, just a no-name old-timer jettisoned into the spotlight for a brief end-of-the-season run. He became the veteran pitcher called up for his last hurrah in the big leagues, a necessity for a team destined to miss playoffs following the injury of their star starting pitcher. He became, at the very least, Jimmy Morris in The Rookie . Was he past his prime? Most likely. But what choice did Damon Evans have? Russ was needed, so Russ took to the mound. And delivered.

The moment Russ took to the sidelines, a different team took to the field for the Georgia Bulldogs. They were even a dominant-looking team at times, something that had been missing towards the end of Uga VII’s reign. Was it Russ’ doing? Of course not, but remember those superstitions and beliefs of fans and players? They were coming back in to play again.
Pivotal insignificance.

Mark Richt and his team knocked off seventh-ranked Georgia Tech before heading down to Shreveport, La. to take out Texas A&M in the bowl game. Just like that: two opponents, two wins. Russ was now 2-0 in his lifetime — and by the way Georgia was playing on the field, he was sporting a 3.11 ERA to boot. Georgia had luckily stumbled onto the Michael Turner of mascots, a four-year veteran with little mileage who could now carry the load when needed.

Superstition or not, something was working.

(First parallel scenario: Imagine if this were a struggling, inconsistent nation who could not seem to do two things right: get the economy back on track and fix their national health-care system — um, yes this could really work. Now imagine the current president of that country dies at a surprisingly young age, leaving his wrinkled, yet grizzled vice president to run the show for the last few months of his term. However, in those last few months, the old, wrinkled former-vice president resurrects the economy and has the nation on the right track as far as a health-care plan. Everything is looking up, he is 2-for-2. Jobs are being established. Babies are being named after him. Isn’t he reelected automatically? Possibly, without even taking a vote? Does it even matter if he is a few years older than most would like their presidential candidate ? I mean, it isn’t like we are talking about Ronald Reagan-type old here.)

Then came the rumors. Then…the announcement.

Russ would still not be the permanent replacement to sit on those bags of ice in that overly-pampered dog house. The reason: old age. Even Michael Vick cringes at this sort of animal abuse, these were hopes and dreams that the Athletic Association was unjustly stripping away. Reports were that Russ was sullen and downtrodden by the news (as if he could look any other way). He was now just a flash in the pan, a brilliant shooting star in a soul-crushing night sky searching for greater longevity.
So long, pivotal insignificance.

Currently, Georgia officials are still awaiting the naming of an Uga VIII, rumored to be the offspring of the Uga VI line. The organization is looking to go younger. They are building through the draft. But a replacement mascot has yet to be named, sending the Bulldogs back to their only other option to kick off the 2010 campaign: Russ .

(Second parallel scenario: Imagine if this were to happen in the NBA. Imagine Chris Bosh getting injured with two games remaining for a mediocre Toronto Raptors squad. Raptors’ general manager Bryan Colangelo has no one he deems worthy enough to call up from the D-League, so he is forced to make a difficult phone call to a four-year veteran who is now out of the league. Say, James Augustine. Now Augustine fills in the 12th spot on the bench, subs in for a nice contribution, and ultimately re-energizes the team to two-straight wins to end the season. In the offseason, management comes up to Augustine and informs him that he is not going to be re-signed by the Raptors, but they would like him to stick around for a few games next season until they can find a rookie to replace him. In other words, screw you James Augustine.)

And, of course, Russ gave the okay for the entire situation — ignoring the pleas from his agent and other mascots in the business. Everyone in Russ’ ear warned him to just waddle away, that it was not worth the humiliation of being replaced by a rookie in the middle of the season. But still he stayed. And why? Because Russ truly cares, and he truly believes in something that the Athletic Association is missing here. Sure, his 2-0 record may be based off of pivotal insignificance, but much like fans and athletes, certain superstitions and beliefs still live on in the middle-aged bulldog’s heart.

So now the Bulldog faithful are left with an admirable mercenary on their sidelines, a mascot for hire that came through in a dark time once before. And now he is being asked to do it again — at least for the time being.

Georgia football is 2-0 with an old, grizzled veteran sitting on ice bags. Sure, he may be past his prime — but how can an entire organization turn their back on the fortunes his presence has brought? What if Georgia kicks off the season 3-0 or 4-0? What if, in the opening SEC game, Russ breaks off of his leash and latches onto Steve Spurrier’s visor like a Frisbee? Could he stay then? What if no replacement has been found by the time Georgia heads to Auburn, and Russ decides to pull an Uga VI on Tiger wide receiver Kodi Burns? Could he stay then? So many questions. No answers.

How this Athletic Association could walk away from a 2-0 record (or better) is beyond comprehension. How the UGAA could replace a proven veteran with an unknown rookie strays away from the side of logical, and into the grasps of the insanity.

There is just one ‘HOW’ Georgia fans can be sure of now: How can Bulldog fans still desperately cling on to their slightly-tarnished new mascot?

Put on that favorite T-shirt and start humming that Olivia Newton John tune, because you are going to need a good bit of luck.
Please help, Sandy.
(This article was originally published on the irrelevant sports website, Walking Into The Kicker )

 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Power Ranking Michigan’s Impact Freshmen for 2010

Published on: 30th June, 2010

Power Ranking Michigan's Impact Freshmen for 2010  | read this item

The opening of the 2010 University of Michigan football season is getting closer and it looks to be one of the most anticipated to date.

On the other hand, the news surrounding the program has been less than positive over the last few months.

This has been especially true over the past few weeks with the loss of 2010 recruits Demar Dorsey, Antonio Kinard, and Cornelious Jones.

Despite the setbacks, Michigan fans should have a positive outlook towards the 2010 recruiting class.

There are a number of recruits within the 2010 class that could possibly contribute this season and they certainly look to have wonderful careers at Michigan.

The following slideshow is a power ranking of those 2010 recruits who could possibly contribute on the field this year for the Wolverines.

(Photo courtesy of AnnArbor.com)

Begin Slideshow

Cleveland Browns: Sometimes No News is Good Thing

Published on: 30th June, 2010

Cleveland Browns: Sometimes No News is Good Thing  | read this item

The time between mini camp and training camp has become pretty boring for us Browns fans. Not much to write about. Not much happening. It hasn’t always been that way.

Since Eric Mangini has taken over as head coach of the Browns, there’s not much to write about if it doesn’t happen on the football field. The Browns have pretty much avoided the bad press plaguing a lot of NFL teams.

In the past, the Browns used to be one of those teams.  For a while, Cleveland had its share of negative head lines. Those players are now no longer with the club, and have replaced with quality leaders.

Last year when Cleveland stumbled and bumbled to a 1-11 record, players could have quit and no one would have blamed them. It didn’t happen. No finger pointing just plenty of heart.

With their backs clearly against the wall, the Browns showed the character that made fans proud. After finishing last season on a four-game winning streak, fans started thinking that maybe Mangini really does know what he’s doing. Maybe he does have a plan.

Smart, selfless, players with good character. That is what Mangini said he wanted when he took on the job of rebuilding the Browns.  It looks like he’s found quite a few.

The future looks bright for the Dog Pound. Character has become the team’s strength.

Cleveland fans can be proud of their team.

 

Article originally posted at http://www.nfltouchdown.com/

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2010 SEC West Preview: Still At High Tide

Published on: 30th June, 2010

2010 SEC West Preview: Still At High Tide  | read this item

After all was said and done, the SEC remained a consistent entity throughout the “conference expansion” ordeal.  And consistency is the key word for any team vying to head to Atlanta for the SEC Championship. 

As a whole you can see many different variations for this season, a one team league, a two team league, or a gaggle of eight to ten win teams looking for a bid to the Sugar Bowl. 

Instead of going game by game, I’ll list and describe the teams in the order I think they have a chance at getting to Atlanta, from likely to less likely.

SEC Western Division

Alabama (SEC Champion, National Champion)

The Crimson Tide is on the complete opposite side of the spectrum this season.  Instead of replacing an entire offense, they will have to replace nearly an entire defense. The key will be if Alabama’s potent offense can post enough TDs on the board while the defense will learn Saban Defense 101. 

The schedule, though, is not easy, with games in September against Penn State and Arkansas, a gauntlet in October featuring road trips to Tennessee and South Carolina, and that small prime-time game against Florida.

Will they have enough left for November at LSU and the Iron Bowl? 

Even though the Tide will have a lot to deal with I still think they will three-peat as Western Division Champions.  When it comes down to it, Nick Saban is one of the best coaches in the game right now.

Arkansas (Liberty Bowl Champions)

It was tough deciding between the Hogs and the Bayou Bengals for No. 2, but with Les Miles being a bit sketchy on time management (see Ole Miss/LSU last year) and Petrino being one of the best offensive minds in the game, I give the nod to the Hogs.  But the distance between them and Alabama is pretty substantial.  

Arkansas will HAVE to get better defensively if they have a prayer of getting to Atlanta.  They could pull off the upset in September against Alabama, but can Arkansas hold firm against a tough road slate at Georgia and Auburn? 

I don’t think so, but if Alabama slips and they pull off the upset a different shade of red could be in Hotlanta.

LSU

This is a key year for Les Miles, his lifestyle in Baton Rouge will come down to one game, Alabama.  If he loses this game it will be three in a row against the guy he replaced.  Also a lot of heat was put on Miles after some questionable coaching last season.  LSU has other big games against Florida and Arkansas, and a interesting game in Atlanta against North Carolina.  I can see LSU being really good or so-so with an eight-ish win record.  Thus I put them No. 3.

Auburn (Outback Bowl Champions)

Auburn has to be the biggest mystery in the SEC West this year.  So I’m putting them in the middle.  I can see them on a role and win nine or ten games, but I can see them going 6-6 as well.  One thing is for sure, they will have a tough time getting to the SEC title game going on the road to Alabama.  After last season, Saban will not allow his team to overlook Auburn this year.

Plus, Auburn has made the mistake (in my opinion) to wait and have their bye week before the Alabama game.  I don’t care how good a team is going week-in-and-out for 11 straight weeks in the SEC is asking for a lot of problems.   

However, I think Auburn is going to repeat what they did last year, a hot streak followed by hitting a wall around the Kentucky game.  But there have been bigger surprises before.

Ole Miss  (Cotton Bowl Champions)

The Rebs, I think, are headed for a rebuilding year, thus I put them near the bottom of the list.  Replacing the offensive production of Dexter McCluster will take a lot out of this team early.  I think Houston Nutt is one of the best coaches in the game at overproducing with the talent he has, when there aren’t any expectations.  The goal this year is to get to Memphis, Nashville, or Birmingham.  I will be stunned if we are talking Rebels football in mid-October.

Mississippi State

Though I give Dan Mullen no chance of getting to Atlanta, I think he may have the most to say on who goes.  I really think the Bulldogs will upend someone’s season in the West, and by virtue of that head to a bowl game.  And that is all is required of State football teams, it is a successful season if they head to Memphis or Birmingham, which I think they will.

There you have it for the West, I don’t think really anyone can touch Alabama, unless they lose more than two games (which is entirely possible), but in the West its Bama and everyone else.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Fantasy Football 2010 Sleepers

Published on: 30th June, 2010

Fantasy Football 2010 Sleepers  | read this item

Sleepers : the overused but highly-touted term used in fantasy sports to refer to a player who “no one” is talking about that will greatly outperform their draft position. The exact definition varies depending on the expert in question, and many people complain about sleepers not being deep enough for their “unbelievably competitive 28-team league.” To those people I say good luck drafting Chansi Stuckey .

I’m not going to get into a discussion of what really constitutes a sleeper, I’m just going to give you the goods; guys poised for breakout seasons who can be had late in draft. Cashing in on one late-round pick can win you a championship (as owners of Ray Rice last year can surely attest to), so pay attention.

All players currently have an Average Draft Position of 114 or higher (roughly 10th round for 12-team leagues) according to MockDraftCentral.com .

 
Chad Henne , QB, MIA (ADP: 126.77) – One of the big comments coming out of early training camps came from Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, who said Henne could be “the best quarterback in Dolphins history.” While the remark probably made Marino spit out his Nutrisystem, I’m definitely drinking the Henne Kool-Aid.

 

The former Wolverine is known for his cannon-like arm, which went woefully unused in his first season after replacing Chad Pennington at the helm in week three. Despite an extremely pedestrian receiving core, he still managed to post three games of 300-plus yards, which even more encouragingly all came within the last five games of the season. He also posted a 64 percent completion percentage over that period after only managing to get above 59 percent twice in the first 11 games.

Basically, he’s getting better. And now with an elite receiver in Brandon Marshall to toss it up to, look for Henne to post similar or better numbers than more well-known names like Donovan McNabb (ADP: 101.11), Eli Manning (ADP: 92.62) and Matt Ryan (ADP: 78.97).

 

Justin Forsett , RB, SEA (ADP: 121.27) – One of my favorite candidates for a Ray Rice -type breakout.

I was devastated when the Seahawks signed LenDale White in free agency. Luckily, the pain lasted only four days, as White was cut because of a pending substance-abuse suspension. This cut left the Seahawks back at square one again, with Forsett and the washed-up former Cowboy Julius Jones competing for the starting job in what Coach Pete Carroll called “an open competition.”

Forsett was a fantastic plug n’ play option when Julius Jones was being old and sitting out and was clearly the better back all season. He averaged 6.3 yards per carry when given the rock a minimum of 10 times and was good for 2-3 receptions.

His size might be the only thing holding him back. At 5’8”, 195 pounds, he’s not exactly a bruiser and his goal line carries might suffer as a result. But it’s worth noting that according to Pro Football Focus’s Elusive Rating System , Forsett was the most “elusive” back in the league last season, which bodes well for future success and his ability to carry a large workload. You won’t get better upside in round 10.

 

KEEP READING

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10 Moves the Oakland Raiders Can Make Before the Season

Published on: 30th June, 2010

10 Moves the Oakland Raiders Can Make Before the Season  | read this item

The Raiders have had a pretty busy off-season so far. They revamped the defensive front seven, brought in a new QB, and added depth to nearly every position.

Conventional wisdom would suggest that the Raiders still have, at least, one more significant move to make before the season, maybe a big free agency signing, a trade, or even a big supplemental draft move.

Here’s a look at some moves the Raiders may make before the season.

Begin Slideshow

LSU Tigers Football 2010: Predictions

Published on: 30th June, 2010

LSU Tigers Football 2010: Predictions  | read this item

The LSU Tigers went 9-4 last season, with all four of their losses coming by 10 points or less.  And each loss came against a solid team with the likes of Alabama, Florida, Penn State, and Ole Miss. 

But it appears the Tigers may be slipping in head coach Les Miles’ sixth year on the job. 

Miles is 51-15 at LSU through his first five seasons, but he’ll have his hands full with only six offensive and four defensive starters returning.

Check below to find out much more about the Tigers, along with my predictions on how they’ll fare in the SEC West this season. 

Beating the college football odds in this conference will be much easier once you check out our 2010 SEC football predictions to find out which teams are the strongest heading into the season.

 

Offense

Miles wants to get back to pounding the rock with more consistency after the Tigers averaged just 122.8 rushing yards per game last season. 

Carrying the bulk of the load in the running game will be RB Stevan Ridley, who was forced into action in the final two games last season.  But he’ll have plenty of help from Richard Murphy, who is returning from injury. 

The electric freshman Michael Ford rushed for more than 200 yards in nine games as a senior in high school, and he is their RB of the future.

QB Jordan Jefferson is back to lead the offense after throwing for 17 touchdowns with 7 interceptions as a sophomore. He is a nice talent, but he doesn’t have many proven playmakers to get the ball to in the passing game. 

WR Terrence Tolliver had 53 receptions for 735 yards last season, but he’s their only proven returnee at wideout.  Both starting tackles are back along the offensive line, but the interior will be all new.

 

Defense

LSU stayed in ball games last season thanks to a defense that allowed just 16.2 PPG; but only four starters return, and the Tigers must replace five of their front seven. 

Senior DT Lazarius Levingston is a stud, and DT Drake Nevis brings some experience.  Sophomore end Sam Montgomery could be the best of the bunch, and the team has praised him throughout spring ball. 

LB Kelvin Sheppard led the team with 110 tackles a year ago and he’ll be counted upon heavily to help out an inexperienced linebacking corps.

Also returning is junior CB Patrick Peterson, who scored two touchdowns last season, one on an interception return and another on a blocked field goal return.  He held Alabama’s Julio Jones to three catches, while also holding Georgia’s A.J. Green to just four grabs. 

Teams will throw away from him this season, putting sophomore Morris Claiborne in a tough spot opposite Peterson.  Junior SS Brandon Taylor started nine games last year, and FS Jai Eugene will have to adapt quickly to his new position.

 

SEC Prediction: 3rd in the West

Both Alabama and Arkansas have many more playmakers on offense than LSU. 

The Tigers must find a way to put up more points this season after scoring just 24.9 PPG a year ago, and it’s not looking promising. The defense has a lot of talent despite only four returning starters, but the Tigers will be hard-pressed to match the 16.2 PPG they gave up a year ago. 

I have LSU finishing behind both the Crimson Tide and the Razorbacks in the West this season.

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The New ‘Ten-Year War’ in College Football: LSU and Alabama

Published on: 30th June, 2010

The New 'Ten-Year War' in College Football: LSU and Alabama   | read this item

Bo Schembechler was an assistant under Ohio State’s former head coach, Woody Hayes for six seasons. In 1969, Schembechler ditched his position with the Buckeyes for the head coaching position at Michigan, Ohio State’s hated rival.

That same year, Woody Hayes would bring his Buckeyes into Michigan Stadium with a 22-game winning streak and the number one ranking in the country.

Schembechler and the Michigan Wolverines stunned Hayes’ Buckeyes that afternoon in Ann Arbor with a 24-12 victory. The 1969 Michigan vs. Ohio State game would go down as one of the greatest upsets in college football history, and triggered what became known as “The Ten Year War.”

During the next nine years, Michigan and Ohio State’s legendary head coaches would field some of the best teams in the country. Four times between 1970 and 1975, Ohio State and Michigan were both ranked in the top five of the AP Poll before their annual match-up at the end of the regular season. 

The roots of the rivalry between Nick Saban and Les Miles were planted in the Michigan and Ohio State rivalry and its “Ten Year War.” 

Les Miles, who grew up in Ohio, actually played for Michigan in two of the vicious battles against Ohio State in 1974 and 1975. Miles would later coach under Schembechler as an assistant for Michigan, from 1980-82.  

Nick Saban, who attended college at Kent State in Ohio, was an assistant at Ohio State during the same time Miles was an assistant at Michigan, 1980-81.

In January of 2005, Les Miles was hired as the head coach of the LSU Tigers replacing former head coach Nick Saban who had bolted for the NFL. Two years later, Saban was hired as the head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide—LSU’s hated rival. 

With the hiring, many members of the media dubbed the 2007 LSU vs. Alabama game as the “Saban Bowl.” Les Miles would take his “damn strong football team” to Bryant-Denny Stadium to face off against Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide for the first time. 

With a late fumble by Alabama, LSU would capitalize and Miles would win the game 41-34. The Tigers would then go on to win the 2007 National Championship. But, Miles would be criticized for winning it with a roster full of Nick Saban’s recruits. 

All three match-ups between Nick Saban and Les Miles have been full of ferocious hits and wild endings. 

We have seen a late fourth quarter win by LSU in 2007. 

We’ve seen an overtime victory in Baton Rouge by Alabama in 2008.

And we’ve seen a controversial call against LSU that led Alabama to a victory in 2009.

The games played between Saban’s Crimson Tide and Miles’ Tigers may be even more important than the ones played in Michigan and Ohio State’s “Ten Year War” because the team that wins in each game has gone to the SEC title, and twice to the National Title. 

Ever since Nick Saban has come to Tuscaloosa, things have heated up not only on the field, but in the media side of college football. 

Woody Hayes was very outspoken about his hate for Michigan. According to Ohio State legend, Hayes refused to buy gas on an empty tank while riding through Michigan en route to Ohio. He said, “We’ll coast and push this goddamn car to the Ohio line before I give this state a nickel of my money!” He would refer to Michigan as “that state up north” or “that team up north” on many occasions.  

Did Woody Hayes hate Michigan because Schembechler left Ohio State for Michigan? Yes, along with many other reasons, but that was the core. 

Could you say the same about Saban’s departure from LSU having to do with Miles’ hate for Alabama? You bet.  

When Saban was hired in 2007, Les Miles was quoted at an alumni gathering saying that “LSU has a new rival in f****n’ Alabama.” 

Before the 2008 season, Miles cautioned LSU fans “not to make too much of that game, as it seems like a lot of teams in Louisiana beat that team.” Miles was referring to the upcoming game with Alabama and was poking fun at Nick Saban’s embarrassing loss to Louisiana-Monroe in the season before. 

Bo Schembechler was never very outspoken about any hate he had for the state of Ohio. He was a former coach of Ohio State just like Saban was at LSU. So there wasn’t very much room to talk for Schembechler nor is there for Saban.

Outside of Saban’s “coon asses” comments, he has remained quiet about Les Miles, LSU and the state of Louisiana.  

Though the trash talking between the coaches is evident, there is a common respect between Saban and Miles, much like there was between Schembechler and Hayes. But don’t count on Saban and Miles being friends off the field like Bo and Woody were. 

The dissension that exists between LSU and Alabama has evolved from its 2007 moniker, “The Saban Bowl.” There is now a special rivalry between the teams, schools, fans and even states that is fueled directly by the head coaches of Alabama and LSU.

In the old days of war, the winning army pretty much got to loot the countryside and take what they wanted—wealth, harvest, whatever. Much is the same in rivalries like Alabama vs LSU, where to the victor go the spoils. 

All the pieces are there for the Crimson Tide and the Tigers to have a new “Ten Year War” and this one looks to be even better than the first.   

 

 

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Penn State Should Be In the Same Big Ten Division as Michigan and Ohio State

Published on: 30th June, 2010

Penn State Should Be In the Same Big Ten Division as Michigan and Ohio State  | read this item

Hello, Penn State fans!

The Big 10 has expanded to 12 teams. Instead of adding another team from the East and giving us an Eastern rival, we’re left with a long plane ride halfway across the US. So there have been lots of discussion and rumors concerning divisions for the conference.

From a purely geographical standpoint, the obvious divisions would be Eastern and Central Time Zones (“West” just seems wrong for teams east of the Mississippi):

Eastern: Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Indiana, Purdue

Central: Illinois, Northwestern, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska

Many interested parties are concerned with the competitive balance of the two divisions. Well, we know Michigan is down, so that shouldn’t be the case. I would think Iowa, Wisconsin, and Nebraska kind of balance out the west.

Even if one division is stronger than the other, is that really a bad thing? Most of the power in the old Big 12 was in the South. But in the end, the Big 12 South champion has won the last six championship games, five by double digit margins.

Does it really matter if a lesser Western division champion makes the title game if they will most likely lose anyway? The best team wins in the end. Now, if a weaker divisional champ wins more than once in a while, then you have a competitive balance issue.

You can argue that the divisional balance broke up the Big 12 and hurt their conference. First, I can’t see the geographical outliers Iowa or Nebraska leaving the conference (especially if the revenue is split evenly which it wasn’t in the old Big 12) and if they do, we can easily replace them with Big East schools that would join our conference in a heartbeat.

Many proposals have our Lions in a division with Nebraska and away from Ohio State and Michigan. Being an alum of Penn State, these two games were the ones circled on our calendar. How would you like these two games off the schedule on a semi-regular basis?

Penn State supposedly joined the Big 10 for rivalries with Ohio State and Michigan (and to a lesser degree Michigan State). We didn’t join the league to make rivalries with Iowa, Minnesota, and Nebraska.

Nebraska is over 1,000 miles away from Penn State. If Nebraska and Penn State are in the same division, Penn State would have to travel to Lincoln every other year. Do you want to make that trip every other year?

It may be fun for you to watch on TV, but I can’t imagine it would be fun for Joe Pa, the assistants, and the players to make the trip.

Most of the proposals I have seen with Penn State and Nebraska in the division also include Iowa. So, take the team farthest east and put them in the same division with the two Big 10 teams west of the Mississippi River. I imagine many of them would put Minnesota in the same division (rivalry with Iowa) which will just add to the air miles for our Nittany Lions. That would put us at a pretty big geographical disadvantage.

Would a spot in the “Central” (moving one of the Central Time Zone teams to the other divsion) do Penn State a favor? Penn State is close to 50-50 with Ohio State recently and Iowa has dominated the Lions most of the years in recent memory (including costing us an undefeated regular season the year we won the Big 10).

If trading Ohio State and Michigan for Nebraska and Iowa would put Penn State in an “easier” division, the extra travel and lost rivalries may be worth it. I don’t see the switch as any easier.

Obviously, taking Penn State away from Michigan and Ohio State isn’t doing the Nittany Lions any favors. Are we doing Ohio State and Michigan a favor then? I would imagine Ohio State would rather play Penn State on a regular basis than any team in the Big 10 other than Michigan. Tell me I’m wrong, Buckeye fans.

Now if they swap Penn State for Wisconsin, that’s not making the Eastern division much easier. If they swap Penn State for a bad team, then the Eastern would be pretty weak with the Central having four of the top six (Penn State, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Nebraska) – even weaker if Michigan stays down.

Honestly, I see nothing wrong with Penn State, Ohio State, and Michigan in one division and Nebraska, Iowa, and Wisconsin in the other. The rivalries between Penn State and Ohio State and Michigan would remain intact. It would lessen travel for the entire conference as it would save Nebraska and Iowa from having to travel to Penn State every other year.

In the Eastern/Central split, all of the true rivals (not the meaningless Penn State / Minnesota rivalry, just because they play for a stupid bell) remain intact. The only current “permanent rivals” that would be separated would be Illinois/Indiana and Northwestern/Purdue. Would any of these schools miss any of their “rivals” in football?

I love Illinois’s rivalry with Indiana in basketball. The only reason Illinois gets excited about Indiana in football is because they may actually win a game.

They don’t separate the Yankees and Red Sox (that’s an Eastern thing for you people west of the river), they should not separate Penn State from its two biggest rivals.

If we have to be separated from both of them, Penn State shouldn’t swap with a Central Time Zone team. Put three Central Time Zone teams in each division.

Assuming Ohio State, Michigan, and Michigan State have to be together, then put us with the Indiana schools, Nebraska, Iowa, and Illinois (I’d love to have my two alma maters in the same division) and have Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Northwestern in the other. Call them “North and South”.

But my preference is keep us with Ohio State and Michigan and away from Nebraska and Iowa (Eastern and Central).

 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Black Hole No More: Why the Oakland Raiders Will Make the 2010 Playoffs

Published on: 30th June, 2010

Black Hole No More: Why the Oakland Raiders Will Make the 2010 Playoffs  | read this item

If you are going to read this article I need you to stop laughing right now. I know what you are thinking, “Here we go again, the Raiders added some players and just like every year the fans think they are back.”

Others might be saying, “Seriously? It’s the middle of the day and you are already drunk?.”

After a seventh consecutive season of losing 11 games or more the Raiders need a perfect storm to get back in the playoffs. Well that storm is developing and here are a few reasons why the Raiders will be playoff bound in 2010.

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