Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Other Side of the Coin

Yesterday, we discussed the best winter deals. Now, it's time to focus on the bone-headed moves.

Christina Kahrl of Baseball Prospectus, the panelist I was most impressed with at the MIT Analytics Conference, wrote about this a few days back. Luckily, we disagree on many of the "worst" contracts.

Worst One-Year Contract
Kahrl: Trevor Hoffman, $6m, Milwaukee Brewers

Banter: Jon Garland, $7.25m, Arizona Diamondbacks - Garland is known as an "innings eater." Is that a good thing in this case? His career ERA is 4.47, his career WHIP is 1.38, and he doesn't strike anyone out (4.7 K/9). For a team that pinched pennies this winter, this deal makes no sense.
Honorable Mention: Manny Ramirez, $25m, LA Dodgers - By giving Manny a player option for 2010, what motivation does he have to produce?

Worst Two-Year Contract
Kahrl: Willy Taveras, $6.25m, Cincinnati Reds

Banter: Edgar Renteria, $18.5m, San Francisco Giants - This should not even be a debate. The Renteria deal is inexcusable.
Honorable Mention: Kyle Farnsworth, $9.25m, Kansas City Royals - Um? Huh? Farnsworth used to be known as a hard thrower. Now, he's known as a guy with an arrow-straight fastball who surrenders losts of homeruns. Another team that pinched pennies in the wrong places this winter.

Worst Three-Year Contract
Kahrl: Raul Ibanez, $30m, Philadelphia Phillies

Banter: Casey Blake, $17.5m, LA Dodgers - Another head-scratcher in Hollwood, Blake has very similar stats to Jeffrey Hammonds. Enough said.
Honorable Mention: Juan Rivera, $12m, LA Angels - Three years for a guy that has never been an impact player makes no sense. This $12m could have been sent elsewhere.

Worst Offseason Contract
Kahrl: A.J. Burnett, 5-years/$82.5m, New York Yankees
Banter: C.C. Sabathia, 7-years, $181m, New York Yankees - Have fun with a 350lb. Sabathia in the middle of July for the next seven years.

Monday, March 30, 2009

An Optimist at Heart

Tomorrow, we will discuss the winter's worst offseason free agent deals, but first let's talk about that the wisest moves.

Best One-Year Contract: Orlando Hudson, $3.8m plus incentives, LA Dodgers - In October, Hudson figured he would be fielding multi-year offers at eight figures per (three years, $30m was floated). When the market fizzled, the Dodgers carpe diem'ed and signed Hudson to this bargain basement deal.

Honorable Mention: Joe Crede, $2.5m, Minnesota Twins - Crede provides Gold Glove-caliber defense and is only two seasons removed from a 30-homerun season.

Best Two-Year Contract: Adam Dunn, $20m, Washington Nationals - Aside from being a lock for 40 homeruns every year, Dunn provides legitimacy for a franchise sorely lacking it.

Honorable Mention: Brian Fuentes, $17.5m, LA Angels - I have repeatedly crticized the Angels' offseason moves, but this signing was a good one. If it works out as most expect. the Halos will have an equally-effective, cheaper K-Rod.

Best Three-Year Contract: Francisco Rodriguez, $37.5m, New York Mets - After two straight September collapses, the Mets needed bullpen depth and K-Rod provides it. He's probably a bit overpaid, but if he can help get the Mets over the hurdle and into the playoffs, he'll be worth every penny.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The NFL Gets It

I asked for this change (see Mock Notes) a few weeks back and the NFL listened.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Nice knowing you...

...Donte' Stallworth.

You are a millionaire dozens of time over. Take a cab. Buy a limo. Spend the night in a hotel.

I do not know the circumstances surrounding this accident, but to me, there's absolutely zero excuse for any of it.

You'll have the next 15-20 years to think about it.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

In case you missed it...

From The National Football Post: DT Will Johnson (6-4, 281) posted a remarkable 47 reps on the bench press and an impressive 5.07 40 time. He definitely caused a buzz at the Michigan pro day and should sign with a team soon after the draft.

47(!!!) reps!?!?!? Good Lord.

A few years back, Louisville CB Chris Johnson ran a 4.18 40 at the Combine and turned himself from no-name to draft-worthy. He got "4.18" tattooed on his forearms. I wonder if Will Johnson will do the same.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Response to Reader Comment

A few days back, I suggested that the NCAA should create three more play-in games to bring the total number of teams in the Tournament field to 68.

Tom posted an interesting response:

There shouldn't even be one play-in game, let alone four. Is Morehead St really worthy of a berth when a good team from a major conference is relegated to the NIT? If there were four play-in games, would you start going to Division II conference champions or would you go back to bubble teams from major conferences? If you go to bubble teams from major conferences and they win, how would that be fair to #1 seeds in the tournament?

Allow me to further elaborate.

One great thing about the NCAA Basketball Tournament (unlike football) is that every conference is guaranteed a bid into the Big Dance regardless of the conference's size, stature or power rating. Win and you're in. However, as even casual fans know, the weaker conference winners (ie the 16-seeds) have never won a game in the Tournament.

A few years back, in an effort to get more "quality" teams into the field, the NCAA decided to create a play-in game to add one team to the 64-team field. The two teams would battle for the right to get embarrassed, err, compete on national television (at least they can tell their grandchildren they won a Tournament game).

To me, the idea has merit, but I cannot see any reason to have just one play-in game. What is the purpose?

My idea was to add three more games which would pit the weakest eight teams in the Tournament against each other and allow four more deserving "bubble teams" entry. After all, the point of this whole Tournament is to find the best teams and let them settle it on the court. These "bubble teams" would be ranked in their normal slots (seeds 12-14).

Tom, the at-large, bubble teams would not compete in the play-in games. These games would be reserved for the eight weakest qualifying teams.

Had the NCAA instituted these games this season, Creighton, St. Mary's and Florida probably would have had a chance to compete for the real National title and not the National Invitational Tournament title.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Big Man Thoughts

Dejuan Blair is an absolute beast.

I hope this is a joke, but I'm afraid it's not.

NCAA Tournament Thoughts IV

My two favorite teams of the tournament thus far: Siena and Western Kentucky. Both play(ed) with heart, energy and toughness (hat tip: Jay Bilas). Hopefully, Siena can survive the Cardinals of Louisville today.

Even if Duke doesn't win the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship, they'll claim the National Titles for Ugliest Cheerleaders and Ugliest Student Body.

My bracket is an utter mess at this point although I did hit 8-for-8 yesterday. West Virginia screwed me. But, if Dayton beats Kansas today, everyone else will be screwed too. Let's go Flyers.

Upset of the Day: Arizona State over Syracuse. James Harden struggled mightily against Temple. I'm banking on a big game from him.

Bet of the Day: Xavier-Wisconsin Under 123. This has all the makings of a 49-48 game.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

NCAA Tournament Thoughts III

Forget everything I said yesterday. I'm still reeling.

Check back Monday.

Friday, March 20, 2009

NCAA Tournament Thoughts II

Welcome to Upset Friday. I think this will be one of the most memorable days in Tournament history.

The day starts with an underrated match-up: defending champs, Kansas against D1 virgins North Dakota State. The Bison are garnering no respect but have one of the nation's best scorers on their side, G Ben Woodside.

Next comes my surprise of the tournament, Stephen F. Austin against Syracuse, a team sure to be exhausted.

Parlay these two moneylines, and you are looking at a figure of +1600 or so if it hits, not a bad investment (I say this before the games begin).

To complete the day, 11-seed Utah State takes on Marquette, a team still struggling with the loss of PG Dominic James.

Other upset possibilities: Cleveland State against Wake Forest; Arizona against Utah; and Portland State against Xavier.

Sit back and enjoy.

Jay Bilas

Jay Bilas is a polarizing force. He's not on the T.O. level of polarization, but he might be on his way.

He can be very observant and describes the nuances of the game better than most. However, at least five times per game, he uses the word "tough" to describe a play and/or a player. I'm not sure if it's a shameless plug for his "Toughness" article or if he just doesn't know any other adjectives. Seeing as he became a lawyer after graduating from Duke University, I would surmise, it's the former.

To his credit, Bilas tells it like it is. Case in point, during last night's Villanova-American game, he described Villanova G Scottie Reynolds' overall play as "terrible." Most color guys would not go this far, and I saw it as a nice change of pace.

But, Bilas can be incredibly boring and repetitive, and if he wants to continue crafting his trade, he'll need to spice things up every once in a while (cracking a joke every so often wouldn't hurt).

Western Kentucky has a player named Steffphon (phonetically Stef-f-f-on) Pettigrew. I guess the triple-F formation wasn't allowed so his parents did the next best thing.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

NCAA Tournament Thoughts

Quick Thought: Why is there only one play-in game for the NCAA Tournament? Wouldn't it make sense to have four of these games so three more deserving at-large teams can secure a spot in the Big Dance?

Thursday's Upset Special: Western Kentucky. Illinois G Chester Frazier will likely miss the game and Western Kentucky has more experience than the Illini.

Word to the Wise: Oklahoma might be the weakest #2 seed, but they will be playing their first two games close to home, and the Sooners went undefeated at home with Blake Griffin in the lineup.

My Final Four: Louisville, Missouri, Pittsburgh, North Carolina

My Championship Prediction: North Carolina over Louisville. Not sexy, but I don't see (m)any stumbling blocks for either team before the Final Four.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Mock Draft III - Top 10

For a little change of pace, I will compare my newest mock drafts to those of Mel Kiper and Todd McShay of ESPN as well as Michael Lombardi from The National Football Post. Commentary certainly appreciated.

1. Detroit
Kiper: Matthew Stafford
McShay: Stafford
Lombardi: Stafford
Banter: Matthew Stafford, Georgia, QB - Stafford established himself as the class of the position at the Combine. If the Lions choose to address this need with the first overall pick - and unless they trade for Jay Cutler, I think they will - Stafford will be their guy. With all the hoopla surrounding the NCAA Tournament, Stafford's Pro Day might go unnoticed to many. I'm pretty sure the Lions won't miss it.

2. St. Louis
Kiper: Jason Smith
McShay: J. Smith
Lombardi: Eugene Monroe
Banter: Jason Smith, Baylor, OT - Smith seems like the class of the deep OT class.

3. Kansas City
Kiper: Aaron Curry
McShay: Curry
Lombardi: Curry
Banter: Eugene Monroe, Virginia, OT - I love the storyline of Monroe and last year's first rounder from Virginia, Branden Albert, protecting Matt Cassel.

4. Seattle
Kiper: Monroe
McShay: B.J. Raji
Lombardi: Raji
Banter: Aaron Curry, Wake Forest, LB - Curry dominated the Combine and is now considered by many to be the draft's top prospect. After Seattle's signing of WR T.J. Housyourdaddy and Michael Crabtree's imminent surgery, the two no longer look like the perfect match they were a few weeks back. The trade of LB Julian Peterson clears the way for Curry.

5. Cleveland
Kiper: Raji
McShay: Brian Orakpo
Lombardi: Orakpo
Banter: B.J. Raji, Boston College, DT - A great run-stuffer, but I still question why he never dominated in college like his skills indicate he would. Again, I do not think Raji is worthy of being a top five pick, but this is a mock draft and not what I would do.

6. Cincinnati
Kiper: Michael Crabtree
McShay: Monroe
Lombardi: J. Smith
Banter: Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech, WR - The Bengals replace Housyourdaddy with Crabtree. Not a bad deal for them although they have a lot more needs than just this.

7. Oakland
Kiper: Jeremy Maclin
McShay: Maclin
Lombardi: Andre Smith
Banter: Jeremy Maclin, Missouri, WR - Al Davis has always been enamored with speed, and Maclin has plenty of it.

8. Jacksonville
Kiper: Matt Sanchez
McShay: Crabtree
Lombardi: Sanchez
Banter: Andre Smith, Alabama, OT - I realize Smith has not had a great few weeks, but his talent is undeniable, and he can slide into the right tackle position.

9. Green Bay
Kiper: Orakpo
McShay: Aaron Maybin
Lombardi: Maybin
Banter: Brian Orakpo, Texas, DE - If he can prove he's healthy at UT's Pro Day, Orakpo would help revamp a struggling defense at Lambeau.

10. San Francisco
Kiper: Maybin
McShay: A. Smith
Lombardi: Robert Ayers
Banter: Mark Sanchez, USC, QB - Can Sanchez be the QB of the future that Alex Smith never was? The 49ers sure hope so.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

2009 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference

On Saturday, I attended the 2009 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. After learning about the conference a few weeks back from new pal David Pinto over at Baseball Musings, I thought it would be a good time.. and of course, it was.

MIT alum and Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey hosted the festivities. The day consisted of numerous panel discussions and Q&A's.


The first panel - Careers in Sports - began at 7:45am and was headlined by Chris "Buzzkill" Wallace, the GM of the Memphis Grizzlies. Not only is he impolite (he did not get up to greet a woman; instead, he stayed in his seat and made her awkwardly hug him), but he's also a buzzkill. After his four co-panelists rambled on for about 15 minutes about the bright prospects of obtaining a job in sports even in these dismal times, Wallace chimed in by saying how few jobs actually exist in sports.

I thought to myself, not only does this guy kill the hopes of the franchises he runs, he also makes sure everyone stays pessimistic. Way to get the day off on the right foot...or not.


The next panel - Evolution of the Fan Experience - was headlined by Bill Simmons ("The Sports Guy"), Jeff Van Gundy (former NBA head coach), and Brian Burke (GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs).

Playing the role of the typical fan, Simmons sounded way too whiny for my liking.

Van Gundy, who arrived with Diet Coke in hand at 8:30am, behaved exactly like he does on TV. He said all of the camaraderie between opposing players before NBA games made him "want to puke." He also criticized the NBA for scheduling a team to play at home on the second night of a back-to-back. Interesting.

The highlight of this panel, to the surprise of most, was Brian Burke. I knew very little about Burke coming in but came away very impressed. To get things started, a slightly disheveled-looking Burke said community service was a moral responsibility and "not a choice" on his teams. In fact, those who refuse to participate in volunteer work are either immediately sent to the minors or traded to a "place their families will hate." Needless to say, he gets very little resistance.

Burke, an incredibly eloquent former lawyer from the Boston area, called himself a "hockey junkie." Anytime he sees a rink, he pulls over to watch even if it's only eight-year olds.

He also considered and supported the idea of shortening the NHL season.

Burke also made it clear that he loves the physicality of hockey and reminded us that his teams always lead the league in fighting except this year. Of course, Burke did not build the Leafs' roster as he only took over the team four months ago, but he promised to "address this over the summer." He had the place in stitches.


The next panel on the docket, and the main reason I chose to attend, was Baseball Analytics.

The Panel:

Shiraz Rehman - Director of Baseball Operations, Arizona Diamondbacks
Tim Purpura - Executive Vice President and COO, Minor League Baseball
Christina Kahrl - Co-Founder & Managing Editor, Baseball Prospectus
David Pinto - Owner and Author, Baseball Musings
John Dewan - Owner, Baseball Info Solutions

An impressive panel that did not disappoint when discussing such topics as quantifying defense, using the shift, and BATS. If you want more details, you should have attended the conference.

I will say that I came away very impressed with Christina Kahrl, an extremely knowledgeable individual.


After lunch came Basketball Analytics headlined by Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks. Cuban, as expected, was outspoken and was the only panelist that provided any valuable insight. He defended his Devin Harris-Jason Kidd deal as well as his valuation metrics.

The only thing of note that came out of this for me was the realization that developing metrics for basketball will be an incredible challenge. In baseball, a player can accumulate 700 at bats in a season or throw 3500 pitches. breaking these events into numbers proves to be fairly useful. However, in basketball, there are so many variables that come into play that quantifying the contributions of individuals in a team game is quite difficult.


Boston Celtics SG Ray Allen participated in the last panel of the day - Value of Icon Players. Allen, a humble, well-spoken individual made the crowd laugh on several occasions with his witty humor. He seemed like a genuinely likable iconic figure.


Throughout the day I met some noteworthy people and learned some interesting things.

--I spoke with Kevin Pritchard, GM of the Portland Trail Blazers, who seemed well-prepared with a laminated agenda and a binder full of notes. Very nice guy as well.

--The NCAA generates more advertising revenue from the 63 games of the NCAA Basketball Tournament than the NBA does in a full season of 1200 games. Still think the NCAA Football Playoffs are a bad idea?

--I realized there are very few rivalries in sports these days. My thought is that this arises because of parity. It takes a number of heated playoff series to form a rivalry. These days, it's a huge challenge to even get to the playoffs in the major sports. Facing the same team is almost unheard of.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Recap of Sports Pet Peeves

Over the years, I have slowly revealed my Top 50 Sports Pet Peeves. The following have been published.

Sports Pet Peeve #1: In-game interviews of head coaches. I can tolerate coaches being interviewed at halftime (to a certain degree), but what is the purpose of interviewing a coach during the course of a game? Let me make sure I have this straight. It would be a good idea for a coach to divulge strategy or provide analysis during a game so the opposing team can know what he is thinking? How does that make sense? It's infuriating and completely nonsensical. These coaches get berated by the media for hours before and hours after the game. Leave them alone during the game. I beg you.

Note: This applies specifically to hockey (NBC) and baseball (Fox / ESPN). Sports Pet Peeve

#2: Detailing the score of a game by using the losing team's score first. An example: "The Dodgers lost to the Mets three to seven." No, the Dodgers lost to the Mets seven to three. It's not a difficult concept. Higher score followed by lower score.

Note: This does not apply to sports with sets (tennis, volleyball, etc) as it would be impossible to determine which team / player won which sets by using the rules outlined above. So, saying Serena Williams beat Venus Williams 6-2, 3-6, 7-5 would be necessary and perfectly acceptable.

#3: Unwarranted excessive celebration penalties after touchdowns. I understand offenses such as the "slitting the throat" gesture and taunting opponents, but the NFL and NCAA need to relax the illegalities of certain celebrations. A touchdown typically results from perfect execution after hours of film study and practice. Why do these governing bodies find the need to prohibit choreographed celebrations with teammates? God forbid a player share in the happiness with others who helped him arrive in the end zone.

#6: When trying to down a punt deep inside an opponent's territory, a player will wildly slide / jump / dive on top of a football forcing it into the end zone for a touchback. Failure to down the ball inside the 1-yard line has become an epidemic. I cannot count the times this has occurred recently.

#11: Defensive three seconds in the NBA. It's the NBA, supposedly the cream of the crop of professional basketball leagues worldwide.
Why can't you play any defense you want?

#34: Soccer players wearing gloves. Really, soccer players? It's so cold that you need gloves to cover your delicate fingers? Man up. You don't use your hands anyway.
Note: This applies to cross-country runners as well, but no one pays them much bother anyway.

#38: The Big 10 calling itself the Big 10. Has anyone figured out why the Big 10 hasn't changed its name to the Big 11? There are 11 teams in the conference; the conference logo (see below) has the shadow of an "11." You promote yourselves as institutions of higher learning. Do the intelligent thing here.

Friday, March 6, 2009

From the Archives: NCAA Football Playoff Proposal

I published this on my old site about four years ago. Still seems pretty relevant. What are your thoughts?

I’ve always been a proponent of the theory: if you don’t have a better solution, don’t complain about the current problem. Well, here’s my solution to college football’s current problem of determining a “true” national champion.

Every major sport (football, basketball, baseball, hockey, and even soccer) in every division (I-A, I-AA, II, and III) has a post-season playoff to determine the national champion with one exception: Division I-A football. Naturally, I think that should change. Admittedly, my solution is not perfect. But, it’s certainly a start.

The Prosposal

Have a 16-team playoff with each conference champion (12 in total) earning an automatic bid plus four at-large bids.

Two caveats exist as well: teams must be bowl-eligible and in the top 40 of the CFBPR system (see below). Obviously, these are in place to prevent an inferior team from taking the spot of a worthy competitor.

Q & A

Why not have a 4- or 8-team playoff?

Among others, here are three answers:

First, with so many teams qualifying, there will be far less griping from teams “on the cusp.” If your team finishes in the top-10, they will, in all likelihood, qualify.

Secondly, because each worthy conference champion gets a bid, undefeated teams from smaller conferences are guaranteed entry into the playoff. So, the 2004 Utah’s of the world can prove themselves on the field.

Thirdly, a slip-up won't ruin your chances. In my opinion, every team is entitled to a slip-up at some point during the season. Your team can lose a game and still qualify in this the 16-team playoff. This may not be true in a 4- or 8-team system.

Lastly (and most importantly to the university presidents), the more games that are played, the more money can be made.

Why must teams be in the Top 40?

Teams outside of the top one-third (of the 119 teams in D-IA) have very little realistic chance of succeeding in a tournament of this sort. Of the teams currently ranked 1 through 13 in the BCS poll, only LSU (vs. Tennessee), Notre Dame (vs. Michigan State), and UCLA (at Arizona) lost to teams outside the Top 40 this season.

What is the CFBPR?

Humans, with some help from computers, will give every team from 1-119 a College Football Playoff Rank (CFBPR). This system will be similar to the BCS poll, but it will also include two additional measures: “bonus points” for (wins over opponents that finish the season ranked in the top-10) and "Loss Strength rank."

How are the at-large teams selected?

The highest rated, non-conference champions qualify automatically.

What about Notre Dame and the other independents?

Any independent team ranked in the top-10 will automatically receive an at-large bid. Independent teams ranked lower than 10th, will be treated like non-conference champions.

How are teams seeded?

Again, refer to the CFBPR for the seeds.

When will the games be played?

The first round games will be played on the second Saturday of December.

Final exams will take place between the first and second round games. (Let’s not forget these are student-athletes.)

Second round games will be played on the fourth Saturday of December.

Third round games will be played the following week.

The "true" National Championship Game will be played ten days after the third round games.

Where will the games be played?

The first round will be played at the higher seeded team’s home field.

Round two will be played at and in lieu of the Capital One Bowl, Gator Bowl, Outback Bowl, and Orange Bowl. (Note: all in Florida.)

Rounds three and four will be played at and in lieu of the Rose Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Orange Bowl, and Sugar Bowl. The championship game site will rotate on a year-to-year basis.

How would this fit in with the current bowl system?

This would not be all that dramatic of a change at the “bottom” of the bowl system. To combat the problem of bowls with conference ties, I introduce the trickle down solution. This is best explained with a concrete example:

The New Orleans Bowl has a contract with Conference USA and the Sun Belt Conference. The Sun Belt champion (Arkansas State) plays in the New Orleans Bowl. However, if Arkansas State had qualified for the 16-team playoff, the Sun Belt’s second place team (Louisiana-Lafayette) would go in place of the champion. In essence, a trickle-down.

The “top bowls” would be altered drastically (as seen above).

Won’t the student-athletes miss too much school-time?

Of the 16 teams that qualify for this playoff, only eight will play past the second week of December. The other eight will have been eliminated by that point.

Additionally, most schools have an intersession (interrum, winter-session, or whatever you’d like to call it) that runs from the third week of December through the third week of January. So, little class, if any at all, is being missed.

Plus, unlike the Division I-AA, II, and III teams, the teams that advance to the second round will have time off for finals.

Aren’t there too many games?

If the NCAA presidents feel this way, they can drop the limit of games in a season to eleven.

Won’t this ruin tradition?

Yes, but so did the wildcard in baseball. Baseball has never been more successful.

College football is already so popular. Why change it?

Again, this in my opinion, would make the game even better. 81% of online voters agree with me (cnnsi.com poll).

What about the money?

The 2005-2006 bowls will pay out approximately $90 million that will be divided among 11 conferences. I’ve heard estimates for the revenue that could be generated through a playoff system between $100 and $350 million. I think there’s a reasonable way to divide that money so everyone’s happy. (I have a solution if the presidents are interested.)

The Winners

Unanimity: An unquestioned, unanimous college football national champion.

The fans: This has the potential to rival March Madness as the most exciting sporting event each calendar year.

The players: They will finally get to determine the national champion on the field.

Non-BCS Conferences: Finally, the little guys have a chance.

Undefeated teams: No more stories like the 2004-5 Auburn Tigers who went undefeated and have nothing to show for it.

The Losers

Conference title games: With limits on the amount of games that can be played, some conferences may decide to cancel the championship game and revert to another form of determining the conference champion.

University presidents: The presidents have been staunchly against this idea forever.

The Orange Bowl: The Orange Bowl drops from a top-flight (BCS) bowl down one notch to a second round game site.

Tradition(alists): Obviously, this will ruffle some feathers with those that still believe in working your way up the polls.

What if. . . 2005 Edition

Remember there would be no conference championship games; so, the playoff seeds would have looked something like this:

1. @USC (Pac-10)
16. Boise State (WAC)

8. @Notre Dame (At-large)
9. Miami, FL (Al-large)

5. @Virginia Tech (ACC)
12. UCLA (At-large)

13. TCU (Mountain West)
4. @LSU (SEC)

3. @Penn State (Big 10)
14. Georgia (At-large)

6. @Ohio State (At-large)
11. West Virginia (Big East)

10. Auburn (At-large)
7. @Oregon (At-large)

15. UCF (Conference USA)
2. @Texas (Big 12)

DNQ (Not in Top 40): Akron (MAC), Arkansas State (Sun Belt).

Sponsors looking at some of these games would be foaming at the mouth.

First round match-ups of Miami, FL at Notre Dame and Georgia at Penn State.

Potential second-round match-ups include Virgina Tech vs. LSU and/or a rematch of Notre Dame vs. USC.

To borrow a line from another college analyst (albeit basketball): “Are you serrrrr-ious, baby?”

The money’s there, the interest is there, and the structure is there. Let’s give it a shot. If it doesn’t work, we can always ask the computers who the national champion should be. I'll take my chances.

Two more reasons to have a college football playoff system

1. No long layoffs between regular season and bowl games. Why are we forced to wait four weeks (after the regular season) before we see another meaningful game?

2. Coaches would remain with their institutions until after their season ends. Boise State / Colorado Head Coach Dan Hawkins was under contract with Colorado but coached Boise State in their bowl game this week. How does this make any sense? He obviously was not focused on preparing his team for Boston College because he was busy recruiting players for his next job. Do you think Hawkins would have pulled this stunt if the Broncos were preparing for a first round playoff game? I certainly don’t.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

NFL Free Agents

The free agent frenzy has been fast-paced and only a few impact players remain unsigned. I wanted to do a "Top 10" list but could only come up with seven.

Top 7 Remaining FA's

1. Kurt Warner, QB, Cardinals: Quite possibly the only game-changer on this list. He carried Arizona through the playoffs and looks like he has a couple more years in him.

Update: Warner re-signed with Arizona, as expected. looks like Matt Leinart has clipboard duties for the next two years.

2. Igor Olshansky, DT, Chargers: A solid contrubutor on the defensive line in a league lacking solid defensive linemen.

Update: Olshansky signed with the Cowboys.

3. Bryant McFadden, CB, Steelers: Quiet and dependable, perfect qualities in a cornerback.

Update: McFadden quietly signed with the Cardinals. A great move for Arizona.

4. Jabari Greer, CB, Bills: An underrated cog in the Bills' D.

Update: Greer inked a deal with the Saints, a team in desperate need of help in the secondary.

5. Byron Leftwich, QB, Steelers: A perfect backup quarterback.

6. Laveranues Coles, WR, Jets: Coles unbelievably turned down a $6m deal from the Jets. He'll regret that in a few weeks.

Update: Coles signed a 4-year, $28m deal with the Bengals. Maybe he wasn't crazy after all.

7. Ray Lewis, LB, Ravens: A legend in his own mind.

Update: Lewis re-upped with the Ravens.

I think six of the seven players listed will return to their teams with Coles being the exception.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

NFL Mock Draft - Round 1 (Take 2)

A lot has changed the first mock draft was published.

Andre Smith may have fallen off the deep end; it was discovered Michael Crabtree's foot required surgery; we realized Malcolm Jenkins will need to move to safety... and that was only the news pertaining to the top five prospects in my initial mock draft.

Let's get to the new and improved mock.

Round One

1. Detroit: Matthew Stafford, Georgia, QB - Stafford established himself as the class of the position at the Combine. If the Lions choose to address this need with the first overall pick - and I think they will - Stafford will be their guy.

2. St. Louis: Jason Smith, Baylor, OT - Smith makes the biggest jump of any prospect (20th to 2nd) after an impressive showing at the Combine.

3. Kansas City: Eugene Monroe, Virginia, OT - I love the storyline of Monroe and last year's first rounder from Virginia, Branden Albert, protecting Matt Cassel.

4. Seattle: Aaron Curry, Wake Forest, LB - Curry dominated the Combine and is now considered by many to be the draft's top prospect. After Seattle's signing of WR T.J. Housyourdaddy and Michael Crabtree's imminent surgery, the two no longer look like the perfect match they were a few weeks back.

5. Cleveland: Andre Smith, Alabama, OT - In Eric Mangini's first year at the helm of the Jets, he selected two offensive lineman in the first round. I realize Smith has not had a great few weeks, but his talent is undeniable, and he can slide into the right tackle position for the Browns. A trade down (or up) certainly makes sense here.

6. Cincinnati: Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech, WR - The Bengals replace Housyourdaddy with Crabtree. Not a bad deal for them although they have a lot more needs than just this.

7. Oakland: Jeremy Maclin, Missouri, WR - Al Davis has always been enamored with speed, and Maclin has plenty of it.

8. Jacksonville: B.J. Raji, Boston College, DT - A great run-stuffer but I still question why he never dominated in college like his skills indicate he would.

9. Green Bay: Brian Orakpo, Texas, DE - If he can prove he's healthy at UT's Pro Day, Orakpo would help revamp a struggling defense at Lambeau.

10. San Francisco: Mark Sanchez, USC, QB - This Kurt Warner hunt seems like it's heading for an ugly ending. It would behoove the '9ers to focus on the long term future (Sanchez) instead of a short term solution (Warner).

11. Buffalo: Michael Oher, Ole Miss, OT - The whole Jason Peters mess won't solve itself. Time to move on for the Bills.

12. Denver: Peria Jerry, Ole Miss, DT - The Broncos solidified the linebacking corps and secondary with recent free agent signings. Now, it's time to work on the patchwork D-Line.

13. Washington: Everette Brown, Florida State, DE - Jason Taylor out, Everrette Brown in.

14. New Orleans: Malcolm Jenkins, Ohio State, CB / S - Jenkins won't slip this far if he improves his 40-time at Ohio State's Pro Day, but for now, he fits here.

15. Houston: Darrius Heyward-Bey, Maryland, WR - After a blazing 40 at the Combine, DHB (allow me to be the first to coin that nickname) proved he's could be a great complement to all-world wide receiver Andre Johnson.

16. San Diego: Rey Maualuga, USC, LB - Will Shawne Merriman be back at full strength? The Chargers protect themselves in case he isn't.

17. New York Jets: Sean Smith, Utah, CB - Doesn't trading this pick for Jay Cutler work for everyone? If not, Smith solidifies the secondary.

18. Chicago: Percy Harvin, Florida, WR - The Bears need more playmakers on the offensive side of the ball, and Devin Hester cannot be the number one option through the air.

19. Tampa Bay: Aaron Maybin, Penn State, DE/LB - Maybin had a terrible showing at the Combine but the Bucs would be thrilled to see him drop this far.

20. Detroit (from Dallas): Brian Cushing, USC, LB - Jim Schwartz would be the mayor of Detroit if this scenario plays out.

21. Philadelphia: Chris Wells, Ohio State, RB - The Eagles lost Correll Buckhalter in free agency but could replace him with Wells.

22. Minnesota: Hakeem Nicks, North Carolina, WR - Whether it's Tarvarris Jackson, Sage Rosenfels, Gus Frerotte or my mom playing QB for this team, they need weapons through the air. And yes, my mom could probably do a better job than those three.

23. New England: Clay Matthews, USC, LB - A hard working, fast riser, Matthews reeks of the Patriots.

24. Atlanta: Vontae Davis, Illinois, CB - After a disappointing junior year, Davis failed to change the minds of scouts at the Combine, but his physical skills are undeniable.

25. Miami: James Laurinaitis, Ohio State, LB - A Bill Parcells-type player. Measureables are average but the playmaking cannot be denied.

26. Baltimore: Alphonso Smith, Wake Forest, CB - He's short but could be the best corner in the draft. He also has the intangibles that are appealing to Ozzie Newsome and Co.

27. Indianapolis: Tyson Jackson, LSU, DE - An up and comer, Jackson has really impressed recently.

28. Philadelphia (from Carolina): Alex Mack, California, C - Great value.

29. New York Giants: Shawn Nelson, Southern Mississippi, TE - Kevin Boss just won't cut it.

30. Tennessee: Robert Ayers, Tennessee, DE - The Titans are impossible to predict (see Johnson, Chris) but the hometown Ayers seems reasonable here.

31. Arizona: Knowshon Moreno, Georgia, RB - The Cards need three things to compete again next season: Kurt Warner, Anquan Boldin and a dependable running game.

32. Pittsburgh: Will Beatty, UConn, OT - The Steelers figure to take the best offensive lineman available. For my money, that's Beatty.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Fantasy Baseball - Baseball 101

I am in a 12-team, fantasy baseball keeper league (five keepers per team). We started the league four years ago, and my team finished a disappointing third last season. I am going to document our slow draft. (I say slow because each team has four hours to make each pick meaning the draft will take about two weeks to be completed.)

League Name: Baseball 101

Format: Roto 5x5

Players: C, 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, OF (3), Util (2), P (9)

My keepers: Grady Sizemore, BJ Upton, Nick Markakis, Carlos Lee and Justin Morneau.

Next up: Round 1 Breakdown.

Monday, March 2, 2009


I've been under the weather for the last week. New post tomorrow.