Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Shibley's 2010


The late college basketball coach Jim Valvano said in his epic ESPY Speech, "If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that's a full day. That's a heck of a day."

Well 2010 for has been that kind of year for me. I have had plenty of laughs, done a little bit of crying, and a whole lot of thinking so I would say 2010 has been a pretty full year.

At the beginning I was doing much of what I had done the past few years. Working at the radio station in Virginia Beach and announcing games for my high school. Finally, driving through a snowstorm on my way to getting paid minimum wage at 5 a.m. was a big sign that I needed to do something else.

Big change was on the way for me in June as I made a fateful trip back to Knoxville. In the span of a few months this summer I fell in love, decided to move back to Rocky Top, had songs written about me, got a job with AT&T, and then had my heart broken. So I would say it has been a complete year.

The Shibley family had another great year in 2010 as well. My highlight was seeing my sister in the role of Mimi in the musical "Rent" in Philadelphia. I had a ball making sure all my relatives knew what the show was about so they were not completely shocked the whole show. My mother decided to retire from nursing and has now converted my old room into her new studio.

We had another family reunion, this time in Charleston, South Carolina. It was great seeing everyone again and I look forward to the next one, hopefully in 2012. Also my cousin Andrew got married to his long time girlfriend in November. I was a blast, (and Tennessee defeated Vanderbilt during the reception which was a plus).

So as I look forward to 2011, I feel the best I have since I graduated college. Despite some of the circumstances of my return to Knoxville, this is where I belong right now. I have a solid job with a good company, I work with great people, I found a great new hobby in taking MMA classes, and I believe I have lived up to Valvano's quote.

So while 2010 was a great year, I am really looking forward to 2011. My resolution is to just grow as a person, keep smiling, and it wouldn't hurt me to drop a few pounds.

Happy New Year everyone!

Friday, December 10, 2010

BCS Bowls Breakdown 2010

Good to be back writing a bit.

Despite all the arguments we are stuck with the BCS for the foreseeable future. They are the top five bowl games in the country in terms of money so lets take a look at each one and what fun they will give us this season.

Tostitos BCS National Championship Game – January 10, 2011
Auburn vs. Oregon


The BCS got it right at least in terms of the top two teams in the country at least for this season. Yeah TCU may have a gripe but if you look at the body of work, the Ducks and Tigers are the best in 2010 and should be playing for all the marbles.
Everyone sees a high scoring affair as both teams score in bunches and do not do the best job in stopping people. This game could look more like and arena football game as the scoring goes but it should be fun to watch if you like points.

It is a contest that many have been looking forward to as it’s the SEC vs. the Pac-10 which has not been one of the contests during the current SEC streak of National Championships. Most people had been hoping it would be USC against an SEC team since the Trojans had been a factor in the past decade against the best conference in the country. Did not work out that way but it will be a great matchup.

The deciding factor will be who can stop who first. If you have watched Auburn over the course of the season, you have seen a team that has fallen behind but was always able to rally back and win including falling behind 24-0 at Alabama only to have Cam Newton get on track and pull out a one point win. Once Newton gets rolling there has been no stopping War Eagle. For Oregon to win they need to jump on top first and somehow keep the Tigers down.

The Rose Bowl – January 1, 2011
Wisconsin vs. TCU


The most traditional of all the BCS games got a wrench thrown in as the Horned Frogs of TCU crashed the party to play Big Ten stalwart Wisconsin. For those who want a David vs. Goliath match this is it. TCU fell shot of the title game but they still get to take on one of the big boys and prove that they belong.

TCU has a very strong offense led by QB Andy Dalton and has scored bunches of points and also shutdown their opponents all season including then No. 5 Utah at their place. However, the Badgers have been scoring in bunches as well and it has not all been on the ground as many think with Wisconsin. Quarterback Scott Tolzien is one of the most accurate passers in the country and the Badgers have a tough defense that shut down Terrelle Pryor and Ohio State earlier in the season.

It’s not the usual matchup in Pasadena but the “Granddaddy of them all” should still be a fun one to watch on New Years Day.

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl – January 1, 2011
Connecticut vs. Oklahoma


Like it or not the Huskies of UConn are in the BCS so we all have to live with it. I will say this about the Huskies, their head coach Randy Edsall has done wonders with this program and should either get a nice pay raise or as I believe, be the new coach at a major power.

No one would even think the Huskies had a chance against Oklahoma except for the fact that the Sooners have been down this road twice, against Boise State in 2007 and West Virginia in 2008. Both times Bob Stoops and the Sooners came in to the Fiesta Bowl expecting to win only to have Boise State trick their way to an upset and Pat White and Steve Slaton run wild against them.
I don’t see it happening a third time though. UConn is a solid team but they don’t have the gusto of Boise or the playmakers West Virginia had. The Huskies do have a great running back in Jordan Todman who rushed for over 1,500 yards but if the Sooners shut him down its all over. The Sooners have QB Landry Jones, RB DeMarco Murray, and WR Ryan Broyles on offense and I don’t think the Huskies can stop them.

Discover Orange Bowl – January 3, 2011
Stanford vs. Virginia Tech


This is the game you have to wave the caution flag to most of the “experts” who think Andrew Luck will throw all over the Hokies. Most people stopped watching Virginia Tech after they lost on Labor Day to Boise State and were hungover in a loss the next week to FCS foe James Madison.

However, the Hokies have righted the ship and won eleven in a row to win the ACC and secure another BCS Bowl for Frank Beamer. QB Tyrod Taylor has been wonderful all season passing for 2,500 yard and rushing for 637 yards. He is the focal point of their offense but look out for David Wilson who is dangerous out of the backfield and in the return game. Also be aware that the Hokies just know how to win bowl games.

We have all seen Stanford’s Andrew Luck and what he has done all season pitching the ball all over the field and also rushing for 438 yards. However it is not your usual wide open Pac-10 offense as the Cardinal line up and pound the ball when they want to. Should be a fun game down in Miami.

Allstate Sugar Bowl – January 4, 2011
Ohio State vs. Arkansas


Besides the Title game and the Tennessee game, this is the matchup I am most excited to watch. We all know the Ohio State vs. the SEC streak as the Buckeyes have never beaten an SEC school (including Peyton Manning and Tennessee in the Citrus Bowl in 1996). They have also gotten smashed by Florida and LSU in the BCS Title game in consecutive years.

This is a different matchup however as the Buckeyes may have the better defense this time. They also have Terrelle Pryor and a high powered offense who only had one bad game at Wisconsin this season.

While Ryan Mallett and those wide receivers get all the attention for the Razorbacks, they can also run the ball quite well. Knile Davis has 1,100 yards and 13 TDs this season so if the Buckeyes try and stop the pass all game, look out for Davis.

So there you have it. A quick look at the BCS games this season. Enjoy the games, save the debates about the BCS for the rest of the season.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

2010 College Football Pick'em Week 6


Well everyone got the win picking LSU but of course we would have all been glad to take the loss instead after what happened. Bottom line, if the Vols had picked up that 4th and 1 or stopped LSU on 4th and 14 this would have never happened. The faux pax is squarely on the coaches and players. I give them credit for fighting the whole way and the biggest sign of valor is if the Vols can pick themselves up and take out Georgia.

Let's look at the standings:

Last week

Alex 11-1/Joseph 10-2/Chuck 9-3/Trey 9-3/Tiffany 9-3/Dina 8-4/Shibley 7-5/Will 7-5/Victor 6-6/Eva 5-7

Overall

Chuck 48-12/Shibley 46-14/Trey 41-19/Alex 36-12/Dina 25-11/Tiffany 24-12/Victor 23-13/Joseph 19-5/Will 17-7/Josh 8-4/Andrew 8-4/Eva 5-7

Starting next week I will start including winning percentage so make it count this week!

Thursday

No. 7 Nebraska at Kansas State

Saturday

Paul Bunyan's Axe - Minnesota at No. 20 Wisconsin

No. 1 Alabama at No. 19 South Carolina

No. 11 Arkansas vs. Texas A&M (at Cowboys Stadium)

Paul Bunyan Trophy - No. 17 Michigan State at No. 18 Michigan

Clemson at North Carolina

Pittsburgh at Notre Dame

No. 12 LSU at No. 14 Florida

No. 23 Florida State at No. 13 Miami (FL)

USC at No. 16 Stanford

Pillow Fight of the Week - New Mexico at New Mexico State

Tennessee at Georgia

Good Luck!!!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

2010 College Football Pick'em Week 5


Another big week of college football as we have five battles between ranked teams and the Vols head to Tiger Stadium to take on LSU.

Here is how we all did last week:

Chuck 10-2/Will 10-2/Shibley 9-3/Joseph 9-3/Victor 9-3/Tiffany 8-4/Dina 8-4/Trey 6-6

Overall

Chuck 39-9/Shibley 39-9/Trey 32-16/Alex 25-11/Dina 17-7/Victor 17-7/Tiffany 15-9/Will 10-2/Joseph 9-3/Josh 8-4/Andrew 8-4

Now let's see if we can get all 11 people to play this week!

Thursday

Texas A&M at Oklahoma State

Saturday

No. 16 Miami (FL) at Clemson

Red River Rivalry - No. 21 Texas vs. No. 8 Oklahoma (from Dallas)

No. 11 Wisconsin at No. 24 Michigan State

Virginia Tech at No. 23 North Carolina State

No. 7 Florida at No. 1 Alabama

No. 9 Stanford at No. 4 Oregon

Notre Dame at Boston College

No. 22 Penn State at No. 17 Iowa

Washington at No. 18 USC

Commander-in-Chief's Trophy - Navy at Air Force

Tennessee at No. 12 LSU

Good Luck Friends!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

2010 college Football Pick'em Week 4


Awesome! Seven of you decided to join me in picking games last week! How did we all do?

Shibley 10-2/Alex 9-3/Dina 9-3/Chuck 9-3/Trey 8-4/Victor 8-4/Andrew 8-4/Tiffany 7-5

Overall

Shibley 30-6/Chuck 29-7/Trey 26-10/Alex 25-11/Dina 9-3/Josh 8-4/Victor 8-4/Andrew 8-4/Tiffany 7-5

For those of you who have on ly played one week, once you start to play a few I'll put the percentages up in overall.

On to week 4!!!

Thursday

No. 19 Miami (FL) at Pittsburgh

Saturday

Virginia Tech at Boston College

No. 1 Alabama at No. 10 Arkansas

No. 16 Stanford at Notre Dame

Kentucky at No. 9 Florida

Georgia at Mississippi State

Fresno State at Mississippi

No. 12 South Carolina at No. 17 Auburn

No. 24 Oregon State at No. 3 Boise State

No. 22 West Virginia at No. 15 LSU

California at No. 14 Arizona

UAB at Tennessee

Good Luck!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

2010 college Football Pick'em Week 3


Let's take a look and see how everyone did on "Monster Saturday."

Shibley 11-1/Chuck 10-2/Alex 9-3/Trey 8-4

After two weeks

Chuck 20-4/Shibley 20-4/Trey 18-6/Alex 16-8/Josh 8-4

So the first 11-1 week goes to me! Let's see if someone can have a perfect week!

Here are this week's games:

Thursday

Cincinnati at North Carolina State

Saturday

No. 12 Arkansas at Georgia

Georgia Tech at North Carolina

East Carolina at Virginia Tech

Air Force at No. 7 Oklahoma

No. 8 Nebraska at Washington

Mississippi State at No. 15 LSU

Clemson at No. 16 Auburn

No. 6 Texas at Texas Tech

Notre Dame at Michigan State

No. 9 Iowa at No. 24 Arizona

No. 10 Florida at Tennessee

Good Luck!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

2010 College Football Pick'em Week 2


Sorry this is a day late, I have been a little busy moving in to my new apartment in Knoxville. Here is what happened week 1:

Chuck 10-2/Trey 10-2/Shibley 9-3/Josh 8-4/Alex 7-5

A winning start for everyone but now things get much more difficult with big games this Saturday!

Thursday Game

No. 21 Auburn at Mississippi State

Friday Game

UTEP at Houston

Saturday Games

No. 22 Georgia at No. 24 South Carolina

South Florida at No. 8 Florida

Colorado at California

No. 17 Florida State at No. 10 Oklahoma

Michigan at Notre Dame

Brigham Young at Air Force

No. 12 Miami (FL) at No. 2 Ohio State

No. 18 Penn State at No. 1 Alabama

No. 25 Stanford at UCLA

No. 7 Oregon at Tennessee

Good Luck Everyone!!!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

2010 College Football Pick'em Week 1

IT'S BACK! The start of the season is a day away which means it is time once again for my yearly college football Pick'em Game! Chuck won last season but it was tight all season long. Let's see who can be the best at picking winner this season!

The rules are simple. I'll post 12 games every week on my blog and I will link it to facebook. All you have to do is reply to either my blog or facebook with the winner of each game. I will keep a running total and we will see who gets the win. If you miss a week that's ok will have a percentage too (of course you have to play most weeks)

Here we go!

Thursday

Southern Miss at South Carolina

No. 15 Pittsburgh at Utah

Saturday

Illinois vs. Missouri (in St. Louis)

Purdue at Notre Dame

Kentucky at Louisville

Northwestern at Vanderbilt

Connecticut at Michigan

Washington at Brigham Young

No. 24 Oregon State vs. No. 6 TCU (at Cowboys Stadium)

No. 21 LSU vs. No. 18 North Carolina (in Atlanta)

Tennessee-Martin at Tennessee

Monday

No. 3 Boise State vs. No. 10 Virginia Tech

Good luck everyone!

Monday, August 30, 2010

2010 College Football Conference Preview - The SEC


Last but not least it's the proverbial king of the mountain of college football conferences, the SEC. The list is impressive. The last four BCS Champions, 49 out of 255 players selected in the NFL Draft, the toughest schedules, and arguably the best defenses, most passionate fans, and giant stadiums. Let's take a look to see who will play for the SEC Title this season.

East Division

Champion - Florida

We all know the story by now, Tim Tebow has left and John Brantley must follow one of the greatest college football players of all time. Brantley is not as mobile as Tebow, but he does have a better arm so expect more running from the likes of Jeff Demps and Emmanuel Moodey and more deep ball. Who will catch those passes has yet to be determined. Other than Deonte Thompson no one in the receiving corps has much experience. The defense is loaded and fast as always, but who will lead them? Carlos Dunlap and Brandon Spikes are gone as is defensive coordinator Charlie Strong. Yes many familiar faces are gone from the Gators, but it's not like the cupboard is bare. What I want to see is if one of the running backs can pick up a third and short on the ground since Tebow isn't there to run left anymore. The Gators have to travel to Tennessee, Alabama, and Florida State this season, but they have enough talent, albeit unproven, to win the East.

Runner-Up - Georgia

Right now the only school in the East who I believe has enough talent to try and hang with the Gators in the East is the Georgia Bulldogs. They are breaking in a new QB, but the other ten starters are returning which gives whomever starts under center plenty of weapons, especially WR A.J. Green who is the biggest home run threat in the conference. Defense on the other hand is a toss up. Only five starters return from a unit that performed poorly last season. Switching to a 3-4 defense might just fix some of the problems. This may be a make or break year for head coach Mark Richt who has seen the Bulldogs record slide the past two seasons.

Everyone Else

Tennessee

For once I would like Tennessee to have a quiet offseason. The Vols are under their third head coach in as many years. Derek Dooley, son of legendary Georgia Coach Vince Dooley was brought in and has set in motion his plan to get the Volunteers back to respectability. It is not going to happen overnight though. Tennessee is very thin in spots, mostly on the two lines. The offensive line will have five new starters and the defensive line has been decimated by injuries this summer. Also, the Big Orange will be breaking in two new quarterbacks. JUCO transfer Matt Sims (Son of Phil Sims) looks to get the nod to start the season, but look for true freshman Tyler Bray to get plenty of snaps. The other skill positions have the potential to be quite potent. Receivers Gerald Jones and Denarius Moore are experienced and will get a boost from freshmen Da'Rick Rogers and Justin Hunter. Tight End Luke Stocker can be all-conference and running backs Tauren Poole and David Oku will be a nice 1-2 punch. On defense the Vols have great depth at linebacker and defensive backs Art Evans and Janzen Jackson are both heavy hitters. Tennessee fans will have to be patient and I think they will. This season the Vols can be anywhere from 8-4 to 4-8 finishing 6-6 and a small bowl will be deemed a success.

South Carolina

Steve Spurrier never seems to be happy with his quarterback. Returning starter Stephen Garcia has drawn the ire of the ol' ball coach. Garcia has to learn to get rid of the ball quicker to cut down on his sack total. He has plenty of talent but if he struggles, Spurrier will be there with the quick hook. Garcia does have some good targets. Alshon Jeffery is an emerging star and tight end Weslye Saunders is a big target once he gets back from suspension The Gamecocks finally have some talent in the backfield. True freshman Marcus Lattimore is poised for big things. The defense will be solid again behind SEC Defensive player of the year candidate in cornerback Stephen Gilmore. The biggest question will be if the Gamecocks can finally get over the proverbial hump and win nine to ten games this season.

Kentucky

Going to four straight bowl games has been nothing short of a miracle for the Wildcats. Joker Phillips comes in to take over at head coach for the retiring Rich Brooks. The Wildcats are talented on offense. RB Derrick Locke and WR Randall Cobb are two of the most dangerous playmakers in the conference. The secondary is quite battle tested and is the strength of the defense, while the front seven just cannot seem to stop the run. If the defense can hold people once and awhile a fifth straight bowl game is not out of the question.

Vanderbilt

New head coach Robbie Caldwell was the life of the party at SEC Media Days, but now it is time at start playing football and the Commodores have plenty to work on. There are some quality players, namely RB/KR Warren Norman and the defense should be pretty sturdy but there are still gaping holes in talent compared to the rest of the SEC. Vanderbilt will have to keep games close and make plays at the end when it counts, just like they did when they went bowling in 2008.

West Division

Champion - Alabama

The defending National Champions are ready to defend their title. The Crimson Tide are loaded on offense. Heisman Trophy winner RB Mark Ingram returns but may have less of an impact as his backup Trent Richardson is a beast as well. With the two of them sharing duties they have the best backfield in the country. QB Greg McElroy did not have to do much last year but was great when he needed to be, the last minute drive to beat Auburn and in the SEC title game against Florida. He has great targets to throw to as WR Julio Jones looks to rebound from a down sophomore season and Marquis Maze and Darius Hanks can both go out and get the ball. Defense could be the Achilles heel of the Crimson Tide. Nine starters from last season's team either graduated or are in the NFL. DE Marcell Davis and LB Dont'a Hightower lead this new group. We might not be familiar with the names on defense but they definitely have the talent, whether they can grow enough this season will be the factor. Also the schedule is not friendly this season. Six of Alabama's conference opponents have a bye the week before they play the Tide. One of those teams will trip them up.

Runner-Up - Auburn

No one is out at the airstrip yelling at Gene Chizik anymore. Auburn went 8-5 last season and were seconds away from knocking off Alabama. The Tigers are a veteran team especially on the offensive line and had the nation's number four recruiting class. JUCO transfer Cameron Newton has the job at quarterback. At 6-6, 247 pounds Newton has great arm strength and running ability which is perfect for Auburn's high tempo offense. The defense is strong but lacks an elite pass rusher and there is no real ball-hawk in the secondary. The Tigers should be fun to watch but, Auburn has to travel to Alabama this year which means they fall short again to the Crimson Tide.

Everyone Else

Arkansas

Combine one of the most acknowledged offensive coaching minds in Bobby Petrino and one of the best NFL prospects at quarterback in Ryan Mallett and you have an offense that is ready to put on a show at Arkansas. Add to that a very deep receiving corps in Greg Childs, Joe Adams, and Jarius Wright and things could be perfect through the air. However, Arkansas has to get something out of their running game and Mallett needs to throw more than just the deep ball. Also, despite the great offense, defense and kicking still wins games in the SEC and the Razorbacks have struggled there. Games 3 and 4 at Georgia and hosting Alabama will go a long way in determining how far the Hogs will go.

LSU

Following the 2007 BCS National Championship, the LSU Tigers had two disappointing seasons of 8-5 and 9-4. A renewed emphasis on the running game and better overall play from QB Jordan Jefferson will help the Tigers rebound on offense after finishing the season ranked 112th in total offense last year. The Tigers challenged Florida and Alabama last year until the lack of firepower caused them to fall short. Defensive attrition is a concern but CB Patrick Peterson is a big time player. Stamina and late game dominance will be critical to the Tigers success and Lord help Les Miles if he has a clock problem again.

Mississippi State

The Bulldogs ended 2009 with a momentum building blowout over rival Ole Miss and saw its future at QB in Chris Relf. Coach Dan Mullen has worked to fill in some of the gaps but is is going to be tough to replace All-Time rushing leader Anthony Dixon at running back and there is little experience at receiver. If they can shore up those spots and the defense can stay salty a bowl game should be in sight.

Ole Miss

Ole Miss is coming off 18 wins in the past two seasons but will need to almost totally revamp its offense to keep winning. Ole Miss picked up former Oregon QB Jeremiah Masoli after he was dismissed from the school following his third arrest. If Masoli can stay out of trouble things might improve but they still have to find someone to replace Mr. Everything Dexter McCluster and WR Shay Hodge. The Rebels do return a stout defense which should keep them in games but this looks like a down year in Oxford. However, Coach Houston Nutt seems to do much better when expectations are low.

SEC Champion - Alabama

The Tide will not get through the season unscathed which will keep an SEC team out of the BCS Championship Game, but they still have the best team in the conference.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

2010 College Football Conference Preview - The Big Ten


After a few years of being the butt of everybody's joke in SEC country, the Big Ten is back. Last year they won both their BCS Bowl games and Penn State and Wisconsin beat top 15 teams in their bowls. This season you have I believe three teams who have a legitimate shot a making a run to the BCS Championship. If they can avoid an SEC team in the Championship game they might just win it.

Champion - Wisconsin

The Badgers do it old school with a solid running game and they do it so well. The Badgers return ten starters on offense including RB John Clay who should be on everyones Heisman short list. QB Scott Tolzien is not flashy but he gets the job done. He has good receivers in Nick Toon and tight end Lance Kendricks. The offensive line is one of the best in the country, seven have starting experience and their average weight is 319 pounds. Wisconsin has an very easy four games in September before Big Ten play begins which ill give a young defense a chance to gel. The big games are back to back weeks in October when Ohio State comes to Madison on the 16th and then they have to play at Iowa on the 23rd. Wisconsin has traditionally choked when expectations are high. It won't happen this season as the Badgers go back to the Rose Bowl and maybe farther.

Runner-Up - Ohio State

The Buckeyes and Coach Jim Tressel finally got a little respect in big games back after winning the Rose Bowl over Oregon last season. Terrelle Pryor had a great game and made himself a Heisman front runner this season. This season Pryor does not have to lead the team in rushing and can focus more on his passing attack since OSU can go about five deep at tailback and not lose anything. Seven starters return on a defense that was fifth in the nation last season. It is anchored by All-America candidate Cameron Heyward. Much of the Buckeyes national championship hopes rest in Pryor. While brilliant in the Rose Bowl he has also show to be very inconsistent in the passing game. The schedule is not kind either as OSU has to travel to both Wisconsin and Iowa. I think they get tripped up in one or both those games. If not the Buckeyes could be back in the BCS Title game.

Runner-Up - Iowa

I have two runners up because I think the Hawkeyes are just as good as the previous two. As it was last season the defense will lead the way. Eight starters are back from last season's 10th ranked defense including all four on the defensive line, anchored at end by All-America candidate Adrian Clayborn. QB Ricky Stanzi is in his third season under center and while he may throw a few too many picks for my liking, he is 18-4 as a starter. The Hawkeyes weakness is usually their strength, along the offensive line. They have to replace three starters and it is a necessity if Iowa wants a Big Ten Title. Of course if you need to get offensive linemen, head coach Kirk Ferentz is the one who can do it. The schedule is a huge plus for Iowa. The toughest road test is week three at Arizona. Penn State, Wisconsin, and Ohio State all visit Iowa City

Everyone Else

Penn State

Joe Paterno has proven he still has it the past few years. The cupboard is not bear in Happy Valley, but Penn State is playing catch up to the top three this season. Even Royster is a solid running back and can become the school's all-time rushing leader. A new quarterback must be found to take pressure off of Royster. It will also be tough for the Nittany Lions to win at Alabama, Iowa, and Ohio State this season, but they should win more than six games which would give Joe Pa 400.

Michigan State

The Spartans got off to a tough start last season going 1-3 with losses against Central Michigan, Notre Dame, and Wisconsin, after winning their next three it looked like things were alright until off the field issues help the team skid to a 6-7 record. The Spartans have some talent returning, especially in QB Kirk Cousins and LB Greg Jones, but it will still be tough to see more than eight wins this season.

Michigan

At least the Tennessee coaching situation isn't as bad as the one in Ann Arbor. Back to back losing seasons and the first NCAA investigation in program history has made the coaching tenure of Rich Rodriguez very shaky. It is definitely a make-or-break year. The potential is there with more experience at QB whether it be Tate Forcier or Denard Robinson. There is some good depth all over the roster but questions abound on defense, especially at linebacker and in the secondary. The Wolverines better make a bowl and/or beat Ohio State for Rich Rod to have a future in Ann Arbor.

Northwestern

The Wildcats lost three players to the NFL and have not won a bowl game since 1949. They came within three points of ending that streak last season against Auburn but couldn't do it in the end. This season the Wildcats should make a middling bowl game and have a chance to finally win one. OSU and Michigan are not on the schedule and their non-conference slate is a breeze. The Wildcats should score enough points with their spread and with that schedule get to eight wins.

Purdue

Miami transfer QB Robert Marve seems to be the real deal to lead the Purdue passing attack. He has a great target in WR Keith Smith, but there is zero experience at running back after 2009 starter Ralph Bolden tore his ACL in the spring. As it seems to be the case every season at Purdue the defense, which finished seventh in the conference last season will have to improve if the Boilermakers are to get past mediocrity.

Illinois

In 2007 Ron Zook had the Fighting Illini in the Rose Bowl. That seems ages ago for the Zooker as the past two seasons have been dismal. Zook always seems to recruit good talent he just doesn't get the best results out of them. QB Nathan Scheelhaase is seems to be one of those players. Illinois has to probably finish .500 or better for Zook to keep his job.

Indiana

You know things are weird when it seems to be more fun to watch football at Indiana than the basketball team. That may change this season as the Hoosiers on the hardwood may be back, but the football should at least be exciting too. The offense can score points, but the defense cannot stop anyone so scores might resemble ones you would see on the basketball court.

Minnesota

The offense returns almost intact which might not be a good thing since they were 109th in total defense last season. Add a young defense and a tough schedule and the onus is on QB Adam Weber and that offense to pick things up.

Last but not least: The SEC!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

2010 College Football Conference Preview - The Big XII


The Big XII has really lost a lot this offseason. Texas loses the BCS Championship game to Alabama, five of the first six players taken in the NFL Draft were from the Big XII, and they lost two schools in Nebraska and Colorado to other conferences (they will leave in 2011 and 2012). However, all schools are in tact for this season and are ready to go.

North Division

Champion - Nebraska

They were one second away from shaking up the BCS against Texas in the Big XII title game and are ready for some payback this season. Ndamukong Suh did leave a big hole on the defensive line, but there are some great players ready to fill it. Bo Pelini has returned the black shirts to Lincoln. Jared Crick is an All-America candidate on the line as does cornerback Prince Amukamara. This defense could be better overall compared to last season. Meanwhile the offense will have to improve, the Huskers were 99th in total offense last season. Eight starters return to the offense so hopefully they are more seasoned and improved.

Runner-Up - Missouri

The only school who can really challenge Nebraska in the North. The Tigers return 17 starters from an 8-5 team including quarterback Blaine Gabbert who can pitch the ball all over the field. The offense will have to score points because the defense will need time to gel. DE Aldon Smith has a chance to be a superstar but the pass defense has been torched the past two years. If Gabbert can find some solid receivers the Tigers can keep the scoreboard running.

Everyone Else

Iowa State

The offense returns nine starters from a 7-6 debut season under coach Paul Rhoads. Three year starters, QB Austen Arnaud and RB Alexander Robinson will lead the attack. The defense however must replace seven starters, which is never good, especially when you can't reload like the bigger schools. Another bowl game would be a nice result.

Kansas State

Running Back Daniel Thomas could be the best back in the conference. Thomas led the Big XII in rushing and averaged more than five yards a carry. The rest of the offense leaves much to be desired. The defense is very thin so they have to stay healthy or else the season could be a disaster. If things fall right, a bowl game is a possibility.

Kansas

Legendary Nebraska Quarterback is back in the Midwest. He was hired to help rebuild a Kansas team that started 5-0 and then lost its last seven which got Coach Mark Mangino the boot amidst allegations of player abuse. Gill brings a good calming influence, and anyone who can win at Buffalo is a smart choice. It is going to be an uphill battle to start. Kansas is shy on talent and there isn't a proven playmaker on either side of the ball.

Colorado

Head Coach Dan Hawkins was brought in from Boise State and there was high hopes in Boulder. Four years later and Hawkins is 16-33 and not making friends. The Buffaloes were 104th in total offense last season but with nine returning starters hopefully things will improve. There are no excuses left for Hawkins. If the Buffs don't at least make a bowl, count on a change.


South Division

Champion - Oklahoma

Boomer Sooner is back. After lofty expectations last season, the Sooners were bit by the injury bug and finished the season 8-5. Sam Bradford missed much of the year and plenty of young guys had to step in and play. That experience will pay off this season. QB Landry Jones surged late last season throwing for 418 yards in the Sun Bowl. RB DeMarco Murray is set to have a great year as in WR Ryan Broyles. DE Jeremy Beal and LB Travis Lewis are All-America candidates on defense. If the offensive line can gel, look for the Sooners offense to soar. They just need to beat Texas.

Runner-Up - Texas

The Longhorns are not going to drop off anytime soon. Mack Brown can just pick the top talent out of Texas every year and they are reloaded. So people may not know the faces on the field yet, but you will. QB Garrett Gilbert had to come in early in the BCS Championship game for the injured Colt McCoy, and showed signs of brilliance (around all the turnovers). Texas is going to have to find a running game to take some of the pressure off Gilbert. The defense will be up to its usual dominance, led this season by DE Sam Acho who led the team with ten sacks last season. Texas will be in the conversation all season long.

Everyone Else

Texas A&M

Aggie QB Jerrod Johnson is fun to watch. He can throw a beautiful deep ball and he has the playmakers around him to keep the A&M offense as one of the best in the country. The defense on the other hand was 105th in the country last year but looks to have improved coming out of the spring. LB Von Miller led the nation last season with 17 sacks but he can't do it all by himself. If the Aggies stay healthy, it could be a fun season in College Station.

Texas Tech

The pirate is gone from Lubbock but former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville is now at the helm of the Red Raiders. Tuberville will not abandon the air raid offense, but there will be some more runs in the playbook, which is just fine with RB Baron Batch. New defense coordinator James Willis coached linebackers at Alabama and is a disciple of Nick Saban and Will Mushamp so the defensive pressure will be turned up.

Oklahoma State

When you lose Zac Robinson, Dez Bryant, and Russell Okung from the offense you may have a little bit of drop off. However, since Bryant missed much of last year due to suspension the other receivers were able to grow. RB Kendall Hunter is still around and can bust the big play. The Cowboys only have three starters back on defense so coordinator Bill Young will have to work some magic.

Baylor

It all really rides on the success of Baylor QB Robert Griffin. For the Bears to get to their first bowl game in 15 years Griffin is going to have to prove his torn ACL is healed and can take the punishment this season. Griffin was hurt in the third game last season after a brilliant freshman year in which he passed for 2,091 yards and 15 touchdowns, and rushed for 843 yards and 13 scores. The time is going to have to be now for the Bears to go bowling.

Big XII Champion - Oklahoma

Despite the fact that the Sooners could not contend for championship by mid-season last year, they showed heart and did not quit. After the 8-5 season last year the Sooners are motivated and ready to prove that last season was just a bump in the road.

2010 College Football Conference Preview - The Pac-10


Talk about your wide open conferences. One can make an argument for eight of the teams winning the conference title. While it does not look like any of these teams have a good shot at the national championship, it should be fun to watch a good ol' wild west shootout for the conference crown.

Champion - Stanford

Yes, Toby Gerhart is gone, along with his 1,800 yards and 28 touchdowns, but Head Coach Jim Harbaugh has a sophomore at quarterback named Andrew Luck who is the best on the Farm since John Elway. Luck will have some help with a four returning starters on a veteran offensive line and his top two receivers. Like most of the teams in the Pac-10 the defense is the problem. If the Cardinal can play solid defense and the running game is effective, Luck will have a monster year and lead Stanford to the Rose Bowl.

Runner-Up - USC

Some guy named Lane Kiffin takes over as head coach of USC this season. The Trojans were slapped with a bowl ban for the next two years so they can't play in the Rose Bowl, but hey can take home another conference crown. QB Matt Barkley leads the attack and has the usual top talent at the skill positions. True freshman running back Dillon Baxter is the most explosive back since Reggie Bush (or at USC "he who will not be named"). USC had a down year on defense last season, but Monte Kiffin will get this defense back on track. The Trojans will be in the race for the conference crown, but all the distractions will cost them a game of two this season.

Everyone Else

Oregon

The Ducks had just as crazy an offseason as the Vols had, which makes sense that they play each other in week 2. Losing Jeremiah Masoli keeps Oregon down but they still have plenty of veteran talent with 18 returning starters. RB LaMichael James is a burner and the offensive line is deep and experienced. The Ducks have a defense that is probably the most underrated in the country. Yes, the read-option gieves everyone fits, but when you have a defense in the Pac-10 that stops people, that is bad news. The game September 11 on Rocky Top will determine if the Ducks are a contender.

Oregon State

Head Coach Mike Riley just keeps the Beavers rolling every year. Oregon State always seems to start slow and they might do so again this year playing TCU and Boise State in September. However, they use that seasoning to get hot by the end of the season. The Beavers are breaking in a new QB but he has it easy being able to hand off to quick as a hiccup Jacquizz Rogers and throw to his brother James Rogers. Look for the Beavers to be in title contention going into the civil war with Oregon at the end of the season.

Washington

Talk about a quick turnaround. Two years ago the Huskies went 0-12 and then last year under new coach Steve Sarkisian went 5-7. This season they looking to get back to a bowl for the first time since 2002 and they have the QB to do it. Jake Locker is an awesome talent who turned down a chance to be the top pick in the draft this year to come back to school. Locker finally has talent around him this season. RB Chris Polk is the first freshman in school history to run for over 1,000 yards and WR Jermaine Kearse is a deep threat. Huskies will make a bowl this year and are a dark horse for the conference crown.

Arizona

Mike Stoops has successfully rebuilt Arizona playing everyone tough and getting to the Holiday Bowl last season. It appears Stoops now has a solid base to be competitive every year and even contend. The Wildcats can contend this season with a great quarterback in Nick Foles. This offense is one of the most versatile in the country. They can spread it out and throw with Foles and then run the jumbo package with a solid RB in Nic Grigsby. The Wildcats are thin on defense but have two of the best defensive ends in the country in Elmore and Reed.

California

The problem for Cal won't be replacing first round draft pick Jahvid Best, Shane Vereen is another in a great line of backs to have come out of Berkley. The problems are everywhere else. Is QB Kevin Riley going to live up to expectations? Is someone going to step up and be a solid number two receiver behind Marvin Jones? Can the defense stop people? Can Cal stay mentally strong (the Bears were blown out five times last season)? Jeff Tedford seems to do better when expectations are low so we will see this season.

UCLA

Head Coach Rick Neuheisel is slowly bringing UCLA back to prominence, but they need to get the offense going. A switch to the pistol offense and some fresh talent will help UCLA improve on their 88th ranked offense from last season. The defense should be ok again and kicker Kai Forbath is automatic (We Tennessee fans know that). Neuheisel thinks eight wins is possible. Right now I see seven.

Arizona State

The Sundevils' offense disappeared last season so coach Dennis Erickson switched to an air-raid passing attack. We will see if the change is enough to help ASU score some points. The defense should be ok, but the offense has to get better or else Erickson might be gone by the end of the year.

Washington State

Well the Cougars can't get any worse. No really they can't. Last season they were 119th in total offense and 120th in total defense giving up 512 yards a game and 357 points while only scoring 80. The offensive line gave up 53 sacks last season, they should be charged with assault for letting their quarterback get hit so many times. I don't see much joy in Pullman this season.

Up Next: The Big XII

Thursday, August 26, 2010

2010 College Football Conference Preview - The ACC


Looks like the ACC is finally stating to climb back to a powerful conference for the first time since they expanded to 12 teams. The ACC has a few teams that are ready to make an impact on the national scene. Both divisions are up for grabs so lets see who will be playing in the championship game in Charlotte this year.

Atlantic Division

Champion - Florida State

It is going to be so strange watching the Seminoles play without Bobby Bowden roaming the sidelines. New coach Jimbo Fisher inherits the most talented team in Tallahassee since the early 2000s. Most of the offense hinges around senior QB Christian Ponder who missed the last few games last year because of a separated shoulder. If his shoulder holds up the Seminoles should have a very powerful offense. The defense is another story. FSU ranked 94th in total defense and things will have to improve this year. A new scheme and new coaches will hopefully help. FSU has to travel to Norman to play the Sooners in week 2 and have their usual battles with Miami and Florida. The Seminoles are back on the rise and it starts with a trip to the ACC Title game this year.

Runner Up - Boston College

It doesn't seem to matter who coaches the Eagles, they always seem to win eight or nine games every season. They will be back at it again this season. RB Montel Harris is one of the best backs in the ACC setting freshman and sophomore records at Chestnut Hill. They need to get some competent receivers to keep defenses from stacking the line. The Eagles already solid linebackers have a chance to be great with the return of 2008 ACC Defensive Player of the Year Mark Herzlich after winning his battle with bone cancer.

Everyone Else

Clemson

Great to have Kyle Parker back under center and he must feel great after signing a million dollar deal to play baseball later. This team has the talent to compete in the conference, but how can they replace an all time great like C.J. Spiller?

NC State

Looks like the wolfpack are ready to turn things around. Russell Wilson is a playmaker at QB, leading the conference in touchdown passes with 31. With question marks at running back and on the offensive line Russell might have to pitch it around even more this season. The wolfpack have a great chance to make a bowl.

Wake Forest

It has been fun the past few seasons to see the Demon Deacons be competitive going to three bowl games in four years. However, QB Riley Skinner is not running the offense anymore. Wake has solid talent on offense but the defense has to step up. Never put it past Head Coach Jim Grobe to create a winner.

Maryland

Teams did not "Fear the Turtle" last season with Maryland only going 2-10. Athletic Director Debbie Yow has made it clear that a winning record is needed for Head Coach Ralph Friedgen to keep his job. There is talent on this team, mostly on offense, but the defense will have to force an occasional punt this season.


Coastal Division

Champion - Virginia Tech

It is a season of opposites for the Hokies this year. For once Virginia Tech is stacked on offense and the defense will have to catch up. QB Tyrod Taylor is a proven winner and has possibly the best tandem of running backs outside of Alabama with Ryan Williams and Darren Evans. Meanwhile, for the first time in a long time there are question marks on defense and special teams in Blacksburg. Of course Frank Beamer and Bud Foster have been at this a long time so expect the defense and Beamer Ball to be just fine. The Hokies have a doozy to start the season facing Boise State in D.C. if they can get by the Broncos (I think they will) they have to play Georgia Tech, at UNC and at Miami to round out the year. It is going to be tough but I think the Hokies have a chance to do something big this season.

Runner Up - Miami

The Hurricanes have the best collection of athletes in the ACC and they have finally begun to mature. QB Jacory Harris is poised to be a top star, but he is going to have to make plays behind three new offensive linemen. The defense is back to that old Miami speed again. To return to elite status, Miami must navigate a tough early stretch at Ohio State, at Pitt, and at Clemson. The Hurricanes get through that and the swagger might be back.

Everyone Else

North Carolina

The Tar Heels might have six to seven players picked in the first two rounds of next year's draft. Sadly they are all on defense and the offense has been nowhere near spectacular. The season opener in Atlanta against LSU will be very telling. If the offense can score at all, the defense could lead them to a championship.

Georgia Tech

As a fan of the option I have loved watching the Yellow Jackets the past two seasons under Paul Johnson. QB Joshua Nesbitt returns to run the attack, but the Jackets have to find replacements for RB Jonathan Dwyer and WR Demaryius Thomas and that won't be easy. If new defensive coordinator Al Groh can improve the defense and new skill players can step up, the Ramblin' Wreck will be in the title picture.

Duke

Former Tennessee Offensive Coordinator David Cutcliffe has made Duke watchable. Winning nine games in his first two seasons is nothing short of phenomenal (Duke won ten in the eight seasons prior). The talent level is slowly getting better but losing QB Thaddeus Lewis is not good. Of course, we know Cutcliffe can mold quarterbacks (See Peyton and Eli). Can this be the year the Blue Devils make it back to a bowl?

Virginia

New Head Coach Mike London is energetic and won a national title at Richmond in 2008. He knows how to win and has shaken the apathy off the program. Not enough playmakers this season but the Cavaliers will be back soon.

ACC Champion - Virginia Tech

Hokies not only compete for the conference championship, but a win over Boise State in the opener puts them in the National Title race.

Up Next: The Pac-10

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

2010 College Football Conference Preview - The Big East


It's almost that time of year! Football is back. Some high school football is already underway and college football kicks off next Thursday. The anticipation is always so much fun, I can't wait till the games get underway. Of course I will be doing my usual "Pick'em" game again this season through my blog so I can't wait to see who is the best this year (maybe for once it will be me).

So let's get the preview underway starting with the weakest of the BCS conferences, the Big East.

The Big East as it always seems to went down to the final week of the season with Cincinnati beating Pitt in a classic in the snow to take the title and the BCS bowl berth. However, the Bearcats got shelled in the Sugar Bowl 51-24 by the Florida Gators in Tim Tebow's last college game. The Big East did go 4-2 in bowl games last season and has set the stage for another wild race for the championship in 2010 as five teams have a decent shot at the title.

Champion - Pittsburgh

The Panthers have three legitimate All-American candidates in RB Dion Lewis, WR Jonathan Baldwin, and DE Greg Romeus. Head Coach Dave Wannstedt has been stockpiling talent and has come within a game of winning the title the last two seasons, only to lose to Cincinnati. This is the year the Panthers get over the hump. It will not be easy though, they are breaking in a new quarterback and they have a tough non-conference schedule starting the season at Utah and then play Miami and Notre Dame as well. However, they have the best overall talent in the league and should finish the season on top.

Runner Up - Connecticut

The Huskies overcame so much last season after the murder of Jasper Howard. They rallied to win their last four games including a bowl win over South Carolina. Head Coach Randy Edsall has built himself a solid program going to a bowl in three straight years. This season the Huskies return 17 starters and they get West Virginia, Pitt, and Cincinnati at home. The Huskies run the ball well and play great defense. That will keep them in games and maybe get them to the championship.

Everyone Else

West Virginia

RB Noel Devine is a burner and the Mountaineers return 19 starters. However, they are breaking in a new quarterback and it looks like the overall talent has dropped off a little since Rich Rod left Morgantown.

Cincinnati

Zach Collaros proved he could play well in relief of Tony Pike last year. The Bearcats have won 18 straight regular season games so they know how to win. But Head Coach Brian Kelly left for Notre Dame. Did he take some of the magic with him?

Rutgers

It was not too long ago that Scarlet Knights Head Coach Greg Schiano was the hottest coaching commodity in the country after resurrecting a long dormant Rutgers program. Now after a few winning seasons, but no Big East Championships fans are wondering if Schiano has lost his touch. A sub par offensive line and running game keeps the Scarlet Knights out of the title picture.

South Florida

New coach Skip Holtz (Lou's son) will keep things fun in Tampa as the offense will score points led by QB B.J. Daniels, but the defense took a huge hit losing pass rushers George Selvie and Jason Pierre-Paul. The Bulls will have to outscore people all season.

Syracuse

The Orange have begun a slow climb back to respectability under coach Doug Marrone. But they only have 52 scholarship players so depth is a big issue. They are still about 2-3 years away.

Louisville

New Head Coach Charlie Strong has re-energized a program that was in the title picture not too long ago. Strong is a defensive guy, but he has lots of rebuilding to do on that side of the ball if the Cardinals are to be competitive.

Up Next: The ACC

Friday, August 13, 2010

Going back to Rocky Top


I know some of you have been curious as to what those "big changes" were about that I had mentioned on facebook the past month or so. I wanted to make sure I had notified certain people before I let everyone else know here. So, in the spirit of LeBron James I am finally able to announce my decision (but I am not being a jerk about it and I don't think anyone will be burning a picture of me.)

I will be packing up and leaving Virginia Beach for Knoxville on September 7. The writing was on the wall that I could not really move forward with what I want to do in Hampton Roads so I have decided to make the move back to Rocky Top. I already have a place lined up out in west Knoxville behind the mall. I am very excited to finally get out on my own. Now all I need to do is find a full time job and I will be all set (I am grateful as always to my parents for helping me get started out there).

So yes I will say goodbye to the beach in a few weeks, but it will be great to be back in Big Orange Country! Of course there is more waiting for me when I get there and it's very special!

P.S. So for some of you who are out of town but need a place to say for a football Saturday I am happy to help!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Derek Dooley Stays On Point Through SEC Media Days


It's a time we all know and love down here in the SEC. Media Days! Where the head coaches and select players from each team are available to the media. Last year the big story was who did not vote for Tim Tebow in the preseason All-SEC team. It turned out Steve Spurrier had some member of the athletic department fill it out and left Tebow off. Also, everyone was very interested in what then Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin would say.

This year the big stories have been about agents as pimps and new Vanderbilt head coach Robbie Caldwell's first job working on a turkey farm (which was actually very funny as Caldwell said he was on the "inseminating crew").

Tennessee of course has Derek Dooley as the new head man on Rocky Top and he came prepared for the media gauntlet today. Dooley was first asked about his parents and what colors they would be wearing to games (real tough questions I know) since Dooley's father Vince was head coach and athletic director at Georgia for decades. I thought Dooley handled all questions quite well trying to keep the focus on what is going on now and what this season will bring instead of what his predecessor had done.

Dooley's biggest point had been the same he had talked about since he got the job, character. He wants his players to be accountable for their actions and be great representatives of the University of Tennessee and the community. “Certainly our image is not where we want it to be,” Dooley said. “All I know is that whether you have two incidents, four incidents, five incidents, either way, you don’t want any incidents in your program. So it’s important to do a lot of things internally to minimize the risk of those incidents.”

The biggest test of this policy came a few weeks ago after the brawl at Bar Knoxville in which safety Darren Myles was dismissed from the team and linebacker Greg King and defensive tackle Marlon Walls were suspended. Dooley said that the team as a whole felt responsible for what happened as the leaders of the team did not do their best at educating the players to take responsibility for their actions. This is something Dooley is looking to change on Rocky Top. Many know it is not going to happen overnight, but I think they are off to a good start.

Overall I thought Dooley did quite well at the podium. Being a former lawyer he knows how to work a room, is very engaging, and he thinks before he says anything. Which was good since the media kept trying to get him to take a shot at his predecessor.

While I think Dooley has said and done things the correct way so far, the real test comes this fall when he has to coach the Big Orange in Neyland Stadium. As always the SEC media days really signals the countdown to football season! So let's get rolling!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Tennessee Vols Arrested After Bar Brawl


No matter who the head coach is, it looks like some Tennessee Volunteers just can't stay out of trouble. I was going to comment about the Lebron James circus last night, but Big Orange Country dropped this in my lap today.

Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley has preached the role character will play in his football program. He will be put to the test today following an embarrassing early morning bar brawl Friday allegedly involving Tennessee football players.

Already, two players have been arrested and charged freshman receiver Da’Rick Rogers (a five star recruit) for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest and sophomore safety Darren Myles Jr. for assaulting a UT police officer and resisting/fleeing arrest.

According to the incident report, Myles elbowed a UT police officer under the eye, then tried to run away through campus and was found hiding in the bushes.

Police are continuing to investigate, as two people were sent to the hospital as a result of the melee. One of those was an off-duty Knoxville Police Department officer who was at the bar and tried to break up the fight, according to police.

His reward was being knocked to the ground and kicked until he was unconscious by a group of people identified as Tennessee football players. He's being treated for a head wound.

Some of the other Tennessee players that were detained for questioning or may still be questioned in connection with the brawl, according to police, include defensive tackle Montori Hughes, defensive tackle John Brown, receiver Denarius Moore, safety Janzen Jackson and receiver Matt Milton. In particular, police are looking for more information on who was actually involved in the assaults.

The incident happened at Bar Knoxville on the strip (it was Liquid Knoxville through most of my years on campus). In my opinion it has never been my kind of place. I am not really the clubbing type, and there has always seemed to be some seedy things going on there.

At this point I am getting so annoyed and ashamed with the way these players are representing the football team and the university. Yes I know all the facts have not come out and there are two sides to every story, but you just cannot have players keep getting into trouble like this.

Another problem that may arise is that Tennessee football players received "VIP status" at Bar Knoxville and didn't have to pay a cover. NCAA rules stipulate that athletes aren't allowed to receive any extra benefits or special arrangements such as discounts at restaurants or bars. I am pretty sure no more players will be allowed to go to Bar Knoxville in the future.

If Dooley is a man of his word there could be some strong punishments for the players involved. I have a feeling that Myles is going to be gone since he had been charged back on April 18 with disorderly conduct after an incident at another nightspot near campus. It is tough to say goodbye to such a ballyhooed recruit but Rogers might have to go as well. As for all the other players, we will all have to wait till more information comes out.

Sadly, this story will not go away anytime soon.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Long Time Needed World Cup Report


Yeah I know I have been pretty quiet on my blog the last few weeks. There have been some new happenings in my life so there could be some big changes on they way that I don't want to mention here because I don't want to jinx it. Anyway, onto my World Cup rant!

Why can't I be this good picking college football games? Flashback to right before the World Cup got going and I said on my facebook status that I had Spain and the Netherlands in the Finals! Now all I need is Spain to win and I will feel pretty awesome about my picks.

I do think Spain will defeat the Dutch in the finals, mostly because of the way they seem to dominate the possession of the ball. In most matches the possession on the ball is pretty even between teams, however the Spaniards have done a great job at holding onto the ball and limiting the other teams scoring chances. Look what they did to Germany yesterday after the Germans had scored four goals on both England and Argentina. However I won't have a problem if the Dutch win since they do wear orange. I really like that whoever wins will have their first World Cup Title.

As for team USA, I think it is a good thing that we are disappointed in their performance. That means that people have really begun to care what happens to our boys in red, white, and blue. We are very strong in the midfield, but we have to get better scoring up front and of course have to do much better defending.

Sadly, what people have to realize is that soccer is still no where near the top sport in this country despite all the attention paid to Sam's Army during this World Cup. If the USA wants to get better on the international stage more top athletes in this country have to get involved in soccer.

For example, around the World kids grow up wanting to play soccer and soccer only. While here in the United States, soccer is still probably the fifth or sixth most popular sport. Imagine if our best athletes like Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, and more focused on soccer at an early age.

Of course what many Americans, including myself will take away from USA's effort in this World Cup was their grit and determination to keep fighting until the very end. I love watching everyone across the country react to Landon Donovan's goal in the waning seconds against Algeria to help us advance to the knockout round.

Now of course it is onto the officials. It has become so obvious that FIFA needs to start using some technology and get things right. I am not ever talking about correcting offsides or fouls, all I really want is for them to be able to quickly look at a screen and determine if it was a goal or not. So what if it takes an extra minute? Get it right! Of course FIFA makes Major League Baseball look progressive when it comes to making necessary changes. As for things like offsides and diving, is it asking too much to put a few extra pairs of eyes on and around the field to make sure it is not so obvious the referee missed the call?

That is all for me today! I am heading down to Charleston, South Carolina next week for the Shibley family reunion! Enjoy the World Cup Final and you know I'll be back soon and back talking college football!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

USA Advances in Dramatic Fashion!


It is never easy for the red white and blue is it? The United States needing a win over Algeria to advance to the knockout stage of the World Cup, pulls it out in the last possible minute and gives my nerves a big Tennessee game test.

Sam's Army had so many chances in the game it almost seemed it was just not going to happen. Knowing that England was ahead of Slovenia, it started to look bleak as timed ticked away. It would have been a major disappointment for the USA not to advance to the knockout stage which is actually a good thing now that expectations are so high for soccer in this country.

Goalie Tim Howard made a good save at the start of added time and threw the ball out to Landon Donovan who got the counter attack moving. The United States was able to use their speed and make a great break on goal. Clint Dempsey was denied again (should have had a goal early in the game but was incorrectly called offsides) but Donovan was there for the rebound to give the game to the United States!

The burst of emotion from myself was repeated all across the country as fans were treated to one of the greatest moments in U.S. Soccer history! Sam's Army have been the comeback kids throughout the World Cup and qualifying, scoring nine goals after the 86th minute. However, it would be nice to not be in that situation for once.

While there is jubilation across America, it comes with heartbreak as Slovenia realizes they are out of the World Cup at the last possible minute. It is what makes this such a great event. Riding high one moment and despair the next.

Up next for the U.S.A. is the knockout stage against the runner-up in group D. There are no more draws. The games will move to extra time, and then sadly if necessary to penalty kicks. Now that we are to this point, let's see how far we can go!

Monday, June 14, 2010

College Football Expansion: This is just the Beginning


As some of you dear readers have pointed out, I have been quiet up till now on the developments in the college football world. I really wanted things to settle down a little before I made my piece. However, I noticed things could go crazy all summer so I need to have my thoughts out there and here we go.

Expansion has been on the minds of many college football fans at the beginning of the year when the Big Ten made it known they were looking to expand to twelve teams and have that championship game. What got people going crazy was when we all realized that they might expand to 16 teams which would send everything out of control.

It all started when the Big Ten sent out feelers to Notre Dame, Nebraska, Missouri, and Rutgers. Meanwhile, the Pac-10 trumped everyone when they sent invitations to six Big XII teams including one of the jewels of expansion, Texas.

All this of course was speculation and rumor until the dominoes have started to fall. Colorado will join the Pac-10 and Nebraska will join the Big Ten. Meanwhile, the Mountain West gets stronger as Boise State will join the other BCS buster schools Utah and TCU to help that conference make an argument to become a BCS qualifying conference.

Today it seemed all but inevitable that Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State would join Colorado in the Pac-10 and Texas A&M was looking to head to the SEC if the Big XII fell apart. Now, reports have surfaced that the ten teams left in the Big XII are looking to stay together and get a new television deal. As you can see, it has only just begun.

This all of course hinges on money. Money was the reason that Colorado and Nebraska left the Big XII. They believed the conference had become dominated by Texas and the south division, became very disenfranchised and felt they were not getting the money they deserved.

To me Colorado is really a Pac-10 school in many respects. Their school and the Denver area (12th biggest TV market) fits the mold of the rest of the Pac-10. Nebraska as well fits quite well with the rest of the Big Ten schools.

The key to continued expansion craziness hinges on Texas. If the Longhorns stay in a ten team Big XII I do not believe expansion will go much further other than the Pac-10 adding a twelfth team (probably Utah). Unless things go boom, Notre Dame will not do anything but sit there and be independent.

However, if Texas jumps and the Big Ten wants to get bigger, you know the SEC will not just sit idly by.

A twelve team Big Ten and a ten team Big XII? My head is already starting to hurt.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Biggest Referee Gaffs in History


Many of you are now very familiar with what happened Wednesday night at the conclusion of the "Imperfect Game." Umpire Jim Joyce called Cleveland Indians' batter Jason Donald safe when he clearly wasn't with two outs in the ninth to ruin pitcher Armando Galarraga of the Detroit Tigers perfect game.

While all parties involved have handled the situation with class and dignity and the debate to use more instant replay in baseball heats up (of course being baseball it will take forever for that to happen). It got me thinking about some of the biggest gaffs by officials in sports.

Baseball

Don Denkinger Calls Jorge Orta Safe

In 1985, the St. Louis Cardinals were on the verge of their 10th World Series title. Up 1-0 in the 9th inning of Game 6, umpire Don Denkinger called Jorge Orta of the Kansas City Royals safe although pitcher Todd Worrell, covering first, clearly beat him to the bag. The Royals rallied for two runs to tie the series, then blasted the Cardinals in Game 7 to win the World Series (yes the Royals used to be good).

12-year-old Helps Yankees
In Game 1 of the 1996 ALCS, 12-year-old Jeffrey Maier reached over the right field fence and grabbed Derek Jeter's fly ball before Baltimore's Tony Tarasco could snatch it. Umpire Rich Garcia opted not to call fan interference despite Maier's glove being obviously over the fence. The home run in the 8th inning tied the game and the Yankees won 5-4 in 11 innings. New York won the series 4-1. Being an Orioles fan, and watching this happen live was unbelievable. What made me even more upset was how Maier was treated like a conquering hero afterwards. If I ever see him in person I will punch him in the face.

Basketball

USSR Wins Olympic Gold on Third Try

The U.S. men lost for the first time in Olympic History, 51-50 to the Soviet Union, after referees twice put time back on the clock, enabling the Soviets to score at the buzzer. In the confusion legendary Oklahoma State and U.S. team Head Coach Hank Iba had his wallet stolen. The Americans protested and never accepted their silver medals. To this day they remain unclaimed. American player Kenny Davis has a clause in his will forbidding any of his descendants to ever accept the medal. Of course in 1980 in Lake Placid the U.S.A. got their revenge (do you believe in miracles?).

Hockey

Brett Hull in the Crease

Brett Hull's goal in the third overtime of Game 6 of the 1999 Stanley Cup Finals was allowed even though his skate entered the crease before the puck. The goal lifted Dallas to its only championship and further devastated Buffalo's long-suffering fans.

Soccer

Hand of God

Diego Maradona punched the ball into the goal in a 2-1 quarterfinal win against England, helping Argentina claim the 1986 World Cup. Later, Maradona described it as, "a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God." In reality it was pretty much all hand.

Football

Colorado's Fifth Down

Referees failed to change the down marker when Colorado spiked the ball on its final drive. The Buffaloes scored a touchdown on "fifth down," the final play in a 33-31 win at Missouri. Colorado went onto share the 1990 National Title with Georgia Tech.

In stark contrast to what happened in a similar situation in 1940. Cornell scored a last second touchdown to defeat Dartmouth 7-3. However, when it was later ruled that officials lost track of downs and Cornell had scored on a "fifth down," the president, athletic director, and coach of Cornell ruled that they would forfeit the game. Today the game stands in the record books Dartmouth 3 Cornell 0. The Big Red was ranked second in the nation at the time and gave up the possibility of a National Championship. Imagine what would happen today if say Alabama or Tennessee did something similar with millions of dollars and a BCS Title on the line?

So there you have it. Yes, human error is part of the game, but sometimes you just have to scratch your head and wonder what were they thinking?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Can Tennessee's Defense Be Better Than Last Year's?


While much of the focus during Tennessee's tumultuous offseason and spring practice has been focused on the offense, the Vols defense has gone through some changes as well. Gone are Thorpe Award winner Eric Berry, first round selection Dan Williams, team leader Rico McCoy, and legendary defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. What's left for the Big Orange is a group of young men and a young defensive coordinator who can carry the great Tennessee defensive tradition into a new era.

It all begins with the man in charge of the defense, Justin Wilcox. The 33 year-old Wilcox spent the last four seasons as Boise State's defensive coordinator. In those four seasons the Broncos led the Western Athletic Conference in total defense and scoring defense each year.

Yes, Boise State is in the WAC where defense is mostly an afterthought. However, Boise State did not go 14-0 last year by putting up basketball numbers. Last year the Broncos finished 14th nationally in total defense and third in turnovers gained. And that's not just against the WAC. TCU averaged 51 points in the last four games of an unbeaten regular season. It scored 10 in a seven-point loss to Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl. Oregon scored 42 or more points in five consecutive Pac-10 games. It scored eight in the season opener against Boise State.

Wilcox will bring a high risk/high reward defense to Big Orange Country. Something that is much different than Kiffin's famous "Tampa 2" defense. In the "Tampa 2" the defense played zone and did a great job at limiting big plays but it can limit a defense's chances on interceptions and sacks. With the multiple fronts and different schemes Wilcox's system brings, look for Tennessee to be a more opportunistic defense with more interceptions and sacks. However, this also leaves Tennessee susceptible to big plays. Despite this, the Tennessee defense will have to produce big plays on defense to give the offense a short field to work with this season.

So Tennessee fans have a good idea of what Wilcox can bring to the table, but what kind of talent do the Vols have this season?

On the defensive line Tennessee does have some playmakers at end with Ben Martin and Chris Walker. They are great pass rushers who have some solid speed coming around the end. Walker, listed at 241 pounds reminds many of the Indianapolis Colts great rusher Dwight Freeney when he played at Syracuse. At tackle the Vols are a little thin. Montori Hughes will have to live up to his potential this season. Wilcox has been tinkering with different schemes and during spring practice even lined up the 317 pound Hughes off the line so he could get a head of steam to rush the passer.

At linebacker the Vols have many players with game experience, mostly because they were all injured at one point or another last year. At the end of spring it looks like Nick Reveiz, Savion Frazier, and LaMarcus Thompson to be the starting three, but expect Greg King and Herman Lathers to get plenty of playing time as well. Under the radar is redshirt freshman Jerod Askew who can make an impact. With the depth at linebacker at a thin defensive line, look for Wilcox to tinker with a 3-4 scheme this season.

In the Tennessee secondary, when someone like Eric Berry leaves there is an obvious void to fill. This Tennessee group is looking to fill that void in a big way. Sophomore safety Janzen Jackson has already received Eric Berry hype after a great freshman season, despite losing four games due to legal issues. Darren Myles Jr., Eric Gordon, and Art Evans bring big play potential to the secondary.

In 2008 Tennessee was third in total defense, and last season the Vols dropped to 22nd. If Tennessee can get over depth issues on the defensive line, and the secondary can fill the void left by Eric Berry and Dennis Rogan, the Vols can have a great defense. Because of the schemes that Wilcox employs the success of this defense might not show up in yards per game. Instead success will be measured in sacks and turnovers.

This season, the Tennessee defense is going to have to lead the way until the offense has a chance to gel and score some points.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Big Ten Expansion: Ready to Reshape College Football Part I


It has been on the minds of many college football fans all offseason, expansion. The Big Ten made it known at the beginning of the year that they were looking to expand their conference ranks and add teams. The number of total teams has been anywhere from 12 to 16. Yesterday it was reported that the Big Ten has extended early offers to four schools: Nebraska, Missouri, Rutgers, and Notre Dame. Of course, immediately after the report came out, the Big Ten and the two Big XII schools rushed to deny everything, but you know in this day and age, that doesn't mean much. How this all plays out will change the face of college football.

In terms of the all mighty dollar in TV deals the SEC and Big Ten are on top by a large margin. Average annual income from TV revenue shapes up like this:

Big Ten - $242 Million
SEC - $205 Million
Big XII - $78 Million
ACC - $67 Million
Pac-10 - $58 Million
Big East - $33 Million

In the SEC, Big Ten, and ACC the TV revenue is divided evenly among all schools, while in the Big XII, ACC, and Big East only a portion is divided equally and a portion is based on which schools appear the most on television. Expansion is a way for the Big Ten to make even more money and for schools wanting to join the Big Ten to make more cash.

Here is a look at all four schools and a break down of what they can bring to the Big Ten and if they are likely to jump.

Notre Dame - The Irish have been the apple of the Big Ten's eye for decades and they would love to have them join the conference. However, the Irish are obsessed with sticking to their tradition of remaining an independent in football (they are a member of the Big East in all other sports). If this conference expansion really gets going and the dominos begin to fall all over college football, Notre Dame might just be forced to join a conference or be left out in the cold They also have a huge TV deal with NBC for their home football games, but now since the Big Ten has its own network and TV deal, as well as all the BCS dollars out there, Notre Dame could stand to make even more money as a member of the Big Ten. Notre Dame already has rivalries with a number of Big Ten schools in Purdue, Michigan, and Michigan State. Notre Dame might not like it, but they may have to finally put their independent tradition to bed.

Nebraska - The Cornhuskers have long been a strong program in college football. Yes they have had a few lean years recently, but starting with the success last year they are on their way back up to national prominence. Nebraska was an original member of the Big 8 conference with Colorado, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State. When the Southwest Conference dissolved in 1996, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, and Baylor joined the Big 8 to form the Big XII conference. While Nebraska was the bell cow for the conference in football through 2001, the power has really shifted to the southern division, namely Texas and Oklahoma. Since the Big XII does not have the revenue sharing system the SEC has and without a major TV deal, Nebraska has begun to feel disenfranchised with the conference and realize they can make more money in the Big Ten. However, Nebraska does not have rivalries with any Big Ten schools so they would be like the new kid on the block. Probably not what a traditional football power like Nebraska would want.

Missouri - Like Nebraska, the Missouri Tigers were a member of the Big 8 and then merged with the Texas schools to become the Big XII. Missouri has also become very disenfranchised with the Big XII and have been looking to bring their school into another conference. Both geographically and football wise, the Big Ten would be the best fit if they jump. Mizzou only has strong rivalries with Kansas, Nebraska, and Illinois. Their game with Illinois would become a conference game, and so would the game with Nebraska if they jumped, while Kansas would become a non-conference affair.

Rutgers - The Scarlet Knights as a school bring the least to the table when it comes to athletics. Yes, in 1869 the original Rutgers football team defeated Princeton University 6 to 4 in the first intercollegiate game ever played, but Rutgers football had been the pits for decades until current head coach Greg Schiano made them consistent winners. They had the dramatic win over Louisville on a thursday night in 2006, but really have not been on the national scene since then. What Rutgers brings is the New York city market and the New Jersey recruiting pipeline.

When I look at these four schools I think that Rutgers would definitely jump. I think they weigh too much on the New York market as a college football base, but with eight million people, someone is bound to watch. As for the New Jersey recruiting pipeline, schools have been getting huge recruits from the Garden State for years, including former Vols: Rashad Baker, Turk McBride, Greg Amsler, Bill Duff, Darrin Miller, Carl Zander, and Sterling Henton.

As for the other three schools, I think Missouri is the most likely to go. They look like a Big Ten school in terms of geography and academics. Notre Dame probably should go. I think of them as a Big Ten school more than a Big East school, but they have that tradition they whine about all the time so they probably will not make the move unless they are forced to. Meanwhile, I think Nebraska has too much tied into the Big XII when it comes to football so I think they are the least likely of these four to jump.

So there you have it. Get ready for some shake ups in the college football world. Part II will consist of what I think will happen to all the other teams and conferences if expansion really gets going.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Phillies Fan Got What He Deserved


As many of you know, I hate fans who act idiotic and ruin things for the rest of us. Last night, A Philadelphia Phillies fan got what was coming to him. 17-year-old Steve Consalvi ran onto the field at Citizen's Bank Park on Monday, where he was Tasered by a police officer.

Now instead of going to class today, this moron has to stand in front of a judge and be charged with criminal trespassing. There are some bleeding hearts who are whining that the use of a Taser was excessive, I could not disagree more. I think the officer did the right thing, using non-lethal force in subduing a fleeing suspect. The way the world is today, officers do not want to take any chances in dealing with suspects.

Tasers are actually quite safe in taking down a suspect and are preferred to using pepper spray. Before an officer is allowed to use a Taser, they must be Tasered themselves. Consalvi was not injured at all and 90 seconds after he was subdued, he was up and walking off the field.

I personally hope this use of a Taser at a sporting event will keep other stupid fans from trying to run onto the field. As I have said before, 99.5% of sports fans act like civilized human beings, it is the other .5% who give the rest of us a bad name and are part of the reason prices go up at events. Maybe this event will change some minds in morons, however I doubt it.