Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Conference That Could Have Been

Like any good, single, male college sports fan, I was watching the BYU-San Diego State game when they flashed a chart that showed RPI by college conferences and Mountain West had the 4th highest behind the Big East, Big Ten and Big 12.

I have no idea what RPI means, but as a homer with roots near the Rocky Mountains, I need to spew some love for the Mountain West before it gets blown up. The Cougars and Aztecs look like they could easily hang with the top teams from the SEC, ACC and Pac-10.  The rankings indicate that they should be able to, I know there is some subjectivity to rankings as well, but that's what we've got to work with.

That being said it makes me sad that this budding rivalry is about to get nipped.  Obviously the MWC has a few disadvantages to some of the good ol boy conferences (The Mountain TV network is a big one), but they seem to be making a name for themselves in basketball. 

The NCAA tournament will obviously tell us more.  Mountain West teams haven't made it real far in recent years, but historically have had some great teams (UNLV in the early 90's, Utah in the mid-late 90's).
That's all about I can say about college basketball, my knowledge of the sport isn't extensive, so let's talk football for a while.

The top football teams in the MWC are better than the best of the Big East.  No contest.  Does anyone really think UConn or anyone else in that league would've had a chance against TCU last year?
The Horned Frogs aren't the only dominant team to play in the conference the last few years. What if we matched up the 09 Cincinatti Bearcats vs. last year's Utes team?  Please.  How about Utah obliterating Big East Champ Pitt in the Fiesta Bowl a few years back? Case closed.

Ok, so they've got the Big East.  How does the Mountain West stack up against other conferences?  I definitely think they could hold their own against the Big 10 and ACC, but they don't play each other enough to make a legitimate argument.  However, the Conference's Bowl record the last two years has been excellent.  What about the regular season?  

Air Force lost to Oklahoma 24-27 in Norman where OU is like 59-2 or something over the last few years
San Diego State lost to Missouri 24-27 in Columbia, Missouri
TCU had a 45-10 victory over Baylor and beat Oregon State 30-21 in Texas
Utah won against Pitt 27-24 at home and took it to Iowa State on the road 68-27.

Sure there were some MWC teams that laid some eggs and lost a few contests as well.  My point is that the conference isn't just feasting upon "little sisters of the poor."  (May I point out that TCU beat a Wisconsin team in the Rose Bowl that was hanging 70 points on their Big 10 opponents)

I'm not here to say the MWC is superior to all top conferences, but you have to think that by adding Boise State, Fresno State, Nevada and Hawaii, they might have had a chance at some day getting there for a few years ESPECIALLY if their programs could get the same kind of money the BCS generously pays out to the 6 major conferences.  If they could have held on to BYU, Utah and TCU and thrown out Wyoming (keep UNLV and New Mexico for basketball), it could have been magical.  Could the Mountain West have stayed on top for long?  No, nobody really can, and that's a good thing, but it would've been nice to possibly hit the summit for a year or two.

Alas, it's not so.  Life goes on.  We still love college sports.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

D-will is D-gone to De-Nets

To quote Bill Simmons "Hey Deron Williams, you just destroyed pro basketball in Utah what are you going to do next? I'm going to Disney World!"
What is with this mass exodus of good players from the western conference? Do they not realize what they are doing? Instead of sticking around and putting the final nails in the coffins of the Lakers and the Spurs they just made it so much easier for one of those two teams to make it to the finals. Now I'm still pissed at the person who let the Spurs get good again but so help me if its the same person that is letting this happen.
What ever happened to loyalty? You know sticking around and building a team and taking that team to the promised land. Ala Jordon, Bird, Stockton and dare I say Kobe. It just doesn't make sense to me. Oh well, I guess this gives the Suns a better chance of making the playoffs.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Carmelo Sounds Like an Ice Cream Topping

Seriously, "Melo" may have the most delicious sounding name in sports. 

And now he's a knickerbocker, which also sounds like it could be some type of sugary treat.

You may be asking yourself what a picture of Grant Hill has to do with Carmelo Anthony moving across the country.  You may also be asking yourself why he looks so short and unathletic.  Don't worry the man in the picture isn't actually Grant Hill.

I threw on my "basketball fan" gear so I could pose as an expert for this post.  The truth is I don't care much about basketball in general until March Madness, and any single NBA game doesn't really hold much significance until a week or two after the NCAA champ is crowned.  The most important basketball games right now are probably happening at the high school level.  Too bad Coach Tyler Matlock and the fightin Oakley Hornets can't get more national media exposure.

However, let's lay the 3A Idaho State Playoff picture to the side for a moment so we can talk about the biggest national sports story of the day.  Carmelo Anthony is going to the Knicks, along with Chauncey Billups.  I'm sure David Stern is stoked to have relevant teams in Boston, Los Angeles, and now New York again and the NBA will be more lucrative because of the deal.

I'm not sure what else happened with the trade but I hear that Denver got some young talent and draft picks and that a third team was involved.  I don't know exactly what the Nuggets current ranking in the Western Conference is, but I think this drops them out of the playoffs by season's end.  Denver may be better off in the future, (possibly?) but this year I think the Suns and Blazers win more games than the Nuggets when all is said and done.

Thankfully, Carmelo didn't announce that he had a goal to bring a championship to Denver and that he wouldn't give up until it happened.  Thankfully he didn't hold an hour long special on ESPN announcing his talents had been traded to New York, but its still obvious that the Nuggets would have wanted to keep Anthony around if they weren't pretty darn sure he was going to bolt the first opportunity he got to play under the bright lights on the biggest stage.

I'm not going to rip Carmelo Anthony for his desires to increase his brand name, whatever, go make your money. 

I am simply going to point out that the NBA is turning into Major League Baseball, where smaller market teams draft and groom the most talented players so they can sell them to the Yankees or Red Sox when the player gets to good for them to afford him.  (Yes I'm calling you out Boston, I know New York is the "evil empire," but get real, you had the 2nd highest payroll in the league both years that you won the World Series, if you can't beat em, join em, right?)

ESPN is already speculating that Chris Paul or Deron Williams could be running the point for the Knicks beginning next year.  At this point, no big-time player wants to stay home.  

Apparently there is no appeal in trying to make a subpar team great any more.  Its all about teaming up with other stars to form a super team now.  Basketball players today have more in common with Kanye West than they do with Coach Gordon Bombay, or any other sports icon whose story was told through a heart-felt, inspiring movie.

My high school (the fightin bobcats of Madison High) won multiple state basketball championships before, during, and after my time there.  We didn't have the biggest school, come from the largest city, or pay our players the most.  We simply put the best team on the court for a few different years.  There was a real brotherhood that existed between the players and the coaches.  They didn't want to let each other down and knew they had to give 100%.  The NBA isn't about that anymore.  

There are exceptions.  I do take encouragement in Kevin Durant quietly re-signing a less than league maximum deal with a team whose practice facility he admits is in the smelly part of smaller city. 

I take even more encouragement in football, the biggest professional sport in the United States, where "team" still trumps individualism.  For proof of this, look no further than the team that won it all with 15 players on injured reserve.

Don't get me wrong, I am incredibly biased and would have backed the Green Bay Packers even if they had the highest payroll in the league as a result of signing Peyton Manning, and picking up Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Johnson for him to throw to and Adrian Peterson for him to hand off to, but they didn't need to do that to win it all.

The smallest market team in professional sports has signed one big time free agent in the last decade, and Charles Woodson stuck with Green Bay through 4-12, 6-10, and 8-8 seasons where they didn't sniff the playoffs. 

The Pack took B.J. Raji one pick before Michael Crabtree and Brian Buluga one pick before Dez Bryant in consecutive seasons.  THANK YOU TED THOMPSON! Both players came up huge during the playoffs, as did the many receivers drafted by Green Bay in the second round over the years (Jordy Nelson, Greg Jennings, James Jones).

The amazing thing is that the team the Packers beat in the SuperBowl has been built the same way, by drafting players that buy into the system and develop as a team.  Even though we are on track to an ugly lockout where millionaire players fight with billionaire owners, I want to thank the NFL.  I learned this season that 11 is greater than 1, that the best player in the league doesn't hoist the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the season, but the best team does.  And for that, I thank you football.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Football Football Football Football Football Football Football Football Football Football Football!!!!!!!!!

So, we just had a GREAT Superbowl to finish off the 2010-2011 NFL season. And you know what the NCAA National Championship was a close game...Although, everyone and their dog was expecting a lot more offense. But, all and all it's the close games that are always the best ones to watch. We had some good controversy to talk about this season, which always makes it fun. And, despite some temporary hurt feelings and bruised egos we've moved on, and were still friends. You know why? It's because we look pass our petty team differences and we embrace the big picture and that is our love for the sport we know as FOOTBALL...Like I said it was a great year boys!

But, let me ask you this football fans. Is football ever really over? I mean Spring Football is in just a couple of weeks and then in about month or so we'll have the NFL Draft, don't forget signing day for tomorrows NCAA Studs who we get to critique and criticize in upcoming seasons. Then it's summer and between church softball, bridge jumping, and seeing Zach get married who really has time for football and then BOOM before you know it Fall Camp has arrived and the 2011-2012 season has started up again.

I LOVE THIS SPORT, DAG GUMMIT! But, you know what? I like Basketball and Baseball too, because I think they are excellent filler sports until we get back to the meet and potatoes which is FOOTBALL! And, don't forget ladies and gentlemen it is never an inappropriate time to remind the "ever so popular" soccer that it's gay!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Sam's Da Man! Even though He Won't Confirm My Friend Request!

Congrats, to Sam Bradford on earning The NFL's Rookie of the Year award this season, now remember that I could go on all day about how The Rams went 7-9 this year under the leadership of the young QB. Keeping in mind that the Rams had gone 6-42 without him over the previous three seasons. I could talk all day about how Sam Bradford had played every offensive snap this year, and how he had over 3,500 passing yards with like 18 Touchdowns and I'm sad to report his 15 interceptions, but he still had a QB passer rating of 76.5 I could go on and on about how Slinging Sammy had 11 touchdowns passes and no interceptions over a six game stretch. But, I'm not gonna...Instead I'm just merely going to point out that this is the second NFL Rookie of the Year in the past four years that came from Oklahoma!