Lenz Crafting

Marty Lenz is a radio broadcaster (sports and music) formerly based out of Colorado, now in San Francisco, California. A former football player at Colorado State, and a co-host of Artificial Turf on the old national show on Sirius, Marty is a frequent guest and contributor to The Turf. He is also a voter on the Artificial Turf Top 17 College Football Poll. He also can be heard on KCBS Radio in San Fran doing news, talk and sports. Marty is a longtime www.turfsports.net columnist.
Visit Marty's website at....
www.ContactLenzCommunications.com 

       

    Roaster Poster!...12-15-10     

 

I do (like many fans of their favorite college program) read and post on sport blogs.  In my case one in particular:  I frequent RamNation, the CSU fan site that is a very good site with good fans, and a tremendous amount of ideas and discussion.  Though I do not always agree with other posters, I appreciate their "fandom", and their passion.  Passion is a good thing to have when you love and believe in something; but it can also be blinding. 

The below post is what I wrote on RamNation in mid December 20-10...after another tough and disappointing season for the Ram Football team.

As you may have noticed, I have not written a piece for Turf Sports since the mid point of CSU's season...I had to really digest things, and try to, as much as I could, really evaluate the season, and the program under Coach Fairchild.  Since the season ended in another 3-9 campaign (though 2 conference wins in 2010...CSU was 0-8 in the MWC in 2009) I guess you could say it was marginally better.  But it would take a curve bent from one end of the Milky Way to the other for CSU to have a passing grade...they get an F+...the + for the two conference wins.

But the fans this year I feel are complicit, and since football is a team game, and support (financial and showing up for games) goes a long way to a team's success, and is a fans responsibility/accountability to a program, CSU's fan base gets an F-...minus for expecting greatness from the team without expecting greatness from themselves.

I have remained silent long enough, and was inspired to finally put it out there what I think about the CSU fan base after reading the Nation for the past few weeks.  Mind you this is not inclusive of all CSU fans, many have been a great support through leaner years then these past two seasons (fans from my days in the late 80's, thanks for always being there).  However, it seems to have come to a head with some, and I finally had enough.

I do not know how else to articulate this, but if CSU fans seriously want the program to win, be dominant, compete seriously for a BCS bowl, ever have a serious shot at a national championship, then they better improve themselves sooner and faster than the football program...

My post below.. 

Unless fans all the sudden pack Hughes every game and make the Ram Club so well endowed it would make John Holmes blush...folks need to shut up about firing the coach.

Many fans want a champagne program on a beer (lite beer in our case) budget and fan support.

When top flight programs struggle, MORE money flows in, not less.

When top flight programs struggle, fans still fill the stadium, you support the team, the kids, even if you do not like the coach.

Many of you are tired of the excuses about the Coach and coaching, I am tired of the fans who are first to bitch, but the LAST to donate and go to games...those types are as bad as Sports Talk guys who talk about the teams, yet never go see first hand the games and teams; a bunch of posers.

Many here are not in that crowd, but the majority of CSU's fans are

You want BCS success, then we as fans need to act like BCS fans, and go and support the team.

Living out of state in a few different parts of the country taught me a few things:

1.  The BS about all to do in CO is bunk...CA has as much, and Cal for being 5-7 fills their dump of a stadium with 50-60k a game.  MN has good crowds as well, and they are not any better than us right now.

2.  Though true many CO fans are transplants and they root for the college or team of origin (being from PA, our family rooted for Penn State...but growing up in Colorado, we started rooting for the Rams..and if an alum of another program I get that)...However, I do not root for Cal or Stanford, but I'd go see them play... fans of other programs still go to other college games.

3.  Start time for games...that is the worst excuse, considering that when we played on ESPNon Thurs...we started at 5pm or 6pm often...but we LOVED ESPN and now "hate" the MTN...with "better" KO times.

I used to hate it when folks ripped us for low attendance, and defended our fan base, and our low funding.  Not anymore, I get more horked off the more I think about how some fans have acted and then somehow expect CSU to fulfill all their dreams when they as fans and alums do not live up to their obligation in making that dream a reality.  If the fan base did all they could, and CSU stunk, then I would be the first to defend fans.  But right now the fans to me are even more disappointing then our record or team.

You all have no clue how truly bad CSU was back in the day..I know, I was there for a stretch of that. 

The program is not where any of us want it, and it is awesome we now have expectations...Coach Fair does as well, which he has publicly stated.  But we are now the victim of our own success.  CSU and Sonny MADE the MWC...the Utah's and now TCU's took notice and matched and surpassed the watermark set by Sonny, while we stagnated...but whereas Utah and TCU received great funding to compete, we were just getting up (thank you Pat Stryker) to speed with teams in the early 90's...lights at Hughes, an actual indoor practice facility, upgrades to other athletic properties...things that put us ON par...not above it.

Yes, there has been a backslide, but it is more true to say the other programs caught up and passed us...because many fans  felt we did "enough" in funding the program, so we could step off the gas, while the rest were just getting to 60 mph.

My opinion is no more, or less valid than anyone else's.

But I do know that sniping about things, unless one is vested (in this case donating, buy tickets, going to games) is not productive, and an act of intellectual cowardice in expecting one's goals to be met, without contributing to them.

Merry Christmas...thanks for reading Lenz Crafting this year, have a wonderful Holiday season, and Go RAMS! 

     

MID SEASON MID TERMS…GRADING ON A SERIOUS CURVE (10-12-10)

No one with realistic expectations, even ardent fans (me being one) of Colorado State University’s Rams Football program thought CSU would be 6-0 at mid season; and of course they are not. The more hopeful thought maybe 4-2 or 3-3, but that too was a bit optimistic. Sitting at 1-5 at the mid point shows the Rams are still a serious work in progress, are in an advanced conference, a bit over their heads, and actually grade out as incomplete.

To say the Rams have a been a bit disappointing is fair, but more for what many see as a lack of passion in some games, most notably CU (which you’d think that it is real hard not to be fired up for that game) and Miami of Ohio. In both contests CSU looked flat and played uninspired. I may attribute that to youth, and with playing 12 freshmen (Red Shirt and True) the game is exponentially different at the college level then high school. But some of that falls on the coaches as well; it is one thing if kids screw up assignments or get outplayed by superior talent (Nevada example A…they were too good, and TCU of course), but I would rather see kids make mistakes playing with passion and at full speed then worried about making mistakes…which again goes to youth and learning the game to the point that one’s role is second nature, that talent and instinct take over. The coaches I feel should have also instilled in the kids (if they didn’t already) that playing hard and with passion right now is more important then getting every assignment perfect…simply put, don’t let perfection be your enemy against playing full speed and with heart.

This is why the fairest grade right now is incomplete…for the players and the coaches both, and the coaches philosophy at this point is the youngsters are going to take their lumps, and to this point that is an understatement. However with the 6 remaining games, the Rams honestly have a serious, realistic chance to win 5. Only Utah looks to be too good for this version of CSU.

So the 2nd half of the season begins at home against UNLV, and already CSU is favored. CSU should win this game, and then it is 9th ranked Utah in Salt Lake. However I would like to think since this is likely the last time the Rams play the Utes for the foreseeable future, and with Utah bolting the MWC, that the Rams get up and work a big miracle, the Rams are overdue for a big time win; then New Mexico travels to Hughes, then a surging SDSU team in San Diego; both winnable. BYU comes to the Fort for what may be a long hiatus following this contest as BYU goes Independent, and BYU is very vulnerable and beatable as witnessed by Utah States drubbing of the Cougars. Then finally the Border War with Wyoming in Laramie , and payback is due. 6-6 is quite possible, but with this young group so is 2-10. The cliché of “one game at time” certainly applies, even one quarter, one series, one play. This is a real opportunity for the CSU youngsters to grow, for the coaches to grow, and hopefully CSU to grow as a program.

I will be waiting to see if they earn a passing grade this season, and if the curve is still needed. 




THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN SHOWDOWN...HOW DOES IT LOOK THIS YEAR?...8-26-10

Does the Rocky Mountain Showdown make me look fat?

Be careful what you say, because image and perception in this game often carries as much weight as reality, more so with those who are less familiar with these two “brands”.

The Rocky Mountain Showdown, or should I say, The “Cinch Jeans” Rocky Mountain Showdown is here, and how CSU and CU “look” in the mirror or on paper often does not tell the story of how they will look on the field.

First, this game always looks better at Invesco Field/Mile High; and though no doubt CSU’s win at Folsom last year was fantastic, this one game between these two programs is highlighted by playing in Denver, where most the alums (if local) for both schools live, and kicks off the season often being one of the best first games of the year. This in turn for at least one weekend in the college football world shines a light on this part of the country, and these programs. And though both teams are coming off losing seasons, Invesco will likely not be sold out, and it is on regional television (The MTN), it helps both schools even more by creating an element of importance and a “big time” college football atmosphere for one weekend, usually a weekend when other programs open up with non-FBS schools or very weak competition. When both programs win again, this game will be as big, if not bigger than even its successful recent past.

So far the RMS still looks great and “fits” at Invesco and for both CSU and CU.

Does the RMS look better on CSU or CU?

This is where looks can be deceiving…by all logical accounts and appearances CU is and should be favored. Not sure they should be favored by 13 points (the line currently as I “try this article on”) just based on the neutral field. But, CU has the more experienced team returning, with a serviceable QB and decent Defense. But that is where what you see in the mirror or what your friends/boyfriend tells you will get you into trouble.

For some reason, the team with the least amount of experience, sometimes talent, usually wins this game…last year’s CSU win is another example of that; and with regard to talent, what CSU lacks in experience, they make up for in raw athletes and skilled players that are better than the Buffaloes on both sides of the ball. However, that talent could be nullified by experience and knowing one’s role, and how to execute…CU’s team “looks” more comfortable in that regard. And for the first time (maybe ever) with the RMS, the Buffs need this game worse than CSU. Though the Rams are on a 9 game skid, and obviously want to end it, their season and psyche will not depend on a victory in this game; the Rams are building for the near future, not this year. They have the goods, but are still maturing and will suffer growing pains throughout the 2010 season. Coach Fairchild is establishing his “brand” of Football; he is close to being as popular in his first 3 years as Head Coach as Sonny Lubick was during the height of the Rams success under him. Whether Coach Fair will be as revered as Lubick depends on the next 2-3 seasons; Fairchild has time to let his “style” take hold.

CU and Coach Dan Hawkins is a completely different “customer”; CU is trying to re-establish its “brand” while getting ready to expand it to consumers further west. The Buffs have languished over the past 5 years as a program, and trying to re-image themselves this year will be daunting. They need this game and win, since wins will be tough to come by against the rest of the B12, as the rest of the league will be lining up to pop them in the mouth to help jettison them to the Pac-10. Included in all this is the job security of Dan Hawkins; his style has not looked good on the field, though his efforts to clean up CU’s image off it have made the mirror more friendly. Hawkins has to win this game, beat this “younger, cuter, rival for affection”, or forever be relegated to the “defective” pile. Hawk not only will have to win this game, but likely 6 more to save his job. So the Buffs may look good in one view, but what will they look like in an “ensemble” and completely dressed? We will find out how much the CU kids buy into “Hawk Love” the brand this year, and have a pretty good idea if they do by half time of the RMS.

So as things “look”, CU has the edge in regard to experience, immediacy, and reputation. However, the fit in this tilt has been worn better by the newer faces and fresh stylings of the underdog and less healed. The 2010 Rocky Mountain showdown may look better on CU, but the fit is better for the Rams, with more room to grow, mature, and fill out.

That was a “Cinch”!
 

The “MOVEMENT WEST CONFERENCE” ...8-20-10

Just when we think that the upheaval of conference realignment has dissipated, another jolt from the state of Utah has made the MWC and the college football landscape shake again.  BYU, a long and storied program, with a strong following and church affiliation has expressed interest in going it alone…as an Independent in Football, and rejoining the WAC for the rest of its athletic programs.

There are likely many reasons; the most likely is control of its revenue and autonomy in regard to its broadcast rights for football.  They feel with their already “in house” network BYU-TV (which I get here in the Bay Area, but CANNOT yet receive the Mountain, and I have Comcast, who OWNS a share of the Mountain) and their ability to negotiate for themselves with ESPN and other networks, that they can do better in regard to revenue and exposure.  There is some potential truth to this, but that is assuming the other’s involved value BYU as much as BYU values BYU. 

Though BYU does have the Mormon church following from all over the country (and world) it still does not carry quite the clout of another school whose model the Cougars is trying to emulate; Notre Dame.  Notre Dame has many followers (the “subway alumni”) which includes not only Catholics, but folks all faiths and no faiths as their fan base.  To that end, BYU is more cliques…most folks who root for BYU are alums or those who are LDS members. I know very few (and in my inner circle no one) who roots for BYU that is not or has no affiliation with either the LDS Church or the school itself.  And, though not fair, there are many who do not have a favorable view of the Mormon faith and actually are more polarized in their dislike of, than fandom for, Brigham Young.

Another reason and this one speaks more to psychology and ego:  BYU did not and does not like that they were not invited to join a BCS conference, the reasons:

A.      The fact that the Mormon school frowns on competing on Sundays; though Football outside of a potential bowl game would not have been impacted and arrangements can be made to accommodate the other sports. 

B.      And this is more telling…BYU did not and does not like the fact that they were upstaged by arch rival Utah…who is moving to the PAC-10/12 next season.

BYU must have felt compelled to regain its pride and prestige, and is attempting to do so by going it alone and thinking they have the clout…this piece remains to be seen.

In the meantime, with another threat to the once powerful (and still very strong) MWC of losing one of its premiere programs…MWC Commish Craig Thompson took another whack at the WAC by inviting Fresno State and Nevada to the league.  The addition of these two, along with the previous invite and acceptance of Boise State into the MWC not only solidifies the MWC and insulates it from losing any of its progress in becoming BCS aligned, it also deals at least for now a TKO to what is left to the Western Athletic Conference.

This move to include the Bulldogs and Wolfpack could have been easily done in July when Boise was invited, but the urgency didn’t exist then as it did now with BYU’s wavering interest.  And there is even more talk of Cougars & the MWC…the Houston Cougars, who have become a top 25 program again in football, and more important, offer the #10 TV market, granting more exposure for the MWC and the MTN Network; they are said to be the next in line for an offer.

So as it stand now…the Mountain West loses one, adds three, and has one in limbo, and BYU finds themselves now in a bit of a box.  Leave for one sport, albeit their largest in hopes (and those hopes are much less realistic than BYU playing for National Title out of the MWC) of making a big splash ala Notre Dame, at the risk of your other 19 sports programs (hoops being a regular NCAA tourney entrant) in a conference that is maybe just a half step better than the Big Sky. Or stay, and realize the MWC is the best option and BYU, though respected, does not carry the cache it thinks it does. 

Pride goeth before the fall.

“PAC” It In Utah & Colorado …For “Greener” Pastures….6-20-10

In what can be considered the biggest upheaval (or at least week of speculation) in the world of College sports since maybe the advent of the forward pass, four programs will call different conferences home starting in 2011. Utah and CU have moved conference alliances to the Pac-10, Nebraska to the Big 10, and football darlings Boise State to the Mountain West. For the Utes, they now belong to the BCS and reap the benefits of inclusion among the best of College Football…though their play on the field the past decade has already placed them there, even if no one wanted to acknowledge it. No wonder young kids are bad at math, and geography! A Texas school is in the Mountain West, the Pac 10 has 12 teams, the Big 10 (which had 11) now has 12…and the Big 12 is two less with 10…carry the one, figure in the square root, do not forget Pi…and voila!

In reality for the Utes, this is a positive and major move...they now sit at the table of the BCS and can share in the money…and they give hope to the other non-BCS programs that they too can overcome and get to the promise land. However the canard in all this? Their rival BYU has been as, if not more, successful; they even won a national title in 1984. But it’s “what have you done lately”. A lot luck and timing, and for Utah , they benefited from that more than anything; winning “lately”.

As for all the weeks of speculation, burned up message boards, tweets, and wall to wall coverage, and the other teams who moved, nothing all too earth shattering changed.

Colorado was courted by the PAC 10 in 1994, so this move is one that many CU fans and the administration should have made then. The upside for the Buffs, they get out from under the shadow of Texas , and to some degree Oklahoma . The downside, they now are in the shadow of USC, UCLA, and will likely not play their “rival” Nebraska for a very long time, if ever. CU also feels as though the potential PAC-10 network could bring in an extra $10 million a year to the school. In a time when the state is cutting higher education budgets to the core, follow the money, and CU did that.

Nebraska too had felt for a long time that they played the understudy to Texas , and from a geographical standpoint and academics, the Cornhuskers fit the Big 10 better. But the Corn, if they felt in the shade of the Horns, now have 3 programs as prominent as Texas in Ohio State, Penn State, and Michigan from which to share the spotlight and fight for sun. Nebraska maybe faced 2-3 tough games in the B12 a year; now they face no less than 4.

Boise State moves into the MWC, a definite step up from the WAC, but the Broncos are in a league still fighting for respect, and inclusion to the BCS. The MWC has done its part, and though they lose Utah and their AQ scores and points that help the MWC for BCS consideration, the MWC picks up Boise’s, and the MWC loses nothing in football and in the scoring. Basketball is a different story.

The Pac-10 or whatever they will be called will now likely have their own network, and get a conference title game. The Big 12 or whatever they will be named will get a network, as will UT their own network (and the majority of the money) and they won’t play a conference title game.

The Big 10, 11, or 12, or whatever, already has a network, and will get a title game.

The MWC has a network and no title game.

The next big date is 2011 when the conference changes take effect. Then in 2012, the BCS reviews AQ status for the MWC. So for now things seem to be set…until more money is bandied about, or until another non-BCS team becomes an upstart.

Let the speculation and rumors begin…as if they ever stopped.



"DON'T RUIN A GOOD THING"...AND OTHER THOUGHT'S HEADING INTO SUMMER....5-20-10

Sorry I have not written more often, but I was attending my OTA’s.
 
What you say is that? It stands for Offseason Training Activities…which used to be voluntary for NFL players, but now are more compulsory and are expected to be attended…though of course they are still “voluntary”.   Tony Romo gave up a chance to qualify for the PGA Tour's Byron Nelson Championship because his tee time conflicted with a Dallas OTA. Denver’s own Tim Tebow turned down 8 figure endorsement deals because it would interfere with his training and work in the off season with the Broncos. Funny, I happen to think Football will interfere with Tebow’s higher purpose and calling. If you are a pro athlete making huge coin, you are committed 365 days a year…kind of like the rest of us in our jobs… with the exception of the big coin, and well chance of being crippled.
 
In today’s pro sports there is no “off season”…with the money at stake I can understand that. But in the coverage of sports, the new cycle of perpetual cycle, especially with the NFL will ruin a good thing. It is human nature to want to make something that is good already even better, but that can lead to ruining what was good…read New Coke.
 
The NFL runs the risk of saturating its fans with too much coverage…I know heaven forbid I don’t know the Steeler’s roster going into training camp…which by the way is in 2 months, held at my late father’s alma mater, Saint Vincent College. See, I already know too much, and that was before ESPN and the NFL Network.
 
We are taught in economics class that some scarcity is good, it keeps desire and interest high, and prices as well. The NFL, by diluting and “over producing” with constant 24/7 coverage runs the risk of making its product less desirable. We already have sports that seem to last an eternity: Baseball now goes to November…just long enough for Cubs fans to get their hopes dashed and crushed…even if the reality is that happened in early June. The NHL, and I love playoff hockey, goes until June…June…where in the hell is the ice in June? Unless there is a pro team up in the Arctic Circle or the Bering Strait, Hockey season should be over by now. Climate Change may make ice and snow possible in June, but we have a few more years to kill the atmosphere before we need to worry about that. The NBA goes until mid June, and they seem to start the earliest back of any of the Pro sports…late September...does it take 82 games and 4 rounds of playoffs to tell us what we already know….the Lakers will face someone in the East, and unless it’s Boston, the Lakers will take the crown easily?
 
Back to the NFL…It is 16 games where every game does matter (unlike the BS of College Football’s BCS where that is their mantra for why there is no playoff system), it is a one and done in the playoffs, and often it is anyone’s guess who will win it all. Parity in sports can be a good thing, and the NFL exploits this better than any other pro league. So save me the daily “Favre” updates, the signed rookies who are ready, the free agents and their potential impact on their team talk until at least training camp…which is less than 8 weeks away. I will have plenty of interest then.
 
Right now I have to get back to my OTA’s; my coach, er, wife, has many off season activities for me to “attend” and do before the season starts.

 

 


THE BCS FORMULA FOR BASKETBALL...4-18-10

Watching Butler and Duke play in a back and forth, David versus Goliath national title tilt in NCAA Basketball got me to thinking (scary thought):

How many votes and what computer rankings did Butler have to be placed in the title game?

The Bulldogs non-conference schedule and ratings must have been off the charts; surely they were unbeaten, especially since all non-BCS schools have to be unblemished to even get a sniff of a BCS game, let alone a national title shot. And, they had to of finished in the Top 12 in the AP or Coaches Poll (maybe Sagarin’s) to even get a BCS berth.

Butler finished with 903 points putting them 11th in the AP, and 511 points making them 8th in the ESPN/Coaches poll. They finished 8th in the Sagarin’s.

Check.

But their conference finished 12th overall in those same rankings…so Butler must have received some help from bigger BCS schools losing. The Bulldogs played BCS teams in Northwestern (win), Minnesota (loss), UCLA (win), Clemson (loss), Georgetown (loss), and Ohio State (win)…a 3-3 record…not bad. However UCLA was not UCLA this year, so that win is meaningless, or at least it is in the BCS equation. Northwestern? Not a real hoops power, so that win is no big deal, and losing to Clemson, a mid pack team in the ACC, not helpful. Ohio State was a quality win, and losing by 7 to the Hoyas is nothing to be ashamed of. A home loss to the Gophers by 9…they were an NCAA team at least, out of the Big Ten. Also on their schedule was Xavier; a very good team and a tourney team, but not a BCS program: Butler bested them by 1. Throw in a non-conference road loss to UAB (not helpful), and Butler was .500 in their non-league slate.

The Bulldogs did win their conference (albeit the mid-major Horizon) by going unbeaten, and winning their conference tourney as well; an overall record of 33-4. Good, but not perfect.

So how did the “ Butler ” do it? I cannot figure it out, maybe they proved it and earned on the court, but we cannot be sure.

The BCS is such a wonderful proven system, I am surprised and utterly shocked that NCAA hoops has not been using it, implementing votes and computers in place of (heaven forbid) head to head competition, and forgoing this silly playoff/tournament employed by the NCAA for basketball. A tournament and playoff is so not hip, and way too competitive…it hurts the kids in class, is too expensive for fans to travel to more than 1 game…and the benefit of the BCS…every team instead could play in a hoops style bowl game, where everyone can celebrate the season, as the new head of the BCS Bill Hancock has stated more often then celebration is mentioned/associated with Mardi Gras. It would be easier for a writer or coach just to tell us who he/she thinks are the best two teams…heck the champion for that matter. So Duke is the National Champion; I along with all the sportswriters and coaches know it to be the case, based on the numbers of course!

I like it better when I don’t over analyze.

For the NCAA who gets it so right (though talk of expansion would delude the tourney) with basketball, they get it equally wrong with big time college football. How can this split personality and dichotomy in thinking exist as mutually exclusive? It is because the NCAA has given too much power to the BCS, where they have kept a firm grip on basketball. Too much faith in AD’s of the big conferences to be fair and objective, and frankly too much belief in their knowledge of college football, based from their BCS conference perspectives. You can say they are less than impartial.

Prior to the title game, Coach K alluded to the fact that you wouldn’t get this kind of match up in college football like Duke and Butler , and that was unfortunate. What I find unfortunate and ironic, besides the aforementioned NCAA’s split personality, is Duke’s dominance on the hardwoods, and doormat status in football; but they are still in the BCS.

The BCS voters got it right though in basketball, Duke won the title.

Too bad the BCS formula would have had Kentucky and Kansas playing for the championship.
 

MORE BS ABOUT THE BCS…11-18-09
 
The only thing the BCS has going for it is that the system is controversial; which in turn creates a buzz, debate, talk, and intrigue. But so did OJ, Michael Jackson, Anna Nicole Smith, and any number of police blotter incidents involving the famous. The BCS is that bad, and as flawed as any of the above names, or any of us. Yet somehow that flaw is being reshaped as strength (hello Karl Rove playbook). Now the newest defense of the system being dispensed is “sports are flawed, so why should the BCS be any different?” Those are some the words I hear coming at me from some national sports talk shows. The latest being ESPN Radio’s Colin Cowherd, whom as a host I listen to and think is talented. I don’t agree with some of his opinions (and he likely would not agree with some of mine), but his latest defense of the BCS shows how askew the logic and reasoning is for defending the system. Cowherd is smart and I do think he believes what he says on the issue, but I have to wonder if the fact that ESPN has now bought the rights to the BCS games and takes over in 2011may have shaded his view.
 
The facts are, that until the BCS has a 1-2 loss non BCS team in a BCS bowl... until the BCS has an unbeaten non-BCS school in the NT game over a 1-2 loss BCS
Conference program...the BCS is collusion and is not about competition. If I
hear another guy say "just win your games" as Cowherd has numerous times, and assumes the system will take care of you, is either defending the indefensible or is plain
blind to the facts & realities on the ground. Ask Utah about winning all their games last year…they didn’t get a shot at the title but OU did? “Just win your games” must have taken a night off when Florida lost to Ole Miss and OU lost to the Longhorns.
 
The other argument I hear made by Cowherd and others is that "no one
wants to see a non-BCS team play in the national title game”. That is irrelevant;
are we talking ratings or competition? Based on that logic,
the Yankees or Sox should always play in the series against the
Dodgers or Cubs. The Lakers should always play Boston for the NBA
title. The Pats, Steelers, Packers, or whatever team Brett Favre is on
should get automatic berths to the Super Bowl. AND Notre Dame should just play one
game, the national title game every year against a rotating field of USC, Florida,
Alabama, Texas, Ohio State, & Michigan,

You watch...Texas, Florida, or Bama slips up prior to their conference championship
games or during, they will still get consideration over TCU (of course
TCU must take care of their business) and why? Well, if it is ratings, Cowherd is dead on, but last I checked College Football does not figure in a programs TV share and rating as a ranking tool, otherwise the aforementioned Fightin’ Irish would be Top 2 every year. But if ratings are the truth as to who gets in and who doesn’t, be honest and say so BCS. The reality is truth and honesty with the BCS is mutually exclusive.

 
"Every game matters" is as big a lie in terms of the BCS argument as
is denying we landed on the Moon, and those BCS defenders are every bit as out to lunch.
Again, tell Utah every game matters, tell TCU, tell Boise State; Utah had to settle for kicking Alabama in the junk in the Sugar Bowl in what was essentially a “home game” for the Tide. The BCS apologists then said "the Tide had nothing to play for" and "didn't
want to be there". If that is true, then Alabama should just opt out and give the slot to another team who "wants", allegedly, to be there.

Rationalize it any way you want, Cowherd and the ilk that defend the Bowl Championship Series are wrong, and the system is wrong; the BCS excludes and eliminates competition. But everyone loves gawking at an accident and talking about a controversy.

 




BCS...THE C STANDS FOR CROCK...1-9-09 

It was last year at this time I wrote an article about a playoff system for D-1 (now FBS) Football, and here I am again talking about the issue and the myth, collusion, anti trust, that is the BCS system.

Bob Ryan, whom I have great respect and admiration as a writer/media personality, said the other day on PTI that, " Utah picked the wrong year to go unbeaten". Ryan, not realizing it, just pointed out another major flaw and fallacy of the BCS system: When is it ever a wrong year/season to go unbeaten? The answer is NEVER. But in the Bizarro world of the BCS where their slogan/mantra/rational for not having a playoff is "every game means something", it is obvious every game doesn’t, because you see if it did, then Utah , who won all their games that "mean something" would be the National Champs. Florida , the "voted", coup installed champion, lost "a game that means something", to a then unranked, underwhelming Ole Miss. Texas ? They lost "a game that means something" to Texas Tech. USC? They lost a "game that means something" to Oregon State, an Oregon State team who lost a "game that means something" to Utah, who by the way, did I mention, didn’t lose a game, and whose 13 games all "meant something", and, well, they won all 13. I guess the season "meant more" to Utah then the rest of the FBS teams, since they are the only unbeaten team.

But beyond Bob Ryan’s horrible pathetic attempt to defend the indefensible, those who now are coming out of the woodwork advocating a playoff and in defense of Utah …where in the hell have you been the past decade? It is intellectually dishonest to now speak out for a fair and true system/playoff when it is safe to hide behind a program that has done this twice in the past 4 years. It would have shown more guts and honest conviction to say these things from the BCS inception. Where were the John Feinstein’s and Rick Reilly’s last year with Hawaii ? It shouldn’t/doesn’t matter whether Utah won or lost; same for Hawaii last season. If the system is wrong, it is wrong, and the system is wrong! I am glad some media types are now speaking out, but if they only feel safe in expressing now the injustice when the conditions are favorable, then I am thankful these folks cover sports and not topics or issues of greater import, or else the right thing to do would only occur after the right conditions exist.

I won’t bore you with my playoff solution; you can read it further down my page. It would work and be the system that could save the integrity of College Football, not that that seems to matter much right now. If it did, this system wouldn’t exist, and those who speak out now about it, would have long ago when it took honest and real integrity to do so.

 

MY GROWN UP CHRISTMAS LIST!...12-14-08
 
With homage to one of my favorite Holidays songs (especially when song by Natalie Cole), here is my short, but sweet Christmas list and wishes for Santa to stick in my stocking:

For Colorado State University Football:  A bowl victory, and winning record!

For CSU basketball:  Get healthy!

For CU Football: “Home” for the holidays…wishes do come true!

For AFA Football:  A bowl win, and safe keeping after in defending our country!

For the Denver Broncos:  A Defense to go with that O, and getting healthy as well!

For the Avalanche:  Someone to shovel Joe Sakic’s drive way!

More for the Avs’:  Getting back to playing Avs style hockey!

The Denver Nuggets:  A true floor & team leader…thank you Santa for Chauncey!

More for the Nuggets:  A deep playoff run!

For all the local sports franchises:  Sympathy and respect with your economics in regard to your working class fans, keep prices affordable and accessible!

For the Readers of Turf Sports and Lenz Crafting:  Perpetual eyesight and vision, and a sincere thank you, and a happy, safe, good holiday season for you and your family!




 

More Than Fair-child: Coach And CSU Get The Program To “Press On” (11-25-08)
 
 
Though I felt it was possible, even I didn’t think it was probable for CSU to have this successful of season, depending on how one defines success.
 
Most ardent Ram fans would have been happy for CSU to just be competitive; playing tough close games, stealing a win here and there. But Steve Fairchild had higher expectations, not necessarily to achieve what he did in his first season, which is the most wins by a first year football coach at Colorado State. His expectations were to develop a character of the program, expecting his team to play hard and compete, and regardless of the outcome “press on”. That has been the phrase and theme of this team and program in 2008, “press on”…if you lose big, “press on”, if you win, “press on”. And press on they did to a 6-6 record, with a likely bowl berth looming in New Mexico. This was accomplished in a year that the Mountain West Conference has been the best it has ever been in its 10 year history, and significantly better than the Big East and ACC, two of the BCS automatic bid leagues.
 
How this was accomplished is hardly genius, and Coach Fairchild would be the first to tell you that is the case. It was done with hard work, smart work, putting your players in situations where they could succeed, getting the players to “buy in” to what the new staff was selling, and telling them that if they did all they could on their end, that the coaches would do the same, and good things would happen.
  < Steve Fairchild.
It didn’t look good from the start; CSU laying a thud against CU, and getting a very tough and fortunate win over a lower division program in Sacramento State. But signs emerged after a game saving interception against Houston, and a solid win against UNLV. CSU was starting to make plays to wins games, instead of losing them as they had the past few seasons. Competitive games they played against powers TCU and BYU, arguably two very winnable games if CSU makes a play here or there. Ah but the growing pains; two steps forward one step back. Such it was from time to time this year, but “press on”; through key injuries to most all the defensive backfield, “press on”, inconsistent play on offense, “press on”, having to win their last 2 games to get bowl eligible, one against a hated rival, “press on”!
 
CSU in 2008 has shown the resilience the program was known for under legendary coach Sonny Lubick during the great years. It is no surprise that the man, who replaced the legend, was a protégé of the legend. Coach Fairchild has rebuilt the foundation of Colorado State Football, but in doing so, he has put his own stamp on the program as well, “press on”.
 
Next year, CSU will have to replace some key players and positions, and year 2 of the Fairchild era may be another challenging one. But with this philosophy in place, CSU will continue to make the strides necessary to challenge for the MWC title in years to come, and hopefully achieve even greater heights as well. Until then, the program, players, coaches, and Steve Fairchild will “press on”.


 

Semi Mid-Term Report Card: Some Green, But also Gold for the Rams: (10-7-08)
 
 
It is not quite half way through the season (it comes this Saturday) and this year’s college football season is a third over for the Colorado State Rams. I figure now is a good point to hand out grades for the team and coaches on the eve of mid-season.
 
 
Record: 3-2                 Grade: B
 
Expectations were low for the Rams, but not for me. Not that I thought they would go unbeaten (that is absurd), or win the MWC this year (slightly less absurd, but a close 2nd), but I predicted this team could be a .500 team. Regardless of this weekend’s outcome against a very good TCU program, the Rams will be no worse than .500, maybe even 4-2.
 
The only game to this point I did not think they’d win/could win was Cal. CU is a rivalry game and anything can happen. It happened this year for CU to be just that much better than CSU (I hate to say that, but this year it is true). The Rams have found ways to persevere and win close games, even if they did not look great in doing so (why the grade is a B and not higher). Houston was a quality win, evidenced by the Cougars following up their loss to the Rams with a win at Eastern Carolina the next week. If you asked anyone if they’d be happy with the Rams at 3-2 at this point in the year, almost everyone would not just say yes, but hell yes!
 
Coaching                Grade: B+ for the Defense   B- for the Offense   D for Special Teams
 
 
Some of this has to do with new systems and personnel, but getting Larry Kerr back as CSU’s Defensive Coordinator has been a godsend! The players seem to be really embracing and playing his style of defense, bending but not breaking, making big plays, creating turnovers, and tackling! The latter has been missing for the past 4 seasons for the Ram D; sound tackling, with good hitting.
 
The Offense has shown more the last few games (with the exception of Cal), but it still seems as though Coach Fairchild and Greg Peterson (O Coordinator) are feeling out what they have in personnel and plays…this is more a work in progress, but so far, Fairchild has displayed some of his offensive coaching credentials; we look forward to much more from him in the next couple of games.
 
By far the biggest let down in the coaching and play so far has been, what used to be a CSU strength: Special Teams; they have been anything but special. Line drive punts, poor kick off and punt coverage, missed blocking assignments on kicks; for the Rams to finish better than .500, they need to get the Special Teams playing “special”, and very soon. This falls on both the coaching and the players; the weakest link of the Rams in this first season with the new coaching staff.
 
 
Fan support/attendance:   D-
 
And close to an F. I cannot take hearing all the excuses and rationale’s as to why fans and alums do not get out to Ram Football games. If it wasn’t the losses, it was because they fired Coach Lubick, or because it is the drive, the stadium, the game times, etc…
 
It is all BS and complete crap! The school and team should not have to beat a path to your door for you to show some support (financial or physical/showing up at a game or 2). You wonder why CSU lagged behind in funding, go look at yourself in the mirror! Unless you are giving something, even $20 to the school and program, then you are a big reason why CSU has suffered in that regard. 
 
“If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem”. Eldridge Cleaver.
 
These Rams so far have a passing grade; fans, or so called “fans” and alums do not, and are on the verge of failing your team, and university.  This team deserves, and this university deserves better than what they have been receiving from their alumni and fans.
 
If you want your team to return to its glory and be a top program like it was in the 90’s and early 2000’s, then you have to be as committed as you expect the players and coaches to be to winning.
 
Fans and alums, start showing more of your faces, and your “green”. If you do that, the Rams will show you wins, bowl games, championships, and more gold!
 
THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN SHOWDOWN: THE GAME WITHIN THE GAME… (8-26-08)
 
Starting strictly talking the actual game; CU and CSU renew their clash this coming Sunday in prime time, the only Football game being played on the planet that day, or night.
 
Though both teams of late have been their less than stellar selves, this game is still full of intrigue, questions, curiosities, and…expectations!
 
There’s that darn word, expectations, the word that eventually led to the ousting of Sonny Lubick from the Head Coaching position at CSU; he was done in by other’s expectations, but expectations he created with his tremendous success leading a once moribund program to national prominence. In walks a Lubick protégé and former player, Steve Fairchild, charged with returning CSU back to the top of the MWC and respectability in College Football. Though there is definite work to be done, the cupboard is hardly bare for these Rams. The question is, can they gel the talent they have, and can they find a Quarterback that can get the ball in the hands of Kory Sperry, Gartrell Johnson, and Kyle Bell? If Billy Farris can do this, than the Rams will have a decent year. Fairchild has worked with lesser talent at the position during his first run with CSU as the Offensive Coordinator, and with great success. I think Farris can be a good QB. The defensive side of the football features the return of the greatest Defensive Coordinator in CSU history with Larry Kerr once again calling the shots. He has some good talent from which to shape and work, but depth and inexperience at the Cornerback position is going to be hard to, well, cover, and easy to exploit. Even with this hole, I like my chances with Coach Kerr heading up the schemes.
 
Looking at CU, it is year 3 of the “Hawk” plan, and many point to this year as the year CU makes a bid to do something special. Depending on your idea of “special”, I would think having a winning record is the best place to start. Though improved last year with a bowl invite, the Buffs still ended up 6-7, and looked every bit of it in their bowl loss to Alabama. 
 
In walks “Great Scott”, literally! To some CU fans, Darrell Scott is the second coming! Yet, this young man, talent and all, has yet to play a down in college. Though he could be, and likely will be a bona fide RB in his league, to expect him step right in and have an impact may be a bit much to expect (that word again!), or even ask of him.
 
When it comes down to it, CU has the greater experience at the key position with Cody Hawkins under center again for Colorado, and that may be all the edge CU needs to win this game. However, if you follow trends, this game, for some reason has usually gone to the team that has less experience, or even less talent. If it is to happen that way again this year, then CSU should be the team that somehow wins.
 
I like trends….CSU 27 CU 21.
 
The game within the game may prove to be more interesting, and frustrating.
 
There is no contract to play this series beyond 2010. Next year CU, as the home team, is rumored to want this game played in Boulder. The following season, CSU only has 5 homes game scheduled, and in this day and age of 12 game schedules, most all schools want at least 6 homes games, if not more.
 
Mike Bohn, CU AD, is trying to cover his bet with his boosters and the seats in the luxury boxes of Folsom Field by stating he needs this game at Folsom rather than Invesco. Though I somewhat sympathize with his plight to keep the boosters happy, he and the university make more money playing this game in Denver then they would in Boulder. If it is about the money, then you have to “man up” and tell your supporters that this game is for the financial benefit of the program.
 
CSU does not want to play this game at Hughes, because they know they lose money in doing show, plus this game gives the Rams greater exposure to the Denver metro fan base; CU being already in the metro, this is non-issue.
 
The best thing about this game is that it is played in Denver. Frankly it is not because of the greatness of the programs, especially the past 3-4 years; neither team currently is nationally prominent. Yet when they both play each other at Invesco, the College Football world turns its eyes to the state of Colorado for that 1 day, because this game is a bit more special, because it is played in front of 65k (more when the teams are better) at a very attractive neutral site during a part of the season when other teams are essentially holding scrimmages with 1-AA schools.
 
This game needs to be played ever year, and it needs to be played at Invesco. I would still want the series to continue even if it meant moving it back to the campuses, but it will lose its luster and allure, and to have that happen in a state that already is full of more transplanted fans of other schools, and “died hard, don’t care about anything else but”… Bronco fans, further relegates these programs and college football in the state to 2nd class citizenship.
 
It will take both Paul Kowalczyk of CSU and Mike Bohn of CU to look beyond themselves and self interests to do what would be best for the state of the game, the state of their programs, and the state of Colorado. Ironically, what is best for this series, for their programs, for college football in Colorado, and for the state of Colorado, is to play this game every year at Invesco Field; it makes sense, and lots of dollars as well for all involved.
 

 

SOMETHING IN THE AIR...(7-22-08)
8-8-08.
8 is my lucky number; I wore it in Baseball to honor Yaz, the hero of my beloved Boston Red Sox, and always felt 8 brought me good fortune. Here’s hoping 8 and the date for the opening of the Summer Olympics in Beijing China is of good fortune as well.
I am not for the Olympics on the big scale as a stage for protest or grandeur in regard to politics, policies, and ideologies. Yet, I am okay with the personal expression of the athletes (Black Power Salute of 68’, Team USA Men’s Basketball not receiving their tainted Silver Medals in 72’). This year though could be the exception for a number of different and good reasons.
No longer can the world ignore China as an economic and world power, and to do so would be at our own peril. World resources are being consumed by the Chinese on a scale so vast that suddenly other major countries are concerned for their time at the trough. China’s population is about the only thing out growing its consumption, which as you can imagine is quite scary for the rest of the world. Yet with all this, reveals an opportunity; the opportunity for the Chinese to contribute to, and share in the solutions of our finite resources, world hunger, overpopulation, and even politics…their own politics, and we in turn can benefit.
Though China will not in the foreseeable future be what we consider a free nation and people, the small influx of capitalism, the amount that allows a taste of freedom, has transformed the country and its people into a more open nation, thus weakening the governments control enough to allow access and thought into the consciousness of its people. This in itself is a miracle, 1000 times more successful/powerful then any sanctions or war to modify Communist behavior. But should we be surprised? Since we as a free people and democratic society feel we have the best system, wasn’t it only a matter of time until others would recognize the benefits of freedom and choice, that others too would want to taste it? The simple answer is yes, and the simple truth and reality is that it has to happen in China’s time frame, not ours or the rest of the worlds. This doesn’t mean (nor should it) that we need to sit idly by when abuses take place, when Tibetan’s are mistreated and crushed, and when dissidents are imprisoned for speaking out about the ill’s of the Communist Chinese government. However we cannot force China to move any faster then they are able, in order for them to adjust to the new realities of their place on the planet as a major power. Cajoling is good, support for the good things China does is smart; sanctions for the bad things is not, and only hurts those who would most benefit from the aid.
There have been numerous protests this year tied to the Beijing Olympics: Disrupted torch relays, riotous crowds in some of our major cities and others abroad. Freedom to protest is wonderful, but it does little good and means even less to a government whose idea of our freedom is as foreign and frightening as an alien from Mars. In reality, all the displays of protest just makes the Chinese government resist even more and crack down harder on those whom we think we are helping by speaking out for them.
Someone who has been getting blitzed by criticism (and rightly so on so many issues and fronts) is President Bush, who will be attending the opening ceremonies. Human rights groups and some in our government and in foreign governments and nations are incredulous, feeling the President’s attendance is an act of support for the Chinese government’s actions. In some sense those critics are correct, but not for the reasons they think. George Bush is supporting the event of the Olympics, the athletes from our country, and the community of the world joined in sport for 3+ weeks. That is the good we all need to support. It is a lesson that most all of us wish Bush could have, and would have learned with Iraq, and that some of his predecessors would have understood with Viet Nam. One cannot always change behavior with force, threat of sanctions, and isolation. We need to engage, but then allow those we want to change the time and space to come to that decision and path on their own. We cannot be afraid to allow China, with our support, to figure out its own course to a truly free society, even if their type of freedom is slower to come and differs in degrees from our own. There is no way not for there to be growing pains and trips along the way as China evolves into a more free country and culture.
There is something definitely in the air over Beijing: Pollution from the thousands of automobiles that now inhabit the city, a sign of that new found slice of freedom to travel freely! China has come up with a way to deal with the issue of air quality, though not the most democratic solution: Forcing people to take mass transit and limiting cars into the city. But it is a solution nonetheless; an attempt to display their city, country, and people, in a positive light, even as that light is sometimes obscured by smog.

 

 

SNOWED UNDER? (6-8-08)
Back to the Future Part III?
The new coach for the Colorado Avalanche was the old coach who a few years ago wasn’t “the guy” or good enough, so he moved aside (only in the NHL will a Head Coach accept a demotion to Assistant with the same club) so the Avs could get “their guy”. Now “their guy”, Joel Quenneville, an original Colorado Rockies player, was not brought back. Is it because the new “their guy” is ready? Available? Easy? Cheap?Tony Granato should never have been removed as the Avs coach at the end of 2004, but neither should have Bob Hartley or Marc Crawford, who won the only Stanley Cups in franchise history. I would also say Quenneville should not have been let go, but Colorado wants to play a more up- tempo style of hockey, and the higher ups figured his style didn’t match up to what the organization wanted, or so Colorado management says.
So what was the excuse for Hartley or Crawford?
As the saying goes, “you cannot back up the Hearse”, but it is hard to figure out why Colorado Avalanche management makes these moves. I think Granato can be a good leader, but is he the best choice right now, especially since the season is over, a time when the open market for coaches is ripe? I can think of two names that would look very good behind the Avalanche bench; one has the 8th most victories in NHL history, the other won the Cup in 2004. Ron Wilson or John Tortorella would have been an unquestionable and undeniable character for the Colorado Avalanche to have leading them, but that may be the problem: Not for the players who would know and respect the credibility of those men, but for Avalanche management, who would not be able to dictate (or it would seem) the play and coaching at ice level. Something tells me that Avalanche leadership likes to have a bit of control over their coaches, and does not appreciate strong willed bench leaders; leaders who have won other places their way and would want to do so wherever they go. That does not fit into the “Colorado Avalanche way”, where it seems management wants a coach to win their way, and when said coach gets a bit too big, they toss them aside. There appears to be only so much room at the power table, and someone who will not be sitting at that table, is the Head Coach of this hockey club.
It is hard to argue the success of the franchise under Pierre Lacroix’s leadership over the past decade. However, if the organization wants to measure itself against the best over past few seasons, Colorado falls in the realm of mediocre to just a bit above average. Their nemesis has won yet another Cup, their 4th in 10 years; this most recent one in the new era of the league. The Avs have yet to reach the conference finals since 2002, when Detroit was on their way to winning their 3rd cup.
This isn’t to say Tony Granato can’t be “the guy” to get Colorado back to the rarified air of the elite and to the Conference Finals, hopefully hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup overhead. But the bet is if he does, if he is successful and starts garnering that power, he will be short for the bench as well. Avalanche management doesn’t seem too keen on sharing the responsibility and success with its coaches, though they have no problem letting them shoulder all the blame.
That in the long run may not be so bad.
Marc Crawford and Bob Hartley will have a seat ready for Tony Granato, should he be fortunate enough to find himself at their table.


 

POOF!…(5-2-08)
And just like that, Team(s) Kroenke’s season(s) is over.
After promising acquisitions, solid play down the stretch and a nice first round win over Minnesota, mortality, injuries, age, and a much stronger, faster, more talented team in Detroit made short work of the Colorado Avalanche. Even the 4-3 losses by Colorado weren’t that close, though in game one the Avs looked the part of a worthy foe. Goaltending ended up being a weak link: Can we say, as we do in football with QB’s, “when you have two goalies, you really have none”? Jose Theodore looked good in round one, but sick (literally, he was sick) against Detroit: Too many soft goals, but he was often out numbered on his end due to poor puck handling and passing by Colorado in their own zone and at neutral ice. Most everyone knew goaltending was going to be an issue for the Avs, and it needed to be more solid if they had dreams of advancing. Against the superior fire power of the Red Wings, Colorado could not afford mistakes, and they ended up making way too many, especially against the caliber of club like Detroit. Forsberg played one game, part of another, he was a non-factor. Could he have made a difference if healthy? Yes, maybe in a game, or two, but he is not in the net, nor patrolling his own blue line. Ryan Smyth got hurt, Stasny as well, and a few others, but against the Red Wings and the way they were playing, I am not sure it would have made a difference. Detroit’s Johan Frazen looked like the second coming of the “Great One”, no one knew who he was outside the Motor City until this series. Now Colorado will be having nightmares about him.
Where do the Avs go from here? Forsberg is anyone’s guess, Super Joe will be 39 by next season, Foote, Liles, the young kids; there is a good nucleus. But goaltending will need to be addressed. Theodore still has some skill, Budaj is young and shows promise, but can either get the Avalanche back to the “Promise Land”. Pierre Lacroix’s opinion will come to light by what he does in the off season.
The Denver Nuggets pose much different questions.
In what appeared to be uninspired play, and little team cohesiveness, the Nuggets got popped like the skinny kid against the jock in High School by the Lakers. This series was even less close then the Avalanche/Wings tryst.
As I heard Tony Kornheiser say on PTI, the Nuggets look like a “fantasy team”; a lot of all stars, but not a team. How does this team not at least take a game from LA? The Nuggs did win 50 games. Let me state that again: The Nuggets won 50 games, played in the toughest conference, made the playoffs as the 8th and final seed, yet they won 60% of their games. This is where the equation/numbers break down and don’t add up. If the top 4 teams had won more of the bulk of the games in their conference, which would have added up to more losses for the lower 4 teams, the Nuggets realistically are about a 44-45 win team. But because these 8 squads are so close, maybe one significant player away from being great, that’s where you have parity in the conference, and it’s unusual to talk about parity when all the teams that made the playoffs where .600 or better in record. But that is where the numbers deceive, and with the Western Conference able to beat up on the Eastern, which only has 2 teams that are “West worthy” in Detroit and Boston, that is where many of those wins for the west teams came from.
So where do the Nuggets go from here? Coach Karl appears to be staying. Melo, though he now has the distinction of not being able to lift his team past the first round, can play…but can he produce? His fellow draftee’s LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have won or at least gotten their teams to the finals, though they both play in the much easier Eastern Conference. Anthony needs to start taking over and push this team to the next level. AI is the hardest playing guy pound for pound in the league, but I am not sure he is (pun intended) the “Answer” for the Nuggets. Marcus Camby has value, but is now more a defensive threat, on a poor defensive team, so that may not be saying much, though he is good for blocking shots. The Kenyon Martin experiment has not panned out; Denver needs a big man, without the big attitude. Najera, Kleiza, Smith, have some value as well, and the return of Nene is good in general even if he doesn’t return to form.
For a 50 win team, the Nuggets have more questions then they have in previous years. Bold moves need to be made to contend. Their conference already puts them at a disadvantage. Jermaine O’Neal would be such a bold move.
Lots of questions and decisions for the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche this off season; how serious and good the answers are for both teams depends on how serious/committed the organization is to winning: What’s in your wallet Mr. Kroenke?

  < Stan Kroenke...owner of bad teams and worse suits.
 

 

 

NOW SERVING (RED) WINGS & NOSTALGIA…(4-23-08)

It is the match up the NHL and most the Hockey world has wanted…especially those fans in the Motor City and the Mile High City:

Detroit vs. Colorado

Avalanche vs. Red Wings

Chelios vs. Forsberg

Sakic vs. Lidstrom

Zetterberg & Datsyuk vs. Foote, Liles & Leopold, Sauer & Salei

Osgood vs. Roy…I mean Theodore!

“Jose can you see” like Roy the way to the Cup?

Some of the names have changed, but many remain, or have come back to their respective teams; I love to hate Darren McCarty who is back, and Kurt Maltby who I hope gets put on his!

And welcome Ryan Smyth to the series, he will fit in just perfect…he is the Avs version of Tomas Holstrom.

But what is up with the reseeding?  The intent is to get the best 2 teams, but in this case the best match up is happening in the Western Conference Semi’s, and that is the only bad part of a good situation for the league and its fans.

It has been since 2002 that the Wings and Avs have faced each other in the playoffs, and if you remember Game 7 of the Western Conference Final that year, Patrick Roy wishes you’d forget.

The league though is different; less money to go on a spending spree. But the Avs and Wings have found ways to continue to be good, more so the Wings, who have not dropped off as far as Colorado has since the lock out year.  Both teams have found ways to develop good young talent, and also find talented old vets who want to be part of good organizations who compete regularly to be the best.  This is what we get as fans for those efforts; a match up of two teams with a lot of history with each other. 

The history though is not so recent; gone is Roy, Yzerman, Lemeiux, other players, Coaches Bowman, Crawford, & Hartley, from the teams in what was once the fiercest rivalry in not just Hockey, but all of sports.  Multiple retirements and 6 seasons later, will Colorado and Detroit still have those good ole bad feelings?

Yes.

 < The good old days!
All because there are enough players from those days still involved, and more important the organizations remember.  It would not surprise me (and be good motivation) for the teams to watch the old games to see how passionate, how physical, how hard the play was on both ends of the ice by both squads.

We’ve somewhat been on a nostalgia trip with the Avs when Adam Foote and Peter Forsberg were re-signed by the club, and so far the history test has turned out to be a lesson in chemistry.  When you enhance the biology of a team, with, well, more good biology; biology that has a history and successful past with its organization, it makes for a good mix.

I am ready and excited; more excited then I have been for Hockey since 2002, the last time these two great franchises of their sport cross checked each other for the right to play for Lord Stanley’s Cup, or at least get one step closer.  Drop the puck, drop the gloves, drop what you are doing, and get ready to enjoy some “Old Time Hockey”, the kind they use to play a league, and decade ago. 

 

H E Double Hockey Sticks! It’s Déjà Vu…All Over Again! (2-27-08)
In just over 24 hours, the Colorado Avalanche have traveled in time, making it 1996, and passing thru 2001. On the heels of getting arguably the most complete Hockey player ever to return to Colorado, the Avs also brought back a World Class Defenseman who embodied the grit and toughness which defined the Colorado Avalanche at the Blue Line.
Foppa, Foote, and F*** you Detroit!
In what has to be one of the most exciting moves in franchise history, only behind getting Patrick Roy, and then Ray Bourque, Colorado has put the league on notice; maybe the Cup doesn’t go through Denver, but they will come take it from you at your place. 
Peter Forsberg flirts more often with retirement then a heavy weight boxer. After sitting out most the season in Sweden, healing and contemplating, Peter was persuaded by Pierre, pride, passion, and pragmatism: The idea that this team has what it needs (for the most part) to make a Cup run. 
 < Forsberg. Foote. >

Adam Foote, who for the past decade has been the best Blue Line Defenseman, is the guy who will give this team what it takes to make a Cup run. Though the “new” NHL is more wide open and geared towards Defensemen who skate like Wingers, and score like a Center men, Foote at the very least can lock down one side of the ice. He will provide little to no scoring, but neither will his man; which should not be an issue with this team. With the hands of Hejduk, Stasny, Smyth; the return of Super Joe from his injury/surgery, the skill and grit of Laperriere, Svatos, Wolski, Brunette, and those scoring Defensemen in Liles, and Leopold, this team may be as complete a team that has ever taken the ice for the franchise, though that doesn’t make them the best. That would require a top tier net minder. Both Budaj and Theodore have shown flashes, if only we could combine them so they could compliment each other, and equal Roy.
As it stands at the publish of this article, the Avalanche are only 2 points out of the 8th and final spot for the playoffs, and are only 5 points from the 3rd seed, behind Calgary, whom the Avs beat Tuesday night (2/26) in OT…and that was without Forsberg.
At the very least, Colorado fans have a reason to be excited, and to pack the “Can” to get reacquainted with some old friends, and hopefully see some “old time” hockey; say circa 1996-2001.

DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS! (But only if you’re not College Football’s FBS Division)…(2-5-08)
If only the NFL settled things with a vote, then maybe the Patriots would have been Champions of their sport. I mean there is no reason to play the game, New England is the far superior team from the superior conference; they are far better then the Giants, and would likely beat them 8-9 out of 10 times.
Tell that to the New York Football Giants.
Such logic would be shot dead on site in almost all sporting endeavors and events, but in College Football’s FBS Division (formerly Division 1), who needs a playoff, because we can just know and guess who the best is by voting.
Almost everyone was picking the Pats to win (me included though I would like to congratulate myself on picking in the preseason the Giants to get to the Super Bowl…but losing, to the Steelers).
It should have just ended for New England at the end of the regular season; the Patriots were unbeaten, they won their “bowl” game over Jacksonville…that should have been it; and if we were using the logic of the NCAA, it would have been.
Instead we witnessed one of the all time true axioms of Football come true once again: “Defense Wins Championships”.
The Giants were not afraid to hit the “Golden Boy” over and over, and over, and it took its toll. 

 < "And your girlfriend is overrated pretty boy!"
And while the Giants D kept beating the Pats physically, Eli Manning came of age and managed the offense, along with making a spectacular escape and throw only outdone by the catch on the other end by David Tyree, to lead the Giants to their 3rd Super Bowl victory in 4 appearances.
Though initially rooting for the Patriots to make history, I found myself rooting more and more for the G-Men, inspired by their grit, toughness, and desire to win. Normally many folk not from the Empire State would find it quite hard to root for any New York team, but this team had an underdog feel and heart about it, that is rare to find from our largest city, know more for its hubris then humility.
It was a game not to miss, and you must have agreed, as it was the most watched Super Bowl of all time.
Too bad the NCAA is missing an opportunity to even have bigger ratings then our official “unofficial” holiday game by having and deciding a real on the field champion. Can we put that to a vote?

RESOLUTION FOR A SOLUTION...(1-3-08)
There has been a cry, in some cases more a whimper (or whine depending on your view) for a playoff system for college football’s largest classification for over 40 years. Since the days of Penn State’s unblemished teams of the 60’s and 70’s, the era of co-national champs, to the present day of multiple teams with one (or even two losses), there has been resistance to having a true actual playoff to determine who is #1.
We can argue who is to blame, and the false reasons why we shouldn’t do it, or why it won’t work or be successful, but that has been discussed ad nauseam with no agreement and much resistance. So I won’t waste time with the argument and go right to the solution (my solution) with a playoff system that rewards conference champs, is inclusive of all D-1 (now FBS teams), and still gives weight (maybe even more) to the polling system.
First: How many times should be in the playoff?
There are already 64 teams that compete in the way over saturated bowl schedule…so why not have 32 teams in the playoff system? It is also easier for the math of the playoff system (32-16-8-4-2-1); it would mean 5 extra games for the 2 finalists. You say too many with a 12 game schedule then a conference championship game (for some)? 
The solution is to eliminate the conference championship game and cut the regular season back to 11 games. In the case of a tie, use the usual tie breakers and/or which ever team is higher ranked gets the title. All the BCS teams have at least a full month off until they play their bowl game. Start the playoffs the week after Thanksgiving, and play every week until the first or second week of January…all that does is extend the season a week beyond what we already have (if that). There will be no dead period without games, and talk about interest and intrigue each and every week with every game…that will generate HUGE revenue for the NCAA and the schools and conferences.
Second: Who “qualifies” and what is the determination?
A premium is put on winning, and winning your conference. There are 11 conferences in D-1 (okay it is now FBS):
SEC
ACC
Big 10
Big 12
Big East
PAC-10
MWC
WAC
Conference USA
MAC
Sun Belt
Simply, if you win your conference, you are in the playoffs. That way ALL schools in D-1 gets a shot to win the title (or at least to compete). Independents (read Notre Dame, Navy & Army) have to hope they are ranked high, and if they are ranked high enough, they get in. Or, they can join a conference like virtually the rest of their brethren. With 11 automatic qualifiers, that leaves 21 at-large slots.
Here is where the polls come in: The Top 25 will now carry weight equal to or maybe even greater then it does now. For teams that do not win their conference, those with the highest ranking will get in to the playoffs. Just like giving fair access to all schools for the playoff, this system does not penalize schools who play in tougher conferences with tougher schedules. 
Here is the fun part: Obviously a team winning one of the power conferences will be ranked, but since they are a conference winner, by virtue they do not need their ranking to qualify, so the next highest ranked team(s) that does not win their conference will get into the tournament. That means in some years, a ranking of say 22-25 may NOT get you into the playoff, or it may. It all depends on the rank of the team who wins the conference title, and the strength of that conference. The system again rewards the stronger conferences by giving them an opportunity to get more teams in, while not discriminating against other leagues that are not as strong. However, the bottom line is, win your conference, you are in the tournament!
Likely, a league like the Sun Belt will only get its champ into the playoff, while say the SEC could get 4-5 teams in, all depending on how high the teams who didn’t win the league title are ranked.
This makes for intrigue similar to, though not as arbitrary, as NCAA Basketball selection for their tournament. From here, you can then seed the teams using the rankings (1-32) to set up the bracket.
Third: How to use the “bowls”
Like it is done now, rotate the bowls for the Title Game and for the semi finals and quarter finals. First round games can (and should) be played on the home field of the conference champ and/or higher ranked teams. This gives extra revenue to the schools, and rewards them for winning their league or for their high ranking.
This would be a win-win for everyone: Schools, conferences, programs, players, broadcasters/media, and the fans!
Every other level of College Football has a true champ and playoff system. Those kids have to go to class, study, and travel. Basketball players in college are gone days at a time, yet no one complains about them missing class or their grueling schedule.
The reasons to not have a playoff system for the largest division of college football are weak and antiquated, and are used as an excuse to “preserve tradition” or “it has been always been done this way, why change it?”
Traditions change, and often improve, and we send our kids to college to learn and aspire to greatest, and inspire and make a difference. Those lessons are hopefully taught in the classroom, and an example of that can and should be displayed on the field of play for D-1 college football.

 MY GROWN UP CHRISTMAS/HANNUKAH/RAMADHAN/KWANNZA LIST! (12-11-07)
Happy Holidays to you and yours! As we reach the end of another year of sports, here are my wishes/gifts for this season, and into the next, for some of the local teams and people:

For the Broncos:
A defense to go with that Offense


The Rockies:
That the magic of this past season is not a “Ghost of Christmas Past” for 2008. Here’s hoping that magic carries into this coming April and beyond.

The Nuggets:
A first round in the playoffs without facing either the Suns or Spurs. If that can be avoided, then they have shot of doing something special.

The Avs:
Making Hockey relevant again in the Rockies; a deep run in the Stanley Cup, and a playoff round with Detroit (ideally in the Conference Finals) for good measure!

For the University Of Colorado:
You already got a gift in the form of a bowl game. A win over Alabama would be a nice way to cap off season 2 of the “Hawkins” plan. But don’t count me in the rooting for you, I know you understand.

For Colorado State University:
In a few parts:
A good Head Football Coach that can build upon the legacy of Sonny and get the Rams back to the Top of the MWC, and back in the conversation of competing for a BCS berth.
May that guy be Steve Fairchild, or if we go outside the family, Charlie Strong.

On the coaching note:
For a couple of local radio folk:
Brakes to slow down the Dave Logan bandwagon. If Dave is serious about coaching at the college level, he will do what others before him have done: Get a job at small school as a HC, or a job at bigger school as a position coach. The talk of him stepping right into CSU as Head Coach is preposterous. That is no knock on Logan, but the success rate for coaches jumping from High School to D-1 (now the new Bowl Division) is atrocious. And for some local media to assume CSU should look at him seriously shows how out of touch they are with CSU and the landscape of major college sports today.

For those same media folk wanting the CSU AD to apologize for mocking the thought of Logan as a candidate:
Sure, as soon as you apologize for your ignorance of Major College athletics and your slight of coverage of CSU over the past 20 years…we can call that even.

For the CSU fans: A GRIP!
Or at the very least, if you are going to complain about the process (pro and con), put your money up and support the PROGRAM and UNIVERSITY, or just shut up. Until you have a financial stake as donor and/or season ticket holder (and ideally both), you have NO RIGHT to say either way. It is akin to those who don’t vote then bitch about the politics and the leader in office…get proactive in the game, or step off with the criticism and feigned outrage/support. You get the kind of program you deserve...apathetic, if that is your approach to the school.

For Sonny Lubick:
That you stay on with the University as that ambassador, and have a lifelong connection with CSU. At present, my wish is for you to have good Holiday with your family.

For the former CSU assistant coaches:
Good coaching jobs. It maybe didn’t work in Fort Collins, but it may somewhere else. I think this can be a learning tool that will help you all in the long run. You deserve respect and thanks for your efforts, commitment, and time. May those skills serve you well with your next team.

For Air Force:
A big bowl win over Cal…on that note:

For Wyoming:
The memory of what the Bronze Boot felt and looked like everyday for next 300+ days!

For the Mountain West Conference:
At least a 3-2 record in your bowls…I think 4-1 is very attainable. 5-0 would be awesome!

For Northern Colorado:
Recognition of your B-Ball team. You deserve that after your win against CSU. Coach Boyle won’t be there for long…a hometown boy making good. He’ll make it real good in the next 5 years.

For DU Basketball:
Leaning the Princeton office better throughout the season

For DU Hockey:
The Championship…nothing less!

For the entire College Women’s Sports Teams of the Region:
The gift of giving us something to talk about and making us interested! Speaking of which… good job Wyo Cowgirls for being ranked!

Finally, for everyone:
Health, success, prosperity, and happiness for the Holidays, and into and throughout 2008!

GOODBYE IS NOT AN ENDING...The Sonny Lubick Coaching Era Ends, But His Legacy And Legend Will Live Forever...(11-27-07)
Dear Coach Lubick:
Words are not adequate to express what you have meant to Colorado State University. Not just the Athletics programs or obviously to the Football program, but the entire University community, Fort Collins, and the state of Colorado.
You literally took a program that was as close to flat lining as a program who’s given the Death Penalty intentionally, resurrected it out of the depths of despair, and gave it credibility, not only in the region, but on a national stage as well. But not only did you do that, you gave CSU a personality, a face, and heart.
It wasn’t just the winning, it was how you won, and how your teams played, how the players carried themselves on, and off the field that garnered you the well deserved reputation as a coach, but more so, a leader.
For 15 wonderful seasons, many sat in amazement at your leadership, never thinking, much less believing, CSU could attain even marginal success, let alone what you accomplished. During that time, I have been very proud to say I was an alum and former player for Colorado State, more so I think then when I actually played for those desperate teams in the mid to late 80’s. People from all over knew who CSU was, and many even knew you by name "CSU, yea you guys have that Lubick, he’s like Bowden and Paterno". Such fine company to be in…for Coach Bobby and Joe Pa. Because the reality is that not even Bowden or Paterno have done what you did. Yes, they have won National Championships, multiple conference championships, and had many Top 25 teams. But they did it with the FULL support of their respective universities financially; schools and programs that think nothing of giving millions of dollars to the Football program alone. Their fans contribute large sums of money, and the fans that didn’t have much would even give their hard earned wages, laying a "vested interest" if you will, on their schools success.
No, Coach Lubick, you never had those resources. You had to beg and plead just to have your Assistants paid scale in the MWC. You had to wrangle with the University to act top notch in travel and in all the ancillary things as to give the appearance that CSU had as much as the other schools whom CSU competes for players and resources. Coach Lubick, you had to do so much more than just coach; I shudder to think what you could have done with even the resources of say, our arch rival 40 miles southwest. They complain they have no money, they, as usual, have no clue. But neither do many of our alums. These are the same alums who now say they won’t give financial support because you are being forced out. Then there is the crowd who say they’ll withhold money if you stay. That just shows that some of our fans (more then there should be) and alums (same case) don’t get it, or frankly don’t have what it takes to support and sustain a successful program. Thank God, Coach Lubick, you were the one who came walking through that door in 1993; who knows where the program would be if you didn’t. And though you may decide to stay in an "Ambassador" role for CSU, you won’t be walking through that door to the practice field or to "your field" at Hughes to coach ever again.
Coach, you know this game, literally both the X’s and O’s and the business, better than most, so what happened to you I am sure doesn’t come as a shock, though you have every right to be disappointed that you didn’t get that one more chance to go out a champion. We may not always agree with the expectations of you, or differ on how long you stand by someone who is not achieving evident success. However, since you, Coach Lubick, have defined success at Colorado State and raised that bar, and are the most successful Football coach in the school's history, you did, I feel, earn "one more shot".
On the Mount Rushmore of Colorado State Football, Harry Hughes, Jack Christiansen, and "Fum" McGraw, will be making room for you, Sonny Lubick, where you will cast a very large shadow from which to look down upon your successor, your university, and your program, leading it into the very bright future, while linking it with your triumphant past and legacy!
T
hank you Coach Lubick, for giving CSU an identity, a face, and character. Most importantly Coach, thank you for giving yourself, and your heart to Colorado State University.
  <Sonny Lubick 
 



Giving “Thanks”, And Those Who Should Be “Thankful” (11-19-07)
Happy Thanksgiving! Time to use this space for the age old and completely unoriginal writer’s technique to show appreciation of and for a few in the sports world, and to recognize those that should be thankful at this space, place, and time.

Thanks to the Colorado Rockies, for making Baseball matter in September & October in the Mile High City. Winners still can come from losing; the Rocks showed that not winning it all can still have the feel of being World Champs.

Having said this…Dan O’Dowd and Clint Hurdle should be VERY thankful for the run of their team. Had the Rocks just been “the Rockies”…both would be seeking new employment! No one gets 6 years for below mediocre results…both men had been on” way” borrowed time until this season. This buys them both another 3 years. Thank you to the Boston Red Sox! World Champs…again! And Thanks for signing Schills and Lowell…lets make it 2 in row!
|
Thanks to the Denver Broncos for proving the “Mastermind” isn’t so “masterful”. Talk about mediocrity…the Broncos should be very thankful they play in the AFC mild West. 8-8 will win that division…maybe. Jake Plummer should be thankful! If he were leading this team right now, instead of “All world arm, but still working on the head” Jay Cutler, all the blame would be on Jake. Cutler gets a “hall pass”. But last I looked, Plummer was 7-4 when he got yanked, had a higher win % then Elway, and led the team to the AFC title game, but got the sole blame when the Donkey’s lost. Talk about lack of thanks, and lack of perception and perspective. Enjoy your Turkey Day Jake; you have gotten the final laugh and a bit of vindication. Be thankful for that!

Thank you, Denver Nuggets for taking the risk on A.I. Last season he and Mello had growing pains, as did the Nuggs with George Karl. But this year looks to be the season the Nuggets really makes a push to be an elite team in the West. It is still early, but the Nuggets will be the surprise of the conference, like the Celtics in the East.

Thank You Colorado Avalanche for at least trying to upgrade your roster even in this new era of the NHL. Ryan Smyth is a star and can really fit in with the Avs style of play. A “thanks for nothing” from Bob Hartley to the Atlanta Thrashers. The guy only won the Stanley Cup, but I guess that means nothing. Just ask Pierre Lacroix!

BTW be very thankful Joel Quennville, that you are one of Pierre’s boys, anyone else would have been fired for not getting the Avs to at least a Conference final, but don’t take that thanks for granted; produce or else! At least your two predecessors won the Cup, and look at what happened to them!

Local College Football “thanks”:
Thanks to Dan Hawkins:
I don’t like CU, but I like you, and that you’ve taken a program whose given off the air for many years they are better then they actually are, some actual work ethic, shows you practice what you preach. “This ain’t intramurals brotha’”, and it is about time the “country club” mentality and arrogance has been kicked to the curb and replaced with piss and grit. .500 is a far cry from a Big 12 Championship, but changing the mind set and beating Oklahoma in year 2 of your rebuilding plan, should have the Buff faithful very thankful you are their coach!

To the CU Football team: Thanks for not going to a Bowl. I like your Coach, still don’t like you!

Thank you Joe Glenn: For making bold statements about your team and having expectations for success. And thank you for not being afraid to really show how you feel towards your opponent and opposing coach.

And thank you Kyle Whittingham for laying the wood to Wyoming. If Coach Glenn is upset about you running up the score and on-side kicking while up by 40+ points, then he should coach his boys up to stop yours. Oh yes, I am thankful for things like this in college football!

Thanks to Troy Calhoun: In what has to be one of the hardest places to coach, you have made Air Force a force again in the MWC and the West. While I am at it, Coach Calhoun should be very thankful to Fisher DeBerry for leaving the “cupboard” mostly full.

A special thank you to Sonny Lubick: Regardless of what happens against Wyoming, and your decision to stay or leave, you have meant everything to CSU and its football program; a program that was so irrelevant prior to your arrival, that those outside of Colorado thought Fort Collins was a military installation in some distant country. It is too bad that the past few seasons weren’t actually the first few seasons under your reign. You had such early and tremendous success that you raised the bar for expectations for the program, the University, and its fan base. That is a good thing, so be thankful you have made the CSU faithful passionate, even if they are calling for you to step down. It just means that they care, because during my days as a Ram, they could care less. Having said this…your assistants should be VERY thankful that you are so loyal as to not fire them for their less then stellar coaching over the past 3+ seasons. Many of those men I played with or for, and I do not question their heart, integrity, or character. But it is time to make changes, and have them move on to somewhere else. Coach Lubick should be thankful that AD Paul K is a good one and will do everything in his power to help Sonny get CSU back to the top in the MWC. But Sonny better right the ship, he does owe that bit of thanks to the school and its fans and alums.

I have many dreams and wishes to share, but that list is for next month!

Thanks, but not enough thanks and appreciation shown category: Tom Hilbert: The best program over the past 20 years at CSU has been Volleyball. Ho hum, another MWC championship, another Top 20 ranking, another appearance in the NCAA’s.

Still early but so far thanks: Tim Miles. For having CSU 3-1 and for winning the Alaska Tourney with a young and depth challenged team. This guy is gonna be a good one.

Finally, but certainly not least or last: Thank you for reading my scribbling, and allowing me to pontificate on a myriad of topics and issues during 2007! Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours from me and my family!

 

A SERIES I CAN'T LOSE! (10-22-07)
In what has to be one of the most remarkable stories in MLB in the past 15 years (ironically the same amount of time the Colorado Rockies have been donning jerseys, gloves, and cleats, instead of sweaters and skates), the Colorado Rockies are poised to accomplish something no one thought they’d ever do, especially this season.
Colorado, the 3rd of the 4 expansion teams in MLB in the past 12 years to make it to the World Series, is the most unlikely of teams. No one thought a team playing at this altitude could find pitching, and win with it; fielding, and lead the Majors with it, instead of “bombs away” hitting (which the Rocks do still have). It just proves the theory that a belt high fastball in any ball park is a home run; just those homers travel farther in the thin air of Denver.
If you ask any sports fan in Colorado, they’d laugh at you if you suggested the Rocks would make the playoffs, let alone the World Series this year. I would have bet my life savings that the next of the 4 pro franchises to win a championship would be the Denver Nuggets. With the Avs having 2 Stanley Cups, the Broncos appearing in 6 Super Bowls, and winning 2, it is up to the Rocks and Nugs to add to Denver Sports lore. And since the Rockies are still the young pup/new kids on the block, this is as big a shocker (if not bigger) then when Red Miller led the Broncos of 1977 to the Super Bowl.
Having said all this, and as a kid who grew up in the burbs of Denver, I didn’t have a local baseball team to root for. The Denver Bears where great fun to watch, and though their lineage of players and managers is equal to that of any other minor league or Major league team, it still wasn’t the Majors. So as young boy, who spent a few years in Bridgewater Mass., I grew up rooting for and loving the Boston Red Sox. I am not alone in my loyalty to “foreign” teams. Many like me are transplants to Denver, and still have allegiance to the team from the city of their birth (in my case it is Pittsburgh, and I do love the Pirates, but they have been bad since the mid 90’s). Other kids I knew rooted for the Cubs (we would get Cub games in are area quite a bit because KWGN is owned by the parent company, Tribune, who owns the Cubs, and legendary WGN radio in Chicago). Some rooted for Kansas City (closest city with a team), and others for the teams from the cities from which they migrated. Case and point: Many of the fans of those teams will be seated in Coors Field when they come to town…anyone remember the Yankees inter league series? How bout when the Cubs come to town? More Cubs fans then Rockies fans at Coors on those days.
In my case, I loved Yaz (I wore his number when I played Baseball…8 remains my lucky number to this day), Freddy Lynn (I wore his number in HS, 8 was taken), Dewey Evans, Jim Rice, Fisk, Hobson, Remy, Burleson, Scott, Tiant, Lee, Boggs, just to name a few.
I have seen Carlton Fisk's legendary HR in 1975 so much; I swear I was actually watching it live (though I know I wasn't to my recollection).
I sat in my Dad's office watching the one game playoff in 1978 when Bucky "bleeping" Dent hit the home run over the Green Monster. I was so mad for the next few days, I didn't watch much, if any of the World Series between the Yanks and Dodgers.
I yelled at the TV in 1986, much to the glee of all my Mets "friends" when Bill Buckner mis-played the ground ball allowing Ray Knight to score.
I cried the next night when after blowing a 3-0 lead after 5 innings, Boston lost 8-5 and the series. Mind you I was 18 and a freshman in college!
I was apoplectic when Boston went down 3-0 to the Yanks, but then utterly amazed that I could witness history of my boyhood team beat it's arch nemesis in such a historic fashion, then seal the deal by pounding St. Louis in 4 straight to win its first WS in 86 years! My wife even bought me a commemorative mug from which I will drink from each game of this series!
I love the Red Sox, almost as much as I love the Rams (but not quite)! So I will again be cheering for Boston to win another World Series.
But if it were any other team, I’d be right there for the Rockies! Clint Hurdle has done a great job this year, considering this would have been his last year had the Rocks faltered. Same with Dan O’Dowd, he would have been gone had it not been for Matt Holliday, Troy Tulowitzski, Atkins, timely pitching, and the perseverance of Todd Helton. So I am glad to have 2 teams in the World Series for which I cheer. I will be pleased for whoever wins. But the team of my youth trumps my growing up in Denver; I root for Boston. But may it be a Series for the ages, one that makes me feel like a kid again, but with a better result! Boston in 6.

I am wrong so far…but for the wrong reasons. (9-30-07)
Having shared my pre-season thoughts with you in regard to the upcoming College Football season for the CSU Rams, I now see that what I had anticipated from this team is far from what is the reality. But not for the reasons I initially believed. Coming into this year, I felt CSU was compelled to, based on the character of Coach Sonny Lubick, prepared to have a good season. What I am realizing is that the character I should be questioning is that of Sonny Lubick. I am not questioning Sonny’s moral character, human character, not even his football character, but what I am questioning is his one flaw that seems to have hurt him over the past 4+ seasons…his undo loyalty to his coaching staff.

Loyalty is a virtue in most walks of life. But in the world of sports where the results (meaning wins, championships, bowl games, and revenue), are the only real measuring stick (yes, even in the college game), loyalty is only as good as your record. Sonny has done amazing things over his tenure at CSU, but the "what have you done for me lately" growl is getting louder with every mounting loss…11 straight dating back to last season. This is, in part, due to a lack of coaching preparation, a lack of striking a bit of fear into your coaches to produce, and CSU’s assistants lack of fear of having to find new employment should they fail. "Coaching kids up" was, not too long ago, Sonny’s greatest strength. He got more from less in his early days then any other coach in the country; less resources, less support, less talented players. But now, he has some of those resources, especially the talent, but cannot as of late get the job done. This season so far has been the most frustrating. Though the first 4 games offered no cakewalks, 3 of the 4 CSU could have, and one could make the argument, should have won. What is out of character for CSU is that they cannot complete and cannot finish, and they lack the killer instinct to put away an opponent and win a game. That comes from coaching, and the coaches setting a tone by how they design a game plan, call plays, and "coach up" the kids. CSU when in the lead plays not to lose. This was never more evident by the CSU offense against CU. Instead of stomping on their throat up 28-17, they got conservative with their playing calling, and that falls squarely on Dave Lay.

Though many saw him as a bit of a savior, Lay has possessed that same tendency of "packing it in" with a lead, since his first early runs with the Rams in the 80’s, and later with Sonny’s first run in the 90’s.

Special Teams, once the beacon and trademark of the tough nosed Rams, is now its Achilles Heal. Dave Arnold is someone Sonny is extremely loyal to, but some of Sonny’s worst and most heartbreaking losses can be directly tied to Special Teams play.

That leaves the Defense. This unit under Larry Kerr literally changed how the WAC and then later the MWC played the game. CSU showed you can play D in this conference and have great success. Under Steve Standard, the D has struggled, and though it has shown some life, it gives up way too many big plays on long downs and distance when most other teams know how to close out the series and get the ball back to its offense.

I will give the coaching staff this much: They can, and have been very good at recruiting some solid and very good men to CSU. But that makes this last 4+ seasons even a bigger shame, is that with just the current talent of a Kory Sperry, Kyle Bell, Ricky Brewer, the CSU receiving corps, Jake Potorff, just to name a few, CSU is not maximizing its wins and taking advantage of what seems to be quality athletes and young men.

Loyalty is wonderful and admiral and Coach Lubick should be hailed for not treating his coaches and support staff as commodities. But that loyalty should require conditional success. Because Sonny’s loyalty to the program, the alums, and the fans of this program and university, is taking a hit, and some would even say at the expense of his virtue.

 

RAM”dom Thoughts for the College Football Season
 (Thru Green & Gold Goggles) 8-16-07

 

As the season approaches, some thoughts about what to expect, what is right,

what is wrong, and what is the reality of College Football along the Front Range.

 

-Colorado State will reclaim some of its luster

CSU is due to make an impact again in the Mountain West.  I am not saying they

will win it all, but they should be in the mix with TCU and BYU.  With  returning

QB Caleb Hanie, more important the return of Running Back Kyle Bell, and maybe

even more significant, the return of the offensive mind of Dave Lay, the Rammies,

with good health, and a bit of good fortune, could and should be a an 8-9 win team.

It all depends how the Rams play in the first 4 games.  They don’t have to win them

all, but a split is very realistic, and 3-1 is doable.  4-0?  Something special would

then be brewing in the Fort, and not just Fat Tire.

 

-CU is a must win for Colorado State

I have always believed this to be the case, for many reasons, and though last year

didn’t bear it out, in years the Rams beat the Buffs, they usually go on to have a

special season.  This win is more important for CSU then CU, based on my argument

of “Margin of Error.”  Meaning CSU has none.  CU can lose this game, and still go on

to have a shot at a BCS Bowl, even a National Title.  CSU?  No, they can go on and

have a great year and win the MWC, but no BCS with a loss to the Buffs.  This season

however, the game means everything to CU. Coach Hawkins has a year under his belt

and needs to show that CU is still “supposedly” THE program in the region.  Lose this

season again to the Rams, then it is just another example of how CSU has become the

premier program along the Front Range (sorry AFA and WYO).

 

-The Rocky Mountain Showdown should be played in Fort Collins and Boulder

This has been the biggest myth purported (next to CU believing their program’s overall

history is on par with Nebraska) by CU and those who have their own interests in keeping

the game on the campuses.

Whether it was the excuse that local merchants lose money, or that CU makes more on this

game by playing at home, it’s all bunk.  For one weekend, the state of Colorado is the (or

at least one of the) focal points in the College Football Universe because this game is played

so early and the fact that both teams have, over the past 12 years had some good teams and

good runs.  Though last year was not sold out, and this year may be tough because of the

10am start…this game will still get over 60,000, more then either Hughes of Folsom

holds.  OU and Texas play at the Cotton Bowl, and Florida and Georgia play in

Jacksonville; if those esteemed programs can play major rivals on a neutral site, so

can CU and CSU…end of argument.

 < Packing them in at Hughes Stadium. 

-Sonny Lubick is on the “Mild Seat”

I say mild since that is what a few College Football publications have said that is where Lubick is sitting.  Sonny is not on any seat, except the one he wants to take when he decides to take a seat and retire.  Having said that, Sonny knows the expectations, and though he doesn’t agree with them (he and I have talked many times about just that), he understands that 6-5 is no longer enough to pacify Ram fans.  Sonny will get it done, and more important, is players are aware of Sonny’s legacy, and want to get it done for him.

 

-CSU needs to at least return to a bowl game

Those darn expectations…but that is very reasonable and quite possible.  Though the Rams are far removed from the days of 1-10, and 0-12, they cannot afford a backslide to 4-8 or 6-6.  Refer to the above why this will not happen.

 

This is just the first batch of “Ramdom” notes & thoughts, the preseason version if you will.  As the season begins and progresses, I will check back and look back to see how random they are.  What is not “Ramdom” are my expectations for CSU this season.  With Coach Lubick and his kids, success, on the field and in life, is anything but random.
   < Sonny Lubick. Sonny says, "If I had Marty back in uniform we'd be in better shape. Plus, I wouldn't have to hear him tell me how to run my program!"

The Crisis of Integrity (and the Absurd Feigned Outrage)...7-28-07

We are a society whom at times can be very practical, thoughtful, visionary, intelligent, and fair. Yet when it comes to this countries favorite pastimes; Sports & Politics, we seem to be wearing a Thoroughbred’s blinders: No peripheral vision, no sense of perception, no perspective.

We become outraged at the notion of an athlete using illegal "performance enhancing" substances, or an Official possibly betting and/or fixing games for gamblers, the Mob, or Bookies, or jocks that cruelly use animals for "sport" and "entertainment". But can’t we also see that our other favorite endeavor is permeated with all those same things (even more), and with much greater stakes in that arena, then the fields, parks, and arenas of sport?

At present count, we have a President who one can argue interpreted Intelligence (some would say "fixed") to match his will and desire to start a war with a country who has been shown over 100 times as to having no connection with the events of 9/11. And though he still tries to make a connection, no one shows any real guts/integrity and leadership to question his integrity, and to call him and his administration on the carpet for conducting a "bait and switch" war.

We have an Attorney General who can barely recall what he did 5 minutes ago, parses and dodges questions under oath, has even been caught lying in the process, and has little to no moral fiber. All this because our countries leadership wants to know illegally what you and I talk about or say to each other while online, or on the phone, all in the name of security. Ben Franklin said "those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety".

A covert CIA officer’s cover and safety were compromised by White House insiders to get back at a US Ambassador’s questioning and criticism of the War. And though the President said those in his administration would be held accountable and possess the highest of integrity, and those who run afoul of those credentials would be brought to justice, Mr. Bush pardoned Scooter Libby, even though a jury of his peers (you and me) found him guilty.

Our VP, who has a thing for shooting off his mouth with F-bombs at Senators, and shooting guns at his friends, seems to think he is the 4th branch of government, and will not comply with legal and constitutional requests for information from his office, citing "executive privilege". His disdain for the laws of this country only echoes the man at the top. The VP just falls in line.

And the latest, and most sad incident, is the potential cover up of what may turn out to be the murder of NFL star Pat Tillman, who just wanted to serve his country, yet the leadership of our country has let him down, and had no qualms with using his name and image as a political football for their marketing and rational for the War effort in Iraq. Some 3 star General will lose a star, and others will be discharged, but this goes much higher, to the 4 Star level, and our Defense Department. Mr. Rumsfeld has this on his hands as well as many other failures.

But where is the outrage for all this?

We seem to be more upset with Barry Bonds and his quest to break Hank Aaron’s Home Run record because of Bonds suspected use of illegal substances to attain the feat. For the record, Bonds has never tested positive to date for any illegal drugs, yet we impugn him. We have facts to impugn our government leaders, but give them a hall pass? Are we living in the "Bizzaro" world?

A NBA Referee is caught up in a gambling/game fixing scandal, and many fret about the integrity of Pro Sports, but we don’t seem to care when our rights are trampled in the name of "security"…where is the fret in ignoring our constitution, where is the anger when one’s patriotism is questioned just because one dissents on the direction of our country? Even our Senate’s patriotism is questioned by the White House when it is asked for a plan in and for Iraq. Dissent is patriotic; in fact it is more patriotic to disagree, our country was founded on it, literally! If we didn’t dissent, we would be saluting the Union Jack instead of the Stars and Stripes.

Michael Vick, if found guilty of dog fighting, should be punished. Cruelty to animals is despicable; but what about cruelty to humans? Many experts would argue Gitmo is the equivalent of a dog pound which houses dogs for fighting, with leashes, torture, and inhumane treatment.

Often our society models our government: If we "sleep at the wheel" at our countries highest levels and act not to care, then that behavior seeps down into other parts of our society and lives. If you want to stop, and care enough to decry the scandal in Sports, then maybe we should care enough to stop the scandal in our countries highest offices.

On the Sports field there is often another day to compete, and make it right. Lives, families, freedoms, peace, and hope, are all at stake in the arena of Politics, where the outcome/score and result of life and death are permanent.


WHO WON THE STANLEY CUP? (6-14-07)

Of the major 4 pro team sports not involving vehicles (a disclaimer thrown in since some would argue Hockey is not in the top 6 of major pro sports and NASCAR has replaced it, golf is still individual outside of the Ryder Cup), only the NFL has it right…so far. 

 

It is usually this time of year that sports fans start to suffer “Viewing Fatigue”.  The condition brought on by the culmination of 2 very long sports seasons on our calendar when we should be BBQ’ing and doing summer activities with the family instead of watching men go up and down a sheet of ice, or men in shorts and tank tops on the hardwood instead of on the black top.

 

The NBA and NHL seasons are too long, and the NHL season concludes too late.  Hockey, by nature’s law, should be over by spring.  Going past Memorial Day is way too long.  Wrap up things by then or even a week earlier, and maybe you will see greater interest based on the logic of ice and snow having melted away in most parts of North America by the end of April (at least in the US).  I know why the NHL has a long season, to make revenue, but I think it hurts its “bottom line” by doing just that, instead of putting a premium on games.  Scarcity (if you ever had or remember macro economics) creates greater demand.  There is nothing scarce about an 82-game NHL season.  Same goes for the NBA.  Though the league is not as psychologically “weather challenged” as Hockey, it too could benefit from wrapping up its season by June 1st.  The NBA also has an 82-game schedule.  Wouldn’t you think in both leagues you could easily lop off 12-games to 70 which would help the players physically and mentally, and enhance the playoffs by having healthy, better rested and maybe even better prepared teams?  The NHL shouldn’t start its regular season until late November.  Besides, no one cares (well in the US mostly) about Hockey (if you do at all) until after a good chunk of the College and Pro Football season is completed.  The NBA could hold off as well; until Thanksgiving.

 

As for the “Viewing Fatigue”, not many it seems viewed, or had the energy to find (if you could) the Stanley Cup on Versus.  And when NBC carried the games, no one knew or seemed to know, because one is not accustomed to watching Hockey on network television during the middle of the week.  We have not been properly conditioned, and are fatigued in trying to find a sport that already has gone on too long (you get the idea).

 

The NBA is suffering as well, even though marquis young superstar LeBron James has made his debut in the Finals, not many outside of Cleveland, or San Antonio for that matter, appear to care.

 

Too much, too long, too tired!  Want to improve your viewing and ratings, give us less of your product, so we then can miss it and desire to have more of it, when appropriate.

 

MLB could also delete 12 games (what is it with the uneven game schedules in these leagues?) to 150. Who’d miss them?  Just the guys who count the beans.

 

To this point, the NFL “gets it”, and gets our needs, habits, and desires.  They make their league (though risking over exposure with all the off season coverage on ESPN and other networks) coveted by keeping it meaningful:  16 regular season games, one and done playoffs, then the Super Bowl.   The NFL is kicking around the idea of adding 2 more regular season games, but only at the expense of 2 of the 4 (sometimes 5) preseason games.  Not a bad idea to take exhibition games and make them meaningful; if you are going to play them anyway, why not make them count?  But the NFL should be leery of getting caught in the trap of “more of our product is necessarily a good thing”.  Start having continuous, non-stop coverage (we seem to be there already) and adding more games to the schedule, Pro Football will risk making it seem like their season never ends, like the NBA and NHL now.

 

So who won the Stanley Cup?  If you missed it (and according to the ratings you did) Anaheim, in five games.  Better get caught up on your rest however. NHL training camp opens in 2 and half months.  I am tired just thinking about it.
 < Lord Stanley resides in Anaheim!


 

Does Character Count? (5-10-07)

In a sport in which the numbers mean everything and hold a higher place then even it’s stars, one of the, if not THE greatest record in the sport and maybe all of sports is about to be broken.  What if no one came to witness it?  Would it still be a record, would it count?

 

We will find out as early as June as to whether there will be any fanfare, may be literally any “fans” there to witness Barry Bonds eclipsing Hank Aaron’s home run record of 755.

   < Barry Bonds.

This we know for sure, Hank Aaron won’t be there, and Commissioner Bud Selig is looking for a reason, ANY reason not to be in attendance when that day comes.

 

Does character mean anything anymore in sports, let alone the world?  And if so, are there consequences, I mean REAL consequences?  Barry Bonds will have to suffer the consequences of being under suspicion of using performance enhancing drugs to achieve this feat and enhance his ability.  But it goes beyond that, for I believe if Bonds were a sympathetic character, then he would have more people rally to his side, or at least give him the benefit of the doubt.  But since Barry Bonds personifies the “big ego” that most of us detest in humans, let alone over priced, over exposed, “for entertainment purposes only” individuals, most of us just as soon hope Paris Hilton gets a Pardon and avoids going to jail.

 

Bonds is a “character”, and has a character issue.  His peers know this and have not and will not support him.  Though Curt Schilling should know better (he himself no stranger to controversy and he has stirred the pot again with his comments about Bonds), maybe he is saying what the rest of the league really thinks, and truthfully what the fans of Baseball and Sports think and feel:  Barry Bonds is an unsympathetic individual and lacks character. 

 

When Hank Aaron was about to break Babe Ruth’s Home Run record, he received countless death threats, yet continued and persevered with grace and dignity.  Aaron not only is a “Hall Of Fame Baseball Player”, he is a “Hall Of Fame Human Being”.  Bonds likely will qualify for the first Hall, but has far to go in the latter.

 

Maybe it is not fair to compare Bonds to Aaron; they played in two different eras, both in the sport and in society.  But regardless, true character does not ebb and flow with the era, generation, or times in which one is living.  You either have it, or you don’t.  Barry Bonds and Hank Aaron may share the title as the “Greatest Home Run Hitters Ever”, but one title Bonds and Aaron don’t share (so far) is “Hall Of Fame of Character”.  Still that title belongs to Hank Aaron, and he is in a class by himself. 
  < Hammerin' Hank.

Like time, Baseball and its records will perpetuate, and eventually those records will be broken.  But character always stands the test of time, and an athlete’s legacy will always be attached to his or her numbers, victories, and defeats.  For what was once said by someone far wiser then I “it’s not whether you’ve won or lost, but how you played the game.”

 

Sticks and Stones may break my bones, but words never hurt?  (4-12-07)

  

For what seems like the umpteenth time, someone has slurred and made light of individuals based on their appearance.  This time it was legendary Radio host/personality Don Imus; whose comments about the Rutgers University Women’s Basketball team have led to a firestorm of criticism; many calling for his ouster from WFAN Radio in New York and MSNBC who carries his show live on TV.  For his part, Imus has apologized and will meet with the team.  He has even gone so far as to appear on Reverend Al Sharpton’s radio program to discuss the issue and apologize further. 

  < Imus.

Imus is the original “shock jock”…he invented the genre and still is its standard bearer.  Those who have listened to Imus over the past 30 years know full well that this is hardly the first time he has used racially charged language on his program.  In fact, I believe he is not only getting punished/pillared for what he said about the Rutgers Women’s Basketball team “Nappy Headed Ho’s”, but he is being held accountable for his body of work that has included many slurs and negative connotations about people of color on his airwaves. 

 

As a “free speech” advocate, I do feel Imus or anyone has the right to say what they want, as long as it does not endanger others (the old “you cannot yell fire in theater” when there isn’t one, causing a panic and potentially injuring people attempting to escape).  But in this case there is injury, and unlike the title of this piece and what we have been told by our elders, words do hurt.

 

We have become a much more politically correct society over the past 15-20 years, and though it does stifle some speech, it also does make us more wary of how we use our words, which is a good thing.  For too long we have been cavalier with words like “ho”, bitch, nigger, and a plethora of other words and phrases, some found in George Carlin’s “Seven Dirty Word” bit.

 

This goes for ALL communities and people.  People of Color are just as guilty using epitaphs when describing there own and others…maybe the difference lies in that (and I have heard this said by prominent people in the African American community) people of color use slur words as a way to take the power back from Whites who denigrated Blacks with those words in the past.  I am not sure I completely agree, but I do believe, like in any family or community it is up to that community to police their own, and okay for them to be critical of each other.  But if you are not a part of that community, you do not have that same right. The use of the word nigger is a prime example: Many African Americans use that word in their language to describe each other.  But Caucasians do not have that same right to use it to describe Blacks.  

 

If anything, what this situation does is get us back to the table of discussion about language: Its use and impact, and also racism and ignorance.   Should anyone of any creed use derogatory words to describe another?  The simple answer is no, and though we may agree, it is not as simple as that, based on the culture of racism that still exists in this country; we do not live in a vacuum.  People smarter than I from the African American community, the various Women’s organizations, and groups from the Caucasian perspective will have their opportunity to address the issue and come up with some form of understanding.

 

For now, Don Imus will have two weeks to contemplate his words and choice to use them.  A few advertisers on his radio program have already withdrawn their sponsorship, and some guests have decided not appear on his show…they are exercising their “free speech” in doing so.  But keep in mind “free speech” is not always free, there is a cost to those who say what they say, and to those who are affected by the words.

 

I believe we all have the right to say and express ourselves without censorship; and as long as we want to have the right to say what we want, and can live with the consequences of our words, then free expression can continue to be everyone’s right.

The most beautiful part about free speech is that it separates the intelligent from the ignorant.  If for no other reason why we should not damper people’s words, it allows us to really see inside what others think and feel.  Free speech reveals the true character of speaker. 

The World’s "Football" (3-7-07)

It is alluded to as the" Beautiful Game"; a game that is beautiful when played by the tremendous artisans from Brazil, Argentina, Germany, Italy, France, England, even Cameroon. It is a game that is viewed passionately by its fans; so much so, that riots often accompany a team’s victory, as well as defeat: Literally, it can be life or death for these fans. It knows no economic or size boundaries or restrictions, likely because all you need is a ball and an open field. Actually, not even field is needed, just an open area. Rich countries play, poor countries, big countries, small countries…just about every country plays; 5+ billion people in all, and it is often their countries national sport. It is the "world’s" sport: "Futball"…Soccer; in every one else’s "world", but ours here in the United States.

Now it has been announced that one of the World’s premiere players (though arguably past his prime, though you may not care because it’s Soccer, and well, you are likely American) is coming stateside to play in our "pro" Soccer league…called the MLS (just in case you are American and don’t know or care). But will that make Soccer finally take flight in the richest and greatest untapped market for the World’s game?

No.

The reasons are quite simple, and there are only two.

Our best athletes in this country DON’T play Soccer. They play other sports. The reason is based on economics. Now you are saying "But Marty, you just stated previously above that Soccer has no economic boundaries".

True. But Soccer in this Country, the richest of nations, is capped.

Even with our pro league (though really a minor league in talent/financial comparison with the rest of the world), it does not PAY to play Soccer, when one can play Basketball, Baseball, Football, even Golf, and make so much more money, AND stay here in the U.S. (for the most part) to compete. To make the money playing professional Soccer that the other American based pro leagues pay out, one has to go to Europe, or even South America. The money for Soccer is their in those places, along with the talent base. Why would, for the sake of argument, Daniel Graham( just signed by the Broncos) as a young athlete in Denver in his teens, with the athletic ability to play any sport at the next level, and at the pro level, decide on Soccer, when he could (and has) made millions playing our" Football", American Football? It is that simple. Don’t believe me? I give you Cal Ripken Jr., he was an excellent Soccer player, but choose Baseball…you know the rest. Better yet, I will give a non-American example. Prior to his being spotted by a scout over in Africa, this 7’ athlete was a very good goal tender for his under 18 national team. Was he good enough to play with the very best in the world of Soccer? Maybe. We will never know, but Hakeem Olawjuon was great enough to lead the Houston Rockets to 2 NBA Titles.

The 2nd reason is the most basic and gets to our competitive core, and really sheds light on our Vince Lombardi culture in athletics: We hate to lose, and we hate the way we lose and have lost in the Sport of Soccer on the national level.

For years up until the mid 90’s, our country was the laughing stock of International Soccer. We not only lost, we would get hammered by other nations in the sport; and not by the "great" nations of the game. Getting clobbered by Brazil or Germany was one thing, but getting pummeled but Paraguay, or Uruguay, or any of the "Guays" was unacceptable. But we did accept it, by telling them, the world, and ourselves, that we, as a nation, didn’t care for, or about, Soccer. "Soccer", we told ourselves, and anyone who would listen" was (and is still in the minds of many) a game for wimps and sissies". "Soccer has no "structure", none that we as fans understand. And if we cannot watch the game in a manner that relates to our jingoistic sports senses, then the game must not be worth watching or playing. Soccer players are as athletic as Basketball players; they just do it with their feet. Any of you who think Soccer is for wimps, run the length of the pitch for 90 minutes (longer and wider than our Football field), challenge another player head on for a head ball, or for the ball at your feet. If you don’t get the ball, you may eat some cleat, or receive the other persons head or arm in your face. Last I checked, they don’t where pads, except on their shins, which protect about as well as thigh pads in the NFL (no ones where those anymore, should tell you something about their effectiveness). Sure Soccer players flop when tackled...so do the big, bad NBA stars and many of the NFL stars as well: They do it to get a foul or penalty. Soccer players do it for the exact same reason. Soccer is not for the weak, wimpy, or for sissies; we have told ourselves that lie for so long we actually believe it to be true.

If we were as dominant in the sport of Soccer like we used to be in Basketball, then we would have embraced the sport long ago. But even now, the sports we used to be so dominant in around the world; Basketball, Baseball, Tennis, Golf…we are now getting beat, and it is not some rare occasion, it is often. The rest of the world has caught up to us in "our" sports. Maybe that is why Basketball numbers are trending down here in this country, but skyrocketing elsewhere in the world. Baseball is so woven into our fabric, its appeal, though waning with some of the younger generations, will always be strong, plus our love for numbers and stats in our sports (Baseball is number cruncher’s dream) actually transcend the game, making Baseball that much more magical.

Our Soccer talent and teams have improved (our Women’s team is dominant, but Women’s Sports in this country with their access and money should be good), but not on the same scale as the World’s improvement in "our" games of Baseball and Basketball. If we could improve as such, then we could and would be one of the best Soccer nations in the World!

But that won’t happen until our best athletes decide to play ball with their feet, instead of with their hands, and for that to happen, we will have to have a pro league that can offer millions of dollars to entice young players to choose Soccer. Kind of like the MLS’s LA Galaxy offering an aging Euro superstar and world recognized "Footballer" David Beckham (Posh Spice’s hubby for those who know more about entertainment than Soccer) 25 million to play part a season for them. As they say in sports, "follow the money".

Letter Of Intent (2-9-07) 

So before we get too excited about our favorite team or alma mater’s recruiting rating/grade as decided by Rivals.com or some other talent evaluation service, we need to bear in mind that the real results/success won’t play out until there is actual competition on the field. And before we sing the praises of a 5 star recruit, or dismiss a 1 or 2 star or walk-on athlete, remember it’s what happens on the gridiron that counts, not the individual measurements. In other words: "Stats are for losers".

Next to Bowl Season, and maybe playing your arch-rival, Signing Day in College Football is one of the biggest events in the sport. Like Spring Training in Baseball, every team has that glimmer of hope, and is positive that these kids will make an "impact", "difference", "move the program forward", "get us to the next level"…I am sure you have heard many other euphemistic phrases as well.

Some of the top ranked recruiting classes have talent that can run faster than the wind, bench more than Atlas, a vertical leap that would shame Superman, and other "skills" that these College Football recruiting ranking services such as Rivals.com value. They unto themselves have become a cottage industry, so much so that many coaches put a lot of stock and faith into their evaluations, critiques, and talent grades.

But those "skills" do not often translate or are not necessarily indicative of a player’s actual football ability. I mean the most important factor: Can the young man play football? Does he have instincts, passion, intelligence, drive? Can he tackle; hit the hole, catch, throw, block, cover, read defenses? More often than they like to admit, the coaches and those talent evaluating "experts" really don’t know how good a recruit is until the young man faces competition; competition of getting punched in the mouth, covered by a man, running from and pursuing athletes who are likely as talented as themselves. And those ranking services cannot measure a player’s heart. At that level some kids just want it more than others, that is why many schools allow walk-ons (guys not recruited by the school, but who try out for the team) and some even reserve a scholarship (or 2) for those walk-ons who turn out to be better than first perceived, or better then the actual recruits.

There are literally hundreds of examples of kids who were not recruited heavily, or at all, but went on to have great and fabulous careers in college and later the NFL. How did those experts in recruiting and those coaches miss on those kids? There is no formula to measure one’s desire or tenacity; only through observation in a live practice/game situation can you view a glimpse of those intangibles.

Affirmative Action or just ignorance? (1-11-07)   

Spencer Tillman is an average college football analyst.  His knowledge is decent, his report with his colleagues is amicable, and he does a pedestrian job at covering and critiquing a game he played at a high level while at Oklahoma.  But what he said in regard to his alma mater and their opponent in analyzing the Fiesta Bowl the day prior to the game set me off, and should have upset you and others on many different levels. 

 

What he said was that Boise State playing in the Fiesta Bowl is equivalent to "Affirmative Action"; the policy of promoting people of color in jobs and promotions if equally, or as close to equally as qualified as their white counterparts. A policy that is fiercely debated, applauded, despised, reviewed, abused, litigated, while also leveling the playing field (if you will) of the inequities of our not so glorious or recent racist past.

 

Tillman's comments are ignorant on two levels:

 

The first being the less serious, but egregious nonetheless.  Boise State EARNED their spot in the BCS by finishing ranked at least #12 (as the rule states for teams from the non-BCS conferences).  Boise was ranked at the time in the Top 10 in both polls.  There was no "Affirmative Action" needed; Boise State was the clear choice and right one for one of the 5 BCS bowl berths. For Tillman to even complain or say anything about the Broncos’ qualifications for a berth calls into question his own (more on that later).  Ignoring that rule of entry for non-BCS schools would be equal to ignoring any of the 6 BCS Conference Champs resume' and questioning their validity/status as BCS worthy.  Those 6 BCS Champions, by declaration of the NCAA Football rules, gain entry to the BCS bowls by winning their conference.  Those same rules state that non-BCS schools must finish with at least the #12 ranking, which again Boise State did (and then some).  If there is any inequity in this, it falls squarely on the non-BCS schools, which rightly or wrongly have the "burden of proof" to show their validity.  If Affirmative Action exists in NCAA Div 1 Football (now called FBS...Football Bowl System), it is for those schools who happen to be in BCS Conferences but couldn't win in a non-BCS Conference if their life depended on it...Vanderbilt, Duke, Baylor, Stanford, Northwestern, Indiana, Kansas, UCONN, Illinois, Mississippi State, Mississippi (to name a few from this year), and in almost every year but this one, Rutgers & Wake Forest.  What we have here is a pretty darn good list of basketball schools, but this group of teams would have a very tough time finishing mid-pack in the WAC (Boise State’s conference) or in the Mountain West Conference in football.  Shouldn't teams be judged on their individual merit, not their affiliation?  That, Spencer Tillman is the true error of "Affirmative Action" and what you should understand it to be, not what you shared in your analysis of the Fiesta Bowl.
  < Spencer Tillman

 

On a deeper level, I find Tillman's comments offensive (albeit I am a white male) to those people of color who have benefited/been a part of the Affirmative Action process to get an opportunity that otherwise may have been denied them solely based on their "affliation"…in this case the color of their skin. Those same comments show Tillman's lack of historical perspective and ignorance of his own people's history and struggles.  Struggles that have made Spencer Tillman's life much easier today than it was even 30-40 years ago when Tillman was young boy.  This is not to say that there are not and have not been abuses of Affirmative Action in our society, and possibly Affirmative Action may be antiquated.  But the antiquation could be a direct result of what Affirmative Action has and had done since being enacted for those who benefited from it.  People of color now have the ability, experience, education, confidence, and are today more a part of the infrastructure then any of their previous generations, and have access to now truly compete on that level playing field.

 

Spencer Tillman has the right to say and believe what he wants, and he should thank those who came before him and paved his way to be able to do just that.  Affirmative Action, whether Spencer Tillman agrees with it or not, has worked to his benefit.  How else could Spencer Tillman get his position when there are infinitely more qualified people then him of all ethnicities to do his job?