Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Weighing In On Sports Blogging In The Wake of "Bissinger vs Leitch"

I typed "Bissinger vs Leitch" because it was more Bissinger ranting about something he obviously didn't fully understand, and Will Leitch doing his best to defend it without cursing or fighting.

It's been addressed a few times today over at Deadspin, and Brian Powell at Awful Announcing threw in his $.02 in addition to getting footage of the segment on YouTube. Many thanks to him for that.

Unfortunately, I didn't get to see it live, and until the video was put up I really didn't know what to expect. However, after watching it these are my thoughts:

First, Buzz Bissinger's interaction with Will reminds me of just about everyone over 40 years old when I try to explain that I write a sports blog. Granted, most of them don't get so angry, but they do seem bewildered and somewhat lost.

A prime example of this is my father, God bless him. He really tries hard to wrap his head around the idea that you could write something online that millions of people(ok, ok maybe it's more like thousands around here) could read, and do a great job at it without collecting a paycheck for it. Actually, that's usually where any talk of blogging leads. To the question of "yeah, but how much money could you make from that?" He doesn't seem to understand that what ties all of us bloggers together is our love of sports for whatever reason, and our desire to share that with others. Whether it's through rattling off statistics, cracking lewd jokes or something more emotionally connected. Would I like to get paid for blogging about sports? Of course. Is that what's compelled me to keep this site going for almost two years? Hardly.

And seeing Buzzinger lose it on that stage made me realize just how disconnected some people are. You want to know the last time I picked up a hard copy of a newspaper for sports information? Honestly, I can't remember. Instead, I can read the local paper online, and then browse any number of blogs to see what's happening throughout the day. I like blogs because it's up to me to determine what's accurate and what's not. After reading one for a while you can get a good feeling as to whether or not what's being written is truthful and to what degree. I like that. I get to make my own decisions without worrying that some crusty editor somewhere took something out because he didn't deem it newsworthy enough. I hate to tell some of you, but the Internet is here to stay and it's only getting bigger. Sports blogs are also here to stay, and their coverage is expanding. Obviously, you'll get some wackjobs out there writing about sports, but if you take the time to read through some blogs I guarantee you'll find guys and girls that write just as good, if not much better, than what you get on a daily basis from your newspapers and TV coverage. And many of them aren't getting paid to do so either. They do it because of their love for sports, and their passion for conveying that to other people. In the hope that they'll "get it", and be able to take something positive or humorous away with them.

I feel the need to say "thanks" to Will Leitch because the way he handled himself on the Costas Show last night made me proud to be a blogger. Some people(I'm looking at you Bissinger) are never going to get it. Maybe they're ignorant, maybe they're afraid, maybe it's a combination of both. But that won't ever stop me from putting my take on sports out into the world via the blogosphere, and I'm glad that there are others out there like Will Leitch, and Orson Swindle, and Brian Powell(and a lot more) to stick up for the "craft" when others feel the need to attack it.

Forget Playoffs. College Football Needs More Bowl Games!

A day after Big 10 Commissioner Jim Delaney shut down any talk regarding a plus-one playoff model, the St. Pete Bowl backers get to state their case for adding another bowl to the postseason mix.

Yes, Jim Mora would be proud.

"That's what St. Petersburg Bowl backers are hoping for Wednesday morning in Hollywood, Fla., when they go before the NCAA's Bowl Certification Committee, seeking approval for the new bowl.

Owned and operated by ESPN, the St. Pete Bowl will pit schools from the Big East and Conference USA at Tropicana Field. The inaugural game was planned for Sunday night, Dec. 21, but that changed when the NFL schedule assigned the Bucs a home game the same night against San Diego.

The St. Pete Bowl is still looking to secure a date, but Pete Derzis is confident the bowl will be added to the bowl lineup and approved for the 2008 season."

Seriously, another college football bowl game? I understand that college football fans will seemingly gobble up anything related to the sport(An autographed Charlie Weiss ab machine? Who cares if it works? It's a must have!), but when does the postseason become too diluted?

Last season, there were 32 bowl games crammed into the space between December 20 and January 7. That means that more than half of the teams in Division 1(screw your FBS) were invited to participare in the postseason. Instead of being somewhat exclusive, the bowl season has gravitated towards being all-inclusive because of the massive amounts of cash thrown around.

So if the St. Pete Bowl is added to the lineup, then we end up with 33 bowl games and roughly 55% of the Division 1 football teams being invited to participate. It's just another indicator of exactly where the allegiances lie with the people that control the structure of the NCAA football complex. Mention playoffs and you'll be ridiculed. Ask for another bowl game and you'll be welcomed in with open arms.

Update: The St. Pete Bowl has been approved. Great.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Analyzing Miami's Draft Results

What a difference a year makes. Seriously, last year at this time I was so upset with how the Dolphins had squandered their draft that I questioned whether or not it was even worth it to be a fan anymore. This year, even after enduring a 1-15 season, I have hope that the franchise is headed in the right direction. Thank you Coach Sparano, Jeff Ireland and Bill Parcells for infusing new energy into this team.

Now, on to the picks.

Miami ended any type of suspense when they signed offensive tackle Jake Long a few days prior to the draft. It was a great move because Miami's offensive line has been lacking a solid player to build around, and because Long's early signing guarantees that he'll be available for any and all camps.

Then, Miami took a great step to prepare themselves for Jason Taylor's departure by drafting defensive end Phillip Merling. Before the pick there was speculation that a deal sending Taylor to another team would get done during the draft. Eventhough, that didn't happen Miami is now in a position to look at a variety of offers without feeling too pressed. Merling was projected by many to be a first round pick, but his sports hernia caused him to a drop a bit. That worked in Miami's favor, and they didn't hesitate to jump on it. This pick has Parcells' signature all over it.

In stark contrast to last year's draft, Miami grabbed a star quarterback that could prove to finally be (dare I say it) Dan Marino's successor. Sure, John Beck does have talent, but he didn't play in the system, or against the same type of competition, that Chad Henne did. Plus, drafting the same tackle that protected him in college could prove invaluable in the years to come.

The Dolphins then went back to shoring up the aging defense by drafting Kendall Langford. Another pick that screams Parcells. Langford can play a variety of positions in the 3-4, and I'm sure he'll be moved all over the field.

Next, Miami gave some help to their new tackle by drafting offensive guard Shawn Murphy. He's a strong offensive lineman that should instantly help upgrade Miami's offensive line.

Then Miami added some depth at running back by grabbing Jalen Parmele(no, no relation to the old Dolphin favorite Bernie). He's not the fastest back, but he can grind out the tough yards and punish smaller defenders when he gets into the second and third level. He could prove to be a good change of pace bruiser for Brown and Williams.

Miami added depth along the offensive line by drafting Donald Thomas in the sixth round. Thomas needs some improvement, but Coach Sparano has proven that he can get offensive linemen to perform to the best of their ability.

With their last pick of the sixth round, Miami added another body to the backfield by drafting Lex Hilliard. He's a strong runner that can pick up yards both inside and outside.

And with their last pick of the 2008 Draft, Miami selected Lionel Dotson. He'll need some coaching, but should provide some depth along Miami's defensive line.

Overall, I thought that Miami did extremely well in this year's draft. They addressed a pressing need to get some quality players along the offensive line, and brought in some young guys on defense to help shore up that aging unit. The two areas that I would have liked to have seen addressed a bit more were wide receiver and defensive back, but maybe that can happen via a Jason Taylor trade.

Friday, April 25, 2008

It's 5 O'Clock Somewhere - ZR-1 Edition

Since it's Friday, and the end of the workweek for most people, we think that you should be provided with a post that takes the edge off so to speak. Because it's going to be random and hopefully humorous, that means that it won't always be sports related. It will also pop up at any time on Friday.

I've discussed fast cars in this space before, however the new Corvette ZR1 will probably redefine the meaning just a bit. Early this morning it was revealed that the '09 model will come equipped with 638hp and 604 lb-ft of torque. Yes, that's more than 100hp/liter. It's going to be an ungodly mashup of sexiness and raw power that most "car guys"(and gals) can't wait to see.

But we shouldn't forget about the vehicle that sort of paved the way for this beast. From 1990-1995 Chevrolet produced a ZR-1 Corvette, and it was an asskicker for its time as well. The '93-'95 models broke the 400hp barrier, and proved that a domestic car could run with the European standouts. Though, it still exhibited American musclecar tendencies whenever you stomped on the gas pedal. It was an awesome piece of machinery that still gets a lot of respect and admiration in this day and age.

Happy Friday!

Seriously? Will The Brett Favre Lovefest Ever End?

Ok, I get it. Brett Favre was a great quarterback. He played the game the way that so many of us love to see it played. Much of the time it seemed like he was throwing the ball around rather recklessly, but he looked like he was having the best time of his life and it often lead to some spectacular plays. He always appeared to be grateful for his time in the NFL, but that time is over and now we all need to move on.

Yes, all of us, even you Brett. And especially you Mr. Madden.

In case you haven't heard yet, the official announcement is expected to come later today, Brett Favre is going to be on the cover of Madden '09.


Favre is a guaranteed hall of famer. We all know how great he is. Unfortunately, he retired from the game, and that should preclude him from appearing on the cover of this year's installment of Madden. Wait, what's that? He hasn't really retired? Whatever are you talking about? Check out this excerpt from that same Deadspin post:

A source at the taping describes how it went:

Brett: I have retired
Dave: Did you sign your retirement form?
Brett: I have not signed my retirement form.

Awesome! Honestly, should we expect anything different from Favre? Instead of just gunslinging wild passes as the sun sets, he continues to thrust himself into any unretirement talk. Sadly, I have a feeling that this copy of Madden is going to come with a lifelike piece of Favre manhood to thrust into our mouths to make the experience more complete. You know, to really feel what it's like to have been John Madden all of the years that he's praised Brett. In fact, a friend of mine described it pretty well when he said:

It will show Madden on his knees in front of Favre, bobbing up and down. Then Madden will turn around towards the camera and say something like, "It sure is hard. It's a lot like licking a bag of bolts."

Yep, that's probably fairly accurate.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

T.O.'s South Florida Residence?

After reading about Terrell Owens' possible involvement with an "adult" movie I got curious about why he would be in South Florida in the first place. Apparently, he lives down there, and trains there in the offseason.

And since August of 2006, it looks like he's lived in unit #5302 of the Trump Palace Condo.

18101 Collins Ave., Unit #5302 Sunny Isles, FL Property Record

Now, there's no guarantee that this is the Terrell Owens. However, the unit is in the Trump Palace Condo. It sold for over $1.75 million. And a search of property records for owners with the name "Terrell Owens" returns only this result. So, I'm pretty sure that that's good old #81.

Also, I've tracked down this realty site that has quite a bit of information regarding the Trump Palace Condo if you feel like seeing some more about where T.O. lives(possibly).

So, if you feel like asking him about his alleged porn involvement now you know where to go get thrown out of. Don't forget the popcorn! Anyone want to start comparing the interiors of the sets from the BangBros films?

Dallas, TX Weather Forecast: 100% Chance Of Making It Rain

Well, after saying yesterday that the trade talk surrounding Pacman Jones had slowed down, the Titans agreed to send him to the Cowboys. As always, Mike Florio of PFT has all the specifics.

the Titans will receive the Cowboys’ fourth-round pick in this weekend’s draft. The Cowboys could also end up sending additional compensation to the Titans, depending on whether Jones is reinstated and, if he is, how much playing time he gets. Jones will sign a new contract with the Cowboys; he will pay $500,000 to a charity of the Titans’ choosing as part of a financial settlement with the Titans.

If Jones is still suspended a year from now, the Titans will send an undisclosed 2009 draft pick back to the Cowboys.

Florio also has the inside track regarding Pacman's "extortion payments", and it doesn't sound like a situation where Jones was only scared of someone coming after him and his family.
The document helps to clarify recent reports regarding the nature of the $15,000 payment that Edwards thereafter pursued from Titans cornerback Pacman Jones. It seemed to be hush money, but it was characterized by Jones as money that was paid only because Edwards threatened to come after Jones and/or his family.

As it turns out, Edwards initially wanted the money because he believed that Jones had ordered a hit.

A hit? Obviously, the accounts of the events from Jones and Edwards probably vary widely, but if Jones, or someone in his entourage, mentioned killing one, or more, of the people who were eventually shot then he's got bigger problems than losing $15k in "extortion payments". Like Florio asserts in the entry, what Pacman admitted to Commissioner Goodell last April is now in question, and could be a huge sticking point as to whether or not he gets reinstated.

It also falls under my first point that Pacman may have been directly involved with the shooting, and that's why he was paying the money.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The NFL, Gettin' Busy

The offseason lull has grinded to a halt just a bit as some big moves were made yesterday. Two of them directly affect the draft, and the third is noteworth because of the player involved.

First, Miami signed offensive tackle Jake Long as their top draft pick. This is a big deal because it forces the other teams to re-evaluate their draft boards(which they probably do every 30 seconds anyway), and gives us a bit better idea of where the top teams might be going with their picks.

Second, defense end Jared Allen was traded from Kansas City to Minnesota in exchange for the Vikings' first round pick, their two third round picks and a swapping of sixth round picks(#182 for #187). It's a monster deal, especially when you consider that he's also getting $31+ million in guaranteed money. Minnesota had been thought to be targeting a defensive end with their first round pick, and Allen instantly erases that need. It will be interesting to see what the Chiefs end up doing with their stockpiled selections.

Lastly, Shaun Alexander was released by the Seahawks yesterday. His future, or lack thereof, in Seattle was decided as soon as Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett were signed. For the most part, it appears that Alexander has handled it well, eventhough he did endure a lot of ridicule from fans after failing to live up to their expectations following the signing of his massive contract. There are a few teams out there that will probably be willing to give him a shot. Arizona could decide to pair him with Edge for a season or two. Dallas might look to add him to help out Marion Barber. Denver is always acquiring running backs for their committee. Chicago could use some help with Benson still questionable for the start of training camp.

So far, this has been an exciting week for NFL fans, and it figures to get even more eventful the closer we get to the draft. Especially, with talk of possible trades involving Jason Taylor, Anquan Boldin and Pacman Jones(though, that seems to have slowed way down).

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Miami Dolphins Select Jake Long With The #1 Overall Pick

Instead of waiting until Saturday afternoon, the Miami Dolphins have signed offensive tackle Jake Long to a 5-year deal reportedly worth $57.5 million($30 million in guaranteed money). This will allow Long to get into camp on time, and avoid any messy holdout situation that seems to plague teams with top picks these days.

Leading up to the draft it appeared that another Long, defensive end Chris Long from Virginia, was going to be the Dolphins' top choice. However, last week it was revealed that Miami was engaged in contract talks with Jake Long's agent. At that time, even Vernon Gholston's name was still in the mix. At the end of the day, though Miami's desperate need for a quality lineman, especially at left tackle, beat out the other positions and Jake Long became their top choice.

As a Dolphins' fan, I have to say that I'm pleased with this pick. It instantly erases any fear I had of a debacle similar to last year's draft occuring again. Miami has their pick signed four days before the draft, and now they can concentrate on their other choices while mapping out what the rest of the teams are likely to do. In that respect, they should end up being one of, if not the most well prepared team in the draft this weekend.

On the talent side, I have no doubts that Long can step in and make an instant impact along the offensive line. While a lot of that has to do with how bad Miami's line has been in recent years, I do think he's extremely talented. Besides, think about what head coach Tony Sparano produced when he was working with the offensive line in Dallas. In his three years of offensive line coaching, he sent four different offensive linemen to the Pro Bowl(Larry Allen, Flozell Adams, Andre Gurode, Leonard Davis). The last time Miami had an offensive lineman appear in the Pro Bowl was when Tim Ruddy lined up as a reserve center in 2001. So yeah, they've needed help for a long time, and Jake Long definitely provides that.

At the very least, this pick is infinitely better than that Ted Ginn Jr. nonsense last year. If you ever wanted an example of the difference between Tony Sparano/Jeff Ireland/Bill Parcells and Cam Cameron/Randy Mueller this is it. And now you know why the latter duo is no longer coaching in South Florida, and why I have faith in the new regime to actually field a competitive team capable of winning games.

Pacman Forced To Make It Rain, Extortion Style

Details regarding the Las Vegas strip club shooting that Adam "Pacman" Jones may or may not have been involved in keep coming out, and the newest report is intriguing.

Apparently, Jones ended up paying the accused shooter $15,000 to keep him from attacking his daughter, mother and Jones himself.

Police alleged in the documents that one of the go-betweens told Jones that if he refused to pay, the accused shooter would “go after Jones, his mother and daughter.”

A childhood friend also contacted Jones, urging him to pay the money, the document said.

In April and early May, Jones had a friend wire $3,800 to a woman in Seattle. He put up $11,200 more for a friend in Atlanta to pay “in his behalf,” police said.

Throughout the warrant declaration police repeatedly refer to extortion and “extortion monies,” and say Jones told investigators he withdrew $10,000 from a bank account in Atlanta to pay his friend “for paying the extortion money in his behalf.”

At first glance, the situation just comes across as a wealthy person who got mixed up in some trouble and bought their way out of it to an extent. However, after reading through the article I have a few questions/observations about it.

-Did Jones pay the money because he was directly involved with the shooting? He was able to have his charges reduced to "conspiracy to commit disorderly conduct" last December, and never acknowledged any involvement with the shooting. But maybe he was more involved than the authorities realized.

-Was Jones trying to put an end to the trouble? Was he scared? Was it a little of both? I would imagine that if you're paying $15k in extortion money, then you're either scared of a secret getting out, scared of the person extorting you or a little of both. So, what was the case for Pacman? I'm guessing that he probably has some "friends" who could just as easily scare the guy extorting him, but maybe this guy is more dangerous than we realize. I guess it also could have just been a case of Pacman wanting any and all legal woes to disappear so that he could resume his NFL career.

-Did the extortion payments lead the police to the suspected shooter? According to the article, there haven't been any details provided as to how the police caught up with the alleged shooter, Arvin Kenti Edwards. However, if Pacman agreed to cooperate with the authorities as part of his plea deal, then I'm sure they were able to track down exactly who was extorting Jones and where that person lived.

All in all, it's a new development in the case, and it will be interesting to see if anything comes of it. It will also be interesting to see if it has any bearing on Commissioner Goodell's decision of whether to reinstate Jones or not.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Keith Brumbaugh Declares For The NBA Draft

I've made a couple of posts in the past(here and here) regarding Florida's 2005 Mr. Basketball, Keith Brumbaugh, and his fall from basketball glory and attempts at getting back to the top. It seems that he might be as close to achieving that goal as he's ever been. Brumbaugh announced Friday that he'll be entering the NBA Draft that takes place in June.

Brumbaugh, Florida's 2005 "Mr. Basketball" and former DeLand High superstar, informed officials Friday that he plans on entering the NBA draft after leading the nation's junior-college ranks in scoring at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa.

"I'm back on the scene," Brumbaugh said.

Brumbaugh did play well for Hillsborough Community College, averaging 36.5 points and 10 rebounds per game over the course of the 2007 season. Hopefully, he has worked out all of the problems that held him back off of the court because his talent on the court has never been questioned. Currently, he's projected as a second round pick, and some say that that's only because of his past legal troubles. However, being selected by any NBA team would be a great accomplishment, and a true testament to just how well Brumbaugh has rebounded after falling so far at one point in his life.

Friday, April 18, 2008

It's 5 O'Clock Somewhere - Speed Kills Edition

Since it's Friday, and the end of the workweek for most people, we think that you should be provided with a post that takes the edge off so to speak. Because it's going to be random and hopefully humorous, that means that it won't always be sports related. It will also pop up at any time on Friday.

At some point you've probably heard a coach or announcer say something about how you "can't coach speed"(though, some crack and a pair of Nikes won't make you any slower). Or, if you're a Madden fan, then you might have heard Big John exclaim "speed kills!" while getting torched by an opponent. In any case, speed can be a wonderful asset to your team. And if guys like Percy Harvin, Trindon Holliday and Noel Devine are prized because of their quickness, then the Z06 is cherished because it's like them with a shot of adrenaline that's been mixed with Red Bull.

When you're doing 100mph, and get passed like this you realize exactly what fast means.

Happy Friday!

Calzaghe Vs. Hopkins, A Boxing Match Worth Watching

Boxing doesn't seem nearly as exciting today as it did in the past. Maybe the fighters aren't flamboyant enough, or maybe the lack of quality fights in what's supposed to be the premier weight class, the heavyweight division, has cast a shadow over the rest of the sport. All that aside, this Saturday night's fight between Joe Calzaghe and Bernard Hopkins should be a good one.

I watched Calzaghe's last fight, against Mikkel Kessler, and when it was announced later in the year that he would be fighting Hopkins in Vegas on April 19 I made a mental note to make sure to watch it. Hopkins is a dangerous fighter for sure, but the reason I really want to see this fight is because of Calzaghe. He's an active fighter that keeps the tempo up. For the most part, there isn't a lot of leaning or grabbing. His fights are usually very entertaining, and can hold your interest over the course of every round. It also helps that he hasn't backed down from Hopkins in the war of words.

I’ve seen it all. I’ve been there,” Calzaghe said. “We’ve got to listen to three hours of Hopkins going on about (toughness). At the end of the day, Hopkins had to go to prison to make him hard, so he was weak. I was born hard. That’s the difference. I don’t need to go to prison to be hard. I was a hard guy from the start. You’ll see it Saturday. I’m going to make a grown man cry.”

Awesome. It's always fun when Hopkins, a notorious shit talker, gets a little something back. Hopefully this fight lives up to the hype, and Calzaghe can put Hopkins on the canvas numerous times.

High School Baseball Player Uses Duck For Batting Practice

When you're part of a team there are times when you will probably get dared to do something embarrassing, stupid or illegal. If your teammates are really creative, then the dare will probably be all three. However, at some point it's up to you to decide whether the ridicule you get for not doing the dare outweighs any punishment you might receive for successfully completing it. Obviously, for Derike Bennett any possible teasing was much worse than being arrested for animal cruelty.

A Jacksonville area high school baseball player was suspended because police said he took a dare that ended up in the baseball bat-beating death of a duck.

Derike Bennett, 18, a student at Baldwin Middle Senior High School, was charged with animal cruelty, WJXT-TV reported.

Witnesses said the teen killed a duck on school property by striking the animal with a bat after being dared by his teammates.

A duck? Come on kid. Who are you trying to emulate, David Ortiz? Just standing around, wildly swinging the bat, but doing so in a lazy fashion. If you're going to get arrested for animal cruelty because you took a swing at a feathered friend at least make it sporting. What about a Golden Eagle?

Now there's a challenge! But remember, if you miss there's a good chance it's going to carry your scrawny, bird killing ass back to its nest.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Do You Have To Pay Extra For The "Practice?!?" Model?

Breaking news in the world of basketball shoes(who's still rocking the Penny Foamposites?!). Reebok has partnered with Microsoft to produce a special version of the Answer XI sneaker. It's called the Answer XI Zune, and features an 8g Zune with an etching of Iverson on the back and is loaded with multimedia clips related to A.I.

Reebok and Zune have teamed up for the first time to bring you a limited edition Allen Iverson sneaker - the Answer XI Zune.

This partnership between Reebok and Zune brings together two things important to AI in his life - basketball and music.

Reebok has produced 60 pairs of a special version of Iverson's latest Reebok signature shoe - the Answer XI. For this limited-edition collection, the Answer XI has been designed featuring the Zune logo. The sneakers will be sold with a customized Zune 8g black digital media player, featuring etched AI graphics on the back that is loaded with special AI content including his Reebok commercials, playlists and interview footage of other Reebok athletes talking about the first time they played against AI in the league. The sneakers and Zune media player will also come in special packaging.

The Answer XI Zune collection will retail for $300 and be sold only at select boutique shops in five key markets. Each store will receive only 12 collectible packages, so be sure to be the first one in line at your local store!

No word on whether one of those clips is Iverson's famous "practice?!?" tirade.

There's also no word on whether Iverson's teammate, Carmelo Anthony, will get his own shoe featuring a breathalyzer and "stop snitching" memorablia.

J.J. Redick...Cheered?

It's been a long time since I attended an Orlando Magic game. Needless to say, last night was the first time that I got to see J.J. Redick take the court for the Magic since he entered the NBA. I know some people weren't thrilled when Orlando selected him with the 11th overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft. A few of them might have even been in New York, and booed the selection firsthand.

JJ Redick Drafted by Magic!

Now, those boos weren't surprising to me. I had heard Redick get some pretty tough treatment by opposing fans on numerous occasions. By the time he became the ACC's career leading scorer he had fostered a pretty good love-hate relationship with many of the people that watched him outside the confines of Cameron Indoor Stadium. For the most part, I always shared the feeling that The Mighty MJD did, that when you're the best player at a school as hated as Duke you're going to catch a lot of heat. Pretty much all of it is going to be misguided, but it's still going to happen and how you handle it on and off the court will be the true test. I always thought Redick handled it fairly well, though that didn't keep me from getting caught offguard a bit by the cheers he received during last night's game.

That's right, J.J. Redick, at one point the posterboy of douchiness for college basketball fans everywhere, was receiving praise somewhere other than on the campus of Duke University. Like I said, this is the first time that I've been to a Magic game with Redick on the roster so it may have been this way since day one. However, I had grown accustomed to hearing a chorus of boos whenever he had a night like last night, 18 points on 7-14 shooting and 4-8 from three point range. It was a little strange at first, but eventually I was even rooting for him to knock down his shots. And at one point, I probably contributed to the hating on him. Sometimes it's weird how things end up playing out.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Someone In The NFL Hates The Dolphins

Today, NFL fans got a bit of a tease when the 2008 schedule was released. Instantly fans can chart their team's course through the season, and dream about which weak teams they'll destroy en route to making the playoffs.

Of course, being a Dolphins' fan I have no expectations of seeing my team in the playoffs. Would it be nice? Hell yeah. Is it probable? Uh, no. However, I would like my team to not be the one that gets screwed up on the schedule. That's right, not only is Miami going to play two games outside of the U.S. in two seasons, but they've been left off the schedule for week 4 of the season. They have no game, and they're not listed as one of the bye teams. Awesome!

Maybe the Dolphins get to choose their opponent that week. Though, I'm pretty sure that that's not the case. Instead, they get left off during week 4, and the season starts with the Dolphins involved in some wacky mistake again. I can't wait for the draft!

Dontrelle Willis Settles DUI Case

Dontrelle Willis, of crazy high leg kicking fame, entered a guilty plea in his DUI case that was reduced to reckless driving. The bigger part of the story is the police report description of Willis when the cops rolled up on him:

The former Marlins left-hander was arrested in December 2006 in Miami Beach. Police noticed Willis had double-parked his Bentley and had watery eyes, slurred speech and appeared confused.

At first, I would wonder if they hadn't mistaken him with Ricky Williams, but it was '06 and I'm pretty sure Ricky Ganja wasn't sporting a Bentley at that point. However, I would like to know where Dontrelle was headed after double parking his ride. He was probably either so confused that he thought he was home, or he was trying to track down a sandwich vendor for a post-drinking binge snack.

Surprise! College Football Is A Dirty Business!

Mike Gundy.

Do you remember that name? If you're a college football fan, then I'm sure you do. If you're not a fan, then you probably remember "Come after me! I'm a man! I'm 40! I'm not a kid. Write something about me, or our coaches. Don't write about a kid that does everything right, that's heart's broken and then say the coaches said he was scared. That ain't true!"

Still need your memory jogged? Picture a head coach in an orange shirt and a blue visor screaming it from behind a podium at a reporter in the crowd. Yeah, that's Mike Gundy.

At the time of his tirade supposedly in defense of benched quarterback Bobby Reid it appeared that Coach Gundy was just sticking up for one of his players. A news article had appeared just before the Texas Tech game questioning Reid's toughness, and after the Oklahoma game Gundy decided to let the press have it. Unfortunately, it now seems that Gundy, or someone on his staff, felt that Reid wasn't very tough and they floated those feelings into the press. It's also become apparent that at the time of the tirade Gundy wasn't Reid's biggest fan, and that his fervent defense possibly wasn't genuine. Instead, he may have been attacking the reporter as a way to deflect any questions as to exactly who was making the comments about Reid being soft.

Reid says he was caught off guard. Here was a coach who'd been burying him and now he was going to war for him? It didn't add up. "At first, everything [Gundy] was saying sounded real and true," Rajika says. "But I'm a believer where there is smoke, there's fire."

In other words, Bobby and Rajika Reid felt info in Carlson's column came indirectly from Gundy or his staff. ("I'd have a hard time agreeing with that," Gundy says.)

In other words, they felt Gundy's rant was fake.

"Honestly, the way I took it, I felt like it was all a front," Reid says. "That it was all a big show. It didn't feel genuine."

It is sad to think that a Division 1 college football head coach would make disparaging remarks to a member of the press about his players, but it does happen(See Urban Meyer, post-Capital One Bowl loss quotes). Even worse is that one would vehemently defend a kid just because they thought it would save their own ass.

However, college football is big business, and pretending that shady deals don't happen all of the time is ridiculous. Coaches say things to players, parents, other coaches and media people all of the time that aren't exactly true, or are true at the time but won't hold up over the course of the next few months.

"Sure, you'll be able to start right away."

Fast forward a few months, and it becomes "sorry kid, you're not progressing like we wanted, but if you switch positions you could see more playing time."

The college football landscape is littered with examples of broken promises and half-truths. Sadly, it's just part of the game. Yelling them doesn't make them any more or less believable. It just gets them onto YouTube that much faster.

The NFL Network, Now 50% More Watchable...Sort Of

It used to be that a number of people hated the NFL Network. Right or wrong, they felt like it was the network's fault they weren't getting NFL coverage 24/7 on their cable system. So, some of them probably switched to a satellite TV provider, and quite possibly got upset for an entirely different reason.

Because the broadcasting team of Bryant Gumbel and Cris Collinsworth sucked so bad that it made watching one of the best sports extremely painful. Well, as of last Friday the games got a little more "watchable" because Gumbel is out as Collinsworth's sidekick. However, even with great joy comes great sadness in the form of this line from the AP article:

The NFL Network said Friday it was looking for a new play-by-play announcer to work with Cris Collinsworth on the network's Thursday and Saturday night games.

Ugh. Collinsworth is still going to be around doing the play-by-play? Honestly, I probably could have taken Gumbel this season if they added a better announcer to make up for his contributions, or lack thereof.

Let me be the first to say this to those of you that still can't get the NFL Network at home. You're not really missing all that much. When you end up playing music during the broadcast in order to avoid hearing the announcers you know that something has to change. Unfortunately, I don't think this change is quite enough to keep me from opening up the iTunes library during the Thursday and Saturday night games.

You Might Have Seen The Newest Gator Football Player This Past Weekend

Yesterday, I wrote about the fastest student competition held before the Orange and Blue game in the Swamp this past Saturday. It went pretty much as expected, though one student stood out because of how close he was to Louis Murphy during their heat. That student's name was Bolaji Agbede, and you might want to remember it.

After the race, Coach Meyer commented that he needed to recruit the guy in the red shorts because of how well he ran. Well, I wonder what he would say if he knew about Agbede's strength? There's a very good chance that he didn't know about it because I didn't until I received this e-mail last night:


I am an acquaintance of Bolaji Agbede, the student who currently is UF's fastest. I am writing to notify you about another record that is not known concerning Bolaji. As he recently won the competition for fastest this past weekend, many do not know that he also holds the title for strongest.

As coach Meyer may be in the process of handing out walk-on scholarships, maybe he may want to consider the student who is currently fastest and strongest on campus. I was just writing to notify in hopes that maybe the word may be spread out if it's not already in Coach Meyers--knowledge.

Thank you for your time.

I figured that it was a friend just cruising the Internet drumming up support for the guy, but after reading the article and seeing how he ran on Saturday I think he deserves a legitimate shot. Prior to the 40-yard dash race he was on the Internet researching proper technique, and he turned in a very strong performance. Add to that that he was able to bench press 183% of his body weight this past March, and you can see that there is a lot of potential there. And if there are two things that coaches and fans love to see together it's potential and underdogs. Watching a guy who has the tools get a serious shot at success is something that everyone can support.

Hopefully, Bolaji Agbede gets that shot.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Yes, That Was College Football You Saw Being Played In The Swamp

It feels like an eternity since the college football season ended. Though, that just increases the hunger for anything related even for the most casual fan. So, you can't blame anyone that was rearranging their Saturday schedule just to catch a glimpse of the Florida Gators playing...well, uh, the Florida Gators.

Sure, it was just a scrimmage between players on the same team, but it did give an indication of just who might be ready to make a big impact during the upcoming season.

Obviously, Tim Tebow will be ready to play, and hopefully Percy Harvin's surgically repaired heel will hold up for the entire season. One thing that I noticed quickly is that the fleet of running backs that Coach Meyer has to use looks hungry to prove themselves. It appears that all of them are tired of hearing about how poor Florida's rushing attack is, and they want to kick some ass as a collective unit. Mon Williams ran hard with a lot of power. Chris Rainey's speed and ability to catch the ball out of backfield was impressive, especially when he broke Ahmad Black's ankles in the open field. Emmanuel Moody had some nice moves and quickness, and looks like he's up to speed. Brandon James is also a fast guy who is very elusive because of his size. All of the together will be a nightmare for defensive coordinators.

At wideout, Riley Cooper battled through some early drops to make some very nice catches, and he is deceptively fast. He really could have a breakout season because of his height, speed and accumulated experience. Louis Murphy used his speed to get some good separation, and make nice gain on short passes underneath. Aaron Hernandez is a big target at tight end that can make nice catches, and he's actually pretty quick.

On defense, Carlos Dunlap played extremely well. He looks ready to play, and like he could improve Florida's weak pass rush from last season almost singlehandedly. Lorenzo Edwards should contribute a good amount at the linebacker position. The defensive backs played pretty aggressive, and hopefully they're all able to improve the pass defense that was a major weakness last year.

Seeing the Gators back out on the field was a wonderful thing, and it provides a little nourishment for the college football fan's soul. Hopefully, it's enough to get us all through until the fall. Though, I'm pretty sure that it isn't.

Fastest Florida Students Just Not Fast Enough

I blogged about this on Friday, and was really looking forward to seeing how it all played out on Saturday. For the most part, it was a cool, though gimmicky, race event.

The first two heats with Deonte Thompson and Louis Murphy went off without a hitch. Thompson really looked like a man amongst boys in his race, beating the challengers handily. Murphy's race was a little closer, and caused Coach Meyer to joke that he needed to recruit the student in the red shorts(Bolaji Agbede) because of how well he ran.

Then came Chris Rainey's heat which had been pumped up the entire time because supposedly it had the fastest students in it. However, it ended up being the most disappointing heat because it didn't run very smoothly. First, Rainey false started. Then, he didn't leave the line at all when the students took off. Instead, he left a short while later and ran by himself. Then ESPN cut to a commercial, and no one got to see the real final race when Rainey lined up against the students and beat all of them. Leaving most with the impression that the coaching staff had been too scared to let Rainey race the students one on four. Though, that wasn't the case, and Rainey apparently didn't have any trouble beating them.

Even with his leg shaking because he was so nervous, Rainey, who ran a 40 alone before the final try, blew past everyone and crossed the line with a time of 4.24 seconds — the fastest time recorded during Meyer's tenure at UF.

“My goal was going for a 4.1,” Rainey said of his time. “I'm still working hard and I'm still trying to get it.”

Rainey might want to improve his time, but his competition was more than impressed with what they saw.

“All I know is we were still running and he had already crossed the line,” said Jeff Mesadieu, a criminology sophomore. “I knew he would smoke everybody. No one is in shape like he is. I was just trying to get through it.”

So no one won a scholarship, but Coach Meyer is still going to look at some of the students who performed well to see if they're walk-on material.
Meyer said he is planning to take a second look at a couple students to see if they have football scholarship material.

“We give more scholarships to walk-ons than any program in America,” Meyer said. “Every year, I probably give three out. I had a couple guys come up and ask me and we're going to certainly look at them.

All in all, it was a good opening for the Blue and Orange game, and showcased the University of Florida's football program in a positive light.

Friday, April 11, 2008

It's 5 O'Clock Somewhere - Mascot Bloopers Edition

Since it's Friday, and the end of the workweek for most people, we think that you should be provided with a post that takes the edge off so to speak. Because it's going to be random and hopefully humorous, that means that it won't always be sports related. It will also pop up at any time on Friday.

Had a rough week? Need some laughs? Well, what's better than seeing some mascots totally screw up? Seriously, there's just something about seeing a grownup version of a stuffed animal get hung up on an NBA rim.

Happy Friday!

Beat The Fastest Gators, Win A Scholarship

When I attended the University of Florida, I heard stories about how some of my new classmates/friends/etc. were great high school athletes. How they could have had a full ride to some college, but they didn't want to go to school there or they got injured at some point. No doubt, some of them were indeed standouts in their respective sports. Unfortunately, none of them were given the opportunity to win a full scholarship by beating a Florida football player in a 40-yard dash.

Though, these aren't just any Florida football players. They are some of, if not the fastest guys on the team. It's a group that includes Chris Rainey, Deonte Thompson and Louis Murphy. Now, Rainey and Thompson are well known burners. They were highly sought after recruits, and Rainey even has a few parking lot wins against Noel Devine under his belt. However, Murphy might be the fastest out of the group. At least he was last summer.

Florida wide receivers Andre Caldwell and Percy Harvin have this thing about speed, and debating who's the fastest player on the team. When they start talking smack about it (which apparently is often), Louis Murphy dishes out the line that ends the argument.

Continue to 2nd paragraph "I just tell them to look at the board," Murphy said.

The board Murphy refers to is the one hanging in the UF weight room that lists the players with the fastest 40-yard dash times on the team. The name on top isn't Caldwell or Harvin. It's Murphy. And next to his name is the staggering time: 4.25 seconds.

"We're always talking about speed and racing each other," Murphy said. "They always say they can beat me. I tell them, "Hey, it's on the board."

Seriously? A 4.25? Murphy could take it easy the entire way, kick it on at the end and still blow out his competition. Either way, it's going to be fun to watch, and it's a great way for Urban Meyer to showcase the football program on a national stage since it's being broadcast on ESPN. And just to show you what the students are up against, here are some videos/links displaying their skills.

Chris Rainey

Deonte Thompson

Louis Murphy