The Blog Dog: Blatt Firing a Travesty for the NBA

When I was a boy growing up in Southeastern Michigan, I dreamed of being a professional athlete…what boy wouldn’t?  After a successful career, I dreamed, I would then become a successful coach/manager.  I would guide my team to the playoffs and then the championship.

No more.

I would not want to be a coach nowadays, because it is no  longer a steady, safe job.  You can get fired, even if you have a winning record, and have your team in first place!

Case in point:  David Blatt, the recently fired head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers.  Last season, his first with the Cavs, he did the unspeakable:  Won his division with a 53-29 record, went all the way to the NBA Finals—only the second time in Cavaliers’ history—and fell just two wins short of winning the franchise’s first-ever NBA title.  All this, with two of his best players, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, on the sidelines with injuries.

Then, to begin this season, all the Cavaliers have done to date is win 30 of their first 41 games, ranked first in the Eastern Conference and fourth in the entire NBA.  So, what was Blatt’s reward for having his team playing so well?  HE GOT FIRED!!!

Why?  Why did such a successful coach get the axe?  Two words:  LeBron James.  He returned to Cleveland after winning a couple of NBA championship rings in Miami, hoping to bring a championship to his home state.  Unfortunately, that is turning out to be much harder LeBron had hoped.

The Cavs made the mistake of hiring Blatt before James announced that he was returning to Cleveland.  Rather than having to wear egg on their faces and replace Blatt before he even got started, the Cavs decided to roll with the punches and see if James, errrr! Blatt, could take the team to the championship.  He darned well almost did!

Seeing that their window of opportunity was slowly beginning to close, The Cavs finally decided to part company with Blatt (not even waiting until the All Star break!) and promote assistant coach Tyronn Lue to head coach.  I don’t know why the Cavs just didn’t appoint James as a player/coach.  It seems as if he is running the team anyway.

James then came out and claimed that he knew nothing about Blatt’s firing.   RIGHT!!!   If you believe that, I have some ocean-front property in Nevada I would like to sell you!

I think LeBron needs to come to grips that the NBA might be passing him by and that he may NEVER have the chance to win a championship for his home-town fans.  I know that he wants to be remembered as one of the greatest players of all time, but the proof is in the pudding…or, how many championship rings a player owns.  LeBron has two…I don’t think he is going to win any more.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Blog Dog: NFL: EPIC MELTDOWN EXTENDS PLAYOFF DROUGHT FOR BENGALS

I have to preface this blog by saying that I waited a couple of days before deciding to do it because, if I had done it right after the Pittsburgh-Cincinnati game on Saturday, there would have been too many expletives that I would have had to delete.

Let me start by saying that I have been watching NFL football since 1957…the year my Detroit Lions pummeled the Cleveland Browns, 59-14, to win the NFL championship (unfortunately for me, that was the last title the Lions have won, but I digress). And I have to say, in all honesty, the game last Saturday between the Steelers and Bengals was the ugliest game I have ever witnessed.

Where to begin? How about when Steelers’ QB Ben Roethlisberger was cheered by Bengals fans when he was injured…or how about the fans pelting him with debris when he was carted off the field? That behavior is totally unacceptable! Perhaps the NFL should penalize the fans a couple of home games in 2016…perhaps, have them played in London, Mexico, or Canada where fans know how to behave themselves!

Still, the Bengals had the chance to win the game and end a 25-year drought since the last time they won a playoff game. They would have done it with backup QB A.J. McCarron, who was trying to justify his play as he filled in for the injured Andy Dalton. McCarron was one minute and 50 seconds away from his place in the spotlight. He had drilled a 25-yard pass to WR A.J. Green to give Cincy a 16-15 lead.

Then, it looked as if the Steelers’ fate was sealed when Vontaze Burfict intercepted a Landry Jones pass with 1:43 left. All the Bengals had to do was run out the final 103 seconds and victory would be theirs. But, alas, that is when the meltdown began happening.

Jeremy Hill, RB for the Bengals, was stopped on a running play and did not protect the ball. It was stripped out and the Steelers recovered the fumble. That is when “Big Ben” came off the bench, injured shoulder and all, to try and lead the offense to a point where a game-winning field goal could be booted.

Cincinnati’s defense was stingy, though, and the Steelers were faced with a fourth down and three yard to go situation. That is when the wheels began to fall off the Bengals’ wagon. A pass to Antonio Brown was incomplete but Burfict, who has had a history of dirty play, came across and belted Brown in the head with his shoulder. Brown was spun around and dropped to the ground, obviously injured. Burfict was flagged for a late hit and the Steelers got 15 huge yards and a first down.

Wait…it gets worse! During the time that Brown was being attended to by staff, Adam “Pacman” Jones was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct and that gave the Steelers another 15 yards, this time to the Cincinnati 17-yard line. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin did not wait any further. He sent his field goal kicker, Chris Boswell, onto the field with 14 seconds left. Boswell promptly drilled the field goal and the Bengals were eliminated for yet another year.

A couple of comments: Burfict’s hit was just the latest in a series of dirty plays he has been involved in…three in 2013, one in 2014 and one in 2015. He actually had a late hit earlier this season and, finally, the last straw. Burfict has received a three-game suspension from the league for the start of 2016; but, I wonder if he will still be on the Bengals.

Secondly, Pacman says that Antonio Brown was “faking” being belted in the head and “winked” at Jones as he was leaving the field. Say WHAT??? Mr. Jones needs to look at the play on You Tube…Brown was definitely hit in the helmet by Burfict’s shoulder. Just because he winked at Jones does not mean he was faking it. Jones later said that he would apologize to Brown if he does not play this weekend. So, if Brown clears concussion protocol and does play, then he was faking?

Finally, I would be extremely surprised if Jones is on the Bengals’ roster next season. Even though he was being taunted on the field, he needed to keep his cool. His failure to do so cost the Bengals the game and, perhaps, his spot on the team.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Blog Dog: Alabama Returns to the Top of the CFB World

And then, there were…NONE!  No college football  FBS school was able to get through the 2015 season undefeated.  Clemson came the closest but, last night, fell five points short as they were defeated by Alabama, 45-40, in the National Championship game .

Say what you want about the Tide and head coach Nick Saban…they have won consistently and now boast four national championships in the past seven years.  During that time period, Alabama’s record is 86-10.  Saban now trails just the legendary Paul “Bear” Bryant by one in number of total national championships.  He won one title when he was at LSU and the other four at Alabama.  Saban is now tied with Bernie Bierman (Minnesota) and Howard Jones (Yale and USC), each with five college football titles.

No one can say that the game, hosted by Glendale, Arizona, was not exciting.  The teams scored a total of 85 points. Clemson actually had more total yards, 550 to 473, but Alabama did not have one, single turnover.  Derrick Henry, the 2015 Heisman Trophy winner, joins Tony Dorsett as the only Heisman winners to also win the national championship in the same year.

So, now, the question is:  will the Crimson Tide be able to repeat in 2016?  The Tide has a tough opener as they face Southern California on September 3.  They have road games against Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee; plus they open the month of November on the road at LSU and then hosting Mississippi State.  How much will Saban have to reload in order to contend again?  He will definitely have to replace his QB, Jacob Coker and RB Kenyan Drake, both of whom are seniors.  Henry is a junior but he will most definitely enter the NFL draft…he has nothing more to prove.

As for Dabo Swinney and Clemson, they look like they will be back in the playoff hunt again next season.  QB Deshaun Watson is only a sophomore, so he will be back, as will CB Mackensie Alexander and RB Wayne Gallman.  Hunter Renfrow, the great WR, is only a freshman.

The Tigers’ 2016 schedule looks pretty favorable.  Clemson starts the season in Auburn against those Tigers.  The only other road game that may give Swinney’s team trouble will be traveling to meet Florida State.

All in all, it looks like the 2016 season will be a repeat of 2015.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

CFB BOWLS HAVE BEEN WATERED DOWN TO MEDIOCRITY

If you have followed college football for as long as I have, you would agree that the post-season bowls have been dramatically de-valued. The reason is simple: There are WAY TOO MANY bowls. The solution is just as simple: Take a chain saw and cut the number of bowls down to a workable amount, where teams with 5-7 records are not even going to be considered.

My plan may be too dramatic, but I believe that there should only be ten bowls…the oldest ten in existence. The bowls should NOT be used for the playoffs…those should be separate from the bowls. So, if my plan of 10 bowls, plus the two playoff games (to be played at neutral sites), is to work, the top 24 teams in the playoff rankings would be used. Instead of having to choose 5-7 teams, there would be schools with nine or ten wins that WOULD NOT be selected by a bowl. We need to get back to the time when a school had to EARN a bowl berth.

Using the above formula, and using the final college rankings, this is how the bowl matchups would be at the end of the 2016 season:

Because New Years 2017 falls on a Sunday, there are no games scheduled for that day. Traditionally, the Rose Parade and college games are scheduled for the following Monday. The Rose Bowl, “The Grandaddy Of Them All”, would still be played after the Rose Parade. It would be followed by the two playoff games on the same day. The championship game would be played on the following Monday. There really is no need for college football to wait nine or ten days between the playoff games and the championship games.

2016/17   College Football Bowl Schedule

Date                Day                 Bowl                            Site               TV                   TIME

Dec.    24             Sat.       Battle Frog Fiesta Bowl (10)   Glendale         ESPN              12:00

Tennessee versus Temple

Dec.    24               Sat.       Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl (9)    Atlanta          ESPN             3:30

Navy versus Utah

 Dec.   24            Sat.     AutoZone Liberty Bowl (8) Memphis/Nashville  ESPN         7:00

    Florida versus LSU

Dec.    26        Mon.     Citrus Bowl  Orlando (7)              ESPN              12:00

Baylor versus Houston

 Dec.    26        Mon.       Gator Bowl (6)    Jacksonville    ESPN              3:30

Oregon versus Oklahoma State

 Dec.    26        Mon.       Cotton Bowl (5)           Dallas       ESPN              7:30

Northwestern versus Michigan

 Dec.    31        Sat.           Sun Bowl (4)  El Paso/San Diego   CBS              12:00

TCU versus Ole Miss

Dec.   31         Sat.           Sugar Bowl (3)  New Orleans         ESPN           3:30

Florida State versus North Carolina

 Dec.    31        Sat.      One Orange Bowl (2)  Miami                  ESPN            7:00

Ohio State versus Notre Dame

 Jan.     2         Mon.       Rose Bowl (1)              Pasadena            ESPN            1:30

Stanford versus Iowa

 Jan.    2          Mon.        Playoff Game #1         Neutral Site      ESPN            4:00

Alabama versus Michigan State

 Jan.    2          Mon.       Playoff Game   #2          Neutral Site    ESPN            8:00

Clemson versus Oklahoma

 Jan.     9         Mon.         Championship Game   Neutral Site   ESPN           8:00

Because New Years Day, 2017, falls on a Sunday, the Rose Parade and the games would be played on Monday, according to previous tradition.

The numbers in parentheses are the age ranking of the bowls; e.g., the Fiesta Bowl is the 10th oldest; the Rose Bowl, “The Grand-Daddy of Them All”, would still be played on the day of the Rose Parade.

So, that it my solution. I would love your feedback on this and please feel free to come up with a solution of your own.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

CFB BOWLS WERE MAINLY A BUST THIS YEAR

My first post of 2016!

I knew, going into this season’s college football bowl games, that I would not be watching too many of them. After all, there were forty—count them—forty! bowl games played. There were so many bowl games scheduled that there were not even enough “bowl eligible” teams to fill all of the slots.

The NCAA had to pick two teams with 5-7 records to fill the final two bowl slots. They looked at schools’ APR (academic background) and chose San Jose State out of the Mountain West Conference and Nebraska from the Big 10. Surprisingly, both teams won! San Jose State defeated Georgia State, 27-16 in the AutoNation Cure Bowl and Nebraska thumped UCLA, out of the PAC 12, 37-29, in the Foster Farms Bowl.

Too many bowl games? For sure…in my next blog, I will give a recipe for cutting bowls down, considerably, and how to determine who plays where.

If the teams were supposed to play offense and defense in their respective bowl games, somebody forgot to tell quite of few of them. Of the 80 teams selected to play in the post-season, 27 of them scored 40 or more points…that is not a typo: 27 of them! That is around a third of all the teams (34%)! Four teams scored more than 40 points—AND LOST! Of those 27 teams, seven scored 50 or more points. Tulsa, out of the American Athletic Conference, scored 52 points—AND LOST! Incredible!

Certainly, the game that was the most exciting, by far, was the Valero Alamo Bowl which pitted Texas Christian University, out of the Big 12, against Oregon, with their high-powered offense, from the PAC 12. Trailing, 31-0, at half-time and missing their starting QB—Trevone Boykin—things did not look well for the TCU Horned Frogs. But, as they say, a game is four quarters long. After TCU head coach Gary Patterson changed his outfit from black to purple (the school colors), the Horned Frogs went wild and overcame that 31-point deficit and tied the game. The schools then went to three overtimes…and TCU won the game, 47-41. I am sure, like me, you missed that game, so go and watch the replay. You will be astounded!

The Camping World Independence Bowl marked the last time that Frank Beamer coached the Virginia Tech Hokies. After 29 years of success, Beamer announced that he was retiring and his team gave him a win in his final game…although, the Hokies had to hang on for a 55-52 win over the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. Beamer winds up with 238 wins—that ties him with the legendary Woody Hayes for 35th all-time.

Say what you want about the SEC and whether or not they are the best conference in the FBS, but the conference went 8-2 during the bowl season…including the playoff win by Alabama…and could go 9-2 if the Crimson Tide wins the National Championship game. The worst conference record in bowl games was the American Athletic Conference at just 2-6. Only Houston and Navy recorded wins.

Finally (this is it for stats!), out of 128 FBS teams (conference and independents), only 29 schools finished with at least 10 wins…including bowl games. That is only 23%! This begs the question: Parity or Mediocrity? You decide!

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

CFB: TOO MANY BOWLS, NOT ENOUGHT BOWL-ELIGIBLE TEAMS!

Bowl Alert!…Bowl Alert!  This just in:  there are not enough bowl-eligible teams to fill all of the open slots.  It will be interesting to see what the NCAA will do to make sure all of these bowls have teams to present a half-way decent game.

To be clear, here is the scenario:  Counting the two college football playoff bowls, there are a total of 40 post-season bowl games…FORTY!  That means there needs to be 80 FBS teams that are bowl eligible in order to fill all of the slots.  A team has to have six wins in order to become bowl-eligible.  As of this past weekend, there are only 77 teams that are bowl-eligible!

There are three teams that have a 5-6 record, with one game remaining:  Kansas State of the Big 12 Conference, and Georgia State and South Alabama of the Sun Belt Conference.  If all of those teams win their final game, there will be enough teams to fill all of the bowl slots.  Kansas State meets West Virginia (7-4); Georgia State travels in-state to face Georgia Southern (8-3); and South Alabama takes on Appalachian State (9-2).  All three teams could wind up losing their final games, creating a quandary for the NCAA.

Bowl games that could be affected by the lack of eligible teams are all scheduled to have their games on Saturday, December 19:  The AutoNation Cure Bowl in Orlando, The Raycom Media Camellia Bowl in Montgomery, Alabama, and the Gildan New Mexico Bowl in Albuquerque.  The former two have an agreement with the Sun Belt Conference while the New Mexico Bowl has an agreement with the Mountain West Conference and Conference USA; however, if those conferences don’t have enough eligible teams, the bowls can invite teams from elsewhere.

So, what is the NCAA going to do if they don’t have enough teams to fill all of the bowl openings?  I am going to assume that they have discussed this possibility, but my suggestion is a pretty good one:  take the teams from the Power Five conferences (Atlantic Coast, Big 12, Big 10, PAC 12, and Southeastern) that finished with five wins and rank them according to point differential (offensive points minus defensive points).  Secondly, determine if the team would send enough fans to the bowl game to allow the bowls to at least break even.

Using this formula, the top three teams would be:  Nebraska, Illinois, and Missouri.  Then, if the above-mentioned teams do not win their final game, the bowls can issue invitations to these schools.  Of course, those schools would need to accept the invitation!  If not, the rest of the 5-7 teams to be ranked would be Kentucky, Minnesota and San Jose State.  If they don’t accept an invitation, I guess the bowls would have to be cancelled.

I have ranted about too many bowl games until I am blue in the face!  Do we really need to have 40 bowls?  It used to be that if a team had a successful season, they would be invited to a post-season bowl game.  I cannot believe that a team with a 6-6 record would be considered to have a successful season!

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

CFB: THE UNDEFEATED…AND THEN THERE WERE TWO!

Rivalry Week Has 12 Matchups with Several Ramifications

For the first time since 2007, it appears as if there may not be any undefeated teams left standing after the end of the season. Three more undefeated teams went down in flames this past Saturday, leaving only two more with a spotless record: Clemson and Iowa. Both teams have one regular season game remaining, a conference championship games, and possibly two playoff games to navigate before claiming an undefeated season.

Clemson plays in-state rival South Carolina this weekend but after the Gamecocks were defeated by FCS The Citadel, and lost head coach Steve Spurrier several weeks ago, they are not considered to be a threat to the Tigers’ undefeated season. Then, Clemson will play North Carolina for the ACC championship. The Tar Heels lost their first game of the season, to the aforementioned South Carolina Gamecocks, and have won ten straight since.

Meanwhile, Iowa’s Hawkeyes meet Nebraska in Lincoln this Friday and then will face the survivor of the Big Ten East: Michigan State, Ohio State, or Michigan. Any of those three teams have the ability to beat the Hawkeyes in the temperature-controlled stadium in Indianapolis.

So, it is possible that no undefeated teams could remain before the college football playoff games…wouldn’t that be a ratings buster!

************************************************************

The Thanksgiving weekend of the college football season is traditionally loaded with rivalry games. The 12 that will take place this weekend have different ramifications:

Washington State at Washington (Friday). This is called “The Apple Bowl”. The Cougars already have clinched a bowl spot. Washington’s Huskies must win in order to finish at 6-6 and qualify for a bowl bid.

Oregon State at Oregon (Friday). This one is called “The Civil War”.   The Ducks are looking to win their sixth straight game between these two in-state schools.

Baylor at TCU The Bears had their undefeated season snatched from them two weeks ago by Oklahoma; however, if Baylor wins this one and their final game against Texas, and if Oklahoma beats Oklahoma State, the Bears would win the Big 12 title and still have a shot at the college football playoff.

Oklahoma at Oklahoma State The winner of this game could wind up in a tie for the Big 12 title. Since there is no playoff, there could be co-champions, like last year, and one of them could be chosen for the college football playoff, unlike last year.

UCLA AT USC Since both teams have beaten Utah, the winner of this game wins the PAC 12 South and will play Stanford for the PAC 12 championship; however, nobody in the PAC 12 is expected to be named to the college football playoff.

Notre Dame at Stanford The Irish must win in order to have a shot at the Final Four. They have only one loss, a two-point defeat at Clemson. A rematch in the Final Four is a distinct possibility.

Ohio State at Michigan Both the Buckeye and Wolverines have a shot at the Big Ten championship but both teams would need to have Michigan State lost to Penn State in order for that to happen.

**********************************************************

There was an item in the sports pages today that said there are 12 openings for a Head Coach in the college football FBS level…TWELVE! The question is pretty simple: Where are all of these head coaches going to come from? Let the carousel begin!

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment