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Week 9 Top 25 and Commentary
Category: NCAA
Tags: NCAA Football Alabama Boise St. Clemson Georgia Georgia Tech Kansas St. LSU North Carolina Oklahoma Oklahoma St. Stanford Texas

I donít anticipate having much blogging time this week as I havenít been feeling well, and I donít have the type of job where I can just call in sick with a cold, so thatís why Iím doing this now instead of on Monday (or later) as I have been doing.

Iíll start with an anecdote I found interesting. In my first mathematical rankings, Maryland was only one spot behind Ohio St. Now, they are separated by 68 spots, and Ohio St. isnít even in the top 25.

I anticipated Alabama might fall a spot with the bye week, and thatís what happened, as Oklahoma St. jumped into the #2 spot.

Announcers talk about how ďthe computers love Oklahoma St.Ē, but computers do not have feelings. It just so happens that ULL has only one other loss (albeit to a weak team), and Tulsa has only two other losses (to Oklahoma and Boise St.; there are maybe ten teams in the country who wouldnít have three losses against that schedule). Arizona and Kansas are quite bad, but those are two reasons LSU has managed to come out ahead of the íPokes in my ratings. On the other hand, Kansas and Arizona have the best two schedules thus far according to my preliminary SoS, so that can keep those two games from hurting Oklahoma St. very much, and as a result, itís not surprising many ratings have the íPokes #1. It is possible they might be #1 in my ratings if Alabama beats LSU. It would depend upon how past opponents of Oklahoma St. and Alabama do. But I would anticipate that my ratings will still have the ďrightĒ top two either way. By the way, my ratings agreed with the BCS as far as the top two teams entering the bowls in 2008, 2009, and 2010.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind that cut against Oklahoma St. They will have a bye week, and any team which plays in the SEC Championship game will not have a further bye week, so thatís a chance for the SEC team to come out #1 even if they trail after next week. Also, it would not be a surprise if the value of the wins over Tulsa and ULL were to diminish based on performance in the upcoming weeks.

None of the above is to say that the íPokes win Bedlam anyway (or beat K-State and Texas Tech on their way thereÖI do think itís safe to say theyíll beat the Cyclones though). But anyone can win LSU-Arkansas or Alabama-Auburn as well. Barring some kind of catastrophic injury or suspension situation, I struggle to imagine LSU or Alabama losing between next week and those respective games. (Recent LSU and Alabama teams have failed to show up in character for such games, but I havenít seen that quality in these editions yet.) LSU will face Western Kentucky and Ole Miss, while Alabama will face Mississippi St. and Georgia Southern.

The SEC Championship game could also be interesting. It could be a South Carolina team with only a three-point loss to Auburn in Week 5 or a Georgia team on a 10-game winning streak. Since that last loss was to South Carolina, Georgia could finish with two overall losses and actually fail to make the championship game like it did in 2007. South Carolina plays @Arkansas this weekend, so that may chance this fact.

Oklahoma could leapfrog one or more undefeated teams by beating Texas A&M, although it would have potentially helped the Sooners more had the Aggies beaten Missouri. The following week, Boise St. and Stanford have what will probably be their best remaining point opportunities against TCU and Oregon, respectively.

I donít think Clemson has much of a shot, but if they beat a once-beaten South Carolina team followed by a once-beaten (by Clemson) Virginia Tech team, Clemson could have an argument with some help.

What follows are 10 other teams, one undefeated (Houston) and the rest with one loss each. Those who have a chance to knock off the top 7 are in a better position than those who do not. The next 7 each have two losses, and #25 North Carolina has three losses.

Like with the BCS, itís not always a good idea to pick the teams with fewer losses to win, but those teams do tend to be higher since itís a system designed to pick the best two teams. If two teams have even somewhat similar schedules, you want the team with the better record to come out on top for #1 or #2. I donít care so much about #14 really being better than #15, for example. By the way, I donít think they are.

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Motivation is a hard monster to master
Category: Daily Blog 2.0
Tags: nhl bruins shanahan

demotivational poster DECISIONS DECISIONS
Am I motivated?† No.† Have I been motivated lately?† Not really.† Motivation is a fickle creature that can have some serious implications when it rears its ugly head.† I had a hard time last night, even getting motivated to go to a friends Halloween party.† Was I motivated enough to go?† Barely.† Was I motivated enough to wear a costume?† Nope.† Was I okay with it?† Yup.† Were my buddies okay with it?† Yup.† So that is where the motivation problem becomes contagious.†

Is motivation the problem in Boston?† Is motivation the problem in every Stanley Cup Hangover?† In all seriousness, it must be hard for the winning team to move on while the Cup is still in the building.† The Bruins need to forget about last season, forget about all the public appearances they were doing at the start of this season with the Cup, and simply get motivated once again.† That is where the value of†a Mark Recchi was evident.† Maybe the Bruins need a veteran leader right now, that can look at the problem objectively and try to right the sinking ship.† The main key players that the Bruins lost last season were Recchi and Ryder.† Was Ryder the positive influence on the young players on the Bruins?† I can definitively say no.† Recchi provided some much needed leadership and dedication that the Bruins seem to be lacking right now.† Peter Chiarelli needs to do something quickly, before the Bruins get themselves into a hole so deep, that trying to climb out of it provides them with a defeatist type of attitude.† What are Chiarelli's options?† The Bruins have the cap room and they have the resources to go and find that veteran leader that they are sorely lacking.† Does it mean going out and getting a player like Recchi?† Yes it does.† Does it mean going out and getting a player that may have played with Recchi and had won the Cup with him?† Maybe that is where the value in a player like Ray Whitney lies.† Consistent scoring, veteran leadership, and someone who has been in the game long enough and can be relied on to help augment the current leadership group in the Bruins dressing room.† That's right augment...because after all, it still is Chara's team

This is an occurence we have seen all season long, and this issue has been around in smatterings for the last few years.† Shanny is coming in and trying to repair the damage that his predecessor caused.† The players just aren't getting it, and it makes perfect sense.† Let me use an analogy here.† Lets pretend there is a school that has a principal close to retirement.† When there is a little dustup on the schoolyard, the principal is content with phoning the kids parents (GM and coaches) and bringing the students into his office for a meeting.† The principal then scolds the students involved, and in severe cases, tells the student that he is going to have to spend a couple of days at home.† The word starts to get around that this principal really doesn't care, he's going to be retiring anyways.† Eventually, that person retires and a new principal takes over.† This new principal is younger and new to the job.† Maybe this new principal worked under the old principal as a vice principal, and maybe the whole time he was taking notes on how he would have handled the different situations.† Once the new principal takes over, he sends a letter home to all the kids parents and advises them of his expectations.† Now, it is his time and his chance to clean up the issues that he had spent the last period of time seeing handled improperly.† So he comes out hitting hard, suspending students that were getting away with their little dustups for the last couple of years.† Now the students are looking at each other and thinking, wow, that was a suspension?† The new principal now has to change the culture of behaviour in his school, and he now has the golden opportunity to fix what he saw as being incorrect.†

Would Campbell of suspended this type of hit last season?† Maybe.† Will Shanahan suspend this type of hit?† You can rest assured he will.† It is going to take a few more consistent suspensions before this starts to right itself again, and the players start to respect each other once more.† This could be the year of the first time offender, and it is already shaping up that way.† Players that have never been in trouble with the NHL before are now finding themselves called onto the carpet, so to speak.† Something that the NHL had been lacking in the past was consistency and transparency.† With Shanahan in place, hopefully they have the correct person in charge.† Personally, I have always been a fan of Shanahan.† It takes a lot of balls to stand in front of a camera and justify his decisions to his fans and to his players.† That in itself, provides Shanahan with more respect from me.† For a long time now, I have been an advocate to the "Fire Campbell" movement.† Now that he is gone, it is now Shanny's league to enforce how he pleases.† And as it would appear, he likes to do it with consistency and transparency.† Will he do something that I will disagree with?† I can guarantee you he will.† But you have to respect what Shanahan is trying to do.† Shanny has to change the culture of behaviour that has been prevalent in the NHL for the past few seasons, and it will not be an easy job.† We are going to see many more suspensions this season, and some of them may be from players that have never had contact with the NHL discipline offices.† But it is going to happen.† And it may have to be a suspension to a player like Datsyuk or Crosby for the rest of the league to really understand how serious Shanahan is about his new job.

Hockey Fight of the Week:

Mike Brown vs Kris Newbury

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Category: FEATURED

Thoughts from an Island Girl

I went to the racetrack in Martinsviile, †VA., †because we have hot passes. † It was so cool, †being in the pits and seeing all that activity. † During the practice for the Cup cars, †they say girls get back please. † At that moment the engines for all 30 plus cars fire up. †

† Then in single file, †just past Jimmie Johnson's hauler they all take a left turn moving through the pits. † We are right there across the pit entrance road to the right of the cars. † The superstars of NASCAR. † †They were all so beautiful, †with their sponsors and paint schemes. †It is kind of breath-taking. † Kind of like a Christmas parade. † † When all the cars have made this trek to the track itself, †I go to where are the pit boxes on the inside of the fence. †

†Then the cars approach the opening to pit road. †The cars slow a bit and then take a hard left onto the pit stop area to make it on the track. † Of course, †I saw Regan Smith and waved to him and he wave back. † †I was very excited about that. †

I saw the legends of the track and of NASCAR. † †I saw Dale Earnhardt Junior and think of the heritage and lineage that makes it seem all the more real. †I see 5-time and defending champion Jimmie Johnson and think I am part of this moment. † I see the good guys and the bad guys in my mind and I think, †there are no bad guys. † It is what it is and we love or hate based on our perceptions of an accident or someone break checking your favorite driver. † † As I stood at the inside pit gate, †cars were coming and going and standing near the number one turn, †you hear the cars gearing down the tremendous power in those engines, † †We even saw a few drivers. † One was Jeff Gordon. † He makes me feel a bit taller. †Ha! † But two pretty blonde girls got a picture with him. † I heard one fan say, †he is going to tell his wife and then another fan said he took a leak in the stall next to Mark Martin. †

† †NASCAR is bigger than life, †with it's own dramas. † It is very likely that Johnson will not win his sixth straight but that's okay, †you eventually move on in all sports, with winners finally bowing out at some time in their career. † And for all the people who say they are not athletes or just rednecks. †I say this: †"There are plenty of people of different races and walks of life and there is an international flavor with drivers like Juan Pablo Montoya, †Nelson Piquet Jr. † There are also more women racing now too and it will be not too far off that a woman will compete for a title. † For those of you that think this is all redneck, †there are a lot of beautiful women in the pit area. † Some are with the teams and others are fans.

This is really fan friendly and very secure. †But I must say to people be careful where you walk in the pits, †you can get run over. †And be respectful of the drivers who might have to jam on the brakes to avoid hitting you. † These cars are powerful, so keep that in mind. † †Finally, †there is so much more to say, †but I have to get going. † †Just remember, †go to a track near you. † If not NASCAR, †then your local tracks. † They will welcome you and you can be part of it all.

Always Look On The Bright Side of...
Category: Daily Blog 2.0

Always look on the bright side of life (and sports). ††Congratulations to the World Champion Saint Louis Cardinals.† It was a great series to watch, and now that the season has ended, all the fans of the other 29 teams can begin to dream of next season and how their favorite teams are going to win it all.† Baseball will† begin anew in late February of next year when pitchers and catchers report.

Always look on the bright side of life (and sports).† Baseball season may have ended, but pro and college football are in full force and the NHL hockey season has just begun.† College basketball is just around the corner.† The fall and winter sports are entering their time of the sports calendar, with one glaring exception.† †††

Quick now who can name a sport which should be in full force right now but has instead alienated its fans to the point that nobody cares if the entire season gets canceled?† It is a sport that the fans could care less if the greedy owners lose millions this season or if the overpaid players ever get another paycheck.† That is correct, it is the NBA (no basketball again), the league that is about to put itself out of business permanently. Always look on the bright side of life (and sports).† We will never have to hear ESPN tooting LeBron James horn ever again or proclaiming that the Miami Heat is the new Dream Team.† Nobody cares what Kobe and the Lakers will be like without Phil Jackson.

I really should not be slamming ESPN so much; I actually am indebted to them for all the college football games that they broadcast each week on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.† †I watch at least 12 or more games each week, and on Saturday it is wall to wall football from morning to late evening.† This kind of viewing was impossible when I was growing up, and even a decade ago was not available.† I feel like I watch so many games that I could actually be a handicapper in Las Vegas (not really, but close).

Meanwhile in satellite television land, The Speed Channel has been bought out by the Discovery Channel and has been renamed Velocity.† There are a ton of programs about muscle car auctions and rebuilding muscle cars from the 1960ís.† That is right in my wheelhouse, and what I grew up with, muscle cars, pretty girls, and rock and roll.† All three have stood the test of time.

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