Tagged with "College"
Sunday Musings #174
Category: User Showcase
Tags: CollegeFootball NBA AlabamaCrimsonTide BostonCollegeAthletics CollegeBasketball NewEnglandPatriots Olympics NHL HighSchoolSports

 

While so glad I don't live in Buffalo...

 

Also, a special birthday shout out to the best player I ever coached. It was Allison's birthday yesterday.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

Heading into last Sunday's game against the Colts, the Patriots were expected to be faced with a stiff test from the up and coming Indy team and their star QB Andrew Luck. At least that's what a lot of the talking heads were saying.

When it came time for the actual game to be played, the Patriots and their high scoring offense rolled to a 42-20 victory and showed that the Colts are not quite ready for primetime just yet. But it wasn't just the offense that made a big statement.

The defense had a solid day as well. In fact, the Patriots defense against the run was outstanding. It has been much maligned both this season and last when Jerod Mayo got injured and suddenly the Patriots couldn't stop a Pop Warner rush. When Mayo went out this year, the Patriots started out in the same ineffective style. But they've gotten better against the run and against Indy, they were outstanding.

Sure, the Colts aren't a huge run game team but when you hold a team to just 19 yards of rushing for an entire game, you can hold your head high. I know in a blowout the passing game becomes paramount but the Patriots stopped anyone that dared have the temerity to run against them. Hell, it was QB Andrew Luck with 15 total yards that was the rushing leader for the Colts when all was said and done.

Tom Brady had an unusual game. He passed for 257 yards and 2 TDs (one each to Rob Gronkowski and Tim Wright), but the talk after the game was the two interceptions he threw. While one was a routine pick off, the one he threw before the end of the first half that allowed the Colts to score and make it 14-10 going into halftime was an embarrassing throw that someone of Brady's caliber should have known better. It was going to be picked off from the second the ball left his hand. It was like some 3rd string lucky to be on the roster QB had thrown the pass.

And while all that is good, the real star of the game was running back Jonas Gray. He had one hell of a game and a week that he won't soon forget. For the game, the street free agent signing who had been cut by two other teams ran for 199 yards and 4 touchdowns. As a whole, the Patriots ran for 244 yards in the game. His rushing total was changed a couple days after the game when the Elias Sports Bureau discovered an error and he was then credited with 201 rushing yards.

Gray was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week and found himself featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Of course, this being the Patriots, the team wasn't all that impressed with his accomplishments once the game was over. First came the news that the team had signed running back LeGarrette Blount after he was cut from Pittsburgh for being an immature pinhead crybaby. And when Gray overslept and showed up late to practice on Friday, the team sent him home.

The highs and lows of being Jonas Gray, all in one week.

The Patriots are now 8-2 and face the Detroit Lions today. It should prove to be a very interesting game as the Lions defense is both formidable and phenomenal.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

The biggest off the field news this past week was the announcement that Florida fired head coach Will Muschamp. When you see how far Florida has fallen from their national title glory days, the firing is not really that much of a surprise. I will say that I was surprised that the school is "letting" Muschamp finish out the season. Usually in this type of situation, the school usually just cans the guy and names an interim coach. But I'm in favor of him finishing what he started, for good or for bad.

You can read more about the story HERE. SI.com's Andy Staples had this article on Muschamp's graceful exit.

Mass Maritime - My ex-player E.J. was named to the All-MASCAC 2nd team for the third season in a row. One of the local papers had another article on another of my ex-player's and his battle with cancer. You can read about Cody and his family HERE.

Alabama - The Crimson Tide had what amounts to an "off week" for them as they crushed Western Carolina 48-14. Blake Sims did get picked off once but he threw for two touchdowns. Backup QB Jake Coker also threw a TD.

Derrick Henry (pictured below) ran for 92 yards and 2 TDs (while losing a fumble). He also caught a 9 yard passing TD. Tyren Jones added another ground game TD.

In total, Alabama outgained the Catamounts 612-213. Their defense held Western Carolina to MINUS 8 yards rushing.

Alabama stands at 10-1 after this victory. They were #1 in the playoff rankings this week but given the relative low level of competition from their opponent, I don't know if they'll maintain that standing when the new rankings come out.

Receiver Amari Cooper left the game early after getting dinged up but reports have him saying that he'll be ready for next week's Iron Bowl game vs. Auburn.

Boston College - The Eagles were on the road this week with a national TV spotlight game against the #1 team in the country (in both football rankings and criminal activity), Florida State.

Leading up to the game, ESPNBoston.com's Jackie MacMullan had a profile of BC quarterback Tyler Murphy.

As for the game, I was so nervous that I found it hard to watch the game. And as it turned out I missed an excellent but ultimately disappointing matchup as Boston College gave Florida State all it could handle before losing 20-17. The game went down to the last three seconds and was decided by a field goal.

Tyler Murphy completed 6 of 10 passes for 73 yards, 49 of which came on a TD pass to Shakim Phillip (see below 1st). Murphy also ran for a TD. He got sacked once (see below 2nd).

The BC pass defense gave up 281 passing yards to Jameis Winston, but they sacked him once and picked him off as well. They also managed to hold the Seminoles to just 109 rushing yards, while the offense racked up 240 rushing yards of their own.

You can see highlights of the game below.

At the end of the game, the announcer started talking about how BC fans might have to get used to the idea that coach Steve Addazio might not be long for The Heights. He used to coach at Florida and with the Gators job open and Addazio doing good things with the Eagles, he's bound to be a serious candidate for the position.

I have really enjoyed what Addazio (pictured below) has done with the Eagles thus far and I'd really hate for him to leave with the job unfinished. I fully realize that coaching Florida is a far bigger job in terms of prestige and opportunity to compete for a national title, but as a BC fan, I want to see him stay right where he is.

Boston College is 6-5 on the season.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

I wrote about some of the games played earlier in the week in a separate blog post that you can check out HERE.

The Boston Globe had a feature article on the new Boston University head coach Katy Steding. You can read that story via this link.

Bruce Pearl is back in coaching as the new head coach of Auburn University. He's becoming fully immersed in everything Auburn and recently took part in a basketball trick shot video. You can read the article here and see the full video below.

Meanwhile, Lauren Hill made more news this week for Mount Saint Joseph University. Despite her health continuing to decline, she went to her team's road game vs. Bethany College. She was in uniform and despite battling dizziness, got into the game for the second half and scored. You can read about Hill's 2nd college game HERE.

The video of her basket is below.

And here are some pics from the game.

Taking the shot:

Pregame Warm Up Shirts worn by the Bethany College team:

Pregame Handshake:

Boston College Men - The men's team was in Puerto Rico this week playing in the Puerto Rico Tip Off tournament. They opened up their three game set in the tournament against New Mexico. Despite it being a tough matchup, the Eagles pulled out a 69-65 victory behind 20 points and 6 assists from Olivier Hanlan. Aaron Brown scored 16 points in the game but also led the team with 5 turnovers. Patrick Heckmann added 11 points and Dennis Clifford (pictured below) finished with 6 points and a team high 8 rebounds.

(PHOTO FROM THE BOSTON HERALD)

The team's second game was against West Virginia and the Eagles held a 32-21 lead at halftime. But in the second half, the Mountaineers offense took over and built a lead. The Eagles rallied but fell short in the end and lost 70-66. West Virginia took control of the game with a 33-16 run over the course of an 11 minute span.

Olivier Hanlan led the Eagles with 23 points and 4 steals (He had 5 turnovers to lead the team as well). Patrick Heckmann (pictured below) scored 14 points and grabbed a team leading 7 rebounds. Aaron Brown added 10 points.

(PHOTO BY ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Boston College saw their 21 turnovers turned into 20 points by West Virginia. The Eagles are now 2-2 and will play Dayton later this afternoon.

Hartford Hawks - Hartford's successful start to their season continued wtih a tough 57-54 victory over Providence College. Their record is now 3-0. Amber Bepko (pictured below) finished with 23 points (her second straight 20 plus point game) to power the Hawks offense. Cherelle Moore scored 12 points and had a team high 9 rebounds. Deanna Mayza scored 7 points and dished out a career high 9 assists. One of those assists fed Bepko's three pointer that broke a 52-52 tie.

(PHOTO FROM GAME RECAP ARTICLE)

You can see highlights from the game and coach Jennifer Rizzotti's post game press conference (as well as comments from Amber Bepko) below.

Missouri State - The Bears ran into a buzzsaw in the form of #19 Oklahoma State on Saturday afternoon. While being held to just 27.3% shooting and 18 turnovers (which OSU turned into 21 points), Missouri State ended up losing 77-36. The team falls to 0-3 on the season.

Liza Fruendt scored 11 points to lead the Bears while Hillary Chvatal (pictured below) had a team high 11 boards.

Tennessee LADY VOLS - On Friday night, Tennessee faced off against Winthrop and came away with a resounding 81-48 victory. The team is now 3-0 on the season and all three wins have been blowouts. Of course, these early season games against decidedly weaker opponents won't mean nearly as much when the Lady Vols start playing their more difficult part of the schedule.

But I like what I'm seeing from the players thus far as the entire roster seems to be making contributions in every aspect of the game. Ariel Massengale (pictured below) led the team with 20 points. She was 6-10 from three point range, including hitting her first five attempts.

Bashaara Graves (pictured below) had her third straight double-double with 15 points and 10 boards. Nia Moore scored 14 points and Jaime Nared added 10.

But looking deeper at the box score will reveal some excellent guard play from both Jordan Reynolds and Andraya Carter (pictured below). Reynolds scored 6 points but grabbed 8 boards and dished out 7 assists. Carter had 9 points for the game while wrapping up 6 steals and 5 rebounds.

Cierra Burdick (pictured below) saw her first game action of the season and while she didn't score in the game she did corral 10 rebounds and tally 4 assists.

(ALL PHOTOS FROM TENNESSEE GAME PHOTO GALLERY)

If the team can get that kind of top to bottom production from their roster when they start playing their ranked opponents, things could be VERY interesting all season long.

You can check out what coach Holly Warlick had to say about the game below.

Boston College Women - The BC women opened up their home slate of games on Thursday night by hosting the Boston University Terriers. Before the game, the team's Twitter page had photos of the team poster and the first game program.

As for the game, the Eagles rolled to 2-1 with a 73-56 victory over the Terriers. Kelly Hughes (pictured below) had her first career double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds. She added 6 assists and 4 steals to her stat line as well.

Karima Gabriel finished with 11 points, 5 rebounds and 4 blocks while Kat Cooper (pictured below) had 10 points.

Boston College also got some help in their offense from the outside. Emilee Daley (pictured 1st) and Nicole Boudreau (pictured 2nd) hit three 3 pointers in the game to finish with 9 points apiece.

 

(ALL PHOTOS TAKEN FROM EITHER GAME RECAP ARTICLE CREDITED TO JOHN QUACKENBOS OR THE BC WBB FACEBOOK PAGE PHOTO GALLERY)

You can get coach Erik Johnson's take on the game below.

NBA

You can check out what I had to say about my Boston Celtics this week in my latest Celtics Report.

Meanwhile, for sports fans who hate when teams tank, SI.com's Phil Taylor tells the tale of this year's Philadelphia 76ers. Not only is the team losing on purpose, they are doing it blatantly. There is no doubt that the powers that be in the organization would be happy if the team went 0-82 so they could get yet another top draft pick.

It has gotten so bad that the pizza chain Papa John's recently had to change the terms of an incentive deal for fans. It was supposed to be a deal for fans when the Sixers won a game. But after an 0-11 start gave rise to thoughts the team might not win a game, now the deal is for when the team scores 90 points in a game (win or lose). You can check out this pathetic story HERE.

NHL

We've all read the stories about how athletes end up going through all the money they made during the course of a career. Whether it is because they buy everything in sight, support an extended network of lazy ass friends and relatives or make a series of bad investments, there's a seemingly endless list of athletes who made millions upon millions of dollars that end up broke.

Mostly, you think that they are idiots. But sometimes you may just feel sorry for them. In the case of Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson, even my cold unsympathetic heart was stirred as I read the story of how he filed for bankruptcy on October 7th. And he's still in the course of his career. And why is he broke? Because he trusted people close to him that should've been the most trustworthy of people to let run your "financial empire". Instead, Johnson's PARENTS have managed to get him in debt from anywhere between 10 and 15 million dollars.

You can read this tale of why you should never trust anyone you are related to with your money HERE.

OLYMPIC SPORTS

If you've been following the scandals surrounding USA Swimming and the multiple claims of rampant sexual abuse, this story from Outside Magazine will likely just be more confirmation of the horrors that have been essentially allowed to go unchecked for years. If you haven't followed the story, it will make you recoil in horror.

FANTASY FOOTBALL

I know that I'm beginning to sound like a broken record but once again, I managed to go 0-2 in fantasy football last week. Of course, I was in a good position to win in one of the leagues. Or so I thought. I was behind by a few points heading into Monday's game but figured I would be able to pull ahead because my opponent only had 1 guy and I didn't think he would score more points than my two players.

And then Le'Veon Bell rang up 48 fantasy points for the other guy and my dreams of a win stayed exactly that...a dream.

WRESTLING

As a kid growing up in the 80's, I was one of millions entertained by pro wrestling. So on occasion, I see articles about the guys I watched growing up and how their lives are now. Sometimes they are good stories, often they are really bad stories. This week, there was the story about Kamala, The Ugandan Giant. Long retired, he's living life as a double amputee now. You can read more via this BleacherReport.com article.

HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS

While the Wareham High football team was off this week in preparation for their Turkey Day game against arch-rival Bourne, the school held their annual powder puff game. The senior and freshman girls teamed up agains the sophomore and junior girls.

Gabby, one of my ex-players, scored two touchdowns and picked off two passes during the game to help the senior/freshman team win the game. The local sports reporter covering the game tweeted out that she was the MVP of the game. The pic of one of her interceptions he sent along with the tweet is below.

I'm always proud to see her doing so well athletically. WAY TO GO GABBY!

MISCELLANEOUS

Books - I finished the John Sandford novel Storm Front this week. It's the latest paperback in his Virgil Flowers series. It was a decent entry into the series and I'm looking forward to his next installment. Don't forget to be on the lookout for my 2014 Top 10 Mystery/Thrillers article that will be coming out by the end of the year.

TV - The new episodes recaps for The Flash and Arrow are now online via the following Pop-topia.com links: The Flash Season 1 Episode 6 - The Flash Is Born & Arrow Season 3 Episode 7 - Draw Back Your Bow

 

Music -  AC/DC has released an audio stream of the title track for their new CD Rock or Bust. You can listen to it below.

I've got a brand new CD review for you to check out this week. This time around it is for the new Robert Plant album lullaby and...The Ceaseless Roar. You can check out what I had to say via this Pop-topia.com link.

Thanksgiving - I had to finish my Turkey Day shopping on Saturday and I'll be cooking a lot of the dinner on Thursday. Here's hoping you all have a...

 

Mid-Week College Basketball Update 11/20/14
Category: NCAA
Tags: NCAA CollegeBasketball BostonCollegeEaglesBasketball TennesseeLadyVols MissouriStateBearsWomensBasketball HartfordHawksWomensBasketball

 

Because there will always be a huge amount of college basketball recaps and news to talk about in any given week, I'm going to try to post a mid-week blog entry to keep things a bit lighter in my Sunday Musings column.

Before I get into talking about the specific teams I follow, here's an in-depth look at Michigan men's basketball coach John Beilein.

Also, Mount Saint Joseph University's Lauren Hill has now raised $324,000 for cancer research.

Catholic University - The Division 3 school in Washington, DC has one of my former players on the team this season. Her name is Amber and this is her freshman year. Here's her pic from her player profile page on the team's web page:

The team has played three games so far this year. They beat Messiah 57-46 and St. Mary's (Md.) 66-47 in games that Amber didn't play. She played in the third game, their first loss of the season (63-36 to Salisbury). She saw 3 minutes of playing time but didn't make an impact on the stat line.

Boston College Men - The Eagles led by 8 points at halftime in their game against UMass but gave up 47 2nd half points to the Minutemen and lost 71-62. The loss evened their record at 1-1.

UMass had a field day at the foul line. They hit 31 out of 46 attempts. Boston College was 17-27. Strangely enough, UMass failed to hit any of the 3 shots from three point range. BC was 5-21 from long range. The Eagles also committed 18 turnovers (Olivier Hanlan and Patrick Heckmann had 6 TOs apiece).

Hanlan (pictured below) led the Eagles with 18 points. Aaron Brown added 12 points. Heckmann scored 7 points and led BC with 8 rebounds.

Tennessee LADY VOLS - Tennessee rolled to 2-0 with a 91-39 blowout victory over Oral Roberts.

The Lady Vols got 21 points from Ariel Massengale (pictured below) and 20 points from Nia Moore. Moore, who added 9 rebounds, has gotten a little early season buzz thanks to her strong offensive performances in the team's first two games.

Bashaara Graves had a double-double with 12 points and 10 boards. Kortney Dunbar scored 10 points and grabbed 6 points. Jordan Reynolds (pictured below) finished with 5 points, 7 assists and 7 steals.

(Photos from UT Game Photo Gallery)

Hartford - The Hawks improved to 2-0 with their 75-63 defeat of Central Connecticut. Amber Bepko scored 20 points (the fifth 20 point performance of her career) to lead Hartford. Deanna Mayza had 10 points and Cherelle Moore finished with 8 points and a team high 8 rebounds.

Missouri State - The Lady Bears dropped their second consecutive game to start the season. They lost to Arkansas-Little Rock 61-48 despite a 19 point performance from Kenzie Williams.

The team shot just 3-11 from the foul line and saw their 27 turnovers turned into 28 points for Arkansas-Little Rock.

Freshman Liza Fruendt had 14 points and Hillary Chvatal (2 points) grabbed a career high 11 rebounds.

Boston College Women -  Before their second game of the season, the BC women had a walkthrough session.

The women's team found themselves down by 13 points during the game but they ended up rallying back and captured their first victory of the season 82-72 over St. Mary's (Ca.). The Eagles 11-38 three point shooting was a big factor in their win.

The team's offensive attack was keyed by Kelly Hughes (see photo below of her on defense). She scored a career high 24 points and added 7 rebounds and 6 assists. Nicole Boudreau added 15 points and 9 boards.

(Photo from St. Mary's Game Photo Gallery)

Kat Cooper (pictured below) added 13 points and 6 rebounds.

Ashley Kelsick (pic below 1st) added 8 points and Karima Gabriel (pic below 2nd) chipped in with 7 points and 6 boards.

(All other photos from BC Facebook Photo Gallery)

Here's a brief video of coach Erik Johnson talking about the win.

By the way, Kelly Hughes joined men's basketball player Olivier Hanlan being honored as Eagles of the Week.

 

Exorcise the Saban Ghost
Category: NCAA
Tags: ALABAMA AUBURN BEAR BRYANT COLLEGE FOOTBALL FLORIDA GEORGIA GERRY DINARDO KENTUCKY LES MILES LSU MIAMI DOLPHINS MICHIGAN ST. Nick Saban

I know this is long, but there are a few things I cover.  I give an overview of his time at both Michigan St. and LSU (with more detail for LSU of course) and then I talk about some things that went Alabama's favor that don't necessarily go in LSU's favor had Saban stayed all this time.

People talk about ghosts of Tiger Stadium (which turns 90 on Tuesday, by the way). Usually it’s positives like Billy Cannon’s Halloween Run in 1959, the 1988 Earthquake Game against Auburn, the five fourth-down conversions against Florida in 2007. There were a couple of other classics against those opponents and others.

There have also been negatives. One negative was when the Tigers went 30 years without a win against Alabama at home. Even though Bear was only there for about the first 1/3 of that time, it was like his ghost was still on the sidelines, pushing the Tide to victory in a way that it wasn’t even present in the state of Alabama.

Other than the national championship, one of the main things I’m grateful for from Saban’s tenure is the fact that he had two home wins over Alabama, the first of which ended that long streak. Neither win came against a great Alabama team, but that wasn’t important. Just like it wasn’t important how young this LSU team was or how well Ole Miss had played in previous games this season.

In January, it will have been ten years since Nick Saban coached an LSU team.

In January, it will have been ten years since Nick Saban coached an LSU team.

Under Miles, things against Alabama started even better. After winning two games over Mike Shula’s teams (I also find it kind of funny that Miami is the team Saban came from due to that last name), Miles won three of his first five games against Saban. If Miles had left after 7 seasons, he’d be known the guy who (unlike Saban) actually beat a number of good Alabama teams at LSU. (In addition to the three wins over Saban, LSU beat a previously unbeaten, 4th-ranked Alabama team in 2005.)

The ghost of Bear might be gone now, but now there is a living ghost in the collective psyche of LSU fans by the name of Nick Saban. Some still openly regret the fact that he’d left and wanted him to come back. I’ve heard from multiple sources there was a group of boosters who thought they could get Saban back if Miles were to leave. Others bitterly resent what they see as his betrayal of LSU by going to Alabama.

I believe like most supposedly supernatural phenomena, this ghost is present in our minds only to the extent we allow it to be, but it’s been really hard to shake since 1/9/12, that fateful day that ended what would have been LSU’s first undefeated season since 1958 (although LSU still won two more games in 2011 than it had in 1958). It also prematurely ended what should have been at least 24 consecutive months of bragging rights over the Tide and gave Alabama another national championship to rub everyone’s noses in.

To backtrack a bit, I want to note that very few people mind the fact that he went to Miami. He had rejected many NFL offers out of respect for LSU, and he was still of the age that it made sense to give it a try. Also Wayne Huizenga, the owner of the Dolphins, had bent over backwards to accommodate Saban’s every contractual demand.

The betrayal was going to Alabama. Alabama may not have ever put too much emphasis on beating LSU, but the same could not be said of LSU’s priorities. Of course, Alabama was not what it once was in 2007, but I think most LSU fans knew it would only be dormant for so long. For the catalyst of Alabama’s return to be Nick Saban was the ultimate slap in the face.

Both LSU and Michigan St. (his two stops before his brief experiment with NFL head coaching) fans took part in derogatory chants against Saban a couple of weeks ago. The Michigan St. fans did it when Chris Fowler interviewed Saban by satellite (if that’s even still the technology used), and the LSU fans did so in person when the Tide came to Tiger Stadium.

What annoys me more though is the perception by some that LSU and Michigan St. owe any success in the last few years to Saban. I wanted to set the record straight on some things, because Saban did not have anything close to the kind of improvement or level of consistency he’s had at Alabama since 2008.

I could probably write a book about all the things I like and don’t like about him and my observations of him as a person and a coach over the last 20 years (I clearly remember Michigan St. both before he took the job and during his time there), but I just want to focus on what exactly changed at Michigan St. and LSU when you look at the results on the field. I also want to consider the argument or suggestion that if he’d stayed at LSU, the LSU football team would be what Alabama has been over the last five seasons.

Saban’s last year at Michigan St. was a good one; but before that, his teams were just about as mediocre as they were under his predecessor there (although to be fair, 6-5-1 and 6-6 at least aren’t losing seasons, which his predecessor had suffered a couple of times). Still, Saban’s second-best season there was only 7-5.

I don’t want to dwell on Michigan St. too much — his last season there was 15 years ago — but in his first season gone, they went right back to 5-6, which they had finished the year before Saban started there. That was a long-term impact of approximately 0. In fact, you can go out even further. In the five years before Saban, Michigan St. won 48% of its games. In the five years after he left, Michigan St. won 48% of its games. What are fans today supposed to thank him for again? Other than memories of the 1999 Citrus Bowl?

It doesn’t take a great coach to have a single ten-win season in five years. I don’t think any major programs are beating down the doors of Will Muschamp, Larry Coker, Gerry DiNardo (Saban’s full-time predecessor), or even Gene Chizik, who has a national championship to his credit. Another example from the SEC, David Cutcliffe, took a long time to get back into a head coaching job despite having led Ole Miss to its best season in decades in 2003.

Saban did step things up in his fourth and fifth years at LSU, but the Tigers had a combined 12 losses in his first three years. The conference championship in 2001 was a fluke. How often has the SEC champion had three conference losses? How often does the SEC champion have a loss by 29 points at home?

LSU had worse in the previous two seasons than Michigan St. had had immediately before Saban but had two season of the previous four with wins of 9 games or more, whereas the last time Michigan St. had won even 8 games was five seasons before Saban got there.

LSU likely had better athletes to start with. After being a dormant program for 6 seasons, DiNardo did have some initial success. In his first season, he led the Tigers to only their second bowl win in 16 years, and it was over Saban’s first Michigan St. team. This was followed by a 19-5 record over the next two seasons, which included a win over defending national champions Florida in 1997. Also, Louisiana is more fertile recruiting ground for recruiting than the state of Michigan, and LSU isn’t “little brother” to anyone in the state of Louisiana.

It was not that difficult to have a spike in Louisiana recruiting. It also wasn’t the case that DiNardo couldn’t develop players, which he clearly did given some of the close results against good teams. He just lost the ability (partly due to turnover among his assistants) to manage the team to wins.

I’m sure that put a damper on recruiting in the 1998-99 offseason, but LSU would finish the 1999 campaign with a strong win over a ranked Arkansas team (with an interim coach), and the hope that the hire of Saban brought (probably as much as or more than Saban himself) kept the recruiting after the 1999 season from being a problem. If they could beat a ranked team with a no-name interim coach at the helm, the sky was the limit.

Nonetheless, Saban’s first three seasons were actually worse than DiNardo’s first three by record, and there had been no winning seasons that preceded any of the recruiting classes DiNardo worked with in that time.

Saban’s 9 wins in his final season were good in the context of the 12 years before his arrival, but I don’t remember Les Miles getting a ton of credit for following a national championship season with 8-win and 9-win seasons, respectively. Nor did he get a lot of credit for winning 33 games in the past three full seasons combined. Saban’s best three years at LSU together didn’t account for that many wins.

One of the other coaches I mentioned likely could have coached Saban’s 2004 team to 9 wins or more. Also, the loss to Georgia that season was reminiscent of the handful of bad losses Miles has had. So there was really only one season at LSU that was better than what had taken place at LSU the five seasons before Saban’s arrival.

As he did at Michigan St., he did raise the floor at LSU. When things didn’t go well, he went 8-5 and 8-4 instead of 4-7 and (starting) 2-8. That was an improvement, but just like with Michigan St., he only raised the ceiling in one year.

In both instances, those singular seasons caused his stock to go through the roof (continuing with the housing analogy), although he did decide to stick around at LSU another year anyway. Also, it’s not just wins and losses on their own. There were baffling losses under Saban. In his first season, he lost to Florida by 32, he lost to UAB (with only 10 points scored), and he lost to an Arkansas team (which had gone into the game with a losing record), 14-3.

It’s not good if you have three games where you score 10 or fewer points and four games where you score 17 or fewer.

The next year, they had the opposite problem. The offense was only held under 20 twice, but they allowed 44 to Florida, 25 to a bad Kentucky team, 35 to Ole Miss, 38 to Arkansas, and 34 to Illinois.

2002 was all over the map. They scored 14 or fewer four times, but they scored over 30 seven times. They allowed over 25 points five times.

2003’s team only had a single loss, but it was an ugly one: 19-7 at home against Ron Zook’s Gators. The Tigers struggled offensively at times against the better teams such as Georgia, Ole Miss, and Oklahoma. It helped that that team was able to play 6 teams with losing records and a I-AA opponent. Before the last four games of that season, LSU had not played two teams back-to-back that would finish with winning records. Contrast that with Miles’ last couple of seasons.

The 2004 team did not have a stellar offense, and LSU actually hurt themselves by trying to start JaMarcus Russell too soon. They nearly lost to Florida before Marcus Randall came off the bench to lead a comeback. They also needed Oregon St. to miss a few extra points in order to win the opener by 1 point in overtime. I already mentioned the Georgia loss that year.

LSU scored over 40 points three times that year (against teams with a combined 11 wins), but their highest point output otherwise was 27 against an Ole Miss team that finished 4-7. They only managed to score 24 apiece against the likes of Troy and Vanderbilt.

This was with Jimbo Fisher as the offensive coordinator. To apply the criticism Miles gets to Saban, he must have been holding the offensive coordinator back, right? It would seem to apply to Saban even more. In fact, I’m calling it right now: Cam Cameron is not going to be the head coach of a national-championship team in the next 10 years.

One could have also argued Saban only developed one “real” quarterback (Matt Mauck, whom he actually first recruited during his Michigan St. days) in those five years.

Saban was there when Russell came to LSU, but I’m sure that had more to do with Jimbo. Also, Russell didn’t really come into his own until the middle of his last year, which had nothing to do with Saban.

Point being, if you start from the perspective of looking to blame the head coach for everything, Saban could have taken a lot of blame as well as credit during his time at LSU. I think people just don’t realize how much their expectations have changed, which made every big win Saban had wonderful and every loss (or sometimes even close win) under Miles tragic.

So if we’re going to be assigning blame, we can blame Saban for causing LSU fans to forget what a losing season feels like. I still don’t think we have him to thank for the 7 double-digit-win seasons since he left, although of course he was instrumental for at least the first couple of them.

The LSU fans who do have this pathetic sense of longing for Saban are misguided. Alabama has certain advantages that LSU just isn’t going to have.

I don’t buy into conspiracies, but I think there is a natural degree of deference they get from recruits, from referees, from the media, from conference officials (who, perhaps not coincidentally, are based in Alabama), etc. Notre Dame has not had a sustained presence atop college football in 20 years. For Nebraska, it’s been about 15 years. So Alabama is the focal point of the historically great programs right now. There is just a different level of mystique for such programs. Nick Saban or not, that wasn’t going to be LSU.

People can’t accept that though. They just think that had Saban been here in 2009, 2011, and 2012, we would have had three national championships in those years rather than none. Maybe Saban wins in 2011 with either team (although even that’s arguable), but I’m doubtful about 2009 and 2012.

What if LSU (rather than Alabama) had been undefeated in 2009 and threw an interception on the game-clinching drive against Alabama. You think that gets ruled incomplete and LSU goes on to kick the field goal anyway?

LSU got some flak for winning in 2007 with two losses, but at least they won the conference, unlike Alabama in 2011.

Let’s say LSU loses a home game to Alabama like they did this year and everything else plays out like 2011. Do you think LSU gets a re-match over a one-loss champion of another conference? I doubt it.

LSU hasn’t gotten a soft touch at all in their slate against the SEC East even though their annual opponent (Florida) has been better than Alabama’s annual opponent (Tennessee).
The previous two seasons have had “bridge” schedules, temporary stop-gaps before they started off the new rotation, which was formalized before this season.

Alabama drew Missouri in 2012. Missouri played in the 2011 Independence Bowl, but they had an anticipated lull in adjusting to the SEC slate in 2012. In addition to the one good Muschamp team (which would only lose one SEC game), LSU had to play South Carolina, which had gone 11-2 in 2011. South Carolina would finish with the same record in 2012.

If you switch both SEC East opponents around, chances are LSU goes to the SEC Championship game instead of Alabama in 2012, even assuming Alabama still beats LSU in the closing seconds. Point being, I don’t think had Saban coached LSU that year (even if he had players just as good as the ones he had at Alabama), he would have beaten both Florida and South Carolina.

In 2013, LSU got Georgia, which had nearly beaten Alabama in the 2012 championship game, while Alabama played Kentucky, fresh off another losing season. Again, that scenario does not get reversed if Saban coaches LSU instead of Alabama.

It was an extra advantage for Alabama because what turned out to be their top challenger, Auburn, had to play Georgia also. Auburn had a favorable bounce and there were some unfortunate injuries to Bulldogs players between playing LSU and Auburn, but that could have easily been another Alabama divisional win (even with the Iron Bowl loss) owing in significant part to the schedule.

A Saban team might have won another game last season at LSU, but if they don’t end up winning two more, they don’t win the championship anyway.

So all things considered, maybe Saban wins one more championship than Miles did over the last 10 years (that’s right, this is the 10th LSU season after Saban). On the other hand, maybe they don’t win in 2007. You might blame Miles for the OT losses, but maybe Saban loses games to Florida and Auburn (there were some gutsy calls Saban may not have made) and they either lose a third somewhere along the way or someone else wins the division. So it could even be the same number of championships.

I don’t mind the idea of looking at the unmatched level of success Alabama has had over the better part of the last seven seasons (the only time a program had done anything like that in my memory was Nebraska in the mid-1990s) and wanting to match that, but just get over the fact that the head coach there coached LSU 10 years ago. That goes for people who want to insult him and those who wish he’d stayed (or fantasize about his return) alike. For those who persist in being hung up on Saban, at least get your facts right.

This is my previous post here at the Gab. I included a picture of Saban with Jimbo Fisher, who was an assistant throughout Saban's time at LSU.

Deep Thoughts 11-19-14
Category: FEATURED
Tags: Austin Music History NCAA college football playoffs Horns and Aggies in a bowl? Browns and Steelers

 

Hello and welcome to another Wednesday of deep thoughts. I must admit that I have many things on my mind today other than sports. After reading other blogs this week, my mind is drifting back to past times. I heard on the news today that a place in Austin called Mackendrick’s Tree House was being demolished.  Even though the club was only open for about 8 years, I can’t tell you how many nights I spent listening to music at this cool place. The building was literally built up on stilts, with windows facing the lights of downtown. One summer night in the early 80’s, Julie and I braved the weather (and ignored our parents’ wishes) to take in a night of music at the “treehouse”. One thing about Austin is that when we get rain, it comes down in buckets. This was one of those Thunderstorms that lasted for hours. The streets were flooding and we had to take a rather circuitous route to make it out of our neighborhood. We should have never made that trip, but am I ever glad we did. The music that night was incredible. The weather meant that the club was not crowded, so it was a very intimate evening. The entire north wall of the Treehouse was glass, which allowed the flashes of lightening to illuminate the club. Sipping cocktails with my fiancé, listening to great music…it is a night that I will never forget and makes me sad to see the Tree House gone.

 

 

 

 

 

                      This is Passenger from an NPR broadcast. They tore it up the night at the Tree House...great memories.

 

 

The club has been closed for many years. It is literally a couple of blocks from the location of the old Armadillo World Headquarters…which was razed years ago. With the destruction of the Tree House, another of my personal Austin memories is gone. I stumbled upon an HBO special recently called Foo Fighters: Sonic Highway. The band is visiting 8 different cities across the country and doing a documentary about the music of each city, then recording a tune written from the history. I happened to catch the documentary about Austin and was amazed how many memories the show captured for me.  Honestly, living in Austin…you forget how much music history this city has seen in the past 50 years. What I found interesting is that Austin has been home to many different styles of music. Many think of Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings when they think of Austin music, but the history of music is much richer than this. My music path usually led me through the jazz venues in town, but occasionally I would venture off and catch other music. The documentary reminded me how important Austin was to the psychedelic and punk rock music scenes. Roky Erickson and the 13th Floor Elevators were a bit before my time, but I remember musicians talking about the Vulcan Gas Company, which closed in 1970. You can imagine how popular this music was with the Austin police of the 60s. Erickson was arrested for possession of one joint and ended up being put in the Austin State Hospital. The Punk rock era was totally different. A club called Raul’s was originally a Tejano club, but desperate punkers managed to convince the owner to allow them to play their music. Raul’s quickly gained notoriety as the lead singer for the Huns was arrested on an obscenity charge while he was performing. The bare-chested picture of him being handcuffed on the stage soon had young fans flocking to the club. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course the other music form that Austin is famous for is the blues. The roots of Austin blues began back in the 1940's on the east side of Austin. Known as the Chitlin Circuit, the Victory Grill and other venues brought great music to eager Austin music fans. Many great musicians have traveled to East Austin over the years...some of them include: Clarence "Gatemouth" Bown, W.C. Clark, Ike and Tina Turner, James Brown and Billie Holiday. Clifford Antone came to Austin as a university student but found his love for the blues too hard to ignore. It is easy to point to Antone as the reason for much of Austin's reputation for the blues. When he opened Antones on 6th St. in 1974, he ushered in the next big wave of music talent. Over the years, Antone's gave musicians like the Vaughan Brothers, Delbert McClinton, John Lee Hooker and many others a place to exhibit their awesome talent. It is difficult to fully acknowledge how important that Clifford was to the soul of Austin's blues. As Antone's began to decline, the Continental Club picked up the blues torch from Antones and proudly continues to provide a terrifc venue for blues today. While the music in Austin continues to move forward, it is just not the same for me. Maybe it is because I am older and no longer have the personal connection…but I sure miss the days of old.

 

 

The Foo Fighters documentary was awesome. If you have a chance, you should check it out. The 8 cities being covered are: Chicago, Washington D.C., Nashville, Austin, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Seattle and New York.

 

 


 

I have been reluctant to jump to any conclusions with the college football committee. It did not make much sense to get too excited when there was more than a month left in the season. As the weeks are being whittled down, we now have a pretty good idea who the contenders are now. Like many outside of Tuscaloosa, I was hoping to see Mississippi State knock off Bama last weekend. But, I should have known better. I know that Nick Saban is an easy guy to dislike, but as I look around the college football landscape…tell me someone who is a better coach? Yes, the Crimson Tide has great talent, but there are many teams that have great talent. The difference is that the talent at Bama gets better. Like Saban or not, you must acknowledge that this guy can flat out coach. Having said that, there is no doubt that Auburn will be looking to put another loss on the Tide. There is also no doubt that Ole Miss will be looking to knock off Mississippi State. Is it possible that the first playoff series exist without a team from the SEC? I guess it is possible, but certainly not probable. I had no problem with TCU being bumped down this week...although I think that TCU is a very good team, I still believe that Baylor is the better team.  I am a big proponent of head to head matchups being the trump card…and since Baylor beat TCU, they are the better team to me.

 

I read on Tuesday that Charlie Strong said that there won’t be any more seasons with Texas losing 5 games. I said weeks ago that teams should get their shots in on Texas while they could. As Oklahoma State found, this Longhorn team is no longer unsure and vulnerable. With each passing week, the Longhorns have grown in confidence and suddenly are a tough team to beat. The next test for Texas is the TCU Horned Frogs. My hunch is that TCU has too many horses this year for Texas to win, but I think it will be a battle. The defense that Texas is playing is the real deal. I am still not sold on Swoopes, but he has made great strides in the past 5 weeks. Is he good enough to beat a top 5 team? I don’t think so, but I will be happy to be proven wrong.

 

With the Longhorns 6th victory last week, they are now eligible for a bowl game. I heard it mentioned a few weeks ago that a possible Texas and Texas A&M bowl matchup might be possible in the Texas Bowl. I think that would be a terrific game, but after reading quotes from Chip Brown…I am beginning to think that this game won’t happen. Apparently word is that the Aggie suits don’t like the idea of facing this improving Texas team. I suppose that they figure this would be a losing proposition all the way around. I suppose they could be right about this, but I bet their fan base would have a different opinion. It would be nice to see a bowl game on December 29th that was sold out. C’mon Aggies, let do this…it will be fun!

 


 

 

                                                                Wait...how did he get dressed so quickly?

 

I have to take a moment to tip my hat to the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers. Both of these teams said goodbye to a disgruntled running back on Tuesday. Ben Tate has been grumbling about reduced carries and tried to leave early on Sunday. LeGarrette Blount did leave the field early on Monday. Both of these guys will soon realize the error of their ways, as they are now unemployed. Ego can be a dangerous thing. I am always amazed how short sighted players can be. Tate may be able to figure out another gig, but with the other baggage that Blount is carrying, he may be done. Too bad, but it was the right move by the Browns and Steelers.

 


 

 

 

 

Each year, I am amused how early Christmas decorations go up. Sometimes in the rush to get up decorations, towns must forget to take a look at what they are putting up. This is a town in West Virginia that really should reassess their decorations…

 

 

                                                          Today is my brother Brad's birthday...happy birthday bro!

 

 



That is all I have today, but I will leave you with a bit of Jack Handey…

 

If you go flying back through time, and you see somebody else flying forward into the future, it's probably best to avoid eye contact.

 

You know something that would really make me applaud? A guy gets stuck in quicksand, then sinks, then suddenly comes shooting out, riding on water skis! How do they do that?!

 

 

Thanks for stopping by and feel free to leave a few deep thoughts of your own…

 

 

Musings From The Hoodwood 11-18
Category: Daily Blog 2.0
Tags: NFL NBA MLB College Football

You'd smile too if you was getting the jack he was...

Greetings from the Hoodwood where the snow falls and my fantasy team is falling apart…

MLB: Stanton gets paid

I like Giancarlo Stanton. He is a talented outfielder for the Miami Marlins who is fast growing a rep for being one of the best young sluggers in the game, finished 2nd in the NL MVP behind Clayton Kershaw and might have won it had he not missed the last three weeks of the season with a frightening injury after getting hit in the face with a pitch. Stanton has routinely smashed long homers and is gaining the title of one of the best young sluggers in the game but with still two years to go before he would hit the free agent runway, many pundits felt that while Stanton would continue to see his paychecks increase he was still a couple years from the Yankees, Red Sox or hometown Dodgers swooping in with a monster contract and spiriting him out of perennially cash strapped Miami. The Marlins however did a total script flip and stunned the sports world by inking Stanton to a stunning 13 year $325 million dollar deal. That $25 million a year kids. The deal makes Stanton the richest player in team sports, period. The deal makes the Pujols, Fielder, Cabrera, Trout and Votto deals look like bargain basement raids. Stanton is a quality player and the Marlins were prescient in locking him up but 13 years? Stanton will be a Marlin unless they decide to fire sale and the only teams that will be able to afford him would be the big markets, so one wonders how wise this deal really is. If Stanton is getting $325 million how much will players like Clayton Kershaw and Andrew McCutchen get?

College Football: Is Bama back?

You had the feeling that Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide were playin possum, that they watched as first Ole Miss then Mississippi State took the early reigns as College footballs top dog, knowing sooner or later that they would have a hand in their downfall. Though the Tide had a couple games where they would be pushed to the brink, most notably the OT thriller in Death Valley against LSU, they continue to move stealthily if not steadily up the ranks and after dominating then #1 Mississippi State in a 25-20 win that was not as close as you would think, the Tide now seem poised to get back on the inside of the college football playoff picture. There are other contenders to be sure, Oregon, unbeaten Florida State and a growing list of 1-loss teams like Ohio State and TCU but Tide are there to many of the Tide haters’ chagrin.

NBA: Is Kobe getting his comeuppance?

I grew up loving the Lakers, I was a big Kareem and Magic fan. I wanted to play that roughneck defense like Michael Cooper and the team just seemed like the essence of cool. When the Lakers fell on hard times after Magic retired, I still was a fan at a distance since they had drafted a fellow Bearcat Nick Van Exel (I even had his poster) But when the Lakers pulled a draft day coup to acquire the precocious Kobe Bryant (most forget he was not drafted by the Lakers but by the Charlotte Hornets, the team that is now the New Orleans Pelicans not the current Hornets) I fell out of favor with the Lakers. Despite the fact that they had acquired Shaquille O’Neal. There was just something that always rubbed me the wrong way about Kobe. I always thought him too preppy and not a real urban baller. Did he have game, there was no denying that fact. I just thought he was just a suburban rich-nik who was the beneficiary of having a ball player father and was more snobby than baller. The more I tried to like Kobe the more he kept coming off a self-centered spoiled asshole. After he got caught up with rape accusations in 2004, he just seemed like he was trying to weasel his way out of the charges. The fact that he more or less first paid hush money to the alleged victim then tried to implicate Shaq on the sly made him seem more weasely to me. Throw in some selfish play like no shooting in a whole quarter during a critical stretch in an elimination game in the playoffs and the Kobe mystique to me was always tarnished. But the Lake Show was always in contention and when they fell on some harder times and missed the playoffs, I really didn’t feel sorry for him, I knew that the Lakers would bounce back and Kobe would be playing for a contender. He led the Lakers to titles in 2009 and 2010 and kept them in contention for years but the signs of wear were showing, the Lakers were crumbling and were not able to lure talent to LA, nor keep the talent they had. Players like Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol left at the first chance that they could get leaving Kobe all by himself. His Kobe against the world mantra is not playing very well and with the cross-locker room Clippers now the “it” franchise in LA the Lakers are not even the marquee team in their own building, heck some would say that they are third behind the LA Kings who have won two Stanley Cups in the past three seasons. The Lakers are just plain horrid, and they have limped out to a 1-9 start dead last in the West even behind the neophyte Timberwolves. Lake Show fans put on a brave face but the reality is Kobe is the centerpiece of a shell. A team that once was great and now scares no one, though Kobe thinks that he can will his team to wins like Jordan did. Kobe aint MJ and won’t get any more titles, unless he jumps to the Clippers and tries to gravy train to a title which aint guaranteed in the uber deep West. He opined late last week that he was “jealous” of the Spurs, a team that has aged quite gracefully and to Kobe’s chagrin has as many titles as he does. The reality is that Kobe is reaping what he has sown and like a punch drunk boxer who is hanging on too long, doesn’t quite get that his time has passed.

PHAT DAP/HEAD SLAP

Phat Dap

Goes to Wisconsin Running back Melvin Gordon III who rushed for a mindboggling 408 yards last Saturday. Now keep in mind a few things. Gordon did this on 25 carries, in 3 quarters and against…Nebraska. No not a directional FCS team. The famed blackshirt defense of Nebraska. How dope was the performance. Gordon outrushed a teams rushing output for the year in ¾ of a game. Gordon had 408 yards, Wake Forest has 341 yards for the entire season! Gordon broke the record set in 1999 set by LaDainian Tomlinson who gave Gordon mad props via Twitter for breaking his record. Hoodwood salutes Gordon on an unreal performance.

Head Slap

To Tony Williams the selfish Saints fan that got in the middle of what should have been a cool exchange. Bengals tight end Jermaine Gresham scored his 2nd receiving touchdown in the midst of the Bengals 27-10 rout of the Saints in the Superdome on Sunday. Gresham tried to toss the ball to Christa Barrett a Bengals fan formerly from Versailles, Kentucky now living in the Big Easy. Williams elbowed Barrett out of the way and snatched the ball Gresham was trying to toss Barrett’s way then sat tone deaf as Barrett pleaded for the ball. Williams claimed he didn’t intend to elbow Barrett and was getting the ball for his grandson but instead came off looking like a chauvinistic self-centered asshole. The story does have a happy ending as not only the Saints gave Barrett a ball which she would donate to the Cincinnati Children’s hospital but Gresham autographed another ball and gave it to Barrett.

Quick Hits

I love the 24 hours of hoops going on today. You can guarantee that Hawai’i will be in the mix for that super late/super early game

Why is my fantasy team crumbling?

Bad week for the Mannings Eli looks like a boob in Gotham and Peyton has a horrid day in St. Louis

After much ado about the Bengals looking bad in primetime, they bounce back whip the Saints and are back in first

Will seven wins take the NFC South while there could be as many as four teams winning ten and sitting home?

I think the MVP voters got it right with Kershaw and Trout

The less you mention to me how horrible my picks were this week the better off you are...

Why do the pundits want Cincy to jettison Johnny Cueto so bad?

My beloved Bearcats tried to give it away but they bounced East Carolina and not only are bowl eligible for the 8th time in 9 years but still has an outside shot at taking conference.

My alma mater Mt. Healthy is shooting for its first ever regional title as they take on Cincinnati LaSalle at 12-0 the Fighting Owls are having their best season ever and I’ll be there to watch them hopefully take the next step to the State Semis!

Until Next post fellow Sports Fans!

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