Welcome to Thanksgiving Week folks, one of my favorite times of year. Food, Family, Football, and Fun. So without further ado, let’s get this Turkey Week edition started.
I’m gonna talk about working this upcoming weekend, but first I want to say this: If you’re camping outside of a retail outlet for days while waiting for that “Great Deal”, you’re just as loony as Star Wars guy, or video game guy, or iPhone guy, or Sneaker guy.
Working on Thanksgiving Day. In retail, Thanksgiving weekend is a blocked weekend – nobody is allowed to take vacation or days off, switches aren’t allowed, and woe be to the Manager who tries to sneak one deserving person by. Believe me, I know. I read with great interest Sully’s take on working on Thanksgiving – and he’s right – it’s BULL. I get that retail planners and managers are dictated by customers and $$$, but at some point retail has to train their customers better and actually have the balls to say NO to customers - while at the same time treating their employees right/far better – because after all, it’s the little things that make for better, more attentive employees. Retail can’t be everything to everybody. So retail, give your people a break and a chance to rest and recuperate – at least for one day. They all busted their asses to get the stores ready for Black Friday, so give em Thanksgiving off, they’ll come back happy and ready to attack Black Friday. That I know FOR A FACT!!!
After all retail, if you’re open on Turkey Day, that just cuts into the profit that Black Friday brings – and it does. So why are you doing it?
Black Friday. Having seven years experience with Black Friday (five of which in management) I can tell you this: IT SUCKS. Black Friday is simply the worst day on the retail calendar dealing with some of the worst that humanity has to offer. It’s HELL for everybody: Good and respectful customers get trampled on by the idiots in their rush to get “the deal” while the media celebrates the carnage, Workers have to be in by 3 or 4 AM, first dealing with neurotic managers scared to death of corporate and their unrealistic demands. Workers then have to deal with zombies (err, customers), some of whom want us to cut prices even further. Cashiers and other floor staff are verbally abused by the same customers while managers hide in the back. It’s particularly worse for the cashiers who have to deal with lines of folks in a hurry to get to the next place yelling and screaming for “more cashiers” – as if these morons didn’t plan for stores to be packed. Security is on edge, HR’s are left to scramble trying to keep the workers happy with token efforts such as bringing in continental breakfasts and pizza. Meanwhile, sale stuff is “stashed” so that workers can make their purchase once they get off work.
OK, enough ranting and negativity. I want to talk specifically about what in sports I’m thankful for:
NFL. Three great games on Turkey Day (no turkeys here) that actually mean quite a bit in the NFC playoff chase: Chicago @ Detroit, Philly @ Dallas, and my personal favorite, Seattle @ San Francisco.
What in the world is going on down in San Diego? St. Louis comes down and apparently 20,000 LA folks take the short drive down to cheer St. Louis? Hey Charger fan, where the hell are you?
CFB. On Turkey Day, all eyes will be on Texas as TCU @ Texas and LSU @ TAMU. Black Friday has Arizona State at Arizona, and Saturday will have Florida @ FSU in Muschamps last game (watch out FSU!), Michigan @ Ohio State, South Carolina @ Clemson, the Civil War in Oregon, the Egg Bowl, Notre Dame @ USC, a suddenly VERY important Arkansas @ Missouri, and Auburn @ Alabama. And if you need any more incentive to watch CFB on Saturday, Minnesota @ Wisky, if for no other reason to see what that RB is gonna do to that Minnesota defensive line.
CFB Thankful #2. While I’m not usually one to tell you “I told you so”, I TOLD YOU SO. Arkansas was gonna wreck somebody’s season in the SEC West, and they went out and did it TWICE – LSU and now Ole Miss and didn’t give up a freaking point while beating both. Missouri, you’ve been warned.
CFB Thankful #3. I know this is way down the line, but CFB is changing. Take a look at this: Boise State has announced that in 2022/23 they will play Oregon State, Sparty, and BYU home and home. You think some schools are starting to take note of the new way things are being looked at? Weak Conferences have to step up OOC, look for promising programs AND power programs need to start playing on the road too.
West Hills Bowl Game. I’m thankful that my son is getting this kind of experience as a coach. West Hills won 24-14 over Yuba finishing 10-1 after 2-8 last season. Some final stats to brag about: Jerry as a player and coach in Junior College is now 31-2 in three years and two programs. His Defensive Line this season LED THE NATION (Junior College) in QB Sacks with 70+. Now comes the post-season for him where he tries to get his kids into four-year programs and starts recruiting for next season while prepping for winter workouts. Just like his Head Coach told me Saturday, coaching is a grind, but he’s learning, gaining experience, and trying to build his network.
NBA. I’m thankful that Sacramento is 8-5 with wins over Portland, the Clippers, Phoenix, San Antonio, and Chicago, a record that absolutely NOBODY predicted. I thankful for new ownership of the Sacramento Kings, who last year cleaned 90% of the mess after the Maloofs left. Yes, they still have a ton to improve upon and work on, but believe me as a long suffering fan, this is paradise compared to 2006/2007-2013/2014.
DeMarcus Cousins is one of the best big men in Basketball and he has so much more growing to do. Rudy Gay was signed to a bargain extension, and Darren Collison has proven to be a very adequate point guard. Ben McLemore is improving at the SG as well. Many others are buying in to watch the franchise is trying to do as well.
NHL. I’m thankful for not being in last place in the Gab Hockey League.
MLB. I’m thankful for the most fun I’ve had in decades in Baseball this past season. I’m also thankful for lots of opportunities to watch MLB live in various places and hope to build on that trend in 2015.
CBB. I’m thankful to read that Sacramento and the new arena will get 1st and 2nd round NCAA March Madness games in 2017.
Bowling. I’m thankful I got back into it. It’s fun with good people, and the fact that I’m better now than I was when I bowled competitively (and for money) 30 years ago is an added bonus.
Sports Media. I’m thankful for Sirius XM, so that I don’t have to listen to the garbage on free radio. Oh, and they actually have 70’s and 80’s music channels.
Douchebag of the Week. Honestly, I was in such a festive and good mood and I had absolutely no plans to post one this week, but “The New Yorker” just went too far, but then I saw this cover, so I had to bestow our honor on them. I believe in free speech, but this march towards political correctness has just gotten so out of hand.
Why in the world is it necessary to politicize Football? Again, I have yet to hear about any majority of American Indian tribes who are offended by the Football name. Why are the media elite so intent on doing this? Don’t they understand that every time they try to force feed this issue down our throats that we just get further entrenched in our belief to be left alone?
Another middling week and I’ll try to get better, thankfully this is the last week of the byes as Pittsburgh (defeated Titans 27-24) and Carolina (lost to Falcons 19-17) are the last two teams to take a week off, odds are provided by ESPN and are strictly for entertainment and comparison purposes only. Since Im preparing for a Hoodwood feast I will have no money to spare you if you take the lines and get hosed.
Sunday November 23
Buccaneers (2-8) @ Bears (4-6)
Soldier Field, Chicago 1:00 (FOX)
Favorite Bears by 5 ½
Last Week Buccaneers defeated Washington 27-7, Bears defeated Vikings 21-13
Fast Fact Bears QB Jay Cutler has thrown 6 of his 12 interceptions in his last four games.
The Bucs got a rare chance to be the bully in DC and rolled to an easy win while the Bears finally sent a home crowd happy as they rallied to beat the Vikings. I’m not really solid on either squad even less so on Jay Cutler, I’m so tempted to pick the Bucs as they have shown a tendency to win on the road, but I’m going to go with the home team and wish I hadn’t.
Jaguars (1-9) @ Colts (6-4)
Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis 1:00(CBS)
Favorite Colts by 14
Last Week Jaguars were on the bye; Colts lost to Patriots 42-20
Fast Fact Colts has won six straight division home games since a 22-17 loss to the Jaguars on Sept. 23, 2012.
The Jags are a week removed from a London beating, the head to Indy to face a Colts team that is looking for someone to beat on after taking an embarrassing beating at home last Sunday Night. While Blake Bortles and the Jags are showing signs of improving on all facets they are just catching the Colts at the absolute wrong time.
Pick- Indianapolis (Lock of the Week)
Titans (2-8) @ Eagles (7-3)
Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia 1:00 (CBS)
Favorite Eagles by 11
Last Week Titans lost to Steelers 27-24, Eagles lost to Packers 53-20
Fast Fact Eagles are on a nine game home winning streak
Info on the game This is another gonna be painful game as the Titans as are coming in off a painful loss to Pittsburgh have to return to the Keystone State to face the Eagles who are coming off an awful beating in Lambeau. Mark Sanchez looks like he could have a nice bounceback after an atrocious showing the week previous. The Titans have been playing capably but have been on the wrong side of a few scoreboards, I just can’t take the Titans with the Eagles needing the win to keep pace with the Cowboys they will spare the Titans no quarter
Browns (6-4) @ Falcons (4-6)
Georgia Dome, Atlanta 1:00 (CBS)
Favorite Falcons by 3
Last Week Browns lost to Texans 23-7, Falcons defeated Panthers 19-17
Fast Fact Before giving up 23 last week the Browns had allowed 11 points per game in their 3 game win streak.
First glance at the team’s records and you would think that the Browns were the team in first and the Falcons were team in last, when the exact opposite is the case. The Browns took a nasty pratfall at home against a shorthanded Texans squad, while the Falcons stole a gritty gutty game against the Panthers. I still am reluctant to trust the Browns though I really like the no-frills style of Brian Hoyer, the Falcons are even worse in the trust department though they are fighting of control of the suddenly super weak NFC South. This is another one of these I’m gonna regret the pick no matter which way I go
Lions (7-3) @ Patriots (8-2)
Gillette Stadium; Foxboro, MA 1:00 (FOX)
Favorite Patriots by 7
Last Week Lions lost to Cardinals 14-6, Patriots defeated Colts 42-20
Fast Fact The Lions have the league’s best scoring defense while the Pats have averaged better than 40 points in their last six wins
Info on the game
A great interconference game on tap here. The Lions lost a tough low scoring affair in the desert now have to take on the Pats high scoring offense right after. The Lions are a solid team and will have their hands full containing the dynamic Brady led offensive unit coming off a crisp road win over the Colts. With Calvin Johnson being available the Lions will be able to stretch a sometimes suspect Pats secondary. The Pats are so money at home though it would be foolish to bet against them.
Packers (7-3) @ Vikings (4-6)
TCF Bank Stadium; Minneapolis 1:00 (FOX)
Favorite Packers by 8
Last Week Packers defeated Eagles 53-20 Vikings lost to Bears 23-14 Packers
Fast Fact Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is 6-1 in his last 7 meetings with the Vikings
The Packers are on a serious scoring roll and you think that the Packers hammered the Vikes in their last meeting what prevents a rerun? Nothing really, but something tells me that Vikings will keep it a bit closer at home.
Bengals (6-3-1) @ Texans (5-5)
NRG Stadium, Houston 1:00 (CBS)
Favorite Bengals by 2½
Last Week Bengals defeated Saints 27-10, Texans defeated Browns 23-7
Fast Fact Bengals QB Andy Dalton has yet to throw an interception in a road game this season
Stunning most pundits, your humble scribe included, the Bengals rolled into the Big Easy and stomped the Saints while the Texans romped in Cleveland. The Bengals are one of the biggest enigmas in the AFC if not the whole league. Andy Dalton plays like the franchise QB he’s being paid to be one week then a clueless noob the next. It’s hard to figure which team will show up and the Bengals must keep a tight lid on the irrepressible JJ Watt or the game will get out of hand fast. If Arian Foster is a no-go the Bengals still have to be concerned with heretofore unknown Alfred Blue. Point blank, I do not trust the Bengals on the road.
Rams (4-6) @ Chargers (6-4)
Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego 4:05 (FOX)
Favorite Chargers by 6
Last Week Rams defeated Broncos 22-7, Chargers defeated Raiders 13-6
Fast Fact The Chargers averaged 29.4 points and 395.8 total yards during a five-game winning streak but have scuffled of late with 13.5 points and 258.8 yards per game over their last four going 1-3
The Rams showed that they were no pushover by shocking the Broncos. The Chargers shook off their long losing streak by grinding out a win against the hapless Raiders. The Rams on the road are way more suspect than they are at home though Shaun Hill is proving to be a better QB than most thought. I’m not betting against the Chargers at home
Pick- San Diego
Cardinals (9-1) @ Seahawks (6-4)
CenturyLink Stadium, Seattle 4:05 (FOX)
Favorite Seahawks by 7½
Last Week Cardinals defeated Lions 14-6, Seahawks lost to Chiefs 24-20
Fast Fact the Cards six game winning streak is their longest in 40 years
An absolute high stakes game here as the Cards fresh off a dominating win against the Lions are looking to put an hammerlock on the division but face the Seahawks who got edged in Kansas City and are in real danger of being made irrelevant in the NFC playoff race. Drew Stanton is playing decently as a caretaker QB but will need to play a lot better against a still solid Seahawks secondary and though recalcitrant Marshawn Lynch remains a moody enigma, this will be a much stiffer test for the Cards who face a brutal back quarter of the schedule. Though 9-1 I’m not calling this an upset, because the Seahawks are still ruthless in their crib.
Washington (3-7) @ 49ers (6-4)
Levi’s Stadium; Santa Clara, CA, 4:25 (CBS)
Favorite 49ers by 9
Last Week Washington lost to Buccaneers 27-7, 49ers defeated Giants 16-10
Fast Fact Washington’s defense has only forced 3 interceptions against opposing offenses
Washington is a mess and their play against the Bucs further solidifies that thought, while the Niners ground out a tough win in Gotham. RGIII is looking less and less like a franchise QB and more like another overhyped Heisman bust. The Niners have tons of flaws but they are still a dangerous squad nonetheless. I’m thinking if the Bucs gave RGIII and company fits what will the rugged Niners defense do at home….
Last Week Dolphins defeated Bills 22-9, Broncos lost to Rams 22-7
Fast Fact The Broncos 7 points and 24:10 possession time were the lowest for the team since 2012
While the Dolphins looked a bit sluggish, they got a ragged win over the Bills. The Rams dropped a stunning beatdown on the Broncos which shook their confidence something awful. I’m still not really sold on the Dolphins on either side of the ball and I think that their defense will get exposed in the thin Denver air against Peyton Manning looking for someone to take it out on.
Cowboys (7-3) @ Giants (3-7)
MetLife Stadium; East Rutherford, NJ 8:30 (NBC)
Favorite Cowboys by 3½
Last Week Cowboys were on their bye, Giants lost to 49ers 16-10
Fast Fact The Cowboys own the league's second-ranked rushing attack with 153.2 yards per game, while the Giants are last in the NFL at stopping the run, giving up 145.0 a contest.
The Pokes are ready and rested after their bye and head to Gotham to face the G-Men who are a train wreck. The bye couldn’t have come at a better time for Dallas as Romo and Murray got time to heal up from minor nicks. Eli Manning looks more and more lost every week, the Pokes defense will exacerbate this
Monday, November 24
Jets (2-8) vs Bills (5-5)
Ford Field, Detroit 7:00 (CBS)
Favorite No line
Last Week Jets were on their bye Dolphins lost to Bills 22-9
Fast Fact With the change in venue, all the tickets for this game in Detroit were distributed free of charge and a capacity crowd is expected
This game was rescheduled from Sunday due to the snowstorm that hit Western New York. This is the second time in four years that Detroit has been the substitute venue for a game, with limited practice time due to the venue move the game suddenly gets a lot more even. The Bills got ground up by the Dolphins in the South Florida heat. For some stupid reason, I have a feeling the lack of preparation due to the snow will haunt the Bills.
Pick- New York Jets (Upset of the Week)
Ravens (6-4) @ Saints (4-6)
Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans 8:30 (ESPN)
Favorite Saints by 3 ½
Last Week Saints lost to Bengals 27-10, Ravens were on their bye
Fast Fact Saints QB Drew Brees has defeated every NFL team but the Ravens (He led the Chargers to a win 43-17 win over the Saints in 2004 and defeated the Chargers 37-32 in 2008
The Saints are falling apart and losing at their once impregnable fortress home, the Ravens come in rested but there is something I just don’t trust about the Ravens inconsistent play and though Drew Brees is not playing at his fearsome level there is something that just screams that the Saints won’t lose three home games in a row.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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...
Football is always about the warriors, the guys who go out and fight. But even they may not be the most important part of a team. We regularly watch teams that seem to have overwhelming talent go nowhere. Sometimes they become jokes. In baseball it's been called a 'country club', among other things.
Football has no such catchy phrase, but clearly we've regularly seen the same thing happen. We've also seen plenty of seemingly unglamorous teams rise to the top. A few even have stayed there. The guys off the field are the cause of both syndromes. They themselves are unglamorous for the most part, some of them, the owners for example, regularly painted as villains by players' unions, though they provide the avenue for what is today an absurdly lucrative profession.
The organization has plenty of tiers, but the one closest to the guys on the field is of course the coaching staff. Head Coach is the most visible off-field position (in most cases at least). He molds what he's given into the final product. Sometimes he works wonders. Who are the greatest of all time? That, like most questions of the sort, is an unsatisfactory question, but it's too much fun to pass up. So let's try for a Top Ten. No, make that a Top Eight.
#1: Paul Brown
Our King coached a team that carried his name. He came around, as most great coaches do, during a window of opportunity following World War II when the game was changing. In the mighty college game, UCLA and a few other schools were redefining football. Some say the reason was the sudden appearance of black players. While that timeline is true, it wasn't the reason. It likely had more to do with the dominance before the war of Sid Luckman and Sammy Baugh as their teams elevated the forward pass to levels not often seen before. But it also had to do with a stint many coaches spent in service of the military, helping to plan tactics.
Brown absorbed many of those ideas and transferred them to the game. He was the first to platoon his players, bringing the age of the 60-minute man to a gradual end. He was the first to call plays from the sidelines ('shuttling guards'). His team originated in the AAFC following the war and won all four titles. Then they went to the NFL, won in their first year, and went to every title game until 1955, winning a total of 3 out of 6. They went again in 1957. That's 11 title games in Brown's (and in the Browns') first 12 years. He is Bill Belichick's coaching idol. That's quite an endorsement. Brown was the greatest of the postwar founders of modern football.
His stint as Bengals' founder and head coach sometimes goes unnoticed, but his (and his assistant Walsh's) West Coast Offense took an expansion team almost instantly to the level of title contender.
#2 George Halas
From his humble beginnings as the son of Slavic immigrants, George Halas was the image of the hard-working American achiever of the age. He attended Illinois, playing football and earning a degree in Civil Engineering. His team won the Big Ten title in 1918. Speaking of service to country, Halas was in both World Wars, a Naval ensign in WWI, though he didn't see combat. Following that hitch, he actually played outfield for the Yankees for 12 games. Then the story begins with already enough material for a conclusion. He joined the Staley starch company. They had a football team. In 1921 they won the title of the APFA (to become the NFL in 1922) by reputedly swindling the Buffalo All-Americans into playing a postseason exhibition game. The result of that game was then used to vault the Staleys to the title over the All-Americans. The resulting antipathy on both sides may have been a factor in Halas vetoing the Buffalo Bills entry into the NFL following the dissolution of the AAFC in 1949, despite the Bills' strength and success.
The Staleys became the Bears (the name inspired by the Cubs) in 1922. Halas would go on to coach them to six NFL titles (if you include the APFA title as the Staleys) and gain two more as owner, one in 1932 (Ralph Jones coaching) and one in 1943 while he was in the midst of a 4-year stint in the Navy, discharged in 1946 from the Seventh Fleet with the rank of Captain. His Bears won the title again on his return. Without the advent of the war, they likely would have won a few more. But they would win only once more (1963), though Halas would win the COY award again in 1965. His last year was 1967. He had coached the Bears almost as long as Connie Mack had managed the Athletics, successfully spanning three eras of football.
#3 Bill Belichick
Like his idol Paul Brown, Bill Belichick seized the opportunity offered by a changing game. But in his case, the change wasn't of the blue-sky sort; it was the advent of a restrictive climate with not only free agency but also a salary cap rule meant to enforce parity (and prevent bankruptcy) across the league. Teams could no longer be assembled and held together for a long stretch, or so went the theory. And in the post-merger era, Belichick also faced the challenge of winning in a 30+ team league, unlike Halas and Brown. As coach of the New England Patriots for 14 complete seasons to this point, his response has been to win eleven division titles, five Conference championships and three Super Bowls. All this has been accomplished with a roster that frequently has changed enormously not only year by year, but within single seasons, and with a huge turnover in assistant coaches and coordinators that has resulted in Belichick, who already serves the role of General Manager, serving as his own OC/DC at times. His team is known for a variety of personas, flexing to accommodate its volatile roster.
He came into the league under Bill Parcells, who is occasionally ranked ahead of him. That is a mistake. Parcells won two Super Bowls, both with Belichick as his DC, one with Belichick given the odd title of Alternate Head Coach. Belichick has won famously without Parcells. Parcells has never won big, even at less than Super Bowl levels, without Belichick. As the league of the new millenium continues to try to deal with roster volatility due not only to free agency but also to a plague of injury and never-before-seen issues of criminal conduct, Belichick's Patriots continue somehow to thrive at a competitive level not only unseen since the turn of the millenium but, in most cases, long before. They have been in the postseason for 11 of the past 13 years, missing only the other two on tiebreakers.
#4 Curly Lambeau
By now head-scratchers are wondering where Vince Lombardi may have gone. In truth, Lombardi may truly have been the best coach Green Bay ever had over a short span. But he wasn't an innovator. The honor goes to the Green Bay native, stadium namesake and former Notre Dame halfback who coached the team to 6 NFL titles from 1929 through 1944. He won 209 games in his 1919-1949 tenure as head coach (by far the most in Green Bay history), also playing well enough in his early years as player-coach to make the NFL's 1920s All-Decade roster.
He changed the still-forming game, making the forward pass a staple of the Green Bay offense before such as Luckman and Baugh began to push it further. That the name of star receiver Don Hutson is still known to football fans 75 years later is a testament to the dominance of Lambeau's offense. He was to Green Bay what George Halas was to Chicago. Eventually the small-market stature of Green Bay would sink its (and Lambeau's) fortunes under the weight of the Midway's economic power --- until Lombardi revived it.
#5 Vince Lombardi
His winning percentage was astronomical at 105-35-6. In his eleven seasons as a head coach he never had a losing season, even after moving to Washington. Under his ten seasons as head coach, the Packers went from post-Lambeau irrelevance to six title games, winning five. They also won the first two Super Bowls against the AFL. He might have won far more, but as everyone knows it wasn't his decision to stop coaching.
Lombardi had trained for his job as the OC under Jim Lee Howell with the New York Giants (Tom Landry was DC). He left the team after their loss to Unitas' Colts in 1958, joining the doormat Green Bay Packers. He elevated the team to 7-5 in his first season, then took them to the title game in 1960, a game won by the Eagles in the swan song of the great Norm Van Brocklin. After that, title game absences became rare as the Packers won 5 of the next 7 NFL titles.
His college position as an OL in Fordham's "Seven Blocks of Granite" likely influenced his offensive strategy, which was almost always based on establishing his ground game. He built his teams to achieve that goal. His one detriment in ranking is that his philosophy broke no real new ground. He was less an innovator than a disciple of a system in which he believed. It was anachronistic, but it produced success no one else could approach under his guidance. He was the man you wanted to make a winner out of your team, and he did it like no one else. It remains a topic of conjecture whether his methods would have withstood the test of decades.
#6 Bill Walsh
A protege of Paul Brown with the early Bengals, Bill Walsh's name is synonymous with West Coast Offense, an offense developed to make the undermanned expansion team in Cincinnati competitive. But when Brown passed him up as his successor (and, according to Walsh, tried to keep other teams from hiring him), Walsh eventually took the system to San Francisco, a team that had never won a title, and turned 'Niners' into a household word. His quarterback Joe Montana gets a lot of the credit, as he should, but there is little doubt Walsh's 3 Super Bowls in the '80s set the tone in a decade that saw powerful competition, and that Montana was the ideal quarterback for Walsh's system.
The offense he created took the league by storm, and today remains an absorbed part of the multifaceted offenses. It was one nail in the coffin of the dominant 'pro-set', which had itself come out of the T formation much earlier, and triggered an offensive revolution in football. Like Lombardi, his brilliance in a relatively short span elevates him, but that same short span works against him.
#7 Tom Landry
Born in Mission, Texas, Tom Landry was a good athlete. He attended UTexas at Austin, his college career interrupted by WWII, in which he served as a B-17 copilot in combat. He had been inspired to join after his big brother had been killed early in the war. He eventually would become Jim Lee Howell's DC in New York, alongside OC Vince Lombardi.
When the NFL responded to the formation of the AFL by creating two new teams (in cities chosen by the AFL), Tom Landry jumped at the chance. The Giants DC became Dallas' first head coach, and became the creator of "America's Team." The Cowboys, bad at first, became title contenders by 1966 and favorites for the second game of fast-expanding national football coverage on Sunday afternoons. Landry's offenses were fast and innovative, but his defenses were groundbreaking, particularly his 4-3 and its cousin, the Flex.
Landry's teams won 270 games during his 29-year tenure as head coach, and were almost always seen as explosive contenders. He took them to two NFL title games, five post-merger NFC titles, and two Super Bowl wins, nearly winning two others against Pittsburgh, one of which was lost on Jackie Smith's famous drop.
#8 Don Shula
Best remembered as coach of the Dolphins, Don Shula was the Colts' head coach through most of the 60s. They were one of the best teams in the NFL for most of those years, but never managed to win the title. When they finally won it, they were embarrassed by the New York Jets (coached by Weeb Ewbank, Shula's predecessor in Baltimore) in Super Bowl III.
But with the post-merger Dolphins, Shula instantly built a perpetual contender and a short-lived dynasty. His team went to 3 Super Bowls in a row, losing only the first. The 1972 season remains the only undefeated season by any team, though New England had a longer undefeated streak in 2007 (18-0) before losing the final game. He would, in his career, take his team to 6 Super Bowls (5 post-merger) but the two wins in 1972-3 would be his only victories.
An influential member of the Rules Committee, Shula was a significant agent in the migration of the league toward more passing, and accused by some of bending the rule book to fit his roster in Miami.
That rounds out our Top Eight. Notable absences may include Bill Parcells, Chuck Noll, George Allen, Jim Lee Howell, Marv Levy, Hank Stram, Sid Gillman and many others. Feel free to set me straight. That's what articles like this are for anyway, isn't it?
BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP YEAH!!!!!!! Welcome Gabbers and others to my NASCAR updates and others fast stuff. Baby you can drive my car edition. It is now 91 days, 15 hours, 51 minutes and an eternity till the February 22, 2015 Daytona 500 as I start to write this last 2013 season entry.
Crazy stuff has been happeneing. Buffalo got buried in 100 feet of snow and actually had to move their football team to another stadium. I wonder if we'll ever see a NASCAR race get snowed out. Actually I'd love to see a race in the snow. Get those studded tires out boys.
Did you know Manson has a girlfriend? Actually she's his fiance and she says they'll be getting married soon. They have their marriage license and once a month the prison allows marrages. Says she's working hard at getting him a retrial and getting him out. Bet everybody is just looking forward to that party. Don't think there's going to be a going home party any time soon.
HARVICK VISITS LETTERMAN ON HIS VICTORY TOUR
So Kevin Harvick stopped at the Letterman Show to talk to Dave and give his Top 10 Tips For Becoming An Auto Racing Champion. And here we go....
10: Hands at 10 & 2 while driving - 11 & 1 when celebrating.
9 : Reduce weight of the car - Take out Brakes
8 : During the race, save your energy for the post race brawl
7 : There's no rule about slashing your opponents tires.
6 : No sex the night before the race - Or during the race
5 : Don't waste time learning to parallel park.
4 : A pit stop should only be long enough to lick the windshield.
3 : Resist the temptation to take a mid race selfie
2 : Remember : If you lose you don't have to do Letterman
1 : Accept the fact that your ass will never stop vibrating.
Letterman was just one of many stops for the NASCAR Champion Victory Tour. I hope Kevin's little boy Keelan gets to see daddy real soon. Kevin says he's not happy right now because daddy has been gone too long.
CHASE ELLIOTT TO GET A HANDFULL OF CUP RACES IN 2015
The plan is that Chase will do another year full time in Nationwide for JR Motorsports and get a handful of Cup races driving for HMS to get experience.
He's only 18 years old, just graduated high school and won a championship in a top NASCAR series. How cool is that?
Kasey Kahne just re-upped for 3 more years. Jimmie Johnson is signed till the end of 2015 and is looking for his new contract. Jeff Gordon has a life time contract. Dale Jr isn't going any where any time soon. My guess is that 2015 will be Gordon's last season to drive. His back could go out for good with any race. He'll be a boss or part owner at HMS. Hendrick lost his son, Ricky and heir 10 years ago in the plane wreck. So Chase Elliott will have a ride in the HMS stables come 2016.
Congrats again to Chase for his Nationwide Championship.
HOMESTEAD RACE RECAP
Very eventful race. Gordon was on the pole and he led 161 laps but a decision late in the race to pit by crew chief Gustafson mired Gordon too far back in the pack to get back up for the win. He took full responsibility for that decision.
For most of the race Hamlin, Logano, Harvick and Newman were up in or around the top 10. Hamlin led 50 laps and Harvick led 54.
With 19 to go there's a caution. Hamlin, Gordon and Vickers stay out. Logano's jackman drops hid car off the jack with no tires on it. A very lengthy and costly pit stop takes Logano out of contention. He never recovers. Top 5 is Hamlin - Gordon - Newman - McMurray - Keselowski
Hamlin takes the lead for a brief time. With 13 to go there's another caution and this time Gordon goes in for tires. BUT Hamlin stays out. Top 5 is Hamlin - Newman - McMurray - Keselowski - Harvick
Harvick goes up the middle on the restart from 5th to 2nd behind Hamlin and with 8 to go he takes the lead.
With 6 to go another caution. Top 5 is Harvick - Newman - Hamlin - Keselowski - Menard......remember my dark horse top 10 favorite?
With 3 to go we restart. Hamlin spins his tires and Harvick takes the lead with Newman in hot persuit.
Your Top 15 Finishers - Harvick - Newman - Keselowski - Menard - McMurray - Kenseth - Bowyer - Johnson - Gordon - Ku Bu - Kahne - Larson - Dale Jr - Allgaier
Congrats to Kevin Harvick for your 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Championsip.
TOP 8 DRIVERS IN THE POINTS STANDINGS AFTER HOMESTEAD
Harvick----5 W's----20 Top 10's----2 DNF's (Did not finish)
Newman---0 W's----16 Top 10's-----1 DNF's
Hamlin-----1 W-------18 Top 10's----2 DNF's---Missed 1 race for eye issue
Logano-----5 W's----22 Top 10's----4 DNF's
Keselowski--6 W's---20 Top 10's----1 DNF
Gordon-----4 W's----23 Top 10's----0 DNF's
Kenseth----0 W's----22 Top 10's----2 DNF's
Dale Jr-----4 W's----20 Top 10's----2 DNF's
OTHER RACE NOTABLES
1 : Knaus and other HMS personnell were called to the NASCAR hauler after the race. During the race Jimmie had come in with a loose wheel. This had created a problem tightening down the next wheel so Knaus called for a wheel spacer so that they could get the lugnuts tight on better threads further up on the studs. A NASCAR official said they couldn't do it and Knaus went ahead and had it done any way. Thus the need for a chit chat with NASCAR after the race which turned out to be a misunderstanding. No penalties.
2 : The #17 team (- Driver Ricky Stenhouse) had rear suspension parts confiscated during prequalifying for the Homestead race. Crew chief Mike Kelley got a $50,000 fine and probation from 1-1-15 thru 6-30-14. Car Chief Patrick Magee got the same probation.
3 : Gordon hit a mile stone during the race. He took 2nd place from Mark Martin for the most Top 10's with 454. Who's first? Richard Petty with 712. Don't think any body is going to get that record.
NASCAR is now over for this year. I'm over for the night too. Got a big day tomorrow. Taking #2 grandson to a Day Out With Thomas The Tank Engine. Living so close to the Strasburg Railroad has it's perks. They have an awesome railroad museum and they built life size Thomas and Percy locomotives. Hollywood also comes calling to borrow the trains too. We'll be doing crafts, pictures with the trains & Sir Topemhat AND A TRAIN RIDE. #2 grandson will be thrilled. He loves choo choo's.
Hang in there Gabber's and others. It looks like a scary winter coming up. Be safe and I'll see you around.