Friday, December 26, 2008
I got to thinking during the Lakers-Celtics game, and starting writing down some notes about the MVP of the league this year. I got to see a good portion of the candidates last night: Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, DAwight Howard, Amar’e Stoudemire, Shaq?, LeBron James, Brandon Roy. Although most of the candidates were there some did not have a game yesterday… namely, Dwayne Wade who could be a main contender till the end.
Those are the possibilities for MVP this season, unless someone rises from the mist. It is going to be another close race; there is not one clear-cut winner. Last year it was a two-man race with CP3 and Kobe. However, we will be lucky to see that this year. Different from last year, we are going to see likely a four-man race. The front-runners in my mind are Chris Paul, Dwayne Wade, Kobe, and LeBron James. Don’t get me wrong, there very well could be a guy that ups his game and gets in the mix because we aren’t even midway, but I see it as these are the guys to beat. If you want me to break it down even more for you, I will. I, personally, think that this season’s race will come down to two men… the two best players in the world. Kobe vs. LeBron.
There was an interview with Kobe and Magic Johnson last night, and I found something very interesting in it. The magic Johnson asked Bryant when he was going to be ready to hand the torch off to LeBron as being the face of the league and best player. He noted that Larry Bird and he handed it down to Michael Jordan. MJ then gave it to Kobe. They were wondering when the time would come and we would see the Kobe-to-LeBron exchange. Well, if you ask me, when LeBron 1) wins the MVP award or 2) wins the Championship (likely same season)… that basically means that LeBron is the main man. Whether Kobe is ready or not. When one of those two things happens, that means that Kobe is forced to pass the torch, in my opinion. By the way, Kobe said that he will pass it on when he retires. It’s going to be earlier than that my friend. To view the entire interview, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WzvVhV8frY8.
Back to the MVP discussion. One thing that I have always kept in mind when awarding a player is what the abbreviations stand for. MOST **VALUABLE** PLAYER. Keyword is “valuable”. It is not POY, Player of the Year. That means, stats do not mean much. It means it is not what a player does for himself and the box score, but what he does for his respective team. I think the phrase “team players” needs to be brought into the debate. What a player does to make the team better. A player’s team may suck but he averages 35 points. Well in that case, I don’t think he should even be in the race.
There has been people that think the MVP should go to the most valuable player of the team that wins the entire thing. Crazy or not, I don’t think that’s a half-baked idea.
Which team, in your mind, would be more screwed with out their star? Miami Heat? No, they have Marion and Beasley. Los Angeles? Nah, they have an entire team full of gunners (Gasol, Odom, etc). Well what about the Cleveland Cavs? Umm... let’s think… Who else do they have? Well… nobody. BINGO.
LeBron James is all that the Cavaliers have, and without him would they be anywhere? Without Kobe and Dwayne, their teams can still compete. Cleveland cannot compete without LeBron. He is the most valuable player, to his team, in the league.
James is tearing the league up; he looks like he is back in high school to be honest. He is averaging 27 points per game, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists per. Those are, without a doubt, the best overall numbers his career has seen. But the big stat, that less and less people look at, is the 22-4. 22-4 and right behind the Boston Celtics. In the past, LeBron has been amazing but his team fizzles. This is the best group he has been with and he is playing at his prime. Well, I shouldn’t say that… Is there more in the tank? Have we seen his best?
‘Bron deserves it not just because of individual performance, but because of leadership. He is a team player; he is the most valuable player. Savor it Kobe, because the time is nearing.
As always, I urge you to leave your thoughts on this post in the comment section below. I really appreciate your responses.
www.collegesports-fans.com Mizzou/SLU Correspondent
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
On December 18, 2008 A.J. Burnett signed a seven-year, 82.5 million dollar contract with the Yankees.
On December 23, 2008 Mark Teixaira agreed on an eight-year, 180 million dollar contract with the Yankees.
Wow. Now come on, this is starting to get ridiculous. The Bronx Bombers have bought the top 2 pitchers on the market and the top hitter out there. The scary thing is that Manny Ramirez is still out there. Are they done? I have asked myself that and said yes twice now and have been wrong both times. Chances are they are not done. Which is very frightening.
It is starting to get unfair. They usually do about one of these every couple years, but three in the time span of 5 days? Every year the idea of the salary cap in baseball makes more and more sense. With the cap, none of this can happen and the Yanks are just like every other team out there. For example, my Cardinals NEED pitching. You know that we would love either of the pitchers that the Yankees got but everyone knows that there is no way in hell we will get them because of teams like the Yankees. We cannot afford to throw out that much money. The best way to describe this situation in baseball is with the old cliché: “The rich get richer and the poor get poorer”. It is that simple and it is soo true.
But, hey, who can blame the Yankees? They have the money to spend. If I was them, I wouldn’t be afraid of doing the same thing… why not? The odd thing is, they spend millions and millions on players like Sabathia and Tex and A-Rod and how many Championships have they won since starting this binge? Not very many. They undoubtedly have the best talent but we still see the small-market teams succeed. The Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series this year and they have the thirteenth highest payroll in the MLB at $98,000,000. It isn’t near as sexy as the Yankees’ $209,000,000 is it? What about the AL Champ, the Tampa Bay Rays? They had a $43,000,000 payroll which is, umm, second-to-last in the MLB. The funny thing is this… New York did not make the playoffs this year and only won 89 games. We all know that 89 wins isn’t going to be enough in a 3-team division now.
Although it does infuriate me that the Yanks are taking potential St. Louis Cardinals away from us because they have more money, I will give them some credit. They haven’t been shy about getting what they need to win. New York needed to do this to compete with Boston and Tampa next summer. They needed pitching and they got C.C. and Burnett. They need a defensive playmaker and more power in the lineup around A-Rod and they went and stole Teixaira. No matter if it is right or wrong, they need these key elements to win. All of this essentially takes the Yankees from 3rd place in the AL East, to World Series contenders. It also sets up some intriguing division races in September. Don’t blame them for spending money that they had. You would have done the same.
However, whichever way you look at it, these large contracts are extremely risky. 1) You are signing these players for seven and eight years. There are only a handful of players that have played in-prime baseball for more than 6-7 years. I don’t know if I would have the guts to sign a player to that long of a contract. Sure, the players want security and maybe that is what they were asking for but it is a definite ballsy move. 2) It’s New York and you are throwing out 180 million dollars. With it being the Big Apple, fans are used to Championships and they will not settle for anything less. Now you are throwing out contracts like this, and now New Yorkers are expecting a ring. Anything less and you are going to have people wanting blood. Underachieving is not an option in New York anyway… but now you are signing baseball’s elite and it will only increase that mindset. Not only have you bought Sabathia, Burnett, and Teixaira, you have bought even more pressure.
Let’s be honest with ourselves though, it’s the YANKEES!! You really think that all this cash is going to get you past the Divisional Series? In the meat of the era that we are talking about here with New York, they haven’t made it past the ALDS in the past 4 years. The face of the MLB, in buying all of these All-Star players, hasn’t made it to the World Series since 2003. They have not won a World Series since the “Subway Series” 9 years ago.
Money doesn’t buy happiness…
Money doesn’t buy wins neither.
Please remember to leave your thoughts in the comment section below. You know that I love to hear what you think about the subject.
http://www.collegesports-fans.com/ Mizzou/SLU Correspondent
Monday, December 22, 2008
(9-1) #25 Mizzou will take on it's third real contest against the (10-1) Illinois Fighting Illini in the 28th Braggin' Rights Game in neutral St. Louis. For the first time in a long time, Mizzou is not only favored, they are ranked! It marks the first time that the Tigers have been ranked in exactly 90 weeks (December 3rd, 2003).
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
In the end, when all of the votes were tallied, Sam Bradford of Oklahoma became the 74th winner of the Heisman Trophy. Following Bradford, Colt McCoy of Texas was the first runner up and, last year’s winner, Tim Tebow got 3rd.
When the final votes were counted on Saturday night, it was Florida's Tebow, the award's defending winner, taking home 309 of the 904 first-place votes; nine more than Bradford. But it was Bradford, the soft-spoken humble kid from Oklahoma City, hoisting the award in the end. The Sooners’ QB joins Paul Hornung and Billy Sims as the only players to win despite getting 2nd in first place votes.
With first place votes being worth three points, second place votes worth two, and third place being worth one, the system added Bradford – who finished #1 in the Northwest, Mid-Atlantic, Southwest, and Far West regions – to the illustrious company. McCoy, who took the crown in the Midwest and finished right behind Bradford in the Southwest and Far West portions, came in 122 votes short. Tebow finished 151 votes behind Bradford and 29 votes away from silver despite dominating the South and receiving second in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.
After all is through, this may very well be how we remember the 2008 campaign. The memorable and to-close-to-call Heisman Race featuring the nation’s elite. I think that is safe to say that if it was any other year, and there was only one of either of these guys, they would have blown away the competition. All three of these Quarterbacks are Heisman material.
What I think is kind of strange is the eerie pattern of everything going Oklahoma’s way. From Oklahoma getting the BCS rank they needed to jump Texas and compete in the National Championship on the 8th, to the freak 35-yard pass from Herrell to Crabtree to put Oklahoma back in the drivers’ seat, to McCoy beating Bradford out for the All-America team, to even McCoy schooling Bradford ON THE FIELD in the regular season matchup.. yet Colt is heading to Arizona to play the two-loss Buckeyes in the Fiesta bowl vs. Bradford who has a plane ticket to Miami and the Heisman Trophy as his carry-on to play for the BCS National Championship. See a common theme?
One thing I am starting to hate is hearing Longhorn fans bitchin’ and moanin’ over it all. Guess what guys? If your precious team would have taken care of the Red Raiders in Lubbock, McCoy would have had the Heisman and the game. And another thing, UT fans… Nobody can argue with the Bradford decision as Heisman. Oklahoma had the best offense in the history of the NCAA. He was the heart and soul of arguably the best college football offense to ever take the field. If you really look at it, Samuel may have had the best season EVER by a Quarterback in a BCS Conference.
Bradford, with the grace and confidence of a seasoned veteran, led the nation in touchdown passes (48) and passing efficiency (186.28). He didn't exactly do it against a soft schedule, either. When it mattered most — in three nationally televised games against Top 20-ranked opponents with a BCS title game berth on the line — Bradford soared to new heights. Consider these numbers in the Sooners' final three contests, each one in widely viewed primetime ABC/ESPN Saturday night affairs:
--14-for-19, 304 yards, four touchdowns in 65-21 win over No. 1 Texas Tech
--30-for-44, 370 yards, four touchdowns in 61-41 win over No. 12 Oklahoma State
--34-for-49, 384 yards, two touchdowns in Big 12 Championship Game win over No. 19 Missouri
His last seven games are the ones that set him away from the rest of the pack and earned my vote. In 257 attempts (remember that number), he threw 1 interception. Against teams that he played in those final seven games, only 1 INT in 257 attempts is straight up phenomenal. In those final seven freak games, the Sooners beat teams by a combined score of 419-205.
Really for me though, this year’s Heisman Race was set apart from every other one. It was about sometime more important that football statistics and records. These three men are very similar. I’m not talking about pass accuracy or throwing power, or touchdown passes. I’m talking about these guys as men. The crazy thing about the freak stats is that on the totem pole, they put themselves at about #4. For all of these men it is: Family, Teammates, and Faith in no particular order… then they worry about their self. During the entire presentation these three praised each other on how either of them could of received it and every one of them earned it. There was a very common theme, and that was mutual admiration. This year, there were a record number of votes submitted (904 of 926 ballots were processed). That’s because this year was different than all the others. I can only wish the best to all three of these men.
All of that, believe it or not, brings me to a question I asked myself on Sunday afternoon before I started writing all of this. Is it too early to start looking forward to 2009’s Heisman Race? Can it be even close to anything we had this year? Will any or all of these guys be back? Unfortunately that is very unlikely, but let’s take a look at what we, most likely, will have.
Most of the top players that would be Heisman candidates in 2009 will leave early, but that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of interesting prospects in the race. Here are the top 10 contenders for the 2009 Heisman chase among guys almost certain to stay in school.
10. Todd Reesing, QB Kansas
Todd Reesing deserves to be on this list. He may never win since he doesn`t go to a Heisman school but he`s every bit as good as any of the QB`s on this list and you could argue that he`s better because he has not had the supporting cast that any of these guys have had. With that said, Dezmon Briscoe and Kerry Meier combined for over 2000 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2008. Both are coming back… I will leave it at that.
9. Dan LeFevour, QB Central Michigan
In what seems like it will be his 7th year at Central Michigan, Dan will use his arm and his legs to score and try to lead his Chippewas to their third straight MAC title. He will need a Brennan-like season, meaning a perfect record and somewhere in the neighborhood of 55-60 total touchdowns, to compete for the award. As a junior in 2007, LeFevour passed for 20 touchdowns and added another 20 on foot so it isn’t out of the question.
8. Nate Davis, QB Ball State
Look for a monster year from Davis as Lewis and other RBs took away from his Heisman-potential season in 2008. His RBs are gone and he is the centerpiece. The coaches will expect and ask more out of him and they will get it. He'll put up the stats, the team will win, and he'll be the cause celebre for those looking to get a non-BCS player back into the mix.
7. Zac Robinson, QB Oklahoma State
I love this guy and I love this guy’s potential at the collegiate level and, if I could I would easily put him higher. He will, no-doubt-about it, be in the mix. He has RB Kendall Hunter and star WR Dez Bryant coming back so expect an even more explosive offense this coming year. With most of the BCS-Conference QB stars moving to the next teir, it is time for Zac Robinson to step in and take the heat.
6. Mark Sanchez, QB USC
It is hard to put any Trojan QB any lower than this considering the history and what they have done in the past. He should be higher, but he can blame the bust season that USC’s offense put together. The Men of Troy had to rely on their defense and, although it worked to an extent, it wasn’t good enough. He has stars coming back (ie Joel McKnight) and we will see if his natural talent turns into numbers.
5. Jacquizz Rodgers, RB Oregon State
For any of you people that think this kid shouldn’t be on this list, I will personally find you a tape of the USC/OreSt game of a couple months ago. If a dude can straight up slither his way through THAT defense and make his way into the endzone twice with 190 yards, you are something special. He was a f-r-e-s-h-m-a-n this year and was still the best playmaker in the Pac10. Before getting hurt he had 7 straight games of 100+ yard outputs, and totaled 1255 yards and 11 touchdowns… in seven games. I watched him during the USC game and immediately wrote his name down for two reasons: I knew he would be on this list and I knew I would forget how to spell his name.
4. Max Hall, QB BYU
Do I have him too far on the list? Well if I do then comment below but I would think not. This guy was a Heisman finalist if he and his team didn’t have huge meltdowns against TCU and Utah on their way to a perfect season and BCS buster. He had 3500+ yards in his junior year to go with 35 touchdowns. Let’s not forget that his main man and the nation’s leading WR, Austin Collie, are both coming back for another shot at perfection. Don’t tell anybody but next year… Max is spelled S-A-M.
3. Terrell Pryor, QB Ohio State
No matter what happens this upcoming year, Pryor will get the Heisman at some point. Why not 2009? He would be the Tim Tebow duplicate, winning it in his sophomore year. Not to mention, his game is pretty much exactly like Tebow’s. Beanie Wells is, most likely, heading to the NFL and it is now Pryor’s time to shine. He is the now the entire offense and the coaches will, while holding back in 2008, unleash him in ’09. He is a freak prodigy and now the nation’s newest super-star.
2. Colt McCoy, QB Texas
Colt SAYS that he is coming back but, come on, we know exactly how that stuff goes. It really all depends on what other QBs like Sam Bradford and Matt Stafford decide to do (both are heavily predicted to hit up the big leagues with Lions and Chiefs, YIKES!). If he does come back for his senior year, it would set up a wild ride from start to finish that featured two of the best we have seen in a while… Tebow vs. McCoy. Which could almost be titled “the most anticipated Heisman Race ever.”
1. Timothy Tebow, QB Florida
Who could have, in a million years, guessed this one? Timmy will be out for one goal in his senior season. That is showing that he is a becoming a better NFL passer and actually has potential after college. He is football’s version of Tim Hansbourgh. Tebow will, however, have pretty good passing numbers as he tries to prove himself to scouts. Another thing he will have to overcome is the media. I will say right now that he will not win it unless he matches the off-the-chart attention that the media gives him going into his super-year. Bottom line is that his career may just be too good to not be a two-time winner.
Time can only tell what next year brings. We are kidding ourselves if we think that these are the only people in the running. This is just a rough estimate, what do I know? We can only sit back and enjoy the show. It promises to be another good Race to the finish.
Friday, December 5, 2008
Back to subject. In case you weren’t aware of the big college sports weekend ahead, there are some huge games that will decide the layout of the BCS bowls announced on Sunday. One of those games is the Mizzou vs. Oklahoma game that airs on ABC at 8:00 pm. The bad news is I have a Championship basketball game to play in at 8:00 pm tomorrow night.
Although I cannot join the Texas Longhorn fans in watching the game, I can tell you that I am sick and tired of hearing people moan that the right team was not picked in the South division. I mean, come on what’s the point? There was a system in which you pick the team in case of a tie. In this case there was a 3-way tie and it then went down to the team’s BCS rank. Oklahoma had the better rank of the 3 teams and they made it in. End of story. Whether you agree with the whole situation or not, that’s the way it goes. If you wanted in so badly, Texas, you shouldn’t have lost to Tech in Lubbock on a 35 yard, final second, miracle play. If you would ask me, I would tell you that the best team got in and leave it at that.
You have to understand, this is a very hard blog to write keeping in mind that I am a die-hard Mizzou fan and have watched them throw a great opportunity away. It is difficult to admit but I can’t lie, Oklahoma appears to be in the driver’s seat leading to the BCS Championship game. They are in the fast line but let’s not sleep on #20 Mizzou.
Oklahoma has put on an absolute clinic this season, scoring at will. It is a weekly show and, no matter who you are or what team you root for, you gotta love tuning in to see OU bust through teams like it’s nothing. They have literally scored like no other team has.. Ever. Just take a look at the past three games. 61 points vs. Oklahoma State, 65 vs. Texas Tech, 66 vs. Texas A&M, 62 vs. Nebraska. I mean, seriously? Four straight 60+ point games? No way. Yes way, and it has almost become a joke. It is way too easy and, heck, how can you say defense even matters when you just cannot be stopped. For example, the game against OKST.. I sat there and watched Oklahoma score on six straight possessions thinking you gotta be kidding me. OU is averaging 53 points/game and 560 yards/game. With the dynamic offense, a nation’s top-3 o-line, and a defense that can at least hold a team under 60 the question may be asked.. Can they be stopped by anyone? According to the “experts”, not by Mizzou. Vegas has Oklahoma favored by 17 points and who can blame them?
Meanwhile, Missouri, who saw it's national title dream go up in a puff of smoke, or more like a Curtis Lofton big play, in last year's 38-17 Big 12 dream matchup title game loss to Oklahoma, can't stop anyone's passing game, and is coming off a loss to a mediocre Kansas team even though that was the best game I’ve seen this season. The best win this year was over a Nebraska team that hadn't quite hit its stride, the second-best win was against an Illinois team that's not going bowling, and against the two big boys on the schedule from the South, Oklahoma State and Texas, the Tigers lost in back-to-back weeks. Let’s be honest with ourselves here.. Is it possible that my Tigers are a tad bit overrated? In my mind there is a fine line between wasted potential and just straight up overrated and Mizzou is right on it.
So, with that in mind, the game is a blow out right?
Well how about we just keep our pants on here. Does anyone remember the 2003 B12 Championship between #1 OU and Kansas State when Darren Sproles lead the Wildcats to a stunning 35-7 victory? How about the 2001 title game when Chris Simms flushed the Longhorns right down the toilet with about 20 pick-6’s that led to a Colorado victory? Same thing with the Championship games of 1998 (A&M vs. K State) and 1996 (Texas vs. Nebraska). Unlike the SEC Championship which generally follows the chalk, the B12 has a history of wild upsets. Guess what.. Missouri has the potential to do the same exact thing as these other teams have accomplished.
Last year, Mizzou played as the #1 team in the nation and fell under the spotlight. This year’s game isn’t as sexy and, nobody is picking Mizzou even with the 4th best offense in the country averaging over 500 yards/game. Nobody is picking the team with nothing to lose over the team that has everything to lose. Everyone is expecting a 60-point rout but do not sleep on Mizzou. All bias-ness aside, MU has the potential weapons and talent on both sides to weasel their way into a football game. Oklahoma has only won the last three games of the regular season once since 1980. Realistically, Missouri will need its fair share of luck tomorrow going against Bradford with the worst pass defense in the B12 and we didn’t even see the big-3 (Herrell, McCoy, Bradford). With that said, Bradford had trouble with Missouri last year and (unlike the past year) the spotlight is on him and everyone is expecting SAMUEL to perform like the Heisman candidate he is. Very, very similar to last year’s game just switched roles.
It's the official end of the Big 12 campaign after the conference, more specifically the South, saved the college football season. One way or another, it'll be a show with lots of offense and plenty of big plays. It'll be fun no matter what happens. With these two offenses, it has to be.
Mizzou will win if…
...Oklahoma’s linebacking crew struggles. In OU’s only loss of the season to Texas, the Longhorns picked the back-up linebackers apart after the first string was injured and it ultimately led to a Texas victory.
...They can keep Sam Bradford off of the football field. We all know what happens when he is on it, and I can’t see him playing much DB. Missouri needs to ruin his Heisman campaign to have a shot.
...They can convert on 3rd downs (both sides of ball). Missouri has been a wash with 3rd downs on offense and defense. OU was 12 of 18 on 3rd downs against OKST and was one of the reasons they scored 60+.
...They can, of course, spark something in the secondary. If they play as badly on defense as they did in the Kansas game.. Consider it over with fellas.
Oklahoma will win if…
...They don’t let their guard down. If they are looking forward to that Championship game against ‘Bama or Florida then they better get their heads straight before it’s too late or it will be Texas playing them.
...Chase becomes a running back instead of a quarterback. The games that Chase had a significant total of rushing yards were two of the three games that Mizzou has lost so far. He had a 103 yard performance vs. KU and we lost. As well as the 50 yard total against Oklahoma State. If you want to win, Chase, do your job. And that is to say hike and get it into the hands of our playmakers (Maclin, Coffman, etc).
...They simply take what the shaky Tiger defense gives you. The secondary has been in a comma all season. Get the ball and chuck it to wide open defenders and move the ball down field.
Missouri will play well, but not well enough. It'll be a continuous trade of big blow after big blow with the Tigers hanging around after three quarters, but Daniel will make a few key mistakes and Bradford won't. The Sooners will open it up late and Bradford will have his Heisman stats padded enough to answer Tim Tebow's big game earlier in the day against Alabama. Oklahoma is going to BACK UP the notion that they are the team to beat.
Please tell me what you think in the comment section below. Thanks!