Wednesday, January 24, 2007

TOTFF: Part 1, Episode 24: "Are You In Or Out?

In this week's exciting episode, Conrad and Kate get to know each other better, Conrad gets a bit too well aquainted with Freddie's giant wheel, and Freddie does his first commercial.

Click here to read "Are You In Or Out?"

Monday, January 22, 2007

Trolling the Polls

Every now and then, I just like going line by line on the latest college football or basketball poll and see which direction I think various teams are headed. Here are a few random thoughts on the Week 12 AP college hoops rankings:

Wisconsin (#2) is playing very well right now, but they are not one of the top five teams in the nation. Florida, North Carolina, UCLA, Kansas, and Pittsburgh are. They could hang around the top rankings, however, because the Big 10 is pretty soft this year, and perhaps even slip into the first #1 ranking in school history.

Arizona (#17)will bounce back from their current losing streak and be one of the ten best teams in the nation by tournament time. They've got too much talent and are too well coached not to.

Virginia Tech (#24) is not a bad team, but they won't stay ranked for long. They should have lost to a staggering Maryland team in Blacksburg last night, and they'll take several losses in conference play.

Georgia Tech and Maryland (both receiving votes) are in full retreat. Tech wasn't even competitive at North Carolina Saturday night, and the Terps are 1-4 in the ACC with a home loss to Miami (one of the three worst teams in the conference) a nasty blot on their post-season resume.

Beleagured coaches Mike Brey at Notre Dame (#22) and Kelvin Sampson at Indiana (#23) are doing surprising good jobs and have their teams overachieving. With both the Big East and Big Ten down this year, the Irish and Hoosiers have a good chance of sustaining that success.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Last Week at Good News In College Sports

If you didn't visit my other blog, Good News In College Sports, last week, you missed:

o North Carolina basketball player Reyshawn Terry dialing his individual game down a notch to help make his team better.

o Maryland basketball player Ekene Ibekwe enjoying success both on the court and in the classroom, having the opportunity to play in the FIBA World Championships last summer while also earning academic honors.

o Hasheem Thabeet, a freshman center for the University of Connecticut, who is one of the best shot-blockers in the nation only two years removed from living in Tanzania.

o Middle Tennessee's women's basketball coach Rick Insell, who is in his first year in Murfreesboro after an outstanding 28-year career in high school and buidling unprecedented excitement in the community.

o The shot that Northwestern State made to knock off Iowa in last year's NCAA men's basketball tournament still looms large on the campus in Natchichoses, Louisiana.

0 Rashad Jones-Jennings rebounding from being rejected as a walk-on basketball player at East Tennessee State to lead all D1 rebounders in the nation at Arkansas-Little Rock.

Check out the blog because there's always Good News In College Sports.

Friday, January 19, 2007

On-Field Reporting During Games

I ran across this column in Newsday discussing the role and impact of on-field reporters during football games, both college and pro. The issue has received some attention since Fox sideline reporter essentially played host for Boise State running back Ian Johnson's proposal after scoring the decisive two-point conversion against Oklahoma in the recent Fiesta Bowl.

I have through for a while that sideline reporters are usually extra noise at best and annoying at worst. Even the good ones like Michelle Tafoya, Suzy Kobler, and Erin Andrews often don't bring much to the broadcast that the announcers couldn't do themselves. They wind up being an extra voice, as if the more people that provide information the better the broadcast should be.

One thing I very strongly believe is that interviews during games should be eliminated. They seldom bring much if any useful information, and it's another example of the media inserting themselves into the story. Sure, the occasional meltdown by a coach can be entertaining, but I'd give that up to not suffer through a littany of simple or even dumb questions and the cliche answers given.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Tales of the Fighting Ferrets: Part 1, Episode 23: "Days of the Unexpected"

We're back with the weekly installments of Tales of the Fighting Ferrets until Part 1 reaches its thrilling and surprising climax.

This week, Conrad is faced with yet another crisis, but has a chance to relax at the school's annual festival with an unexpected companion. Who is it? You'll have to click here to read "Days of the Unexpected."

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A Peek At Early Entrants Into the NFL Draft

Here are my thoughts on a few of the players who I am especially familiar with:

Calvin Johnson, Georgia Tech-WR: This young man will be a stud. He's got size (6'5", 235 lbs.), but we've seen with USC's Mike Williams and Washington's Reggie Williams that size alone does not matter. What Johnson has in addition is speed and athletcism that will make him a superstar in the NFL. He would have shattered records in school if he'd had a reliable quarterback to get him the ball.

Antonio Pittman, Ohio State-RB and Darius Walker, Notre Dame-RB: It strikes me that there are a lot of running backs in the NFL just like Pittman and Walker, and a lot of them are sitting on the bench. I don't think either player made the smartest decision coming out early.

JaMarcus Russell, LSU-QB: He strikes me as an even more athletic Daunte Cullpepper. His physical ability, particularly his rocket arm, will have scouts drooling at the upcoming combine, and if he hooks up with the right coach, he could be a star. I still think another year of polish would have benefitted him greatly.

Michael Bush, Louisville-RB: Stud. He should at least be a very good NFL player and could very well become a star. Strength, speed, moves, instincts--nothing not to like once he gets healthy.

Colt Brennan, Hawaii-QB: Remember David Klingler, whose records Brennan broke this year? If you do, it's not because of his NFL career. I suspect the same will be said of Brennan in a few years.

Adrian Peterson, Oklahoma-RB: Could be an outstanding running back if he can stay on the field. He did not make it through an entire college season in one piece, so I think expecting him to make it through an NFL schedule would be a reach. He's too good not to draft, but too risky to take in the first round.

Ted Ginn, Jr. and Anthony Gonzalez, Ohio State-WR: Ginn should be a successful kick returner and third or fourth receiver, and I'm not sure another year in school would have changed that. Gonzalez, however, could only have been helped by another season of college ball. He was a good college receiver, but how much did having Ginn on the other side help him? I just don't see Gonzalez making much of an impact in the NFL.

Jon Abbate, Wake Forest, LB: I'm really rooting for Abbate, the heart and soul of the Deacons' defense this past year. If anyone can be successful at a position in the NFL on sheer determination and guts, it's at linebacker and I think that gives Abbate a shot at a decent pro career.

NFL teams are greatly swayed by players measureables and performance in the combine in Indianapolis, and it will be interesting to see which of these players really helps or hurts their draft standing, and could gain or lose millions of dollars in the process.

Here's a complete list of those underclassmen who declared for the NFL draft.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Last Week at Good News In College Sports

If you didn't check out my newest blog, Good News In College Sports, last week, you missed these stories.....

o Two members of the Southern Illinois women's golf team who were happy to be home for the holidays, since last year they didn't know if they would see another one.

o The story of Jesse Hollander, a basketball player at Macalester College who arrived in Minnesota via Nepal and is focused on a big time career--in dentistry

o Suzanne Perles, a member of Princeton's first varsity field hockey team who was also a Rhodes Scholar

o The U of Texas-Tyler being recognized for the best on-going community service project among Division III athletics

o The story of Anthony Ford, a nine-year old who passed away from lukemia but lest a lasting impression on the Minnesota State-Mankato ice hockey team

o Tre' Kelly, who emerged from a childhood rife with violence, including the murder of his mother, to become a leader on the South Carolina basketball team.

Please visit the blog because there is always Good News In College Sports.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

A Few Early Hoops Surprises

Here's a few college basketball teams that are flying below the radar right now, but possibly not for long:

Virginia Tech: If the fact that they are one of only two ACC teams undefeated in conference play at 3-0 (Boston College is the other at 4-0) doesn't move you, how about back-to-back wins at Duke and at home vs. #1 North Carolina. The Hokies have a veteran backcourt that has been coming up very big lately, a pretty good recipe for sustained success.

Virginia Commonwealth: Just because George Mason won't be making a return trip to the Final Four doesn't mean that a team from the CAA doesn't have a chance. The Rams are 13-3, 5-0 in the conference. Two senior guards, B. A. Walker and Jesse Pellot-Rosa, lead the team in scoring, and I love mid-major teams with veteran guards.

Washington State: The Cougars are 15-2 and tied for first in the Pac-10. They've beaten Arizona and Southern Cal and lost at UCLA by only three points. While they aren't exactly playing at a frantic pace, but new coach Tony Bennett has loosened things up a bit from how his dad's teams ran their offense. Fair to say it's working.

New Mexico State: They haven't exactly played a tough schedule, but any team that has a 12-game winning streak is worth paying attention to. The Aggies are 13-3 overall and could be positioning themselves for an at-large bid if they can manage the heart of their WAC schedule.

These teams bear watching as they move deeper into their conference schedules.