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Texas, Oklahoma, and the ACC Will Not Trigger Four 16-Team Super Conferences

September 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Only the Irish can trigger monumental realignment

 

There are a lot of unimaginative people out there who have prophesied about the day when four 16-team super conferences will rule the college landscape. This writer is here to tell you to not believe the hype. There will not be a super conference consolidation Armageddon.

Sure, the ACC is going in the direction of forming a 16-team conference and the Pac-12 is on the verge of becoming the Pac-16. But where is the other “super” expansion going to come from? Each of these conferences actually has an academic mandate as well. The Big Ten, for instance, seeks state universities with high academic standards. That means they won’t be in the market for just any school. Sure, Notre Dame will always have that open invite, but the Big Ten won’t be inviting Louisville or Cincinnati to the party anytime soon.

In fact, the pool of potential Big Ten acquisitions has really shrunk with the Big East defections of Syracuse and Pittsburgh, as both were previously mentioned and, possibly, considered for the Big Ten. Also, if UConn and Rutgers follow those schools to the ACC, then the Big Ten is extremely limited in their ability to expand eastward. Without a potential New York City market school, the Big Ten would be forced to look west.

But what schools would fill the Big Ten’s profile in the West? Possibly Missouri and Kansas. But Kansas would probably require that Kansas State join them as a package deal. That certainly would be a no-go as the Kansas City market isn’t that big to begin with. Remember, the biggest motivation for the Big Ten to expand to 16 would be to add more lucrative television markets. Kansas and Kansas State only bring Kansas City and that is shared with Missouri. As a result, the Big Ten will likely remain at 12 schools, unless they add Missouri and are able to convince Notre Dame to join.

The SEC will be at 13 schools when Texas A&M officially joins the conference. The SEC has already indicated that adding a 14th school will be on the agenda once A&M joins. But the ACC just increased the departure fees for its member schools to $20M and, with a round 16, are probably safe from being raided.

Like the Big Ten, the SEC wants to focus on the large, flagship state universities and land grant schools. Unless Kentucky wants Louisville to join and the SEC makes an exception there, the Cardinals are probably left out of that potential expansion as well. West Virginia is the more likely Big East school to join the SEC, especially if they aren’t included in the ACC expansion. Missouri would be another potential candidate if the SEC wants to continue their western expansion. But for the SEC to get to 16, they would have to take a regional public school, like Louisville or South and Central Florida, or continue to expand west and bring on the Kansas schools with Missouri. See how crazy these scenarios are getting?

What is probably going to happen is that the SEC will find a 14th school to give them two 7 school divisions. The Big Ten will remain at 12 schools for the foreseeable future. The ACC will add two more Big East schools to complete their expansion at 16. The Pac-16 will be formed with Texas and Oklahoma bringing their in-state rivals, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. That leaves the remnants of the Big East and Big 12 to join in either a loose confederation where the two conference champions meet for a BCS bid or the remaining Big East football schools leave for the Big 12. The latter is the more probable outcome.

That would leave a new Big 12 with Baylor, TCU, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Iowa State, Louisville, Cincinnati, and South Florida. They would probably look to add three more schools to return to the 12-school alignment and qualify for a conference championship game. BYU, Houston, SMU, Memphis, and Central Florida would have to be the leading candidates for the three spots. Long shot possibilities would include Air Force, UTEP, New Mexico, Colorado State, UNLV, Wyoming, and Boise State in the West and new FBS school, Massachusetts, and Temple in the East. Those two eastern schools both play in NFL stadiums and would bring exposure in two major metropolitan markets.

If the Big East loses their football schools, that won’t be that bad. The Big East will remain a viable and highly competitive basketball conference nationally, like they were for the first ten years of the league. With Georgetown, St. John’s, Seton Hall, Villanova, Providence, Marquette, DePaul and Notre Dame, they would have five schools that competed in last season’s men’s basketball tournament. With eight schools, they could easily expand by one or two and play a full round-robin schedule that is more conducive to college basketball.

Two schools that would have to be on the newly configured Big East’s list would be Xavier and Dayton from the Atlantic 10. Both are private schools and can help bridge the geographical gap between the East Coast and the Chicago region schools. That would leave the Big East as a very formidable hoops league.

While all of the realignment speculation is exciting, there probably won’t be as much as anticipated due to the factors that were laid out.

Who Could Replace the Dishonest Tressel at Ohio State?

Who Is Going to Replace the Dishonest Tressel at Ohio State?

If the Jim Tressel dishonesty saga were a season of “24”, this would be the first hour. Because as far as potentially sinking ships go, this Titanic just hit the iceberg. The damage has been done and the Goodship Buckeye is taking on water.

One look at the information released by the school, there is going to be a lot more to come out of this situation. The tattoo artist “really is a drug dealer” according to the email sent by the attorney/booster to Coach Tressel. In addition, the government offered him a deal with 10 years. For the accused tattoo artist, Eddie Rife, he might be able to bargain with the feds or he might offer to sell his story.

Being the entrepreneur that he was, Rife might not have gotten just merchandise from all of the players that he made deals with. Players also have access to game tickets that could be cashed in on the secondary market. Also, how are we to believe that he didn’t already sell some items that he received in bartering with players?

The university outlines three instances where Tressel had the opportunity to come clean, but failed to do so. This whole situation from the start with the player suspensions has had the vibe of “oh, bleep, we got caught”. Nobody involved, from President Gee to Athletics Director Gene Smith to Tressel and the players have shown the kind of contrition that is required and understanding of the severity of this situation. The sense is that behind closed doors they’re telling each other to “Don’t let this happen again, Ok?”

There is also the issue with Terrelle Pryor being stopped for traffic violations driving different cars owned by a local car salesman and a dealer. Pryor was cleared of wrongdoing in those instances but the number of questionable situations that he has experienced makes one wonder what happens when he’s not caught in the act.

While there isn’t anything else, yet, if Tressel has made any enemies in Columbus, now would be the time to expect them to surface with more information. Also, with the revelation that they weren’t fully cooperative with the NCAA, additional sanctions could be forthcoming. So with the university already admitting guilt in this situation and the possibility of more to come, it’s not farfetched to speculate on who might replace Tressel if the situation comes to that.

Here’s the short list:

Urban Meyer: Meyers just stepped down from Florida two months ago because of health issues, but the Cincinnati alum and Ohio native might find this opportunity to be too good to pass up. He was an assistant with the Buckeyes under Earle Bruce in the mid-80’s and, of course, is a two-time national champion head coach during his six years at Florida. Even if there isn’t an immediate change, perhaps Meyer becomes the heir apparent to Tressel if the administration wants to ease him into retirement after this season.

Bob Stoops: The Oklahoma head coach is a Youngstown, Ohio native and many believe that he would be interested in returning home if the Buckeyes job was open. In addition, Stoops played in the Big Ten at Iowa and his experience at an elite football program would help him come in with an understanding of the culture and high expectations that go with the job.

Dan Mullen: In his second year at Mississippi State, Mullen’s Bulldogs gave the Michigan Wolverines their worst loss ever in a bowl game, 52-14. Mullen had coached with Meyer every year from his days as a grad assistant at Notre Dame in 1999 until taking the job at Mississippi State. Mullen is from Pennsylvania so a move north to Ohio wouldn’t be out of the question for him. Would the combination of his New Year’s Day beat down of Michigan and his Pennsylvania roots would be appealing to the Buckeyes?

Chris Petersen: The Boise State head coach has taken the Broncos to two BCS games in the past 5 seasons and if the Buckeyes don’t go after a coach at a BCS school, this would be a great hire. He’s only making $1.6M which means a buyout would be relatively cheap to a school that currently pays their coach almost $4M annually. Petersen is the only one of these candidates that doesn’t have northeast connections, so this would be a more “outside of the box” pick.

Rich Rodriguez Doesn’t Understand ‘Hail to the Victors’

Still clueless

Did former Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez believe that he was taking over a football upstart, or a team that hadn’t been good in years? Well, his comments seem to imply that.

Rodriguez talked about seeing the “light at the end of the tunnel” and made other comments to the effect that the Wolverines were turning the corner and would be competitive nationally again next season. Huh? This is MICHIGAN! The all-time winningest program in the history of college football. Their fight song is ‘Hail to the Victors’. This is not Kansas State when Bill Snyder took over. A down season at Michigan is not a losing season, it’s when you fail to beat Ohio State and fail to win 10 or more games. Period.

This is why Rodriguez is out. His team was historically bad. He still doesn’t get it and probably never will.

With Rodriguez, it wasn’t like he wasn’t given a chance. He didn’t take over a program moving from I-AA to I-A. He didn’t take over at a school that has finished higher than 3rd in the Big Ten only three times in 40 years (Minnesota).  Michigan wins Big Ten titles. They win Rose Bowls. They spend entire seasons in the Top 25 and they play games against Ohio State that the entire country stops to watch.

Want to know the cumulative score in the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry during the Rich-Rod era? Try 100-24 in 3 games. For the offensive guru Rodriguez, he failed to average 10 points per game against the hated Buckeyes. While Michigan hasn’t been national championship worthy in 10 years, they were 11-0 and ranked #2 only FOUR YEARS AGO, when they traveled to Columbus to play the #1 ranked 11-0 Buckeyes. Four years later, Michigan is coming off their worst three season period in school history.

Michigan isn’t a job for a coach that needs training wheels, or time to get THEIR players. Michigan always has recruited the best. Rodriguez was handed quarterback Ryan Mallett who could be a first round pick in the 2011 draft. Mallett wasn’t mobile enough for Rodriguez’ “system”.  What Rodriguez didn’t get was that the “system” at Michigan and other blue blood programs like Alabama, Texas, and USC is that the great high school players come to you. As a coach, you just need to find a way to maximize the talent that you have. If you have a potentially prolific passer like Mallett, why would you design a quarterback-run-first offense? Not coaching the talents of the players that were left to Rodriguez is what ultimately cost him his job.

Well, poor performance over three years, a humiliating loss on New Year’s Day to SECOND year coach Dan Mullen and traditional giant Mississippi State, and NCAA violations led to his dismissal. If Mullen can get the Mississippi State Bulldogs good enough to stomp Michigan on New Year’s Day in only his second season, why couldn’t Rich-Rod? That’s why he’s gone and also the ghosts of 129 years of greatness before his arrival.

As Bill Parcells likes to say, “If I’m going to cook the food, I want to buy the groceries.” Well, a consistent diet of just baloney doesn’t cut it in Ann Arbor, Rich-Rod.

Can I Pay For a New Kidney With My Signing Bonus?

13 Hawkeye football players are suffering from a muscle condition

With reports about 13 University of Iowa football players suffering from a muscular condition possibly brought on by strenuous exercise, some questions came to mind.

  1. Thirteen is a high enough number to dismiss as strictly a coincidence. University of Iowa doctor John Stokes is not involved with treating the athletes, but was quoted in the AP article. He says that strenuous exercise “commonly brings on the kidney disorder”. But then he says that in 32 years, he’s never seen 13 people get this disease. It’s common, but it’s not even an annually occurring condition? What’s up, Doc? Protecting the university?
  2. What else besides exercise do these players have in common? What kind of “nutritional” supplements do they ingest and did strength and conditioning coach, Chris Doyle, oversee which supplements were to be ingested concurrently with the offseason workout regimen?
  3. What are the chances that there won’t be eventual confirmation of PED use in relation to Iowa’s offseason workout regimen?

Only last week did new Oakland Raiders head coach Hue Jackson was required to disassociate with a company that manufactured a deer antler extract spray because it contained performance enhancing substances that were banned by the NFL and other organizations, but can’t be tested for without a blood sample.  Bengals safety Roy Williams followed up the report on Jackson with an admission that he uses that substance “two to three times per day”.

This situation in Iowa could just be a strange occurrence of a medical condition brought on by good, hard training. Or it could be something else that just might become the tip of a PED iceberg that a ship full of amateur and professional athletes, alike, are heading straight for with potentially morbid consequences. Now is not the time for a cover-up in Iowa City. If there was common PED use amongst these players that needs to come out in order to warn others of the potential dangers that are out there by ingesting unregulated products.

This has additional fallout on the NFL labor negotiations if they can confirm that PED use is to blame for the medical conditions of these players. How would players react to blood testing being added to the negotiations?

Unfortunately, many young athletes are willing to do almost anything to make it big in professional sports. Now it could become a life or death proposition. Most coaches and franchises are more than willing to overlook alleged use as long as the on-field performance continues.

If we are now finding out that there are side effects, in fact, serious side effects to PED use, this could give a whole new meaning to the phrase “I’d die to play this game.”

Here’s a link from the Iowa City Press:

Rich Rodriguez dumped by Michigan, Harbaugh or Miles to follow?

"What the heck did that Rodriguez guy do to this program?"

Rich Rodriguez was just not a Michigan man. Or a winner, for that matter. Rodriguez was dumped on Tuesday afternoon after compiling the worst record ever in the history of the 132 year program. Despite the attempted arson of the Michigan record books, the Wolverines still remain the winningest program in the history of college football.

With Rodriguez, it wasn’t like he wasn’t given a chance. He didn’t take over a program moving from I-AA to I-A. He didn’t take over at a school that has finished higher than 3rd in the Big Ten only three times in 40 years (Minnesota).  Michigan wins Big Ten titles. They win Rose Bowls. They spend entire seasons in the Top 25 and they play games against Ohio State that the entire country stops to watch.

Want to know the cumulative score in the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry during the Rich-Rod era? Try 100-24 in 3 games. For the offensive guru Rodriguez, he failed to average 10 points per game against the hated Buckeyes. While Michigan hasn’t been national championship worthy in 10 years, they were 11-0 and ranked #2 only FOUR YEARS AGO, when they traveled to Columbus to play the #1 ranked 11-0 Buckeyes. Four years later, Michigan is coming off their worst three season period in school history.

It only took Mullen two years at Miss State to blow out Michigan 52-14 on New Year's Day

Michigan isn’t a job for a coach that needs training wheels, or time to get THEIR players. Michigan always has recruited the best. Rodriguez was handed quarterback Ryan Mallett who is a sure-fire first round pick should he enter the 2011 draft. Mallett wasn’t mobile enough for Rodriguez’ “system”.  What Rodriguez didn’t get was that the “system” at Michigan and other blue blood programs like Alabama, Texas, and USC is that the great high school players come to you. As a coach, you just need to find a way to maximize the talent that you have. If you have a potentially prolific passer like Mallett, why would you design a quarterback-run-first offense? Not coaching the talents of the players that were left to Rodriguez is what ultimately cost him his job.

Well, poor performance over three years, a humiliating loss on New Year’s Day to SECOND year coach Dan Mullen and traditional giant Mississippi State, and NCAA violations led to his dismissal. If Mullen can get the Mississippi State Bulldogs good enough to stomp Michigan on New Year’s Day in only his second season, why couldn’t Rich-Rod? That’s why he’s gone and also the ghosts of 129 years of greatness before his arrival.

Harbaugh finished 3rd in the 1986 Heisman voting while at Michigan.

Who’s going to replace Rodriguez? Well the obvious first choice is former Wolverine quarterback Jim Harbaugh from Stanford. That’s why the dismissal occurred the day following Stanford’s season ending win in the Orange Bowl. AD David Brandon can’t afford to not go hard after Harbaugh. But the rumors coming out of the NFL are indicating that Harbaugh will look to the pros for his next job. So who’s left? As Bo would say, “We want a Michigan man to coach the Wolverines.”

 

 

Nobody will drive you crazier with a win than the Mad Scientist!

Les Miles – Michigan class of 1976, Current LSU coach

Miles played for Bo in the 1970’s and coached under him twice in the 80’s. Miles brings a national championship that he won in 2007 at LSU. That national championship might be the only reason why he didn’t take this job when Rodriguez did. Michigan hired Rodriguez almost a month before LSU played Ohio State for the championship. Despite winning the championship, there are annual calls for Miles to be fired in the bayou. That kind of uncertainty, despite his success, might and probably would lead to Miles giving his alma mater a different answer this time. Barring a Harbaugh miracle, I would expect Miles to be named the Michigan coach sometime after LSU’s Friday night Cotton Bowl game against Texas A&M.

Hoke's hoping that Michigan has to point to their backup plan in San Diego

Brady Hoke – Michigan DL coach 1995-2002, current San Diego State coach

Hoke is a former Michigan assistant under Lloyd Carr and also coached under Jim Harbaugh’s father, Jack, at Western Michigan in the 1980’s. Is that good enough for the Maize and Blue faithful? He turned around Ball State’s struggling program ultimately leading them to a 12-1 record in 2008. He has been at San Diego State the past two seasons and improved their record from 2-10 in Chuck Long’s final season in 2008 to 9-4 and a bowl win this season. That’s a pretty solid turnaround. My feeling is that Hoke is the ultimate fallback guy in case both Harbaugh and Miles turn the Wolverines down.

It really only appears to be a three man race and usually when there’s a delay in the decision to fire a coach, it’s when the school has tried to determine either directly, or indirectly, the feasibility of hiring their top choices. My guess here is the colorful Miles. As for Rodriguez, look for him to quickly get involved in the University of Pittsburgh job search that reopened a few days ago.

A parent’s guide to profiting from their little college athlete – with help from Taylor Martinez’ dad Casey

December 30, 2010 Leave a comment

Today we learned that Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez’ father has a business specializing in selling Cornhuskers apparel. The company is ingeniously called Corn Fed. Just like the cows I like to eat. With a 90% of the proceeds going to the father, Casey, what are the restrictions on any Nebraska alumni or boosters from spending overwhelming amounts of money on these products, no matter what the quality is? Can you see Pandora’s Box opening?

So in honor of the most hypocritical years in the history of the NCAA organization, the following is a guide for parents of high school athletes whose talents are just too good to attend college without a price. Kind of like Cam Newton and Taylor Martinez.

  1. Parents with the entrepreneurial bug need to incorporate a new business designed to sell apparel or anything else with a prospective schools logo. In fact if the parent is really good, they will offer a line of multiple schools apparel in the run-up to signing day. That way each schools boosters can go on a shopping spree and the school with the most apparel sold can claim the services of the little superstar athlete. That’s called a win-win situation.
  2. For those who don’t have that entrepreneurial bug, then plausible deniability is for you. Here’s what you do, you can shake down as many schools and boosters as you like, without heavy scrutiny, especially if you’re kid is the best Heisman candidate in decades, as long as you don’t bring the naïve youngster into the process. Ensuring the purity of the child is a main concern here.

What not to do?

  1. Don’t let your kid go at this alone. Otherwise they might end up like those poor North Carolina players that took money the old fashioned way from agent runners and ended up ineligible.
  2. Don’t let your kid sell their rings, trophies, or anything else they received while at the university.
  3. No tattoos either. Don’t want to have to answer how those expensive pieces of art end up on your kids’ arms and necks.

So there you have it. The days of $100 handshakes and phony summer jobs are a thing of the past. Now just bring your Dad along for the ride. Enjoy.

Five Sports Resolutions for the New Year

December 29, 2010 Leave a comment

In honor of the coming New Year, I have put together my New Year’s resolutions for the world of sports. For fear of the potential of overdoing it, this list has been limited to five.

 

When's the parade?

1. The biggest story of 2011, arguably, was LeBron James taking “his talents to South Beach”. LeBron needs to resolve to SHUT UP for the time being and keep from sticking his foot into his mouth. Leave the foot in mouth stuff to Rex Ryan when he’s alone, with or without a camera, with his wife.

LeBron’s year started with the indecision of what he would do. That was followed by him giving up against the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Then here came the “Decision”. That was followed by the coronation with Wade and Bosh. Next LeBron and company laid an egg to start the season. Because accountability, at least publicly, isn’t LeBron’s calling card, “sources” began to badmouth the head coach and laid the problems associated with Miami’s slow start at the feet of Erik Spoelstra. Then, when given the chance to be classy in Cleveland, he failed again. Finally, with the year winding down, LeBron decided to endorse eliminating 4 teams and numerous player jobs so more teams can have 2-3 superstars like they had in the 80s. Except, LeBron, only 5-6 teams in the 80s had that kind of talent, unlike today where there are probably 8-10 teams that have 2-3 superstars on their teams and bad teams even have some. If LeBron was around in 1983, he probably would have wanted to contract the Bulls so Orlando Woolridge cool join Dominique in Atlanta. How exciting would that be?

So the #1 resolution for 2011: Shut up LeBron and maybe people will forget that you’re a disingenuous moron and appreciate you for being one of the 2-3 best players of your generation. And if you don’t like that, you need to get over it.

 

This system sucks!

2. College football hypocrisy seems to be an annual issue. The BCS garbage is one issue that I’ve already countered with a prospective playoff system.

Next, one of these years college administrators will come out of the closet and be entirely open about the fact that college sports, specifically football and men’s basketball, are big business and decisions are made as much, or more, based on revenues as opposed to wins and losses. That’s why bad coaches remain in place, typically because of cost prohibitive buyouts and seemingly good coaches, like Ralph Friedgen at Maryland and Bill Stewart at West Virginia, are jettisoned, or soon to be let go because of money.

Friedgen is being let go despite winning the 2010 ACC coach of the year award and 9 games. Friedgen’s Terps played in the Orange Bowl following his first season in 2001 and never returned to a high payout BCS game. Big money is behind Friedgen’s exit as well.

Stewart has won 9 or more games in each of his 3 seasons as head coach at West Virginia. Stewart will be head coach next season while HC in waiting, Dana Holgorsen, comes in from Oklahoma State to change the offensive system for a season before taking over. West Virginia AD Oliver Luck, somewhat honestly, stated that he didn’t feel that West Virginia could compete for a national championship with Stewart as head coach. What he didn’t say was that he was uneasy about the Mountaineers chances of winning a Big East title with Stewart despite the lack of Top 25 competition in the conference. This season’s loss to UConn kept West Virginia from playing Oklahoma on New Year’s night for a $13 million payday.

Those two coaching examples are actually refreshing when it comes to standard NCAA hypocrisy. Usually we hear about graduation rates and GPAs when justifying firing an underachieving coach as to not imply that wins and losses matter.

But in keeping with the tradition of putting money first instead of honesty and integrity, the NCAA decided to suspend 5 Ohio State players for games at the start of NEXT season for indiscretions committed in previous years. They will still be eligible to attract high ratings in next week’s Sugar Bowl. This comes on the heels of the Cam Newton decision which essentially permitted Newton’s father, Cecil, carte blanche in shaking down prospective colleges that recruited Cam, as long as Cam didn’t KNOW anything was going on. Would these situations been handled the same way had players at Boise State or TCU committed these infractions? You know the answer as well as I.

Resolution #2: If you’re all about money share the wealth with the players, if not, don’t let ratings and the money that they generate affect decisions regarding eligibility of players who have received or solicited illegal benefits. You can’t have it both ways.

 

"How do we make $$ off of player safety?"

3. The NFL needs Olympic-style, stringent PED testing in their upcoming collective bargaining agreement. If the NFL is really serious about player safety and “the kids”, then they will make this a high priority in the upcoming negotiations.

There are two issues that go with the PED issue. One is the obvious concerns about the unknown consequences of ingesting or injecting these substances and how these players will be affected in 10, 20, or 30 years. When players weigh the unknown against the potential of making millions of dollars or even just making a team, the unknown rarely wins out. That’s why the decision needs to be taken out of their hands.

The second, indirect, issue that is associated with the PED use in the NFL is the proliferation of head injuries throughout the league. Some of these injuries would happen in any era, with any size of player. Sometimes you just get dinged. But a lot of these hits are as violent as they are because of the speed and size of the individuals involved. James Harrison is a 6-0, 245 lb linebacker who has become the NFL’s poster boy for borderline hits considered to be over the edge. He plays the game at a high speed, moving around like safeties from a different era and with the size of a defensive end from a different era. When combining his speed, quickness, and size, Harrison can and usually does unleash incredibly violent hits on ball carriers and receivers that frequently show up on highlight films.

Not accusing the sometimes volatile Harrison, but what if he was a step slower and 15-20 lbs lighter. Like, for instance, former Steelers great linebacker Jack Ham who played the game at 6-1 and 225 lbs. Watching the way Ham tackles in that piece makes you wonder when coaches stopped teaching players how to tackle. You can’t convince me that the hits would be just as violent if the players involved were slightly smaller and a half-step slower. The greater the size and higher the speed are the known benefits of PED use an ultimately result in an increased level of violent hits in an already hard-hitting league.

Resolution #3: If eliminating, or drastically reducing the use of PEDs in the NFL results in smaller, slower players who unleash hits that causes fewer concussions, why would this be a bad thing? The NFL, and other professional sports, shouldn’t be reserved for the athletes with the least morals and indiscretion for their own well-being.

 

It's awesome, baby!

4. Why does every talking head want 50 man rosters for all star teams and 75 teams in the NCAA tournament?

With the Pro Bowl selections having come out on Tuesday, analysts like to tell us who got snubbed from selection to the NFL all star teams. Now, this isn’t just an NFL issue, just wait until the NBA selections in February. But the NFL just happened and that provided a reminder of what I hate about the commentary on these issues.

I don’t mind hearing about who got snubbed. Everybody plays that game and it’s usually fun to do. But when telling us who got snubbed, follow it up with who needs to go. The AFC Pro Bowl team can’t have 6 halfbacks. Jamaal Charles, Arian Foster, and Maurice Jones-Drew made the team. If you want Chris Johnson, Rashard Mendenhall, or even Peyton Hillis (yes, I heard somebody mention him), then you need to tell us why you would choose that player over one or more of the three that were picked.

This isn’t just an NFL problem. Baseball talking heads put together 60 man rosters with 25 pitchers when given a chance. There’s a reason why there’s a cutoff at a certain number. Some guys are just not good enough in a certain year. But it’s not just former players cheering on their former comrades. The annual announcement of the field of 64, 65, and now 68 teams for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament is always followed by Dick Vitale’s 10-12 snubs of teams coached by his favorite coaches. Wait for Duke’s 14-18 season; Dukie V will be aghast that they’re not a 9 seed placed in Greensboro. It’s not just Vitale either. Digger Phelps is always there to make Vitale look coherent and from the site of the Big Ten tournament, Clark Kellogg wonders why more Big Ten schools weren’t selected.

Resolution #4: In the world of sports commentators, especially those former coaches and players, mediocrity is to be overlooked if it’s only perceived as temporary or the people involved are close personal friends. Just once, would one of these talking heads have the stones to wonder why a player made an all star team or a big conference team made the Big Dance. The only time you hear a selection criticized is when the evil fans make it.

 

Winningest professional athlete ever

5. If drug addicts, rapists, people who have committed manslaughter, dog killers, and straight out cheaters are allowed to return to their games, compete at the highest level and earn millions of dollars, why can’t baseball induct Peter Edward Rose into the Hall of Fame?

It’s been over 21 years since then MLB commissioner Bart Giamatti suspended Pete Rose for life for gambling on baseball games while MANAGING the Cincinnati Reds from 1987-1988. There have not been any accusations, founded or unfounded, that Rose bet on games during his playing career. If Pete Rose never managed a game in baseball, he still would have retired with 4256 hits, 3 World Series championships, and more wins as a player than any other athlete in the history of organized sports. Frank Robinson isn’t in the Hall of Fame because of his .475 winning percentage as a manager, he’s in there because of the 586 home runs, 85 hit as Rose’s teammate in Cincinnati, and championships that he helped win in Baltimore.

There are Hall of Fame players who managed that have made it to Cooperstown, like Robinson. There are Hall of Fame managers who played, like the soon to be inducted Bobby Cox. Cox is an interesting example because nobody expects his candidacy to be affected by his domestic abuse incident in 1995. There was no discipline handed down by MLB for the all-time great manager.

Pete Rose has played in more games, had more at-bats, gotten more hits, and won more games than any player in the history of the game. The merit of Rose’s inclusion into the Hall of Fame is not in doubt as far as his playing career is concerned. Twenty one years after the suspension, the time has come for the Baseball Hall of Fame needs to include one of the most accomplished players ever to play the game. Rose will turn 70 on April 14th. Ironically a day before tax day as it was the tax evasion charges that uncovered his baseball related gambling. People at that age usually don’t have that much left. There’s arguably no brighter baseball mind than Pete Rose and he could be a spectacular television analyst if given the opportunity. He doesn’t have to be brought back in uniform. During a year in which one of the two candidates for the MVP award in football is on parole, the time has come for the all-time hit leader to return to the game of baseball.

Safe! In Cooperstown!

Resolution #5: Baseball turned a blind eye to sacred records falling left and right during the steroid era, at 70 years old and 21 years out of the game, they now need to bring Pete Rose back into it.