Thursday, August 30, 2007

Thursday 08/30 A.M. Quickie:
CFB Openers, Sheets, LeBron, Gators Hurting, More!

College Football kicks off tonight: And I couldn't be more excited. Sure, LSU shouldn't be challenged by Mississippi State (and, similarly, Rutgers shouldn't be challenged by Buffalo, and Louisville should have an easy time with Murray State -- 70 points?), but both teams occupy spots in my Top 6 and should contend for BCS relevancy. It's time to put away the preseason prognostications and finally judge these teams on the way they are playing, not projecting.

Top Storylines of the Season: With the first kickoff just hours away, here are my Top 5 Storylines for the season:

(1) Kickoffs: Experts and pundits can disagree, but I'm saying that moving the kickoffs from the 35 to the 30 will be the biggest rule-change in college football since OT -- perhaps more. Just wait for the first KR TD early in a game (the first kickoff of the game?) and you'll see coaches simply kick it out of bounds and take their chances with the ball placed on the 40 35.

(2) "We're All Hokies Fans": Virginia Tech is already an overdone story, which is a shame, because it's the team story of the season. It'll get even better when the Hokies win at LSU, then sit staring at a table-running remainder of their schedule and a date with the BCS title game -- and destiny. (Again: This will be the most overwraught, maudlin storyline of the year.)

(3) Offensive Innovation: I'm not saying Florida created a new template for a championship team, but if the defense was fast and furious, the offense was eclectic and electric: The two-QB system, the lack of a traditional lead RB, the deployment of the best players, like Percy Harvin, anywhere (and everywhere) on the field.

Between the Gators in the South, West Virginia in the East, Michigan in the North, Louisville in the heartland, Cal and Boise State out West and Hawaii WAY out West, I think we'll see offensive Xs and Os that will change the future of the game.

(4) Defensive Dominance: Despite all of the offensive firepower that will generate most of the headlines and highlights, the reason the consensus Top 2 teams -- USC and LSU -- are where they are is because of their sick defenses. Meanwhile, the reason I picked Virginia Tech as my national champ was because the defense will be so dominant. Yet one more reason the VT-LSU game is the Game of the Year.

(5) This year's Boise St: I've jumped on the TCU bandwagon, which will include a September win over Texas in Austin. The other contender is the winner of Hawaii-Boise State, who will likely be undefeated. Yes, that's right: This year's Boise State could be... Boise State.

Ack! Florida is effed! See below.

The Yankees and Mariners are tied for the AL Wild Card after Seattle was swept by the Angels and Roger Clemens beat Josh Beckett.

The Indians own Johan Santana: They beat him for the 4th time this season (they are the only team to beat him even 3 times). That, and Cleveland has won 5 straight and is surging into September.

MLB Stud: Ben Sheets, who came off the DL to lead the Brewers to a near-must-win over the Cubs. (Ryan Braun also is coming very close to locking up the NL ROY, contributing a double with the bases loaded.)

USA Hoops: LeBron rules. 26 first-half points (11/11 FG shooting for the game) in 14 minutes of PT, and Team USA cruised over Uruguay. (Interesting move by Coach K to keep LeBron out during the second half; he could have easily set the U.S. record for points in a game.)

NFL Get-Tough Policy: It's selective. Apparently, missing palimony payments doesn't rise to the level of triggering punishment through the league's personal conduct policy. BUT WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN?!?!

Florida football might be effed: Speaking of CFB projecting, not to put too fine a point on it, but Florida lost their most important and valuable player: All-America candidate, senior captain and left tackle Phil Trautwein, who has a stress fracture in his right foot. He will certainly miss the first few weeks and could miss the entire season.

People can talk about Tebow, about Harvin, about Harvey or about any of the Gators' other weapons, but it was the potential of the O-line – led by Trautwein -- that anchored the promise of this offense to be spectacular (and making up for an inexperience, if speedy, D). Florida has recruited some O-line depth, but it's young. This is big enough that I'd drop Florida from my preseason No. 2. Tracking...

More CFB: Facebook breaks the news that the mainstream media couldn't -- Notre Dame's starting QB. Charlie Weis is powerful, but not more powerful than social media! (h/t EDSBS)

US Open: 6-foot-9 American sensation John Isner vs. Roger Federer in the next round might just be the most intriguing match-up of the men's tournament this year. Isner will get crushed, but as the Next Great American Hope, it'll be fascinating to see how he stacks up against the Best Ever. (Federer played last night in all-black, which was a badass look for the most dominant athlete in the world.)

Beckham Watch: Right knee sprained in SuperLiga final! What does this mean for his future this season?

NCAA Idiocy: Oh, for cripes sake: Just grant the waiver to let a booster pay for a recruit's funeral. This is a case of rules overriding reason.

Bernard Lagat: Wins 1500m for the U.S.

R.I.P. Richard Jewell, who in 1996 was put through a publicity hell most of us wouldn't wish on anyone.

CFB Picks: In a preview of tomorrow's Top 25 predictions (a weekly tradition carried over from last season):

LSU over Miss St
Louisville over Murray St.
Rutgers over Buffalo
Boise St over Weber St.

-- D.S.

59 comments:

Sean said...

Also, a reminder for everyone to join (quickly!) and/or set your picks for Dan's CFB tourneys on the top right.

pv845 said...

Again, not mention of my Royals!

I think the wild card is going to go to who is the team that doesn't drop too many games. I believe the Yankees, Tigers, and Mariners are all going to got on a roller coaster ride for the rest of the season. Should be fun!

rafael said...

Good god, MLS has totally fucked up with Beckham. In a sport where you do a fair bit of running (or just run, period), you'd think they'd just shelve their star power when he already has leg injuries.

I'm disappointed that you didn't have an upset special, dan

pv845 said...

I don't follow soccer that much, but it seems like the MLS stars are always playing in other leagues or tournaments? Is that true and/or is it commonplace in other countries?

Matt T said...

Hooray for college football. Its nice to have a little appetizer for the real fun this weekend.

Matt said...

being an indians fan and knowing out success against santana, i was confident last night. As for the tigers and the royals..wow. never saw that coming.

the indians play seattle in a makeup from the snowed out season opening series (im still pissed about being at opening day and having it canceled 1 out before byrd would have gotten a no hitter) Seattle has been trhumped by the Angels and hopefully we get a broken down team tonight.

Detroit is putting their gas can bonderman on the mound and i will pray and pray they lose (get swept?!?!!?!) by KC. 5.5 lead going into the weekend

Michael said...

what is this "ncaa idiocy" story?

pv845 said...

Michael I think that it has to do with the Oklahoma recruit that was shot and killed last week. This is the first that I had heard of it though.

C.West said...

No mention of the Phillies 3rd striaght win over the Mets to tighten the NL East race. Plus the way that game ended last night. I very gusty call my the umpire. I normally don't give credit to them but he could have let it go.

Matt said...

is this the best season in the MLB with regards to division races being so close and intriguing?? You have the Al Central, NL East and NL Central, as well as AL West all seem to be down to the line...the only exceptiom is the AL East which is DOA...

very exciting September coming up.

jhawkjjm said...

The story is that an OU booster started fundraising money to help the family of the OU recruit who was murdered to pay for the funeral. According to the espn story he had collected about 5K aleady when OU said he had to stop and refund the money back to the donors because it could be considered improper benefits because the murder recruit has a younger brother who's a junior in high school. So he did to not get OU in trouble. OU has applied to the NCAA for a waiver to allow this person to raise the money.

tem said...

jen make with the bong hill stories.

Big D said...

That was really a borderline call in the Mets/Phils game.

First things first, I hate the Mets. That said, 9 times out of 10 the ump will let that kind of contact go if the runner can reach the bag when he breaks up the double play. Marlon Anderson's foot hit the bag at second just as he was blowing through the second baseman (Iguchi, no?) - Ballsy call , to say the least.

Can't wait to see the next time he gets behind the plate in Shea.

Red Headed Yeti said...

For Florida being effed at least Tebow is a lefty and the right tackle is the most important guy on the line, losing a captain is never good but it could be worse.

futurelegendvinceyoung said...

Dan you know that if Coach K had kept LeBron in to set the record and he got hurt you would be ripping him for it. He did the smart thing, Uraguay was not going to make it a game they are about to play their 6th game in as many days and Argentina is next. Although Argentina is without all of their star players it is a game that the USA would like to win and have all of the starters healthy for. If this stays intact and Dewayne Wade can come back healthy for the Olympics they are going to be tough to stop.

chitown italian said...

Just when we thought the NCAA couldn't be any dumber..........

chitown italian said...

Email for the PR staff at the NCAA:

pmr@ncaa.org

Start sending them messages about how friggin stupid they are with the funeral costs and donations being raised.

toddthesecond said...

Matt: I was at Indians opening day too, and I'm still honked about that. Maybe the karma is what finally did in Hargrove? ;-)

Anyway, I'm not so sure the AL Central is much of a race now. If Detroit falls much further behind, they have a LOT of ground to make up in just 30 games. As it is now, they'd have to play 5 full games better than the Tribe during that 30 game stretch. Do you see that coming outta either team? I don't. I think if the Tribe plays MINIMUM .500 ball and they walk in, and now that they've got their shit together, they should be able to play above .500.

Ftrain said...

@pv845

I dont follow soccer here in the US but in Europe there are various tournaments and cups that a team can qualify and play in.

For example, Arsenal of the Premiere League play for the league title (think regular season), FA Cup (single knockout competition for all divisions of English Soccer)and Champions League which is a tourament featuring the top teams from all over europe.

It's pretty cool because you always have something to play for.

CycleDan said...

Big D,
Have to disagree. I saw the replay this morning a couple of times and I think the umpire made the right call. He went way out of his way to try and take the 2nd baseman out. The sad thing is that if he goes straight into the bag, the runner at first (Shawn Green I believe) would have been safe and the Mets tie the game.

Listening to the Mike and Mike show on the radio on the way in, they seemed to agree with my take. Ump made the right call and Green would have been safe.

Who is the best team in the AL right now. I have to say Angels and then Boston. However, the Yanks are not far behind now. I thought going into the Boston series, the 1st game with Pettite-Matsusaka was a toss up, Becket would beat Clemens and Wang would beat Schilling. I still think Yanks will win today but 5 games back with 28 to go is too much. If Sox win just one game in Boston then Yanks need to make up 4 games in 25 which is still tough.

Yeah, the Royals need to get some love for them beating Detroit. Detroit beats up on the Yanks and then falls to the Royals. Baseball is a strange game.

Big D said...

Back @ cycledan:

Not saying it was the wrong call, just that it was a helluva ballsy call to make to end the game!

The call was probably right - the runner went out of his way to break up the double play. The reasoning was flawed - they said he interfered because he couldn't reach second, but on the replay it looked like not only could he reach it, but he actually did.

Thing is, if the play had been on the outfield side of the bag, it's probably not called. I've seen runners go three feet wide of second towards center to take out a second baseman and have it be called clean.

Andy said...

The thing with double plays is that there are many, many times that the shortstop or second baseman never even actually touch 2nd base with the ball yet runners get called out. The double play has turned in to a bunch of theatrics in trying to make it look cool and really hasn't turned into an accurate, true double play. Because of that, I wish the ump wouldn't have made that call. Runners get screwed so much that it just seems unfair to me.

Boomhauertjs said...

Get the devil a coat because hell has frozen over. Dan had two positive Cleveland-related stories. I'm surprised he didn't throw in a "Brady Quinn is a douchebag" to keep things fair and balanced.

CMFost said...

I for one am glad to see an umpire step up and make a call that should probably made a 100 times a season. It is nice to finally see an umpire do their job.

CycleDan said...

Good point about interference not being called on the outfield side of 2nd base. I think runners are expected to be given the outside path and fielder's the inside line. I guess that stems from the rule that runners need to run in foul territory when going to first or home.

Chad said...

So... Based on what you said yesterday about how the Yankees needed to stop racing for the division, it looks like they might've decided to apply last night's W to the WC Wins column, since they are virtually tied for the WC lead (the WC Wins column is invisible in most standings tables). If so, was this wise, Danny? Can a W applied to the WC still apply to the division race, or are these two columns (the visible W column, and the invisible WC Wins column) mutually exclusive as far as wins storage? I imagine it's like a magical, mystical Connect 4 game, and once you drop your "Win" checker in one column, it must stay there forever, until the end of the season when the game board is emptied, and all the accumulated wins and losses go to that place where they winter, an elegantly walnut accented armoire in Joe Torre's garage. When I closed my eyes for sleep last night, I envisioned the Yankees gathered around a card table in the Yankees' locker room, and in the center, by the table stood a steely-eyed Jeter, donning the magesticly bright and tall hat of a white wizard, stroking his chin with one hand, and holding a Connect 4 "Win" checker in the other hand! They all waited breathlessly, in thier jocks, shoulders ace-bandaged and iced and what not, waiting to see into which column thier fearless leader would elect to drop last night's win checker... Which was it, Danny? Was last night's win for the WC, or for the division? According to you it has to be one or the other. Please, finish my dream for me Sahm, I mean Shanoff. Complete me.

Ken Dynamo said...

hey cmfrost, im glad your glad. so effing glad youre pleased an ump made the right call. good for that effing ump. and good for you for appreciating it!

kway34 said...

Not a chance the vast, vast, vast majority of coaches start kicking off out of bounds and taking their chances from the 40 unless there's a Hester/Bush/Ginn type returner they're kicking to.

WedgeMcWedgy said...

About the MLS thing, in soccer in general it is normal for teams to play in multiple tournaments aside from their league. The U.S. is the odd man out here. Everywhere else but here teams are actually independent members who qualify for a league (whereas here the league hands out teams to cities).

Because the teams are independent they can schedule whatever they want (whatever revenue they can find more or less).

As the teams are independent; the bottom teams in most leagues get bounced out to minors for finishing in the last 2-3 spots while the top teams in the next level down get to upgrade and take their place (imagine the AAA champ swapping with the K.C. Royals; or maybe a better analogy imagine non-BCS conference winners getting to swap conference with Duke)

TBender said...

If Anderson doesn't extend his arms, I don't think interference gets called.

Ken Dynamo = cracking Mets fan.

The Legend of Vincent Tremblay said...

Wedge, you forgot the US Open Cup, which is open to all sides, regardless of league. USL loves to use this tournament as an argument in favor of a promotion/relegation system, especially when a USL-1 team beats an MLS team. (i.e. the 5-0 beatdown Seattle Sounders put on Colorado Rapids earlier this month.)

Coach Chip said...

Beckham was hurt while playing in the Super Liga Final. A new side-tourney between the MLS and Mexican League teams.

WuzUpG said...

Not only did LeBron not play in the 2nd half, Kobe didn't even come out of the locker room. Was that a Prima Donna move? I mean, Carmelo didn't play at all and didn't seem injured, but he sat on the bench for the entire game? Moreover, USA just seemed to mail in the 2nd half because Kidd and Howard didn't play, either.

Johnathan said...

I'm surprised you mentioned Federer's Darth Vader outfit (or Johnny Cash) but nothing of Maria's red dress yesterday. She looked flat out gorgeous in it.

Luke Bell said...

What coach in his right mind would just kick it out of bounds and let teams start at what is pretty much mid-field?

If your special teams are that seive-like, you have much bigger problems.

The heroin sheik said...

ftrain you also forgot the carling cup. Plus on top of of team commitments you also have to play for queen and country if you are selected. It seems like teams in Europe are continually trying to qualify for the european championships or the world cup.

The is a huge loss for the Gators but as our rb's suck ass i doubt it will have much impact on our running game. Just throw it in the flat to harvin or have Tebow run up the gut. I am trying to see a positive in losing your best blocker.

Dikembe Meiztombo said...

Re: Braun-

Are you insinuating that he doesn't have the NL ROY locked up?

Take a look at his line once.

chitown italian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
isiah thomas-holth said...

Here's a poll for all you lemmings:

Who gets to plow Dan's wife next:

1) Tem
2) NY Islanders (the Rangers already had their turn, choo-choo!)
3) The GA LLWS championship team
4) Rosie

Votes without an "and WHY?" will be disqualified.

Begin.

chitown italian said...

McWedge - Did you miss my comment yesterday about the AAA winners moving up and Baltimore moving down?

isiah thomas-holth said...

Lemmings...ASSEMBLE!

*blowing in Conch shell

Jen said...

tem~ I climbed Bong Hill once my freshman year, and I don't even remember if we got all the way to the top. I was with people from my dorm and was bored to death. I just remember wondering how long it was going to take us to get back to campus.

I remember going to that area by the art building with the mural a few times too.

tem said...

the truth about bong hill.

it is too damn far away. more people need to bring that up.

GuyInTheCorner said...

luke bell-

I love how the 35 yard line according to you is "pretty much midfield" but according to this math thing that I once heard about it is also pretty much a touchback.

GuyInTheCorner said...

I'm also going to have to agree that the call should not have been made. The rule of thumb is that if the runner can reach the bag it is considered OK unless he does something like punch the guy. Not only could he have reached the bag, but he did.

I understand that it looks worse because it is on the infield side of the bag, but the bottom line is that there is just no rule that says that's illeagal.

Not only that but it is a bad call because Shawn Green would have been safe anyway. He can't be interfering with an out the Phils couldn't have gotten anyway.

WedgeMcWedgy said...

chitown italian, I saw it yesterday.

I think it would be a great concept to add to U.S. sports cause teams would have motivation even when they weren't in a pennant/playoff race, plus it would let different cities work their way to spotlight. I watched the New Orleans Zephyrs win a AAA title and go to many other champ series but it never meant anything but I was certain at most times our team was better than the Astros (back then, we're no longer the Astros affiliate)

Unfortunately it can't work that way here because the players in the minors are already owned and paid for by major league teams.

chipp said...

How would team demotion work in football? Would USC be the new NFL team in LA? The Houston Texans could probably go to the Aloha Bowl in their first season!

Luke Bell said...

Dan had it at the 40, not the 35. I thought that was part of the rule change as well. Stupid me for trusting Dan's facts.

But the logic is the same. You really want to put teams at the 35 on the small chance someone breaks a long return? K-State led the nation in kickoff return average last year, with something like 27 yards per return. So even the best return team averaged 8 yards less than if you just kick it out of bounds. Why give them that 8 yards?

pv845 said...

I don't see the logic of kicking it out of bounds. It is a combination of a lot of things that cause a return for a TD. One thing that you have to be concerned with is that I believe that you can take the ball where it goes out of bounds. You had better hope that they can kick it there or you could end up a lot worse off than the 35.

Matt said...

toddtheseond:

its hard to have any ill will with regards to hargrove...that guy was the manager of a team that brought me some of my best father son moments in my life.

we had season tix during the 90s and early 2000s..those were great times.

the AL central will remain close if only for the reason of remaining schedules...indians very hard detroit very easy.

CycleDan said...

The whole thing about kicking it out of bounds because teams kick off from the 30 instead of the 35 is silly. There will be less touchbacks. Other than that, teams should get the ball 5 yards better. So if the average return was to the 25 let's say, now the average return will be to the 30.

Statistically, that will create more scoring - but marginally so. Every time a team was just out of FG range, they will be in range now. Also covering 70 yards for a TD is more likely than 75.

The whole rationale used in the NFL when they did it was that nearly all the kickoffs were just touchbacks and it took the excitement out of kick off returns. Is the new rule for Div I or for Div II and III as well. I can't see too many Div III kicker knocking the ball into the endzone.

CycleDan said...

Wang's no-hitter was broken up in the 7th. Yanks up 2-0 now on two solo HRs by Cano.

Mets look like they are going to get swept! Wow, who saw Philly jumping back into the race with a 4 game sweep?

KC losing to Detroit. Well they are not allowed to win too many in a row are they?

pv845 said...

@CycleDan: It is a rule for all divisions. It looked retarded last weekend watching the DII game I saw and we have one of the better kickers. Average starting position was about the 40.

CycleDan said...

PV, I guess the trend of the NCAA following the NFL is continuing. They didn't want different rules for different divisions but it seems silly. In the NFL, all kickers can kick the ball close to or in the end zone. In Div II and III, not close.

I agree that it would look stupid if every drive is starting at the 40. Actually, that would lend credence to Dan's point about just kicking it out of bounds.

Sparty said...

wow, yanks look like they are getting a sweep of the sox. making things interesting again...

CycleDan said...

Well slightly more interesting in the AL East. 5 games up with 28 to play is still a big hole. You can't count on another sweep in the remaining 3 games. Who cares though. A WC will do just fine. Of course you would rather have home field but it doesn't seem as important in baseball. More of an issue is that the Yanks would have to get by the Angels in the first round. That is a tough task.

Kurt said...

Sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep. Hey CMFroster, you can cry on my shoulder, it'll be okay.

Sparty said...

cycledan, stop with the games left vs games to make up. Manny could be out longer. they can sweep them in Boston, and crazier leads have been blown in fewer games.GO YANKS!

drakeep said...

Anybody else see the Yanks/Sox headline on espn.com?

"Yankees wave magic Wang and sweep Red Sox"

That is priceless.