Archive | NCAAF RSS feed for this section

NFL17 Cherry Picks W10: It’s Elementary, Watson, Poise’n-In-the-Pocket Is the Cure

9 Nov

It’d be easy for Houston Texans to get gloomy about the Deshaun Watson injury, an ACL tear that occurred in practice after their W9 nail-bitter loss in Seattle.

But it’s not all doom. There is reason for hope.

The fine young field general in-the-making might actually come out the whole, long ordeal a wiser, better quarterback. Really.

The anterior cruciate ligament spans the knee. It’s tear will result from a sudden, hard twist of that joint as the foot is well grounded or caught in the turf. The knee bears weight better than it turns, as this common athletic injury attests.

Things were looking rather promising for the Texans (3-3) and their rookie starter who took to the NFL like a duck to water (61.8%, 19t-8i, 8.3 ypc), fresh off a national championship at Clemson. One complaint: The Gainesville, Georgia native is flash, a run-QB who’s a strong tendency to rabbit under pressure, a habit that carried him to many a football victory from grade school to his Carolina college but won‘t fly for long with the big boys of the pro circuit.

The glass-half-full observer can look to the Arizona Cardinals’ veteran running back Adrian Peterson as example of how a player can recover and return to top form even after an ACL tear, operation and rehabilitation.

Adrian, who, in 2017 began his first NFL season in a color other than purple after signing with Saints, only to be cut after W4, then picked up by Arizona after all-purpose David Johnson went out with a dislocated wrist, suffered his ACL tear in 2014 opener. He was back on the field in 2015, miraculously winning the NFL rushing crown with the 3rd highest season run total in his long career (07).

In 2016 Peterson suffered his 2d ACL tear on the other knee. While it’s still early and Father-Time will someday catch up to All-day, he looks to be fashioning a second miracle comeback in the Sunset State. In three games Adrian has run 74 times for 314y on a 4.2 ypc. Pretty spiffy stuff for a 2-time ACL rehabber.

The glass-half-empty set will cite Peterson’s running style (less lateral plant than run-QB Watson) and the sad case of former aspiring signal-caller Rob Griffin as examples of how the ACL rupture can change things for the worse.

RG3, as he was tagged by the junior media, took the Heisman at Baylor even as he had suffered an ACL tear in his sophomore year and was selected #2 overall in the NFL12 draft. And before DW, Griffin too would take the NFL by storm.

Entering week 14 play against Baltimore, the later-to-be-named ROY and Pro-Bowler, had led the Redskins offense to a 6-6 record. Then it happened, another knee bang. Not a tear this time but a sprain of the LCL that would mark the beginning of the end for Griffin’s professional game. He would sit out W15 but return to action to lead Washington to the Wild Card game but again tear his ACL in the loss to Seattle. There were no more high points for Robert whose last season was with Cleveland in 2016, cut short by a broken shoulder-bone.

Both the Peterson and Griffin cases point to two conclusions: 1) Modern medicine, for those who can afford it, will work wonders in orthopedic injury, and 2) every medical case is somewhat unique in its prognosis, treatment and recovery. Cost is the same, all of it high, but outcomes are hard to predict.

On return to the playing field, Watson will need to make quick adjustments: Changes in his mental approach to the game.

First off, he must ditch the flash form of quarterback play (3-3, 36r – 269y) and learn for the first time in his career, pocket poise, finding the tenacity to take the hits behind-the-line as they come and where he’ll have more means to handle the blows. Why: 1) rabbit will expose his knees to greater risk of injury downfield where funny footing is more likely and defender hits can be more damaging, and 2) poise’n-in-the-pocket will force Deshaun into RIF, ‘reading is fundamental.’ The best field generals in the pro-ranks are read proficient.

Some QBs use their top physical skills in arm strength, accuracy and mobility behind the line to find time to read the defense and find gaps. Others use their fluid-intellect and 20/20 vision to make-up for lesser physical traits. Run-QB is typically weak on defensive vocabulary and in every NFL case so far has failed to make the adjustment. It’s like learning a whole new language as an adult: Very difficult. The best hope: Complete commitment and immersion.

In the long run the poise’n pro-style is the better way of NFL quarterbacking, affording a longer career for the player, happier fans in point totals & wins and then more hardware for everyone involved, MVPs and rings (See; Brady, Big-Ben, Rodgers). And as flash QB will keep dominating in the college ranks on its great success by Heismans, CFP titles and perpetuation of coaching-lite, the disconnect between the pro and amateur QB styles with remain.

But maybe most important of the mental adjustments will be that Deshaun regains his former confidence. This holds true for his coaching staff as well, that they too find confidence again in their former QB. And they must keep in mind that Peterson didn’t have to learn a new language as will their man Watson.

NFL17 Cherry Picks Week 10

Seattle @ Arizona: 11.9 NBC 8:25: Hawks
Packers @ Chicago: 11.12 Fox 1:00: Bears
Los Angeles Bolts @ Jags: CBS 1:00: LA
New Orleans @ Buffalo: Fox 1:00: Saints
NewYorkJets @ Buccaneers: CBS 1:00: TB
Vikings @ Washington: Fox 1:00: Redskins
Cincinnati @ Tennessee: Fox 1:00: Cincy
Cowboys @ Atlanta: Fox 4:25: Falcons
New York @ SanFrancisco: Fox 4:25: NYG
Miami @ Carolina: 11.13 Disney 8:30: Cats

Record: 38 – 27

Steven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: NFL-symbol, wikiproject, 2011; D.Watson, wc.cca, 1.10.16, Atlanta-Falcons; A.Peterson, wc, 1.28.12, Arvee5.0; R.Griffin, wc, L.Boyd, M.Green, USMC – NYC, 4.26.12; cherries, B.Kua, 6.1.08; J.Otto, TCG, 1970
Posted: 11.9.17 @ 3:20pE; Copyright © 2017

Advertisements

NFL17 Division Cherry Picks: Chaff Aside & Eight Seeds Alive, Goddess Ceres Asks, ‘Who’s Got Destiny?’

11 Jan

Green Bay Packers
New England Patriots
Pittsburgh Steelers
Seattle Seahawks

They are the juggernauts of the oh-so sticky-glove era, winners of four (4) of the last eight (8), seven (7) of the last thirteen (13) NFL championships and almost half (13) of the last thirty (30) American – National Football Conference Super Bowl births. That’s alot of Bowl Babies, “by gosh by golly.”

ceres-wc-france-late19c-jlpc-9mThey are the haughty half of the eight remaining teams in the division playoff round, teams who have in recent times won their respective Conference hardware (Halas / Hunt) and are again in position to punch their ticket to SB51 in hopes of hoisting the vaunted Lombardi trophy, again.

The rich getting richer? It’s been the unaltered economic state going back to Nixon and will likely continue on with Trump directing the flow, so why buck the trend, eh? Ugh.

It’s in divisional play where the bye guys (no pun) in the Patriots, Falcons, KC and Dallas will now be tested under the brightest of lights and fiercest of foes. Simply stated, this is “the best of times,” for football viewers.

wilson-2-5m-11-11-12-l-maurer-wcUnlike the NCAA championships (March Madness) where Rd-1 of 34 games displays some of the most exhilarating and unexpected outcomes, NFL’s wild card stage is largely an exercise in separating chaff (hull) from the wheat (seed), i.e., threshing or thrashing, as it were. While Derek Carr’s presence would’ve had an impact, injuries plague every team and the WC is becoming semi-pathetic.

Did any unbiased, rationally-minded prognosticator truly believe that the Detroit Lions, Oakland Raiders or Miami Dolphins stood a snowball’s chance in Hades of advancing? And the one team some thought (moi) might put up a fight and make it interesting, the Giants, they too looked like they didn’t belong (13-38 GB).

Atlanta Falcons
Kansas City Chiefs
Dallas Cowboys
Houston Texans

They are the wannabes, the aspiring four remaining teams who’ve been out of the mix (Super) for so long (ATL, DAL, KC), or never in it (HOU), that they cannot rightly call themselves a standard-bearer, no matter the jersey sales (Dallas), and must earn their way back to where the big boys hang their hats (See; above).

kelce-wc-j-beall-9-14-14-1-5mThree of the four, Falcons, Chiefs & Cowboys, will play host to a juggernaut, boosting their chances a bit but had better bring their best game or next Monday they’ll be spending the day planning the next family cruise.

Winner’s Tale

1) Always able: Easy ability to matriculate (24+ pts);

2) Fourth-quarter defense that stops the scoring and bolts it down. Same holds true in college football and something that Alabama genius Nick Saban overlooked this time (“Clemson’s Dabo Swinney may have the nation’s best progression (75-27) since taking the Tigers’ reins (2008) and is a top candidate to topple cartel. Explains the raise ($5M) (9.2.16)”);

3) Fewest turnovers; and

4) Reliable kicking game (50 yd+).

cherries-hispalois-7-2-12-caceres-spain-wc-4-4m

Cherry Picks Division Grade

Seattle (11-5-1) @ Atlanta (11-5) 1.14 Fox 4:35 EST

Almost four years to the date (1.13.13) when in the divisional it appeared Pete Carroll’s building project hadn’t yet matured. Seattle played Swing Time in Atlanta to roar back for 21 points in the 4Q, only to lose on a late Matt Ryan-led FG drive (30-28). Falcons “Mighty (Dan) Quinn” was Hawks’ DC then and next year when Seattle hoisted (SB48). A-Birds are a scoring machine (33+) with best PS kicker in Bryant (92% (6-8 50+)) but DQ hasn’t built the top-stop (D) like he did in Emerald City. Awash in injuries, Seahawks’ defense still sticks while Rawls motors (6.ypc-DET). Earlier W6 battle is indicative (SEA 26-24): Close one where 4Q stoppage will decide it: Seahawks win.

Houston (10-7) @ New England (14-2) CBS 8:15

Osweiler battles Tannehill for ‘Rodney Dangerfield award (“no respect”)’ while facing maybe the best coach-QB tandem in history (Bill & Tom), in Foxborough, versus well-rested hosts with Tom in top form. Houston will need a Texas-sized shamrock to pull-off upset of the century. O’Brien has the defense clicking on all cylinders, even sans Mr. Celebrity (Watt), but the Pats, scoring experts they are, also play some D themselves, leading in all-important PPG rank (15.6), 2+ pts lower than next best, NYG (HOU 20.5), which goes to their W3 blanking of Texans (27-0). “Houston” would like to play for the crown in their NRG park come February but may have to satisfy still with the world’s Rollerball (‘75) championship (Ouch!). New England wins.

packers-cheer-9-26-10-m-morbeck309k

Pittsburgh (12-5) @ Kansas City (12-4) 1.15 NBC 1:05

Fans of this former AFL power hope Andy Reid’s plan gets Chiefs back where Hank Stram got ‘em when KC did “matriculate” all over the Vikes (SB4). Steelers defense is rated (342 ypg (12)) but KC bests their guest on PPG, 19.4 < 20.4. It’s former Chiefs guru Haley designing Pitt’s scoring scheme (24.9 ppg), a smidgen up on Chiefs OC Childress (24.3). Steelers have big weapons in Brown, Bell, Big Ben and SB coach Tomlin who wants desperately to prove he’s more than a “cheerleader.” No ICBMs in KC but QB Smith is cool customer, Ware aches (rib) but is all-purpose, Kelce a top TE and Peters a game-changer. Digits and W4 win (43-14) say Steelers favored but Ben’s gimpy (ankle) and Chiefs benefit from the home-field advantage: Kansas City wins.

Green Bay (11-6) @ Dallas (13-3) Fox 4:40

Packers get top TV slot, again, though, green & yellow would just assume face America’s Team sooner than later. Big Question: Will Dallas’ transplendent rookies in Prescott & Elliott hold up under bright lights or is middling GB defense (#22 / 21) enough to rattle their senses? Green Bay lit-up Vikes top D (#3 / 6) in W16 on a secondary that defected. No such discord in Dallas (#14 / 5). Boys W6 win at Lambeau (30-16) caught Pack in a state-of-funk, one since deodorized by a 7-game streak (sweet smell of success). GB still has a run void but Ramblin’ Man Rodgers is locked in. Long layoff helps veteran-led teams like Patriots but takes the edge off young Turks (Dak & Zeke). Nelson ribbed but was non-factor vs. NYG. Experience trumps exuberance. Packers win.

Record: 83 – 91 – 3

Steven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: NFL-sign, wikiproject; Goddess-Ceres, France, late.19c., wc.cca, JLPC; R.Wilson, wc, 11.11.12, L.Maurer; T.Kelce, wc, 9.14.14, J.Beall; cherries, Hispalois, wc, 7.2.12, Caceres-Spain; Packers-cheer, wc, M.Morbeck, 9.26.10
Posted: 1.11.17 @ 11:14am, edit 3:35, pic-fix 1.13 @ 2:20pm; Copyright © 2017

NCAAF16: Bad Karma Behind the Brian Kelly – Notre Dame Blues?

22 Nov

Karmic Backlash

It’s become standard operating procedure today for many in the mainstream and social media, that when a public figure makes a misstep or puts them self too far ahead of interested others, that judgment is passed quickly and with teeth.

So when current Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly bid his then employer the University of Cincinnati an unexpected sayonara in December of 2009 before conclusion of their football campaign (Sugar Bowl), one would’ve expected his dubious departure to’ve received the same testy treatment.

kelly-wc-j-meier-7-25-12-356kInstead, sport observers turned a collective blind eye to the move: No big deal.

Why the kid gloves then for Kelly and his new employer, the University of Notre Dame? South Bend clout? Chicago clout? Boston clout? Catholic clout? The Pope’s a powerful pontiff. No lo sé.

When Kelly, who, on taking the job in northwest Indiana, was in his 3rd season with the Bearcats (‘06 (1) – 09), a tenure that began when he left C. Michigan to take the reins from Mark Dantonio (MSU) to coach UC in the International Bowl and compiled a 33-6 mark, undertook in-season negotiations with ND to fill the void created by Charlie Weis’ firing and left Cincinnati (#3) before their Sugar Bowl (UF), this observer expected negative reverberations for the opportunistic act. But outside of maybe southwest Ohio, nary a peep was heard from sporting types on what could be termed, at best, exploitive, at worst, unethical behavior on Brian’s part who apparently lets nothing so trifling as loyalty and spirit-of-contract stand in the way of what looks to be the perfect job (cha-ching!).

In fairness to the Everett, Massachusetts native (10.25.61), the slightly seamy game of coaching musical chairs has become as standard of a practice in college football as has that rush to judgment in the world of scribblers & gossips.

Nevertheless, Brian Kelly and his Notre Dame cohorts might now be getting their comeuppance for their crass contract play some seven years back. Maybe Mark Dantonio and his Michigan State handlers, too (MSU 3 -8 (2016)).

notredame-logo-wc-nduBut not from mainstreamers and social gadflies. Uh uh. The media are as captured and compliant as an FDA new drug approval committee. Eek.

Rather, Kelly might be getting his just deserts from the Sporting Gods, those spirited entities in charge of that immeasurable force called karma. In his case, bad karma. Specifically, the karmic backlash.

As of last Saturday’s contest, a 34-31 loss to Virginia Tech, his record with the Fighting Irish stands at a modest 59-30 (.662), 3-3 in bowl action. Brian did as early as his third season get the green & gold to a BCS title game (12-1), then got steam-rolled by the Crimson Tide, 42-14. Since then it’s been fair-to-middling.

“Was you ever bit by a dead bee?”

Last January Notre Dame and Brian Kelly inked a 6-year extension. While other terms such as salary were not made available, the coach’s haul is estimated to be $4 million a year (coacheshotseat.com).

AD Jack Swarbrick (2008), Trustee Chair John Brennan and Board members chose to re-invest in Kelly in a signing just weeks after the team took another PS shellacking, this time in the BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl from the team coached by the other half of the two-coach dominated FBS system, the Ohio State Buckeyes and Urban Meyer, 44-28 (See Also: Saban (CBK: Krzyzewski & Calipari)).

Their basis: Swarbrick cited the word “foundation” and it having been laid with knowing care by Brian Kelly in key facets of a strong college football enterprise.

Also factoring into their decision may’ve been the fact that his coach’s win-% (.705 (55-23 thru 2015)) ranks better than Weis, Willingham, Davies and Faust, all four who came in just above or below the .550 mark. Terrific.

notredamestadium-wc-1930-bpl-tichnor-3mBut “foundation” and ‘better than Charlie, Ty, Bob & Gerry’ ain’t gonna’ cut it when it’s Notre Dame football, where Rockne, Layden, Leahy, Parseghian, Devine & Holtz forged a standard that became bigger than life, a regal reputation admired by sport fans from coast to coast.

Like Dallas (1996) in the NFL, the Fighting Irish are still top dog nationally. When they do well, the world seems right with money-makers and fans alike. But with Nick and Urban building legendary programs in their respective schools, that top spot gets more tenuous with every season sans national title #16, the last coming as far back as 1988 (Holtz), the longest drought since Knute arrived (1918).

With the Irish falling at home to Virginia Tech their 2016 record sinks to 4-7.

The Irish had five players go pro after post-2015, but all the top factories lose most of their rated workforce to the NFL draft come declaration day. Michigan, Ohio State, Alabama, Washington, PSU, they all cope with the talent drain.

Brian Kelly represents that growing element in college sport where personal opportunity becomes the “foundation” of that individual’s coaching career, ergo the Cincinnati play. Coaching legend Larry Brown is their poster-boy. And it’s a mind-set that always has an eye open for NFL possibilities (BK- Eagles 2012).

Notre Dame Trustees would be wise to adopt a similar approach. Re-read its football coach and athletic director contracts, in good faith, but in a light most favorable to its University and in perpetuating its champions legacy. Then, when they find their new candidates, make them reasonably generous offers but only AFTER the college football season ends. Oy vey.

macroecono-lamcasinoroyal-2011-wcSteven Keys
MacroSport
Photo credit: B.Kelly, wc.cca, 9.171.2, Andyohsbass09; Kelly, wc, J.Meier, 7.25.12; ND-logo, wc, UND; ND-Stadium, wc, BPL, TichnorBros, 1930; macroecono, lamcasinoroyal, wc, 2011
Posted: 11.22.16 @ 3:17pm, edit @ 5:17 EST; Copyright © 2016

NFL16 Cherry Picks W6: ‘Dr. (Dart) or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying & Love the (Pocket)’

13 Oct

Rabbit Test

With most amateur coaches today nixing the quarterback model that’s play-oriented, teaching intensive and preparatory for pro-style pocket-passer, opting instead for Coach-Lite®, i.e., chisel on the job specs in relying on the make-it-up-as-you-go run-QB to execute his mini-playbook and whatever offensive scheme there is, NFL inventories on savvy signal-callers have dwindled to a dangerously low level not seen since the pre-Otto Graham days (1930s) when single-wing tailbacks were running wild.

Think of a car-pool analogy: NFL Coach and the cufflinks are cruising along at a pretty good clip, having just stuffed at a nearby Golden Corral® (“How’s the fricassee?“), window cracked to air-out the Cuban cigar smoke and the QB-fuel light begins to blink. A warning they’d better pull over soon for some field general premium to fill a current or anticipated void created when their well-decorated QB (Brady, Big Ben, Brees, etc.) soon hangs up his cleats for retirement to slide into that gig at Disney or NFLN (ugh).

Fuel options:

1) Run-QB ethyl

Supplies are endless. Disclaimers: 1) This grade needs miles on the meter before engine knock smooths, aka, a project, and 2) other grades (ball-handlers) must subjugate their need for possession counts which will be impacted downward (ball-hog QB) with correlating drop in team morale.

Flash-QB’s been changing the football landscape since Mike Vick tore up the turf in Atlanta in 2001 and then helped feed the Cheese-eaters their first ever home – playoff loss (1.4.03 (27 -7)).

newton-9-28-14-668k-wc-k-allisonKaep Krusader ran wild over that same Green Bay tundra (Vince was spinning) in two playoffs, getting San Fran to the cusp in SB47, but only after the lights came back on to swing momentum. Yet when it appeared Ravens collapse-for-the-ages would be realized in game‘s final moments, Colin got the “red-zone blues.”

Camster-the-Hamster took the 2015 MVP and his Cats to their 2d Super Bowl, cruising through a pedestrian NFC playoff field, then proceeded to lay an egg in the big game (0 TDs) in falling to the Broncos in Peyton Manning’s finale.

Lacking advanced field comprehension and wherewithal (hit-takes), run-QB (8-10 attempts per) will never be a great one, not unless flash becomes omnipresent.

Flash-QB will one day hoist a Lombardi. Supply makes it a certainty (Wilson’s a mobile-manager who left the pocket just three (3) runs en route to SB48 win (v DEN)). But it’ll have to come against a title opponent who scores lite with a D that can’t stop the scamper. How such a foe makes it to February is hard to imagine but then NFL’s road to a title is an E-ZPass® highway, i.e., two wins, you’re in.

2) Defense high octane

Instead of digesting the QB-lemons Drafts keep serving, it’s time for NFL teams to start dictating their own agenda, shape their own destiny and turn sour citrus (run-QB Ltd.) into sweet lemonade (WRs & TEs) instead of desperately seeking quarterbacks that continue to disappoint with under-developed skill-sets.

kuechly-128-14-sgt-a-martinez-wc-thmWith the pro-ready pocket passer fast becoming an endangered species, a commitment to defensive fundamentals, including de-emphasis on glory stats guys (sacks, close-down corners, etc.) who rarely go the distance, then utilization of the mgr-QB system and the shortage of elite passers becomes largely irrelevant.

And if that elite defense comes to fruition, it may also afford the time needed to develop that quarterback project who possesses a modicum of pocket poise and read-ability upon which to build.

3) Pocket Passer premium

He’s endangered but not extinct, down but not out.

With every year that passes the proficient pocket-passer will become harder to find, but if you do draft a dandy, the possibilities can be stupendous (See; Brady, Manning, Rodgers, Montana, Brees, Moon, Marino, etc., etc.). And then, good defenders aren’t exactly growing on trees themselves. So there’s that.

You‘ll need two things to troll-in that golden-arm: 1) Keen scouts who can spot ’em (See; Ron Wolf (Favre)), and 2) if you do, better hope he’s under-the-radar or be prepared to fork out the bullion in bushels.

But whatever you do, don’t ever deceive yourself into thinking you can convert run-QB into the pro-set passer. “Forget about it.”

brady-8-28-09-k-allison-dc-wc-cca-thmBeing a pro quarterback is not a whim nor a simple ego-trip. It’s an avocation, an artist’s craft, requiring as much mental finesse in instinct (audible), wherewithal (pocket poise), synergy (coach – teammates), as it does physical prowess, maybe more.

It’s a tough call for today’s young football aspirant.

Learning pocket poise is a trial (& error) that will last for years, taking much patience and no small amount of pain.

Rabbit-habit and its concomitant ball-hog trait is instinctive to some, especially those not inclined to leadership. Touch that pigskin and it’s only a man’s mind that can give it up to another for sake of the team. Sharing is not instinctive but must be taught at an early age.

Run routine will serve one well in school where Coach Chisel rides it to victory. But there’s a price the player (and his future OC) must pay, for once partaken a rabbit-habit’s impossible to break, while the toughness-training (Jr. high) needed to ascend the QB ladder with behind-the-line hits cannot be replaced. ‘No pain no gain’ is no popular proverb in 2016 (concussion) but it’s never been more fitting in QB development, or non-development, as the case may be.

En Vogue

tarkenton-wc-themiaminews-1-9-74-320kQuarterback design still trends heavily towards those of the CliffsNotes® class, i.e., run-QB, but a new breed of field general is appearing on the football plain with more frequency and producing fruits for his labor (Ws): Pocket passer with mobility. He may be the best of both worlds.

In truth, he’s not so new a breed as a return to the signal-caller popularized in 1960-70s by the likes of Fran “The Scrambler” Tarkenton and Roger “The Dodger” Staubach. Former holder of most career passing marks, Tark spent half his time in zig-zag behind-the-line to extend vision (Listed 6’0,” looked closer to 5’10”) and wear pursuers ragged (Deacon Jones (d.2013) was livid!), while his NFC nemesis in one of the Super Bowl’s GATs in Roger had more moves in open-field than did Mr. James Brown on stage.

Leading the list of today’s MPP is Packers 3-star field general, Aaron Rodgers.

Next in line, Russ Wilson (49-19), then Colts’ Andrew Luck. All cucumber cool in the red-zone, capable of threading the needle for a score but swift in leaving the pocket to avoid pressure or move up-field, not for fear or read-funk but because sometimes the pass just ain’t there and 1st-down marker is an easy scamper.

On the newcomers it’s Tyrod Taylor (BUF), Blake Bortles (JAX), Jameis Winston (TB) and Cowboys controversy-causing (See; T.Romo) 2d-year quarterback, Dak Prescott whose biggest challenge in mid-season may be beating the Sports Illustrated cover-curse. ‘Damn!’

cherries-cloth-picdrome-6-2011-thmCherry Picks Week 6

Denver (4-1) @ San Diego (1-4): 10.13 CBS 8:25: Bolts win
San Fran (1-4) @ Buffalo (3-2): 10.16 Fox 1:00: Bills win
Philly (3-1) @ Washington (3-2): Fox 1:00 (GTW): DC wins
Pittsburgh Steelers (4-1) @ Miami Dolphins (1-4): CBS 1:00: Dolphins win
Bengals (2-3) @ New England Pats (4-1): CBS 1:00 (GTW): Cincinnati wins
Kansas City Chiefs (2-2) @ Oakland Raiders (4-1): CBS 4:05 (GTW): KC wins
Atlanta Falcons (4-1) @ Seattle (3-1): Fox 4:25 (GTW): Seahawks win
Dallas Cowboys (4-1) @ Green Bay (3-1): Fox 4:25 (GTW): Packers win
Indianapolis Colts (2-3) @ Houston (3-2): NBC 8:30 (GTW): Texans win

Record: 23 – 31

......NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credits: D.Prescott-point, wc.cca, 9.18.16, K.Allison; C.Newton, wc, 9.28.14, K.Allison; L. Kuechly, 1.28.14, Sgt-A.Martinez, wc; T.Brady, wc, 8.28.09, K.Allison, DC; F.Tarkenton, wc, The-Miami-News, 1.9.74; cherries-cloth, 6.2001, picdrome, wc; NFL-symbol, wikiproject.
Posted: 10.13.16 @ 5:29pm EST; Copyright © 2016

NCAAF.16: It’s Saban, Meyer,…then Everyone Else in FBS-D1

2 Sep

..........Saban.wc.8.18.9.2.47m.RammaJammaYellaI’m not one to watch CNBC and the like. That goes for most TV today. Can’t stand the ADD-delivery, the lies (faux-reality), the dumb-down (The Simpsons) and the double-dipping (commercials and monthly bill).

But I love sport, even as I’m portfolio poor.

At times, wish I had just that sort of insatiable appetite for all things money that some others possess and profit by, but I find learning of its accumulation to be about as interesting as lawncare or home repair. That wasn‘t always the case.

As a young lad I was possessed of a junior but fairly savvy business bent.

Example: When beer can collecting was the craze (70s) I sold my stock before market went belly-up. Unfortunately, soon after, I’d discover…correction, was taught, how to empty those cans with gusto (Burp!). Regardless, I always did find Louis Rukeyser’s motif (♫) and monologue (Wall Street Week) to be quite intoxicating, even if a bit esoteric towards the Cufflink crowd.

.........beer.cans.Visitor7.2012.wc.1.8kBut one need not be money-minded to know corporations like Apple and CVS Health are corporate heavies who set the bar in their respective fields of techno-gadgetry and healthcare sales. They’re in a league of their own, able to brush off periodic DTs in QEs to remain ahead of the curve, not by following trends but often by setting them, remaining innovative, recruiting the top prospects and of course gobbling the competition, the last, by courtesy of Commerce, Justice Departments and federal bench. Oy vey.

AOTC in sales is sweet, but if they and their peers could only heed the pit calls for costumer service and quality control. Trailing oil but bad.

That aside, when the new fiscal season kicks-off, all eyes lock on the leaders.

And it’s no different in college ball.

Saturday will see most institutions of higher learning begin their football seasons and take those first steps in that long, arduous trek towards what they hope is a berth in a title tussle or at least a bowl invite.

.........Meyer.11.30.13.A.Glanzman.289k.wcAnd when that pigskin takes to flight and the smack-of-pads fill the crisping air, there are two titan-esque tacticians who strode the FBS-D1 sideline and, more than any Heisman-hyped player, excepting the rare Manziel, Tebow or Herschel Walker who steal the show, will pull the gaze of fans and set the standard that all emulate.

The Giants: Nick Saban (The University of Alabama) and Urban Meyer (The Ohio State University).

Between ‘em both they claim eight (8) national championships: Saban (Fairmont, WV (‘51)) won one at Louisiana State (‘03 (3)) and has four in Tuscaloosa (‘09, 11, 12, ‘15 (16)), while Meyer took two as a Gator guru (‘06, 08 (3)) and one in his native Ohio (Toledo (‘64)) in Buckeyes’ land in 2014 (8).

It’s Saban, Meyer and then everybody else who seems to follow and hope when it comes to coach competition on the big school gridiron.

Is that good or bad? That all depends on your perspective.

Glass half-empty view says, Saban and Meyer, while not technically a monopoly on titles and recruitment, are a cartel of two.

It’s like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo versus Dr Pepper Snapple (Brian Kelly (ND)) and Faygo (Jim Harbaugh), up n’ comer in the beverage biz and headquartered in Detroit (rappers seem to love it (See; Wikipedia), for whatever reason).

........Coke.car.wc.Curitiba.PR.568k.Morio.3.18.6These two title-hogs are quelling the competition in college football’s upper echelon, only in that rare case where a golden nugget should appear in the pan as in Heisman winning, Seminole national champion and soda taste-tester (Burger King (‘13)) Jameis Winston, who will come along to break-up the monotony.

Even when the State of Florida was dominating Division-1 play, beginning in the early 1980s and running into the 2000s, with the likes of Miami (Schnellenberger / Johnson / Erickson), Florida State (Bowden) and Florida (Spurrier / Meyer), there were still plenty of top programs around the nation to add variety with Holtz at Notre Dame, McCarthy at Colorado, Osborne at Nebraska, Switzer at Oklahoma, James at Washington, Carr at Michigan and then Tressel (TOSU) and Carroll (USC) at close of the Sunshine reign.

All meaning, college football’s half-empty glass could use a re-fill of diversity, maybe with a twist or two and a “straw” to stir it up. If only “Johnny Trouble” had had the brains to stay in school (TA&M). The chicken n’ egg thing.

The glass half-full take: There is a special kind of consistency of quality that comes with winners like Meyer & Saban, in league with Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski and Kentucky’s John Calipari in men’s college b-ball. They all run tight ships and come into port with tremendous booty.

........Krzyzewski.wc.1.12.12.DMCullen.DoD.4mNick and Urban appear polar opposites. Saban with a bit of his father’s flair while Urban is all business. In truth, they’re probably more alike than different. Titlists still put their pants on one leg at a time.

Saban the Younger responding to a press query last week about fights in practice:

“Alright, so, to me there’s never a time for guys to lose their cool. I think those are selfish decisions (If he loses it), that are emotional decisions that don‘t really help your team (AL.com, 8.26.16).” And Saban said the key word: “Team.”

Not the same verve & vigor of Dad, Lou Saban (d.2009), who is an NFL Films legend in class with Chiefs’ Hank Stram (d.2005) (Saban in 60s Buffalo: “They’re killin’ me, Whitey, they’re killin’ me!!,” and 1974: “If we die, we die together…you can get it done, what’s more…you GOTTA’ get it done!”). But like Urban, Nick’s very perceptive, decisive and can sometimes sport that easy smile reflecting his familial love for the game and the life.

For those half-empty tumbler types, there is hope in busting up the Saban – Meyer continuum of championships.

.......Harbaugh.12.30.14.wc.E.Upchurch.216kWolverines‘ trustees have paid ‘Hurry-Up’ Harbaugh a king’s ransom in nearly every form of legal tender imaginable (salary, loans, etc.) and wouldn’t surprise if they’d had Michigan Stadium (“Big House”) re-named in his honor if it expedites matters;

Jimbo Fisher has his guys well positioned (#2) but needs to prove there’s life at FSU after Jameis Winston (See; Chizik (AU));

Brian Kelly looks to be on cusp (again) of finally getting his chomping-at-the-bit golden-domer alumni that long awaited return to prominence (‘88);

Charlie Strong (UT) and Kev Sumlin (A&M) are getting national championship money ($5M) but have their programs headed in the wrong way;

Bob Stoops (OU) is a winner (‘00) but testing the patience of Normanites;

Les Miles (early Google gets Les Miserables (Hugo)) (LSU) is a winner too (‘07) but agreeing to Lambeau locale, even versus #25 Badgers, has this writer miffed;

Best coach in Texas, Gary Patterson has been TCU’ing for most this century (143-47 (9-5)) and like Dabo in SC is looking for that break-through moment.

........Swinney.10.31.15.wc.LambeauLeap80.94kClemson’s Dabo Swinney may have nation’s best progression (75-27) since taking reins (08) and top candidate to topple cartel. Explains the raise ($5M).

Mark Dantonio (MSU) is a serious man and getting serious coin but in serious need of a CFP spot;

Hugh Freeze (Ole Miss) is showing steady progression not unlike Vince Lombardi in those early Green Bay days (7-5, 8-4, etc.) but faces top Seminoles (#2) in opener, ♫ (over) in F..L..A ♫;

Jim Mora (UCLA) slipped in 2015 (8-5) but has the slate to soar in 2016; and

If Bob Petrino can keep it clean, find a class and get in position, watch out!

Even if another coach can work his men to win in Tampa next January, it’ll take a program awakening of Renaissance proportion to break up the titles tandem crafted by masters Saban and Meyer. A Michelangelo, da Vinci, El Greco, van Eyck, Botticelli, Titian, Cellini, a Raphael of football means, any style will do, but the gridiron artisan in head-set better know his medium and keep those titles coming if he’s to be remembered with the greats.

....brass.thumbtack.J.Dalton.wc.thm(WP.SB.USA14)Steven Keys
Brass Tacks
Photo credit: N.Saban, wc.cca, 8.18.9, RammaJammaYella; beer.cans, 2012, Visitor7, wc; U.Meyer, wc, 11.30.13, A.Glanzman; Coke.car, wc, Curitiba-PR, Morio; M.Krzyzewski, wc, 1.12.12, DM.Cullen, DoD; J.Harbaugh, wc, 12.30.14, E.Upchurch; D.Swinney, wc, LambeauLeap80, 10.31.15; brass-tack, J.Dalton, wc
Posted: 9.2.16 @ 5:10pm, edit @ 9:35 EST; Copyright © 2016

NFL16: Longing For Lambeau Largesse & Reciprocity In a Consolidating World

26 Aug

Le voilà! Frozen Assets

The 2016 college football…hold on…, 2016 FBS Division I NCAA college football season and campaign for an invite to compete in the College Football Playoff (12.31) and place in the national championship game in Tampa Bay (1.9.17) (Phew!) is almost officially underway with Friday night’s opener (10pm EST) down under in Australia that pits Hawaii versus California (Saturday in Sydney).

...........Packers.Cheer.8.26.10.M.Morbeck309kNext week various other Big School openers will join the kickoff parade, including a match in Dublin, Ireland (GT v Boston College (9.3)), the Georgia Dome (Chick-fil-A Bowl: UNC v Georgia (ATL 9.3)), one at a top NASCAR site in Bristol, TN (VT v UT) and that great college football mecca (?!), Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin (LSU v UW (9.3)).

The famous but now nearly never frozen tundra that carpets the stadium by the bay which French fur-trapper and New France explorer, Jean Nicolet discovered (oops!), mapped in 1620, is of course football holy ground ensconced in history. Those fans then who’re lucky enough to be in attendance for this classic college kickoff will upon exit find within general vicinity a plethora of museums, souvenir shops, cheese-curd carts and fine eateries with brats n’ brew of all varieties to please the pallet and wet the whistle. Hot diggity!

Lambeau Field: A great facility to visit and enjoy a game.

.........Lambeau.1940.wc.32kNevertheless, what’s irksome to this sports fan on the choice of the Lambeau locale for this bayou – badger battle, rather than venerated Camp Randall in Madison, is that it seems just one more act in consolidation of major Wisconsin football and its concomitant financial benefits ($) into the hands of Packers’ elite (Board of Directors (EC)), a clique that in 1994 decided, once that Favre money was flowing like gold into the till, to pull up stakes and cut ties to its southern base in the state’s largest city, Milwaukee, where Pack had played from 2-4 games per since 1950s and forged a pretty spiffy history of their own (1960 >).

The traveling tradition began in a decade when green & yellow were struggling mightily for an extended period from the late 40s through most of the 50s, a first dry spell in their storied history to that point (1921), all of it under the guidance of founder, player and head coach Lambeau.

But even as Vince quickly got the Packers ship righted (‘59 (7-5)) and had his own opinions about playing field preference, the Milwaukee games continued on with the team’s heightened and sustained success throughout the 1960s.

........BuckyBadger.12.1.07.S.Cain.wc.138kI wish the Badgers, their visiting Tigers contingent and all connected to the September game a happy, memorable experience. It should be a wing-dinger wherever it’s held.

In the bigger picture, however, consolidation of top games at Lambeau, a site imbuing in aura and appreciably adding to benefits that accrue to local and ancillary interests, does in fact work a real deprivation on two fronts: 1) Upon Milwaukee and Madison area supporters of the Pack, fans & merchants both, who stuck with the guys through thick n’ thin and are now denied their chance to participate in the praise-a-thon on their own sui-generis tundras, and 2) On the stronger, more substantive sense of former unity that’s been dismissed as trivial, a spirit of ownership, so to speak, that the dual-home system had worked throughout Wisconsin for forty years and went well beyond simply buying Packers merchandise online or at the local Kohl‘s and Walmart.

By spreading the joy and playing even just two regular season games in Milwaukee, Green Bay Packers, Inc. had facilitated a tremendous display in community sharing that was truly unique amongst NFL’s family of teams.

........Wisconsin.wc.7.19.16.A.Peterson416kA message to the Green Bay Packers’ General Manager Ted Thompson, the Executive Committee and electing Board: Start thinking reciprocity, folks.

In lean times the people of America’s Dairyland supported the Packers statewide (Devine family might take issue (’74)). Now back in clover (1992 >), it’s time for Ted Thompson & Board to spread joy and share wealth in re-establishing the City of Milwaukee, maybe adding in the State capital of Madison, as Packers game sites, pending the NFL’s approval of course.

It’s time to reflect, reconsider the consolidation of Packers assets and start fashioning a broader purpose in statewide comradery (Packers at Miller Park and Camp Randall (Brew Crew in Green Bay?)), a move appreciable today and then especially when these halcyon days in continuum of Hall of Fame caliber QBs, i.e., Rodgers and Favre, come to an end, as they always do.

......NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credits: Lambeau.Field, wc.cca, JL1Row, 4.18.11; Packers.Cheer, wc, 8.26.10, M.Morbeck; C.Lambeau, wc, 1940; Bucky.Badger, wc, 12.1.7, S.Cain; Wisconsin State, wc, 7.19.16, A.Peterson; NFL-symbol, Wikiproject
Posted: 8.26.16 @ 1:49pm EST; Copyright © 2016

“Hurry-Up” Harbaugh? Hold ‘Yur Horses!

5 Oct

They were the days of raccoon coats and day-time donnybrooks telegraphed by wire, amplified in radio and devoutly devoured in newsprint;

Co-eds and flappers were beginning to fill the wooden stands with regularity;

The guys on gridiron wore leather helmets, metal spikes, lots o’ wool and none of those sissified ($) sticky-gloves in sight;

The forward pass was still a curiosity and the occasional ‘ringer’ was rostered by some to beat the big rival at homecoming.

College football in the days of the doughboy.

One believed ringer of the day, at least in opinion of Pennsylvania “Quakers” and press, was the young man who’d just a few years later embark on a legendary coach career at University of Michigan, “Hurry-Up” Yost (1901-23, ‘25-26).

Fielding Harris Yost, born and schooled in West Virginia, would become the man who put Wolverines football on the college map, bringing Michigan national prominence with six national titles (165-29-10 (198-35-12)) and a win in the inagural Rose Bowl in besting California’s Stanford, 49-0 (1902).

Before his halcyon days in the cherry State, Yost distinguished himself playing tackle at UWV but caused a ringer-ruckus in 1896 when he made an impromptu and temporary transfer to nationally prominent rival, Lafayette, helping them to victory over those rough & tumble Quakers, 6-4. Fielding denied any impropriety and the brouhaha blew over.

Yost then headed straight into the coaching life in a string of jobs that’d set Larry Brown’s hair on fire, taking five posts in just four seasons, beginning at Ohio Wesleyan (’97), then Nebraska (’98), Kansas (99), Stanford (’00) and San Jose (‘00) before settling down in Ann Arbor.

Other memorable coaches followed Yost, like Harry Kipke (NT ‘32-33 (“punt, pass & a prayer,” “great defense is a great offense“)), Fritz Crisler (‘47 / “platoon” system and today‘s helmet design)), Ben Oosterbaan (‘48), Bo Schembechler (194-48-5), Gary Moeller (44-13-3 / 4-1) and Lloyd Carr (’97 / 122-40).

The years after Carr was shown the door (resigned (‘07)), have seen big blue turn a shade of baby blue. Rich Rodriguez (15-22) and Brady Hoke (31-20), winners in prior coaching stints could not translate that success to the “Big House.”

.....Harbaugh.12.30.14.wc.Upchurch.thmIn 2015, enter former 49ers guru and Wolverines star signal-caller (‘83-86), James Joseph Harbaugh to right the listing ship that had become Michigan football.

The UM Board of Regents voted Jim a pile o’ cash to lure him from a pretty rosy NFL life in San Francisco and the early signs are showing it to be a wise investment.

After coming up short against Utah (4-0) to open the Harbaugh era, Wolverines (4-1 (#18)) have run off four straight wins and line up against the #13 Wildcats of Northwestern (5-0) in Ann Arbor on Saturday (3:30 EST) for what should prove a classic Big Ten grinder and good test of both teams true capabilities.

Jim Harbaugh clearly brings a verve to Michigan. He had his trouble in NFL red zone (SB47 / NFCC’14) but he’s been a winning coach at both levels (Stanford), recruits with the best of ’em and should have Wolverines back in the mix quick.

And when he does it’ll likely swing a national spotlight that’s been fixated on the SEC, back onto the Big Ten. In particular, a showcase of the formerly anticipated and highly rated TV event that is the long-running UM – TOSU rivalry game.

You’ve gotta’ look for small signs when a new coach takes the reins.

One that this writer noticed was the subtle alterations made in the Wolverines uniform design and then other clothing accoutrements.

Gone is the fluorescent maize and fat ‘M’ lettering, replaced by a darker yellow hue (school bus) and a tapered, classic line.

It may read infinitesimal but speaks a volume or two on Harbaugh’s confident, focused persona in that he and his staff don’t have to scream at fans, a tack taken up in tired trend by today‘s logo & uniform Lilliputians. Jimbo, like more sport-minded people, will let the record speak for itself. And a little throwback to the good times doesn’t hurt, either.

...brass.thumbtack.J.Dalton.wc.ccaSteven Keys
Brass Tacks
Photo credits: JimHarbaugh, wc.cca, 12.30.14, E.Upchurch; brass-thumbtack, wc.cca, J.Dalton.
Posted: 10.5.15 @ 2:31pm EST; Copyright ® 2015
Source reference, UM football history: Wikipedia.