Saturday, February 03, 2007

The Ming Ming Dynasty

Sun Ming Ming is the tallest player in professional basketball. He is 7'9", and makes his debut tonight for the Maryland Nighthawks of the American Basketball Association. Ming Ming is best known for his fight with a brain tumor attached to his pituitary gland, which caused his massive growth, but robbed him of speed and stamina, and caused a loss of testosterone. He had surgery to remove the tumor last year, and is now working toward his goal of an NBA career.

Ming-Ming Duckling is one of the Wonder Pets, the new hit show on Nick Jr. Ming-Ming and her friends Linny the guinea pig and Tuck the turtle are classroom pets that rescue baby animals outside school hours, and sing their lines opera-style. Ming-Ming, like Elmer Fudd before her, cannot pronounce her "R's" or "L's". Her signature line is: "This is sewious". From everything I've seen and heard, adults find the show funny, while small children find it entertaining.

This is the making of another Ming dynasty.

Overhyped, But Not Overrated, Part 2

As promised, more hot sports opinions on recruiting...

As I was coming home from the airport the other night, there was a recruiting show on the radio. It reminded me of how much demand there is for recruiting information. All over America, grown men are losing sleep and having conniption fits over the impending decisions of some 18-year olds. Fans take pride in ratings of recruiting classes, and stress out if their class is not in the top 10.

There is a booming industry of recruiting services that feed upon this frenzy. Some of these guys started as scouts providing information to coaches. This is still the case. However, they also sell their information to the general public. Recruiting experts such as Tom Lemming and Max Emfinger paved the way for others such as Jamie Newberg, Bobby Burton, Jeremy Crabtree, and others. These guys spend their time attending practices and summer camps, reviewing film, and on the phone with coaches, obtaining information and rating recruits. Often, recruiting analysts will rate players based on the schools recruiting them, and will sometimes increase or decrease ratings based on their choice of schools. Lemming is infamous for inflating the ratings of players headed for Notre Dame. I believe these guys work hard for their money. They are talent scouts for the college football industry.

Here is my pet peeve about recruiting: Too many fans take it way too seriously. Recruiting matters, and talent matters. However, many take it every bit as seriously as the games on Saturdays. I'll never forget a few years ago, when Tommie Harris committed to OU. Someone that I worked with was a UT fan, and was crushed. He was crushed, then offered me congratulations, and told me how awesome he was going to be. It turned out that Tommie Harris was a great player for OU, and now is a great player for the Bears. However, for every recruit like that, there is one that totally bombs out.

The whims of 18 year-olds are not worth the stress of grown men, whose livelihood do not depend on it. A lot of fans will spend $29.95 per month, or whatever the various fees are, to subscribe to a recruiting service. I can see the need for coaches to subscribe to scouting services. However, for those of us in the great unwashed, who do not depend on football for a living, this is a waste of money. As I said earlier, the recruiting analysts work hard for their money. And, if they can get a bunch of subscribers to pay for their service, more power to them. I wish the analysts well.

I believe it is so silly to get so worked up over recruiting. Recruiting matters, but it is not everything. And, it is information that is not worth the subscription. Recruiting analysts are laughing all the way to the bank.

Wednesday will be a great day for a lot of young men signing football scholarships. I wish them well.

There's A Game On Sunday

Last week: 1-1 Playoff picks: 7-3

Sunday is the big event of the year, Super Bowl XLI, between the Decatur Staleys and the Dallas Texans. Oops, I mean the Chicago Bears and the Indianapolis Colts. The Bears began in Decatur, Illinois, before moving to Chicago, as described here. The Colts began in Dallas, before the original Dallas Texans franchise was relocated to Baltimore in 1952. This is a different Texans franchise from the one which became the Kansas City Chiefs. A detailed history of the pre-Indy Colts can be found at Descendants of the Mayflower.

The Secretary of State/Commissioner wannabe has weighed in, with her pick of the Colts.

The Bears have rolled through a mediocre NFC, with a pedestrian offense and a great defense. The Bears' defense has had a couple of key injuries, and they have allowed more points since DT Tommie Harris was lost for the season.

The Colts have won three games in the AFC playoffs, and are in their first Super Bowl since moving to Naptown. Peyton Manning answered all the critics by leading the Colts to a comeback win over New England in the AFC championship game, after being down 21-3. The Colts have a great offense and a serviceable defense. The Colts' defense won two playoff games for them, after being asleep for most of the season.

I think the Colts are a better team. It's hard for me to figure if they win in a blowout, or if they win in a close game. Pick: Colts 34, Bears 20

Friday, February 02, 2007


If there were a traveling trophy for UUOTD, the University of Oregon would get it. The same folks that gave us the putrid football uniforms are now giving us bad basketball uniforms. The Wife suggested I post this bad look.

The Oregon Ducks are having a good year in hoops, in spite of their loss last night to UCLA in Pauley Pavilion. I caught part of this game last night, and saw the ugly two-tone road uniforms. Gross! Once again, teams that do not have black as a primary color should not wear black. Plus, the Ducks had this ugly gray trim down the side of the uniform. Those colors do not look good, especially with the yellow trim.

The Ducks and Nike are joined at the hip. It may be hard to tell where Nike stops and the Oregon athletic department starts, and vice versa. Nike is playing a bad joke on Oregon by sticking them with these uniforms.

An idea came from an anonymous poster using the name Bob Huggins. After looking at the Kings' gold uniform, he said he was going to gouge both eyes out. He made the comment that some uniforms are uglier than others.

With that in mind, each ugly uniform from here on out will have an eye-gouge rating. This one is worthy of one eye gouge.


Overhyped, But Not Overrated, Part 1

This is the craziest and silliest time of the year in college football. This Wednesday, February 7, is National Signing Day. This is the first day that high school football players can sign a letter of intent to accept a football scholarship to the school of their choice. The recruiting process is full of broken and kept promises, unwavering attention, and salesmanship that would make the guy at the used car lot drool in envy.

Players often milk the process for what it is worth. Imagine being 18 years old and being told you are the best thing since the invention of the wheel. Some handle it better than others. Some make a spectacle of it, others are more low-key. I’ll never forget 1989, when Dallas Carter star LB Jessie Armstead had his press conference in a hot tub, while he signed to play at The U. He panned out, as he helped Miami win a couple of national championships, and played several years in the NFL with the Giants. A lot of these guys go on to be successful. A lot of them turn out to be busts. Recruiting can be more of a crap shoot than a table at Caesars Palace.

Recruiting is the lifeblood of a program. Good recruiting can often disguise coaching deficiencies (ask the Texas Longhorns of 2005-the best decision Mack ever made was to “let Vince be Vince”). The great Barry Switzer once said: “It’s not about the X’s and O’s but the Jimmys and Joes”. Talent, more often than not in the college game, trumps coaching (Boise State 2006 is an exception, but that’s a whole other story).

Stay tuned for more hot sports opinions on recruiting..


The struggling Iona Gaels continue to have hard luck. The Gaels lost to Burnt Siena last night, as Kenny Hasbrouck hit a shot at the buzzer to give Siena a 61-60 win.

Iona has lost five of their last seven games by one point or in overtime.

That's rotten luck. That's just plain snakebitten.

By the way, I always wanted to call that school Burnt Siena, though their colors are green.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

More on the Email Heard 'Round Arkansas

The email from the Little Rock physical therapist to quarterback Mitch Mustain continues to make waves. Columnist Wally Hall addresses it in today's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

I'm afraid this is a mess that is not going away any time soon.

Meanwhile, Mitch is going to school at the U of A this semester, while looking for a place to transfer.

For those who haven't seen the email, it is here.

This is sad. Arkansas deserves better.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

He Wants To Go Home

Word comes from Ohio that Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Troy Smith wants desperately to be drafted by the Cleveland Browns. In the article, high school and college teammate Ted Ginn, Jr. also states his desire to return home to play for the Browns. Both players grew up in the former Mistake By The Lake, and want to go home.

Not many guys are signing up to go to Cleveland, unless there is a truck full of money involved, so these guys definitely want to go home. However, the NFL does not grant territorial rights, and does not have a territorial rights draft. If you're a player, you go where you're drafted, or you go to Canada to play with Ricky Williams for less than $50,000 per year.

The old USFL, in an effort to drum up local interest for its teams, granted territorial rights to its teams. Each team got to claim up to five local colleges, from which it got to draft players, in addition to the regular player draft. For example, the Oklahoma Outlaws claimed Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Tulsa, Arkansas, and Langston (Langston? Go figure..). A team would have right of first refusal for the rights to local players.

This is impossible in the NFL. The NFL doesn't need it, and there is a dearth of major college programs in the Northeast, compared to the South and Southwest. It would also be impossible to fairly distribute college programs around the country. Finally, the colleges would definitely turn into de facto farm clubs for pro teams. Imagine Mack Brown telling recruits that they could play for the Dallas Cowboys after they're finished at Texas.

But, let's daydream a bit. Here is an example of NFL territorial rights, with each franchise owning the rights to players from three universities. Most teams get the rights to players from two or three local schools, but some only get one, with some outlying schools serving as filler. Only Division I-A schools are used, and all BCS conference schools have a pro team claiming the rights to their players. An example is below:

Non-local teams to the franchise are in italics:
NY Giants: UConn, Alabama, Utah
NY Jets: Rutgers, Oklahoma, BYU
New England: Boston College, Texas Tech, Boise State
Buffalo: Buffalo, Syracuse, Oklahoma State
Philadelphia: Penn State, Temple, N.C. State
Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Baylor
Baltimore: Maryland, Wake Forest, East Carolina
Washington: Virginia, Virginia Tech, Memphis
Carolina: Clemson, North Carolina, Duke
Atlanta: Georgia, Georgia Tech, Auburn
Cleveland: Ohio State, Akron, Kent State
Cincinnati: Kentucky, Miami (Ohio), Cincinnati
Detroit: Michigan, Michigan State, Eastern Michigan
Indianapolis: Indiana, Purdue, Notre Dame
Tampa Bay: South Florida, Florida State, UCF
Miami: Miami, Florida International, Florida Atlantic
Jacksonville: Florida, Mississippi State, Louisville
Chicago: Illinois, Northwestern, Northern Illinois
Green Bay: Wisconsin, South Carolina, Oregon State
Minnesota: Minnesota, Iowa, Iowa State
St. Louis: Missouri, Arkansas, Tulsa
Kansas City: Kansas, Kansas State, Nebraska
Tennessee: Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Middle Tennessee State
New Orleans: LSU, Tulane, Southern Miss
Houston: Texas A&M, Rice, Houston
Dallas: Texas, TCU, SMU
Denver: Colorado, Colorado State, Wyoming
Arizona: Arizona, Arizona State, New Mexico State
San Diego: San Diego State, USC, UCLA
San Francisco: Stanford, San Jose State, Hawaii
Oakland: California, Fresno State, Nevada
Seattle: Washington, Washington State, Oregon

Once again, there is no need for such a plan, nor is it workable in the NFL. However, it is a way to get Troy Smith and Ted Ginn, Jr. to the Browns, so they can go home to Cleveland, like they wish.

2007 NCAA Tournament Projections

Here is the first installment of my NCAA men's basketball tournament projections for the year. This and $4.50 will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks.

I didn't use a set formula, as I have done in the past, but used a combination of the AP and Coaches polls and a replication of the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) to qualify and seed teams. Seeds can and will change as the season plays out. Teams will drop in and drop out. Plus, there are some things that cannot be explained, just as some seedings cannot be explained by the selection committee when those brackets come out in March.


San Antonio Regional
(1st-2nd round: New Orleans)
(1) Florida
(16) Loyola MD
or Delaware State

(8) USC
(9) Texas Tech
(1st-2nd round: Columbus)
(5) Butler
(12) New Mexico State

(4) Virginia Tech
(13) VCU
(1st-2nd round: Spokane)
(3) Texas A&M
(14) Cal State-Fullerton

(6) Arizona
(11) Creighton
(1st-2nd round: Winston-Salem)
(7) Indiana
(10) BYU

(2) Duke
(15) Holy Cross

San Jose Regional
(1st-2nd round: Lexington)
(1) Ohio State
(16) Jackson State

(8) Southern Illinois
(9) Florida State
(1st-2nd round: Buffalo)
(5) Alabama
(12) Oral Roberts

(4) Oklahoma State
(13) Davidson
(1st-2nd round: Chicago)
(3) Marquette
(14) Penn

(6) Clemson
(11) West Virginia
(1st-2nd round: Sacramento)
(7) UNLV
(10) Louisville

(2) UCLA
(15) E. Tennessee State

East Rutherford Regional
(1st-2nd round: Winston-Salem)
(1) North Carolina
(16) Weber State

(8) West Virginia
(9) Michigan State
(1st-2nd round: Columbus)
(5) Washington State
(12) Wichita State

(4) Nevada
(13) Akron
(1st-2nd round: Lexington)
(3) Memphis
(14) South Alabama

(6) Vanderbilt
(11) Michigan
(1st-2nd round: New Orleans)
(7) Georgetown
(10) Arkansas

(2) Kansas
(15) Vermont

St. Louis Regional
(1st-2nd round: Chicago)
(1) Wisconsin
(16) Central Conn. State

(8) Stanford
(9) Boston College
(1st-2nd round: Sacramento)
(5) Notre Dame
(12) Missouri State

(4) Air Force
(13) Winthrop
(1st-2nd round: Spokane)
(3) Oregon
(14) Austin Peay

(6) Texas
(11) George Washington
(1st-2nd round: Buffalo)
(7) Kentucky
(10) Gonzaga

(2) Pittsburgh
(15) Texas A&M-C.C.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Back to Norval...

..or is it?

Reports today indicated Norv Turner was the leading candidate for the vacant head coaching position with the Dallas Cowboys. There were no remaining scheduled interviews, and the rumor mill had the job coming down to Turner and San Diego defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.

Turner has milked three years as Troy Aikman's quarterback guru (including two Super Bowl rings) into a nine-year NFL head coaching career. Turner proves that an NFL coaching career involves luck and timing as much as it does players. If he had remained in Dallas an extra couple of months, he most likely would have succeeded Jimmy Johnson as coach of the Cowboys, at the peak of their dynasty. Instead, he took the Redskins job, where he eventually wound up working for another crazy owner, Little Danny Snyder. He lasted seven years in D.C., with one playoff appearance, before getting fired. He was a coordinator in San Diego and Miami, before ending up as head coach for the Oakland Raiders, and an even more insane owner: Al Davis. He lasted two years with that black hole of a franchise before being mercifully fired after last season. This season, he helped the San Francisco 49ers back to respectability as their offensive coordinator.

Could Jerry do better? Probably. Could he do worse? Definitely.

But, there is a new candidate in the mix. Tuesday, Hall of Fame linebacker Mike Singletary is scheduled to visit Valley Ranch for an interview with Jerry. He has spent the past two years as a defensive assistant with San Francisco. This could be an ace in the hole. He is a native Texan who was one of the best linebackers in the history of the game. He has since served as a businessman, motivational speaker, and coach. He is someone that is even more impressive off the field than he was on the field. This is someone that does not know the meaning of the word failure. This is someone that oozes greatness. I look for him to blow Jerry's socks off tomorrow. I don't know if he'll get hired this time around, but Jerry would do well to think long and hard about it.