1) New England Patriots: Outgained Tennessee 162-20 on the ground...also converted 50% of their third downs.
2) San Francisco 49ers: Averaged an unbelievable 5.8 yards/carry...granted it was Aaron Rodgers, but you can't allow 6-of-13 third down conversions if your team is based on defense.
3) Baltimore Ravens: Largest margin of victory (+31) and it came against a good team (CIN)...allowing 4.6 yards/carry is very un-Raven like.
4) Green Bay Packers: Aaron Rodgers complained about the refs and Donald Driver complained about playing time which is not something 15-1 teams do...short week w/ Thursday night game this week but long week with no game until Monday Night Football at Seattle.
5) Atlanta Falcons: I predicted this would be the year of the Flacco but didn't expect as much improvement from Ryan as I saw...defense allowed almost 400 yards and lost DB Brent Grimes for the year.
6) Denver Broncos: Obviously it's not impossible to win allowing 11-for-19 3rd downs to be converted...Game 1 of three brutal road games at Atlanta this week (Monday Night Football --at New England & at Baltimore are the others).
7) Pittsburgh Steelers: The team that fired their offensive coordinator to re-establish the run rushed for two first downs.
8) Houston Texans: Can't help but notice the three sacks and +4 turnovers without Mario Williams while Buffalo looked like they were without Mario Williams as well.
9) Dallas Cowboys: Normally wouldn't care about 3rd place after only one week but 433 yards against the Giants is impressive.
10) New York Giants: Gave up 5.5 yards per carry vs Dallas...perfect time to see vs. Tampa Bay.
11) Cincinnati Bengals: Only Buffalo gave up more points...Baltimore averaged a first down every time they threw the ball against this defense.
12) San Diego Chargers: Maybe you're better than I thought but you've won eight of the last nine in Oakland anyway...schedule could mean a 5-1 start to the season.
13) Philadelphia Eagles: They roll up 456 yards and only 17 points?...vs. Baltimore will really test Vick.
14) Detroit Lions: Four of next five on the road...no QB has ever thrown for 350 yards in five straight games. Stafford's at four in a row but at San Francisco isn't the place to pull it off.
15) Washington Redskins: Don't know how long this will last but this is the #1 offense in the league...Win at St. Louis and you're 2-0 with all eight home games remaining.
16) New York Jets: Do you remember me saying the Jets would be the #1 scoring offense? Good, because I don't either.
17) Chicago Bears: Normally a beat down like that puts you higher, but Cutler's pick-six was so bad I'm leery...Win at Green Bay and I'll put them near the top.
18) St. Louis Rams: So St. Louis is happy with Sam Bradford and doesn't need RG3; oh by the way, Washington is in town this weekend.
19) New Orleans Saints: Four three-and-outs vs. Washington while averaging less than 1.5 per game last year...Defense was so bad it made you wonder if the loss of Vitt was worse than the loss of Payton.
20) Kansas City Chiefs: Losing to Atlanta isn't terrible, but there's never an excuse to give up 40 points at home...Tamba Hali back for Week 2 at Buffalo should make things better.
21) Arizona Cardinals: Could move up even with a loss at New England...Feels good to win but offense is 30th in the league.
22) Buffalo Bills: If Mario Williams ever plays like that again, this team is no better than any other in the post-K-gun era...ever since Ryan Fitzpatrick signed his contract extension midway through last year, he leads the league in interceptions.
23) Indianapolis Colts: Luck will be much better with Collie & Hilton playing -- plus, they've got the Vikings at home instead of playing at the Bears.
24) Tennessee Titans: Chris Johnson averaged 14.4 INCHES per carry!
25) Oakland Raiders: It stinks former Sun Devil Travis Goethel struggled so bad in his chance at long snapper...A game at Miami is the perfect remedy.
26) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: I admit, I don't believe what I just saw (sorry, Jack).
27) Minnesota Vikings: Yes, it's a win but any team that needs OT to beat Jacksonville doesn't impress me.
28) Seattle Seahawks: Really needed to win at Arizona because now you're staring 0-3 in the face with two home games gone...so Okung isn't healthy enough to practice but he's ready for D. Ware?
29) Jacksonville Jaguars: How do you lose with a 50% third down conversion rate? Rush for 3.3 yards per carry, that's how.
30) Carolina Panthers: More of a slam on Tampa Bay...usually averaging 10 yards in the rushing game would be outstanding -- except when it's 10 yards PER GAME!
31) Miami Dolphins: Only had 6 more points than turnovers.
32) Cleveland Browns: Granted it's one opponent, but -13 in first downs and -195 in passing yards.
One drive doesn't make it OK to include a second round pick in the trade for Kolb. However, one drive should eliminate the boos from the crowd.
If you don't like the trade, boo the front office. Kolb deserves to be booed if you question his work ethic. Kolb deserves to be booed if he's getting blown out and laughing it up with Deuce Lutui. Kolb is not in either category.
I have no idea if Kolb's pocket presence will improve. I have no idea if Kolb's decision-making will speed up and he gets rid of the ball faster. I have no idea if Kolb will lead the Cardinals to any victories while Skelton is out.
I do know his teammates swarmed him after the touchdown pass to Andre Roberts. I do know that two defensive players did a great job defending short fields and preserving the win yet they wanted to talk about the performance of Kolb after the game. I do know that Kolb represents everything more professional athletes should be about.
Compare the way Matt Leinart handled losing the QB competition to Kevin Kolb. With that thought in mind, why ever boo Kevin Kolb again?
2) I'm already excited about the Territorial Cup.
Although U of A couldn't score, they went up and down the field against Toledo. They proved they were no fluke against Oklahoma State. Matt Scott is a much better QB than I read about in the preseason. Throwing for 300 yards is nice; two TD passes is wonderful; the 0 INTs is the major announcement. The best way to improve the weak UofA defense is to keep them fresh. Eliminating turnovers will do just that.
The main point on this game is winning the fourth quarter 22-7.
ASU's win does need some perspective. So far they've defeated a FCS (division I-AA) and a team with a first-year head coach and their number one weapon/starting QB injured from the week before. This isn't enough evidence to say that USC is going to be challenged but there are amazing signs.
No penalties on defense or special teams in eight quarters. Taylor Kelly has never lost his rhythm despite Todd Graham's rotating QB system. Two red-zone turnovers didn't bury this year's team. Granted it's only two games, but Will Sutton is unblockable. Everything accomplished to this point has been done without a dominating performance from Cameron Marshall.
With UCLA's win, I'm sure they will have something to say about who takes second place in the South, but the Holiday Bowl could be determined by who holds the Cup.
3) Peyton Manning.
It's not like he proved he's a HOFer. He didn't need to because he's already in. Manning did show the nerves that send messages to his brain are still working just fine. Demaryius Thomas looked like he went from above-average to Canton-worthy. Yes I'm being grandiose for effect but that's the power of Manning. He makes the average receiver good and the good, great.
4) The Big-10 completely embarrassed itself.
As big of a weekend as it was for the Pac-12, it was worse for the Big Ten. The signature win for the conference this weekend was Ohio State over...wait for it...the University of...Central Florida. Against BCS conferences and Notre Dame, the Big Ten had a 1-6 record. The enormous, conference-saving win was over BCS juggernaut, constant SEC and national championship threat...Vanderbilt.
None of the Big Ten losses this weekend were to teams in the undisputed best conference in the country: the SEC. The ACC and Big 12 handed two of the losses to the Big Ten but the real beatdown came from the Pac-12's 3-0 weekend versus the Big Ten.
So many people thought Michigan brought the whole conference down last week with their blowout loss to Alabama. The Wolverines didn't embarrass the conference. Michigan's conference brethren did it just fine on their own.
5) RG3 vs. Luck
Fair or not, these two will be linked for the rest of their careers, and this is a good thing for both. The alternative is the Leaf/Manning comparison or Couch/McNabb/Akili Smith comparison of futility.
When was the only NFL week one with two rookie quarterbacks starting and throwing for 300 yards? You guessed it: 2012. Luck threw for 309 yards in Indy's loss to Chicago. RG3 hit for 320 leading the 'Skins to a victory in New Orleans. Before Sunday, there have been only two rookie QBs in NFL history to start on the opening weekend and throw for 300 yards. Peyton Manning did it in 1998 and Cam Newton lit up the Cardinals last year (Newton actually threw for 400).
In the vast history of the NFL, no one has done what Griffin did. No rookie has ever thrown for 300 yards, 2 TDs & 0 INTs in Week 1 until RG3 did it. Those numbers equal out to a 139.9 QB rating.
Griffin and the 'Skins have the irony game this weekend. It was St. Louis that traded away the pick they could have used for Griffin and the Rams host Washington. Luck will get his first regular season home game going outside the conference against Minnesota.
The 2012 NFL season is upon us, and Doug Franz ranks all 32 teams heading into Week 1.
1) New England Patriots: No matter how much they work, young QBs like Locker and Skelton won't stop the Pats from being 2-0 before a showdown at Baltimore.
2) Green Bay Packers: 15-1 just doesn't go away; brutal beginning schedule will shake my confidence early but the Packers will be back on top by the end.
3) Baltimore Ravens: Flacco ran no-huddle in college and now has Peyton's former coach to help him run it.
4) New York Giants: I have no idea what to do with this team.
5)San Francisco 49ers: I think Harbaugh is a jerk; I think Harbaugh is a great coach.
6) Denver Broncos: First easy game is against Tampa Bay, the problem is that's in December.
7) Pittsburgh Steelers: O-line is a bigger issue than Haley or Wallace.
8) Houston Texans: Excellent chance to start 4-1; still think releasing Eric Winston was a terrible mistake.
9) Cincinnati Bengals: Good news: all the tough opponents are at home. Bad news: December.
10) Chicago Bears: The opener against Indy isn't a must-win but it could get ugly quick if they don't take care of business in Week 1.
11) San Diego Chargers: Underestimate this team and they'll be 5-1 before the bye.
12) New Orleans Saints: Who knows? Are they a 12-4 team or a rudderless ship?
13) Philadelphia Eagles: Middle of the pack because I don't believe in Vick's ability to stay healthy...big schedule break with tougher games at home.
14) Atlanta Falcons: Missed their championship window by never addressing the defense.
15) Detroit Lions: Only two home games from September 10 through November 17.
16) Kansas City Chiefs: Tell me their record after five weeks & I'll tell you if they're a contender or pretender because the start is all against good teams with question marks...vs Atlanta, at Buffalo, at New Orleans, vs. San Diego, vs. Baltimore
17) Buffalo Bills: Wonderful personnel decisions in the offseason, manageable beginning schedule and done w/ New England for the year by Week 10 could mean playoffs.
18) Dallas Cowboys: Only one road game from Nov 12th to Dec 29th...Question is will they still be relevant by then to take advantage. I say no.
19) Tennessee Titans: Not a bad team but vs. New England, @ San Diego, vs. Detroit & at Houston is too tough for young team.
20) Oakland Raiders: I still can't believe how dumb the Carson Palmer trade was.
21) Carolina Panthers: I'd really like to know how healthy their running game will be before I make predictions...out of the last 6 weeks, only 2 division games and neither are against Tampa Bay, so a fast start is a must.
22) Arizona Cardinals: Must be top seven in rushing attempts, 3.9 yards/carry, and at least +5 in turnovers or this is a six-win team.
23) New York Jets: Can't wait to hear all of Rex Ryan's excuses throughout the season.
24) Seattle Seahawks: I don't believe in Pete Carroll...schedule sets up to start 2-5 or 1-6 in their first seven games.
25) Washington Redskins: Three of first four games and two of last three are on the road...asking a lot of RG3 to handle his emotions in emotional New Orleans to start the season.
26) St. Louis Rams: If Janoris Jenkins has more interceptions than kids during the season, this could be a playoff team.
27) Indianapolis Colts: Great schedule for a young team with two tough games out of the first seven plus a bye week mixed in...This is not a playoff team but they will be much better than "experts" think.
28) Minnesota Vikings: Still love the way they manipulated the draft but Matt Kalil can only protect Ponder, he can't make him good.
29) Miami Dolphins: Will dominate the ACC and easily win the Orange Bowl (wait, this is an NFL team?)
30) Jacksonville Jaguars: Handled the MJD hold-out beautifully but won't be able to do the same to the season.
31) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The state of the NFL in Florida is not very impressive.
32) Cleveland Browns: Assuming this is the last year of Mike Holmgren, so it will also be the last year Cleveland sees a "3" followed by a "2" in the power poll.
Kolb led nine drives against Oakland and Tennessee. Skelton led six. Kolb led two long touchdown drives in the two games. Skelton led one short touchdown drive.
With Kolb getting more opportunities, the focus of the coaching staff was clear. Kolb would have to lose the job before Skelton could win it. This is not whining about "fair fights." It's professional football. The Cardinals have an enormous investment into Kevin Kolb. It's completely understandable that they want to make sure he's a failure before they move on to another QB.
The first pass for Skelton in the Titans game was drawn up for him to prove he should be the starter. He had play-action and a chance to go deep or hit the check down. He tried to make a big play that wasn't there and threw a bad interception.
2) John Skelton should be the starting quarterback.
An evaluation of any quarterback with D.J. Young at the left tackle position is a waste of time. Skelton is much better behind a bad offensive line than Kolb is. The Cardinals have a bad offensive line. Start Skelton.
The QB competition finished in a dead heat. Kolb won Flagstaff and Nashville. Skelton won Canton, Kansas City and Glendale. There are obviously major problems with both quarterbacks. Skelton proved last year he can dig the Cardinals out of the holes he creates. Kolb proved last year he can't dig the Cardinals out of holes he creates.
Skelton's interceptions fall into the category of a young quarterback trying to force a ball where it doesn't go. With more playing time he will mature and understand what is good risk and what is hopeless. He's a cross between Ben Roethlisberger and Brett Favre.
Kolb's interceptions fall into the "What the Hell are You Thinking" category. Some of the picks are high school decisions. By the time you reach the NFL, you should have thrown your last rolling right, feet not set, throw across your body, late into the middle pick. These are inexcusable INTs that aren't going to go away from Kolb's arsenal of ways to throw interceptions.
The coach's main job is to put the 11 men on the field that give the Cardinals the best chance to win: that person is Skelton. However, Skelton has not ripped the job out of Kolb's hands, he's just benefitted from Kolb failing to do the same thing. Since there is no clear-cut winner, you have to go with the younger player. Let Skelton prove whether or not he's the starting QB for the future. Don't go into 2013 with the same unanswered questions about Skelton.
3) D.J. Young is not an NFL level player at this time.
At one point in the first quarter, ESPN's Trent Dilfer said, "This is a joke." It was the right move to give Young the first opportunity at the LT position. It would also be the right move to put him back on the practice squad. You should never give up on a player based on one quarter of preseason football; there's just not enough time left to give him the coaching he needs.
The best O-line combination was D'Anthony Batiste on the left side and Bobby Massie on the right. Massie will grade out very well in this game. He had back-to-back plays where he didn't look like a rookie --- he looked worse. Despite those two plays mid-way through the 3rd quarter, Massie looked very capable of handling the job. There will be future mistakes, both mental and physical. Massie's status as a rookie will show again. Since the talent to be a starting RT in this league for years is evident, let's ride that horse through the rough times.
4) I don't know who Adrian Wilson is.
The number 24 on the field for this preseason is not the same man from the last two seasons. Wilson is playing at the same level that gave him a few Hall of Fame whispers about five years ago. Wilson was a huge liability the last two years. I'm assuming he was still in the lineup due to his leadership because his play wasn't strong enough.
Realizing it's only preseason, Wilson is much quicker to the ball and the punishing -- but legal -- hits have returned. Although defensive coordinator Ray Horton deserves some of the credit, it's obvious that injuries more than age had to do with Wilson's decline. He's healthy and he's back.
5) Daryn Colledge needs to make a decision.
Colledge was horrific in the first six games last year. He was below average for the next 5. He finished the year very strong.
In the first quarter versus the Titans, he tried to see if he could play 15 minutes with his head stuck between his hip pads. The view with that limited periphery outside the small hole caused him to miss many an on-coming rusher. Midway through the first quarter he figured out a great way to stop pressure: he made the tackle. Unfortunately his position isn't supposed to tackle anyone. The officials ruled that wrapping around the waist and spinning a defensive player to the ground was against the rules.
Colledge was brought in to secure the offensive line last year. He barely succeeded. Problem was his success came after the Cards season was over in regards to legitimate playoff contention. It may only be one quarter of a pre-season game, but the inexperience at both tackle positions demand Colledge be much more than average.
In fairness, he is not the first veteran to enter a preseason game mentally unprepared to play at a high level at the start of the game. The Cardinals can afford to give him a hall pass on this game. Colledge will hopefully decide that Nashville represented his last trip to the bathroom. No more hall passes.
So why did we go through that whole exercise again?
The NBA owners told us they needed to lock the players out to increase competitive balance. Today proves that was the biggest lie since Monica Lewinsky.
The NBA owners pounded on a podium declaring themselves faithful to us and the game. As soon as they walked back into their Oval Offices, there was an intern, a cigar and this time a whole lot of money.
Since the lockout to increase competitive balance, the Los Angeles Lakers have traded for Chris Paul, Steve Nash and Dwight Howard. The league blocked the Paul trade but not on the grounds it was illegal within the confines of the CBA but because the league wanted to hold up the value of a franchise it was selling.
If this CBA gave us more competitive balance, how are Steve Nash, Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant and Antawn Jamison all under one salary cap? If we truly have competitive balance, which U.S. Olympian will the Milwaukee Bucks trade for now? Have you heard any LeBron to the Grizzlies rumors? If the players needed to be locked out to even the playing field, how do the Lakers and Bobcats exist in the same league?
The owners had no desire to create competitive balance. Their main goal of the lockout was to spread out the Lakers and Knicks' money to all other owners. The secondary goal was to make it harder for the big money owners to spend so the small-market owners have an excuse for their own lack of desire to win a championship. The vast majority of owners wanted to penalize Miami, New York and the Lakers. None were interested in improving their own team, they just wanted to make it harder for the Knicks and Lakers to spend.
Obviously, accusing a bunch of owners of lying is a strong attack. It is not one I take lightly. The reason why I know I'm right is the lack of a franchise tag. The NFL owners gift-wrapped an idea to the NBA owners and they didn't take it because they wanted more money. Dwight Howard is not a Laker today if there was a franchise tag put in place.
The catch is the franchise tag would have been very expensive. The players would have fought against it until the owners would have been willing to share more of the pot with the players. In order to earn a franchise tag through the CBA, owners would not get as much money from the Knicks and Lakers because they would have had to given up more to the players.
Instead of giving in to the players to make the league better for the fans, the owners just wanted more of the Lakers' money. Keep in mind the other owners weren't interested in winning like the Lakers. They weren't interested in spending like the Lakers. They were only interested in earning like the Lakers.
By allowing teams to franchise a player three times in his career, a player could be locked up for three more years following his rookie contract or a total of eight years. The total could be much longer if you were able to get the player to sign a contract extention after year four of his rookie deal as most players do. The franchise tag would have stripped all leverage from Howard. Orlando's season would have been much better last year without the "Melo-drama" (a term used to describe what Carmelo Anthony put the Nuggets through under the last CBA), and he couldn't hold the Magic hostage.
I'm not hating on the Lakers. I'm jealous of them. They do whatever it takes to win championships. In turn, they earn money because of those decisions. The other owners in the league do whatever it takes to win money from the Lakers and earn no championships.
QB battles/controversies/competitions aren't like this
one. Kolb versus Skelton isn't a normal quarterback
Listen to the comments of Coach Whisenhunt. Media: When
would you like to see this battle resolved? CKW: Two
Thursday, Coach Whisenhunt opened his press conference
without needing any questions from the media:
"There's been no decision on who will be the starting
It was Day 2 of camp.
Usually coaches become antagonistic with the media. The
weight of a decision which will probably determine the
success or failure of the season -- and possibly a career
-- is displaced onto the feeding reporters. The media
relations department will start to limit availability.
Players begin to choose sides and leak their opinions to
the media. Fans begin hearing stories of lacking a
presence in the huddle. After four weeks of drama, a
quarterback is named.
The 2012 Arizona quarterback battle will not be determined
by drama. Coach Whisenhunt has complete confidence in the
process determining a QB for him that he gives no sign of
stress over the decision itself.
Kolb enters camp as a cerebral quarterback, but needs to
prove his toughness. His physical toughness is in question
because he's been handed two starting quarterback jobs by
two different franchises and failed to secure either due
to injury and being outplayed by the backup. Kolb must
prove he has the mental toughness to go through his
progressions with no fear of the pressure being applied by
Skelton has the magic. The poise to stand in the pocket
and deliver the ball with complete blinders to pressure is
Skelton's forte. The no-fear ability to bring the team
back from any deficit is not Skelton's problem. The
problem is the fact Skelton continually has to bring the
team back in the fourth quarter because his decisions led
to a scoreboard deficit in the first place. Skelton must
learn to read the coverage, trust the play and its
progressions, allowing the defense to determine where the
ball should go.
These two weaknesses must be fixed for one of the QBs to
come out victorious in battle. The only true place for
Skelton and Kolb to be judged is by preseason game
production. I'm not referring to the stats or outcome of
the preseason game. It's about intense film study with
knowledge of the play called, assessment of how well
everyone else did their job and, finally, answering two
questions: did the ball go where it was supposed to when
it was supposed to?
Ken Whisenhunt is stress free because he completely
believes someone will win this quarterback job. Either
Kolb actually having an offseason to learn the offense
will allow him to relax in the pocket and deliver the ball
on time, or Skelton will learn to take care of the ball
through three quarters to save the magic for when it's
Flagstaff, Arizona, will have little to do with who
becomes the next starting quarterback of the Arizona
Cardinals. The Flagstaff position battles are at CB, RB,
WR, TE and special teams. For the QBs, training camp is
more like a glorified high school quarterback camp.
The brochure came in the mail for "your son" to be taught
by NFL coaches in beautiful Northern Arizona. Both Mr.
and Mrs. Kolb and Mr. and Mrs. Skelton signed their sons
up for the camp to become better football players for the
chance to earn a scholarship. This is all just a warmup
here for three exams. The first exam will be a lab with
Romeo Crennel as professor in Missouri. Mid-terms will be
in Glendale with Mr. Raider, while we have a special Grand
Ole Opry-style final in Tennessee with Jerry Gray as the
lead instructor who learned defense from a disgraced
former defensive professor who has been forced out of
The decision on who will be the next starting quarterback
for the Arizona Cardinals will be made in an office in
Tempe after watching the lab work in Kansas City, Glendale
and Nashville. Coach Whisenhunt is very relaxed right now
because Flagstaff simply represents study hall.
The most important month in the entire professional career
of Kevin Kolb and John Skelton starts Wednesday, with
exams soon to follow.
It's time for the second half of the Baseball season to
start. Since the Diamondbacks missed the bell for the
first half, here's what needs to happen to get things
headed toward the playoffs.
5) The KEEP IT UP Crew
Allow me to introduce the three-man crew. On the mound we
have Mr. Wade Miley. Mr. Kubel handles things in left and
Mr. Hill is the gentleman at second. These three will hit
a skid at some point, but it needs to be fast. Every
player goes through it but the D-backs need these three to
keep their second verse as same as the first.
Anyone who questioned Kevin Towers' wisdom in spending
money on Kubel was dead wrong. I questioned the signing of
Kubel based on the needs at third base and thought he was
a luxury. I couldn't have been more wrong. With the
injury to CY and Justin Upton slugging worse than Marco
Scutaro, Kubel is the only constant.
Aaron Hill is trending the way he did at the beginning of
his Toronto career. Add on to that he's a perfect
teammate, and you have an All-Star-caliber second baseman.
It's tough to predict what will happen with Miley.
Ninety-seven percent of the time when you count on rookie
pitchers to match solid first halves, you will be
disappointed. The advanced scouting departments focus on
you from opposing teams who are in the playoff race. Holes
are exposed and exploited. Fatigue sets in from throwing
more pressure innings than a rookie ever has. Inexperience
clouds execution. If Miley is in that 3%, Arizona is still
4) TAKE THE WEAK
The D-backs' second half starts with 12 of their next 23
games against last place teams. Not just bad teams, but
last place teams. In addition, Arizona finishes the month
with a 10-game homestand. Arizona must dominate July and
take advantage of the weak schedule. The Dodgers' big lead
to start the season was due to their talent, health and
weak schedule. The Diamondbacks must establish themselves
as contenders in the next two weeks before they leave for
Los Angeles to prove their mettle.
3) PLEASE USE PROTECTION
The Arizona bullpen has been average. It's not the pen's
the D-backs aren't in first place, but they certainly
share the blame. As the rest of baseball looks for bullpen
help this time of year, Arizona doesn't need it. They just
need David Hernandez to dominate the 8th and J.J. Putz to
be flawless in the 9th. With two rookies in the rotation,
an inconsistent Kennedy, and a questionable Saunders, the
biggest challenge to Kirk Gibson's managerial career will
be keeping the pen fresh and effective.
2) THE TRUMP CARD
Ian Kennedy has not been the ace of the staff as he was
the last year and a half. He's shown signs but has not
been a force. The D-backs will not make the playoffs if
Kennedy doesn't have a Cy Young-like second half. Sure,
his first half makes it impossible for him to be in the
running for a repeat top-five spot in the voting, but the
second half of the season, however, has nothing to do with
the first half. For Kennedy, that was then and this is
now. The D-backs need their ace.
1) IS THE FUTURE HERE?
Far and away, the biggest factor that will determine the
fate of the 2012 Diamondbacks is Justin Upton. If Upton's
last three games are an indication, everything will be
fine and he can carry the team. If he just got lucky to
shoot some balls through the right side, then the slide
isn't over. Getting four out of the five components the D-
backs need for a good second half won't be enough if Upton
continues his 2012 the way it started. Upton must turn it
The days of looking at Justin Upton as a kid are over.
He's a six-year veteran of Major League Baseball. He
turns 25 next month. You do not pay $50 million and bat a
player third in the order to get a .273 BA and 37 RBI for
below average-to-bad outfielder. Don't believe anyone who
makes excuses for him. He's 19th in slugging percentage.
Not 19th in MLB. Not 19th in the NL. His .401 slugging
percentage is 19th among right fielders!
He's holding his own versus great Cubs slugger David
DeJesus. There are 18 other right fielders in baseball
with better power numbers than Upton.
So what do the Diamondbacks do with him?
Let's read the tea leaves.
Luis Gonzalez was in studio and gave us 4 points on Upton:
1) Going to the right side with the pitch
2) Not swinging at bad pitches
3) Take your walks and trust Kubel and
4) Use your experienced coaches
Gonzo never said Upton wasn't listening, but just by
saying "use your coaches" can't we assume Upton isn't
listening or trusting in the All-Stars and borderline
Hall of Famers on the D-backs bench? Combining those
with the benching of Upton in June, it's clear the
maturity train still hasn't pulled into station for
The second tea leaf says the owner loves him. We heard
about a long text conversation between D-backs owner Ken
Kendrick and Upton. Owners who just blast players in the
media usually shy away from direct communication. If
Kendrick was having a one-on-one with Upton, it's clear he
has a deep affinity for him. If Kevin Towers wants to
trade Upton, he'll have to clear it with the boss.
The third tea leaf has the statements from Kevin Towers on
the Doug and Wolf Show Wednesday. "We do have outfield
depth and it's no secret we haven't been getting as much
production from the corner as we would like." Since Paul
Goldschmidt is at one corner, third base has been a big
letdown. Towers also mentioned the lack of catching depth
in the farm system is a concern. Who is the one player
that could bring in a third baseman, a rookie ball
prospect and be taken from a position of strength? Justin
The last tea leaf is the where would Upton go. Previous
reports have said that Upton's old contract had a limited
no-trade clause protecting Upton from being traded to four
teams. ESPN's Buster Olney reported the old deal blocked
moves to Cleveland, Detroit, Kansas City and Oakland. The
Diamondbacks gave Upton enough money that would have taken
any leverage he had in negotiating a more extensive no-
trade clause. However, the $50 million eliminates his
arbitration years, so Upton would still have enough
leverage to ask for limited protection. So my guess is the
list is still four teams.
Which four teams is a little difficult to guess. No one
wants to be traded to Oakland. It's a disgusting city.
The future of the A's is up in the air. The foul ball
territory is massive, so your average can plummet with all
the foul-outs that accrue, so I guess Oakland is still on
Out of New York and Boston, I bet two of the three teams
the list. Upton's not a guy who can handle intense media
pressure. Since he can't handle the fans of Chase Field
booing him, I'm sure he wouldn't enjoy the scrutiny of the
bright lights. Some players also like to put big teams on
their list so they can negotiate new deals before they
leave, since the players would have the right to block a
There would be no reason to put any of the NL West clubs
on the list, because his agent could assume Arizona
doesn't want to trade him within the division. Since
Upton's from Virginia, it's safe to reason he has no
issues with the mid-Atlantic states or the south in
By process of elimination, I'll guess Upton can't be
traded to the Yankees, Red Sox, A's and Tigers, since
Detroit is not a power hitters' paradise. The best bet of
the remaining teams that need Upton are the Mets, Rangers,
Marlins, Pirates, Braves, Orioles and maybe the Cardinals.
The team that best matches what the Diamondbacks need in a
trade: Texas. A team that's desperate to win before their
window closes: Texas. A team that would love to have Josh
Hamilton and Upton in the same outfield: Texas. A team
that has no replacement for Hamilton's power if he leaves:
Texas. There's also one team that would love to leverage
an outfielder who's under contract during the Hamilton
This is a great position for Kevin Towers. He can jack up
the price for Upton with Texas explaining to them that he
needs the extra pieces to convince his owner. Which is
completely true. If the Upton trade happens, it will come
with serious reservations from Kendrick. If the Upton
trade doesn't happen, it will re-focus Upton and enlighten
him on just how fed up the organization is.
Justin Upton is no longer a part of the future. He either
must become an immediate part of the present or he his
three weeks away from becoming part of the past.
Do fans have to give up a dream? Every year it becomes
more painfully obvious that athletes will never let us
have our cake and eat it too.
So rarely does society produce an athlete that loves his
sport and allows us into his joy for the game like Brett
Favre. Yet we find out later that Favre can't survive
without trying to dominate our minds and thoughts so he
throws his name back in the ring at every opportunity.
Give us a star that plays with an unrelenting desire to
win like Tiger Woods. Then we discover he has no class on
the golf course and actually pays people to help him
deceive his wife.
We want someone that our kids can look up to.
Unfortunately the "greats" are so driven to conquer
everything they can't turn their drive off. The same
drive to conquer Augusta is the same drive to conquer
Perkins waitresses. It's not completely true that nice
guys finish last, but the vast majority do and that's sad.
I thought of these desires all of us have for the humble
yet average to rise to great or the great to change to
humble watching LeBron James.
Did we tear down a man and make him better or did we just
tear him down? I'm guilty. I've said it before. I think
James is the greatest 46-minute player in the history of
basketball and I think he's a choke machine. He has all
the talent to be a great closer, but shies away from the
The Michaels and Birds were always double -- and sometimes
triple -- teamed to force the ball out of their hands. If
you've noticed the last few years, James doesn't draw late
double-teams. Sure there's help defense but no flying-
doubles. No coach is going to force the ball out of
James' hand because they know he'll get rid of it anyway.
For the last two games, we've seen a new James.
Determined. Feared. Angry. The smiling LeBron is gone.
He is no longer a happy king celebrating with his subjects
as if they were equals sharing in the riches of the
kingdom. This is a king that doesn't like his small
kingdom and wants more territory.
Did the king do this or did his subjects make demands? Is
King James doing this for himself or to quiet his angry
He is everything we wished other athletes were. Never
arrested. Never listed in the Mitchell report. Never
tested positive, suspended but allowed to return only
because the UPS store was closed. He's the only athlete
ever to be ridiculed for being too self-LESS.
Imagine every day you go to work, you're the best to ever
do your job except for two minutes every day. You're the
firefighter who saves babies but didn't get the sterling
silverware. The soldier who runs through the cross-fire
to save a fallen comrade but failed to fill out the proper
report after the raid. It's those two minutes that
determine how the world views you and you never get away
from it. The serfs will overthrow you if you don't become
what they demand.
I don't apologize for anything I've said about LeBron in
the past. It was my opinion at the time. LeBron is the
one who said he was going to win seven championships.
LeBron is the one that thought Cleveland was for losers
but hasn't won since he left due to his disappearing act
In our demands for more James, we lost what we liked about
him. Why can't Randy Johnson be nice? Why can't Ian
Kennedy be the greatest of all time since he's the type of
guy we can all want to succeed? Why can't Shane Doan lift
the Stanley Cup? Why is it that Steve Nash is checked
into the boards and Grant Hill loses years from his career
due to injury but Michael Irvin is a three-time champion?
Watching the end of the Eastern Conference Finals made me
respect Peyton and Eli more than I did before. The most
impossible job in America is being the greatest in your
sport while being "one of us" throughout the whole thing.
Why do we feel like sports allows us to attack the
innocent or young?
LeBron James is a professional athlete who claimed to be
on the verge of winning not 1, 2, 3...but 7 World
Championships. He has had the ball in his hands at the
end of many games too afraid to take the last shot. If
someone wants to rip him for choking, I say go ahead. He
brought it on himself and hasn't proven he can handle the
Most professional athletes understand they need thick
skin. Since those athletes have no problem accepting
accolades and compliments from media and fans when they
are successful, they should accept varying opinions that
doubt their skills. If they don't like it, they could
work in the real world and receive a real world pay check.
It easily could be the minority of fans but that minority
has gone too far blurring the lines between professional
athlete and the periphery of sports. Sarah Lucroy, Logan
Tully-Tillman and Justin Combs are not household names,
nor should they be. They are not professional athletes.
One is a housewife and the other two are high school
football players. All three have received treatment
that's worse than Ryan Braun gets and none of them deserve
Sarah is receiving hate mail because she's not physically
strong enough for Brewer fans. Tully-Tillman is receiving
death threats because he did something rude and silly as a
17 year-old. Combs is being attacked by those jealous of
his work ethic or because they think his life is their
Meet Sarah Lucroy. She's a stay-at-home mom with a
beautiful two-year-old daughter. Since Los Angeles is
such a beautiful city in her eyes she accompanied her
husband on the trip. Since it was a long trip, he had a
big suitcase. He was looking for a sock under the hotel
bed--just like we all look for the last-minute odds-and-
ends before we check out of the hotel. As he reached for
the sock, Sarah was shifting the suitcase to the end of
the bed. She wasn't strong enough to handle the
unbalanced suitcase that she had pushed too close to the
The suitcase fell right on to her husband's hand. Sarah
had just broken the hand of the National League's number
one hitting catcher with a .345 batting average on the
season. How horrible must a wife feel? Her husband,
Jonathon Lucroy had worked his whole life to get to this
point. He's one of the best catchers in the game. On a
team without Prince Fielder and with an under-performing
Rickie Weeks, Lucroy was a major lifter on a struggling
offense. His wife felt terrible when all she was doing
was trying to help.
How do Brewer fans respond? Thousands find Sarah's
Facebook page and bombard her with hate-filled messages.
Truly the definition of courage is not defending a nation
in a foreign country, willing to take a bullet for the
ideals of liberty and freedom. Courage is sitting in
front of a keyboard attacking a man's wife for trying to
help him during his travels.
Meet Logan Tully-Tillman. He is not a sympathetic figure.
A high school standout in football, Logan received many
scholarship offers and letters from schools across the
nation. He was increasingly intrigued by one of the most
famous college rivalries in the country: Ohio State and
Logan thought it would be boring to announce that he had
made his choice. Before his oral commitment, he figured
spice was in order. As he announced his choice to attend
Michigan, he took a letter from Ohio State and burned it
to show he was a Michigan man. Of course, the act would
not be enough. It needed to be videoed and tweeted out
for all to see.
It was a stupid move. Clearly the move of an immature
teenager who thought he knew everything in the world and
could handle every situation. Clearly it was something
that was just as dumb as some of the decisions all of us
made when we were 17.
How did Ohio State fans respond? Instantly tweeted death
threats and Gregg Williams-like bounty offers for any
Buckeye football player who could inflict pain on Tully-
Tillman during his first run-in with Ohio State. Courage
is not being a teenager in the hallways of Columbine High
School being gunned down after having your religion
questioned at the point of the gun and answering the
question without fear of repercussions. Courage is
threatening to kill a teenager because he burned a letter.
Meet Justin Combs. Another high school football player
but this time he's done nothing even remotely
questionable. All Combs has done is worked hard enough in
football to earn a scholarship. He's also worked on
earning strong grades and showing solid character in other
areas of his life to earn an extra financial gift from his
Here's the catch as people with lesser work ethic see it.
Combs' father has a lot of money. Since Combs' father has
a lot of money, Justin shouldn't receive an earned benefit
and the money should go to a lesser qualified candidate.
Combs and his father are being attacked by political
pundits and the blogosphere for taking what he's earned.
What has happened to our country? All we do is push kids
to achieve more. We test them at every step to make sure
they're learning exactly what we want them to learn. They
pass every test along the way, do extra to earn extra,
then we attack them for what they earned because it's not
fair to those who didn't earn it? Here's an idea: if you
don't earn something, instead of tearing down those that
do, work harder so you earn it.
To Sarah, Logan and Justin:
You live in the greatest country in the world. I hope the
jealous, immature and misguided Americans never get you
down. Congratulations on your success to this point and
good luck earning more.
Horrible officiating in the NHL's Western Conference
finals, but it doesn't matter right now.
Hoping the Goldwater Institute actually represents Barry
Goldwater and stays out of the way, but it doesn't matter
Believe Ian Kennedy will find his mojo and return to being
an ace, but it doesn't matter right now.
Two very interesting quarterback battles going on in Tempe
between 5 different QBs, but it doesn't matter right now.
Weekly rumors on the latest suitor for Steve Nash, and
none of those matter either.
One thing matters this weekend: FREEDOM.
I love hockey and respect the class of the individual
players of the Coyotes for handling losing with such
class. I hate the fact that the NHL had the chance to
dramatically influence future passion of desert hockey
fans and, instead, chose to stomp on dreams by helping the
better team win (I still say LA was the better team but
they didn't need the help).
I just can't muster the spirit to complain when I think of
sitting in a trench during WWI.
Have you ever agreed on a price for a house only to have
it fall through at the closing? I'm still worried about
the Goldwater Institute will work their magic again and
destroy this latest round of Coyotes sale talks.
It just feels hollow comparing a Glendale management fee
argument to returning from Vietnam and being greeted by an
The 2011 Diamondbacks are probably a 3rd place team
without the rock that Ian Kennedy was. His 2012 hasn't
been awful, but he's clearly below average. The
Diamondbacks will be in a fight for third place if he
doesn't return to form.
Although I completely believe we will soon see the real
Ian Kennedy, I'd rather see more Americans understand that
the Revolutionary War lasted 7 years, with many troops
going long stretches without pay but fighting for a dream.
Kolb and Skelton on one side of Tempe. Kelly, Eubank and
Bercovici on the other side. So far it's Kolb and
Bercovici in the lead, but if it was a horse race the
announcer's first statement--and their off--can
still be heard echoing throughout the grandstand.
The future of the program and organization could be solved
in 110 degrees during the desert summer, all while our
current troops sit in desert heat in Iraq and Afghanistan.
You can pick about four places on the map in two different
countries where Steve Nash may play next year. I wonder if
that's how my Grandfather felt in WWII wondering where on
the map Hitler's next move would be.
I'll be watching all three D-backs home games this weekend
and Monday's day game on the road against San Francisco.
The results won't matter as much to me, though. It's
freedom that matters this weekend, and the sacrifice it
took to earn it.
Thank you to all the boys and girls who have a parent in
harm's way defending an ideal that all men are created
equal. Your Mom or Dad is a hero. As you patiently wait
for them to return home, you're a hero too.
Throw everything at the net to start tonight's game.
In the wildest dreams of Coyotes fans, players, coaches,
front office members, players' mothers, Phoenix would not
be one game away from the Western Conference Finals.
There's always the domino theory of pressure. If the
Coyotes don't clinch tonight, doubt will creep in their
minds about their ability to close out an opponent. The
theory says you don't want to be forced back to Nashville.
The Predators would have home ice so they win game 6. Now
it's the "nothing to lose" mentality because the pressure
is on the Yotes since they had two previous opportunities
to close the series and couldn't do it. Some teams relax
better for a Game 7 that's on the road and the momentum
would be in Nashville's favor.
I don't believe any of that.
Teams down 3-1 say that to make themselves think it will
Phoenix is an amazing 4-1 in playoff road games this year.
There is no fear in being forced to return to Nashville.
The path to play Nashville in the first place was via
losing a home Game 5 to Chicago and winning a clinching
road Game 6. There is nothing the Predators can do that
will recreate the pressure of the last three years.
Nashville can't intimidate with ownership issues. The
Predators don't create the same fear in the minds of the
Coyotes players like the phrases "Goldwater Institute,"
"Judge Redfield T. Baum," or the worst: "Bryzgalov in
goal for the Coyotes."
Since the Coyotes have already proven they can lose a
clinching Game 5 at home and still recover to win a road
Game 6, the pressure is minuscule tonight. The pressure
of a Game 7 is easily overcome with a coach like Dave
Tippett, a captain with the mental toughness of Shane Doan
and a steel-nerved goaltender named Mike Smith.
The risk/reward of the first goal for Game 5 is highly in
favor of the Coyotes advancing beyond the second round.
The Preds will bring everything they have to start the
game. The Coyotes should take advantage of that. It's
Nashville who has to be overly-aggressive. It's Nashville
who has to take risks in order to bring pressure against
Smith. It's Nashville who's desperate. If the Preds
score first tonight, it changes nothing. The Phoenix
Coyotes are still advancing to the Western Conference
From the Nashville perspective, they can't handle an
opening goal by the Coyotes. Imagine the most pressure-
packed moment of your life. Your whole focus is this
moment. You give everything you have and you get punched
right in the face. No one has any confidence if they give
everything and they're standing alone during a standing 8-
count. There's no recovery. If the Coyotes score first,
it forces Nashville to become even more aggressive,
therefore opening up the ice that much more for Predator
Make no mistake, this is a big game for the Coyotes. The
catch is it's a big game for the Coyotes in the hope of
winning the Stanley Cup. It's not a big game in relation
to the Western Conference semifinal series between Phoenix
and Nashville. Every Nashville win allows the Kings more
rest. Accept it now, the Western Conference Finals are
the Kings @ Phoenix for Game 1. There's no jinx. You
should not wallow in fear when you read those words.
Nashville is not beating Mike Smith three straight games.
The only question is how much rest will the Coyotes get
before the Western Conference Finals start.
Scoring first will make the rest of the game so much
easier tonight. Don't believe me? The Predators haven't
lost in the 2012 playoffs when they score first. They're
All four of their playoff losses have come after the Red
Wings or Coyotes scored first. That's 5-0 versus 0-4.
Don't go into a shell and let the Predators attack. Quick
counters tonight will lead to a series against Quick--
Jonathan that is.
Every player to be drafted over the course of the next
three days is in one. After months of evaluating college
games, the Combine and individual workouts, every team
ranks each player 1-700, but also groups them together in
terms of talent pods. Out of every piece of internal
information each of the 32 NFL teams try to keep secret,
player grouping is close to number one.
If another team knows how you value a prospect, that can
be used against you in trade negotiation.
Pod 1 is the same for every team. Only Andrew Luck and RG3
have a ticket into that group. Every team has Claiborne
and Kalil in group 2. The question becomes the value of
the RB position and your value on Justin Blackmon.
If you value Trent Richardson above the recent disregard
for running backs, he's in group 2. If there's no way
you're filling that position this early when there are
millions of other RB's you can draft later, Richardson
drops to the top of whatever shelf you begin to value
RB's. Blackmon, on the other hand, is a special WR but not
in the elite class of Calvin Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald,
so he floats between pod 2-4 but gets bounced from any
attempt to get on stage with Luck and RG3.
The big question for the Arizona Cardinals isn't where
they pick today overall (13th), it's what pod will they
enter when they select. Do they want to pick first in the
6th grouping of players or last in the 5th group of
players? How will the desires of Jacksonville to trade
down from #7 affect Arizona? Who is it they value enough
that they would trade up to get if they're convinced that
player won't be available to them at 13?
The Kevin Kolb trade really handcuffs the Cardinals in the
2012 draft. They can't trade up to get that special player
using any 2012 draft picks because Arizona is already down
a 2nd round pick to the Eagles in the Kolb deal. This
draft is too deep to be giving up more picks for one
player. I was against that trade last year and if the
Cardinals don't come away with one of three players in
today's first round, I will feel more vindicated.
It was early September of 2011. I was fascinated with the
importance of an SEC game early in the year. Georgia had
already lost to Boise State which is a loss an entire 8-
state region of our country took personally. I knew if
Georgia lost to South Carolina there would be calls for
Mark Richt's head (admittedly I was also hopeful of this
in case Richt would come to Arizona State). South
Carolina was coming off an appearance in the SEC
Championship Game, so there was huge pressure on USC to
take the top of the East right from the start. It was here
I met Melvin Ingram.
I had seen Ingram at LB in years past when I watched USC
(I've watched a lot of their games because I've loved
their RB--Marcus Lattimore--since he was a freshman). I
always thought Ingram was a good prospect but not special
a LB. In 2010, he was moved to DE and became special. In
the Georgia game he ran a fake punt for a touchdown.
First reaction: MAN THAT GUY'S FAST FOR HIS SIZE. Second
reaction: MAN THAT GUY'S JUST PLAIN FAST. Third
reaction: Holy ____ that's Ingram. Fourth reaction:
WHAT'S MEL KIPER THINK OF THAT GUY BECAUSE I WANT HIM
When the Arizona Cardinals select at 13, if Ingram's on
the board and the Cardinals pass him up, it won't be a
Terrell Suggs moment, but it will be close. Ingram is the
clear choice for Arizona.
Since I assume that other NFL GMs have seen Ingram, I
realize the chances of Ingram still on the board by 13 is
a stretch. This puts the Cardinals in a quandary. DeCastro
Leaving DeCastro on the board to select Floyd is not going
to send me off the deep end like passing on Ingram would
do. I would disagree with the pick but I would understand
it. There is a good rule to follow at pick 13: NEVER TAKE
A GUARD THAT HIGH. There is another rule equally
applicable: DONT PASS UP A GREAT FOOTBALL PLAYER!
David DeCastro is Russ Grimm. He's not the athlete Grimm
was (Grimm was actually a high school QB) but he's not
terribly far off. DeCastro is scary smart and violent on
the field but not off it. Guard is not a need for the
Cardinals. Pass rusher is number one. Tackle is number 2.
WR is 3. DeCastro fills none of those needs. Don't care.
He's going to be an elite guard in this league for years.
Pass him over and look for another one like him for the
next 10 years.
Missing out on Ingram or DeCastro but coming away with
Michael Floyd is still a successful day. He's an
immediate number 2 receiver. All during 2011 training
camp, we were told that the number 2 receiver position is
not a weakness and the answers could be on the current
roster. I disagreed. I was right. After Larry Fitzgerald,
the Cardinals have a great array of 3's, 4's and 5's.
Floyd instantly makes the offense challenging to defend.
Floyd's arrival would quickly make the receiver depth an
asset as opposed to a whole bunch of decent players.
What makes Floyd the most interesting is it would end all
speculation about whether or not Kolb is the quarterback
of the future. If he has a RB tandem of Wells/Williams, a
seam runner as strong as Housler/Heap and a foursome of
Fitz, Floyd, Doucet and Roberts as weapons, he should be
able to move the chains. Yes, he still has Levi Brown at
tackle, but with those options on the outside, Dave Burns
would be able to lock up the DE long enough to get the
The nightmare is if Ingram, DeCastro and Floyd are gone by
13. Although I don't think that would happen, it would be
time to trade down. It would be hard to find a team who
would trade up but if there's still some DTs/LBs on the
board, you might be able to convince someone to get ahead
of the Cowboys because everyone knows they're going
defense (Upshaw/Barron/Perry/Poe). Even better would be
to trick Dallas into thinking you're going to deal with
someone else and get something to just switch spots.
I usually love the idea of trading down. My problem with
it this year is the hidden meaning. The Cards didn't get
Ingram, DeCastro or Floyd and couldn't trade up to get him
because the 3rd/4th round pick is too valuable when
there's no 2nd round pick.
If the Cards pick up Ingram, DeCastro or Floyd, the 49ers
will be challenged for a repeat as division champs. If
not, go D-Backs.
Shane Doan is the greatest captain in NHL history.
Here's the chain of events. Arizona Sports 620 will tweet
out a link to this blog. A Phoenix snowbird from Canada
who listens to the show will read it and laugh openly. He
will then retweet the link or e-mail it to a buddy still
in Canada and they will mock me. In a few days, there will
be a ground swell of Canadians calling me names. Over time
the Canadian Parliament will use this blog as proof the
Coyotes should become the reincarnated Nordiques if
Phoenix media is this stupid.
If you disagree, here's your challenge: name a captain who
led his team to three straight playoff berths while
dealing with more crap than Shane Doan.
In no way am I arguing that Shane Doan is the greatest
player of all-time. I'm not even arguing Doaner is a Hall
of Famer. He's never guaranteed a win against his rival
and reinforced the guarantee with a hat trick. He's not
the only captain to win Cups with two different
franchises. He hasn't retired and come back in on the
white horse to actually buy his bankrupt franchise
(although that would be nice). Doan hasn't won a Cup and a
Canadian Gold Medal in the same year, while being voted
greatest sports athlete in a hard, blue-collar town.
Shane Doan does not need a talk show host to tell him he's
not Messier, Lemieux or Yzerman. One of those three men
are clearly on the Mount Rushmore of NHL captains. They
are there, however, for the wins and Cups they earned for
their franchise. In the past, the judgment of a captain
should only be on the final results and the individual
Is it harder to captain a team with Grant Fuhr in goal or
a new goalie every year? Is it more difficult to keep guys
focused in a packed barn where the fans love hockey almost
as much as their legendary football team or in a city with
8,000 empty seats? How strong of a leader do you have to
be to get your teammates to respect the second-greatest
in sports history, or does it take a little extra to
influence the other guys in the locker room to follow The
Great One who morphed into The Lazy One?
Shane Doan had to wake up every morning wondering which
one of Gretzky's friends would get hired today. He had to
wonder whether The Great One would bother with actually
moving to the city whose team he was coaching or just fly
in for a visit. Every day he came to work he had to get a
group of men to commit to a man who wasn't committed to
the city or the team. Then, one day, the The Great One was
The Absent One.
Who has to address a media corps that only arrive when the
team seems destined to leave? Shane Doan. Who has to
stand there knowing his fellow Canadians will burn him at
the stake if he really spoke his mind about Wayne Greztky?
Shane Doan. Who had to deal with just as many questions
from the media about his future residence as he got from
his own family and friends? Shane Doan.
Then the Coyotes came up with a novelty item. They would
actually hire a committed hockey coach, only they would do
it during training camp because they didn't know where the
real coach was. They didn't even know who owned them.
Shane Doan captained a playoff team without an owner, a
new coach and a room full of men that had no idea where
they would live next year. He did it in 2010. He did it in
2011. He's done it again.
After three years of hearing the cheers of 10-year-old
birthday parties going on one sheet of ice over during
practice, Shane Doan is a playoff captain again. After
three years of season ticket holders having no idea if
they should commit to next year, Shane Doan is a playoff
captain again. After three years of being owned by Gary
Bettman, Shane Doan is a playoff captain again.
After three years, Shane Doan is about to experience
something no Jet/Coyote captain has ever experienced:
Shane Doan will lead his team into the second round of the
Shane Doan is nowhere close to being the greatest player
of all-time. No captain has come close to dealing with so
much on-the-bench ineptitude under one coach and then off-
the-ice distractions -- through no fault of the new coach
-- while still being the all-class face of the franchise.
Chicago, you have great hockey fans. Blackhawks, you are a
model franchise, but you already had your time. Right now,
it's Doan time.
Good luck to the men being led by the greatest captain in
NHL history. Go Yotes!
Sports is a business that never makes sense if we try to
look at it as caring adults.
A class of 100 students on ASU's campus heard the news of
Lisa Love's firing and broke out into huge applause. As
soon as the first tweet went out regarding Love's demise,
I was retweeted with countless, "What took so long?"
Imagine getting one of those e-mails at work that
announce: "Fred has decided to pursue other career
opportunities." As Fred clears his desk and the e-mail
circulates through the company, Fred hears spontaneous
cheers erupt throughout the building.
It's really sad that we treat other human beings this way.
In my business, you can't give your opinions for four
hours a day without some people hating you. Since every
radio host gets fired at some point, there will be some
listeners excited when I get fired. I'm going to go home
and look at my wife and daughters and say, "Daddy doesn't
have a job," while others are applauding as if their lives
improve the day I'm faced with terrible misery.
I'm not above the fray, however. If the Diamondbacks sent
out a press release announcing they've decided to cut Eric
Byrnes again -- even though he hasn't been on the roster
in two years -- I would have an uncontrollable ground
swell of positive emotion forcing my hands together for a
round of applause.
The job of a college Athletic Director is one of the
strangest in our country. You're in charge of a multi-
million dollar business. You will be sued if you don't
spend those millions on business ventures you know will
fail financially (women's sports). If you win 18 national
championships in swimming/diving/soccer/softball/water
polo while losing on the football field and basketball
court, you're not getting the job done.
College Athletic Directors understand there is cruel fate
in the position. Reaching the heights of Athletic
Director of a BCS school is a huge individual pay day.
You accept a job where you are judged on wins and losses.
If you win, you don't tell people to quit congratulating
you. If you win, you don't tell the Board of Regents to
stop sending you bonus money for the extra contract
clauses you've earned. If you lose, people cheer when you
It's so great to see the NCAA tournament return to this town. USAC is packed. I hate to say it but it's been awhile since I've seen so many people in this arena.
As we broadcasted outside of Majerle's downtown, there was so much energy as fans were walking past. Four teams and their University traveling parties all staying in our hotels. Four sets of fans eating at our restaurants.
We have all four major sports. The Grapefruit League is a joke compared to our Cactus League. The highest attended golf tournament is right here along with two NASCAR races. We put on an outstanding NBA and MLB All-Star game recently.
Growing up in Ohio, I was always told the stupid joke, "if you don't like the weather, just wait 10 minutes and it will change." That's what we should say about the sports landscape in Phoenix. If you don't like what's going on now, just wait 10 minutes and another great event will start.
As I'm sitting on my moment of such a great high, a member of the national media asks me, "Why is Phoenix such a bad sports town?"
I had no idea what to say. Why are we one of the best cities in America at hosting sporting events but don't support our own?
I've heard it's the economy but Detroit is much worse off than we are and they go to the games. I've heard the teams don't win enough. The D-backs have more division championships in their time in MLB than any other team. The Suns are far superior to the Warriors as a winning franchise yet Golden State fans pack the arena while killing Suns fans in noise and intensity. I've heard it's because everyone is a transplant. As the sixth largest city in America and the 14th largest metro area, we don't need everyone to be a huge sports fan. If 1% of the city of Phoenix goes to an ASU Basketball game, a D-backs game, Coyotes game, or Suns Game, it's a sell-out (Cardinals and ASU Football have to set their sights a little higher and shoot for 1.25%).
I do have a theory on transplants. Phoenix has a reputation as being major fair-weather fans. Is it safe to say that it's the transplants who are the fair-weather fans? I'm beginning to believe the transplants are Phoenix fans when they're winning. When Phoenix teams are losing, a transplant just falls back to their old hometown team so they don't have to go through the pain of losing locally.
I understand. When I moved here, I kept all my allegiances to my teams. It's hard to give it up. Take a moment and look at the price of the home next to you that's for sale. Then look at the price you paid for your house. If you're in the same situation I'm in, you've come to the realization you're not moving anywhere. If you know you're here, why not be from here? When someone asks you where your from, start saying Phoenix. Announce today the renouncement of your former favorite team. Embrace being local.
The Pac-12 is a joke and the punch line isn't very funny.
The first 10 minutes of the Mississippi Valley State/Western
Kentucky 2nd half became an insult to the Pac-12 and the
conference wasn't involved. Stewart Mandel is a major
college sports writer for Sports Illustrated, and he
tweeted out, "If the President is taking our best ally to
this game, what about his enemy? The Pac-12 tourney?"
Gutierrez scored with 8:53 to go in the first half for
California's 12 and 13th points of the half. They didn't
score again the rest of the half. California was out of
the tourney before the real one starts. As much as I love
my hometown, it's bad enough when a team gets sent to
Dayton to prove themselves but this wasn't about Cal. The
Pac-12 got sent to Dayton to send a message.
Some day Pac-12, you'll be good enough to earn a trip to
Omaha, but for now be happy with Dayton. Colorado is so
well-respected that they earned a trip to paradise,
otherwise known as Albuquerque. If you're reading this
Friday morning, the Pac-12 might be out of the tourney.
The biggest story this year for the Pac-12 is Ben Howland
mocks kids with concussions and UCLA supports the
decision. Second was the running national commentary about how
bad the Pac-12 is. The conference has slipped so far, the
most positive thing that can be said is it has a 3-1 record in the
The state of Arizona is even tougher to swallow. It's not
breaking news that ASU plays in a flavorless building
while supplying few wins for their 900 fans. U of A took
the "payday" of hosting the NIT but decided they didn't
need to get ready for the game.
I love the excuse, "We weren't over the Pac-12 Tourney."
It's Bucknell! The only people who will offer you any
sympathy are KU fans still suffering from Bradley and
Bucknell losses in back-to-back years. You're Arizona.
You've got the tradition. All we read about is the
greatness of Sean Miller and the line of recruits standing
at his office door dying to come to Tucson. The best our
state could muster in division one college basketball
post-season is one-and-done in a 9-point loss in the NIT.
Larry Scott is an unbelievable commissioner. He has done
the impossible. He blew every conference out of the water,
but what did he sell? The Pac-12 Tournament is the most
poorly-attended tournament among BCS conferences and one
of the worst attended in all of college basketball. The
basketball in the conference is horrific. The two
signature programs in the conference are embarrassing
themselves. Other than Oregon football fans, there's no
fan passions to speak of yet this commissioner has the SEC
jealous of the revenue streams.
Ten years ago, the commissioner of the Missouri Valley
Conference changed the way revenue was distributed in
basketball. He forced teams to challenge themselves in
their non-conference schedule in an attempt to impress the
NCAA Tournament committee. Not only did the number of
teams earning at-large bids increase, but also the quality
of basketball. As the bar was raised for each program,
the quality of recruits choosing MVC schools went up with
The decision by the Pac-12 to partner with the Big Ten is a
strong step in this direction For far too long the
number of teams in the Pac-12 truly challenging themselves
was minimal. The head coaches in this conference must
stop thinking they've arrived. I guarantee few of them
recruit or schedule with the same vigor they did when they
were mid-major coaches. The same desperate energy they
beg from their players needs to be applied to themselves.
The commissioner has done his job to bring the Pac-12 back
to the national prominence it once enjoyed. It will be
interesting to see if the fans and coaches get the
Three games in three days. Not a recipe for success for
any team. A nightmare if your team has to sit their two
The Suns look like they ran out of gas in their last 3
games. We all believe the Suns have run out of gas in the
last two seasons. So, how do the Suns get back to where
they were? Obviously, we want to go higher than where
they were since recent history shows that "where they
were" is just a close competitor to win the west but never
an actual Western Conference champion.
This will not be easy. Every member of the organization
must take on the mantra that a season without a
championship is a failed season and expect greatness.
ROBERT SARVER: Go overboard spending money.
In no way does this mean over-spend on the next Marcus
Banks. Please don't go after 5 small forwards when you
don't have a GM. Spend money on the draft. Fly scouts
everywhere. Be the most prepared team there is without
ever having a hurdle to climb. Draft picks are gold
because you control the player. You educate the player in
Spend money on towels. When Mark Cuban took over the Mavs
he talked to the players and found out they hated the
showers and the towels. He spent money on luxury hotel
towels. He didn't do it just for the Mavs. He did it for
the road team. He wanted every team that came to Dallas
to think that the Mavs were a first-rate team, knowing
every second a player is in Dallas is a recruiting chance.
Your entire perception and reputation must change. You
cannot fight the perception the players in the league have
of you with words. You must do it with actions.
It doesn't matter whether your reputation is deserved or
not. Whether or not you think it's fair or factual is
irrelevant. In this case, perception is reality.
David Stern said you were not the antagonistic hawk during
the labor feud. The players aren't going to take Stern's
word for it. Either you were a major hurdle to labor
peace hoping to squash the union or you were an easy
target for the union to blame.
Let's say it's untrue and the media mischaracterized you
during the lockout. Where did they get their info? It
was either other owners who made up that you're the bad
guy or union leaders that knew their membership would
believe you're the problem. The media doesn't have it out
for you. Either what was leaked was true, or out of 30
owners they chose you to be the subject of lies which says
NBA free agents don't believe you're committed to winning
a championship. Phoenix is no longer on the short list of
teams players want. Let's change that.
Learn the story of Tom Coughlin and Kurt Warner. Find out
how willing Coughlin was to change due to a player he
respected explaining what wasn't working from a player's
perspective. The human being that is Grant Hill is a
blessing to the planet, not just the Suns. Take him to
lunch. Ask him to rip you. Ask him why the Suns aren't
close to a championship. Ask him what is expected from
LON BABBY: Be very visible. Don't be shy. Players
trust you since you were an agent. Get the word out about
the things Robert Sarver does that go unnoticed.
Give your former client, Grant Hill, the chance to change
anything about the Suns he wants. It's a power no player
should ever be given, but since Grant is so different than
any other player in terms of discipline, intelligence and
desire, he won't take it for granted. That power will be
seen by other players around the league making Phoenix
I know you hate the idea of promoting yourself, but get on
twitter. Spend an hour each week answering the questions
of fans. As one of the more brilliant lawyers in America,
it's not like someone's going to trap you in a bad
conversation. Become the face of management.
LANCE BLANKS: Get out of the shadows. Talk to
every player on the team all the time. Let your coaches
know how much confidence you have in them. Before you
arrived, the staff of Gentry, Majerle and Cartwright got
the Suns to the Western Conference Finals. They're very
good. Let them know you have their back. New GMs always
make coaches from the past regime nervous. Sign them to
It's a great idea to allow Lon Babby to be out front
during the lean years so you can emerge from the shadows
as the savior when the good times return. I get that, but
talk to the media on occasion. Talk to the players you
didn't draft or sign. Be seen at the office every now and
then. Even if you're brilliant, while you're behind the
curtain, no one knows if they can trust or believe in you.
ALVIN GENTRY: Get tossed. You've already proven
you can coach but an emotional explosion would serve you
well. This week's Denver game was a prime example. The
comeback to tie it up 62-62 was great but it went away
fast. The officiating was horrible. The players were
running out of gas and weren't going to win after Denver
turned it on late in the third. The players don't
question your passion but remind them anyway.
STEVE NASH: You're one of the greatest of all time
and you're playing like it this year, so critiquing you is
obviously difficult. The fourth quarter turnovers are
becoming a problem. Get everyone involved throughout the
game as you've always done. It's time for the fourth
quarter to be "Nash time." Look for your shot. You are
the best scoring option.
FANS: No one wants to hear this, but patience is
key. The vacuum between the "firing" of Steve Kerr and
the hiring of Lon Babby killed the organization. Josh,
Hedo and Hack are not the fault of Babby/Blanks but those
contracts are a noose around the team's neck. It's easy
to say "trade them," but in the NBA you're only going to
get someone else's bad contract in return for a trade.
It will take about a year and a half to fix what's been
done. Trust the process to cleanse. Begin judging the
team from the time that Babby/Blanks took over with the
roster they were handed after years of D'Antoni not
developing rookies and Sarver selling draft picks. It
will get worse before it gets better.
Don't bail on the team. Who knows how much longer you're
going to get to see Nash and Hill? Get to as many games
as you can. Don't go to the games to be seen like it's a
Scottsdale night club. Be loud. Bring back the Madhouse.
You listen to the games on Arizona Sports 620 when they're
on the road and they win. You buy a ticket to a home game
to see your Suns and they lose.
As soon as you're ready to give up on the Suns, they win.
As soon as you're ready to believe in the Suns, they lose.
Whenever the Suns are losing, the topic of trading Steve
Nash comes up. Whenever the Suns are winning or you hear
Nash talk to the media, you realize how blessed we are to
have Nash as a Sun. We all re-declare our devotion to the
altar of the assist and go on our way.
I went to Thursday night's game. I wish I hadn't. The
decision by Alvin Gentry to play the starters almost the
entire 2nd half cost the Suns the game. If I was the
coach of the Suns, I would have done the exact same thing.
It's easy to sit at a press table and say the bench should
get another chance in the second half. A coach is paid to
win and Gentry must have thought he'd lose if he played
the bench again.
Does it matter if a game is lost in the 3rd quarter or the
4th quarter? I'm sure Gentry assumed going to his bench
would guarantee a loss, so he was hoping to escape with
his starters playing heavy minutes knowing the risk would
be a late meltdown. The meltdown happened with 6
turnovers in the last 5 minutes against Houston.
So here we are again, to trade Nash or not to trade Nash?
Shakespeare couldn't answer the question. It's easy to
give an uneducated reason to trade Nash or to keep him,
yet studying makes the decision much tougher since any
Nash trade has to match salaries.
Categorize every NBA team into these columns:
1) TRUE CONTENDER: Right now you could win a
2) MAKE A RUN BUT FALL SHORT: You might get lucky and go
deep but there are true holes or you're just not ready to
win it all.
3) ONE & DONE: You'll get in the playoffs but won't do
anything when you get there.
4) LOTTERY UP: Will be a lottery team but are headed in
the right direction (Minnesota).
5) LOTTERY DOWN: You're in the lottery but you've won too
many games to really win the lottery and you have too many
veterans to be going up (Suns).
6) BOTTOM FEEDERS: You live for the lottery and watch
every Kentucky basketball game.
BOTTOM FEEDERS aren't going to give up draft picks and the
team is bad so you have no players the Suns want. LOTTERY
DOWN teams would never want to improve as they approach
the lottery; would never want to trade draft picks; the
Suns don't want their players anyway. LOTTERY UP teams
wouldn't trade picks in case they get lucky in the lottery
and they won't trade the young players they have complete
control over. Most of the ONE & DONE teams just got a
promotion from the LOTTERY UP category and they still
control their young players. Although they'll be picking
in the middle of the first round of the draft, that pick
might be the one choice that bolsters their bench so
they're ready for a run to a championship.
The only teams that would be interested in Nash are in the
first two categories. Of course, the teams that fall into
TRUE CONTENDER or MAKE A RUN BUT FALL SHORT already have a
point guard and don't need Nash.
The only teams I could see that need Steve Nash are
Oklahoma City, the Lakers, Portland, New York, Memphis and
1) OKLAHOMA CITY: Would have to give up Westbrook or
Harden to make
the salaries match; won't happen.
2) LOS ANGELES LAKERS: Would give only cast-offs to make
the deal work
so you'd have to rake them over the coals with future
draft picks; Suns fans would never buy tickets again.
3) PORTLAND: This could actually work but you'd have to
Batum to agree to an extention and Portland would need to
give up a 1st and a 2nd round pick which they wouldn't do;
needed to be done a month ago.
4) NEW YORK: Everything they have to trade is gone in the
deal; to make the salaries work the Knicks would have to
include Melo or Amare—won't happen.
5) MEMPHIS: Very doable from a Suns standpoint but Nash
alone wouldn't vault the Grizz to championship caliber, so
I think it's too risky for them.
6) MIAMI: You'd get very little back unless MIA is
willing to trade Bosh. Suns would only get high-priced
bench players in return. I would only do this as a Sun if
I get 3 1st round picks.
As you look at the 6 possibilities, it leaves you with
only one team left. Can you, as a Suns fan handle seeing
Steve Nash help the Lakers win a title? I can't.
It's not often a simple statement of fact evokes so much
Joe Paterno is an evil man who throws kids in a cage with
Joe Paterno is a saint who takes kids from the saddest
situations and turns them into men with a purpose of
changing society for the better.
I would assume neither of these statements is completely
accurate or factual. I would also assume it wouldn't take
me long to find people who completely believe one
statement or the other.
I waited a day before writing about Paterno because I
wanted to see how the media handled the news; how fans
handled the news; how his former players handled the news;
most importantly, how you handled the news.
The easiest conclusion drawn was two opposing thoughts:
either the media is too scared to say the truth or they
think we're too stupid to handle it.
Joe Paterno's life can't be summed up in a sound bite or a
The world is made up of people that have a varying degree
of influence. If Joe Paterno ever helped a kid get into a
class that was full, he used his influence. If Joe
Paterno ever called an employer to persuade them to hire a
former player, he used his influence.
He was the President and CEO of Penn State football. He
used his influence in other areas of life to help others.
One question will always remain unanswered: why didn't he
use his influence to get Jerry Sandusky off campus?
Joe Paterno did nothing wrong in the eyes of the law and
shouldn't be -— and at this time won't be -— prosecuted.
I hope he never loses a civil case over his actions.
Legally, everyone is equal, however, Presidents and CEOs
are judged by a different public standard than the law.
Although the situation at Penn State doesn't rise to the
NCAA's definition of Lack of Institutional Control, is
there any better four-word description of what happens
when a former coach keeps an office on a college campus
and uses the locker room showers to rape children?
Joe Paterno deserved to be fired from Penn State. Blaming
the Board of Trustees for the death of Joe Paterno is so
undeserved. There's only one monster in this story, and
it's Jerry Sandusky. If Jerry Sandusky wasn't so evil Joe
Paterno wouldn't have been fired. If Jerry Sandusky
wasn't so evil those specific kids wouldn't have been
victimized by a serial rapist.
Joe Paterno deserved to be judged and fired from his job
but not his life. I disagree with the media trying to tie
up the coach's life with a bow and a gift bag. We are
smart enough as a society to look at the positive and
negative of his life because it's similar to our own.
There have been times in your life where you didn't do
enough. There have been times in your life where you
should have fought harder for what was right and you
There have been times in your life where you did
everything you can. There have been times in your life
where you really earned the title "hero."
There have been times in your life when you were just like
Joe Paterno. How do I know this about your life? There
have been times in my life when I didn't fight for what
was right and I still think about that failure despite the
times I really was a life-saving hero. I've been on both
ends of the spectrum of success and failure and I'm sure
you have too.
Joe Paterno was a man who did millions of great things for
thousands of people and didn't do enough for a forever-
damaged group of kids.
If the media is hell-bent on explaining to us the life and
times of Joe Paterno, let me make it easy for them:
If you look at a crystal ball in the hopes seeing the
future of ASU basketball, it would be too cloudy for even
the most experienced fortune teller to see. The recent
past is something that most ASU fans would shield their
eyes from or violently turn away.
ASU head coach Herb Sendek dismissed Keala King from the
team earlier this week, while Kyle Cain and Chris Colvin
needed to re-earn the opportunity to join the team.
King's dismissal could be for a myriad of reasons and the
why doesn't matter. The question is what's wrong with the
Every year we hear about special players who are coming
into the program. Unfortunately, they are replacing the
previous special players who are transferring. This is
where a clever writer makes some type of funny analogy
with a revolving door, but I hate those things so I don't
want to give them free advertising.
Coach Sendek attempted to explain the high number of
outbound plane tickets from the program in a recent press
conference. He waxed poetic about Clemente staying a
Pirate for his whole career yet Bonds left for a payday,
despite Sendek himself leaving his two previous jobs. He
complained how kids transfer elsewhere for playing time
while ASU accepts two new transfers next year.
Coach Sendek made more points about the way our society
has changed. The points were impossible to disagree with
because society was less selfish in the past. The catch
is it sounded like a man blaming the icebergs for a
The comments bothered me. Bob Knight and John Thompson
didn't want to adjust to the changes in society and lived
off their reputations as the NCAA tourney wins evaporated.
Blaming the present and missing the past isn't solving the
Coach Sendek is a man of great principle. He deserves so
much respect for dismissing King in a down season. It's
easy to think of a handful of college coaches who would
compromise principle in order to keep talent. King led
the team in almost every category, including complaints.
When a player plays four years for Sendek they are a
vastly improved player, but King didn't want work through
the system. To go to one of Sendek's practices is to be
amazed at his knowledge and memory, but King was more
interested in games and shots than practice and drills.
Looking at the way the players played versus Southern Cal
last week, the team clearly agreed with the decision to
suspend King, Colvin and Cain for the weekend. There does
appear to be a closer team on the floor playing without
Despite back-to-back putrid seasons, ASU has stud PG Jahii
Carson practicing with the team every day. There are
three area high school players all entering the program
next year. Two sharpshooters are transferring into ASU
and will be eligible for 2012-13 as well. Although I do
believe there are better days coming for ASU basketball,
how do I know another one of these future players won't be
the next transfer? I could easily be hitching my wagon to
a donkey that I'm too blind to see isn't a horse.
The ASU basketball job is one of the hardest jobs in
college basketball--recruit in a state with a former
national power down the street to play games in a dark,
flavorless arena with a non-existent fan base. Coach
Sendek's 20-win seasons must count for something. It's
the right move to stick with Herb Sendek despite being the
third best team in the state this year.
If you want to coach old school values, recruit old school
kids. Don't blame society for losing basketball games.
If society is changing and other coaches are winning
without compromising principles then ASU can too.
Since I still believe in Coach Sendek, I'm going to chalk
up his press conference to a guy having a bad day.
With one game remaining on the schedule, I have a follow-
It's time for what?
Every person that has anything invested into the 2011
season is disappointed. Every player, every coach, every
fan and every administrator knows there were massive let
downs this year.
If Utah, USC and ASU all win this weekend, ASU will finish
in second place in the division yet still face Oregon
(barring a shocking Duck upset) in the Pac-12 Championship
game. It will be the most hollow division champ since the
San Diego Padres of 2004.
After starting 6-2 with a win over USC, I was a believer.
I believed because I thought the tough losses of 2010
galvanized a mental toughness the Devils didn't posses in
previous seasons. I believed in Mizzou and Illinois as
good teams. I believed in Dennis Erickson.
I now know what time it is.
The failings of 2011 go so much deeper than most people
are willing to look. This is an institutional failure.
When over 50% of all NCAA teams go to bowl games and ASU
goes to one bowl game in 4 years, coaching is only one
part of the problem.
The Erickson plan is to get the best athletes you can get
and keep the schemes simple to allow the athletes to make
plays. That works when you have better athletes. The
skill and talent of ASU is dramatically improved versus
before his arrival. The problem is the mental toughness
and football IQ of the players as a whole has dropped.
My faith in the coaches changed during Saturday's game
when Gerell Robinson threw an illegal forward pass.
Normally one play doesn't make me question the entire
future of a coaching staff. However, when there's been
three straight years of no bowls in a BCS conference, the
scrutiny gets much tougher.
At UCLA, Robinson made one of the dumbest decisions I've
ever seen on a football field when he tried to throw a
pass to Dennis Erickson. The clock would have stopped
with a 1st down so there was no need to desperately
attempt to get the ball out of bounds. Secondly, not
knowing the rules is always a cause for concern. All was
forgiven when his knee was ruled down against UCLA. There
was no ten second run-off and ASU was returned a time-out.
Could have been a great teaching opportunity for Robinson
to learn never to do that again, but it wasn't.
Against Arizona, Robinson did it again. It didn't matter
that the same result occurred in Robinson being ruled down
and the ten-second run-off restored. The play told me
that either Robinson is the dumbest man to ever play
football (hard to believe), Robinson has absolutely no
respect for his coaches and what he's been taught (he's a
good kid so I don't think so) or the standards of player
accountability aren't high enough or respected at ASU.
Irrelevant of why his error occurred, the fact it did
shows the Erickson plan won't work at ASU.
When high school athletes have so many better options than
the current state of ASU athletics, the athleticism of the
players that are saying yes to ASU isn't high enough to
overcome a lack of accountability and poor clock
This doesn't mean Dennis Erickson doesn't know football.
Dennis Erickson didn't get lucky in winning his national
championship. Dennis Erickson is a good coach. He's just
not the man to fix what ails ASU.
The next ASU coach needs to have charisma to sell the
program to the millions of people who claim to be ASU fans
but have no idea what it means to be a fan. Fans come to
every game. They don't come to just the "big" games. A
fan is a fan of their team and they come to support their
College athletics is not a chicken and the egg situation.
You can't win in college football unless you recruit great
athletes but great athletes don't want to play in stadiums
filled with empty seats. You can't win in college
athletics until donors foot the bill for facilities, but
donors won't donate until they have a charismatic coach
they can believe in. You can't get a great coach with
empty buildings and slow-moving donors.
Dennis Erickson proved he's not strong enough of a coach
to win at a program with poor facilities, small-time
donors and bad fans.
The boosters need to step-up to pay the price for a big-
time coach or make the necessary promises to an up-and-
coming head coach about where the facilities are headed.
If they don't, the ASU job is no better than the job the
targeted coach already has.
When that happens, fans need to rush the ticket office and
buy season tickets to show future recruits that ASU is now
ready to compete.
It's time for everyone who wants ASU to succeed to do
Any coach in America who wants the ASU job is going to be
watching Friday night to see just how much the fans care
about ASU football with a chance at a championship on the
It will be interesting to see what time it really is.
In case you don't know from the things I've said on air.
I want a playoff in college football but I don't have a
problem with the BCS formula. I just don't want it used
to narrow the field from 120 to 2.
I have yet to hear any "pro current system" argument that
I can't destroy on logical grounds, except one. I can't
argue against anyone saying they like the current system
and they don't want it changed. Other than that, I'm
still waiting for someone to convince me to give up my
dream for a college football playoff.
I put before you the Doug Franz College Football Playoff.
Every week the BCS rankings will change, therefore
changing the teams making the playoff. Check in each week
and see how things have changed. At the end of the
season, it's up to you to pick the winners of each game
and set in motion the championship challenge.
If you want an explanation for the way my formula works,
check the bottom of the blog.
Here's the playoff pairings if the regular season ended
16) Cincinnati @ 1) LSU
15) TCU @ 2) Oklahoma St
14) Michigan State @ 3) Alabama
13) Kansas St @ 4) Oregon
12) So Carolina @ 5) Oklahoma
11) Houston @ 6) Arkansas
10) Boise St @ 7) Clemson
9) Stanford @ 8) Va Tech
TCU's huge win over Boise gets the Frogs off the 1 line
and gives them an easier trip to Stillwater instead of a
thrashing in Baton Rouge.
The game moves Boise from a comfortable home game against
Penn State to now travelling across the country to
Michigan State made the playoff 3 weeks ago for the first
time with their win over Wisconsin. Michigan State got
knocked out 2 weeks ago with their loss to Nebraska and
the Huskers went in. Last week, with Northwestern's upset
of Nebraska, the Big 10 lost their wild card spot as K-
State moved into the playoff. Now, it comes full circle
as Michigan State is back in as the Big 10 champ.
Kansas State only moved up one spot. Of course moving
from a trip to Tuscaloosa to a game in Eugene is much
easier for the Wildcats.
The best high school players come from Florida, Texas,
California and Ohio. The DFCFP has no teams from OH or FL
and it's the non-traditional TCU, Houston and Stanford
representing Texas and California.
Speaking of Stanford, the Cardinal went from hosting a
weak 13 seed to having the furthest distance to travel of
any team in the DFCFP. Palo Alto to Blacksburg = 2690 mi.
The SEC West as a division has three teams in the tourney.
How's this for a second round game: Oklahoma @ Oregon. I
wonder if Mike Stoops would help the Sooners? I wonder if
it would help? Of course, the Sooners would have to get
past the Ole' ball coach first.
In the second round we could see how Andrew Luck handles
the noise of Death Valley at night with 95,000 drunk Tiger
fans, assuming Stanford upsets Va Tech.
By ranking every team 1-120, you get a true representation
of the best conference by taking the average BCS rank of
every team in the conference. This playoff system makes
every college football game in the country vital because
it rewards teams and conferences alike.
Here's the ranking of the conferences after week 2 of the
BCS and the average BCS rank of the teams in the
1) Big 12: 29.6
2) SEC: 33.17
3) Big 10: 46.75
4) ACC: 51.75
5) Big East: 54.5
6) PAC-12: 54.67
7) Mtn West: 70.25
8) C-USA: 71.83
9) MAC: 81.23
10) Sun Belt: 87.89
11) WAC: 89.5
Through all the crap that's occurred in the Big 12, the
conference is stacked. Three teams in the top 13, 5 in
the top 25 and Kansas is last but only in 73rd place.
In the 11 years of the DFCFP, C-USA has never made the top
C-USA took a beating in the latest conference rankings.
My dream as an Ohio Bobcat fan is the day comes in which
the MAC earns a bid into the DFCFP. It's never happened
but we're getting close.
Want proof every game matters in the DFCFP? Huge weekend
for the ACC with BC at ND and Miami at South Florida. If
the home teams win both of those games, the ACC goes from
the 4th best conference to the 6th and moves closer to the
scary zone of 7th and 8th.
The magic of the DFCFP is how it highlights the regular
season more than any other system. Here's the process for
coming up with the teams for the playoff.
1) Rank all D-1 (FBS) teams 1-120 (from LSU to Akron)
2) Rank all the conferences 1-11 based on the average
BCS rank of the teams in the conference.
3) Reward the first place team in the top 8
conferences with an automatic bid.
1) Oklahoma State
3) Michigan St
4) Independents—this means you Notre Dame—get no
special treatment. If you're not in a conference, earn a
wild card bid or join a conference.
5) Select 8 wild-card teams based on BCS rank
excluding those already selected with an automatic bid.
4) Va Tech
6) Boise State
7) South Carolina
8) Kansas State
6) Rank the 16 teams based on BCS rank with no regard
to status as an automatic qualifier or wild-card entry.
The tournament would follow a bracket format. Although
re-seeding would be a better way to reward the regular
season, nothing is better than filling out a basketball
bracket and I want that momentum and attention on college
7) First two rounds are at the home of the better
8) Final Four and Championship game are played at a
rotation among Fiesta, Cotton, Sugar, Rose.
I'm aware that after the first two rounds there are three
games left at neutral sites with four bowl game hosts.
This is leverage in case the Rose wants to stick to
tradition. If they duck out I've got three games and
three bowls. If the Rose does want to stay involved,
there would be a new bowl game created for the two teams
that just missed out on the playoff. This week would be
Georgia v Nebraska.
I give you the extra bowl game just to prove that the
bowls don't have to die. Georgia v Nebraska is still a
great college football game with great fans. We wouldn't
have 35 bowl games anymore—sorry Pinstripe Bowl—but some
of the big ones with tradition don't have to go anywhere.
If you're an ASU fan are you saying you wouldn't go watch
the Devils against Texas A&M in a Holiday Bowl just
because it wasn't in the playoff? You'd still get the
benefit of extra practices to prepare for your bowl game.
Players would still get to enjoy the goodies they receive
for participating. As for the fans, we get a real
Feel free to ask me any questions or give me your opinions
and I'll put it in the mailbag: firstname.lastname@example.org
Doug, my disgust over the debacle in Pasadena compelled me to chime in.
I'm concerned about the state of the ASU football program in a big way.
When you say that 9-3 would be a "great" season for this program, it
reinforces my concern. You are content with mediocrity, meaning that
anything better than 7 or 8 wins constitutes "great." I've had this fear for a
decade. Ostensibly, Lisa Love had this fear, too, which is why she fired DK.
Would Oklahoma State be happy with 9-3? Oregon? WVU be happy with 9-
3 (given that Bill Stewart was fired after several 9-4 seasons, we can
assume they were not happy)?
Notice that I am intentionally shying away from comparing us to teams like
Alabama and Oklahoma so as to avoid the distracting retort that some in
the local AZ media have tried to con us with. I'm focusing on Johnnie-
come-lately programs. Frankly, I do not understand why we should not
aspire to the kind of greatness that the Alabamas and Oklahomas have.
But, that's a discussion for another time.
Thanks for reading.
Thanks for mailing the mailbag Eric. Normally the mailbag can be
found on the Doug & Wolf show page. Your e-mail, however, struck a
chord that is so common among ASU fans, so we're putting the mailbag up
on the front page.
There's an amazing sense of entitlement from ASU fans even though
they've earned nothing.I can understand your frustration. Here's the point
you're not seeing. ASU fans don't deserve to be any better.
I know, as soon as an ASU booster reads those words they're going to run
to Lisa Love and say what a bad guy I am. ASU fans hide from the truth
more than any fans in America.
I call it a great season at 9-3 because compared to the support the football
team and the whole athletic department receive, You wonder if OSU, UO,
or WVU would accept 9-3 but you're comparing apples to oranges. Look at
those three programs. All three sell out every game.
Let's look at through the eyes of a high school junior. He's deciding
between OSU, UO or WVU. Have you ever been to a game at any one of
those schools? The sell-out crowds are so loud. The pre-game tailgates
are packed and so much fun. The atmosphere is unbelievable. Why would
any kid go to a school that has 20K empty seats for their homecoming
when they could play for fans that love their team?
Let's look at it from a coach's stand point. Any young, up-and-coming
head coach wants to go to a program where the football program is the talk
of the town. That's not ASU. They want a program that has great support
even when it's down so they can re-build it. That's not ASU. They want a
program that has a history of attracting the best players. That's not ASU.
They want a program in a hot recruiting environment or like a Florida,
Texas or Southern California. For the most part, that's not ASU.
You're accusing me of settling for mediocrity. It's actually the exact
opposite. I think 9-3 is the max that can be achieved with this level of
f you want to raise the expectations for ASU football, it's very easy how
that's done. Buy more tickets. Create a more electric atmosphere at the
games. Donate more money. Build better facilities.
Steve Patterson, Lisa Love and Dennis Erickson can only carry the program
as far as the fans take it. When the day comes there are 70,000 fans a
game in a new stadium, you'll hear me drop the hammer on a performance
like ASU put forth against UCLA. Until then, what did you expect? They
played with the same passion their fans have.