Archive for the ‘football’ tag
The University of Tennessee does not yet have a plan for how it will finance a multimillion-dollar buyout of former football coach Derek Dooley, who was fired Sunday, Chancellor Jimmy Cheek said Monday.
The university is “keeping every possibility on the table,” Cheek said, but declined to say whether university funds could be used to bolster a struggling athletics department budget.
… Firing Dooley, who coached three seasons to finish with a 15-21 record, will be expensive. Dooley’s contract stipulates UT will have to pay out roughly $5 million for the remainder of his contract, in monthly installments of about $102,000.
In the real world, failure means being shown the door, and if you’re lucky, getting one last paycheck from accrued vacation. Universities and professional sports teams could save a lot of money if they did away with guaranteed contracts and scaled pay based on performance, not just forking over egregious sums of money based on little more than on potential.
Makes perfect since to me. NFL fans, by and large, don’t care about this game. I know I don’t. The players care even less, and that is clear from the body language and the effort on the field. Here’s a story about potentially canceling the Pro Bowl and a portion of the article:
The league and union agreed that the quality of last year’s game, which saw the NFC claim a 55-41 win over the AFC, was unacceptable at a meeting between the sides earlier this month.
The sides, though, were understood to have discussed ways to improve the fixture rather than wipe it from the schedule.
The game still is listed on the NFL’s calendar the week before New Orleans hosts Super Bowl XLVII on Feb. 3, though the location remains unknown.
Of course, if NFL officials wanted to go ahead and destroy any lingering interest in the Pro Bowl, they all ready did so by scheduling the game before the Super Bowl. Some of the best players in the league aren’t even going to play because of the injury risk. That was the most boneheaded move officials could have made. I realize that interest in the NFL season wanes after the Super Bowl, but at least you will have the best players involved in the game, including those who actually played in the Super Bowl.
If officials are going to leave it hopelessly wedged between the final playoff game and the big dance, I say do us all a favor and just shoot the lame duck before it becomes more of a joke than it already is.
Time will tell if the notorious “Madden curse” will befall Johnson.
I am apparently not alone in the weariness over Tim Tebow’s Jesus talk in every single interview following a win on the football field. News flash: if Jesus existed, he probably doesn’t care about football or any person’s success in their careers.
Jake Plummer had this to say on XTRA Sports 910 on Monday in Phoenix:
Tebow, regardless of whether I wish he’d just shut up after a game and go hug his teammates, I think he’s a winner, and I respect that about him. …
I think that when he accepts the fact that we know that he loves Jesus Christ then I think I’ll like him a little better. …
I don’t hate him because of that. I just would rather not have to hear that every single time he takes a good snap or makes a good handoff.
Here is Tebow’s response:
If you’re married, and you have a wife, and you really love your wife, is it good enough to only say to your wife ‘I love her’ the day you get married? Or should you tell her every single day when you wake up and every opportunity?
And that’s how I feel about my relationship with Jesus Christ is that it is the most important thing in my life. So any time I get an opportunity to tell him that I love him or given an opportunity to shout him out on national TV, I’m gonna take that opportunity. And so I look at it as a relationship that I have with him that I want to give him the honor and glory anytime I have the opportunity. And then right after I give him the honor and glory, I always try to give my teammates the honor and glory.
And that’s how it works because Christ comes first in my life, and then my family, and then my teammates. I respect Jake’s opinion, and I really appreciate his compliment of calling me a winner. But I feel like anytime I get the opportunity to give the Lord some praise, he is due for it.
Yes, he’s married to Christ. We get it. But other athletes don’t tend to thank their wives and kids during postgame interviews. In fact, I have rarely, if ever, heard a player thank their wives for helping them win games. The other players on the team help a person win a game, not Christ or anyone else real or imagery who is not on the field. If it weren’t for the wins the Broncos have had recently (and as a Denver fan, I’m certainly pleased), I would be a little resentful as one of his teammates to hear him thanking Christ first and foremost, when the score would have been 75-0 (or worse) without his teammates. I dare say if the rest of his teammates sucked the whole game, Christ would have still been a no-show.
Don’t get me wrong. I would be happy as a penguin in a freezer full of cod if the Dallas Cowboys never win another game … ever. At least not until the next century. But what is up with Bob Costas tonight calling the Cowboys unprofessional in their lifeless and uninspired effort last week and for most of this season?
Have any commentators thought this? Maybe Phillips just wasn’t a very good head coach. Let’s review his record as the head guy.
- Came in as the Saints’ head coach in 1985. Record: 1-3.
- Spent seven years as the defensive coordinator for the Eagles and Broncos.
- Named head coach of the Broncos, replacing Dan Reeves. Went 9-7 in first year and 7-9 in second year. Fired because of claims from Broncos officials that he didn’t have control of the team. Sounds familiar.
- Enjoyed some success with the Bills with seasons of 10-6 and 11-5 in ’98 and 99, but followed with an 8-8 season in 2000.
- Again replaced Reeves in 2003 for the last three games and went 2-1 to round out that season.
- Signed with the Cowboys in 2007 and loss to the Giants in a divisional playoff game to cap his best season at 13-3. Had a mediocre 2008 season, and then went 11-5 to again fall in the divisional playoff game.
- Fired after leading (or not) the Cowboys to a 1-7 record midway through this season.
In this article, Phillips said recently that:
… he watched nearly two years’ worth of games on tape and discovered fundamentals were lacking. Phillips said it was time for the team to return to the basics, but those basics were severely lacking in Sunday night’s loss to the Packers, as the Cowboys were plagued by missed tackles, a muffed punt and poor blocking techniques which resulted in four sacks and a fumble on a kick return.
“I thought we played poorly,” Phillips said after the Packers game. “I thought we played poorly as a team and we looked like a bad football team. That’s the way we played. Bad coaching.”
OK sure, the play on the field hasn’t been good. But, in the 45-7 blow out at Green Bay, the play was uninspired and, as I said, lifeless. And whose job is it to inspire and motivate the team? As Jason Garrett well knows, it’s the head coach. And he proved that this week with the Cowboys (surprising?) win at Giants Stadium. The play-by-play and color guys prior to the game even said Garrett gave an inspiring speech prior to the game that served to rejuvenate the team’s spirit. That’s something that Phillips has never seemed to have a) grasped, or b) been able to cultivate. In short, a “really special guy,” as Garrett recently lauded Phillips, doesn’t equal “good head coach.” I was also amused to find a Fire Wade Phillips blog as well. I, of course, am not a Wade Phillips hater. That would be ridiculous. I don’t enjoy it when people fail. But I’m simply making the case that, while he may been a decent defensive coordinator, head coaching was probably not his bag, as it were.
I tweeted (or whatever) about this earlier, and while I rarely mention sports, especially regional sports, on this site, I felt this topic deserves a brief airing.
Of course, I realize that every football fan has his or her own notions about how such and such a game should be called from the sidelines. The coach either ran too much or not enough. The coach should have gone for that fourth-and-two play. The coach should have kicked the field goal. And on and on. And while preliminary rebuttals may come that coaches know more about what’s going on down on the field than someone listening to a game on the radio or television, but what I’m about to mention seems to me basic and impenetrable logic.
My alma mater, Clemson University, has been either mediocre or just above average in football since 1991 when it then had a national championship and six ACC titles under its belt. The current coach, Willaim “Yaba Dabo” Swinney, took control of the team midway through the 2008 season when Clemson ousted Tommy Bowden, who, at least in coaching, seems to be a shell of his father. Swinney and Bowden followed prior coaches Tommy West and Ken Hatfield.
At least since Bowden, and perhaps prior, the coaching and play calling has been, by and large, predictable and uninspired. The team’s 16-10 loss today at Boston College seems to be a case in point. Granted, Clemson quarterback Kyle Parker had a bad day in the air going 21-39 for 176 yards, but what I saw was way too many predictable calls and a lack of urgency in the face of looming defeat.
The very first drive makes the case: a run on first down for no gain, a run for 5 yards, an incomplete pass and a punt. When, as a team, you are on the road in a hostile environment, it seems to me the last thing you want to do is to come out with such a conservative, sluggish and unimpressive start, such that, it seems Clemson set itself up for a fall from the start. Throughout the game, as it turns out, Clemson, as Boston knew it would, tried to establish the run with Andre Ellington and Jamie Harper. Clemson mostly failed, however, tallying only 86 total yards on the ground against the best rushing defense in the ACC. Even in the second half down 16-10 and having scored only a defensive touchdown, the conservative play continued. Not counting the final two drives late in the fourth quarter when Clemson pretty much had to throw the ball, the Tigers only threw three times on first down versus nine rushes on the same down in the second half. Granted, one series of rushes resulted in a field goal in the first half, but that was it for the offense. And when the Tigers did choose to throw the ball, they lined up in the shotgun, which, again, is predictable coaching. The only schemes that I saw that even halfway attempted to mask calls was a few play actions passes behind center.
Of course, now at 2-3 in the ACC and 4-4 overall and with three conference games left, the Tigers still have a tough road to hoe going forward, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Clemson gets another mediocre and mostly meaningless bowl bid come December, if any. Woeful games such as the one Saturday leave a fan wondering just what the heck the Tigers, or any other team who seemed so ill-prepared for the next game, was doing the entire week prior to game day. Maybe one of my journalism cohorts in the Clemson area can help me with that one!
Ever wonder what a World Cup soccer team might look like if the roster was filled entirely with NFL players? Probably not, but this blog does some speculating for us. We know that, by and large, here in America, the nation’s best athletes are probably playing American football, hockey or basketball, and are not funneled toward soccer careers.
Soccer players are highly athletic, for sure, but given soccer’s still-lagging stance in comparison to other sports, it’s safe to say that our top athletes aren’t soccer players. Of this country’s nine World Cup appearances since 1930, third place is the team’s best finish so far. But that result, which actually took place in 1930, long escapes nearly everyone alive today. Nonetheless, here is the blog writer’s NFL-infused World Cup roster.
Goalkeeper: Larry Fitzgerald
Defenders: Ed Reed, Patrick Willis, Adrian Peterson and Maurice-Jones Drew
Midfielders: Tom Brady, D. Heyward-Bay, Nnambi Asomugha and Chad Ochocinco
Strikers: Vince Young, Andre Johnson and Michael Vick.
Not a bad list, and I think Fitzgerald would make a beast of a keep. I think these players should get some sort of nod as well: Randy Moss, Steven Jackson, Frank Gore, Beanie Wells and Drew Brees.
By the way, four NFL players, Peterson, Tommie Harris, Roy Williams and Mark Clayton have, indeed, kicked the soccer ball around on a recent trip to South Africa:
The visit included a friendly soccer game against school children from Mzamomhle Primary School in the township of Philippi on the outskirts of Cape Town.
No doubt, the NFL players got toasted by the young futbol hopefuls.
[Photo credit: Schalk van Zuydam/Associated Press]
Sports Illustrated, in its Nov. 2, 2009 edition, published an article titled “Harassment in The Workplace” by Joe Posnanski, which outlined some of the continued trouble refs have in trying to make good calls, but yet are still getting lambasted by fans, the media and sports administrators for , inevitably, and because they are human, periodically making incorrect calls.
When it comes to taking abuse, refs rival the Balloon Boy Dad and Bernie Madoff.
No argument there. Posnanski makes the case that MLB refs, perhaps, take the biggest verbal assault from fans in the face of the league’s seeming refusal to move into the 21st century and adopt more replay technology like the NFL.
But in the NFL, seeing a coach reach for his challenge flag or for a play to receive an “official” review is about as certain an occurrence as the tides coming in and out. But the NFL’s adoption of increased replay during games has its drawbacks. As Posnanski notes,
In the NFL, officials barely even count anymore — coaches have their own flags, television cameras are the final arbiters, and after overturned calls referees are forced to stand before the crowd and admit their mistakes, like guilt schoolchildren. Next, there will be a giant chalkboard on the field for them to write, I promise to watch more closely, 500 times.
Touché. The replays in the NFL do get to be too much at times. But it comes down to this question: do administrators in sports leagues want cold truth on every single play (Taken to the extreme, this would mean that every single play would be verified as accurate in yardage, ball spots and penalties before the next play got under way) or do they want to maintain the human element. I think they are attempting to tread somewhere in between, but if so, leave the refs alone. We expect the players on the field to be human and make mistakes. Why don’t we give the same leverage to refs? If we just want to watch a perfectly played and refereed ball game, we might as well shutter the NFL’s and the MLB’s doors (along with every other sports league) and all go play video games.
By the way, since we’re talking sports, as of 10:15 EDT on Wednesday night, the Yankees are leading 7-1 in the top of the sixth and are likely about to win their 27th World Series.
I’m not a big fan of the owner of that storied franchise, but I love the city. So, I can’t say that I’m too disappointed.
In National Football League news Monday, former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick was reinstated into the league by commissioner Roger Goodell, in a move that, frankly, I thought I would never see. I thought Vick’s football career, for all practical purposes, was one-and-done.
But Vick’s reinstatement didn’t come without a laundry list of baby-sitting type provisions, which, in turn, probably didn’t come without a certain measure of groveling on Vick’s part. They include:
… to have counselors and mentors guide him through his attempted comeback (former Indianapolis coach Tony Dungy is serving as the NFL’s liaison). Vick must keep Goodell apprised about his living arrangements if/when signing with an NFL team. Vick even needs to tell Goodell how he will “manage his financial affairs” and follow that plan. — Alex Marvez, FOX Sports
Financial affairs?!? Regardless in a touché-rendering comment, Marvez, of course, didn’t forget to include a hefty dose of facetiousness when writing on the topic, perhaps referencing Vick’s original offense of sponsoring a dog-fighting racket:
The only clause Goodell forgot was one forcing Vick to sit, beg and roll over on command.
The vote’s out on which unlucky NFL team might take on the baggage that is Mr. Vick, but it goes without saying that he’s not necessarily a prize catch, even without the dogfighting conviction. His stats are middle-of-the-road at best. That’s not to say that greatness can’t light on him once the ghosts flea from his shoulders, but it’s yet to be seen.
If you need or want an interesting detour from the daily grind at work, pick a topic and Google different media outlets’ reports on the same news item and look at how the accounts differ. For an especially entertaining detour, compare how the official vessel of a certain organization or government agency — say, the Obama administration’s official Web site — handles a news item versus a separate media outlet with no dog in the dog-fighting hunt.
Marvez, with FOX Sports, for instance, was particularly pointed on the Goodell decision when he said:
This isn’t a teenager we’re talking about. Vick is 29 years old. Provided he isn’t breaking the law again or violating NFL policy, Vick should be allowed to make his own financial and living decisions even if they’re bad ones (like squandering tens of millions of dollars en route to bankruptcy). Such is the responsibility — and privilege — that comes with being an adult.
Meanwhile, if we scoot over to nfl.com, we find Thomas George, senior analyst for the company’s official Web site playing a different tune:
We know this: The way the Vick story unfolded Monday assured that Favre’s decision would not be revealed on the same day. No way. The NFL is too smooth to allow these two mega stories to collide. It appears to be a cloaked orchestration across the highest levels.
And that’s OK.
Because if it all clicks for the league, if Vick gets it right and gets his shot and Favre returns, the NFL has a 2009 season that percolates well beyond its usual frenzy. Sure, there are plenty of curious tales across the league minus Vick and Favre. But this duo, these quarterbacks, can generate a blitz of coverage, spotlight and fan interest unlike anything we have seen in the previous 89 NFL seasons.
The difference doesn’t really matter, per se. The NFL is free to spin a fantastically unpopular fellow’s return to the league — as well as Brett Favre’s growing unpopularness, tiredness and unwillingness to fade into the Hall of Fame with dignity — anyway it wishes. That is, after all, in its best interest to do so. But it’s quite entertaining for the rest of us with the time and compulsion to bring to light the differences. And there’s a lesson in the Vick story that goes well beyond sports: there’s usually far more to any news story than the official organ or the supposedly objective news outlets care to admit. In all likelihood, the truth, if one had the omniscience to find its absoluteness, probably lies somewhere in between.
When I previously worked at The Clayton Tribune, a local weekly newspaper in the Northeast Georgia mountains, we had a fellow there who handled the sports beat. To the extent that he handled it well is up for debate, but such as it is … He covered the local high school and recreation sports for us. Quite often, he would write about his alma mater, Middle Tennessee State University, in his sports column. Now, aside from the then-athletic director who actually attended to MTSU, needless to say, this writer’s columns about his old school didn’t really have much local interest in our neck of the woods. Our coverage area doesn’t even extend to the adjoining county, much less a state over. That said, neither did some of my maniacal rantings about the wrestler, Booker T, or the Denver Broncos or Mike Tyson or Cocoa Puffs or whatever zany stuff I was spewing at the time carry much local interest. Some of that is archived at the above link, so by all means, enjoy (as I carry heavy sarcasm in tow).
Thus, as few of you care anything about the Broncos, I’m sure, I offer this about the debacle in which Jay Cutler and the Broncos find themselves. As of late, this seems to be the most publicized story in the NFL at the moment and certainly the most publicized for the Broncos’ since they won the Super Bowl in the late 90s.
Here’s how it goes: the Broncos’ new coach, Josh McDaniels apparently pursued a trade for Matt Cassel, and Cutler got steamed about it. As in the post provided above, some folks said Cutler was being a cry baby and a whiner and should have kept his mouth shut. Regardless, silence ensued. The Broncos couldn’t get in touch with Cutler for 10 days, and the quarterback missed some workouts, etc. The Broncos then found out that Cutler wanted to be traded. Denver was apparently happy to oblige.
Now, the national media prior to this foolishness, seemed to paint Cutler as a hero who, despite having diabetes and having to check his blood sugar level multiple times during games on the sidelines and the like, was a role model for others who had diabetes that they could achieve a similar level of success. First, I think he can be great some day, perhaps sooner than later. But he’s not there, and that was clearly on display last season. Maybe that was why McDaniels was poking around looking for greener pastures.
Despite all the media attention surrounding this story and the color commentators touting Cutler as a hero, I thought a lot of the guy. He had an Elway-esque ability to scramble out of the pocket and a rifle arm, which is something I will sorely miss if the Broncos decide to go with a more pocket-style quarterback. He also was candid. And I think that’s also something that will be sorely missed.
Many players when interviewed spew the same tired talking points and clichés handed down for decades, but Cutler was/is different, and he provided a breath of fresh air, regardless of whether one is talking about sports or politics. (Political side note: We need leaders with spines, not robots.) Cutler provided that in his own sphere of influence, and he should be lauded for it. Whether his action or inaction in speaking with McDaniels and owner Pat Bowlen about staying the team was right or wrong, we must leave that open because, despite all the reports, no one truly knows what went on behind closed doors.
But now, we do know this. Cutler is now a Bear, and as a quasi-Bear fan, I’m not dissatisfied. (I was a child and one of my first memorable NFL experiences was watching Chicago topple New England in the Super Bowl. Also, William “The Refrigerator” Perry is a Clemson University alum, and Walter Payton, in my opinion, is one of the greatest.) The addition of Cutler will give a huge lift to the Bears’ offense and provide a level of rocketdom at the QB spot the bears have missed for ages. As for the Broncos, I don’t see Kyle Orton going down as a great in the Denver record books. The team will likely try to pick up a first-round or third-round QB draft pick, and my hope would be that the pick would play the same kind of movement game for which Cutler is known.