Saturday, December 12, 2009

Kelly Cometh

So there's a new head coach in South Bend. Weis wasn't the guy to bring them back to glory, and he was deservedly relieved of his position as head coach. In comes Brian Kelly. A man who hasn't quite coached in the same spotlight as some of the other coaches that were on the short list of possible replacements, but that doesn't mean that he won't work at Notre Dame.

I stuck by Weis longer than most, but this season really got me on the other side of the fence. A few of their losses were the direct result of poor play calling, particularly in the red-zone. When the offensive line is all 6'6"+, 300lbs+, and Jimmy Clausen is throwing the ball to Golden Tate, Michael Floyd, and Kyle Rudolph, there is simply no reason that the offense should sputter out so many times in the red-zone. Also at times I got the feeling this season that Weis felt like he was bigger than Notre Dame, and that is a quality that a coach in South Bend simply cannot afford to have. Sure, no one will argue that Notre Dame needed Charlie Weis. He is responsible for some solid recruits coming to Notre Dame...but at the same time Weis needed Notre Dame as well. Neither is/was bigger than the other. This is an area where I feel Kelly will excel. He has always taken smaller schools and turned them into winners (Grand Valley State, Central Michigan, and his latest masterpiece at Cincinnati). Now he has a school where he can go out and get an even better athletic prospect, in an area that he already knows the recruiting trail quite well. This small-school mentality will allow him to fully embrace what it means to coach at Notre Dame...the tradition, the fans, the students, and the ambiance. This is something that a coach at Notre Dame has not done since Dr. Lou, and we all know how he did at ND...

Another area where I think Weis struggled was motivation. That's what a coach does...motivates his players to give 110%, stay hungry, and play every down of every game like it's for the national title. It's no small task convincing the best WR/QB/RB in the country why he needs to work hard and get better, rather than simply relying on God-given ability to play better than the other guy. If Brian Kelly can motivate the caliber of athletes that come to Notre Dame, it could finally propel them back into the national scene.

So while Kelly's lack in experience coaching agains the major college football powerhouses worries me, I am very excited about what he brings to the table in terms of coaching ability, recruiting, and motivation. It's time for Notre Dame to get back on top, instead of being known as the over-hyped media-queen that they have been for the past decade.

~Golf Czar

Saturday, November 7, 2009

David vs. Goliath

A sportswriter recently wrote an article about the football team from Boise State, and how they are struggling to get national recognition because the big BCS schools won't play them, and are shutting them out of their scheduling.

I personally do not think that Boise State is on the same level as the national powerhouses of the BCS conferences. While the big schools play what I believe to be a weak schedule, they are still far tougher in comparison to that of Boise State. Yeah, they beat Oregon, but it was in the first week of the season and now Oregon is playing like one of the best teams in the nation. But I find it hard to believe that Boise can't get a single big school besides Oregon to add them to their schedule. Now there is no way that the best of the best in terms of play and media recognition (AKA Texas, Florida, 'Bama, LSU, Miami, Notre Dame, Oklahoma) will agree to play them because, well let's be honest, what do they have to gain from playing and beating a Boise State team? If they win, the media says that this is a WAC team and they should have won, and if they lose, they are chastised for losing to a team from a non-BCS school. Boise has A LOT to gain from a game like this...even in the event of a loss. If Boise loses close, they get a boost because they hung with the big boys of college football...if Boise wins, they are boosted up the polls faster than my beloved Fighting Irish when they win some games.

So is it worth it for a big school to put Boise State on their schedule? Not at all. Will they eventually do it? Maybe.

~Golf Czar

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Championships Vs. Integrity

Urban Meyer has hit a new low.

His defensive captain, Brandon Spikes, was caught on camera last weekend attempting to get his fingers inside of the facemask of an opposing player, the intent of which has not been 100% determined. The common intent of such an act is to either poke or gouge at the eyes of an opponent. Urban Meyer, after seeing the same footage that the entire sports-watching world saw, decided that a 1st-half suspension vs. Vanderbilt this weekend was enough punishment for such an offense.

Now yes, it is fair to say that we don't know beyond a shadow of a doubt what the intent of Mr. Spikes was when he shoved his fingers inside of the other player's facemask, but one can make a decent assumption as to his intent in doing so. So perhaps Urban Meyer is dishing out this punishment based on that notion, but it can also be assumed that Coach Meyer doesn't want to lose the anchor on a defense that has has kept them in some pretty crucial SEC games this season.

So here is my take: Coach Meyer has crossed the line, and once again the governing bodies at the SEC have let the big bad wolf known as The University of Florida do pretty much whatever they want. They refuse to step in on this matter and make sure that Brandon Spikes receives the punishment that he deserves. The governing body of the SEC's only job at this point is to make sure that either Florida or Alabama (or both) are playing for the BCS Championship come January. They have quieted coaches that speak out about the officiating that is clearly in favor of Florida, and now they support a coach who refuses to repremand a star player for a hanus and aggressive act.

Good work SEC, you've chosen title-contending-runs over sportsmanship, playing the game with a sense of class, and the integrity of the game.

~Golf Czar

Monday, October 26, 2009

Steroids Are Only Logo Deep

In a time where the word "steroids" has become somewhat of a swear-word in sports, it is amazing to look at how differently certain players have been portrayed and treated, based on the team(s) that they are affiliated with. When the topic of steroids is brought up among sports discussion-circles, there are a handful of key names that come up with it. There are the players of the HR era: Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds...and then there are the players of the common era: Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, Alex Rodriguez, Roger Clemens, and Andy Pettite.

The really interesting thing to look at is how the slugger-era players are looked at and treated. Sammy was all-but run out of the game of baseball, the media is already preparing to hound Mark McGuire about his past as he has recently landed a job as the hitting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals, and Barry Bonds was essentially black-balled by MLB when he may have had another year left as a semi-productive DH.

Now let me provide a little self-interruption and say that I do not think that any of these players were/are mistreated. I think that steroids has ruined the game of baseball, even worse than the baseball-strike of my childhood did...and that did some damage.

Now onto the second set of players that I mentioned. The Yankees clinched the 40th Pennant in team history last night, and Pettitte was crowned one of the most successful post-season pitchers in history...oh yeah...he did steroids to rehab quicker from an injury didn't he? That has since been forgotten. A-Rod is finally turning into the hitter in the post-season that he always has been in the regular season. Another player who's past is being ignored due to the team that he is playing for, and the success that he is having. Manny served a 50-game suspension this season for testing positive for a banned substance, a drug typically used by steroid-users when coming off of a cycle. Did I mention he was still receiving All-Star votes while suspended and hardly playing the first half of the season?

I think it shouldn't matter if you have a white "LA", a red "B", or a white "NY" on your hat...if you took steroids you should be treated the same way as every other player that took special treatment...

~Golf Czar

Friday, October 9, 2009

Fathers And Sons

Sports bring people together. No, I'm not just talking about the weekend tailgate with the beer-drinking, bag-throwing, BBQ-ing hangout that happens all around America on Saturday and Sunday...but that is included. I'm talking about the "I was there when..." moments. I think it is a big reason why fathers and sons share live-sports experiences together.

Every year for quite some time now my dad and I have made it a point to get to at least one Notre Dame football game, be it at home or away. Even when I was (and am) living in Florida, we have always found a way to make it happen. This has always been a very special bond that we share, and as a result of it I have seen some pretty amazing football games.

  • Boston College @ Notre Dame in 1993. Notre Dame was fresh off of a victory over Florida State, the team believed to be the best in the nation. One more win and the unanimous AP National Title was theirs. After an amazing late-game comeback by Notre Dame, Boston College kicks a game-winning field goal...right into the endzone we were sitting in. I don't remember much of how I felt after that (being only 12 years old at the time), but I venture to guess I wasn't too happy. The AP goes on to give Florida State the national title, a decision that was way off-base, but that's a topic for another day. Anyone who thinks the BCS is a busted system needs to go back and relive those days...that was a mess.

  • USC @ Notre Dame in 2005. A game also known as the "Reggie Bush Push" game. Notre Dame comes in an underdog, USC riding a big winning streak and playing great. The Fighting Irish give them all they can handle, and towards the end of the game USC is faced with a 4th and 9. Leinart throws a perfect strike and USC gets a first down. Down near the goal-line Leinart tries to scramble into the endzone and fumbles the ball out of bounds. With only 3 seconds left on the clock and it running, 80,000+ think the game is over and Notre Dame has pulled off the upset...students storm the field, already eyeing the goal-posts...the refs saw the ending a little differently. USC got one more play from the 1 1/2, and it turned out to be a big one. Leinart wanted to go for it to win or lose the game right there. He scrambles, hits the pile, rolls over, and gets some assistance into the endzone. Notre Dame lost, but still the best college football game I've ever seen.

  • Notre Dame @ Michigan State in 2006. We left our rain-gear in the car...big mistake. The rains came down, and they came down hard. Notre Dame trailed MSU by 17pts at halftime, and it seemed like they were about to lose a second straight game to a Michigan opponent. Notre Dame rallied a furious comeback, and capped off the game with an interception return for a touchdown with 2:53 remaining to give Notre Dame the 40-37 victory. It was probably the single-most amazing comeback game I've ever seen...and the weather made it that much more memorable.

So there you have it. I have all of those great memories that I can tell my kids about someday, and I have my "I was there when..." moments. My dad has plenty of them to tell me, and his dad had the same things to tell him. It's a special bond that sports can deliver, and it's something that I am happy to be able to be a part of. It's the reason that we spend the money on a plane ticket, drive countless hours to another state, and pay the scalper a ridiculous fee for a ticket that he bought at face value...all for the moments...

~Golf Czar

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Dear Brett Favre,

You're ruining the NFL, and this sports-fan is sick of hearing about you.


The Golf Czar

I think every person outside of Minnesota should feel the exact same way. The people of Green Bay should be looking for Brett's head on a platter.

Here's my take on Brett "Awe Shucks" Favre...

I had a great deal of respect for what he did in Green Bay. Playing a whole career with the same team is a noble gesture that is rare in sports today, and often-times overlooked by most. Favre played one heck of a game against the eventual champion New York Football Giants. It was a game that came down to the wire, and everyone was under the impression that it was his last hoorah on the football field...we were duped.

After retiring from football and walking away from the game, the Packers made the obvious move, going with the kid that was being groomed to be Brett's replacement, Aaron Rogers. He had been riding the pine, learning all that he could, and waiting for his chance to take the reigns. In June Favre decided that walking away from the game just wasn't that easy...I really don't blame him. So he made a comeback to the Packers. The Packers stated that they were standing by their guy, and Rogers was the starting QB, but the job was open to competition. This answer was not good enough for Brett, who wanted to be accepted as the Prodigal Son with open arms and a blank check. So Favre decided that maybe retiring was the right thing to do. We were duped...again.

Old #4 finds his way onto the Jets, with the agreement that if the J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets ever traded him to a team in the NFC North, they would have to pay the piper (in this case the Packers) in the form of draft picks. So Favre played a season with the Jets, looking every bit as old as we all know he is. Finished the season with some of the worst closing numbers in the league. The season ended, Brett retired...again. We were duped...again.

Brett negotiates a release from the Jets, allowing him to sign with whoever he pleases. He chooses the Vikings. The Lions had alraedy drafted Matthew Stafford, the Bears had Cutler already, it made perfect sense to choose the Vikings. But wait, this has NOTHING to do with Green Bay, right Brett? "Awe Shucks, I'm just a country boy that loves playing the game..."

So now Favre is a Minnesota Viking, with the matchup of the season coming up this Monday night. Packers @ Vikings. Favre has said that this "is just anther football game" and that he is "too old" to be playing games simply for revenge. Sorry Brett, we're not duped this time. Is he saying all of these things to try and convince himself? We all know what this is about. It's been all about this moment immediately after the Packers told him that he could compete for the starting QB job.

Brett Favre has taken over the NFL with his selfish spiteful attitude, and I can't stand it. If T.O., Randy Moss, or Chad Ochocinco did anything close to this, they would be killed by the media...but most of the media is afraid to call out the great Brett Favre. Man up, tell it like it is...he's a baby and an egomaniac.

Thanks Brett...looking forward to next off-season when we can do all this again...

~Golf Czar

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The College Football Machine Has Sprung A Leak

And no...I'm not talking about the BCS. We can leave that piece of crap for another day. There is something else wrong with college football that has a direct effect on how crappy the BCS is...and that is the preseason rankings.

A preseason ranking can make or break a team's season, simply based on how high or low they are ranked before a game is even played. Top 10? Top 25? Out of the top 25? How do we know any of this before we have even seen a team step foot on the field?

Here are the preseason rankings from this season (We'll use the AP Poll as the example):

1. Florida
2. Texas
3. Oklahoma
4. USC
5. Alabama
6. Ohio State
7.Virginia Tech
8. Ole Miss
9. Penn State
10. Oklahoma State
11. LSU
12. California
13. Georgia
14. Boise State
15. Georgia Tech
16. Oregon
17. TCU
18. Florida State
19. Utah
20. BYU
21. North Carolina
22. Iowa
23. Notre Dame
24. Nebraska
25. Kansas

So there you have the preseason top 25. It isn't so much that I don't think that certain teams are deserving of more "benefit of the doubt" if you will, it's just that the teams shouldn't be ranked before a game has been played. Here is how things have played out since then, and this is where the problem comes in.

  • Iowa squeaked out a win in week 1 against Northern Iowa...fell out of the top 25 (WIN and fall out?). As a result they are now 4-0 and ranked behind (in 1 of 2 polls) a 3-1 Penn State team that they just beat in Happy Valley.

  • Oklahoma loses to BYU, the current #20 team in the nation (without their star QB, we all know the sob-story) and they barely fall out of the top 10. BYU later goes on to get pummeled by an unranked Florida State team. Now Oklahoma is back into the top 10 and poised to make a run at the title if they win out.

  • USC loses to an unranked Washington Huskies team, who the following week goes and gets waxed by Stanford. But since USC destroyed Washington State (which they should) they climb back to #7 in the nation, and also poised to make a run should they win out.

  • TCU and Cincinnati look great, have both beaten quality opponents both inside and outside their respective conferences, but because they play in a "weaker" conference they didn't get the preseason ranking that perhaps they deserved.
The only teams that are up there and appear to be deserving of their spots are Virginia Tech (big win over Miami this past week), Texas, and Alabama. We'll see shortly when Florida has to play LSU if either team is really deserving of the early hype.

So I am proposing this. No rankings until week 3 at the earliest. Who cares if your team is #11 or #16 after week 2. If you win your games it doesn't matter who they beat that early. That would give pollsters enough time to base the rankings on the level of talent that teams have already beaten.

Here is an example (take a breather if need be): If team A beats team B (a "quality" opponent) in week 1, and then team B goes on to start 0-3 and loses to teams that are considered to be weaker opponents, were they really that good? Now if team B had received a high preseason ranking, it could have catapulted team A into a high spot in the rankings, without pollsters even knowing if they deserved it or not.

Those are my thoughts...take it or leave it.

~Golf Czar

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Heisman Relevant?

With a world dominated by depressing things like the economy, politics, the environment, nukes, and genocide in the third world countries, I'd like to start a debate on one of the lighter topics...the Heisman Trophy.

I don't think it's too early to begin talking about the least NFL-Results-Transferable award on the planet, with most of its winners either dropping out of the NFL never to be heard from again, or riding the pine. To date there are only 3 active players in the NFL that are both Heisman Trophy winners and also starters for their respective teams. This is an atrocity, but a bi-product when the trophy typically goes to the player on the best team, rather than the player that had the best individual season. The Heisman is not a team award...if it were, they could simply hand it out at the National Championship game along with that crystal-football thingie. I think all too often the "front-runner" list is composed of the biggest names in college football, and usually the eventual winner is also from this category...Tim Tebow, Colt McCoy, Jahvid Best...and while I'm not taking anything away from those great players (Tim Tebow is making his case for one of the best college football players in history), I think the voters need to take a step back, turn ESPN off once in awhile, and look at both the numbers and the games.

So here is what I am going for. Give me your "front-runners" for the Heisman. I'll accept any player you want (yes Michigan fans, even Tate Forcier...big step for a Golden Domer huh?) as long as you have something that backs up said player being up there. If you don't have a list, or just don't care enough to make one, then just tell me your thoughts about the Heisman Trophy system as a whole.

~Golf Czar

Welcome to my blog!

I love sports, and I am also very why not combine those two things. What you've stumbled upon is my ramblings about things that I think are good and bad in the world of sports. No sport is safe, no player is exempt, and no, you can never go too far. So check back in and enjoy!