What did we learn from this week in college football?

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football

Goodbye Notre Dame? Not so fast my friend.

The fans are ready to move on to a new coach. It even looks like the team is ready for a new leader but neither of them matter. The only people that matter are in the administration of the school.

Far too often pinhead administrators want to prove to the fans who is the boss. The Ohio State Athletic Director was hearing demands for Coach John Cooper to be fired in part because he was beaten like a nail by hammer Michigan. Instead, he gave Cooper a significant extension. The following year both the AD and Cooper were history. But the Buckeyes still had to pay off the contract. It was the gift that keeps on giving.

Don’t bet the house that coach Weis is gone. ND doesn’t like paying ex-coaches. There is no question that the team needs a new direction and that needs to be more than just a change in the coaching staff.

The two previous ND coaches won 58% of their games. Prior to the loss Saturday, Weiss had a winning percentage of 58. That can not be a coincidence. Based on the Sporting News top 25 recruits ND has a commitment from 1 and shot at 3 others. That will help but not much. ND is not going to be a BcS candidate for the big game any time soon.

The problem is a fan base that has the expectation of a national championship run every year for a team that will at best be moderately reliant a couple of times a decade. There are other teams in the north that are now in the second tier of college powers. Unless Global Warming makes the deep south unbearable, colleges north of the Mason-Dixon line will be second class citizens for the foreseeable future.

Michigan not Rodriguez friendly. Rodriguez is not very Michigan friendly either.

Coach Rich Rodriguez has not made many friends at Michigan. He got off on the wrong foot by not committing the Blue history to memory. He further irritated Blue fans by turning his back on Michigan stars of the past. He also brought a new system that 2007 QB of the future Ryan Mallett wanted no part of. As a result, Mallett left the team for new digs in Arkansas.

If you are winning Big 10 titles and BcS bowl games you can get away with more than a little arrogance. When you struggling to win enough games to get an invitation to the Tidy Bowl in Michawalka Minnesota you had better be sucking up to the power brokers.

Rodriguez faced an extra challenge bringing his wide open O and 3-3-5 D to the ultra conservative Michigan program. He needed a run and shoot type QB similar to White that he had in WV. He also needed lighter more athletic O and D linemen. The cupboard was bare when he got there and there wasn’t any of the things that fit his system. But again due to arrogance, he refused to change his system and implemented it with what he had. When the Michigan HC is advertising for walk-ons it is not going to be a good year.

After a 3-9 result in 2008 a 5-7 2009 is not good enough. The fans are screaming for his firing. But for the fans there is good news and bad news. The bad news is that the AD has said that Rodriguez will be back next year. The good news is that the AD will not be around then because he is retiring.

I doubt that he will be fired this off season. But with a new AD coming in, it is not out of the question. He has tried to smooth things over with the key donors to the program but kissing up to contributors is not his style. He may last another year but will be gone for sure after that and may not be part of a trip to OSU next November.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: Notre Dame,NCAA Football,BCS,BCS CHAmpionship,BCS Bowl,Weis,Rodriguez,Michigan,Ohio State,Cooper

Around the NFL for 10/17/09

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nfl

There aren’t many decent games this weekend. Most of the games are either the very good against the very bad or 2 bad teams playing each other. Here are a couple I like.

Game of the week NY Giants 5-0 @ New Orleans 4-0

Two undefeated teams meet to decide the early inside track to the top seed in the playoffs. The Giants come in off the closest thing the NFL has to a game week bye beating Oakland easily. The two issues that the Giants have to find an answer to are RB Jacobs who is under performing and the injury to their QB. QB Manning has a foot problem that is not going to get better during the year. It is a problem because there is no quality backup.

The D has played as well as it ever has and is holding the opponent to a 24% 3rd down conversion rate. That is outstanding. They have 14 sacks and is holding the passing game to 4.9 yards per passing attempt.

The Saints have played much better on D than anyone expected them to. They have stuffed the run holding opponents to 3.7 per carry. There is no question about the power of the O through the air. QB Breez is a top player and has a passer rating of 108.4. But the running game is struggling. RB Bell ran very well but has been hurt and should return this week. The Saints have had a week off and that should help but the Giants are the 2nd best team in the conference and will win on the road.

Baltimore 3-2 @ Minnesota 5-0

This game could end up 6-3 without the benefit of a 50 MPH wind like Buffalo/Cleveland faces last week. The Ravens have the most improved player in the league this year in QB Flacco (90.2). He was a care-taker last year but is making plays to win games this season. He will be without his LT Gaither (neck) but still should make some plays. The question is will he make enough? The running game has passed from McGahee to Rice and the latter is averaging 5.8 per carry. They will have to run the ball this week because the Vikes D puts a lot of pressure on the QB in passing situations.

The Vikes have had running problems this season. RB Peterson is fine averaging 4.9 per carry but his partner Taylor is not. He is getting only 2.5 per attempt. Peterson is not a 30 carry a game guy. The Vikes are going to have to find someone to reduce the burden on AP. Favre is doing what he needs to in order win. The D is outstanding but has not yet played up to their level last year. They are giving up too many yards on the ground and have trouble getting off the field despite an easy schedule so far.

The Ravens are mad and will come in and take Minnesota out of the undefeated category.

Chicago @ Atlanta

Two 3-1 teams face off in a critical game for both because they are chasing undefeated teams leading their respective divisions. This game could determine which team gets a wild card spot in the NFC. Both teams have struggled with the running game averaging only 3.8 per attempt. But this game highlights two of the best young QBs in the game—the Falcons’ Matt Ryan (102.9 passer rating) and the Bears’ Jay Cutler (89.3). There will be a lot of balls in the air.

Both teams depend on a well above average D. The Bears have allowed 78 points and the Falcons have given up just 68. The Bears are +3 and I will take the points and Chicago.

Denver 5-0 @ SD 2-2

The Chargers have their backs to the wall in the division. No question that DV has been very lucky to be undefeated. SD is 2.5 games behind and needs a win to get back into the race for the division. DV has 2.5 signature wins including the .5 win over NE because they won the toss in overtime. QB Orton has proven to be a good fit for the short and medium throws he is asked to make. He has assembled a passer rating of 97.4. RB Moreno is averaging 4.2 but struggles to get the key short yard 3rd down coversions. The Bronco D has played well but racked up better numbers against Cleveland and Detroit. The one thing that the D has been able to do is put pressure on the QB. The team has 16 sacks with DE/LB Dumervil having half of those.

The Chargers are struggling running the ball averaging only 2.7 yards per attempt. RB Tomlinson has been a non factor most of the season so far. The team placed the Franchise tag on RB Sproles to keep him in SD. But he is only getting 2.4 yards per carry. The lack of a running game has put a lot more pressure on the passing game and QB Rivers. He has a passing rating of 90.6 which is hard given the lack of quality protection from the O line and the opponent knowing you have to pass on almost every down.

Denver will run out of luck soon but not this week. The Broncos put the SD hopes for the division title on life support.

Stinker of the week:

There are several nominees for this “honor” but one stinks beyond all others. The NFL should pay people to watch the Rams @ the Jags. The winner? The UFL.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: NFL,NFL Football,Saints,Giants,Jacobs,Manning,Breez,Bell,Ravens,Vikings,Flacco,Favre,McGahee,Gaither,Rice,Bears,Falcons,Cutler,Ryan,Broncos,Chargers,Orton,Rivers,Dumervil,Tomlinson,Sproles,Rams,Jaguars

What to look for this weekend.

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football

College football

#1 Florida @ Kentucky The Wildcats have played well winning last week against Louisville. But they are not a threat to the Gators. Florida works on the O but the D is fine. The Gators win easily.

Arkansas @ #3 Alabama The Tide looks to be the class of the SEC West. Arkansas lost a tough game against Georgia last week in an offensive shootout. The Bama D will keep the Hog O under control and Alabama wins.

Iowa @ #5 Penn St. PS is in a position to play for the national title if they can run the table. The one problem for them is the inconsistent running game. If they can run the ball against a solid run D of Iowa, they will win and should be able to win the Big 10 with a win over Ohio State at home. This will be a really good test of their running game. Penn St. wins but it will be closer than most think.

#6 California @ Oregon Any trip to Oregon is difficult and this trip could be particularly hard. Cal had a nice win last week against Minnesota. Oregon lost to #14 Boise St. but beat #18 Utah last week. They are playing very well despite significant losses from last years team. Duck QB Masoli is going to have to prove he can complete more than 45% of his throws or Cal will shut the run down. He won’t and Cal wins.

#9 Miami @ #11 Virginia Tech Miami is one of the hottest teams in the country. They opened with a big win over Florida St. then beat Georgia Tech. They can win the Coastal division with a win over VT. In addition, a win this week is critical if the game next week at Oklahoma is going to be significant.

VT has redeemed itself in part from a opening loss to Alabama with a lucky 1 point win over underdog Nebraska last week. I think Miami wins on the road.

The NFL

TN @ Jets The Titans come in 0-2. They can not afford to go 0-3. The Jets are 2-0 and will have a letdown after a big win against the hated Pats last week. Tennessee finds a way to win in a tough and close game.

SF @ MN The 49ers are 2-0 but have yet to face a top team. This will be their first loss. Minnesota is too tough on D to allow RB Gore to run wild. This game will be close because SF plays much better than its talent would indicate it could.

MI @ SD The Dolphins are 0-2 and need a win desperately. The wildcat has lost its luster to some degree but the fish face an injured Charger team. The key to the game will be how much pressure the Fish can put on QB Rivers. The Charger line is banged up and LT is in the garage. The pass D of the Fish give up a couple of big plays and the Chargers win.

IN @ AZ The Colts are 2-0 but have struggled on offense. The Cards looked horrible in their first game and unbeatable in game 2. They are somewhere in between those extremes. But the Cards have their WRs back and if they can give QB Warner any time at all, they should be able to win.

AT @ NE This should be the best game of the weekend. The Falcons are really good but the Pats are really mad after the loss last week. I like ATL but the Pats won’t lose 2 in a row. Pats win close.

Tomorrow we will have September Niblets.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: Florida,Kentucky,Arkansas,Alabama,Penn St.,Iowa,California,Oregon,Miami,Virginia Tech,Titans,jETS,49ers,Vikings,Dolphins,Chargers,Colts,Cardinals,Falcons,Patroits

What does the Williams' case mean for the NFL's drug policy and the future of the league?

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nfl

Six events have put the entire drug policy of NFL and every other sports league’s policy in serious jeopardy.

Event 1—The state courts of Minnesota prohibiting Comm. Goodell from suspending Pat and Kevin Williams (DT, Vikings) for having tested positive for banned substances. When the league first announced the suspensions of several players including both all pro DTs of the Vikes, the Williams took the issue to the Minnesota state courts. The state courts found for the Williams.

Event 2—The NFL took the issue to the Federal court system. The League claimed that since it is a national organization, only the Federal system could decide the issue. A lower federal court used the state decision in part to decide in favor of the players. The league appealed and the Minnesota federal court of Appeals heard the case.

Event 3—The NFLPA joined the fray. When the case was moved to the federal courts, the Union filed suit on behalf of both the Vikings players and three Saints players that were also suspended by the league. The NBA, MLB and the NHL filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the NFL’s position.

Event 4—Last week, that court announced the verdict—no suspensions now or in the future for the failed tests. The decision to cancel the suspensions only affects the Williams because they were the ones that brought the initial suit. The suit by the NFLPA was dismissed. However, there was something more in their decision. The Federal Court sent part of the case back to the Minnesota state court for determination.

Event 5—NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith said on ESPN Radio that one of the issues he was interested in negotiating in the next collective bargaining agreement (CBA) was a way to take the power of suspensions including those for failed drug tests out of the hands of the NFL Commissioner. He said that there should be an independent arbiter or panel that would decide on who would be suspended for how long.

Event 6—New Orleans plays Minnesota in week 2. This is important because 2 of the Saint’s D linemen were also suspended for failing the same test. Both DE Will Smith and Charles Grant had been suspended along with Deuce McAllister who has since been cut. However, the Commissioner reinstated both Smith and Grant earlier this week sighting the need for competitive balance as the reason.

So what does all this mean?

The League’s control of the drug policy is subject to both state and federal courts. The fact that the Federal court saw the state court as having jurisdiction is particularly troubling for the League. There are several suits against the league. The chances for success in these cases will depend upon the league being able to maintain its status as one from many. The right of the league for example to grant a license to EA Sports for the sole use of the names and likenesses of players for its video game depend on the courts seeing the league as one unit.

The NFLPA’s nosing into the issue is also a sign of trouble for a new CBA. The league is not going to give up the right to suspend players willingly. This could be the single issue that prevents an agreement in time to avoid a work stoppage.

The only good news for the NFL in the court’s decision was that the NFLPA’s suit was rejected. But it was rejected only because the union had agreed to the terms that the NFL had the power to suspend.

Look for the league to lose more suits due to the court’s decision. This decision sets a bad precedent because it breaks what had been a continuous run of the courts seeing the league as one unit. It also reestablishes the right of the courts over the CBA and league rules.

I see the reinstatement of the Saints as the league accepting this new reality. I cannot see a resolution to the CBA before the start of the 2010 season. That means 10 will be an uncapped year. The likelihood of the NFLPA agreeing to a new cap after an uncapped year is remote at best. The probability is also that the union will win some type of guarantee for contracts. It’s too early to tell exactly which deals or how much of contracts will become guaranteed. But these two changes will destroy the competitive balance of the league as we have known it. And those of us that love the game will remember the old CBA fondly.

This will be a major sticking point over which a strike/work stoppage could well result.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: nfl,nflpa,collective bargaining agreement,CBA,Goodell,Smith,Williams,Federal Court,ESPN Radio,steroids,drug policy,Grant,law suit

What to watch for in the games this weekend.

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football

College Football:

Georgia Tech v. Clemson  This game was interesting on a couple of levels.  First, GT is going to be a nightmare to defend.  They have the Navy option game working like a fine tuned race car.  But Clemson in previous years would have folded up like a 78 Ford Fairmont after the opponent put 21 points on the board.  But this Clemson team fought back and made a game of it.  These two should be fun to watch going forward.

USC @ Ohio State Forget what the experts are saying. This game will depend on 2 things—the OSU O and D lines. Can OSU drive USC off the ball to run and give Pryor time to throw? Can OSU’s D stop the run and put pressure on the USC QB? The answer to both is no and OSU will lose the game by 14.

Notre Dame @ Michigan Coach Rich Rodriguez’s system will work but he does not have the players on O or D to make it effective. ND finally has some key parts in place. ND wins by 10.

South Carolina @ Georgia Last year all the experts had Georgia at the top of the rankings. They had injuries and failed to live up to the hype. This year very few are talking about them. Look for them to be better than they were last year even without Stafford at QB. Georgia wins by 10.

North Carolina @ Connecticut NC is ranked in the top 20 but UConn gets no love. UC lost a lot to the draft this spring but is a program on the rise. UConn wins at home in a upset.

Syracuse @ Penn State New QB Greg Paulus had the Orange moving last week with the exception of the fumble on the first drive. That won’t continue and PS wins by 30.

Pro Football:

Tennessee @ Pittsburgh The Steelers won despite the fact that they can not run the ball. The problem is in the O line and won’t be solved this season. Despite having all the other parts, the lack of the ability to run will come back to bite the Steelers.

Miami @ Atlanta Last year Miami improved a great deal. This year they are better but they won’t win as many. ATL wins.

Philadelphia @ Carolina The Eagles show their power against a good Carolina D. Eagles win.

Washington @ New York The experts pick the Giants to go all the way. They won’t because of their lack of WRs. The Giants win but closer than it should be.

Chicago @ Green Bay The Pack is lucky to catch the Bears early. GB wins this one but they won’t at the return engagement at Soldier Field.

Minnesota @ Cleveland Mangini’s trick to keep the name of the starting QB secret works in a big way and the Browns…Just kidding. This game is over at half time. It’s going to be a L O N G season in Brownie land.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: Georgia Tech,Clemson,USC,Ohio State,Notre Dame,Michigan,Pryor,College football,North Carolina,Connecticut,Syarcuse,Penn State,nfl,NFL Draft,Tennessee,Pittsburgh,Miami,Atlanta Falcons,Philadelphia,Carolina,Washington,New York Giants,Chicago,Green Bay,Paulus,Browns,Vikings

Niblets for July

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nib

Note: We will continue our preview of the NFL teams on Monday.

Comment of the Month: From Steve on Vegas projects the Browns to win 7 games(???)

Go Browns!!! I think the Browns have more potential this year than the Bengals. The Bengals have had the same team in the past and can’t win. The Browns do have new systems but new is better than old and crappy.

Steve: I am a recovering Browns fan and have the receipts for a number of new TV sets to prove it. The TVs got so depressed with the Browns play that they committed suicide.

I hope I am wrong but I don’t like what I see from Mangini. The Bengals will be better on D with Rivers coming back and Palmer will make the difference. I still will bet the under.

Updates on Previous Columns:

The world vs. Lance Armstrong

Despite an outstanding effort, it looks like Lance is not going to win this Tour. He has announced that he will compete for the Radio Shack team next year.

What should the NFL do with Mikey Vick?

Mikey met with Comm. Goodell this week. The rumor is that he will be allowed to practice with a team but will face a suspension of between 2 and 6 games. First he has to find a team. So far not a single NFL team has expressed interest. The UFL has said he would be welcome to play for them.

Niblets fresh off the Cob:

Pro sports leagues and the NCAA files suit against the State of Delaware for single game betting law.

The NFL finally got the support of the NBA, MLB, NHL and NCAA in opposing the recently passed single game betting plan that Delaware enacted to help reduce that state’s budget deficit. The suit was filed in Federal Court in Delaware.

The NFL makes the 2010 Draft a TV mini-series

On Thursday the NFL announced that the 2010 Draft would conduct round 1 on Thursday April 22 at 7 PM Eastern Time. Rounds 2 and 3 will be done on Friday with the remainder held on Saturday. I hope none of the players that attend the draft will fall out of the first round. Does Madison Square Garden serve breakfast?

Is FA WR Marvin Harrison on an NFL black list or just a victim of age?

Harrison is still a free agent despite several teams needing WR help. The question is why? There was the problem with a man that was shot with Harrison’s custom gun outside the receiver’s bar. The victim was shot again and is in stable condition.

According to his agent, several teams have expressed some interest in Harrison. Don’t believe it. He may catch on (excuse the pun) during training camp if an injury happens but don’t bet on it. Harrison will be 37 before the start of the 09 season and has lost a lot more than a step.

The Vikings are doing more than waiting for Favre (and you thought this was a Favre free site!)

The Vikes have signed a new deal with pro bowl DB Antoine Winfield. Winfield will continue to play LC this year. At 32, his days at CB may be limited. But he is a key to the Vikes D and could play safety in the future.

NBA Water Cooler talk

The Cavs offered LeBron James an extension the second they were allowed to by league rules. Don’t expect him to jump to sign it. However he said he was considering it. That is good news for the Cavs.

Allen Iverson is without a contract. He thinks he has been blacklisted. No Allen, it is the economy. He was offered a 5 million mid level exception by Memphis in July but there is a difference of opinion whether the deal is still on the table. Memphis has not commented. Look for the 2010 free agent pool to be a lot more shallow than some think. The money just will not be there for many clubs to offer maximum contracts.

Minnesota’s 5th overall pick Ricky Rubio has told his team in Spain and the NBA that he wants out of the Spanish league ASAP. That should reduce Rubio’s buyout and get him into the NBA.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: NFL,NFL Draft,Browns,Mangini,Armstrong,Vick,Goodell,Harrison,Vikings,NBA,LeBron,James,Cavilers,Iverson,Timberwolfs,Rubio

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