Thursday, December 22, 2011

Looking Back on 2011

As we wrap up the year, we truly understand what a monumental year 2011 was in sports. We saw Auburn, led by future #1 overall pick Cam Newton, win their second NCAA National Championship. Then we watched as one of the most historic teams in NFL history brought the Lombardi trophy right back to its hometown, Green Bay. The Bruins won the Stanley Cups finals, defeating the Vancouver Canucks and sparking riots in the streets of Vancouver. The Mavericks beat the "Dream Team" Miami Heat to claim their NBA championship, and the world was introduced to the backyard-style play of PG JJ Barea. Then, we endured a summer of NFL and NBA labor disputes, both of which were eventually resolved: the NFL's before the season and the NBA's just in time for Christmas. Among these labor messes, the St.Louis Cardinals won the 2011 World Series over the repeat AL-Champion Texas Rangers behind the heroics of breakout star David Freese, just before Tony La Russa retired and Albert Pujols took his talents to the City of Angels. The NFL season took an interesting turn, highlighted by the success of the most famous man in sports, Tim Tebow. The playoff picture is wrapping up in time for 2012. College football had its Game of the Century - #1 LSU vs #2 Alabama - and they will meet again for the national championship. Finally, the NBA season goes underway on Christmas and everyone's eyes are in LA, ....on the Clippers.

Now it's time for some annual awards - across all four major North American sports and college football:

Rookie of the Year: Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves
This man was a phenomenal closer, breaking Neftali Feliz's save record and anchoring a strong Braves' bullpen.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

NCAA Bowl Season

As you probably know if you read any of my previous blogs, I love college football. There are so many historic teams and intense rivals and unpredictable plays that happen throughout the entire regular seasons. Little unknown teams upset major programs each week. Conference rivals clash weekly for conference supremacy and the chance to play for the national championship at the end of the season. One game can ruin a season, one small mistake can blemish an entire resume.

The entire season culminates in a long, 3 week postseason, consisting of 35 bowl games across the country, some with lots of history and national prestige, others with relatively unknown sponsors pitting relatively unknown teams against one another.

I'm not one to rant against the BCS. For the most part, it is a system that places a heavy emphasis on the regular season, which I don't really mind. I like the bowl season. It is an enjoyable 3 weeks of college football that I get to immerse myself into for the holidays. I would never half watched a San Diego State-Louisiana Lafayette game had it not been for the R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl yesterday night. Bowls give the small mid-major teams national exposure and many times these games are actually fun to watch. I never knew ULL could air it out until they showed me yesterday that they had that in their offense.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Heisman as I see it

Tomorrow is the Heisman trophy presentation and I have never been as excited. I actually do not know who will win, unlike previous years where the winner has been as obvious as the fact that the sky is blue. The award is totally up for grabs, with Robert Griffin III, QB of the Baylor Bears, and Stanford's Andrew Luck, the two favorites. However, to me at least, it is clear who the award should go to tomorrow.

As much as I want Andrew Luck to come away with the trophy, the award should undisputed belong to Robert Griffin III. The award is to be awarded to "the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity," as defined by the Heisman Trust. Not necessarily the best player. Not necessarily the one with the gaudiest stats. Not the one with the big plays on his resume. Not the one who plays on the best team or in the strongest conference. The award goes to the most outstanding player. And to be outstanding, the player must stand out and mean something to his team.

Montee Ball, though a scoring machine, plays on a team that has great blockers and a run-oriented offense. It's awesome that he has come so close to Barry Sanders' record but in Wisconsin, where they value a huge offensive line, it is not nearly as impressive. Put in another back in that system, and I say they would be able to produce about as much as Ball, minus the touchdowns of course. He is an impressive talent, but unfortunately, to me at least, he doesn't stand out more than the other finalists.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

This is getting ridiculous

Earlier this week, the Big East Conference, which had lost key members Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the ACC, announced that they were adding five new members in time for the 2013 season. The new members include football-only schools Boise St and San Diego St, as well as full time members SMU, UCF, and Houston. My first reaction was, Wait, isn't San Diego on the West Coast?? This move, though understandable, makes absolutely no sense from a geographic or practical standpoint.

I'm sure schools like Rutgers and UConn are not thrilled with the prospect of traveling across the country to Boise or San Diego to play a football game. No other college football conference is so spread out. The other recent conference expansions have been reasonable geographically: Missouri and Texas A&M to the SEC, Nebraska to the Big 10, Colorado and Utah to the Pac-12, TCU to the Big 12. Even Pitt and Syracuse lie in proximity to the Atlantic Coast. On the other hand, no matter how Big the East may be, San Diego and Boise are definitely not in it. Even Houston and SMU are not really in the East; geographically they fit better in the Big 12.