Friday, February 27, 2009

Lincecum Shouldn't Blame the Economy He Should Blame Manny

Spring Training is finally in full swing, but most people are still debating the ARod and Steroid situation which I have been completely sick of for over a year now. If there is something to debate here, or at least a big issue that should be brought to everyone’s attention it would be this: Why is it that some players feel a sense of entitlement to earn a certain amount of money? Why is it that contracts no longer seem binding and that players still get away with seemingly not playing hard yet still earn the financial commitments outlined in those contracts?

The best illustration as of late would be the difference between Dodgers OF Manny Ramirez and Giants P Tim Lincecum.

First lets take a quick look at Manny’s situation. Most recently he has rejected an offer that would pay him $25 million next year with an option for $20 million the following year. Manny may be technically one of the greatest hitters of all time, but he is also one of the biggest wastes of potential. If you look at his numbers you may think that sounds crazy, but there were a lot of years where it seemed as though he really wasn’t trying that hard. The Sox claim he gave up on the team, and quite frankly maybe he did. I think that Manny would be better off playing DH for the Yankees and just sit on a monster contract than trying to play in the NL. Ramirez is still looking for a contract that is 25 and 25 with no deferred money. They will probably give in, but should they?

Tim Lincecum on the other hand won the National League Cy Young in 08’ in just his second year and is the polar opposite of Ramirez. In 08’ Luncecum posted an 18-5 (2nd NL) record with 2.62 ERA (3rd MLB, 2nd NL), 265 SO, 1.17 WHIP.

In 2007 Sabathia won the AL Cy Young giving him a 250k bonus and increasing his salary from 9 mil to 11 in 2008. In the NL Peavy received a 100k bonus and his salary increased from 3 to 11 million a year. Not too shabby right?

Well it was just announced that the Reigning NL Cy Young winner just signed a 1 year deal with the Giants for a mere $650,000. Granted it is reported that he will be eligible for salary arbitration after this upcoming season, but regardless there is a big difference in the respect given. In 2007 Lincecum earned $405,000 making his total salary increase about the same as CC’s bonus.

Who on the Giants staff is bringing in a bigger paycheck? Randy Johnson at $15 million (up from $9 million in 07’) who posted a pretty unimpressive 11-10 record with 3.91 ERA, and 173 SO.

Or How about Barry Zito who is raking in 14.5 million (up from $10 million in 07’) for his 10-17 performance with an ERA over 5 and only 120 SO.

Maybe the Giants learned something from Zito’s situation, and maybe not since they took another step back by signing Johnson. Oh and as a final side note: Lincecum didn’t receive a bonus for taking home the hardware, but CC pocketed $75,000 for placing FIFTH.

4Real Out....

More after the jump...

Goodbye Rex

Ding Dong, The Carni-handed QB is gone. With smaller hands than 4Real, how could we expect Rex to be the franchise quarterback for the Chicago Bears. After all of the Injuries and INTs Rex has his bags packed and is finally out of Sweet Home Chicago.

I'll never forget the Rex Grossman error, I mean, era. The 0.0 QB Rating against the Packers on New Years Eve, the T-Mobile commercial where he talks about being in the Pro Bowl, his epic Favre-like 07 where he threw more INTs than TDs, his 7 of 32 starts with over 3 INTs (22%), and of course snagging defeat from the jaws of victory in XLI with 3 individual turnovers.

I think this sums it up best:

Rex will go down in Bears history with the likes of:

Rusty Lisch, Mike Tomczak, Peter Tom Willis, Will Furrer, Rick Mirer, Steve Stenstrom, (Domschke family Favorite) Moses Moreno, Cade McNown, "Happy Hank" Burris, Kordell Stewart, Jonathan Quinn, and of course the immortal Craig Krenzel.

Among the Bears worst 1st round draft picks with the likes of:

Rashaan Salaam, Curtis Enis, Cade McNown, David Terrell, and Cedric Benson.

So long Sexy Rexy.

More after the jump...

Thursday, February 26, 2009

An unexpected interview with Jim Livengood

As I sat in the terminal at Tucson "barely" international airport today and waited for the weather in Dom's hood to clear I happened upon the one and only Jim Livengood.

I was setting up at the laptop counter for a few hours of productivity while my plane was delayed for the third time. I looked up and immediately noticed the most scrutinized man in Tucson. Before I could look away or think of something he smiled at me and said hello, I replied hello Mr. Livengood and he smiled.

I quickly introduced myself and told him about some of our mutual acquaintances. He was very cordial and polite to say the least. He asked why I was traveling and where I was going and when I filled him in he wished me good luck and thanked me for my service to the country(I am a veteran and am en route to a student veterans conference). I told him that I did not envy him at the moment and that I wouldn't want to be in his shoes right now. He smiled at me said that he had every faith things would be fine and that he was grateful that this wasn't his first rodeo. He went on to say his experience as an AD has been helpful during the tougher moments this year.

We chit chatted about nothing in particular for a while and i asked him if he was headed to Washington to watch the Basket-Cats take on WSU and U-Dub. He said he was not and that he was headed to LA for some meetings but would be watching on the TV with baited breath like the rest of us. I told him how much fun the team has been to watch this year and how likable they were compared to years past.

He said he agreed and that he appreciated the kind of ambassadors to the community they were. We talked about some mutual contacts for a while and then his flight began boarding. He stuck out his hand as he stood and as we shook he thanked me again for my service. I told him I was anxious to see the fruits of his recent labor soon and he smiled, laughed and said that he was sure I was. I told him I would take his smile and demeanor as a good sign and he said I should and that the fan base and community would be very very(yes, two very's) happy in the months to come....fingers crossed - Randle El

More after the jump...

Coaching Search: Goodbye My Old Kentucky Home

I believe Stephen C. Foster summed it up best for Lousiville Coach Rick Pitino:

"Weep no more, my lady,
Oh weep no more today!
We will sing one song for the old Kentucky home,
For the old Kentucky home far away."
At least that's what word is here at The Beardown, sources close to us have said that the hire is almost certain and that, "we'd be happy" with the result. Well, Pitino's home in Louisville, Kentucky might be that come April. Far Away. Sources have informed me that the Arizona Coaching Search, a very low profile one, may have come to an end recently. T's still need to be crossed and I's dotted, in other words a deal is not signed and the name can't be released, but the University of Arizona has found, who they feel, is the next Head Coach of this once illustrious program.

I'm not going to lie, I was pulling for Mark Few, but it looks as though he'll still be shoveling snow instead of heading to the southwest. Tom Izzo threw his hat in the ring, and would have been a great hire for Livengood, but it seems the UA decided that Izzo's half court play was too slow for the Pac-10. Not that the Big East is the run 'n Gun of Phoenix Suns past, but it's definitely more uptempo. From what I have heard it really came down to two Big East coaches, and Pitt's Jamie Dixon is happy with where he is, despite the loss to Providence.

Many people have pointed out that longtime Pitino friend, Kentucky legend, and former Kentucky AD, C.M. Newton was in attendance for the Arizona win over Kansas a few months back. Now yes, that was the pre-season NIT Tournament, and we all know that Newton has NIT Ties to say the least. But it seems that Arizona AD Jim Livengood was able to track down Newton and got to talking about Pitino.

There have been numerous reports and rumors as the season has progressed about possible replacements for Lute Olson. Jim Livengood made the statement early on that he wanted to make a big splash with the coaching hire. This hire will likely have a lot to say about Livengood's mediocre legacy at Arizona thus far. Livengood said he wanted a coach who was going to have a good 2008-2009 season. Livengood said he wanted to "win the Press Conference" with the hire.

Recent reports have come out the Livengood has finally made his decision and is waiting until after the season to announce and finalize the deal. The most recent report, courtesy of 620 KTAR in Phoenix, has a confirmed report that the newest Arizona Coach has a National Championship on his record. Well let's look at the list of Coaches with National Championships on their Record:

2008 - Bill Self
2007 - Billy Donovan
2006 - Billy Donovan
2005 - Roy Williams
2004 - Jim Calhoun
2003 - Jim Boeheim
2002 - Gary Williams
2001 - Mike Krizooski
2000 - Tom Izzo
1999 - Jim Calhoun
1998 - Tubby Smith
1997 - Lute Olson
1996 - Rick Pitino
1995 - Jim Harrick
1994 - Nolan Richardson
1993 - Dean Smith
1992 - Mike Krizooski

Self, Donovan, R. Williams, Calhoun, Boeheim, and Krizooski aren't going anywhere.
G. Williams is having a down season.
T. Smith was already disregarded as a candidate.
Lute, Harrick, D. Smith, and Richardson are out of basketball.

Which leaves Izzo and Pitino our top candidates at the start of all of this. Judging by the information that has come across our desk, it sounds like Pitino is the next Head Coach in Tucson.

More after the jump...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Links of the Day

I know it's played out, people posting links. I know I did it a few times when I was out of things to talk about and it was a good way to burn about 25 minutes. With that said I'm not trying to burn any time. I just have had one of those web surfing days where I come across links that just steamroll over oneanother to the point that I just have to share some of them with you. First up:

Special thanks to Garnes on this one. We've all played around on Pandora. Where you enter a song or band and they just keep suggesting things from sometimes similar, sometimes completely off-based, artists and bands that they think you may like. Many of us are also hanging out on twitter. Well Blip decided to find a way to combine the two.

You can post songs (if they are located somewhere on the internet in mp3 format) and continually harass people who decide to follow you. I would also like to thank jrg4 a.k.a. Garnes for blaring Tracy Chapman - Fast Car at 12:45 today, RIGHT before I left for lunch. Yes I was the idiot driving down Speedway who couldn't get that little gem out of his head. Talk about a special kind of torture. But in all honesty this was a great way for me to kill about 2 and a half hours today, I know that because of the time stamps. And ultimately Blip led me to a band called Emocapella. Which leads me to...

What happens when you take a bunch of hoodie wearing college kids from the northeast with iPods and give them a few bottles of Jager? One can only assume that they, at some point, hit shuffle, wind up on their High School playlist of Brand New, The Starting Line, and begin singing their favorite songs. That is the only explanation for what happened to this group of guys from George Washington University.... I heard it and was at a loss for words. I googled it and found this:

It's absolutely amazing, in every sense of the word. Watch the two main guys in the middle, they are so into it, and based on the groups website I think I can safely say they get the joke. Also, they're really good. Which leads me to the next Google clip.

There aren't enough words to describe this, but I'll try. Randy Moller, the radio voice of Your Florida Panthers Hockey Team (I had to put Hockey there because I'm pretty sure a lot of people are unaware they have a hockey team) announcing goals. In the past I mentioned Dan Majerle's reference to "Don't forget the Coffee Hun" on dunks, but these pass that right by:

The next one hits a little close to home and no it's not facebook. It's, and yes my parents have both joined facebook, but aren't in a relationship....weird. Is there something they're not telling me? Anyway, it's basically snarky comments about parents, aunts, and uncles who post status updates on facebook and comment on their children/niece/nephew's walls, and of course hillarity ensues. Also, take this opportunity to Friend The BearDown on Facebook.

Then there's always Our Yardbarker page if you want to go take a look at older articles and comments that have surfaced on that front, feel free, lot's of good stuff. Then again, I'm biased.

Of course, I can't do a link's post without discussing failblog. If you haven't visited yet please click the link at the left and spend the next few hours laughing. The pictures and videos are amazing.

More after the jump...

2009-2010 Heisman Hopefuls

A few days ago Dom posted his Heisman Candidates ranking the Top 15 with an added bonus of 5 sleeper picks for your enjoyment. Being as competitive as I am I want to have more candidates left on my list than him as the season progresses. This is proving pretty difficult considering how early it is and the fact that Dom apparently paid attention to my Heisman Buster Articles over last season. Regardless, I have managed to put together a list of guys to watch.

Note: I am not even going to humor anyone by adding in WR’s, if Crabtree wasn’t in the running than no other WR in the foreseeable future will be either.

The Default Three: Finalists/ Past Winners
Exactly the same as Dom had put it, except with a different order.

QB Colt McCoy: Texas
QB Tim Tebow: Florida
QB Sam Bradford: Oklahoma

Why is Colt the early Favorite?:

Colt McCoy should have won the Heisman this past season for the same reason that Tebow deserved to win it the year before. Bradford was probably the best pure quarterback in the nation, but McCoy did more for his team to win. The Heisman isn’t the Davey O’Brien and it is not the Doak Walker, it is the best College Football Player. From my perspective McCoy embodied that notion and did all the things needed to put Texas in the best position to win as a player, not just a quarterback.

Why Not?:
Tebow. When the media starts debating whether or not a player is the best ever it should make other candidates nervous. Two National Championships and Two Heismans provides for a pretty solid story line. Especially, in a time when “athletes are so out of control” and good ol’ home schooled Tebow is standing right there ready to accept the honors.

The Rest of the Pack

QB Terrelle Pryor: The Ohio State University
2008: 631 Rush Yds, 1,311 Passing Yds, 6 Rush Tds, 12 Passing TDs, 4 INTs, 1 Receiving TD, 145.62 QB Rating

Pryor made an immediate impact on the Buckeyes last season and gave the nation a taste of what he is capable of doing. It has been a long time since I have seen a freshman quarterback step into such a huge role and handle himself the way Pryor did. The scariest thing about his performance was how quick his learning curve. While he did have freshman moments there is no doubt that his athleticism will land him a Heisman before he leaves Columbus.

RB Jahvid Best: California

2008: 1,580 Rush Yds, 246 Rec Yds, 2,247 All Purpose Yds, 16 Total TDs, 131.7 Rush YPG, 8.14 YPC

Best was on my list of Heisman Busters for the majority of last season, and deservedly so. His 2008 numbers are impressive especially considering that he missed a game due to injury and his touches were limited because of it. If he can stay healthy and Cal can keep on track Best is poised to be the premiere back in the nation.

RB Noel Devine: West Virginia
2008: 1289 Rush Yds, 185 Receiving Yds, 1537 AP Yds, 4 TDs, 99.15 Yds PPG

Were still waiting. The follow up to powerhouse Slaton was supposed to be the sequel that everyone actually wanted to see. Unfortunately, he has been in White’s shadow and his rushing numbers may have been affected by his quarterbacks happy feet. Look for the sophomore slump to be over and Devine to be on top of the Big East rushing board.

RB: Joe McKnight: USC

2008: 89 Attempts, 659 Yds, 2 TD, 21 Rec, 193 Yds, 1 TD

This was a tough call for me. McKnight might be one of the most physically gifted backs in the nation, but he has been stuck in a role player position. With the face of USC changing, McKnight might finally have a chance to shine.

QB: Max Hall: BYU

2008: 3,957 Passing Yds, 330/478 69%, 35 TD, 14 INT, 156.88 QB Rating

I was leading the Max Hall bandwagon last year, and am big on Non-BCS school getting some recognition for their performances. Fortunately, he fell short against Arizona in the Vegas Bowl. I thank him for that. That being said I think Hall has the skill to put up huge numbers again, and be considered a solid sleeper throughout the majority of the season.

QB Kellen Moore: Boise State
2008: 3,486 Yds, 281/405 69.4%, 25 TD, 10 INT, 157.11 QB Rating

Try as I might to stray away from the Boise phenomenon Kellen Moore really gets my attention. His numbers are really impressive considering he was just a freshman. Boise will continue to get better while maintaining national coverage left over from a Fiesta Bowl that seemingly ended ages ago. Moore just needs to keep doing what he has been doing and eventually the accolades will start to come his way.

QB Zac Robinson: Oklahoma State
2008: 562 Rush Yds, 3,064 Pass Yds, 8 Rush TDs, 25 Passing TDs, 10 INTs, 235 Passing YPG, 166.84 QB Rating

Zac Robinson had a brief stint in the limelight last year and his OK State team made some noise. The fact of the matter is that being a Big 12 quarterback comes with some huge expectations these days. Were Robinson playing in another conference he may garner more attention towards Heisman Candidacy than he will in his current conference.

RB Evan Royster: Penn State
2008: 1,236 Rush Yds, 160 Rec. Yds, 12 TDs, 6.47 YPC

Royster is another guy that was on my Heisman Busters list last season. Towards the end of Penn State’s run it started to appear that Clarke’s presence was more important than Roysters and he started to fall out of the spot light. I was able to watch a good amount of Penn St football last year, and it appeared that Royster was feeling the effects of sharing the work load. If Royster is able to be the main back and get his touches he will be near the top of the Big Ten Rushing board.

RB Jonathon Dwyer: Georgia Tech

2008: 200 Attempts, 1,395 Yds, 12 TD, 8 Rec, 209 Yds, 1 TD

No one could have seen the success that the newly implemented triple option would have at GTech. Dwyer was a big part of that getting 200 touches in 2008. Georgia Tech is a sleeper team and every underdog needs a face for national coverage. I think Jonathon Dwyer should be it in 2009.

QB Tony Pike: Cincinnati

2008: 2,407 Passing Yds, 199/324 61.4%, 19 TD, 11 INT, 136.39 QB Rating

Cincinnati earned a bid to their first BCS Bowl game last season, and although they fell to Virginia Tech it is a big step for the program. Pike is a guy that the Bearcats will be relying on to be successful in 2009. He is a long shot for Heisman, but hey the Big East gets an automatic bid so anything can happen.

QB Andy Dalton: TCU
2008: 2,242 Passing Yds, 182/307 59.3%, 11 TD, 5 INT

Not a lot to say, but think that his name should come up considering the majority of people probably don’t recognize it. The Mountain West is an interesting conference that shouldn’t be overlooked. Keep in mind that you can thank the MWC for one of the most over used phrases in College Football: “BCS Buster”.

RB MiQuale Lewis: Ball State

2008: 322 Attempts, 1,736 Yds, 22 TD, 35 Rec, 325 Yds, 0 Fumbles

You have to give it up for the little guy. MiQuale gets it done week in and week out and it is great to see a MAC team getting some national recognition. Unfortunately, he does play in the MAC and that is reason enough to not give him a shot at the Heisman.

4Real Out….

More after the jump...

Craig Counsell Best of the Era?

I ran across this article over at Thought I would pass it along cause it was pretty entertaining.

Original Article can be found here.


Bob Uecker lauded the Brewers utilityman as "one of the best I ever saw, if we're talking about those who I can say without a doubt never took steroids. He came this close to stealing a base off of Ivan Rodriguez, and I swear I heard him foul tip a Roger Clemens fastball. The kid could flat-out steroid-free play. One time he was playing third base and he caught a Rafael Palmeiro line drive—just caught it, right in his mitt."

More after the jump...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Arizona's Quest for 25 Still Alive

Just under a month ago, Arizona was coming off of a heartbreaker at USC, and a demoralizer (and yes I made this word up) against UCLA. Things looked bleak for the Kitty Kits. They were 11-7 and 2-4 in Pac-10 Play. The following Thursday the Cats lost to in-state rival Arizona State at Home taking them to 11-8 (2-5). Not only were there doubts about Arizona making it to their 25th straight NCAA Tournament, there were doubts they would even get invitations to other postseason play.

Following the USC and UCLA series this time, Arizona's postseason outlook is a little less bleak. While they are still a bubble team at best (most recently listed in the Last Four In according to bracketologists out there) they just took down USC and UCLA this past weekend. They are in the middle of a 7 game win streak with 6 Pac-10 wins.

The Cats have righted the record and now stand at 18-8 (8-5) and have moved up to 5th in the Pac-10. They are also 2 games back of Conference leader Washington. They have matchups against 3 of the 4 teams ranked above them over the next down the stretch and have the season split with UCLA who is ranked 4th.

What could possibly be next for the Cats?

5-0: This would put the Cats at 23-8 (13-5) and anywhere from 1st-3rd in the Pac-10 as Washington could finish 4-1 (loss to the Cats) and thus land above the Cats, and UCLA could finish 5-1 (with a loss to the Huskies) and thus land above the Cats with a better season record overall. This however is unlikely, not impossible, but the Cats recent stretch of success can be a little misleading as their only road wins during this stretch are against the number 8 and 10 teams in the conference. 5%

4-1: They'd finish up 22-9 (12-6) and could still potentially place 1st in the Pac-10, but it would take a lot of losing in the top part of the leader board, and frankly there aren't enough games left for that to happen. Most likely a 4-1 finish would land the Cats at 3rd, possibly 2nd, but most likely 3rd. This is actually plausible, but it will take a lot of work. Three of the remaining five are not even close to being guaranteed wins. 13%

3-2: Cats go up and down and finish a successful 21-10 (11-7). Still in the Tournament. Depending on how teams fall ahead of them, and which teams they beat, the Cats could be 3rd-5th. Either way I think they're a tournament team. 3-2 seems to be the most likely scenario. I don't see the Cats going 3-0 against ASU, Washington, and Cal, especially with the first two being on the road. Stanford and Washington State are definite opportunities for an Arizona let down. 41%

2-3: Cats sit on the Bubble at 20-11 (10-8) and need USC, UCLA, or Cal to combust down the stretch in order to sit in the top half of the Pac-10. Still a high possibility. The Cats have shown a propensity to play with emotion, and let emotions take over. A loss at ASU could easily snowball into losses at Washington State and/or Washington and Arizona would need to rally at home against Stanford and/or Cal to finish either last four in or first four out. 25%

1-4: Cats let down and end sub 20 wins at 19-12 (9-9). A .500 Pac-10 record leaves the Cats lucky if they're in 6th place to finish the season and would need an amazing Pac-10 Conference performance to be even in the conversation when Selection Sunday rolls around. While not a high possibility, 1-4 seems more likely than 4-1. Injuries would have to play a key part in this scenario. 16%

0-5: Cats crapout under the pressure, finish 18-13 (8-10) and say goodbye to any tournament chances, land in the bottom third of the conference. Hello, NIT. 0-5 seems impossible at this stretch due to the way the Cats have been playing. While 1-4 seems more likely than 4-1, barring injury 5-0 seems more likely than 0-5. Chase, Jordan, and Nic, would will this team to at least one win. 0%

More after the jump...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

2009-2010 Heisman Candidates: Top 15 PLUS Small School Sleepers

Last year we gave you some of the earliest predictions for the 2008-2009 Heisman Candidates. So early that one of my predictions was no longer enrolled in his current school (Ryan Mallet - Michigan), Ryan Perriloux was given a decent chance, and one of the candidates was "USC QB", since both Mitch Mustain and Mark Sanchez were in a position to take the helm and both could have been considered at that point last year.

Well this year I held back as long as I could and managed to wait until after players declared for the NFL draft, but alas I couldn't wait any longer. Spring Ball is right around the corner and it's about time to start hyping next year's Bronze Stiff Arm Hopefuls. This year should be interesting as we will have a 2 retuning Heisman winners, as well as another of the finalists. Last year's Top three vote getters could very well be this season's Top three vote getters. I'm willing to bet that has never happened before.

So 4Real and I decided to each put a list together of 15 potential Heisman Candidates as well as 5 possible sleepers. Sleeper being either players who A) didn't play last year, B) play at small or Non-BCS schools, C) True Freshman, D) anyone else who wasn't already on anyone's radar at the end of last season.

#15 Noel Devine, RB - West Virginia
2008 Stats: 1289 Rush Yds, 185 Receiving Yds, 1537 AP Yds, 4 TDs, 99.15 Yds P/G

Why: When I wrote this column last year I had Mountaineer faithful taking time out of mourning/bad mouthing RichRod and burning couches to tell me that Devine was going to win the Heisman. According to them his name had already been etched onto the Bronze Stiff Arm. 2008 didn't turn out exactly as he, or they, planned. But Devine still has the talent that got the Mountaineer fans so amped up. His numbers are good and without Pat White being the One Man Show, Noel Devine is bound to get more carries, yards, and TDs. The Big East might be having a down year this year leaving room for WV and Devine to put up some gaudy numbers.

Why Not: 4 TDs doesn't scream Heisman. West Virginia won't finish the season in the Top Ten, and let's be honest, players on the #22 team in the country don't typically get a lot of run when it comes time to Heisman voting. It's no coincidence that the Heisman Winner has played in the National Championship Game 6 of the last 7 years.

#14 Ryan Mallett, QB - Arkansas
2008 Stats: Did Not Play

Why: I thought he had it going into 2008, and 2009 is no different. I thought he was poised to make a run in the defense heavy Big Eleven and I don't think it will be any different in the SEC. Arkansas had a down year in '08 under new coach Bobby Petrino but should be on the way up in '09. Petrino's system has been in place now over a year, and Mallett should be as familiar with it as anyone, at least on paper.

Why Not: No one knows how much rust is there, he hasn't seen game action since Lloyd Carr's last win over Florida. While the Big Eleven D is tough, the SEC D is fast. Arkansas has a lot of ground to make up in the SEC West.

#13 Zac Robinson, QB - Oklahoma State
2008 Stats: 562 Rush Yds, 3,064 Pass Yds, 8 Rush TDs, 25 Passing TDs, 10 INTs, 235 YPG Passing, 166.84 QB Rating

Why: Oklahoma State is going to get their chance to overcome Texas Tech this year as the Red Raiders lost their QB and Top WR. They would be my pick for Big XII North champs if they were in fact in that division. Zac Robinson has had a statistically successful career for the Cowboys and has thrown for over 20 TDs in each of the last 2 seasons. Dual threat to run when necessary and has his Top Receiving threat, Dez Bryant returning.

Why Not: In the same conference as Colt McCoy, Sam Bradford, and others, and frankly past numbers don't compare. Could potentially be Top 5 QB in the country but won't be Top 2 in his own Conference.

#12 Demarco Murray, RB - Oklahoma
2008 Stats: 1,002 Rush Yds, 395 Rec. Yds, 774 Ret. Yds, 2171 AP Yds, 18 TDs, 5.6 Yds Y/C

Why: The Oklahoma offense was just shy of prolific in 2008, about 1 game shy. With a Heisman Winner at QB and a pair of 1,000 yd rushers in 2009 it looks to be no different. He's a triple threat. Four of the team's five top receivers from last year (1-3, 5) have all departed which means that there will be added pressure on the run game if Bradford and his targets can't match up. Defenses will focus on Bradford and the 50 TDs he threw last year.

Why Not: There is a second 1,000 yard rusher in the Sooner backfield and if the Bradford led aerial attack isn't the same in '09 as it was in '08, expect the Big XII defenses to crack down on the Sooner backs.

#11 Todd Reesing, QB - Kansas
2008 Stats: 3,880 Passing Yds, 4,104 Total Yds, 4 Rush TDs, 32 Passing TDs, 13 INTs, 298.5 YPG Passing, 148.39 QB Rating

Why: Late in 2007 when Kansas was making a run, some people suggested Reesing could be in contention for the Heisman. His 2008 rating was almost identical and yet he wasn't mentioned in any Heisman talks. The difference was the fact that he threw for about 400 more yds in '09 he threw one less TD and six more INTs. Kansas has turned around their football program over the last few years and a lot of that falls on Reesing's shoulders. A little more accuracy in '09 and increased leadership role could have him making lists in December.

Why Not: Not Since Doug Flutie has there been a QB under 6' who won the Heisman and if Reesing is listed at 5'11" you know he can't be taller than 5'9". Like Robinson, he won't even be the best player in his conference, the Heisman will be just out of reach for his short arms, unless Kansas makes a big run.

#10 Golden Tate, WR - Notre Dame
2008 Stats: 1,080 Rec Yds, 637 Ret. Yds, 11 Total TDs, 18.62 Y/C

Why: As a sophomore Golden Tate began to make a name for himself and the Irish. Three of his biggest games came against some in some of Notre Dame's biggest games. Including a 3 TD, 177 yd performance in the Hawaii Bowl. Jimmy Claussen is starting to show flashes of what was once considered the best ND QB commit since Joe Montana and Tate is his #1 Target. Monster Y/C numbers, plus he takes the field for Kick and Punt Returns. 2,300+ All Purpose Yard Potential.

Why Not: Even as the #1 threat only barely topped the 1,000 yd mark. Notre Dame, might get extra Heisman votes when they are undeserved (Tim Brown) but Notre Dame has not yet made the triumphant return to greatness we were promised back in '05.

#9 Chris Brown, RB - Oklahoma
2008 Stats: 1,220 Rush Yds, 21 Total TDs, 5.62 Y/C

Why: Oklahoma's Top Back rushed for 1,220 last year and could easily top that this year. Much of the same reasons Demarco Murray was on the list. Not the triple threat that Murray is, but will continue to be the #1 guy in the backfield. Will get extra touches since 4/5 top receivers are gone.

Why Not: Same as Murray, splitting the load, extra defensive focus.

#8 Evan Royster, RB - Penn State
2008 Stats: 1,236 Rush Yds, 160 Rec. Yds, 12 TDs, 6.47 Y/C

Why: Look at those numbers, in the Big XII he would be a top back, in the Big Eleven where final scores like to hang out below 20, those numbers are even more impressive. a 6.47 Yards per Carry in the Big Eleven is nothing to shake a stick at. Penn State looks to come back in '09 just as strong as they did in '08. If late season letdowns can be avoided the Nittany Lions might have a shot at the National Championship and that will land squarely on Royster's shoulders.

Why Not: The Big Eleven is getting knocked down more and more in everyone's eyes and some voters might see numbers in the Big Eleven as being less significant than in other conferences. Penn State might win the Big Eleven again this year, but voters are getting sick of the Big Eleven no shows in bowl games and even a perfect season might see them on the outside looking in.

#7 Dez Bryant, WR - Oklahoma State
2008 Stats: 1,480 Rec. Yds, 405 Ret. Yds, 21 Total TDs.

Why: He's a scoring machine and Zac Robinson's (#13) Top Receiving Threat. Another triple threat guy who is capable of peaking over 22-2300 yards of all purpose yardage.

Why Not: Just like Robinson he's going to eventually get over looked by another receiver, running back, or quarterback in the Big XII. The Heisman voters look at numbers, and the Big XII is so inflated that even a 1,500 yd/23 TD season will most likely get over looked unless the Cowboys are in the National Championship.

#6 Jacquizz Rodgers, RB - Oregon State
2008 Stats: 1,253 Rush yds, 247 Rec. yds, 12 Total TDs, 113.91 Y/G

Why: Everyone loves the little guy and, listed at, 5'7" it doesn't get much littler. If Oregon State is still in the national spotlight come December that means that another upset over USC is probable. Voters will take into account Rodgers' 186 yd game against USC in '08 even if it is the '09 award because it was that remarkable. His adjusted Y/G (not including his early exit from the Arizona game) puts him at over 123 Y/G. AS A TRUE FRESHMAN. It will be interesting to see how much his game improves from year 1 to year 2.

Why Not: He's on every radar in the country ever since the USC game. While he eats up yardage he has a problem converting those into long TD runs. His yards per carry is just under 5. He's effectively useless inside of the Red Zone because of his size which means he's missing out on anywhere between 7-15 TD's next season.

#5 Terrelle Pryor, QB - Ohio State
2008 Stats: 631 Rush Yds, 1,311 Passing Yds, 6 Rush Tds, 12 Passing TDs, 4 INTs, 1 Receiving TD, 145.62 QB Rating

Why: He started 2008 as a gimmick the vest would use to mix things up. He ended up unseating incumbent starter Todd Boeckman who had 2 National Championship appearances under his belt. He finished last season with 100.8 Y/G Passing. Way too low for a Heisman QB. Then again, while he appeared in all 13 games, he was splitting time in 8 games, and only the starter for 10. Those numbers will increase. Plus he's a 6'6" monster who's got wheels. Could tear apart the Big Eleven next year worse than everyone has in BCS games recently. If the Ohio State we saw in the Fiesta Bowl takes the field next year, they should be a lock for the Big Eleven Championship and in BCS contention.

Why Not: He still needs to prove he can be a pass first quarterback and that he can sit in the pocket to find the open man instead of running first. It's going to mean Ohio State has to get back to being the Ohio State of old, and not the one who lays down in big games. BCS voters are still sour on the Big Eleven.

#4 Jahvid Best, RB - California
2008 Stats: 1,580 Rush Yds, 246 Rec Yds, 2,247 AP Yds, 16 Total TDs, 131.7 Rush Y/G, 8.14 Y/C

Why: Best was by far the Top RB in the country in 2008 in my opinion (sorry Shonn) and will be coming out trying to prove something in '09. He had 4 games with over 185 Yds Rushing. Cal's QB situation is unclear, and is likely to change at least once during the season. This means that the Running Game is key to Cal's success. If Best has a good season, the Bears will have a good season. He is the heart and soul of the team, could reach 2,500+ All Purpose Yards if he stays healthy.

Why Not: The Pac-10 got a lot closer recently and teams are going to be knocking each other off until they have effectively killed any chance of having more than one BCS game. Cal isn't going to beat USC. The QB instability will give Best more carries and better numbers, but ultimately will mean too many L's on the board in Berkley.

No point in going into detail over the Top Three. There's no surprise here. This is how I had it in my book from day one last season and the same will be true for this season.

#3 Tim Tebow, QB - Florida
#2 Sam Bradford, QB - Oklahoma
#1 Colt McCoy, QB - Texas

My 5 Sleeper Picks. Chances are these guys won't be in the final tally, but they're name might be mentioned once or twice on the ESPN Heisman Watch Page, in no particular order.

Damaris Johnson, WR - Tulsa
Austin Collie, WR - BYU
MiQuale Lewis, RB - Ball St.
Shun White, RB - Navy
Dan LeFevour, QB - Central Michigan.

More after the jump...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

We Rep the Red and Blue: New Song

Thanks to Tori W. for sending this link along to The Beardown. It's a new UA song, pretty worth checking out. It's a little more modern than "Bear Down Arizona". If I can find a way to embed it so you don't have to follow the link I will, until then follow the link, it's hosted on limelinx so you don't have to download anything.
More after the jump...

Monday, February 9, 2009

Arizona's Punctual Postseason Push?

The Wildcats season started up and down and continued that way through the first half of conference play. A few big wins (Gonzaga, San Diego State, Kansas) but more tough losses and worse yet 0-fer on the road left Cat fans with a bad feeling in their gut. It got even worse after a disappointing last second loss to USC and losing a heart-breaker to Arizona State (Thanks to referee Dave Libbey), and it looked as if Arizona was going to have to choose between the NIT and the CBI Tournaments at the end of the year...if there was any interest.

But it began to turn around and last week I went into a territory unfamiliar to Arizona fans of the last quarter century, debating what it would take out of the Cats to make it to March and play in the tourney. At the time the Cats were red hot. They were holding on to a 3 game win streak, starting with the Aubrey Coleman tap dance against Houston, which then rolled into a big win over Washington State, and an even bigger win over Washington to put the Cats at 14-8 (4-5) and showing signs of life heading into the back half of Pac-10 play.

The first question at hand was whether or not the Cats could overcome their 0-6 road record on the Oregon Trail. If they couldn't the season was over. While watching the Oregon State game on Thursday I told my wife 2 things: that that game was the biggest game of the season for Arizona, and that if there were a drinking game to take a drink every time you heard Michelle, Barack, Obama, President, White House, Inauguration, or in-law, making it to halftime would be nearly impossible. While those rules might usually make sense while watching CNN, I don't need to hear it every time the camera lands on the Head Coach of a Division I Basketball team. (Getting off track....)

Then on Saturday while watching the Oregon game, I informed her that that game was the biggest of the season for the Cats. She looked at me with confusion. I then had to explain that each game over the next four weeks would be the most important game until the Cats were at 21 wins or mathematically eliminated. Needless to say she wasn't happy about what that meant for Thursdays, Saturdays, and one Sunday over the next month.

The Cats pulled through and got two much needed road wins up in Oregon, and officially put themselves on the Bubble according to most Certified Bracketoligists out there. Even Interim Coach Russ Pennell is liking the Cats chances. He was spotted growing what one can only assume is a playoff beard in Oregon. This gives Arizona some very important confidence, swagger, and breathing room. Last week I said the Cats needed to hit the 21 regular season win mark in order for me to relax. Though I have heard and read over the last 72 hours that 20 is the mark, or at least should be, I still contend that 20 wins (4-3 from this point on) will leave them at 10-8 in the Pac and at least one win in the Pac-10 Tournament will be needed for them to have a chance. Which brings us back to that 21 win pace. What do the Cats have left?

Seven games. Four home, three away. Arizona stands in 6th place in the Pac-10 right now, and numbers 1-5 happen to take up 5 of the next 7 games. Against those teams Arizona is 2-5. With the way the Cats have been playing lately I see them being much more competitive than they were on their original California road trips where they compiled an 0-4 record. But this time the Cats will be wearing the white jerseys and playing in front of a new youthful McKale Center audience. When it boils down I see one thing, over the last 5 games (@ASU, @WSU, @UW, vs Cal, and vs Stan) a 3-2 record.

What this means is that this Thursday, is the most important game of the season for Arizona, at least until Saturday. If the Cats can get back that dumb loss they had against USC and take down their second Pac-10 #1 in 3 weeks, then they are poised to go far. One or two losses this weekend mean an uphill battle the rest of the way, backs against the wall.

How will the rest of the Pac-10 finish up.

UCLA: 7-1 or 6-2, they drop one on their trip to Arizona (whether it's UA or ASU we'll have to see) and should ride this thing out through March. They make other teams play their brand of basketball, of their 23 games, only four times have teams scored over 65 against the Bruins. 7-1 seems likely.

WASH: 5-2 or 4-3, they only hit the road once more and have already beaten 7 of the Pac-10 teams. Could get caught looking ahead for revenge against UA and lose focus against ASU. Started conference play 6-1, but is 2-2 over their last 4. ASU and USC will be looking for blood when they face the Huskies, UCLA is at the top of their game, and Arizona is playing with their back against the wall. 4-3 seems the most likely.

ASU: 4-3, they have been proven, time and time again that they aren't as strong as they appear at first. Losses to Baylor and Washington State (at home), close calls against IUPUI and BYU, and offensive struggles (less than 70 points in 7 of the last 9) show signs of possible troubles looming, plus they don't have the Oregon schools to pick on anymore.

CAL: 4-3 or 3-4, they are 4-3 over their last 7 with one of those losses coming at home to Oregon State. They look to have righted the ship against the Washington schools, but face a tough test of 4 out of the last 7 on the road. Including what should be a huge weekend against the Arizona schools. 3-4 seems the most plausible based on recent struggles.

USC: 5-3 or 4-4, one thing you can say about the Trojans is that they've battled this year. 10 of their games this season have been decided by 5 or less points and they were a dumb Jamelle Horne foul away from another overtime game when UA visited in January. With a most likely 3-1 or 4-0 record against the Washington and Oregon schools, their trips to hostile Arizona and the Bay Area (Cal, Stanford) should make or break their season. They hold wins over 6 of their remaining 8 opponents. I'm leaning towards 5-3.

UA: As much as I want to say the Cats go 5-2, it's more likely that 4-3 will be the outcome.

If it all breaks down like I think it will the final tallies going into the Pac-10 Tournament will have:

UCLA: 26-5 (15-3)
WASH: 22-9 (14-6)
ASU: 22-8 (11-7)
CAL: 21-10 (10-8)
USC: 20-10 (11-7)
UA: 20-11 (10-8)

Based on this, it looks like the Cats will have to win in the 2nd round of the Pac-10 Tournament versus. Remember the Top Six teams get a first round bye, so there's a chance that it could be Arizona vs. Arizona State in the second round giving the Sun Devils a chance to, possibly, knock the Wildcats out of the tournament.

Interesting side note, Arizona knocked ASU out of a Bowl Game in football this year, and according to some, the Cats took the Sun Devils NCAA Basketball at-large bid last year. Plus the Sun Devils knocked the Cats out of a Bowl Game in 2006 and 2007. Maybe the pendulum is swinging and the Cats are becoming the Football power, while the Devils are becoming the Basketball power. This rivalry is by far the most underrated in college sports. But that's another issue for another time.

More after the jump...

Arizona Baseball Preview

One of the Top Dogs in Pac-10 Baseball over the last few years has been, in fact, a Cat. The University of Arizona Wildcat Baseball team has been a perennial pre-season prediction in most College Baseball circuits. Over the last few years the Wildcats have been tabbed in preseason polls to be amongst the top teams in the country, as well as the Pac-10. But after a slightly disappointing 2008 season followed by the loss of 9 players to the MLB draft (11 were drafted but SP Preston Guilmet and 3B Brad Glenn chose to return to Tucson) Arizona is set to field a group of newcomers and young veterans to Jerry Kindall Field.

Unlike in recent years, the Cats aren't looking down at the rest of the Pac-10, they are tabbed, at least at the start of the season, to be dead in the middle. The recent Pac-10 coaches poll came out and listed the Cats as the probable 5th place finisher. No surprise since the Cats are once again undertaking one of the toughest schedules in College Baseball. This year Tucson will get to see more of the nations top programs as Head Coach Andy Lopez has set the schedule with 35 Home Games and only 20 on the Road. 21 of the team's games are against teams that appeared in the playoffs last season and 6 are against College World Series participants. 8 of their match ups (22 games) are against teams ranked in the Top 25 on one or more preseason poll.

The Pac-10 Coaches rankings shake out with Arizona State on Top with 3 First Place votes edging out UCLA, who also received 3 First Place votes, by 3 points. Stanford came in 3rd with 1 First Place vote, Oregon State received two First Place votes, and edged out Arizona by 2 points overall as the Cats came in 5th with 1 First Place vote. If the preseason voting is any indication, it looks like this season might be an interesting one with many ups and downs in the top half of the Pac-10, as the distance between 1st and 5th in the Coaches Poll is 13 points and the distance between 5th and 6th is 14 points. Oregon, who finished with 9 total points appears to be the consensus coaches pick as the bottom of the Pac-10, receiving a last place vote from all 9 coaches who were allowed to for Oregon, as coaches aren't allowed to vote for their own team.

The Cats 2008 season ended in Coral Gables, FL in the Super Regional Final as the Cats dropped two out of three to the Hurricanes of Miami. Arizona had a tough draw entering last years Tournament playing the home team (2,000 miles away) in Ann Arbor, MI to Eastern Michigan (8 miles away), Michigan (0 miles away), and Kentucky (330 miles away) and then went on to play a virtual road game against Miami in Coral Gables, Fl. (3 miles from UM) with an overwhelming majority of Cane's fans in attendance. The Cats fought the overwhelmingly bad schedule draw well, but Junior pitcher Eric Burger got off to a rocky start in Game Three. He allowed Miami's first 3 batters to reach base and touch em all leading to 3 Earned Runs in the first.

He settled down only allowing 3 more hits over the next 6 2/3 Innings, but Arizona's bats never quite woke up and they dropped Game Three 4-2, marking the 4th straight season the Cats were unable to make it to Omaha. It was the first time since their 2004 trip to the College World Series that they made it to the Super Regional Final.

As is usually the case, the Pac-10 is stacked this spring as UCLA and Arizona State make the Top 25 in all 5 major polls (NCBWA, Baseball America, USA Today/ESPN, Collegiate Baseball, and with Stanford sitting on all four except (despite being in the Top 15 on the other polls). 2007 National Champion Oregon State makes the Top 25 in 2 polls (Baseball America and, and USC made #24 on the Collegiate Baseball Poll. Of the two polls that go beyond 25 (Collegiate Baseball and NCBWA) Arizona came in at 35 and 29, Oregon State at 38 and 31, Cal at 39 (Collegiate Baseball) and USC at 33 (NCBWA).

If all preseason indications are correct, this years Division I Baseball Tournament leading up to the College World Series could be a lot like 2005 when half of the Pac-10 made the field of 64. The Pac-10 has sent at least 4 members to the playoffs in each of the last 5 years, and has had a representative in the Final in 5 of the last 10 years. In 1998 they actually sent both of the College World Series participants.

The Cats season is set to open in Tucson against Sacramento State next weekend (2/20-2/22). I encourage all Arizona sports fans to head out to Frank Sancet Stadium this season and show the Cats some love. Season Tickets for the Wildcats Baseball are the most affordable option on campus with 35 games for 66 dollars (less than 2 dollars per game) and you'll get to see games against Georgia, Oklahoma State, Michigan, USC, Oregon State, and Arizona State, amongst other national baseball powers.

More after the jump...

Friday, February 6, 2009

Arizona Softball Opens with the Kajikawa Classic

Arizona Softball is set to begin this weekend in Tempe as the annual Kajikawa Classic. Ranked No. 7 in the nation, the Wildcats who failed to reach the Championship Round for only the sixth time since 1991 have a chip on their soldier. In last year’s Classic the team left Tempe winless going 0-3. This year’s squad doesn’t see that happening again.

What to Expect/Look Forward to:

Mike Candrea is back as Arizona’s skipper. Last year Candrea left the team in the hands of assistant Larry Ray as he headed to Coach the United States in what now appears to be the last Olympic softball competition. This is good news for the Wildcats, especially considering his resume:
Fastest Coach to 1100 Wins
9 Pac-10 Titles
10 time Pac-10 Coach of the Year
20 out 21 Trips To College World Series (16 consecutive)
8 National Titles (12 Appearences)

Welcome back Mike

The Who’s Who of College Softball:
Every year the Amateur Softball Association of America presents one player with the honor of being named the USA National Collegiate Player of the Year (Because I know our readers: It is essentially the Heisman Trophy of Softball).

The Preseason list consists of 50 players to watch, and will be narrowed down to 25 on April 1st. The 2009 list boasts two of Arizona’s finest:

-Brittany Lastrapes: Sophomore: OF: Laguna Niguel, California.

-Jenae Leles: Senior : 3B :Fair Oaks, California

New Faces on the Mound and Behind the Plate:

The lineage looks a little something like this: Taryne Mowatt, Alicia Hollowell, Jennie Finch, Becke Lemke, and Nancy Evans. For the first time since 1989 the Wildcats will be without an all American pitcher.

Outlook: Sophmore Lindsey Sisk will be taking over after a 10-2 record as a freshman which was a better start than Mowatt’s freshman campaign. Sisk should prove to an outstanding player, and should keep the Wildcat faithful worry free.

Behind the plate: Stacie Chambers will have to replace the offensively gifted Callista Balko who had 15 homeruns and a team high 49 RBIs. It will be interesting to see how her production is after missing the Fall Tournaments with a wrist injury.

Look forward to a more in depth breakdown of the season after this weekend when we can really gauge our chance at another National Title.

Schedule for the Kajikawa:
Friday, February 6
vs. Kansas, 4:30 p.m. (Tempe Sports Complex)
vs. UTEP, 7 p.m. (Tempe Sports Complex)
Saturday, February 7
vs. Northwestern, 10 a.m. (Farrington Stadium, ASU)
vs. Nevada, 12:30 p.m. (Farrington Stadium, ASU)
Sunday, February 8
vs. UC Santa Barbara, 1 p.m. (Tempe Sports Complex)

4Real Out…..

More after the jump...

Hill Named to Wooden Award Midseason List

As every Arizona fan knows, Jordan Hill has been the backbone of this squad all season. He has put up impressive numbers game in and game out, and is finally getting some of his recognition that he deserves. Hill is averaging 18 points, 11.7 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game. He leads the Pac-10 in double-doubles with 14 while maintain a team high .550 field goal percentage.

I wasn’t 100% sold on him having a huge year coming into this season, but he has proven himself to anyone with an ounce of doubt. Proclaimed as the “Best Big Man in the West” by the Bear Down’s Mr. Randle “el” he has also caught the eye of the national media. Hill has become one of nine players to be named to the midseason who were not listed for preseason considerations.

The Wooden Award Mid Season List looks like this:

A.J. Abrams 5-11 G Sr. Texas
Jeff Adrien 6-7 F Sr. Connecticut
DeJuan Blair 6-7 F So. Pittsburgh
Jon Brockman 6-7 F Sr. Washington
Nick Calathes 6-6 G/F So. Florida
Sherron Collins 5-11G Jr. Kansas
Darren Collison6-0 G Sr. UCLA
Stephen Curry 6-3 G Jr. Davidson
Jonny Flynn 6-0 G So. Syracuse
Taj Gibson 6-9 F Jr. USC
Blake Griffin 6-10 F So. Oklahoma
Tyler Hansbrough 6-9 F Sr. North Carolina
Luke Harangody 6-8 F Jr. Notre Dame
James Harden 6-4 G So. Arizona State
Manny Harris 6-5 G So. Michigan
Gerald Henderson 6-4 G/F Jr. Duke
Jordan Hill 6-10 F Jr. Arizona
Matt Howard 6-7 F So. Butler
Ty Lawson 5-11 G Jr. North Carolina
Kalin Lucas 6-0 F So. Michigan State
Wesley Matthews 6-5 G Sr. Marquette
Jerel McNeal 6-3 G Sr. Marquette
Jodie Meeks 6-4 G Jr. Kentucky
Greg Monroe 6-11 C Fr. Georgetown
Kyle Singler 6-8 F So. Duke
Tyler Smith 6-7 F Jr. Tennessee
Jeff Teague 6-2 G So. Wake Forest
Hasheem Thabeet 7-3 C Jr. Connecticut
Terrence Williams 6-6```F ```Sr. Louisville
Sam Young 6-6 F Jr. Pittsburgh

Previous Winners Include:
2008 - Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina
2007 - Kevin Durant, Texas
2006 - J. J. Redick, Duke
2005 - Andrew Bogut, Utah
2004 - Jameer Nelson, Saint Joseph's
2003 - T. J. Ford, Texas
2002 - Jason Williams, Duke
2001 - Shane Battier, Duke
2000 - Kenyon Martin, Cincinnati

Hopefully, Arizona can keep up this momentum and Hill will see himself as a finalist at the end of the season.

4Real Out...

More after the jump...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Arizona's Chances to Dance

It's not secret that this year has been a disappointment for the Arizona Wildcats Men's Basketball team. They have underperformed with 2, possibly more, future NBA players on the squad. They have made countless mental errors, been out coached more than a few times, and have been the victim of a few no-calls and bad calls. Of course the latter is out of their hands, and anyone who has had a Pac-10 official at a game this season, or any season, in any sport, has undoubtedly fallen victim to poor officiating. No surprise there.

But the team came out in 2008 going through the motions. It was no secret they weren't a contender for the Pac-10 Title this year with all of the coaching turmoil, and that outside of the Big Three (Budinger, Jordan Hill, and Nic Wise) the team was too shallow to make any kind of real run in the Tourney. But we all still thought that they had a chance at continuing their ridiculous Tournament streak at least one more year.

Things seemed to have changed after the Aubrey Coleman curb check on Chase Budinger, the Arizona team rallied together. There was a fire that hadn't been there. A will to win. They came back to beat the Cougars, they beat Pac 10 leader Washington by playing like the Cats of old, putting up over 100 points for the first time I can remember (Ed. note 11/19/06 over New Mexico State) and then held their lead in a close game against Wazzu.

So with the Cats holding on to a 3 game win streak right now they are about to head up to Oregon to play the Beavers and Ducks this weekend. They beat both teams (Ducks by 5, Beavers by 17) in a home stand at the beginning of January. But the Cats are 0-6 on the road this year with a pair of 1 point losses (Texas A&M and USC). So will these new, fired up Cats finally take down a pair on the road?

The Cats are going to need to learn how to win on the road eventually if they have any shot of going to the Tourney this year. They're sitting at 14-8 (4-5) and 2-2 against AP ranked teams. Their RPI isn't nearly as strong as past years, which helped push them in as an at-large. So the question remains, what do the Cats need to do to Dance in March?

With 9 games remaining a 9-0 mark would put them at 23-8 (13-5) and in my book, unless they get completely blown out in the Pac-10 Tournament, an at-large bid will be waiting for them. The same hold true with an 8-1 mark leaving them 22-9 (12-6). It's when we reach the 7-2 mark to put them at 21-10 (11-7) when the question comes up about Pac-10 Tournament performance. I think, depending on the other Pac-10 teams, if the Cats find themselves in the Top 4 going into the Tournament, they can still get an at large even with a loss, but it would have to be a very close game to get the selection committee on their side.

If the Cats go 6-3 the rest of the way to land at 20-11 (10-8) they will need to show up in the Pac-10 Tournament. With a 10-8 Pac-10 record, chances are they will miss the play in game of the Tournament. So a win with some decent teeth to it in the second round, and a close game in the semifinals against a Pac-10 Top 4 team could get them an at large bid, but nothing is guaranteed. Beyond that the Cats need some help. Finishing 5-4 and being under 20 wins the Cats need to play in the Conference Championship game to garner any type of consideration for the Tournament, and a Conference Championship loss, might not be enough to get that at large bid, unless they stormed through the first 3 games blowing out other Pac-10 teams.

Anything less than that and the only chance the Cats have is with the Pac-10 Tournament Championship in their back pocket. Bottom line, they aren't getting an at large bid with 18 regular season wins. That leaves the $10,000 question. Can the Cats make the Tournament.

They've got 9 games remaining. Five on the road (Oregon State, Oregon, Arizona State, Washington State, and Washington) and four at home (USC, UCLA, California, and Stanford). Are there enough wins in those match-ups? The big question at hand is whether or not the Cats can overcome their inability to perform on the road and if this fun new momentum swing they have been experiencing is there for the long haul.

Based on my past predictions, I don't want to pick the games because chances are I'll get them wrong (I'm like 1-12 on predictions on this site in the last year starting with the Triumphant Tampa Bay Will Win post before their game against the Giants in the Wild Card playoffs. Giants won and went on to win the Super Bowl.) But I will say I see the Cats winning 6 of the remaining nine which leaves the Cats needing a good showing in the Pac-10 Tournament to get an invitation to The Madness. Let's just hope that for this team, it's not too little too late.

More after the jump...

Monday, February 2, 2009

Tuitama Shafted: Left Off Combine Invite List

The NFL Combine is the best chance players have of making a last, lasting impression on NFL Scouts leading up to the NFL Draft. In some cases, the combine can take a little known player from a possible late round pick to a 1st rounder like last year's appearance of Joe Flacco.

There are 21 Quarterbacks on this year's invitee list. They are:

Jason Boltus: Junior, Hartwick (D-III)
Rhett Bomar: Senior, Sam Houston State (FCS)
Tom Brandstater: Senior, Fresno State (WAC)
Nathan Brown: Senior, Central Arkansas (FCS)
Hunter Cantwell: Senior, Louisville (Big East - BCS)
Rudy Carpenter: Senior, Arizona State (Pac 10 - BCS)
Chase Daniel: Senior, Missouri (Big XII - BCS)
Nate Davis: Junior, Ball State (MAC)
Josh Freeman: Junior, Kansas State (Big XII - BCS)
Cullen Harper: Senior, Clemson (SEC - BCS)
Graham Harrell: Senior, Texas Tech (Big XII - BCS)
Chase Holbrook: Senior, New Mexico State (WAC)
Brian Hoyer: Senior, Michigan State (Big Eleven - BCS)
Stephen McGee: Senior, Texas A & M (Big XII - BCS)
Curtis Painter: Senior, Purdue (Big Eleven - BCS)
Mike Reilly: Senior, Central Washington (D-II)
Mark Sanchez: Junior, USC (Pac 10 - BCS)
Pat White: Senior, West Virginia (Big East - BCS)
Drew Willy: Senior, Buffalo (MAC)
John Parker Wilson: Senior, Alabama (SEC - BCS)

That means, according to who ever does the picking and choosing of invitees, that they saw all of these QBs as having a better shot of being drafted than Willie T. I, respectfully, disagree.

I am not saying Wille is better than all, or even most of the QBs up there. I am simply saying that he is better than some and at least equal to others on this list. Consider his stats:

Career: 40 GP - 9,216 yds - 67 TDs - 31 INTs - 61% Comp. %
2008: 13 GP - 3,093 yds - 23 TDs - 8 INTs - 64.9% Comp. %

Now I understand trying to be fair, but how can you send a kid from D-III to the Combine ahead of a BCS quarterback coming off of his best season? I couldn't even find stats for Boltus or Central Washington's Mike Reilly, but I'm pretty sure Willie T deserves it more. Beyond that let's look at some of the other players selected ahead of Tuitama to show off their skills in Indy.

Fresno State's Tom Brandstater.
Career: 45 GP - 6,857 yds - 47 TDs - 32 INTs - 59% Comp. %
2008: 13 GP - 2,664 yds - 18 TDs - 12 INTs - 59.6 % Comp. %

Louisville's Hunter Cantwell. Led Louisville to their first losing season since 1997 as a Senior.
Career: 27 GP - 3,912 yds - 26 TDs - 22 INTs - 58% Comp. %
2008: 12 GP - 2,493 yds - 16 TDs - 16 INTs - 58.6% Comp. %

Arizona State's Rudy Carpenter.
Career: 47 GP - 10,491 yds - 81 TDs - 35 INTs - 58% Comp. %
2008: 12 GP - 2,493 yds - 16 TDs - 9 INTs - 60.7% Comp. %

Kansas States Junior Josh Freeman.
Career: 45 GP - 8,078 yds - 44 TDs - 34 INTs - 59% Comp. %
2008: 12 GP - 2,945 yds - 20 TDs - 8 INTs - 58.6% Comp. %

Clemson's Cullen Harper who's Sr. Bowl throws were called "Wobbly and Inconsistent".
Career: 31 GP - 5,762 yds - 41 TDs - 20 INTs - 63% Comp. %
2008: 13 GP - 2,601 yds - 13 TDs - 14 INTs - 61.4% Comp. %

Michigan State's Brian Hoyer.
Career: 42 GP - 6,159 yds - 35 TDs - 23 INTs - 55% Comp. %
2008: 13 GP - 2,404 yds - 9 TDs - 9 INTs - 51% Comp. %

Texas A&M's Stephen McGee who only started 3 games his Senior Year.
Career: 39 GP - 5,475 yds - 28 TDs - 13 INTs - 60% Comp. %
2008: 6 GP - 586 yds - 2 TDs - 2 INTs - 65.9% Comp. %
2007: 13 GP - 2,311 yds - 12 TDs - 8 INTs - 58% Comp. %

Purdue's Curtis Painter.
Career: 46 GP - 11,195 yds - 67 TDs - 46 INTs - 60% Comp. %
2008: 12 GP - 2,400 yds - 13 TDs - 11 INTs - 59.9% Comp. %

Buffalo's Drew Willy.
Career: 41 GP - 8,748 yds - 52 TDs - 30 INTs - 65% Comp. %
2008: 14 GP - 3,304 yds - 25 TDs - 6 INTs - 65% Comp. %

Alabama's John Parker Wilson.
Career: 45 GP - 7,894 yds - 46 TDs - 29 INTs - 57% Comp. %
2008: 14 GP - 2,243 yds - 9 TDs - 7 INTs - 57.9% Comp. %

Tuitama is comparable to ever single one of the players above, if not better. He may lack a little mobility but he has better accuracy and arm strength than a majority of the guys up there.

His career TD:INT ratio is better than 2:1. Of the players above only 2 (Rudy Carpenter 81:35 and Cullen Harper 41:20) have a 2:1 TD:INT ratio or better. Both of whom in 2008 (16:9 and 13:14 respectively) fell short, and in the case of Harper far short, of the 2:1 ratio.

His 2008 TD:INT performance is just shy of 3:1. Only one player up there approaches those numbers, Buffalo's Drew Willy (25:6).

Of the players listed above 7 have played in more games than Tuitama (40) - Brandstater, Carpenter, Freeman, Hoyer, Painter, Willy, Wilson. But only Carpenter (47 GP) and Painter (46 GP) have more passing yds or TDs. (RC - 10,491 yds - 81 TDs, CP - 11,195 yds 67 - TDs).

Also, of the players listed above 4 had more INTs than Willie, and of the remaining 6, 3 played in less games and the other 3 (Hoyer, Willy, and Wilson) none even came close to a 2:1 TD:INT ratio that Willie had.

My point isn't that Willie is a First Rounder. My point is that he deserves to be in Indy as much as any D-III, D-II, or FCS quarterback, yet there are four ahead of him, who played against lesser competition than a FBS quarterback.

Beyond that of the rest of the FBS quarterback his numbers are equal to or greater, especially in the most recent seasons. As more pressure fell on Tuitama to lead the team as a Junior and a Senior. And as the added pressure of not going to a bowl game and not beating ASU continued to build up, Tui had his best season. Under immense pressure Tuitama put up one of the best seasons of any other quarterback from the BCS schools to the D-III directional schools. He showed his leadership and led the Wildcats to Territorial Cup and Bowl Game victories and turned 5'8" Mike Thomas into the Pac-10's All-Time Leading Receiver.

Tuitama got shafted, and as far as his mobility, ask BYU:

More after the jump...

Broadcast Malfunction

For those of us desert dwellers in Tucson we happen to have a few choices for TV viewing. As we are all well aware the digital transition is coming up and those who haven't switched to digital are narrowing down their choices. I recently moved and jumped on the DirectTV bandwagon. But I was debating between DirectTV and Comcast for about a week until the decision was made. It appears it was the right choice.

Apparently those in Tucson viewing the KVOA signal on DirectTV, Dish Network, Cox Cable, or Comcast HD, saw exactly what everyone else in the world saw following Larry Fitzgerald's exciting go-ahead TD late in the 4th quarter. A bunch of commercials. But those viewing the standard definition Comcast KVOA channel were shown about 10 seconds of Porn. Seriously.

Only V years ago in Super Bowl XXXVIII viewers across the country saw .02 seconds of Janet Jackson's nipple shielded breast during the Halftime Show during the now famous Wardrobe Malfunction. I think this might be a little worse.

As for my Super Bowl predictions I made yesterday morning, it appears that I am an idiot and was wrong (to varying levels) on each of my predictions. As per usual, don't listen to my predations, I'm pretty much always wrong. The NSFW video can be found here for now.

More after the jump...

Sunday, February 1, 2009


Alright it's about time for the prediction.  

I think I'm a little biased, being a resident of Arizona for about 21 of my 24 years.  With that said I have watched the Cardinals, when they aren't blacked out, for many of those 21 years.  Because of that I don't think it is possible for the Cards to win.  

I'm going to be rooting for the Red Birds in 4 hours, don't get me wrong, but if I were a betting man I would take the Steelers (-7) plus the points and I would go for the under (46.5).  24-17.  Steelers make a Field Goal in the last 6 minutes to put the game away.  The Steeler D is just too good.  This game reminds of the Ravens v. Giants, and I just can't go against that Defense.  

Fast Willie Parker 100+ yards, TD
Kurt Warner 2 TDs, 1 INT
Larry Fitzgerald 80+ yards, TD
Troy Polamalu 1 INT
Jeff Reed 1/2 FGs
Roethlisberger 150+ yards 2 TDs

Mark it down.

More after the jump...