Sunday, January 31, 2010

Old Man Strength!

Even at 47, ya'll STILL don't want it with Herschel Walker!!! (me either lol)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Recruiting, Back In The Day

Just wanted to share this excellent clip of Barry Switzer telling the story of how he got Billy Sims to sign with the Sooners. Classic stuff!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Bull Rush

My latest edition of Bull Rush is up, this time critiquing Bucs defensive tackle Chris Hovan. Go check it out and leave a comment or something.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Bull Rush

My latest edition of Bull Rush is up over at joebucsfan. Today I critique Bucs starting left defensive end Jimmy Wilkerson. Give it a read and leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Report: Gaines Adams Passes Away At Just 26 Years Old

There is a report out of Gaines Adams' hometown of Greenwood South Carolina that he passed away this morning. I almost don't know what to say but I feel like I need to say something. I had the pleasure of meeting Gaines his rookie year. In all actuality it was I who sought him out. The season was about half way over and he wasn't having a lot of success. I just reached out to him to try to give him some encouragement and pass on a few tricks of the trade. Now Gaines didn't really know me from anybody and I was a little apprehensive that he might not be all that interested in hearing what some old head had to say since he was the number 4 pick in the draft and a starter as a rookie. But I have to say the exact opposite was true. Not only did he listen to what I had to say intently, he also asked some very good questions. I got the distinct impression that the kid had a burning desire to be great but he just felt lost because he didn't know HOW to be great. He ended up finishing up pretty well that year and then he had some ups and downs before finally he was traded in the middle of this season to Chicago. I personally felt it was going to be the best thing for him, being under my old defensive line coach Rod Marinelli. I had strong feelings that he would finally find himself on the football field and start living up to his potential. Sadly that will not happen now and that is a real tragedy. My prayers are with all his family and friends as the NFL family mourns another one of ours called home.

RIP Gaines.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Now THAT'S What I Call A Promo!

Aye, check out this promo for Shogun Vs The Dragon at UFC 113

If you wanted to get me interested you did a great job!

Evidently Leavitt Has A Fan In The Media

I am normally ok with Greg Auman's stuff in the St Pete Times. He seems to be a fan of USF and writes that way which I don't really have a problem with. But today shows what can happen when a sports writer gets to close to the program or to a coach. I will just quote the relevant passage of this hit piece for you.

If anyone saw this series of events coming, it might be Ryan Hearn, himself a former USF walk-on football player who has spent the last five years as an assistant coach at The Citadel after working as a graduate assistant on Leavitt's USF staff from 2003-04. He said problems persisted with Miller until he was asked to leave the program.


"There's a lot of reasons we talk about this. We've talked about it in a team meeting," Hearn said. "The kid wants a payday. He wants to have money. I've had every player coming up to me: 'Coach, can you believe what this guy's doing to your program?' You hear it over and over. Everybody up here knows Joel, and no one thinks this is out of the ordinary. It's par for the course."

I should point out that the guy Auman is quoting both played for Jim Leavitt and starting his coaching career under Leavitt AND that whatever happened with Miller at Citadel happened over 2 years ago. Further this guy has not a clue about what happened, wasn't there and has no way of knowing the facts of the case other than what's been reported and perhaps having talked to Leavitt. Yet, Auman is quite comfortable writing a long ass article basically solely to defame Joel Miller and call his character into question even though at this point its pretty damned clear that no matter what Miller did in his past, it was Jim Leavitt who was and still is dead ass wrong in this situation.

I would say that there are certain things in the article that come close to meeting the definition of libel too. But from the start of this saga it has been Auman, standing against the wind, defending Leavitt and searching high and low to find people to speak in support of him both before the University announced he was being fired and after.

This time however I don't think there is any question that he crossed the line. Coach Leavitt isn't at USF anymore and he won't be coming back and its time for Auman to accept that and move on. If he can't and he makes it his job to keep going after Joel Miller then maybe he ALSO doesn't deserve his job. One thing I do know is with the attorney Miller has representing him right now, Auman had better start watching his step.

It is what it is.

Mike Hamilton Has To Go

If you have been following me on twitter the last few days you know I have had some not so nice words to say about our athletic director at Tennessee, Mike Hamilton. The way he totally bungled not just this coaching search but Lane Kiffin's contract itself is a testament to the fact that he has no idea what the hell he is doing. I don't know who thought he was qualified to lead one of the best athletic department in the nation but its fairly obvious that they were wrong. It is my sincere hope that after this "experiment" with Derek Dooley fails that the powers at be at UT push Hamilton out on his ass and bring back former head coach Phil Fulmer to be the AD. It has to actually mean something to you for you to be able to do that job well and I don't think Hamilton would even know what I mean by that.

Today in Sporting News, Matt Hays tore Hamilton a new one and I think most Tennessee will want to read it. There is one part that resonates a lot to me though so I wanted to excerpt.

As bizarre as this sounds, Hamilton was willing to further damage Tennessee's reputation for a few stragglers Kiffin left behind. A few guys that, more than likely, didn't give a flip about Tennessee a year ago before Kiffin hired them.

Meanwhile, the coach who spent a majority of his coaching career in Knoxville as an assistant, who likely would've crawled back to save the school, who is one of the true, loyal men in the business, chose Duke over Tennessee.

That's like choosing Roseanne over Beyonce.

So what did Hamilton do? He hired the coach who would keep the assistants who likely won't be around this time next year—either by Dooley's hand, or their own desire to get out of town.

This isn't rocket science, everyone. Yet there is Hamilton, rolling the dice and crapping out over and over and over.

How hard can this be? It's not like he's selling a used Yugo. He's got a sleek, hip Maserati that needs a full tank of fuel.

Probably the most infuriating thing about this whole situation is that because Hamilton was so shitty at his job you now have the perception out there that top notch coaches don't want to come to Tennessee and that's a bunch of BULLSHIT! Tennessee is one of the top jobs in this country, but none of these folks wanted to come and work for Hamilton. Especially when he put conditions in like keeping assistant coaches that the incoming coach didn't hire. Remember when Bill Parcells talked about buying the groceries? Well that extends to coaches too and no head coach wants to have to keep a guy on their staff that they don't know and they didn't hire. Coaching is a lot about trust and Hamilton, just to save some money, pushed away the best guy for the job in Coach Cutcliffe.

I know folks will want to rally around the new coach Derek Dooley and that's their prerogative, but I am not buying in. He can say all the right things and be the anti Kiffin all he wants, but the ONLY way he will impress me is wins. And if they don't come both he and Hamilton should be tossed out on their ass next year so we can get some true Tennessee folks back in there.

It is what it is.

In Case You Missed It

The good folks over at ESPN 770 have podcasts so if you happened to miss my appearance on their radio show today you can click on this link, go down to today's date the 15th and go to the second segment from 3pm-4pm. My segment starts around the 19:48 mark. I didn't have anything good to say about UT Athletic Director Mike Hamilton, that's for sure. I also had the opportunity to weigh in a little on the Bucs and the NFL playoff games this weekend. Hopefully I did well enough to be invited back at some point. If you have a comment or criticism please feel free to weigh in.


Friday, January 15, 2010

Can You Hear Me Now?

The good folks over at ESPN Ft Walton have invited me on the radio today to talk about the Vols coaching situations as well as the NFL playoffs. If you get the chance tune in and then come back and tell me what you thought. I will try not to embarrass myself lol

Thursday, January 14, 2010

And So Ends (I Hope) Leavitt's Quest To Collect His Salary

TAMPA, Fla. -- When University of South Florida sophomore Joel Miller pulled into the Saint Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church parking lot in New Tampa shortly after midnight on Dec. 17, he saw the other car was already there.

Jim Leavitt had already arrived for this pre-arranged meeting. The meeting was to continue the ongoing lie that Leavitt and Miller were carrying on into what really happened during halftime in the locker room of the USF-Louisville game four weeks earlier.

Leavitt, who was Miller's football coach at USF, asked him to bring all the information and provide specific details about his testimony from when Miller spoke to USF investigators about the incident earlier that day.

As Miller pulled into the parking lot, he thought how ironic it was that he was meeting outside a church – a church of all places! – to collaborate their stories.

"He told me to bring everything that happened [during Miller's Dec. 16 testimony with USF investigators] and give him everything that me and the investigators talked about and to write it all down on a piece of paper," Miller told FanHouse in an exclusive interview Thursday.

Leavitt initially told Miller to e-mail this information to his wife's e-mail account. His wife's account, of course, would not be accessible through a public records search. But instead of e-mailing the information, Miller and Leavitt met in a church parking lot for about 10 minutes.

Miller gave Leavitt a page that he had typed with all of the details and specifics of his testimony to USF's investigators.

"It was a weird feeling," said Miller about the secretive meeting.

The clandestine meeting between Leavitt and Miller was just one example of the extremes Leavitt, the only coach in USF's 13-year history, took to try and cover up the details about what happened in the locker room that, because of Leavitt's lies, ultimately cost Leavitt his job that would have paid him $9.5 million over the next five years.

Brett McMurphy reporting at FanHouse

I can't say for sure that Joel Miller is telling the truth about this, but I can say for sure that its going to be hard as hell for Jim Leavitt to disprove it.

As I said before, its way past time for him to let this go.

If You Don't Do Anything Else Today... this GQ article about Marvin Harrison and his involvement in the shooting that made big news awhile back. I am still pretty much in shock over some of the revelations, especially about his family background. You just never ever know.

Hot Off The Presses: Playoff Divisional Games

I was just 2-2 last week. Turnovers killed the Bengals as well as their kicker. The Patriots game was just a debacle, didn't see that coming at all. Welp another week, more picks.


Cardinals Vs Saints: Saints. I know quite a few people jumped off the Saint's bandwagon after they slid late in the season but they are all going to look kinda silly this week. The Saints had two major injuries that hindered them. Pierre Thomas hurting his ribs in the Tampa Bay game effectively took them out of their running game. Mike Bell is good but a lot better when used as a compliment to Thomas. Him being out forced the Saints into being more one dimensional than they would like to end the season. But from all reports he will be back for this game and that is going to give their offense a boost.

The other major injury was probably the most impactful and that was when Jeremy Shockey went down with his turf toe. Shockey's role in the offense is one that is not easily duplicated because of the roles the tight ends play for the Saints. Shockey is basically the tight end they use to push the ball down the field and threaten the seams. David Thomas on the other hand is more of an H Back who lead blocks in the running game and catches a lot of shorter routes. With Shockey out Thomas had to take on his role some and that's not really his strength. Plus it made them more predictable because if Thomas was in the backfield it was likely to be a run, because if it were a pass they would usually have him in Shockey's spot. Now those days are over and I think the Saint's offense will put up at least 30 pts.

I know what you are thinking though, what about that explosive Cardinals offense that we saw against Green Bay? Well here is the thing, the Saints defense is practically made to play against a team like Arizona. They love to blitz and they are very opportunistic in the secondary. What they have the most problem with is when a team can run the ball on them. And then they can't dictate what kind of coverages and blitzes they want to use because it ends up being 3rd and short instead of 3rd and long. Because the Cardinals don't run the ball that much, it won't be a factor in this game. That's not to say that the Saints will totally shut them down, because I don't think they will. But I believe the Saints will pick Warner off several times and take him off rhythm just enough to hold their scoring down. I also think that while losing Charles Grant is a blow it may end up being a net plus in this game as it means Bobby McCray is going to get a lot more playing time and that dude can really get after the quarterback.

Ravens Vs Colts: Colts. The Ravens played one helluva game last week and I wish I could pick them to win this game because I just love their style of play. But I just can't do it this week. The Colts will be healthier and fresher this week than they have been most of the year. They are playing at home, on turf and they are an extremely fast team. I do think that the Colts will have problems with the Ravens' running game at least at first. We all know they aren't really built to defend the run on defense and Ray Rice and Willis McGahee are both running well right now.

On the other hand I think that Peyton Manning is going to put points on the board. One of the keys to this game will be the Colts getting their running game going. Joseph Addai and Donald Brown will keep the Ravens defense honest. I really think Brown will have a big day as he is the more physical back. And when that happens Peyton will just pick them apart doing down the field. Once the Colts get up a couple of scores then their defense will start to tee off on Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco. One of the matchups to watch will be rookie right tackle Michael Oher of the Ravens, you know the guy whose life the movie "The Blind Side" is based on, and the Colts excellent but underrated left end, Robert Mathis. It could get ugly on for the Ravens at that spot.


Cowboys Vs Vikings: Vikings. Even though I am a lifelong Cowboys fan, it pains me to have to say the Vikings are going to win this game. I was talking to a friend of mine and here is how I put it. The problem for the Cowboys this week is that where they are strong, the Vikings are strong, and where they are weak the Vikings are above average. For instance, the Cowboys' running game has really been the key to their offensive dominance at the end of the season. One of the major reasons they have had success is their very big, very talented offensive line has really taken it to other teams' defensive lines. The problem for them this week is that they are facing what is, in my estimation, the most talented defensive line in football. You have the Williams brothers inside who hold up really well against the run, you have Ray Edwards at left end who is a monster against tight ends and a better than average pass rusher. Which brings us to the biggest problem.

Jared Allen

This guy is one of the best pass rushers in the game and he embodies the word relentless. The reason why he will make a difference in the running game aside from just his technique, is the effect he will have on Cowboys left tackle, Flozell "The Motel" Adams. Long suffering Cowboys fans know the problems Adams has with remembering the snap count and how he gets us in a hole with penalties at the most inopportune times. Well now add on that the fact that he is facing Allen AND he won't be able to hear the snap count in that loud ass dome. Expect to see a lot of 1st and 15s on Sunday.

Offensively Adrian Peterson has had his problems with fumbling at the end of the year but unfortunately the Cowboys aren't a team that really goes after the ball all that much. Add to that the fact that our defense hasn't been all that great against stopping good running backs and it may end up being a very long day in the trenches. The Vikings interior offensive linemen are every bit as big and dominant as the Cowboys O Line and they are going to come right down hill at the Cowboys.

The matchup that will be worth the price of admission if you ask me will be when DeMarcus Ware is matched up in pass rushes against Bryant McKinnie. I think McKinnie will end up getting the better of those battles and help to keep Brett Favre clean.

There are two other predictions I will make about this game. First off, Romo generally does a great job of ball security when he is in the pocket. When he scrambles however he tends to take more chances. I think that once Allen et al start getting after him you will see Romo throw sone balls up for grabs. Secondly Visanthe Shiancoe is going to present a major matchup problem for the Cowboys. If they continue their pattern so far, Shiancoe will be matched up quite a bit with Bobby Carpenter. When I say that won't end well, I am talking folks may end up kicking their TV in as they curse the name of Bobby Carpenter. I am going to make sure not to wear any shoes during the game :)

Jets Vs Chargers: Chargers. This was by far the easiest pick for me this week. The Jets have to travel cross country for this ass whupping. Everybody is talking about the matchup between Darrelle Revis and Vincent Jackson but what they need to be asking is who on the Jets defense are going to defend the other power forwards that they use in their passing game. Hell Malcolm Floyd has fewer catches but the exact same 17.2 yard average per catch. And who which three guys are going to deal with tight end Antonio Gates who is finally back to being 100% healthy? That isn't even talking about LT and Darren Sproles making catches out of the backfield on screens when the Jets blitz. Oh and Legedu Naanee is another big receiver who is nice as well. If there is one quarterback in the league who isn't going to be intimidated its probably Phillip Rivers also.

On defense the Chargers aren't exactly world beaters against the run and that will be a problem early but once their own offense puts up the points they game will change completely. Yeah it was great last week when the Jets kept rolling Sanchez out and hitting the tight ends on crossing routes but this week if he rolls out he is probably going to turn around and get hit in the mouth by a rush linebacker. Above and beyond that when he finally has to actually sit in the pocket and make plays in the passing game Antonio Cromartie is going to have a field day. See you have to remember that it was only like 2 years ago when folks were calling Cromartie the 2nd coming of Deion Sanders and he was putting up crazy numbers. He went backwards last year but he bounced back this season and I have a sneaky suspicion that he isn't happy with being forgotten in favor of Darelle Revis in so many people's mind. I would think the Chargers will match him up most of the day on Braylon Edwards and I just know in Sanchez is going to try to test him and he is going to pay for that.

I am actually a fan of Rex Ryan and I like the excitement he brings to games with his trash talk, but he is going to be on the wrong side of an ass kicking on Sunday and he ain't gonna like it.

There you have it. I tried to be a little more detailed this week and as we get closer to the Superbowl I will continue adding more and more into my analysis. Now hopefully I won't come off looking like a dumbass after this weekend is over lol.

See ya next week!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Mirror Images, Different Reflections

I blogged awhile back about how Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans seemed to be holding rookie head coach Raheem Morris to a higher standard than other first year coaches around the league. Allow me to push a little further.

Coach Morris fired his offensive coordinator right before the season started.

Kansas City head coach Todd Haley also fired his offensive coordinator right before the season started.

Coach Morris fired his defensive coordintor with 6 games to go in the season.

Coach Haley fired his defensive coordinator today a couple of weeks after the end of the regular season.

Coach Morris had to deal with his starting safety getting suspended for 4 games to begin the year, and his star cornerback getting arrested.

Coach Haley's starting running back caused a controversy for using gay slurs on twitter and in person to the media then refused to apologize.

Coach Morris traded away a former first round pick and starting defensive end mid season.

Coach Haley traded away his former starting running back who had been a pro bowler.

Coach Morris drafted a quarterback in the first round to build his offense around.

Coach Haley brought in a young free agent quarterback to build his offense around.

Coach Morris ended the season with a record of 3-13.

Coach Haley ended the season with a record of 4-12.

Now despite all of these similarities, does anybody remember Todd Haley being on the hot seat at the end of the year? Were the Chiefs ever thought to be even considering firing him? Mind you I could make a very strong argument that the Chiefs had quite a bit more talent than the Bucs did this year. Hell on Defense alone they had 4 former first round picks. And they lost to the damn Raiders WITH JaMarcus Russell for goodness sake!

But while Bucs fans here were calling for Morris' ouster, you hardly heard a peep coming from Kansas City.

Now I don't say all this to say fans can't complain, hell its your right. I am just giving a little perspective about what is happening in other places where they have a first year coach and to contrast the two reactions. If that happens to resonate with you then so be it.

It is what it is.

Bull Rush

My new Bull Rush post is up over at joebucsfan. For the offseason I am going to do a series of posts, individually critiquing each defensive lineman currently on the roster. First up today is Greg (Stylez) White. Check it out and leave a comment.

My Take On Lane Kiffin

If for some odd reason you want to hear my take on Lane Kiffin from this morning on "The Morning Jones" show with Bomani Jones you can click this link, go down to the "The Morning Jones" banner near the bottom, click archives and go to the 3rd clip for today, January 13.

If you get a chance to hear it leave a comment and let me know what you think. It was a little early in the morning so I know I said "you know" a little too much lol.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Want To Know How Vol Nation Is Taking The News Of Lane Kiffin's Abrupt Departure?

I think the picture says it all...

Let. It. Go.

On yesterday the recently fired Jim Leavitt called a press conference to announce that he was going to sue USF for his job back. I listened to the press conference several times on this youtube clip as I missed it real time, and the whole time I was unconsciously shaking my head. I don't know what is motivating Leavitt to take this course of action but I know what my advice would be to him.

Let it go.

I have thought about this situation over and over and I can't come up with a way that this will turn out well for him. I appreciate his passion and attachment to the USF football team. He really and truly did literally build it up from nothing. He did some phenomenal things during his tenure, taking a team that didn't exist first to the mid level Conference USA and then on from there to the BCS conference Big East all in a span of less than 15 years. Also during that time the team has spawned quite a few NFL players and two years ago they had their very first 1st round pick in Mike Jenkins, a guy who is playing quite well in the playoffs right now for the Dallas Cowboys.

There is much for Leavitt to be back on and be proud of, of this there can be no doubt. But he is about to run the risk of ruining all those good memories by fighting a fight he can't win. I don't know if he hit Joel Miller or not for sure and only the people who were there really do. But I do know that the report USF released last week was as damning as you can get. And it has only gotten worse since that time as Miller has hired his own attorney and is now back to saying Leavitt DID hit him and that he only changed his story to cover for his coach. That means however Leavitt planned on proving his innocence just got about 1000 times harder.

Dude, its time to let it go!

Now the one thing that was amazing to me most about the press conference yesterday was how weak the questions were from the assembled media. It seemed like all they wanted to do was reask the same question over and over. "Did you hit Joel Miller" was repeated in about twenty different ways. For me the answer Leavitt was going to give to that question had to be obvious going in. If he was going to say he actually hit Miller would he have really been calling a presser in the first place? And the thing of it is USF released the findings of their investigation to the public last week. There were plenty of facts spelled out in that report that supported the university's decision to cut ties with Leavitt and move on. So when given the opportunity to get Leavitt's side, why didn't anybody in the audience bring them up? Here let me give you a few of the nuggets I found in the report last week that I felt were note worthy.

Coach Franks confirmed to the reviewers that he spoke to Student Athlete A, after he first heard rumors that something had happened in the locker room at the Louisville game halftime. He had not been in the locker room on the 21st. His awareness came on the Monday after the game. He told the reviewers that the other players had been "ribbing" Student Athlete A since the November 21st game. Additionally Franks thought that Student Athlete A was "different, just different".


He recalls that in his regular call to Student Athlete A's parents following the Louisville game, the parents told Coach Franks that they were "concerned" about what had happened in the locker room.

What you have here is two instances that would lead you to believe that at least SOMETHING out of the ordinary happened at halftime of the Louisville game. First Miller's teammates were "ribbing" him afterwards. Why exactly were they ribbing him if nothing serious happened? Secondly his parents expressed their concern to Coach Franks. What were they concerned about if nothing serious happened? And remember, this is information coming from a coach who has been at USF for many years. You can't try to paint him as a player just disgruntled over a lack of playing time like some of the others in the report have been portrayed.

Head strength coach Ron McKeefery was interviewed. Coach McKeefery indicated that he was in the locker room, watching the clock for Coach Leavitt and the team, informing them of the time remaining in the half. In that capacity, he was standing approximately three feet behind and slightly to the left of Leavitt. He saw Student Athlete A was not responding nor making eye contact with Leavitt. Student Athlete A had in fact made two mistakes on special teams. Leavitt grabbed Student Athlete A's chin and spoke to him saying, "You're a good Student Athlete." Leavitt left then returned to Student Athlete A. He popped Student Athlete A's shoulder pads twice and grabbed his jersey.

Now Coach McKeefery went on to say Leavitt didn't slap Miller, but the damage, in my opinion, was already done in his testimony. He admits Leavitt grabbed the kid's chin. Leavitt says he didn't touch the kid's face at all. He also admits Leavitt hit the kid twice, albeit he says it was the shoulder pads. Leavitt says he didn't hit the kid at all. The stories are just too divergent, and remember this is another coach, another grown up making these assertions. This isn't a player who may have had an axe to grind.

Those are the two glaring parts of the report that stood out for me because it was two adults adding to the evidence of what happened in the locker room either by a first hand account or with anecdotal facts. But literally there was a mountain of other evidence if not of Leavitt hitting the kid, at least of some kind of cover up. And I won't even get on the story about Leavitt allegedly having personally retaliated against one of his players, Colby Erskin, who had supposedly told investigators that the story reported by Fan House was true.
At this point with Miller's attorney coming out yesterday and saying the situation did in fact happen, what you basically have is a substantial amount of people who saw the incident directly all saying the same thing and Leavitt is now on an island all by himself saying another. And the majority of the people quoted in the report are also people who continue to work at or attend and play football for USF.

And he is going to sue to get his job back?

I have to wonder if Leavitt were challenged on these points yesterday what his responses would have been. And I also wonder if he did a poor job of addressing the stuff in the report if maybe it would have dawned on him that he is in a very precarious situation. Maybe just maybe if he had stumbled over explaining why Coach McKeefery saw him grab Miller's chin he would have realized just how high the deck is stacked against him right now.

But none of those questions were asked, so I guess we will never know.

What I will say is this, somebody close to him that cares should probably be asking those questions directly to him behind the scenes. Because if yesterday's performance is any indications, Leavitt has convinced himself that he has done no wrong. And perhaps he hasn't, for all I know. But what I do know is that should he push the issue, trying to get his job back at some point he is going to have to answer these questions and a whole lot more. I don't think he really wants to do that, especially if he wants to preserve his legacy at USF. No matter how self assured he is of a positive outcome, cooler heads need to intercede. If the people around Leavitt really want what's best for him its time to some advice that he probably won't want to hear.

Let it go.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Will They Ever Apologize To Jose Canseco?

I vividly remember when Jose Canseco came out with his book "Juiced" detailing a bunch of Major League Baseball players including himself, using steroids and other performance enhancing drugs. At the time the sports media took great delight in throwing him under the bus, especially when certain players who at that time were thought of to be beyond reproach, were named in his book as fellow steroids users. Precious few in the media took those allegations seriously and for the most part they all cast him as a guy just trying to make a buck writing a tell all full of libels. Many of them painted him as a rogue guy who simply wanted to project his proclivities onto other clean players to justify his actions.

But then a funny thing happened, nobody named in the book ended up suing Canseco. That should have been the first clue that maybe people should have paid attention. Then all of a sudden you had Congress calling for hearings into steroids in MLB. At the hearings while a few players who were named in the book explicitly said the allegations were untrue, several other players refused to testify on whether or not they took PEDs. Most prominent among them was one time single season home run record holder and former teammate of Canseco's, Mark McGwire.

Still many in the media were not convinced and St Louis Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa who had formerly coached both McGwire and Canseco came out guns blazing against anyone who would read anything into McGwire declining to say under oath that he never took steroids.

But then finally the dam started breaking when Raphael Palmero, one of the guys who denied under oath ever taking any PEDs and vehemently called Canseco a liar, was popped for PEDs in a drug test. A drug test that was only given to him after MLB finally decided to press for drug tests in light of the players' embarrassing performance before congress. Now there are so many guys who have been popped, many of them in Canseco's book, that people have taken to calling the last decade "the steroid era".

Still there was one guy who refused to come clean.

Well today, finally, Mark McGwire admitted to using steroids when he broke the single season home run record. Now at this point most people are meeting this news with a resounding "Duh!" Still its worth revisiting the sentiment BEFORE McGwire avoided answering questions before congress. In the time between Canseco's book coming out and that congressional hearing, journalists and people in MLB close to those named in his book were pitting he and McGwire each other damn near in a good vs evil kind of way. I would venture to say that pre hearing more than half the public including the sports media thought McGwire was completely clean and had been slandered. Just check out some of the quotes in just this one article published shortly before the book came out.

"I'm so pissed off at him," said St. Louis manager Tony La Russa, who
managed Canseco in Oakland. "First of all, I think he needs the money. Secondly,
I think he's jealous as hell. Jose had a head start over Mark and screwed it up.
The jealousy eats at him.

"Early, Mark was, 'See it and hit it,' " La Russa said Sunday. "From
about '93 to the end of his career, Mark became one of the smartest hitters in
the game. Jose signed his big deal and started half-stepping with the way he
played the game.

"Last but not least, Jose never took responsibility for anything. When
the Expos cut him (in spring 2002), Jose's line was, 'I'm being blackballed by
baseball.' When we traded him, it was, 'They weren't loyal to me.' It's always
someone else's fault, not his."

La Russa has said many times that McGwire used natural means, including
constant weight lifting and a solid diet, to strengthen his body. Former
teammates Terry Steinbach and Carney Lansford agreed, in other interviews with
The Chronicle on Sunday.


Like La Russa, Steinbach took exception to Canseco's accusations that McGwire was a steroid user.

"I came through the system with Mark; we were roommates in '87," said Steinbach, recalling their rookie year. "Mark wasn't one of those guys who all of a sudden one offseason got so big you couldn't recognize him, like they say about steroid users. Mark loved to lift weights. ... He was in the gym regularly.

"Jose? No, at least not in the gym at the Coliseum or the gyms set up for us on the road. He was phenomenal in '88. Up to that point, he showed up on time and did his drills. All of a sudden, he didn't do the extra work in the outfield, and it showed. It frustrated us as teammates. It was frustrating that 24 guys marched to the same beat and Jose didn't."


"That's so silly," said Dave McKay, who has been on La Russa's coaching staffs for 19 seasons and headed the strength and conditioning program in Oakland. "It's such a ridiculous comment by Jose. We're not that smart. It was just what Mark needed -- more headlines. The fact is, he was embarrassed when someone said there's a possible steroid inside andro. He wasn't using it to get bigger; he was using it for recovery after games."

McKay disputes McGwire used steroids and said he never saw any ballplayers take steroids.

"I'd be absolutely shocked to hear that Mark used a steroid or anything that would hurt him -- he was always so careful with what he put in his body," McKay said.

"I know Mark well enough that if he used it, he'd tell me. This makes no sense. We had a program, and all the players followed it. The only one who didn't was Jose. He became smarter than us and wanted to do his own thing."

Now was it kind of sleazy for Canseco to sell out guys who were once his teammates, some of them even his friends?

Of course it was.

But ask yourself a question. If Canseco never released his book would anybody ever really dug into performance enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball? And if nobody ever dug would the players have ever agreed to drug testing? Like it or not Canseco was right about damn near every single person he named in his book, and as much as anything else he is the reason why Major League Baseball at least has mechanisms in place now to clean up the game.

In my opinion, whether you like the guy or hate him, its time for the media to at least acknowledge that fact. And for more than a few, including McGwire himself, its time to apologize for the way they attacked his credibility when all of this first came out.

It is what it is.

Electric Glide

Im gonna go out on a limb and say this had to have turned out better in his head when LT thought it up...


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Let Your Fingers Do The Talking

The good folks over at joebucsfan have set up a live chat with yours truly tonight at 10pm. We will be chatting about the Bucs season and their future headed into next year. If you are up with nothing better to do, please come by and join the conversation.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Hot Off The Presses: Playoff Wild Card Games

Its time for the second season ladies and gents. Here are my winners for the first round of the playoffs.


Jets at Bengals: Bengals. I know the Jets have a great defense and a great running game but at some point in this matchup they are going to have to ask rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez to make a play for them. That won't turn out well for the Jets.

Eagles at Cowboys: Cowboys. Its damn near impossible to beat a team 3 times in a season but I think the Cowboys will get it done this year. They are the healthier team and the hotter team and they run the ball which is how you win in the playoffs. I will admit to some nervousness about this pick though. Something tells me the homer in me might be behind this one.


Ravens at Patriots: Patriots. I like the Ravens a lot and the truth is they had a very good chance of beating the Patriots in their earlier meeting this season. I realize that having Wes Welker out will hurt the Patriots offense also. But there is one factor I am looking at that I think will be the difference in this game and that is the return of Fred Taylor. I don't necessarily think Taylor will have a monster game. I just think he will make enough plays in the running game to keep the Ravens defense honest enough that Brady is able to go up top to Moss a few times. Even the threat of a running game is something the Patriots haven't had most of the year and I personally think it will be enough to offset the loss of Welker.

Packers at Cardinals: Cardinals. As much attention as the Cards get for their offense, and rightly so, I think they will win this game with their defense. I think they will be great against the run and force Green Bay into a lot of 3rd and longs. I also think that even though the Cards are banged up that Kurt Warner will find a way to make plays in the passing game to push the ball down the field. It will be close but I think the Cards win it right at the end.

To All Texas Apologists

Before you come with the "If only we had Colt McCoy..." bs, check out my tweet to JT the Brick hours before the game started.

Also, just fyi, Mark Ingram was hurt most of the 3rd and 4th quarter. Bama STILL trounced the Longhorns.

It is what it is.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

National Championship

I will make this simple, I am picking Alabama to win the National Championship tomorrow over Texas.


For people who follow me on twitter or who know me personally this isn't much of a shock. I could never root for the Tide because of the intense hatred any true Volunteer such as myself has for them. But I can respect what they do and this year they are simply the best team in college football.

The essential point is that Bama was ideally suited to handle the Florida Gators. Their defense is big up front to play the run and fast in the secondary to play the pass. Their offense is all about being physical, running down hill, and hitting a few big plays in the passing game. Unfortunately for the Longhorns, they are practically a mirror image of the Gators. And that means they won't have much more success than Tebow and Co. had a month ago.

But in reality, this game might be worse.

The reason being, most teams in the SEC have been so wary of Javier Arenas' return skills that they rarely if ever punt the ball to him. I have a funny feeling that Texas won't show the same amount of respect and will punt him the ball at least twice where he has an opportunity to return it. And if they do, you can expect him to score at least once on a return.

Now I will be the first to tell you that I am a homer for the SEC, but my assessment when it comes to games leave all emotion aside. I don't think Texas has seen a team this year that commits to running the ball the way Alabama does. I KNOW they haven't seen a defense the caliber of Bama's the whole season. If you think Nebraska did a number on em, just wait till you see what Tide pull off tomorrow night.

I know there will be some who point to last year and Bama's loss in the bowl game to Utah as proof of their vulnerability. But I am telling you straight up, don't be fooled. This team is a lot better and it could get ugly for the Longhorns. And I truly believe that after tomorrow night, nobody is going to claim that Boise State or any other team has a claim to the national title. Bama's victory will be so impressive that it will kill pretty much all that noise.

Of course I could be wrong, but I haven't been most of this year.

It is what it is.


I have been avoiding blogging on the story about Jim Leavitt allegedly striking a play over at USF for several reasons, not the least of which is that I wasn't there so I don't actually know what happened. But also because I worked there for a season and so I am a little too close to the situation in my opinion. But there is a follow up story today that I feel compelled to comment on. And the thing of it is, its not whether Leavitt hit Joel Miller or not that compels me, because as far as I am concerned that is still up in the air. The kid recanted, his dad recanted and that probably could have been the end of the story.

No, what compels me to blog on it today is the alleged petty revenge that Leavitt took out on another player, injured senior Colby Erskin, because he saw him as one of the whistle blowers. Now I don't know for sure if he did this or not either. But if he did, its about the most bush league bullshit I have ever heard of. And its also pretty damned dumb. You are going to go after a player because you think he snitched on you and you don't think he will tell people what you did? Are you kidding me?

Also, I know everybody is built differently, but this couldn't have happened to my kid, that's for damn sure. Like I said about Mike Leach, the investigation wouldn't be the story today if it did. A coach getting his ass kicked would be.

Kevin Erskin, Colby's father, said he decided to speak out when he learned Leavitt cleaned out his son's locker Monday and threw the contents, including Colby's personal items and International Bowl jersey, into a trash bin. Equipment manager Jeremy Lees told Colby Erskin that Leavitt had personally removed everything. Colby said he found his belongings in a trash bin in USF's football equipment room.

"That was the last straw," Kevin Erskin said.

Colby Erskin also said Leavitt told him he would not have a scholarship for the 2009 season midway in October 2008, which caused him to alter his course load as he expected to have to pay for the tuition and hurt his chances to pursue a double major or a masters. Erskin's scholarship was renewed in July, but Erskin only became aware of the renewal when he received a notice in the mail in mid-July.

Erskin graduated in December with a criminology degree

Kevin Erskin also said he feared Leavitt would sabotage his son's chances to apply for a sixth year with the NCAA -- Colby has suffered three torn ACLs in the past three years and has been limited to only six games during that period -- and Colby was told by Lees he needed to ask Leavitt if he could still use the school's facility to continue rehabbing his knee.

Colby Erskin said after retrieving his belongings from the trash, he then called Gonzalez, the investigator, about what had happened and left a message with Woolard to discuss what happened. Woolard did not return his call. Instead, executive associate AD Bill McGillis called the Erskins and told them Colby's locker would be restored and he could continue his rehab, but Colby would have to discuss his scholarship situation with Woolard.

"Absolutely Leavitt is retaliating," Kevin Erskin said. "There's no question in my mind. That's like a vindictive teenager. That's exactly what he's doing. I think he thinks Colby is the one that told you to break the story in the first place and, of course, he's told other people that Colby's done that. That he sabotaged Leavitt's career. I believe what made him feel that way is Colby told him he didn't want to go to the bowl game because he wanted to stay back and rehab.

"[Leavitt] has never taken responsibility yet on what he did and that irritates me."

McGillis did not return an e-mail or phone call seeking comment Tuesday.

Colby Erskin didn't tear his ACL just walking down the street, he tore it playing for USF. And if threatening his ability to rehab his knee really and truly happened....

You know, if I were a betting man I would have said before today that this story was going to end up just going away. That at most Leavitt was going to be facing maybe a slap on the wrist but maybe even not that. But if he personally went down and threw this player's stuff away just to be spiteful? Well I would have to say this story is going to continue to have legs. And if he actually did this, let alone struck Miller, USF is going to have to take strong and swift action.

Some things are just beyond the pale, I don't give a damn who you are. And that's all I'm going to say about that.


Jason Campbell went in on Clinton Portis in the Washington Post after Portis questioned his leadership skills on his radio show earlier in the day. I have to say that I damn near stood up and applauded after reading Campbell's response. You could tell he had probably been holding in a lot of what he said about Portis for a long time and he let it all come out tonight. If Portis is as tight with Redskins owner Dan Snyder as Campbell and several others say then Campbell probably talked his way out of town this evening. But I bet he will be thinking on his way out the door, "Damn, that was worth it!"

Informed of Portis's comments, Campbell, selected one of six team captains by teammates the last two seasons, called out Portis for putting himself above the team and, in his opinion, an overall lack of professionalism Portis has exhibited in Campbell's five seasons in Washington.

"How is he going to say I'm not a leader?" Campbell said in a lengthy telephone interview. "I mean, that's just not true. To me, that's somebody who shows that they don't know what a real leader is. A leader is not someone who leads by the wrong example. A leader is someone who is trying to do the right thing and trying to lead by example, and not just [being] about themselves. There's a reason guys get selected as captains, and there's a reason guys don't get selected as captains. Obviously, he doesn't have the respect of the locker room to be a captain. For someone to try to take a shot at me at the end of the season, after they haven't even been around, only speaks about their character anyways."

"There have been a lot of things I could have come out and said. But I never went out of my way to make those things known. I never wanted those things to leave the locker room because it's no one else's business. And for those things to be said, questioning my character and questioning my leadership, I think that's not the way to go, especially when you're supposed to be a team guy. Is that being a good teammate? If that's the case, why is no one questioning my leadership and everyone is questioning his work ethic?"


"How's he [going to] question anything when for those four or five weeks before he was on IR [the season-ending injured-reserve list], he never even came around. He wasn't with us. He was never at practice. Who does he think was holding the offense together? He should go ask the coaches and the players if he wants to know. But he wasn't around to do that. He doesn't know anything about leadership."

Campbell said he was disappointed about airing private team matters in public, and especially frustrated that Portis would verbally attack him with the Redskins preparing to make a long-anticipated announcement that former Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan has been hired as their next head coach.

"You've got guys out there working their butts off, guys out there practicing and doing everything they need to do to prepare for Sundays, and you see him over there getting special treatment," Campbell said of Portis. "What does that say about him? I go out, I get beat down on Sundays, and I still have to go out and practice and get ready for games. And that's what your supposed to do."

I have to say, I could never root for the Redskins, but I am definitely a Jason Campbell fan now.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

I Would Be Worried Too, Except That's Not What He Said

Now, what's next?

What is Raheem going to do about it?

If Monday morning was any indication, I'm worried.

At his final day-after news conference, he was asked about where his team needs to get better. He said he'll have to look at the tape and evaluate - 32nd in rush defense and he has to evaluate?

He can't just take a stab at it, off the cuff?

He really needs to look at film.

"Hey, back that last part up a second ... I think the Giants just beat us.">

-Martin Fennelly

Oh my goodness! I know that Coach Morris hasn't exactly done a great job in the media this year but do you mean to tell me that all he had to say about evaluating his team was that he had to "look at the tape and evaluate"?!

Actually no, that's not at all what he said, although Fennelly would have you believe that.

See there is now this notion out there that Coach Morris is "in over his head" and because he isn't the world's greatest interview people have latched on to it as some sort of sign tht its true. I fully admit that Morris con come off bad in an interview at times but what in the hell does that really have to do with his coaching ability?

Absolutely nothing.

And in this case its even worse because the answers Morris gave yesterday in his interview were a helluva lot more substantive than Fennelly would have his readers to believe. Using the good old google I came up with his quotes from the press conference yesterday. Let's see what Coach Morris actually said.

(On if he had meetings with the coaching staff)
“This is the time of year that you do that. Within this next month you will go back, get a little time away, come back and evaluate everything you do. Everyone will be evaluated, myself, all my coaches, all of our players, everybody. We will evaluate the tape this next month. This is the process that we are at now, we will just go back and evaluate.”

(On his biggest priority this offseason)
“As far as priorities for me, number five (Josh Freeman). He is the number one priority. It starts with him. Then after that the draft and building around him, our team and what we are going to be. You have to say that number five is the biggest priority, making sure everything works around him because when it works around him, we were able to be successful at the end of the season there. The next biggest priority has to be the draft. We have 10 big time draft picks coming up. I have to get the exact number but I know we have three really high ones. You never know what you can do in the draft. Maybe we’ll find another Sammie Stroughter. That has to be a priority there.”

(On if the draft is going to define the team)
“I think that’s with everybody, not just speaking the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I think with everybody you have to build from the draft. There is no secret that’s what we are trying to do, that’s what we have been trying to do, build from the draft. Last year it was started and here you have to continue on that path of building through the draft. The draft has to be a high priority. It always has been. We drafted Mike Alstott. We drafted Warren Sapp. We drafted Warrick Dunn. We drafted Ronde Barber, all those big time impact players were all drafted here. They were all drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They were all drafted to play in this system, to play with us and to play for us. That’s what we have to do, build through the draft. That’s the way you build teams.”

(On draft needs)
“That’s a part of this next month as well. You go back and you evaluate. You have to fill in the holes where you need. You plug them in, then you go evaluate the other tape. You see what’s the best fit and see where you fall, see how they come to you. All of those things have to be taken in account for. That’s what I have this next month for. I don’t have to make that decision now. I can look at the tape and study it.”

Hmmm so lets see. Not only was Coach Morris NOT responding to a question of "where his team needs to get better" when he talked about evalutating the tape, he is answers yesterday were a helluva lot more substantive than just "I have to go back and watch the tape". Now I already knew this to be the case because I happened to have listened to Coach Morris' press conference yesterday live, but I bet Fennelly is banking on the fact that most of his readers didn't. And of course they would just assume that Morris saying "I have to evaluate the tape" was the beginning and end of what he had to say about improving the team.

Mind you, this press conference was held at a time when Morris didn't even know if he would be back next year.

But who needs details when Fennelly is "worried"?

What is truly ironic is that if anybody's performance yesterday warranted concern it would have been the media assembled at the press conference. Their questions were as general as you could possibly imagine and most of them were very uninspired. I put up a list of 10 questions I came up with in less than 5 minutes in a comment over in joebucsfan that would have been better than every single question asked at that press conference yesterday. And while we will never know whether Morris would have answered them specifically or vaguely, at least they would have been put out there. Instead we have Fennelly's bretheren asking about whether Coach Morris reached his goals.

Great question genius!

See the problem that I have with the media, especially the local sports media here in Tampa Bay, is they try to paint their own picture whether the facts back them up or not. Its obvious that Fennelly isnt' exactly a Morris fan and so he built his column around that. Hell I don't begrudge him that, to each their own. But when you try to use slight of hand to try to make Morris look bad even though what you say he said and what he actually said don't even remotely resemble each other, then I am going to stand up and call bullshit. If you can't make your case without making shit up, then its probably a weak case to begin with.

I am not some kind of hall monitor for the media but you had better believe that this won't be the last time I call them out. When I see bullshit trumped up by journalist I am going to call it what it is. Hopefully their won't be many more occasions for me to have to do something like this, but considering the stories I have seen this year I am not optomistic.

It is what it is, truly.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Dear Disgruntled Bucs Fans, Please Make Up Your Mind

Evidently Steve "The Big Dawg" Duemig is reporting that Coach Morris will be retained for at least another year. This of course has provoked mixed feelings. But for those Bucs fans who are disappointed and wanted the Bucs to fire Coach Morris, I ask only one thing of you. Please be consistent.

What I mean is that for most of the season when we were losing all I heard was how we didn't have any talent on the team, especially on defense. How the defensive line couldn't start for anybody else. How Barrett Ruud was terrible because he never made any plays in the backfield. And about how horrible Sabby Piscetelli is. (ok I admit I said that also)

On offense our line couldn't block anybody, none of our quarterbacks were worth a damn, Caddy had lost a step and Derrick Ward was overrated, and of course bashing Michael Clayton could never get old (again I confess, yes I was a party to that too).

Now after a little bit of success and the team at least getting a few wins and showing improvement all of a sudden the same folks who previously complained about our lack of talent, NOW complain about our record and because we lost to the Falcons.

So..........we suck as far as our talent level, but......we should be in the playoffs. Uhmm sorry, that doesn't compute.

Now if you think we have a dearth of talent that's fine, and at least in a few cases I will agree with you. But then you have to admit that with the talent we have it wasn't likely that we were going to win a bunch of games this year anyway.

However if you think all of the loses were all because of Coach Morris, then you would have to embrace the notion that we already have enough talent to get us in the playoffs. Now at certain positions I can agree with you, but at others I am going to ask for some of what you are smoking. Still, you are entitled to your own opinion, but what you can't turn around and say is that we need to spend more money on free agents and draft picks. I mean hell, according to you the Bucs are already stacked and just need a better leader.

Now I have made it known that I was hoping Coach Morris would come back and I have said exactly why he should, so more than likely I am not going to see eye to eye with the guys who didn't want him back anyway. But at the very least if you are consistent then we can have a rational discussion about it. If you try to say we don't have much talent and also say we should have won a lot more, I am going to basically have to just get up and walk away.

Well, that's my heads up to y'all out there. Now you can't say I didn't warn you.

Bull Rush

My latest Bull Rush post is up over at joebucsfan. Please check it out and leave a comment!

Brandon Marshall To The Bucs?

This may just be a pipe dream and I certainly haven't heard anything to make me think the Buccaneer brass is considering this, but imagine for a moment that the Bucs ended up trading for Brandon Marshall. Here is a big, physical wide receiver with great hands and speed and he is still young. He is a proven commodity and a Pro Bowler. AND his after the antics of his head coach in Denver, Josh McDaniels this past week, its likely that we could get him from less than fair market value.

I happened to catch Coach Morris' press conference today and he referenced several times how building the team around our quarterback, Josh Freeman, was the highest priority this off season. You couldn't help him any more than by providing him with the kind of weapon that Marshall is. Here is a guy who catches passes that aren't always perfect. A guy who blocks. And a guy who has shown he can perform in more than one type of offense.

Imagine for a moment that the Bucs finally give Antonio Bryant his long term deal as well. You would have Bryant and Marshall on the outside creating havoc for defensive coordinators and Kellen Winslow as well as Sammie Stroughter inside working the seams. That my friends would be an lineup that would be feared, especially with a big armed quarterback like Freeman who can push the ball down the field. There would be defensive coordinators in Atlanta, New Orleans and Carolina losing sleep over trying to come up with a way to defend those guys. That's before you even get to our running game.

I know people will point out Marshall's past problems and I don't necessarily dismiss them out of hand. But I will say that at least some of those same kinds of criticisms were lobbed at Winslow before he got here, but the balled out this year on the field.

I don't pretend to know the mindset of the brass over at One Buc, or if this is even in their realm of possibilities. But I will say this, it certainly seems as if just the potential of getting a guy like Marshall should warrant at least a phone call to the Broncos to gauge their interest. We have the luxury of an extra 2nd round pick this year from the Gaines Adams trade and maybe we can package that together with some later picks to get Marshall for less than market value. Hell who knows, maybe we could even get him for a 3rd round pick, you really never know unless you ask. And hell we have 5 picks in the first 99, I would think we can spare one of those for him (other than the first rounder).

I saw Ira Kaufman on my twitter feed say earlier today that the Bucs need to find 4 starters in this draft. Well I would say this would be one way to ensure that we parlayed a draft pick into a starter. And then some!

If they Glazers want to get Bucs fans excited again, this is definitely one way to get the job done.

And that, my friends, is real talk.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Live Blogging The Bucs Vs Falcons #2 Week 17

Friday, January 1, 2010

Bush League

If there is one thing I hate, its when a coach, especially one who never played the game or didn't play it on a high level, questions one of his player's toughness who has been one of his key contributors all year, because the guy gets injured.

You have to understand that there isn't much more disrespectful for a football player than to have some asshole who probably has never ever experience the kind of pain in their life that you walk around with daily during the season try to call you out for not being tough. Especially if you are a guy who has played through injury time and time again and has helped said asshole through your efforts, attain some notoriety.

Today's asshole is Denver's rookie head Josh McDaniels, a guy who seems to be panicking before his game Sunday which will determine if his team gets into the playoffs or not. His target today was his Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall, pretty low hanging fruit I must say. I mean after all Marshall has been accused of being a head case in the past, has been in trouble with the law in the past and was suspended in the preseason just earlier this year.

But you see here is the problem, Brandon Marshall put up big numbers this year, numbers good enough to get him voted to the Pro Bowl even after all the drama to start the year, and but for him the Broncos likely would have stunk up the joint. He was damn near the only big play option on offense for them and he took big hits and bounced up all year to make more plays. But now because McDaniels has decided that in addition to be a coach he is a trainer and a doctor and doesn't think Marshall's injury is all that bad, he comes out and questions the guy's toughness?

There is also another tell about McDaniels. In addition to Brandon Marshall, he also chose to bench tight end Tony Scheffler because of his "attitude". So this coach who is going into maybe the biggest game of his short career as a head coach so far decides to publicly humiliate one of his best players who wasn't going to play anyway and hasn't had any issues with since the season started and in fact played so well that he was voted in to the Pro Bowl, and he decides to bench another major contributor on offense because of his "attitude". Yeah I can't wait to see how that works out for you coach.

Thing of it is, McDaniels will probably get cover on this one from the media. They won't think to ask themselves if another coach has ever pulled this kind of ridiculous shit before a big game. Nor will most of them probably give Marshall the benefit of a doubt. Instead they will likely talk about how much "guts" it takes for McDaniels to make this kind of decision. But remember, the only decision McDaniels really made was to come out and embarrass his player. Marshall was already not likely to play because of his hamstring so benching him was really a moot point. I would hope some sports pundits would point that out, but I am not holding my breath.

It is going to be very interesting to see how the Broncos play for their asshole coach on Sunday. I am pretty sure that there are guys on that team respect what Marshall has done for them all year and might not take too kindly to McDaniels' antics. Especially because if there is one thing football players know its that what is done to one guy can definitely be done to you too. Really I will also be watching McDaniels closely because I have a feeling that if he is freaking out like this now before the game then its likely he will have a full blown meltdown during the game if things don't go their way early.

If and when he does you can best believe I will be sure to point it out too. Lets see how he likes being the one getting called out.

A Zone Blitz Wrinkle For The Bucs

For years and years since Coach Dungy and Coach Kiffin arrived in Tampa our defense has been running a certain zone blitz where we send 3 people strong and drop the backside end. The blitz is still effective and I have seen Coach Morris use it a couple of times since he took over the role of defensive coordinator. However there is one thing that offenses learned to do in pass protection over the years to block this blitz which made it harder to get pressure on the quarterback and generally gave him a nice window in which to look downfield and deliver the football. I would like to propose a wrinkle in this scheme for this week, just as a change up.

No matter which Falcons quarterback starts against the Bucs this weekend, we know none of them are particularly fleet of foot. So in my opinion what we want is quick pressure in his face and if we can't get him on the ground initially then we make flush them out of the pocket where they aren't as comfortable. The wrinkle I am suggesting is that instead of having the Sam Linebacker or nickle corner rush from the outside and the Mike Linebacker rush inside in the B gap, that we switch their responsibilities. The bottom diagram shows the blocking scheme that most teams are going to in order to block up this blitz when they want to pass. By blocking down with the tackle and having the running back block out on the outside blitzer they create a lane with a big gap between the tackle's outside shoulder and the running back's inside shoulder. Further they put the outside rusher on an island where if they make an inside move and miss the quarterback then contain is lost and the quarterback will have nothing but green grass in front of him.

With the Mike Linebacker and outside rusher switching responsibilities, you alleviate that problem against that particular blocking scheme. Your outside rusher takes a step or two upfield and then comes screaming inside. If its our Sam linebacker, ie Quincy Black, he can even get a quick shove on the offensive tackle's back who is blocking down to ensure he isn't able to step back out and try to get to the Mike. When its performed correctly what you end up having is a double team on the running back with the outside rusher who is now coming inside and the Mike who is now rushing outside for contain. He will have to pick someone to block and either way he is going to be wrong. As long as both guys maintain their given lane outside or inside then its going to be a win for the defense. And because the Mike will be a little late outside, which is fine considering Barrett Ruud's closing speed, then he should be able to discern if its a screen pass by then if the back doesn't block the Sam or nickleback.

I gave the illustration on top of the offensive line blocking out just to give a picture of what the Sam or nickle back should do if the offensive tackle actually block out to them which is take a couple steps up field then rip inside. Trust me, it won't be an easy block for the offensive tackle and they shouldn't have any guard help inside because of the end coming inside to the A gap. It also may confuse the back as to who he is supposed to block and give the Mike an opening on his outside rush.

This should be an especially effective blitz against the Falcons because they like to flex their hall of fame tight end, Tony Gonzales, out in the slot which means you won't have to worry about him staying in to block. I don't mean to infer that the Bucs haven't thought about using this wrinkle on their own, but regardless it sure would be nice to see them use it a time or two this Sunday.

Just sayin...

I Almost Forgot

Happy New Year!!!!!!!!!!!

When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong

Evidently Washington Wizards teammates Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton decided they were going to bust a cap in each other's ass over a gambling debt that reportedly Arenas refused to pay. What in the name of fuckery is this? Two rich dumbasses who play a game for an obscene amount of money are now going to shoot each other over what I am sure was relatively chump change for both of them? And not just anywhere, but in Washington DC where the gun laws don't play. And did I mention this was over GAMBLING? What, did these cats listen to a little too much Tupac that day or watch Menace to Society just one to many times? I have heard of studio gangstas, but locker room ganstas?!
C'mon son, get the fuck outta here wit dat bullshit.
I know its late in the year and other people were surely deserving up till now, but this pair just earned my Dumbass Of The Year award. I hope part of their prize is being cut and suspended without pay for at least a year.

Gotta pay the stupid tax.

Now That's Just Mean!

I love watching MMA not only because of the level of skill involved but also because every once in awhile you will get matches with guys who really and truly don't like each other and when that happens you can expect major fireworks. Well last night there was a match between Shinya Aoki and Mizuto Hirota which turned out to be one of those instances. Now I have to warn you before you watch the clip that there is a nasty nasty submission hold involved, a broken or dislocated bone, and some very poor sportsmanship. If you think you can stomach all that then push play.

Now over on Yahoo they are debating whether or not this will hurt Aoki, the guy who rearranged his opponents anatomy and then turned around and insulted him for good measure, and his American promotor in getting him some fights here in the US. Further they are debating whether or not this would hurt MMA in general stateside had the match been shown here.

Well maybe something is wrong with me but by God, I while I was shocked at Aoki's behavior, some part of me loved it too. Now I don't imagine most folks think like me, but I have a sneaky suspicion that a lot of MMA fans do. Its like any other sport for me, when you make a big play in football or basketball or even sometimes baseball you want to both celebrate and also to make the point to your opponent that you are their better. While the one finger salute is crass, to me its not much worse than a player saying "In your face!". I have a sneaky suspicion that if boxers didn't wear gloves we would have seen some of them giving their fallen opponent the finger a LONG time ago. It is what it is.

On the other hand I am sure that for folks who don't like MMA and use words like "barbaric" to describe it, yeah they probably didn't care for the display at all. But who the hell cares what they think? Those are the same people who will NEVER like MMA and will never see it for what it is, a sport. Spending time worrying about if you are going to offend them does nothing more than kill time and energy better used on other topics. For all of the faux outrage after Brock Lesnar flipped off the crowd and his opponent after his dominating win over fan favorite Frank Mir, do you REALLY think that made MMA less popular? I don't. If anything it gave people more of a reason to watch because now they had a bonafide villain. Some of the fans would root against him, many would root for him but it never hurts to have a black hat as a contrast in any sport you can think of.

I don't think MMA would survive if this was the kind of behavior you saw after each and every match. But I don't think it hurts at all to see this every once in awhile. I can tell you this, I will definitely be checking Aoki's next match out. And somehow I bet I won't be alone.