Saturday, April 13, 2013

LSU could be a darkhorse in next season's SEC race

This year's version of the LSU Tigers overachieved to some degree. The Tigers finished  19-12 and went 9-9 in a weakened version of the SEC. That was good for ninth place in a season where not much was expected. The talent level was down and they had a new coach in Johnny Jones. The only player of note was power forward Johnny O'Bryant III.

With a .500 conference record and having 19 wins you would've thought the tigers would've been a lock for the NIT. They were snubbed and watched the postseason from their dorm rooms. But things won't be so bleak next season.

O'Bryant will be returning for his junior season and Jones has a recruiting class that some rank as high a sixth in the nation. Much will be expected from Jarrell Martin, Tim Quarterman, and Jordan Mickey. Add to that the experience of Anthony Hickey and Andre Stringer, the Tigers appear to be in good shape. Also, don't sleep on Jones as as bench boss. Don't let the lack of NCAA tournament appearances at North Texas fool you. He had that program on good footing before he left and turned them into a Sun Belt contender. See how good they were without Jones calling the shots form the sideline. 

In my opinion, the Tigers could be a darkhorse in next year's SEC race. They won't win it. Kentucky and Florida still are head and shoulders above the rest and you don't know which Missouri team you'll get. Alabama and Tennessee also return a lot but LSU should be in the mix and be watching for their name to be called on Selection Sunday.

Mike Ditka thinks encouraging crowd noise is stupid

When the NFL made some in stadium rule changes this week, former Chicago Bears boss, Mike Ditka, was not a fan of the changes. The rule that gets under his skin the most is the rule that allow scoreboards to encourage crowd noise.

Ditka called it stupid and thinks it has no place in the game.

"It's stupid," Ditka told the Chicago Sun-Times. "The NFL... who are they appealing to? It would be like the owners working at their desk and all of a sudden, they encourage people to come in their office and make a lot of noise. It doesn't make sense."

Stadiums will also be able to encourage crowd noise through the use of audio until there's 20 seconds left on the play clock. In the past, the audio encouragement had to stop at the 30-second mark.

"The key to football is you want to be able to see it executed properly," Ditka said. "You want to hear the snap count. You want to see these guys use their talents where they're not tainted. Sometimes when you have crowd noise, you're not seeing the player at his best."

Well Mike, the NFL is trying to make the environment more fan friendly, especially the casual fan. But I do agree with what Ditka is saying. If you're a hardcore football fan you don't need to know when to make noise. The league needs to cater to the true fan and not the one that has the most money therefore they have the seats and don't really know what's going on out on the field.

To Roger Goodell, if you really wanted to enhance the fan experience, you'd tell teams to lower ticket prices,concessions and parking fees. Then you would see the true fans at the games and wouldn't need a video operator to tell you when to get loud.

Brett Favre says if the Cowboys play better, Tony Romo will be less reckless

Tony Romo will be the whipping boy of the Dallas Cowboys until they win a Super Bowl or any game of consequence. The team does have talent but for some reason it hasn't came together for them.

Former NFL quarterback Brett Favre believes that Romo shouldn't be judged on his one playoff win and that if the Cowboys play better Romo wouldn't have to be reckless.

“It’s the ultimate team sport,” said Favre, the featured speaker at an SMU athletic forum luncheon in Dallas. “I think it’s misleading to say that a quarterback has wins and losses and say he was a part of one playoff victory. I think there are a lot of factors that go into the success of not only Tony Romo but any player. Just what little bit I’ve watched the last couple of years, it seems like they were a little bit in disarray offensively. I thought he did a good job, from what I saw, of managing and making plays.

“Does that get you in trouble sometimes when you try to do too much? Sure it does. But I think I’d rather have a guy who’s willing to take those chances.”

“I like the way he plays,” Favre said. “I think there’s times that he’s made plays or decisions that were bad. But I think based on how the team has played or the way that the game has gone, for the most part, has kind of dictated the way his decision-making has played into it.

“I guess the way for me to explain it would be that if the Cowboys offense is going according to plan, say you’re up by 14, or you’re never out of it and your running game is OK, and you know where everyone is going to line up and you know what you’re going to get out of your defense, then I think he would probably play less recklessly. I think it just kind of falls in line with how maybe the season or the game goes.”

Romo had his finest statistical season in 2011, and Dallas finished 8-8. His worst season came last year, and, again, Dallas was 8-8. I've watched Cowboys games where the team was rolling and bad Romo decisions blew it for them (2011 vs. Lions). So while you can't pin the blame on Romo, Favre's claims aren't dead on.

While we shouldn't blame Tony for his reckless playing style.  We need to blame whoever's responsible for the team falling far enough behind that desperate play becomes needed -- i.e. the defense, who gives up points.  Oh, and the offense, who doesn't score enough to keep up, including (and especially) the leader of the offense... uh, oh yeah -- that'd be Romo, himself.

Which means that Romo will always get the blame no matter how you spin it.

Urban Meyer rewards Ohio State players for 12-0 season

The Ohio State Buckeyes could consider themselves the uncrowned champions if they wanted to. They finished the season 12-0 but since they were on probation and couldn't participate in a bowl they weren't allowed to compete for the national championship.

The fact that that the Buckeyes went 12-0 wasn't lost on head coach Urban Meyer. Meyer rewarded the players with rings for finishing undefeated. 

Alabama and Virginia Tech will play for the

There are some who are offended by this including ESPN's Mark May. May tweeted:

Just a checking my integrity meter didn't know you could give out 12-0 rings when your on probation or banned from bowls..just a thought.

I'm no Buckeye slappy but I have no problem with Meyer rewarding the players for their hard work. They were Big Ten divisional champions even though they didn't get to play in the conference championship game they probably would've won. It's not like they calling themselves the national champions.