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Sports Then and Now

Will Florida State Ever Lose Another Regular Season Game?

Posted on October 08, 2015 by Jim Hurley
Everett Golson has been making strides in the offense of Jimbo Fisher.

Everett Golson has been making strides in the offense of Jimbo Fisher.

The last time the Florida State Seminoles played a really big game they were in the College Football Playoff and getting crushed by Oregon, 59-20 in the Rose Bowl on January 1. Since then, they’ve stayed in the news for off-the-field incidents and getting a transfer quarterback, Everett Golson from Notre Dame. Amidst all that it can be easy to forget that FSU hasn’t actually lost a regular season game since 2012. They face their first real test of 2015 when Miami comes to Tallahassee on Saturday night to renew a great rivalry (8 PM ET, ABC).

Florida State’s undefeated regular season last year was marked by so many near-misses that it became a storyline as to whether the defending national champs would actually be excluded from the Playoff in spite of their perfect record. Given that, it won’t surprise you to learn that the Seminoles were an atrocious bet—in spite of going 13-0 in the regular season, they only covered the Vegas number three times. And this season has started with signs that it might be more of the same.

The Seminoles are 4-0, and have covered twice, so maybe they won’t be quite the same moneyburner they were in 2014, but the early signs aren’t good. One of the ATS covers was a season-opening 59-16 win over Texas State as a (-27.5) favorite. The games against more legitimate competition haven’t gone quite so smoothly…

*A 34-14 home win over South Florida was a non-cover as a (-27.5) favorite
*A 14-0 win at Boston College was enough to cover a relatively short (-9.5) line
*A surprisingly close 24-16 game at Wake Forest decisively missed the (-19) number.

Now Florida State is giving (-9) to a Miami team that comes in 3-1, and the Seminoles might have to go with a third-string running back. Dalvin Cook, easily the team’s best offensive playmaker left the Wake game early with a hamstring injury and backup Mario Pender is already out.

That’s going to shift the burden to Golson. So far he’s avoided the turnovers that cost him his job at Notre Dame and led to the transfer—no interceptions thus far and while the schedule obviously hasn’t been very good, the Boston College defense is very good. But the mistake-free Golson has come at a price—the big plays he often made in South Bend have also disappeared. Read the rest of this entry →

Surprises Abound During First Month of College Football Season

Posted on October 07, 2015 by Brooke Chaplan
Leonard Fournette has been the most dominant player during the first month of the college football season.

Leonard Fournette has been the most dominant player during the first month of the college football season.

As college football moves into the second month of the season, there have already been many surprises. As defending national champion Ohio State has struggled against Virginia Tech and barely managed a win against Indiana. While working out the kinks of its two-quarterback system and showing weaknesses in turn overs and fumbles, other teams such as Michigan State and SEC powerhouse LSU have emerged as national championship contenders. With many weeks still to go before the playoff begins, there are still many questions left to be answered.

Pac-12 Conference
While many college football fans tend to focus on the Southeastern Conference and its usual arsenal of powerhouse teams such as Alabama and Auburn, more and more people are turning their attention to the Pac-12 conference. Although Oregon appears to be on a decline after losing 62-20 to Utah, other teams such as USC and Utah appear to be on the verge of having what may be a very special season. With five teams currently ranked in the AP Top 25, the conference appears to be well on its way to breaking the so-called “East Coast bias” that supposedly plagues it annually.

Big Ten Conference
Despite its struggles, Ohio State still remains the top-ranked team in the nation. However, the Spartans of Michigan State are hot on their heels at number two. Add to the mix traditional powers such as Wisconsin and surprise teams like Northwestern and Michigan, and fans have the ingredients for what promises to be a return to prominence for teams in the Midwest. For those who possess an online sports management degree, working in the athletic departments with the likes of Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh could prove to make each day an exciting one indeed. Read the rest of this entry →

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World Cup of Hockey

Posted on October 05, 2015 by Michael Ramos

hockey skatesAt this point it’s going to be something that they’re doing for the first time in 12 years and a lot isn’t known about it. There are several details that have been brought out by the NHL and a lot of fan and player reaction. In this article we’ll cover what it means for the regular season, what’s known about it at the time of writing and whether or not anyone’s going to tune in.

Fan Reaction

So here’s the thing: fans simply love hockey. They love to watch it, support it, talk about it, buy up popular merchandise, and remember all the best times that have happened in the history of the game. That’s precisely why this whole affair is going to be a bit of a mixed bag for the fans of the game. Part of the reason that they may love it: it’s hockey. But seriously, it’s going to be a whole bunch of the best players in the world competing at an extremely high level for country and for respect.

Here’s the problem though, the timing will cause it to coincide with pre-season. Although that doesn’t necessarily sound like a bad thing to the casual fan, as most people who follow the game know, there’s a huge amount of subtle teamwork that makes or breaks a season. Without the level of teamwork and cooperation that is engendered by gelling together during the pre-season (at the very least) players are going to be missing cues and making mistakes.

I mean just take a look at the Russian International team from the ‘70s and ‘80s, it was all the same guys. They were inarguably great players but they were made significantly better because they knew each other. They were able to read each other’s intentions and movements in ways that their opposition couldn’t. This allowed them to run circles around teams of talented people who didn’t know each other. Read the rest of this entry →

The Fall Classic: When Mr. October Reggie Jackson Once Starred

Posted on October 05, 2015 by Mike Raffone

Mr. October Reggie JacksonIt’s only fitting that former Major League Baseball star Reggie Jackson leads off the month of October in this Sports Then and Now blog.

The Hall of Fame slugger wore the colorful uniform of the Oakland A’s and the traditional pinstripes of the New York Yankees.

He normally starred during the spring and summer months of the Major League Baseball season.

However, Reggie Jackson flourished on the baseball field during the fall – especially during the sport’s beloved Fall Classic.

That’s when he earned his nickname Mr. October.

New York Yankees teammate Thurmon Munson first used the title when questioned during the 1977 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Munson told a reporter to interview Jackson. He referred to the Yankee right fielder’s history of fantastic post-season games and said, “Go ask Mr. October.”

A 1999 Cooperstown Hall of Fame inductee, Reginald Martinez Jackson enjoyed a stellar 21-year Major League Baseball career. He retired in 1987. Jackson was a 14-time All-Star who hit 563 dingers, drove in 1,702 runs and batted .262 with 2,584 total hits.

The 1973 American League MVP also had his number 9 jersey retired in Oakland and his number 44 jersey retired in New York. Pretty great accomplishments, indeed!

A clutch hitting right fielder, Jackson had the ability to perform his best during post-season play. Mr. October ranks as the only baseball player ever to be named World Series Most Valuable Player for two different teams. Jackson first won the award in 1973 with the Oakland A’s. He won it again in 1977 with the New York Yankees.

Jackson’s World Series numbers are incredible. In 27 Fall Classic appearances, Mr. October belted 10 home runs, drove in 24 runs and batted an impressive .357. He won five world titles. In the deciding Game 6 of the 1977 World Series, Jackson hit three consecutive first pitch home runs off of three different Dodger hurlers.

Baseball fans will never forget this amazing Oakland A’s and New York Yankees’ right fielder and his Fall Classic heroics.

In a Boys of Summer sport, this Baseball Hall of Famer rightfully earned his fitting autumn nickname – Mr. October.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

Saturday Will Tell If Clemson and Georgia Are Contenders Or Pretenders

Posted on October 01, 2015 by Jim Hurley
Saturday's game against Notre DDame wiill tell if Dabo Swinney and Clemson have a chance at reaching the College Football Playoffs.

Saturday’s game against Notre Dame will tell if Dabo Swinney and Clemson have a chance at reaching the College Football Playoffs.

Georgia and Clemson are long-time rivals on the field, but they have one thing in common off the field and at the betting window—they have a tendency to play below expectations. Whether it’s aggravating their own fan bases with a crushing loss just when a corner seems to have been turned, or playing just well enough to win, but not cover the number, the Bulldogs and Tigers have a knack for pulling the rug out from under you.

Now, both programs in the national spotlight on Saturday, each undefeated and each with showcase home games. Georgia hosts Alabama (3:30 PM ET, CBS) and Clemson will get a visit from Notre Dame (8 PM ET, ABC) in the day’s two best games that you can watch back-to-back. Will the home teams finally meet their moment?

Let’s begin by giving some context of the last two seasons, because I want to make clear I’m not implying these programs can’t play good football. They can. Clemson is 19-5 over the last two regular seasons and has bowl victories over Ohio State and Oklahoma. Georgia is 17-7 in that same timeframe, and if we go back one year earlier to 2012, the Bulldogs were one play away from winning the SEC title and likely converting that into a national championship.

But each team has been consistently been overrated by the oddsmakers. In the same two-year period where Clemson was winning 19 regular season games on the field, their bettors in Las Vegas only cashed 11 pointspread winners—against 13 losers. With Georgia, that 17-7 straight-up record becomes 10-13-1 when we measure it against Vegas expectations. That’s the roundabout way of saying that Clemson and Georgia have spent two years being bad bets.

Now each team steps onto a big national stage for this first Saturday of October. Over the first month of the season, there’s reason for cautious optimism with Georgia, but guarded skepticism with Clemson.

Clemson is 1-2 against the spread thus far. On a recent Thursday night appearance against Louisville, the Tigers barely survived a very young Cardinal team 20-17, failing to cover as a five-point favorite. Sophomore quarterback DeShaun Watson is talented, but has his inconsistencies. He threw two interceptions against the Cards and failed to generate much in the way of a downfield passing attack.

The rush defense was exposed in an earlier game against Appalachian State, giving up over 200 yards on the ground and allowing 4.5 yards per carry. With Notre Dame and its physical offensive line leading the way for C.J. Prosise, that’s a problem. Read the rest of this entry →

The Heckler: A Big Mouthed Sports Fan

Posted on September 28, 2015 by Mike Raffone

The HecklerBecause I enjoy his antics, this big mouthed sports fan is an easy choice for today’s Sports Then and Now blog.

This big babbler has been barking from the stands at sporting events since the first chariot races in Rome and original Olympic Games in Greece.

He’s that garrulous guy who plays the role of the annoying fan at games. He’s been seen and heard at every pro game in every sport for as long as fans can remember.

Many observers would say he’s just as bothersome, or entertaining, “now” as he was back “then” at sports events!

The colorful and, at times, irritating big mouth sits court side at NBA games, in the end zone at NFL games or behind home plate at Major League Baseball games and creatively maligns the opposing team’s players. His duty is to toss barbs at the other team and their fans.

Universally known as the Heckler, this super fan ironically may not boast too many fans of his own.

Some fans may find him insulting, but I like him and think he’s an expected, entertaining part of attending a professional sports event.

He’s pretty funny, especially if he’s rooting for the same team.

Plus, I can handle his non-stop heckling – provided he’s seated far enough away and doesn’t make the little hairs on the back of my neck stand at full attention with his non-stop jibber-jabbering.

And, I get a kick out of watching rival fans deal with the Heckler during a game. The guy’s entertainment factor wears off quickly, especially when he’s not cheering for their squad.

Soon, opposing fans within earshot realize this guy has a bullhorn for a voice box and no off switch for his grating trash talk.

During the rest of the game, these same rival fans are constantly on edge, much to my delight and that of all of my fellow fans.

For the rest of the game, I’m entertained by watching these rival fans try to keep themselves in check.

In a fight to the end, they struggle to restrain themselves from dumping their beer on this loud mouthed Heckler.

Because of the entertainment factor he has always provided at games since fans can remember, this timeless irritant and big mouthed sports fan secures a spot in today’s Sports Then and Now blog.

Out of curiosity, what’s your favorite Heckler line?

Let us know. Just keep it clean and leave everyone’s mother out of your response. Lol

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!


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    • Bob Gibson: Big Game Hurler
      October 4, 2015 | 10:33 am
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      Throughout his 17 year career with the St. Louis Cardinals, opponents knew they were in for a battle every time they faced Bob Gibson.  

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