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Division I Football Has a Playoff! Now What? 1

Posted on August 10, 2014 by Dean Hybl
Jameis Winston and Florida State seem to be the likely choice to run past the competition and into the first Division I Football Playoff.

Jameis Winston and Florida State seem to be the likely choice to run past the competition and into the first Division I Football Playoff.

After years of waiting and wanting, those who said that Division I college football will be better with a playoff system now have their wish. So, as the first season of the College Football Playoff prepares to get underway, it will be interesting to see if this system calms the critics or creates a new set of detractors.

On the field, the potential candidates for the playoff seem to be many of the same players that have been in the mix over the last few years and you can see the odds at allpro.

Simply by returning their starting quarterback and Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Jameis Winston, the Florida State Seminoles are the popular favorites to repeat as national champions. With 13 returning starters and a relatively favorable schedule in which they have only seven challenging games and play four of them at home and one on a neutral site, it seems very likely that Florida State will be among the four teams to earn playoff spots.

It also seems generally safe to pencil Alabama into the playoff mix. However, what is an unknown entering the first year of the playoff is how the SEC, which provides tougher challenges on a weekly basis than many other conferences, will be treated in the likelihood that no-one from the league is undefeated and the conference has multiple teams with just one or two losses.

Besides the Crimson Tide, other SEC teams that certainly have the talent to contend for a playoff spot are Auburn, South Carolina, Georgia and LSU. However, in recent years the conference has also featured a surprise team that wasn’t expected to make a run, but somehow is there at the end. This year that team could possibly be Mississippi, Texas A&M or maybe even the Florida Gators.

With four teams possessing enough talent to contend for the playoffs, the Pac-12 could also be hampered by their top-line depth when looking at getting a team (or two) into the playoff. Oregon and Stanford have been the cream of the conference in recent years, but UCLA and USC both seem to have the talent to contend for the conference title.

While I know this playoff system is supposed to take the politics out of deciding a champion, does anyone really think that is possible? That being said, it would seem extremely unlikely that the Big Ten will not figure a way to get someone into the playoff party.

Ohio State would seem to be the most likely candidate, but after going nearly two seasons undefeated under head coach Urban Meyer they barely defeated Michigan before ending the 2013 season with losses to Michigan State and Clemson. They have only a couple challenging games in 2014, so how they perform in the final weeks of the season could determine whether they are in the playoff.

If the Buckeyes don’t prove worthy, Michigan State could certainly prove to be the Big Ten representative. Wisconsin is a relative long-shot and while Michigan seems highly unlikely to be good enough to reach the playoffs, they could prove to be a spoiler for other Big Ten contenders. Read the rest of this entry →

Remembering Sports Greats Lost in 2013 1

Posted on December 31, 2013 by Dean Hybl
Baseball legend Stan Musial passed away in 2013 at age 92.

Baseball legend Stan Musial passed away in 2013 at age 92.

Unfortunately, one of the inevitable aspects of every year is that we must say goodbye to some memorable greats from the sports world who passed away during that year.

2013 was no different as the sports world lost a number of all-time greats along with many others who may not have ended their careers in a sports Hall of Fame, but who left their own marks on the history of sports.

During the year we reflected on the passing of several athletes at the time of their death including Stan Musial, Pat Summerall, Earl Weaver, Deacon Jones, Art Donovan, Bum Phillips and Ed Herrmann. You can remember the legacies of these sports stars by clicking on their name to read the original articles.

In addition to these seven, there were many other well-known figures from the sports world that we lost in 2013. Below are brief remembrances of some of those greats.

Miller Barber – Professional Golfer – 82 years old
After winning 11 PGA Tour tournaments, but never finishing better than fourth in any Major, Barber was one of the early stars of the Senior Tour. He won 24 Senior Tour tournaments, including the Senior PGA Championship in 1981 and three Senior U.S. Open Championships in a four-year period.

Walt Bellamy – NBA Hall of Famer – 74 years old
The first pick of the 1961 NBA Draft, Bellamy averaged 31.6 points per game as a rookie, but still finished nearly 19 points per game behind NBA scoring champion Wilt Chamberlain (who averaged 50.4 ppg). He went on to average 20.1 points and 13.7 rebounds per game during a 14 year career in which he played for five different franchises.

Paul Blair – Major League Baseball Outfielder – 69 years old
An eight time Gold Glove winner, Blair was a key member of two World Series Champion teams with the Baltimore Orioles. He also won two World Series as a member of the New York Yankees during his 17 year career. Read the rest of this entry →

LSU Tigers Prepare To Make An Impact In The SEC 0

Posted on September 16, 2013 by Dean Hybl
Zach Mettenberger is off to a hot start in 2013.

Zach Mettenberger is off to a hot start in 2013.

The first weeks of the college football season have seen Alabama, Georgia, Texas A&M and South Carolina garner the spotlight in the highly competitive SEC. Now, after three straight non-conference games, the LSU Tigers are ready to jump into conference play and regain some of the limelight.

After opening the conference schedule at home on September 21st against the Auburn Tigers, they will have to break out the LSU luggage for back-to-back road games at Georgia and Mississippi State.

By the time LSU returns home to face Florida on October 12th it will be very clear whether Les Miles’ squad is a contender for the conference and national title.

If LSU is able to withstand their SEC challenges, a big reason is likely to be the play of senior quarterback Zach Mettenberger. After struggling at times a year ago, Mettenberger has been outstanding so far in 2013 in his first season playing under offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.

A former head coach at both the college and professional level, Cameron has helped Mettenberger blossom. Through his first three games, Mettenberger is completing 65.2% of his passes for 797 yards and nine touchdowns without throwing an interception. Read the rest of this entry →

5 Fearless Predictions for the 2013 College Football Season 2

Posted on August 31, 2013 by Dean Hybl
Will Nick Saban again be lifting the BCS crystal when the season is over?

Will Nick Saban again be lifting the BCS crystal when the season is over?

Though the fact that much of the country has been experiencing some of the warmest weather of the summer might suggest otherwise, the wait really is over and it is time for college football season.

The opening games on Thursday night just wet the whistle for what should be another great year across the country.

Rather than joining the thousands of others who have offered their preseason rankings and conference predictions, here are “5 Fearless Predictions” of things I expect to see happen in college football this season.

1. Someone other than Johnny Manziel wins the Heisman Trophy

This may have been considered an off the wall prediction after the freshman phenom won the Heisman Trophy and  then led Texas A&M to a Cotton Bowl victory last season. However, he has spent the last nine months getting more attention for the parties he has attended and for all the time he spent signing autographs for “free” than for his upcoming sophomore season.

I think Manziel is a talented college football player (though unlikely to be a good NFL player), but his rise to the Heisman last season was a bit of a fluke as it was really the result of one huge performance against Alabama and the lack of a clear offensive star among the elite teams in the game.
Read the rest of this entry →

Book Review: Rising Tide Provides Glimpse Into Alabama Football During Era Of Bryant and Namath 3

Posted on August 18, 2013 by Dennis Jezek
The new book looks at the sometimes dicey relationship between two Alabama legends Bear Bryant and Joe Namath.

The new book looks at the sometimes dicey relationship between two Alabama legends Bear Bryant and Joe Namath.

The new book by Randy Roberts and Ed Krzemienski, Rising Tide : Bear Bryant, Joe Namath and Dixie’s Last Quarter, is dedicated to, among others, “all of the … passionate fans of the Crimson Tide, the most successful college football team in history.” It was not, however, written by fans.

In interest of full disclosure, I was born in 1965, just a few months after the last events of this book, and have been a fan of the Crimson Tide since 1972. I graduated from the Capstone in 1991, just a year shy of being able to experience the joys of 1992 for myself. I worked in the sports information office with Coach Gene Stallings, knew Dude Hennessey, Charley Thornton and Clem Gryska among others cited in the book.

If you’ve ever wondered why, when discussing the pantheon of greats from Tide history, Joe Namath doesn’t seem to get mentioned quite as often as Harry Gilmer, Don Hutson, Vaughn Mancha, Dixie Howell, Pat Trammel, Lee Roy Jordan, Johnny Musso, Kenny Stabler, Bob Baumhauer, Woody Lowe Ozzie Newsome or any of the newer stars, despite the fact that Bryant often called him the “greatest athlete I ever coached,” this book might help you understand it. Ever the outsider, Namath starred for the University of Alabama, but he never really was “part” of it. To paraphrase Chris Peterson, he wasn’t O.K.P. (our kinda player).

If you really are a fan of the Tide and have even a little sense of the history (and I don’t think you get to call yourself a ‘fan’ if you don’t), then there really is not a ton of new material here from a program perspective. There is, however, a great deal of background information about Namath, culled from interviews with family, friends and the man himself. That material alone makes the book worth the effort. Read the rest of this entry →

Franco Harris Stirring Up Conversation on Legacy of Joe Paterno and Penn State Football 0

Posted on January 25, 2013 by Dean Hybl
Franco Harris has been one of the staunchest defenders of his former coach.

Franco Harris has been one of the staunchest defenders of his former coach.

While most of the sports world has moved on from the all-consuming story of Jerry Sandusky, Joe Paterno and Penn State football that dominated the sports media for more than half a year, one former Penn State player is not ready for the story to fade away.

Former Penn State running back and Pro Football Hall of Famer Franco Harris has been among the staunchest supporters of Coach Paterno and is now leading a discussion into the legacy of Penn State football and the Freeh Report that led to unprecedented sanctions from the NCAA.

Harris is hosting a pair of town hall meetings with the title of Upon Further Review: Penn State One Year Later. The first session is being held this Friday, January 25th, from 7:00-9:30 p.m. at the Radisson Casino Hotel in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. The second is set for Sunday, January 27th, from 1:00-3:30 p.m. at The Sunset Room at National Harbor in Washington, DC. Both sessions are free and open to the public.

“From the charges of the Freeh Report to the sanctions of the NCAA and the decisions of the Penn State Board of Trustees, the ongoing debate over Coach Paterno has had a dramatic effect on Joe’s legacy and the Penn State football program,” said Harris. “I’m eager to host a panel of experts – both pro and con – hear the views of community members, and offer a presentation that gives new information and analysis as well as a new perspective.”

When the Freeh Report was released last July, many were shocked by revelations that Paterno allegedly knew about allegations against Sandusky as long ago as 1998.

What was also shocking was the swiftness that the Freeh Report was taken as gospel by the NCAA, an organization that usually spends years investigating allegations and that has recently come under question for some of its own practices. Read the rest of this entry →

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    • Rod Carew: Hitting Machine
      July 5, 2014 | 3:42 pm
      Rod Carew

      Rod Carew

      With the Major League All-Star Game being played this year in Minnesota, we recognize as the July Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month one of the best hitters of the last half a century who was named to 18 straight All-Star teams, including in each of his 12 seasons with the Twins.

      Few have been as good at the craft of hitting a baseball as Rod Carew. During 19 major league seasons, Carew won seven batting titles and hit .330 or better ten times.

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