Monday, December 27, 2010

BCS Preview - By Jeff Bailey

 Jeff Bailey weighs in with his thoughts on the BCS bowl games, complete with predictions.

Rose Bowl
Wisconsin (5) vs. TCU (3)
  The Grandaddy of them all is once again one of the best bowl games of the season.  It pits fifth ranked Big Ten Champion, Wisconsin against third ranked Mountain West Champion, TCU.  The Horned Frogs tried to burst the BCS bubble but came up short even after a 12-0 season.  TCU still wants to prove to people that they belong with the big dogs so they will be giving nothing less than 110%.  Wisconsin has not been to the Rose Bowl since 1999 and will be more than ready for the challenge.
  Wisconsin has one of, if not the best, running attack games in the country.  The 3-headed monster, as I like to call it, of White, Clay, and Ball each have over 860 yards and have at least 13 TDs.  TCU is no pushover though with the third ranked run defense in the country, and 1st overall defense.  Something is going to have to give in this game; either Wisconsin gets its run game going, or TCU stops them dead in their tracks.  Both teams cannot win in that category.
  I believe this will be a semi-high scoring game (both teams average 43 ppg) but the difference maker will be the QBs.  Which QB can spread the field better and move the ball down the field?  On paper TCU’s Andy Dalton has the better stats, but as a pure leader and getting the team going I will go with Wisconsin’s Scott Tolzien.

Final Score: Wisconsin 34 TCU 24

Orange Bowl
Virginia Tech (13) vs. Stanford (4)
  13th ranked Virginia Tech is back in the Orange Bowl after missing a BCS game last season.  The nation’s fourth-ranked Stanford Cardinal has blown onto the scene the past two seasons and is rewarded with their first BCS game since the 1999 Rose Bowl.  Stanford is seeking their first BCS win while Virginia Tech feels right at home at the Orange (3rd appearance in four years).
  Both of these teams have very solid and balanced offensive attacks and are coming into this game very hot.  Stanford is on a seven game win streak and the Hokies, after losing their first two games, have roared back to win 11 straight.  The two main keys I see to this game involve the QBs.  First, which Tyrod Taylor will show up for Virginia Tech?  Some days he can be an amazing QB while other days he can lay an egg.    
  Secondly, how does Virginia Tech slow down or stop Andrew Luck?  In my mind, Luck is the best pure passer in college football and will make an immediate impact in the NFL.  All season long Luck has pretty much had his way with defenses.  Virginia Tech has a solid defense but it won’t be enough to slow down Luck and Stanford.

Final Score: Stanford 28 Virginia Tech 20

Fiesta Bowl
Oklahoma (7) vs. Connecticut (NR)
  This is probably one of the most lopsided BCS games we have seen in a long time on paper.   Seventh ranked Oklahoma, the Big 12 champion, has only missed a BCS bowl game 3 times since 2000.  They’ll face the Big East champion, an unranked UConn team that has only been to four bowl games in school history.  Many people are upset that UConn gets to play in a BCS game while other “better” teams get left out.  This is the first time a team with 4 losses has played in a BCS game since the inception of the current system.  UConn has a lot to prove about themselves and the Big East. 
  Oklahoma is a very pass heavy offense with Landry Jones leading the way with almost 4300 yards passing and 35 TDs.  UConn, on the other hand, is a very run heavy offense with Jordan Todman, who has over 1500 yards rushing and 14 TDs.  Don’t count Oklahoma out on the running game because DeMarco Murray is a stud who has had a quiet 1100 yard season.  On paper, both teams are very similar in defense, but the Huskies didn’t play one team ranked in the top 25 all year.
  I have a feeling this game might stay close for a quarter, maybe 2, then the flood gates will open for Oklahoma.  I don’t see UConn being able to stop Jones or Murray, and they don’t have enough offensive weapons to move the ball on Oklahoma.

Final Score: Oklahoma 43 UConn 10

Sugar Bowl
Ohio State (6) vs. Arkansas (8)
  The Sugar Bowl this year looks to be a very hard fought game by two very solid teams.  Ohio State, currently ranked sixth, looks to extend its BCS win streak to 2 after losing 3 straight, while eighth ranked Arkansas is looking for its first BCS bowl win.  Ohio State is very used to playing in BCS games having played in eight BCS games since the system started; the most by any school in the nation.  On the other hand, Arkansas has never played in a BCS game and hasn’t even been to a bowl game since 2007.
  The Buckeyes are no stranger to Arkansas’ QB Ryan Mallet seeing that they played against him four years ago when he was at Michigan.  Since then, Mallet has become one of the best QBs in the country and threw for 3600 yards this season.  Ohio State’s QB Terrelle Pryor didn’t live up to the preseason hype for a Heisman-like year, but still lead the Buckeyes to an 11-1 record.  Both teams are very balanced on offense and very solid on defense.  Ohio State comes in with the third best overall defense in the country, but will it be enough to stop Mallet and the Razorbacks?  I look for both teams to move the ball, but special teams will be a big factor in winning the game.

Final Score: Ohio State 27 Arkansas 24

BCS National Championship
Auburn (1) vs. Oregon (2)
  Points, points, and more points.  That is what I think of when I see this match up.  How high can the score go?  #1 Auburn has the most exciting and explosive player in college football that we have seen in years, while #2 Oregon has the most explosive and high powered offense of any team in the country.  Neither team posts a great defense, which could make this a very exciting game.  Oregon is averaging an astonishing 540 yards per game, while Auburn is not too shabby themselves with 497 yards per contest.  Both teams also average over 42 points per game, with Oregon scoring nearly 50 a game.
  Oregon uses Chip Kelly’s patented spread offense with the two-headed monster of QB Darron Thomas and RB LeMichael James.  If you stop one of them, the other will pick up the slack and still put points on the board.  Auburn is lead by Heisman winner Cam Newton who is probably the best dual threat QB college football has ever seen.  Newton has accounted for 4000 yards of offense and 48 TDs this season.
Like I said earlier, neither team has much of a defense, so the main key to this game is which defense will show up more.  “Defense wins championships” should be the phrase of the week/month for these teams.    This could easily be the highest scoring national championship game ever, but the winner will be the team who’s defense show up more.
  Besides defense, the main key to this game is if Auburn gets down big early or not.  Auburn has had many come-from-behind victories this season and is never out of the game.  If Auburn gets down early again in this one, I think Chip Kelly and Oregon have it in them to stomp the fire out right away.

Final Score: Auburn 48 Oregon 44

Agree?  Disagree?  Post a comment with your thoughts.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The reinvention of Tiger Woods - Dan Wines

  A year later, I get the feeling it’s coming.  For the duration of 2010, Tiger Woods was a shell of himself.  His swagger gone, his spirit broken, he simply went through the motions.  He didn't seem to want to be there.  The relentless questions regarding his repeated extra-marital liaisons made him tired, weary, and to be honest, somewhat pathetic.  His play on the course suffered.  The previously “unbeatable if he wants to be” Tiger Woods was replaced by a child yelling at himself after every bad shot.  Every one with a microphone kept trying to predict when he’d turn the corner.  Some expected his return to Augusta to be the moment when Tiger said “screw it, I’m taking over.”  Others, more aware of what months off from golf does to anyone’s game, predicted it’d be at one of the other three majors.  They were all wrong, over and over again.

As each tournament came and went, Tiger walked off the course, in defeat, earlier and earlier.  While the leaders walked up the 18th fairway, Tiger climbed the steps to a jet and headed home.  I watched him quit at the WGC at Firestone Country Club in Akron.  No joke, the greatest golfer ever (sorry, Jack), quit.  No practice swings.  No advice from part-time caddy, full-time bully Steve Williams.  No effort.  No desire.  I’ve seen Tiger Woods play a dozen rounds of golf in person and never imagined I'd see that version. 

All that said, I have a feeling the golf world is in for one of the best years of Tiger’s decorated career.  The comeback trail started yesterday, at the Chevron World Challenge, a tournament he hosts.  His driver was good, his approach shots were better, and he didn’t leave himself long putts.  The result? Eight birdies, a bogey, and a one shot -7 lead.  Sure, it’s one round.  He could implode in this tournament, get in his own head, and spiral into 2010 Tiger.  Don’t count on that.

His behavior that lead to an image destruction like we’ve never seen before, nor will again, was humiliating.  Because of that, some people have already forgotten that prior to having his model wife destroy his car, cell phone, front teeth, and dignity, Tiger was a bit of a robot.  Every interview sounded automated.  Every move sounded calculated.  His routine was to dominate from Thursday through Sunday, and then go back to his private and sheltered life.  Then he played chicken with a fire hydrant and a tree, which he lost, and his whole life changed.  We watched with various degrees of interest.  At first, I laughed.  I’m a Lefty fan.  Then, as he went to “sex rehab” (seriously?) and his mistress list read like a football roster, I started to feel kind of bad for the guy.  Yeah, he screwed up, and he did it in such a stupid fashion it was hard to believe, but it got to the point where we were running out of mud to drag him through.  By the time the Ryder Cup rolled around, I found myself rooting for Tiger to regain his form.  I’ve spent over a decade rooting against the guy, and I suddenly wanted to see him dominate again.  He played fairly well in the Ryder Cup, an event he’s always played fairly well in, and he finally looked like a real golfer again.

That brings us to now.  The 65 he shot yesterday wasn’t his best performance, but it was by far his best performance since we found out he gave a Perkins waitress a tip.  His marriage, a large number of his endorsements, and a chunk of money are gone.  Lee Westwood is the new number one, almost by default.  He’s got a new swing coach, and because athletes are still largely entitled morons, a lot of the negative attention has found new targets.  There are three reasons I think Tiger’s desire to dominate is back and more intense than ever before.

First, he’s too close to Nicklaus’ record for major victories to let another year slip away.  It’s nonsense to think that at his age (turning 35 this month), he’s getting too old to get the job done.  He’s in better physical condition than any other golfer ever.  Phil Mickelson’s four majors have all come after the age of 34, and considering Woods’ superior conditioning, it’s a no-brainer to think he’s got plenty left in the tank.  With a renewed focus and less personal drama, I think he closes the gap by at least two this year.

Secondly, he’s not happy that Lee Westwood is number one in the world.  He wants that title back.  What was sometimes lost in Tiger’s “it’s all about the majors” attitude was just how much he valued that world #1 ranking.  It was mostly assumed he’d always be number one – until he wasn’t.  I think Woods will regain the top spot, and even if “it’s all about the majors,” he’ll hang on to it.

Finally, and maybe most importantly, Tiger cares about being “the guy”  in golf.  Never before in his career has golf seen such an influx of young, entertaining players.  Guys like Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler, and Ryo Ishikawa are poised to steal some of the spotlight.  McIlroy and Johnson were close to getting over the hump in 2010, and I don’t get the sense that they’ll pull an Adam Scott and go from a future star to a relative disappointment any time soon.  In much the same way that NBA people expect Kobe Bryant to eventually pass the torch to players like LeBron and Kevin Durant, Tiger will someday be forced to turn the game over to the younger guys.  I don’t expect him to go quietly.

I anticipate that 2011 will be a banner year for the PGA.  With the infusion of this young talent and a focused, driven Tiger Woods, it’s coming, and I can’t wait.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Four Names You Should Know in College Football - (Jeff Bailey)

I try to come up with a list every year of the top players in the country that are not household names but should be.  Even though we are 11 weeks into the season, the four players listed below are still not known by a very large majority of college football fans.  I am not saying these guys will make great NFL players, but they are all great college players.  All stats listed below are through week 11 of the 2010 season.

4. Justin Blackmon, Soph, Oklahoma St, WR
This one is probably the most known of the four players on the list, but a lot of people still don’t know the name.  Blackmon is only a sophomore but leads the country in receiving yards (currently 1430 yards) by almost 200 yards.  If that isn’t impressive enough, he missed one game earlier in the season for a DUI arrest.  Not only is he leading the nation in receiving yards, but he is also #1 in the country in receiving TDs with 16.  Along with the stats, he is a long shot in the Heisman race and is #5 in ESPN’s Heisman Watch list.  Blackmon was also named a finalist for the Maxwell Award, which goes to the nation’s best player as seen by coaches, sportswriters and sportscasters.  I also expect Blackmon to be named a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award which goes to the top WR in the country.  I personally believe Justin Blackmon is the best WR in college football.  Since he is only a sophomore he will be back next year, so be on the lookout for him.

3. Ryan Kerrigan, Sr, Purdue, DE
Kerrigan is the first of two DE’s on my list.  Defensive players never get the recognition that offense players get in football but they are still amazing play makers.  Kerrigan is currently #2 in the country in sacks with 11.5.  This is not foreign territory for Kerrigan because he was tied for #4 in the country with 12 sacks last year, and led the Big Ten.  Ryan might be considered a sack machine college, but a major stat that has been totally overlooked for him is forced fumbles.  This past week, Kerrigan recorded his 13th and 14th career forced fumbled which put him in the top spot for that statistic in Big Ten football history.  To go along with his stats, he is a finalist for the Lombardi Award which goes to the county’s best lineman or linebacker.  He is also projected as a top 10 pick in next year’s NFL Draft.

2. Da'quan Bowers, Jr, Clemson, DE
Bowers is the 2nd DE on my list.  It amazes me that he is not a household name yet.  I believe Bowers is the best DE, and maybe the best defensive player in college football right now.  From the beginning people should have known his name.  When Bowers was coming out of high school he was ranked by multiple sources as the #1 high school football prospect in the country.  He as more then lived up to the hype.  Bowers currently leads the nation in sacks with 13.5.  Even though he is only a junior he is considered by many to be a top 5 pick in the upcoming 2011 NFL draft.  Bowers also joins Kerrigan as a finalist for the Lombardi Award and is also a finalist for the Bednarik Award which goes to the best defensive player in the nation.  I expect Bowers to go pro after this season, but if he doesn’t watch out for him next season.

1. Colin Kaepernick, Sr, Nevada, QB
Drum roll please….the #1 player on my list that should be a household name is Colin Kaepernick from Nevada.  This guy has been on my list the past 3 years, yet people still do not know who he is.  In my book Colin will go down as one of the best college football players ever.  Sure he plays for Nevada in the WAC, but what he has done on the field is insane.  Over his four year career he is averaging (using his 2010 stats from week 11) 2300 yards passing, 20 passing TDs, 965 yards rushing, and 14 rushing TDs per season.  That is an average of over 3200 total yards of offense and 34 TDs per season.  These numbers are guaranteed to go up since he still has 3 games, plus a bowl game to play this season.  The past three seasons, including 2010, he has gone for over 2000 yards passing and over 1100 yards rushing.  These numbers are very impressive, but let’s look at where he is on the all time NCAA lists for some stats.  With 3 games plus a bowl game left this season his stats will definitely go up, but the current numbers are through week 11 of the 2010 season.
Kaepernick has just over 13,000 total yards of offense in his career.  The record is 16,910, so it will be a stretch for him to break the record.  He currently has 132 total TDs in his career.  The record is 152, so it will be another stretch to break that, but he should lock up the #2 position.  #2 is currently held by Tim Tebow with 140 TDs.  He is only 8 TDs behind Tebow so it shouldn’t take him too long to break.  Kaepernick is averaging 3.2 TDs per game and with 4 games left, so he should easily become #2 all time.  Lastly, he has 54 rushing TDs in his career.  The record for most rushing TDs by a QB is 59 set by Eric Crouch.  This record should be his by the end of the season if he keeps up with his current pace.  On top of all the insane stats, Kaepernick was put on the watch list for 6 awards going into the season.

And there you have it; the top 4 players you should know in college football for 2010.  Now you can bust out new names when talking college football with your friends and family.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

WEC and UFC picks

By: Lotis Butchko

For the past two years, I have been handicapping UFC fights picking an outstanding
98.2% on the cards and 95% on parlays.

So right here on Man Cave Blueprint we are picking your fights for the next two weeks
including: WEC and UFC.

WEC 52 Faber vs Mizugaki

*Urijah Faber (No. 4 FW) vs. Takeya Mizugaki (No. 6 BW)
Faber wins easily. Faber is active and has great wrestling. This doesn’t make it to the
third round.

*Joseph Benavidez (No. 3 BW) vs. Wagnney Fabiano (No. 10 BW)
Benavidez is coming off a title loss. No hangover here. He wins in a decision.

Chad Mendes vs. Javier Vazquez
I like both fighters here. But give me Javier. Javier has only lost two fights in the WEC
both by split decision.

Damacio Page (No. 7 BW) vs. Demetrious Johnson
Johnson is an up and comer. But I am not sold on him. He has really beat up on lower
caliber guys. Give me Page in this fight.

Zachary Micklewright vs. Dustin Poirier
Micklewright is a devastating striker, and Poirier has a great ground game. This has an
interesting tone to it. In betting I would stay away from this fight, but if you want to take
Poirier, if he can get it to the ground he is solid.

*Anthony Njokuani vs. Edward Faaloloto
I started watching Njokuani about four years ago in the Dallas circuit. He is a solid
striker – one of the best Muay Thai guys I have seen – So I like him here. Take him for a
Knockout of the night.

Yves Jabouin vs. Brandon Visher
Both fighters are finishers. So you can bet this won’t go three. I like Visher here. Not
only can he strike but Visher has a great ground game.

Michael McDonald vs. Clint Godfrey
I hate picking new fighters. I have seen Clint before, but only for one fight. If I have to
pick a fighter here I will take Godfrey. But this is one of the lower fights where I would
stay away from.

*Cub Swanson vs. Mackens Semerzier
Take Cub, plain and simple. This is a feeder fight.

L.C. Davis vs. Raphael Assuncao
Not an easy fight. But for fun take Assuncao. He has a pretty good game.

UFC 122 Germany

Two nights later UFC kicks off their Germany show. This show should probably be free
on television. But every time you think it’s a bad show for the UFC the fighters come out
and deliver.

Nate Marquardt (No. 4 MW) vs. Yushin Okami (No. 8 MW)
Marquardt was doing great till he ran into Sonnen. Now he is out to prove he can still
beat silva. He beats Okami in two.

Alessio Sakara vs. Jorge Rivera
I like Sakara here. He is solid.

Krzysztof Soszynski vs. Goran Reljic
Soszynski with a Kimura. The guy can swing and submit.

(Amir Sadollah vs. Peter Sobotta
Amir takes this one.

Dennis Siver vs. Andre Winner
I like Andre in this fight. Andre is a good fighter and he is hungry.

Vladimir Matyushenko vs. Alexandre Ferreira
First off I was shocked that Matyushenko was in the UFC. He is getting old. But I like his
experience against Ferreira.

Rob Kimmons vs. Kyle Noke
Honestly I don’t know much about either guy. But I will take Noke on the soul fact that
he went the distance with Hector Lombard who is just freaking scary.

Karlos Vemola vs. Seth Petruzelli
Take Kimbo Killer Seth in this fight.

Duane Ludwig vs. Nick Osipczak
Nick O, he was set to win this right.

Kris McCray vs. Carlos Eduardo Rocha
And of course I have to take McCray here.

Pascal Krauss vs. Mark Scanlon
Paul Krauss… I like his name.

* indicates sure fire bets that I would make in a heartbeat. The other fights are just ones
that I think. If you want to make some money pick the indicated fights.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Crashing the BCS Party (Jeff Bailey)

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, Boise St, TCU, Utah and other mid-majors are here to stay in college football.  Some people say they only play 1 game seasons; others say they should not be considered for a National Championship period; while others believe the shoe does fit for Cinderella.  Both TCU and Utah have been around for 70+ years in Division 1, but they are still considered mid-majors.  Some people don’t even realize TCU actually won the National Championship in 1935 and 1938.  As for Boise State, they have only been in Division 1 since 1996, but have done nothing but wreak havoc on the BCS and win games.  In the 14 years of playing D-1 ball, they have amassed 135 wins.  As a comparison, Ohio State won 130, USC won 126 (including 2005 season), and Florida won 141 in the same span.  Cupcake or not, that is a very impressive feat. 

Is 2010 the year of the Bronco?

  People cannot say that BSU, TCU, and Utah are weak teams because they play weak opponents.  Sure they are in weaker conferences, but that doesn’t mean their team is.  All three of these teams win and win big in their conferences; just like any other great team would do if they were in the same situation.  Currently TCU is #1 in the country in total defense, with Boise State 3rd and Utah 6th.  On top of that, all three teams are in the top 20 in offensive yards per game, and they all rank in the top 10 in points per game.  The only other team to be in the top 10 in both points per game and total defense is Ohio State.  To me, that sounds like a total team package.

  The BCS has not been so kind to these mid-majors, but when they do make it, they have proven that they belong.  BSU is 2-0 in BCS games, while TCU is 0-1 (lost to BSU last year in Fiesta, aka the Cop-out Bowl), and Utah is 2-0.  To increase their BCS value, all three of these teams scheduled 2 teams from automatic qualifier conferences this season; and they are currently 5-0 in those games.
When will TCU get respect?
  In recent years a national championship contending team has had 1) a great defense, 2) a great offense, 3) a Heisman candidate, and 4) a great resume.  In my mind these teams, especially Boise St, fit that mold.  The one thing keeping them back is their conference, which is not their fault at all.  How many times do these teams have to prove they belong on the next level of college football?  To me, they have proven themselves more than enough.  Should these mid-majors be considered for a national championship?  I mind it is an easy answer…hell yeah!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Big Ten's Five Best Gameday Traditions (Dan Wines)

5.)  The Key Jingle - Northwestern
 Let's be honest, Northwestern's football team gets about as much attention as the WNBA.  They range from mediocre to bad nearly every season and for the casual fan, the Northwestern game tends to be the one you skip when your favorite team plays them.  The Key Jingle finishes fifth on this list because of the team's relative anonymity, but it makes the list because it is everything you want in a college football "tradition."  Northwestern students, and presumably other Wildcat fans, take their car keys out and jingle them in unison.  The idea is, win or lose, your grads will park our cars someday.  For what they lack in athleticism, Northwestern students make up for in arrogance  and creativity. 
  This tradition is certainly less popular than some that I will leave off of this list, but the fact that a team that seldom wins has still found a way to taunt the opposition is something I just can't ignore.

4.)  Sparty Watch / Michigan Diag - Michigan State & Michigan

  While not the biggest in the Big Ten, the in-state rivalry between Michigan and Michigan State is intense.  It's been known divide families a few times a year, trust me.  Sparty Watch (or Sparty Guard) and the protection of the brass block M in the Michigan Diag is a tradition similar to those many of you experienced against rivals in high school.  Each year, during the week of the Michigan/Michigan State game, students at each school stand guard over their respective insitution's iconic locale to prevent it from being painted rival colors before the game.  Students take pride in their universities, and having a logo, statue, or mascot defaced is akin to being sucker punched in the gut. 

3.)  Kinnick Stadium's Pink Locker Rooms - Iowa

  This one is perhaps best stated by it's creator, former Hawkeye head coach, Hayden Fry.  "One thing we didn't paint black and gold was the stadium's visitors locker room, which we painted pink. It's a passive color, and we hoped it would put our opponents in a passive mood. Also, pink is often found in girls' bedrooms, and because of that some consider it a sissy color."  I considered ranking this number one on the list, but I question its effectiveness.  There is no question, however, that this idea pisses off opponents before they even hit the field. 
  This tradition is not without controversy, as the visitor's locker rooms have come under fire for being demeaning towards women (absurd) and inappropriate.  As far as I'm concerned, this is one of the better traditions in college football.

*Note - While Iowa's pink locker rooms receive the most attention, they're not alone in this practice.  Visitors to Wisconsin are greeted by a paint scheme that is referred to as prison blue - just what you want to hear before 75 guys get together in a communal shower.

2.)  Script Ohio - Ohio State

Fans of the Buckeyes often claim to have "The Best Damn Band In The Land," and rightfully so.  Since 1936, Script Ohio has been a tradition prior to every OSU home game.  The band, which is in excess of of 220 members, marches and weaves its way into spelling out Ohio.  As icing on the cake to this tradition, one member of the band and occasionally honorary guests, perform the task of "dotting the I" at midfield.  Whether you love Ohio State or hate them, the Buckeye band's Script Ohio is something that should be applauded.  It's an impressive feat.  While the idea was originally presented to Ohio State by the University of Michigan in 1932 as a gesture of sportsmanship, it has been perfected and animated by OSU's marching band.

Script Ohio is just one example of the talent that is present on the field when the players are in their respective locker rooms.  Many of the marching bands in the Big Ten have traditions of their own and are among the nation's best, but OSU's tradition is the most widely recognized.  Unfortunately, because we live in a commercial culture, the marching bands are typically left off of telecasts.  If you want to see some of the best pageantry in college football, buy a ticket, show up early and stay in your seat at halftime.  These bands are good.

1.)  The White Out and Jump Around - Penn State and Wisconsin

These two traditions finish tied atop the list because of their relative similarity.  It is no secret that a night game at Beaver Stadium or Camp Randall is a hostile environment, and these two traditions amplify that fact exponentially.

The White Out is a Penn State tradition made popular during a night game against Ohio State in 2005.  A raucous crowd dressed almost entirely white clothing was on their feet from beginning to end in a 17-10 Nittany Lions victory.  Since then, the White Out has become a tradition during Penn State night games, and while it hasn't been wildly successful recently, it is a sight to behold.  A crowd of 107,000 noisy fans in all white under the lights has become as synonymous with Penn State football as Joe Paterno and his 46 pound glasses.

On the western end of the Big Ten's geographic spectrum, Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wisconsin, is regarded as one of the toughest places to play in the country.  Adding to the hostile environment is the tradition of piping "Jump Around" by 90's rap group House of Pain in between the third and fourth quarter of every home game.  If you've ever witnessed the Cameron Crazies jumping in unison during Duke basketball games, multiply it by four and put it outside.  While the tradition is most common in the student section, it isn't uncommon to see someone's grandmother drop her pretzel and jump to the song.  People who've been there say you can feel the stadium shake, and watching it on tv I have no trouble believing that. 

Both of these traditions are in their infancy compared to some of the others listed, but their impact on the overall game experience is unrivaled.  It's exciting to see and something that the fan bases take great pride in.
Traditions like these listed, along with the countless others that didn't survive my cut, are as essential a part of college football as the pigskin, the goal posts, and the teams themselves.  Without them, college football wouldn't be the event that it is.  As these traditions further cement themselves in the legacy of each institution, rest assured that as the next generation of college football fans find their way onto campus, new traditions will be added to the list.  If those new ones have anywhere near the impact that some of these do, I can't wait to see them.

Expanding the Blueprint

A quick note to announce that Man Cave Blueprint has added two more writers.  I'm excited to announce that Jeff Bailey and Lotis Butchko will now be contributing to the site.  Both fit the mold that I intended when I started this blog, and will allow for more frequent posts and alternative opinions.  I'm certain that they will each bring unique insights and commentary on a variety of different topics. 

By adding JB and Lotis to the blog, it will diversify the opinions you read here and allow for some creative ideas to develop.  Ideas are currently being tossed around behind the scenes to make your experience more interesting when you stop by the Blueprint.

With real life getting in the way of this blog, I felt it was important to make a concerted effort to add new content on a more regular basis.  I'm confident that the addition of Jeff and Lotis will help make that happen. 

Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Why Are People So Captivated By The Heisman?

College football is by far my favorite sport.  Fall Saturdays in the midwest are something that I've cherished for as long as I can remember.  Football starts at noon and ends well after I've gone to sleep.  I love everything about the sport, except for the stupid Heisman trophy.

Every year, everybody with an opinion on sports seems to want to talk Heisman.  It starts as soon as the previous year's bowl season ends.  The articles flood message boards and websites.  Preseason Heisman watch lists pop up seemingly everywhere.  Then, by October, most of those lists look ridiculous.  Last year the hot name was Jevan Snead of Ole Miss.  Todd McShay, aka Mel Kiper with less product in his hair, guaranteed Snead to be a first rounder.  Many of the top 10 preseason Heisman candidate lists included him.  There was only one significant problem; Snead wasn't any good.  Granted, he had a 2 to 1 touchdown to interception ratio, but he was never accurate (55% completions), didn't have a huge arm that makes up for that lack of accuracy, and was somewhat of a baby (transferred from Texas because he couldn't beat out Colt McCoy).  Despite all of this glaring evidence that he was a QB with little experience, a shaky history, and a subpar skillset, people were lead to believe he had a chance of hoisting that worthless trophy at the end of the year.  Instead, Snead stumbled to a 20 touchdown, 20 interception junior year and declared himself eligible for the NFL draft.  Like a midget in line at the amusement park, Snead was overlooked.  This is but one glaring example of why I can't stand the Heisman hype.

Denard Robinson in action against Notre Dame
This season people have been captivated by Denard Robinson's gaudy statistics on a subpar Michigan team.  As the only true threat in Michigan's ground game, Robinson was responsible for nearly all of Michigan's yardage through the first five games.  He was exciting, electric, and everything the talking heads look for early in the season.  In fact, Bob Kravitz, of the Indianapolis Star declared Robinson to be the Heisman winner after Michigan's victory over an awful Indiana team; regardless of what happened the rest of the year.  Really, Bob? The problem is, Mr. Kravitz wasn't alone.  On ESPN's college GameDay we were blitzed with statements like "right now, it's Robinson and everyone else."  Until last week, Michigan played a group of teams with defenses that would struggle in flag football against overweight line cooks.  Missed tackles were the rule, not the exception.  This type of hype is profoundly stupid, and reeks of lazy reporting.

Granted, Robinson's stats through five games were incredible.  Hell, I'm a Michigan fan.  It was fun to watch.  However, I watch every Michigan game, and from Robinson's first pass in week one to his third interception in their loss to Michigan State last week, it was very clear that he takes chances in the passing game and his throws often come late and behind his receivers.  The Herbsteits of the world didn't seem to want to point that out.  In fact, most of the pundits were in awe of his accuracy.  Listen, it's not difficult to complete 70% of your passes when most are three yards.  He's a heck of a player, but he's not the most outstanding player in his conference, let alone the nation.

Not only does the hype get tired and stale, but even the winners of the award increase my apathy towards it.  First of all, 69 of the 75 winners, including 18 of the past 20, have played either quarterback or running back.  The stated mission of the Heisman trust is "The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity."  So, college football fans are supposed to believe that over the past 75 seasons, the best player in the country happened to play in the backfield 69 times?  It's beyond my comprehension why this is called "the most prestigious award in college football."  Someone find Gino Torretta and ask him if that trophy is anything more than a glorified paper weight.  I'm sure Wachovia Securities was very proud to "draft" a Heisman winner. 

At the end of this season, a few quarterbacks and running backs will gather in New York.  Perhaps a token receiver or cornerback with zero chance of winning will get a seat next to them.  Many will watch.  For a couple of hours prior to the announcement Chris Fowler will interview their coaches and talk about their unique background stories.  The winner will shed a tear during his speech, the camera will pan to the runners up who will begrudingly applaud the latest member of this "fraternity," and Sportscenter will have it's lede for the morning.  You'll just have to excuse my lack of excitement.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

While You Were Sleeping

There's a reason that of all the iterations of the Rocky series, everybody likes Rocky IV the best. It's us against them, America versus the other guys. In the same sense, that's the exact reason that even the most casual sports fan should be setting an alarm or programming a DVR to catch the 2010 Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor in Wales.
Because the event alternates between Europe and the States, this year finds the golfers across the pond, which means the action is well under way while most of us still have heads on pillows. In much the same way we enjoy watching guys like Michael Phelps make the rest of the world look like they should be swimming with water wings, rooting for the United States in the Ryder Cup just makes you feel good.
In fact, for years I can remember rooting against guys like Colin Montgomerie simply because he was a consistent foil in the Ryder Cup. This event takes the gentlemen in the game and turns them into a group of awkwardly dressed frat boys. Seeing guys turn into Happy Gilmore after a good drive, as Boo Weekley did in 2008 by mounting his driver and galloping toward the fairway, makes golf infinitely more fun.
The Ryder Cup takes all of my favorite golfers, puts them on teams, and lets them get after it. For me, watching the same guys who spend their summers tipping their caps turn into fist pumping, high fiving teammates is one of those moments in sports that make it difficult for me to understand how anyone can say they're not sports fans.
I'm not saying that golf needs to change anything about the regular events, because part of what makes the Ryder Cup so enjoyable is the fact that it is the polar opposite of nearly every other golf tournament. It develops clearly defined rooting interests, and for one week every other year, it makes me want Ian Poulter and Rory McIlroy to miss three footers. It's the only event where you'll hear a crowd cheer after a missed putt, and the only one defined by chants of "USA! USA!" or "Ole, ole, ole." The sometimes irreverent fans make the event all that more enjoyable when one of "our guys" sinks a 30 foot putt to win a match.
Much like Rocky IV somehow made us all like bad acting and Philadelphia for two hours, the Ryder Cup is a golf event that even non-golf fans should take the time to watch. If you need further encouragement to give it a chance, find that video of Boo Weekley from 2008, and tell me it doesn't make you want to see more.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

More LeBron Coverage? You bet.

A few months removed from ESPN's ratings grab "Decision" coverage, NBA training camps are set to begin this week, and ESPN will again prove that LeBron James is ESPN's finest working girl. Michael Hiestand of the USA Today reported this week that the monopolistic sports network will be sending reporters to cover the Miami Heat's training camp. Riveting television, right? I'd rather watch the spelling bee, live, on pay per view.

I'm not going to go into the decision James made back in July, because that horse is at the glue factory. However, I am amazed that the James gang is too stupid to realize that ESPN doesn't actually give a damn about him. ESPN's only real concern is how many people tune in to their programming. Whether you love or loathe LeBron, the suits at ESPN know that they will get viewers for training camp coverage, and you will likely be one of them.

If you intend to watch it, enjoy it, but don't expect to see much basketball. Most teams don't let the media in for any actual practice, and considering Pat Riley moved his hired guns to Elgin Air Force Base, it's safe to assume that the closed doors will likely stay that way. However, if you like to listen to Jalen Rose and Jon Barry use their word of the day calendars to explain how good tall athletic guys are at basketball, then set your DVR.

ESPN has some fine programming. The 30 for 30 series has provided solid sports documentaries on wide ranging topics. Sportscenter was, at one time, groundbreaking television. They've proven in the past that they can provide sports fans with entertaining television when live sports are not readily available. However, as they continue to gravy train their 6'8 moneymaker, their brand takes as big of a hit in terms of legitimacy as LeBron's did when the "Decision" first aired.

While I'm sure plenty of people will tune in to catch a glimpse of Dwyane Wade and his sidekicks, there's a reason we have 200 channels. Choose wisely. Personally, I intend to take my talents to the Discovery Channel.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Fanny and the Jets

Sports journalists around the country had the opportunity to dust off their soap boxes this week when Mexican "sports reporter" Ines Sainz paid a visit to the New York Jets for an interview with "quarterback" Mark Sanchez. Evidently, this group of 20-somethings with varying degrees of education and self-entitlement behaved like a group of 20-somethings with varying degrees of education and self-entitlement. They hooted and hollered and ran in Sainz's direction, making her uncomfortable. Pardon me for not giving a damn.

I don't think objectifying women in the workplace is acceptable, nor should it be tolerated, but this is not your typical sexual harassment issue. When Sainz woke up the morning of the interview, painted on her jeans, and forgot that there were two more buttons on the top of her blouse, she knew what she was doing and where she was headed. Her clothes are so tight that if she put her car keys in her back pocket you could tell she drives a Volvo.

This is the same woman who has shown up at Super Bowl media day and asked to measure varying NFL body parts. How is anyone supposed to take seriously a "reporter" who doesn't extend herself the same courtesy?

From what I understand, she was in town to interview and do a story on Mark freaking Sanchez. You begin to lose credibility with me right there. When you go outside and check your mail this afternoon, by the time you get back to your couch you will have gained more yards than Sanchez threw for in week one. I suppose I can buy the idea for the story given the Mexican-American heritage of Mark Sanchez, but let's not lose sight of the fact that TV Azteca sent their pretty reporter to interview a pretty quarterback. Sainz was playing a game she's very good at, and in a year when we see her doing the tango on Dancing With The Stars, more people will realize that. I didn't know her name a week ago and neither did you. For the sake of serious female journalists who have an uphill battle from the moment they choose their career path, let's be honest with ourselves about what's going on here.

This isn't a "blame the victim" mentality, because to me, the only victims of this story are the general public who have to listen to journalists pontificate about how naughty the Jets were. I'll consider Ines Sainz a credible reporter the same day I look at Mark Sanchez and think, "now THAT'S a quarterback."

Welcome To The Blueprint

Man Cave Blueprint is the platform I've chosen to share opinions, stories, reviews, and other ramblings from a man's point of view. The general vibe of this blog will be about sports and movies, but I will be sprinkling in other items of interest as I get some blogging experience under my belt. I decided a while back that I wanted to get back into writing, even on a small level, because I'm passionate about it. The Blueprint is intended to be just that. I intend to discuss things that the average guy would talk about if he had a sports talk show with his best friend - sports, movies, and other miscellaneous stuff as it comes up. This isn't to say I discourage women from reading my blog, but don't expect spring fashion tips or the latest information on what third world country Angelina Jolie went kid shopping in. If you could see yourself having a flat screen in the basement with a beer fridge and a bowl of pretzels, the topics on this blog will likely appeal to you. Thanks for stopping by.