Thursday, April 28, 2011

KD's 1st Round Draft Thoughts

I got this idea from a poster, Phil, who does this every year on the Dolphins site I frequent. Rather than grade each pick as they happen - though I will be giving grades for each team's complete draft starting next week - I'll record any lightbulbs that pop as the draft starts. Here we go.

Sometime around 5:45pm - Dr. Phil is on ESPN discussing the draft and how rookies don't get enough training about what to do with their money. I guess he's unaware of the Rookie Symposium. Seriously, what has the world come to when Dr. Phil is on ESPN covering the NFL Draft?

6:04pm - I get a text from my oldest friend Tyler, better known as "Nuts" for several reasons I'll not disclose, saying he and his fiancee just had a baby girl. No name as of yet, but congrats buddy! Perhaps they'll name her Melanie after Mel Kiper.

6:16pm - Get a text from one of my old interns asking if Miami is really considering Ryan Mallett at 15. I reply "yes" as I polish off my first beer. I honestly wouldn't be too upset if Mallett is the pick.

6:17pm - Read a post on the Dolphins board that the rumor is Miami will not select a QB in the first round unless they're able to trade back and recoup that 2nd round - or at least that's what they'd want you to think.

My reaction: *$&^, Miami's going to take Colin *%#&!#$ Kaepernick in round 2. Damn you Nick Saban, Daunte Culpepper, Joey Harrington, Trent Green, Cleo Lemon, John Beck, Chad Pennington, Chad Henne, Pat White, and Tyler Thigpen! Please note these are only the Dolphins starting QBs since 2006, and Nick Saban just because.

6:22pm - Ed Werder and John Elway interview. Elway is clearly bothered by being so close to Werder in the closet they're filming this in in "Denver". I get the sense Ole #7 isn't too high on Tim Tebow despite what he's saying.

6:35pm - Tyler's daughter is named Kaylee Grace. Congrats Tyler & Jen!

6:45pm - Naked Pizza arrives. If you haven't tried it, do it. Thank me later.

6:58pm - The rumor source also now says it could be Andy Dalton. Even worse. At least whoever the new coach and GM in 2012 will get Andrew Luck in 2012.

7:35-7:37pm - Roger Goodell getting booed with fans chanting "We Want Football!". Say what you want about New Yawkers, but they can start a chant with the best of them.

8:03pm - Cam Newton's going to the Panthers before Goodell even starts the draft. I hate how the TV cameras get access to the "Green Room" - takes all the drama out of it.

8:07pm - Cam is the pick. The Universal Draft guys called this one back in January. Kudos guys!

8:13pm - Von Miller to Denver...wonder how that's going to workout with Elvis Dumervil there. Should be an interesting handshake with Roger Goodell.

8:20pm - Damn, Buffalo's D is nasty up front with Dareus and Kyle Williams - the most underrated D-lineman in the NFL. Miami really needs Pouncey now!

8:26pm - Just found out from a source with NFL ties that Ryan Mallett isn't on Miami's draft board...great....

8:35pm - Atlanta with a huge trade with the Browns. Atlanta's offense is crazy good, and Cleveland got a king's ransom. I think this is a good trade for both parties, but makes the Dolphins two 2nd rounders for Brandon Marshall seem like peanuts.

8:43pm - Shocking that San Fran takes Aldon Smith...does Miami move up with Dallas for Gabbert now if he gets past Tennessee?

8:45pm - Well, I had Mallett in my mock to Tennesee, so I'm not that surprised with the Locker pick, but WOW for Tennessee passing on Gabbert and Fairley for him.

8:52pm - Jaguars almost land a deal with Dallas. Jags looking to move up still.

9:00pm - Truth - Schefter reports Jags trade up with Washington for Gabbert. Good move for the Jags in my opinion. He can learn under Garrard for a year or two.

9:06pm - I've received over 200 text messages/Facebook posts about the Draft today...and I'm no guru by any means. So glad Judge Nelson lifted the lockout; not sure what I'd do without the NFL.

9:48pm - After a dozen more texts and a phone call, I'm pretty happy with Mike Pouncey at 15 for my Dolphins. Yeah, it's a little high for a LG, but I think he'll prove to be worth it.

Unknown - After talking with a bunch of people about Miami's pick I lost track of time after a few celebratory Jack 'n the rest of the list will be bullitted.

- Ryan Kerrigan to Washington. Surprised, but looking back on my Mock Draft 2.0 a day later, I got 10 picks right - meaning that I correctly picked these team's picks (Newton, Green, Peterson, Pouncey, and Wilkerson) exactly, 3 guys slotted exactly right, but going to different teams (Ryan Kerrigan, Phil Taylor, Mark Ingram), and I'm going to be generous and give myself 2 more for calling Tennessee and Minnesota to take a QB that was unexpected (Mallett, Locker) when in reality it went Locker, Ponder. So, overall, I'll take that. Plus, I got another 3 teams that picked players at the same position, just the wrong player. I feel pretty good about that.

- For all the fawning over New England and their draft abilities, they pick Nate Solder. Really? I know they need offensive linemen, but Nate Solder. Yikes! I guess I can't complain too much for them drafting a very soft and very raw prospect. I guess if there's one O-line coach who can teach him it's the Pats Dante Sarnecchia (I know I butchered that spelling).

- Looking back at my first mock draft, I got 8 guys exactly right, plus Phil Taylor slotted correctly at 21, and I had Christian Ponder slotted in round 1. Overall I feel pretty good about the mocks, even if my percentage is low.

- Steal for the New York Giants with Prince Amukamara. Absolute steal.

- Peyton Manning is going to be a real happy guy with Anthony Castonzo at LT. Bill Polian got his 1st rounder right this year. No offense Jerry Hughes.

- My buddy B-Rad, a Browns fan, bails out before the Browns pick. I think he'll enjoy it when he wakes up. Phil Taylor is very good if he can keep his weight in check.

- Look at the bling on some of these guys who don't have contracts yet. Dareus, Pouncey, Ingram...all SEC players. And to think they don't get paid in college. I remember the HBO special on the Cam Newton/Cecil Newton scandal. One head coach of a BCS Conference school, not in the SEC though, asked for anonymity, but he said, "If we were recruiting a player to come to our school, and we learned that he was being recruited by an SEC school, we just gave up. We don't have that kind of money."

- Chizzy's got to like the military coming out on stage right before the Eagles pick. That's pretty patriotic in itself, especially with a team whose logo is on our national seal up to bat.

- And the Eagles draft a Canadien! Ha, should've seen that one coming. USA! USA!

- Okay, all things considered, Danny Watkins is the toughest, nastiest SOB in the entire draft. He played hockey, wrestled, and played rugby. He can play both T spots, LG, and C. I'm sure he'll be a starter from day one in Philly.

- Wow, Da'Quan Bowers' knee must really be messed up.

- James Carpenter to Seattle is not the reach that Mel Kiper is making it out to be. Can't wait to see what Todd McShay says about this. Solid pick by Seattle for a team that needs OL help, badly!

- Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome, master of letting the draft come to him, must have a major trade deal in the works to get passed up by KC. That's a really good pick for KC with Jonathan Baldwin there. Schefter reports Ravens on the phone with the Bears that whole time and had a misfire in communicaton. Good pick though with Jimmy Smith (I learned this morning that Smith had a codeiene problem at Colorado and thus, why he slid so badly).

- If there's one player in the draft I'd root for even if he went to a team I hate it's Mark Ingram. Heisman winner; humble dude; great story; and just a fun player to watch - he runs HARD. I thought that was a great moment with he and Suzy Kolber reading his dad's e-mail to him on stage. Great pick by the Saints as they get rid of Reggie "BUST".

- My buddy JM, a Packers and Wisconsin Badgers fan, is PISSED that Gabe Carimi goes to Chicago. Great pick by the Bears!

- Damn, the Steelers just draft defense well. Simply put, they're just unbelieveably good at defense - both playing it and drafting for it.

- Good pick by the Jets with Wilkerson. Up and coming player, and I'm afraid to see how Rex Ryan will use him.

- JM doesn't like Derek Sherrod. I'd spoken to him during the Combine and told him Sherrod could be their pick. I guess I should've gone with my gut in the mock drafts.

Well, there's my draft thoughts for the 1st round. The two major surprises were that Ryan Mallett slipped out of round 1. I guess the drug issue is more of a factor than we thought as 31 teams passed on him - note the Raiders didn't have a 1st round pick. Da'Quan Bowers' knee must be REALLY screwed up. He'd have been a top 10 pick for sure if healthy.

Todd McShay must be furious that his beloved Ginger QB Andy Dalton slipped out of round 1.

Fearless forecast for tomorrow, well, now tonight's Draft:

1) Da' Raidas will take Nevada QB Colin Kaepernick.

2) The Patriots will make more moves tomorrow and walk away with a pretty average draft despite having 5 picks tonight. ESPN overrates them way too much.

3) Someone's going to steal Andy Dalton from right under Cincinnati's nose, so keep an eye for them to take Ricky Stanzi, whom was their starting QB in the Senior Bowl, in round 3.

4) A run on RBs and TEs is going to start soon.

5) I bet an unexpected QB goes in round 3. The gut-shot straight draw would be Greg McElroy of Alabama.

Schwendy's NHL Conference Semifinals Preview

Chizzy here. I must say that this has been an extremely exciting Round 1 for the NHL Playoffs. Here’s Schwendy, our resident NHL Guru, back with his Conference Semi picks. And yes, to make him feel inadequate, I would like to point out that Schwendy went a subpar at best 4-4 with his first round picks.

Without further ado, here he is:

Wow! Now that was an exciting first round of hockey action. I really didn’t think Detroit would lay the smack-down on Phoenix. I was shocked by the LA Kings epic Game 3 collapse, along with Vancouver finally exercising the playoff demons and eliminating Chicago. Stupid Roberto Luongo actually decided to show up in Game 7, but give Chicago some credit; they were able to find some heart and fought back from a 3-0 deficit to force Game 7.

In the East, for once Washington was able to do what everyone thought they should do - beat an 8 seed. Philly’s nice OT win in Game 6 was impressive, almost as much as their drubbing of Ryan Miller in Game 7 to capture the series. Nathan Horton’s OT winner in Game 7 pushed the Bruins past the Habs in a thrilling series. And will someone please tell me who was in goal for Tampa Bay in Game 7? There is no possible way that 41 year old Dwayne Roloson posted a shut-out to upset the Pens.

Wow, did I really just realize that there were FOUR Game 7’s in round one?!?! Anyway, let’s move on to the conference semi-finals matchups. Side note: after each round the NHL reseeds each team. Let’s start in the Eastern Conference this time.

(4) Tampa Bay Lightning vs. (1) Washington Capitals: After battling back from a 3-1 deficit, Tampa Bay received an out of body performance from 41 years young netminder Dwayne Roloson in Game 7 to win the series. Washington cruised past the Rangers. I like this match-up, which could be an offensive spectacle. Will Dwanye Roloson play half his age again and lead the young Lightning to a upset win, or will rookie Michal Neuvirth continue his incredible play and lead Washington to the Conference Finals for the first time since 1998.

For Washington: Uh-oh! The Caps learned to play defense. For a minute I really didn’t believe I was actually seeing this Capitals team do that, but they did, and they played D very well. As long as Michal Neuvirth plays at the same level he did in round 1, Tampa doesn’t have a shot! One player who I would love to see step up is Alexander Semin. Hehe. His last name is Semin. Yeah he scored the game winner in Game 1, but he went on vacation the rest of the series. He needs to be more involved; he’s too talented to go missing.

For Tampa: Let Dwayne Roloson bathe in the fountain of youth before every game. He has to play every game as if its Game 7. Steven Stamkos and Vinny Lecavalier need to turn on the lights and start putting points on the board. Combined in round one they had 10 points. If these two can put up 10 each, with Martin St. Louis and Simon Gagne playing at a high level, this young Tampa team might just have all the ingredients needed for an epic upset.

Prediction: Tampa has exceeded expectations all season long, but can’t catch lightning in a bottle this time. Their season ends here. I think Washington gets pushed to the limit, but buckles down and wins in 7.

(3) Boston Bruins vs. (2) Philadelphia Flyers: A rematch of the series last season when Boston pulled one of the most epic collapses in NHL history. Both teams are coming off emotional and hard fought series. Which team has enough left in the gas tank to move on to the Conference Finals? Will the Bruins continued stupidity on the ice cost them the series? Or will Philly continue to ride their hot offense and make a return trip to the Conference finals? Let’s find out!

For Philadelphia: Ride the Lighting! Danny Briere had a nice 6 goals, Claude Giroux led the team in scoring with 9 points. With the return of big D-man Chris Pronger, it just adds another weapon to an already powerful offense. The big factor here is how Philly will capitalize on the power-play: in round one, the Flyers were just 2/26 - an embarrassing 7%! Boston is going to take stupid penalties; if Philly can take advantage and put pucks in the net they should have no problem advancing. If they continue to struggle, it’s only going to open the door for Boston.

For Boston: Milian Lucic needs to play smarter hockey and get more offensively involved. He alone almost cost the Bruins the series against Montreal with his idiotic face smash of Jaroslav Spacek. Pair that with a measly 2 points and he would have been your whipping boy had Boston lost game 7. If Lucic can add an offensive spark to a Bruins team that desperately needs it, it might just be enough to help them win the series and erase their memories of last season.

Prediction: Philly plays smart hockey, Boston doesn’t. Plain and simple. It doesn’t matter who’s in goal for Philly because they’ll win. Flyers in 6.

In the Western Conference we have:

(4) Nashville Predators vs. (1) Vancouver Canucks: Both teams are coming off emotional series. Nashville advances to the 2nd round for the first time in franchise history; Alex Burrows is king of Canada after saving the Canucks in OT of Game 7. Will Vancouver have enough left after a tough seven games with Chicago? Or will Nashville pull the upset and send Canada to sulk in the corner?

For Vancouver: All of Canada is watching and rooting for the Canucks now. A little history lesson. Canada has not won a Stanley Cup since Montreal won ALL THE WAY back in 1993. They’ve come close, sending teams to the Stanley Cup finals in 04, 06, and 07. But let’s get back on track shall we? The Canucks got the type of production out of the top three (Sedin X2 and Kessler) that was needed, between 4-7 points (in my round 1 preview I said between 5-10). If this type of production and the surprisingly stellar play of Alex Burrows continues, Vancouver should have enough to slip past the Preds and into the Conference Finals.

For Nashville: Remember these two names: Ryan Suter and Shea Weber. When the Sedin twins are on the ice I’m willing to bet my paycheck that 95% of the time these two will be out there. If Suter and Weber are able to contain the production of the Vancouver Super Line, Nashville shocks the world and Canada watches as ‘Merica (F*#& YEAH!) again will own Lord Stanley. Nashville will also need Pekka Rinne to improve. His 3.29 goals against in round 1 was good enough to advance once. It won’t be again.

Prediction: Last time I picked against Vancouver they proved me wrong, so I’ll take Vancouver to win this series in 7 and wear themselves out for the Conference finals. (Editor’s note: So he can pick the Red Wings to beat them. HOMER.)

(3) Detroit Red Wings vs. (2) San Jose Sharks: What do you know? Another rematch of last season’s playoffs. Last year the Sharks took care of my Wings in 5 games. This year should be much different. Will the impending return of Henrik Zetterberg put the Wings offense over the top? For San Jose will they have enough offense to sustain they’re goaltending woes? Let’s find out. HERE WE GO!!!!!

For San Jose: I feel like I’m beating a dead horse when it comes to goaltending, but it’s a huge factor. Niemi was pulled twice in the series against the Kings; fortunately the Sharks’ offense was able to bail out his poor play. Niemi needs to find a way to bring his “A” game back or he’ll get a sunburn from the red light continuously going off behind him. The Sharks offense has the potential to bail him out if it needs to. Look for Devin Setoguchi to step up and be the offensive catalyst for the Sharks. In their playoff match-up last season, Setoguchi single handily ended the Wings season (tear). For San Jose to move on to the Conference Finals, they have to be the team that closed the regular season on fire. If not, they’ll be planning tee times instead of game planning for their next opponent.

For Detroit: The talking heads at ESPN will probably say the return of Henrik Zetterberg will be a huge boost. It will be, but the biggest factor for this veteran team was having nine days off between rounds. Those nine days gave players like Zetterberg and Franzen time to heal their injuries and rest. Don’t forget people. This is the oldest team in hockey so any type of extended time off between rounds is huge. With the return of Zetterberg and Franzen this team just became extremely dangerous. But I like Darren Helm to be the “energy” in this series. He’s not going to wow you with offense, but he has heart and never takes a shift off. He give 100% all the time.

Prediction: This series can go either way, but I think the return of Zetterberg and a fully healthy Franzen puts this Red Wings team over the top. I’ll take the Wings in 6.

The Daily Rant: Lay Off Already PETA

In case you didn't know, Michael Vick had the best season of his career last year. He led the Philadelphia Eagles to the playoffs, was an MVP candidate, and was voted BY THE FANS as the starting quarterback for the NFC in the Pro Bowl. So when EA Sports decided to leave its Madden NFL cover player up to the fans in a 32 person, one from each NFL team bracket, it made sense that Vick was chosen to be the Eagles' representative in the bracket, right? (Nod your heads with me people).

Vick made it all the way to the finals of this bracket, and yesterday it was announced that he lost to Peyton Hillis, the Cleveland Browns runningback/cyborg. Seriously, have you seen Peyton Hillis? The dude is jacked. If there was a steroid siren, it would go off whenever he was in the room. How did Arkansas not win a national title with him, Darren McFadden, and Felix Jones in the same backfield? But I digress. Vick said he was proud that his fans voted him all the way to the finals, and that it was just another sign of how far he's come since being released from prison. So imagine my surprise when it was found out that PETA, the animal activists more commonly known as crazies, constantly requested Michael Vick be removed from consideration from the Madden cover contest. Seriously PETA? Give it up. The guy messed up, we all know this. The things he did were despicable. No animal deserves to be treated like that. But everyone deserves a second chance.

PETA activists, in case you didn't know, after Michael Vick was convicted of his activities relating to the dogfighting ring, he served 18 months in a federal penitentary. As in real, hardcore jail. Not like the county holding cell that you crazy folk head to after you get a little too aggressive with your picketing activities. I'm talking about the type of setting you see in the TV show Oz, the movie The Shawshank Redemption (a little more updated), or during Christian Bale's lock up time in The Fighter. He probably got to go outside for an hour a day, ate crappy food, probably was involved in a few fights or five with people who have killed, raped, and who knows what else. Because of his celebrity, I'm also going to go out on a limb and say Vick was probably a target for some of the other convicts.

But there are two main goals of the penal system in America. One is to deter both the convicted criminal and other individuals from repeating criminal activity. Second, there's a theory behind the penal system that is called "rehabilitiation." Being sentenced to prison and then a subsequent release deems Vick as "rehabilitated" under the law. Meaning he has served his time, and that he should be deemed an average citizen. Sure, there are restrictions, and it doesn't always work out like that (for example, if you're an 18 year old kid who holds up a gas station, you may not ever be given a fair shot to succeed), but the system is supposed to have done it's job when people are released from prison. And PETA, wake up. In Vick's case, the system worked.

All of that, and we haven't even talked about what he had to give up financially. He lost a $135 contract with the Falcons. He lost part of a $37 million signing bonus, and lost millions more in endorsements. Sure, he created the situation that led to those losses, but let's focus more on what he's done after being released from prison. Understandably Vick filed for bankruptcy. Now when you undertake such an act, one is faced with two options: Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Chapter 7 bankruptcy means that you are not obligated to pay back the debts that you owe into the future. Chapter 13 means that you are obligated to pay back the debts, but you do so through an organized financial plan that is set by the court. Vick's lawyers tried to get him to file Chapter 7, so he could be alleviated of the debts he owed. Vick refused to accept that plan. He filed Chapter 13, and now for the next five years - the prime of his career - over two-thirds of every dollar he owes is going to taxes or to people he owes money. In my mind, that was an honorable move, and an additional factor that PETA needs to consider before calling Vick out publicly into the future.

Since his release Vick has been nothing but a model citizen. Sure, a gun was fired at his birthday party, but Vick was found not to have had anything to do with it or even been there when it occurred. Vick has been an ambassador for both the NFL and the cause to curb dogfighting, a very serious underground epidemic in our country. He's participated in the Humane Society's national anti-dogfighting campaign since his release. Hell, just this week Vick spoke out against a cell phone app called "Dog Wars" that is a simulation of a dogfighting enterprise. By the way, how did that app even get created? Vick has visited schools, churches, and camps to talk to children and adults about the importance of preventing violence, dogfighting, and criminal activity. He talks of the need to keep children out of falling into situations such as his, and the importance in his life of being given a second chance. To make things right. To right the wrongs that he committed.

Vick is no longer associated with dogs. He's not even allowed to own one, although he did come out and say that he'd like to own another one someday (which I found admirable and a sign that he had changed his attitude toward dogs, but Vick got slammed by the public and PETA for those comments). Don't protest at his games, because he's not doing anything wrong anymore. PETA, Vick served his debt to society - physically, financially, emotionally. So PETA, please move on to harassing someone else like Lady Gaga or something. There's tons of celebrities out there that wear fur, ivory, or various snake, crocodile, or ostrich skin. Why not attack them, because they continue to do harm? Don't throw someone under the bus who is willing to stand up and say what he did is wrong. Support him, thank him for being an advocate for the cause, and applaud him for being an example of what every person should believe in: a second chance.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Draft Day Trade Rumors Galore!

Well, I'm like a kid on Christmas morning today. Considering everything that's gone on this offseason in the NFL - the lockout, federal mediation, litigation, and now the lockout being "enjoined" - it's almost kind of a relief just to get the Draft here. I expect a pretty interesting one as most GMs try to fill the major needs (holes in the roster) via free agency and trades, and add the smaller pieces through draft, generally by taking the best player available (BPA) approach.

However, Judge Susan Richard Nelson denied the NFL's request to freeze the lockout via a stay, so the NFL will now file an appeal to the US 8th Circuit Court in St. Louis. This ruling calls for the "league year" to be open - which typically means free agents and trades of players to be allowed. To comply, NFL teams are now opening their facility doors for players to workout and receive medical treatment. The NFL had not prepared for this possibility, so it's widely assumed that the league will not allow player trades or free agents to occur until after the Draft. The NFL would go back to the 2010 league rules (i.e. no salary cap in place) and those hundreds of free agents would be tendered as restricted free agents - meaning any team wishing to sign one of those players would have to give compensation in the form of draft picks.

My guess is that the teams won't sign free agents yet, as this could subject them to fines and forfeiture of future draft picks if they make any moves before the league gives teams official word on the "league year" rules. Al Davis, I'm talking to you. Don't do anything. All signs point to the NFL waiting until the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals processes the NFL's appeal, which according to ESPN's Andrew Brandt could take 1 to 5 days. Something could change in the next 12 hours before the draft, but as I type this on 9:07am Thursday, all transactions - trades and free agent signings - are forbidden until the league gives its own ruling on how to proceed. So, all anyone can really do is stay tuned. I'll try to give an update today if something does happen.

With no free agency or trades as of yet - I'm assuming they'll get here sooner rather than later with the way things have been going - GMs must try to fill their respective needs through the draft. And while everyone's been bantering about Cam Newton's iconic statement(s), Ryan Mallett's character (non-)issues, and fawning over Andy Dalton out of nowhere, people seem to forget that no QB is the best player in this draft, and none would even be top 10 picks had Stanford's Andrew Luck entered the draft. In fact, Blaine Gabbert left Missouri early this year only because Luck stayed in Palo Alto for another year.

With that in mind, the top of the draft looks pretty set, assuming the Panthers don't pull a massive shocker and select someone other than Cam Newton. They could try and trade out of the 1st overall spot - which they're still open to doing. Despite not being allowed to complete other transactions involving players, teams are allowed to trade current and future draft picks during the draft. With that in mind, there should be plenty of draft picks flying as many teams are rumored to want to move up (towards the first pick) or down (further from the first pick) to get a player they specifically target. Right now teams are not allowed to start signing those undrafted college free agents either as they normally do immediately after the Draft concludes. So I'm guessing the NFL, if it makes a ruling today, will include all information on signing free agents, tendering restricted free agents, trading players, and signing college free agents.

Since teams still possess the ability to trade draft picks, here's a look at some of the rumors that have been floated in the past 36 hours that have a lot of "weight" behind them. These have been coming in in no particular order, so I'll work from the juiciest ones at the top of round one on down to the end. Here we go:

1) The biggest one of all, and probably one that is most likely to have some truth behind it, is the Houston Texans wanting to move into the top 5 of the Draft to select either LSU's Patrick Peterson or Texas A&M's Von Miller. Houston doesn't stand a chance to get either of them at the 11th overall spot, and I think they'd rather have a surer bet than getting Aldon Smith.

2) To couple with that story, the Bengals - who hardly ever trade - are rumored to want Auburn DT Nick Fairley. Bengals D-line coach Jay Hayes paid him a visit Wednesday. However, Cincinnati will need more ammo to make a deal, presumably getting another 2nd round pick to move back up to take a QB if there's a run on them early, which is very possible. These two scenarios seem to marry themselves together pretty nicely. However, it's hard for me to see the Bengals moving, so Denver and Cleveland, both teams who have been known to wheel and deal, could be other possible targets for Houston - especially if Houston wants Von Miller who's projected to go to Buffalo with the 3rd overall pick.

3) Atlanta wants to move up. This one is a hot one from Wednesday afternoon. Presumably, they don't like their spot in round one or the projected players that are going to be there. The rumor is that they really want local product A.J. Green or Alabama's Julio Jones (another weapon for QB Matt Ryan would be nice). That'd require a move into the top 5, but I think they may really be targeting one of the defensive ends at the top of the draft - Robert Quinn, Aldon Smith, or even Da'Quan Bowers. Nothing solid for you in the way of a potential trade partner though.

4) Allegedly, Miami and Dallas have an agreement to swap picks in the first round if a certain player drops past the Tennessee Titans at the eighth spot. The player in question here is Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert, who had a private workout with the Miami brass despite Miami not being anywhere in contention to select him. Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland came over with Bill Parcells from Dallas in 1998 and the teams have a history of signing each other's players. They also made a trade in 2008 that sent TE Anthony Fasano and NT Jason Ferguson to Miami for a 4th round selection. There's history here, but Gabbert would have to fall past QB hungry Arizona, San Francisco, and Tennesse for this deal to go off. I'm betting it doesn't because...

5) ...Washington really likes Blaine Gabbert and is willing to move up to get him. Again, no real potential suitor here. If the rumor about Cincinnati is true, I could see the Bengals getting their man in Nick Fairley at 10 and Washington getting Gabbert at 4, but as I mentioned, the Bengals hardly ever move draft picks.

6) Philadelphia's been rumored to want to move into the range of 10-20 for some reason, though there's really not a specific target linked to that rumor. They've been hot on the trail of CB Jimmy Smith, but after the AP report citing that he's failed 3 drug tests (one for codiene - did he buy it from the Packers Johnny Jolly?), paid for 2 separate women to have abortions, and had 2 separate alcohol incidents, I think it's pretty safe to say Philly could land him with their 23rd overall selection despite Smith having top 15 talent. But as they say, where there's smoke, there's fire. Stay tuned on this one as Philly is often one of the major movers come draft day.

7) Miami and San Diego may be in the works for a draft day trade again this year. Miami wants to somehow recoup a 2nd round pick they gave up to get Brandon Marshall (which was a win-win deal assuming Marshall avoids all sharp kitchen objects in the near future). San Diego, a 3-4 team, needs to upgrade it's talent on the D-line. In a D-line heavy draft, the Chargers sit after Washington, Houston, Miami, Jacksonville and New England. It's doubtful Miami would have interest in a 3-4 DE at this juncture, so the rumor is that Miami may swap their first rounder (15th overall) in exchange for San Diego's 1st rounder (18th overall) and San Diego's 2nd or 3rd round selections to allow the Chargers to leapfrog the Jaguars and Patriots. The rumored target for San Diego is either Cal's Cameron Jordan or Wisconsin's J.J. Watt. This one carries a decent amount of weight, though I could see San Diego not wanting to part with a late 2nd rounder to move up just three spots.

8) Tampa Bay wants to move up for one of the DE propsects, presumably Robert Quinn of North Carolina. No real trade partner has been established, so I'm guessing they'll try and trade with just about anyone from the Browns at six to New England's at 17 to try and get a better DE than they could at the 20th spot. My guess is they'll have to at least jump over the St. Louis Rams to have an outside shot at Quinn, or whomever their primary target might be.

9) New Orleans moving up for...anybody really. It's been not so secretly mentioned that the Saints want to move up in the first round. For who? For what? No one seems to know, but that's the rumor. I'd have to think they might want to leapfrog the Chiefs to potentially select one of the following D-linemen: Phil Taylor, Adrian Clayborn, Da'Quan Bowers, or even Cameron Jordan or J.J. Watt if they fell there.

10) New England's looking to shop picks. I guess this is more fact than rumor, but with two first round picks and a total of five in the first three round, they've got an absolute ton of trade ammo. I've seen rumors that they want to move up, I've seen rumors that they want to move down, and I've seen rumors that the 28th and 33rd picks could be hot zones for teams that pass on a QB in the early part of round one. Teams want to move up for someone like Jake Locker, Christian Ponder, or even Andy Dalton and snag them before Buffalo and Cincinnati, who are lurking at picks 34 and 35. Maybe the Pats shock us and just hold their ground to get 3 really solid players. I doubt it, but who really knows when it comes to the man underneath the hoodie.

11) Seattle wants to move down from the 25th pick. The Seahawks have a bottom heavy draft with a 1st, 2nd, 4th, two 5ths, a 6th, and two 7ths. My guess is they want to gain a 2nd and a 3rd round pick - there's a lot of "meat and potatoes" in that area, if you will - as opposed to just getting two guys in the top 64 picks. I'm sure a QB-hungry team would be willing to make a move here and give the Seahawks some more ammo. Pete Carroll's first draft was pretty solid, and I think he'd like the opportunity to continue to upgrade his roster in the 2011 Draft.

12) The final one, though I'm not sure how believable this one is, is that Pittsburgh Steelers' Coach Mike Tomlin issued an edict for the Steelers to move up and select Florida G/C Mike Pouncey - brother of current Steelers C Maurkice Pouncey - if Mike makes it past the Dolphins pick at 15. This would reunite the Pouncey twins, and the Steelers could plug Mike in at his natural RG position, or even shift over Chris Kemoeatu and put Pouncey at LG where his adept pulling skills would be put to great use. Either way, this one sounds more like soap-opera drama than substance to me, but you never know. The Patriots 17th pick would be a prime landing spots, as the Giants at 19 are rumored to be heavily interested in Pouncey as well.

Kkeep in mind that these are just rumors, and that NFL teams spread misinformation like they're handing out candy as the draft approaches. Some blatantly lie, so please, take these rumors with a few grains of salt. The only truth I can give you about tonight is that I'll be on my couch with some wings from BW's, some cold beer, and Jack 'n Coke throughout the night with several of my football buddies. I don't imagine going into a fit of rage on par with the meltdown I had when Miami drafted Ted Ginn and passed on Patrick Willis (okay, I'll admit, I wanted Brady Quinn). But if Jason LaCanfora's bold prediction of Miami taking Nevada's Colin Kaepernick or Peter King's pick of Andy Dalton at 15 come true, I'll probably be in the market of a new HD TV soon. I hope you enjoy the draft and that your team doesn't get Belichecked tonight.

Daily Rant 4/27 & 4/28: Don't Trust McFraud

As promised, albeit it very late, here's the rant on Todd McShay.

McShay, often paired opposite the "King of the Coif" (Mel Kiper), has been covering the NFL Draft for ESPN for the past few years since becoming head of Scouts Inc. in 1998. McShay typically covers more college ball than the NFL, and he's pretty good at tht. Where he struggles and tends to get ripped on, by seemingly every draftnik and casual NFL fan is in his draft coverage.

Strengths: McShay is not very strong at creating mocks - he's not even in Kiper's neighborhood in that regard. He's also not good at prognosticating how players will do once they get into the NFL, though his claim to fame is calling Vernon Gholston a bust - and he rubs this in Mel's face every chance he gets, which isn't very often.

McShay, or McFraud, as I like to call him for various reasons which I will touch upon later, does do one thing better than Kiper in my opinion. That is to actually be somewhat in tune with what each NFL team needs, which I find odd as he typically doesn't cover the NFL all that often. I think he plays this to his advantage on the air quite a bit, often sounding arrogant when he and Kiper get into debates (I think Kiper is too into the player they're discussing and knows he's overstepped his knowledge of NFL rosters when he mixes it up with McShay). His list of team needs are usually pretty solid, and more often than not, those teams usually address his primary need, just not with the player he thinks they should.

Fake tanning. Where in the hell does this man go to tan? Seriously, he must hit some salon at least twice a day. The only person who legitmately looks more tan than McFraud is Washington Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan. I get the fact that it's impossible to compete with Kiper's hair, but seriously, fake tanning?

Weaknesses: I guess this is actually a strength, but thievery. McShay often takes other people's Big Boards, Mocks, picks, etc. and tries to spin them off as his own. For instance, Mike Mayock of NFL Network (one of the best in the draftnik kingdom) said that he liked Illinois Reshard Mendenhall better than Darren McFadden and that Mendenhall would have a better career. While that point is still debatable, McShay, a week later, said the same thing despite having McFadden at or near the top of his Big Board for most of the pre-draft process.

Secondly, I know several people who cover the East-West Shrine game, which Todd McShay calls on-air. I can't remember the exact player he was discussing in 2010, but the host of the segment asked about a particular player, and McShay went on bantering about that player and how good he'd looked in practice. Said player got injured that day and didn't participate according to the guys I know that were there. They also said McShay wasn't even in Orlando at the practice site...makes yo wonder how McShay got his information.

Lastly, he overrates just about any "inside info" (i.e. draft rumor that comes his way). He'll take it as fact, when often it's misinformation. Today, he laughed at the notion of Miami Herald writer Jeff Darlington's mock draft selection of Ryan Mallett with the 15th overall pick, saying that Mallett would be around come the 3rd round. I'd be willing to bet a pretty penny that Mallett's gone in the top 20 picks of the whole show.

If you hear him say something about your team, a particular player, where someone should go, etc. take it with a huge grain of salt and expect the opposite.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Floodgates Are Open: Ohio State Football, Jim Tressel, and the NCAA

Many of our readers may know this, and many of you may not, but KD and I both live in Cincinnati, Ohio, which sits right on the Ohio River. Now, one of the state's two defining geographic entities along with Lake Erie, the Ohio River is quite a large river and typically has a strong current. Sitting in the upper deck at Great American Ball Park, I always see giant coal barges travel at a slow pace, fighting to head upstream toward West Virginia and Pennsylvania. But the water doesn't prevent jet skis, motor boats, or sometimes even swimmers from putting their bodily health aside to dive in to enjoy the largest body of water in the area (unless you're like a few idiots in the class below me and decide to take a dip in the river at 2AM while you're overly drunk, inciting a riot and police search party on both sides of the river, resulting a ridiulous amount of legal fees to settle the claim. But that's another story for another day).

But like most of the Midwest, the city has been slammed with a record-setting amount of rain this month - 11+ inches to be exact - with more on the way this week. Playing golf last week on a river view course, our entire group could not believe the water level, which rose to the edges of the banks for the first time anyone knew of. I went to a Reds game, and the same coal barges that usually take 2 minutes to pass by the ballpark took about 8-10 because they couldn't go more than one or two miles an hour with the breakneck current. Last Thursday, Kabloom (my girlfriend) and I drove over a bridge on our way to a show at riverside Coney Island and we were amazed that trees were partially submerged on the riverbanks. The sight was extraordinary, a spectacle of nature taking its course as the rains spewed out of the Ohio. But the banks can only take so much water or hold for so long; with the relentless rain, the great Ohio River had to overflow the land surrounding it and cause some real damage.

After more storms early this weekend, the river finally flooded. All the much-hyped Cirque du Soleil weekend shows were cancelled as the Riverbend Music Center and Coney Island amusement park overflowed with water. Riverside businesses and homes have been evacuated, a school has been relocated, and the rain has kept pouring down.

The last few months, thunderstorms have been brewing with Ohio's crown jewel of sports: the Ohio State Buckeyes football team. The rain started falling shortly before Christmas, when it surfaced that Ohio State suspended six Buckeyes, including stars QB Terrelle Pryor, RB Dan "Boom" Herron, and WR DeVier Posey, broke NCAA violations by selling memorabilia and awards for cash and... tattoos. The school became aware of the violations after the FBI contacted the athletic department when a criminal investigation revealed that a Columbus tattoo parlor owner possessed some of the players' items, which ironically included Terrelle Pryor's 2009 Fiesta Bowl Sportsmanship Award.

As ridicule poured in from around the country, the fans stood strong by the team. Maybe we were a little hurt. Sure, Pryor, Herron, Posey, and the other three were idiots. Yes, they sold the cherished gold pants, scarlet and grey jerseys, and Big Ten Championship rings; items that many kids in Columbus grow up dreaming of winning. But one could at least understand that maybe, just maybe, their families did need the money. As far as the tattoos, no one knows, but Ohio State has dealt their share of stupid, immature idiots over the years. Art Schlister (Gambling). Steve Bellesari (DUI). Andy Katzenmoyer (Academic "Issues"). Reggie Germany (Starting WR, 0.00 GPA). Maurice Clarett (Everything but the kitchen sink). But players come and go. After four years, they graduate and move on. Even though our national championship hopes for next year took a hit, we knew Pryor and Co. would come back strong and Tressel would have the team ready to go. Besides, the Vest was our fearless leader. He would keep the team on track, which most of the state of Ohio couldn't do itself.

Ohio is a blue collar Midwestern state, full of hard-nosed people. As the state faces economic depression as the manufacturing industries that brought it to national prominence have faded, populations have dropped, unemployment has risen, and state pride has fallen even further. The state, by and large, is downtrodden. There's not a lot to look forward to. So to give us something to believe in, Ohio residents throw ourselves into their sports teams; they tailgate with the best of them, constantly fill stadiums, and have undying support through the best of times and the worst of times - no matter what.

But like the State of Ohio itself, our teams have fallen on hard times. We've seen success and been on the brink of championships, only to have it taken away in an instant. The Bengals finally showed glimmers of hope a few years ago, only to have Carson Palmer's ACL and Mike Brown's incompetency push the team back into the depths of the NFL. The Browns, one of the most rabid fan bases in the NFL, had their team TAKEN from them and haven't been relevant since. The Reds had two one-game playoffs in the mid-90's Barry Larkin years, but then had years of subpar baseball until last season. The Indians were perennial contenders in the 90's on the brink of the World Series title in 1997, only to fall back into the pack once Manny left for Boston. The team was then one game from the World Series in 2007 with Cliff Lee and C.C. Sabathia on the roster, but lost three straight games to the Yankees and hasn't had a winning season since. We all know what has happened to the Cavs since the "Decision," when Cleveland became a national punchline in the summer of 2010. Thee lowly Blue Jackets have had one playoff appearance in their existence, ending in a sweep at the hands of the Red Wings. But Ohio always had college football season. And even when the team failed us (like in the 2007 and 2008 BCS National Championship games), we always had the Vest: Jim Tressel, who from the second he stepped on campus became the state's savior. If he ran for governor, he would have won in a landslide.

In March, the first evidence of wrongdoing on Tressel's part surfaced. E-mails between Tressel and attorney Chris Cicero were unearthed while OSU was in the midst of an internal investigation. The school suspends Tressel for two games, fines him $250,000, and Tressel claims to have kept the information to himself to protect the players involved while the federal investigation of the tattoo parlor owner was ongoing. He didn't mention anything to his superiors, or the NCAA. The school, including president E. Gordon Gee (who is the man) and AD Gene Smith, stood by Tressel, giving him the benefit of the doubt. As this becomes newsworthy, the national media starts to slam Ohio State, but the fans stood by Coach Tress. We hinged on every word coming out of that mouth, even as the water level of the BS coming from the program and its coach kept rising. We believed that he was genuinely interested in keeping his players safe from harm.

On March 17th, another rain shower occurs, as the NCAA denies Ohio State's appeal to reduce the six players' suspensions. Speculation increases that the NCAA is bringing down the hammer to save face after letting Cam Newton and Auburn walk free with no reprecussions a few months earlier. This sentiment started back in December, as the NCAA was widely criticized for the way it handled the matter, just another incident in the long line of NCAA investigations going awry. But the buzz within the Buckeye community applauds Tressel as he asks to receive the same suspension as the players. "He self-imposed his penalty? What an honorable guy." Buckeye fans want a coach that stands up for his players, and that is accountable for his actions.

On March 25th, the Columbus Dispatch reveals that Jim Tressel was also in contact about the federal investigation with Terrelle Pryor's childhood mentor, Ted Sarniak. Tressel let Sarniak know, but did not advise his superiors? The tornado sirens went off as the rain poured down. Questions started to be asked by the fans, but generally, they kept saying "In Tressel We Trust." Surely the man who wrote "The Winners Manual: For The Game Of Life" would not deceive the NCAA, his University, or his fanbase. The fanbase that had blindly followed him all this time. But the water level certainly brimmed to the edge of the bank. Tressel, the coach who led us to three National Championship games in 10 years on the job, would not lie, deceive, or cheat. There had to be some explanation, and the NCAA investiagtion was underway to find out what that was.

Fast forward to Monday. The NCAA completed it's report alright, and like the Ohio River, the fans drowned in the information. The NCAA has officially accused Jim Tressel of lying. He submitted paperwork stating that he was not aware of any violations within his program, which is directly contradicted by the e-mails that came to light during the investigation. Tressel's cover-up was out there in the open, for all to see. Now it's probably going to cost him his job. After reading the report, I sent out a message to all of my friends asking what they thought about Tressel and/or the program. My friend JShy reacted with the following: "Throughout this entire scandal, two parts of me have reacted to each piece of news: one part of me loves OSU blindly and can see no wrong in anything done by Tressel or any other member of the program. Te other part of me is rational. Having said that, after today’s news, the first part of me has fallen much more by the wayside, and the second part of me has taken over."

We always have our Buckeyes. The fans were the banks that wouldn't break. We couldn't, and we always felt that the team would never let us down. After all, the Ohio State Buckeyes are really all that Ohio sports fans had anymore. But Ohio State fans let the football program challenge the banks of the river. Players like Pryor, once thought to be destined to lead Ohio State to multiple national titles, thought they could get away with anything. Fans believed in Tressel's statements relating to honesty and integrity, and bought into his system. Tressel was the man with the Midas touch.

I'd originally wanted to make this article funny, and entertaining. But as it started flowing, I realized that there really wasn't anything comical to write, because like many of my friends, I felt distraught that the one sports figure in Ohio left that we all believed in let us down. Which proved to Buckeye Nation - like so many fans of teams and programs before us - that nothing in the sports world is sacred. Many cling to the idea that college sports is about providing kids who are good at sports an education, but in reality, my friend Beastman said it best: "I think we need to give up on the idea of college sports as pure."

If collegiate athletics were pure, why would we have point shaving scandals? Or one-and-done superstars in college basketball? Or even boosters? Kabloom seems convinced that all sports are fixed, that everything revolves around money. She's convinced that every single thing that happens in the sports world is a foregone conclusion. While I would never go that far, I think to an extent that what she believes holds some merit. The corporate NCAA, and all of its subsidiaries (the universities), have become so concerned about image and the bottom line that even the good men and women in the industry (and for the record, I still do believe Tressel truly is a good man at heart) will do anything to save face. Another responder - BDubs, in all his wisdom - said "I get that once you tell one lie and start digging that hole, you just keep digging until you hit China." Schools, coaches, and players think they need to do anything to protect the image that is their team, their institution, from the inconsistent discipline of the "non-profit" organization, the NCAA.

The NCAA may be the ultimate problem, as their governance creates a system that promotes hiding infractions. Programs know that the NCAA won't do anything until they get caught. The NCAA places its programs on a very long leash to operate as they desire. When there is a sign of trouble, the organization becomes involved and tries to overcompensate by punishing the parties involved. If the NCAA wanted to truly keep an "amateur" environment, it needs to create a system that consistently monitors its member institutions and its actions. The NCAA needs to become the governing body that it claims to be. I read an article somewhere this week, I can't remember where, that suggested one of two options. Option 1: create its own constant monitoring organization, much like the FBI, to ALWAYS watch its programs, not just take note when allegations of misconduct arise. Option 2: hire a private contractor to constantly monitor the member institutions in the same way as Option 1. If the NCAA wants to keep its programs in check, and truly maintain an amateur environment it wants to foster, it has to take these steps. Or else, you can expect a lot more Reggie Bush, Bruce Pearl, and Jim Tressel/Pryor situations well into the future. And the truth is that these incidents, as large scale as they have become, give rise to the thought that the NCAA currently does not have the proper measures in place to control and employ the athletic departments of its members.

Spring is slowly turning to summer here in Cincinnati. Eventually, unless we're headed for another Noah's Ark situation, the rain will stop. We all know that. Slowly but surely, as the weather dries up, the banks of the Ohio will return from their submerged state, and contain the great Ohio River once again.

Once the storm subsides, many things may happen to the Ohio State football program. Tressel still may be their coach, or he may not. The Buckeyes may still be the defending Big Ten champions, or they may not. The team may not be banned from future postseason play, or they could lose a number of scholarships over the next few years. While it is highly unlikely, the program could even receive the "death penalty," which is what happened to SMU football back in the 1980's. That program is still recovering.

The funny thing is that I don't the love for this team subsiding. Like the trees and parks that will return when the Ohio River water level recedes, the banks of Buckeye Nation will emerge from the aftermath of the storm, just like they have for so many programs throughout the country before us. Even though the Buckeyes let the state down over the past year, come September 3rd, there will still be 105,000 strong at Ohio Stadium when the team takes the field against the Akron Zips. As the fallout from Tressel's reign becomes clear and possibly a new coach emerges (many of my inquiries were met with hopes of Urban Meyer standing on the sidelines in 2012), the fans will still stand and yell O-H!!! I-O!!! Tressel may even be standing on the sidelines, and fans wearing scarlet and gray colored glasses won't even care - as my buddy BDubs told me "Say what you want about him and his ways but the record speaks for itself. Hard to come down tough on a guy that's 9-1 against Michigan."

So in reality, nothing really changes. The NCAA will continue its confusing ways of enforcing its "rules" and "regulations," and the institutions will continue to find ways to bend the rules in their favor until the water level breaks. The NCAA and its member universities won't realize that the idea of amateur athletics on this scale is a fallacy - at least when it comes to basketball and football - until the water level becomes so high that the banks disappear altogether and fans don't come back, similar to what happened after the MLB strike in 1994. When that happens, the NCAA will have to take notice. But until that happens - and it probably never will - the joke is on us.

KD's Mock Draft - Version 2.0

Draft day is almost here. I've added a 2nd round to my Mock Draft. I didn't project any trades, but on Thursday I'll give you a breif breakdown of some moves that could happen in round 1. Onto the picks:

1st Round

1. Carolina Panthers - Cam Newton, QB, Auburn- GM Marty Hurney rolls the dice here on the dynamic, but unproven, prospect from Auburn. Newton is not a finished product, but he’ll have the opportunity to become the face of the franchise in Carolina. Newton can make plays with his arm and his feet, but his success hinges on his ability to digest an NFL playbook and terminology.

2. Denver Broncos - Marcel Dareus, DT, Alabama- John Elway’s window shopped nearly every quarterback prospect in the draft, but Denver’s defense, ranked 32nd last year, is in need of more major repairs at the moment. Elway and GM Brian Xander draft Dareus, a Richard Seymour clone, to be the key cog in the Denver defensive line. He can play the 1, the 3, and the 5 technique and can get after the passer more than you’d think. Best player in the draft.

3. Buffalo Bills - Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M- The Bills would love to get Cam Newton here as Chan Gailey’s had some success with mobile quarterbacks. Gailey doesn’t get that chance and instead opts to take a dynamic pass-rusher in case Shawn Merriman doesn’t come back from injury. Miller posted DeMarcus Ware-like triangle numbers at the combine, and as long as he doesn’t have to go in reverse much (i.e. drop in coverage) he’ll be a solid threat off the edge.

4. Cincinnati Bengals - A.J. Green, WR, Georgia- The Bengals slot their draft picks based on position, and with no real receiving threat opposite the rapidly aging Chad Johnson, the Bengals nab A.J. Green. Green is a complete receiver, able to run over the middle, has excellent hands, and can beat you deep. Whoever quarterbacks the Bengals next year will need weapons as Andre Caldwell and Jordan Shipley are better served in the slot.

5. Arizona Cardinals - Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU- It’s no real secret the Cardinals really covet Von Miller. It’s also a not so big secret that Ken Whisenhunt would like to add a veteran to his quarterback stable, so he passes on Blaine Gabbert here. Peterson is one of the most talented corners to come along in quite some time. He’s got Nnamdi Asomugha size and speed, he can tackle, he can return kicks, and can play safety in a pinch. A do everything type to team with DRC.

6. Cleveland Browns - Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson- Despite the rumors about Bowers’ knee, the Browns take a chance here to get a pass-rusher needed for their 4-3 defense. Bowers has been labeled a one year wonder, but he came on in a big way with 15.5 sacks and 25 TFL’s. He wasn’t quite as productive before 2010, but still tallied 4 sacks and 18.5 TFL’s his first two years when he teamed with Ricky Sappy. Bowers is capable of playing end on either side in a 4-3 defense.

7. San Francisco 49ers - Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri- The 49ers brass thinks that Alex Smith is still salvageable, but with no impact linebacker or cornerback left on the board, the 49ers get their “franchise” quarterback. Gabbert comes from a spread system that didn’t throw the ball downfield much, and he’ll have to work a lot on his footwork – he’s very mechanical. He’ll fit Jim Harbaugh’s system pretty well, and Harbaugh tried to recruit Gabbert once upon a time. Think Andrew Luck without the arm or running ability.

8. Tennessee Titans - Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas- Here’s the first major curveball for everyone. I think the “character” concerns about Mallett are way overblown. From a pure arm and football IQ standpoint, Mallett is the best quarterback in the draft. I feel like Tennessee has their foot in the water on the QBs in this draft, and will take one at some point. I don’t think it’ll be at the 8th spot – I think they’ll look to trade down (perhaps St. Louis moves up to look at Julio Jones here) and take one later, but for now, I’ll stick Mallett here.

9. Dallas Cowboys - Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska- Dallas is another team that’s open for business to trade, again, I’d look at St. Louis and possibly Miami (who has been linked to Blaine Gabbert as of late) to deal up here. If Dallas stays, and I think that’s a big if, Amukamara will be the pick. The Cowboys gave up a lot of big plays last year in the secondary and Amukamara can step in from day one and shut down one side of the field. Terrance Newman is getting old and Mike Jenkins hasn’t lived up to his potential.

10. Washington Redskins - Julio Jones, WR, Alabama - Mike Shanahan is certainly stubborn enough to give Donovan McNabb another go around. If the Redskins do go QB here, I’d expect it to be Jake Locker, given the mobility factor that Shanahan likes in his QBs (Elway, Cutler). The Redskins can’t rely on Anthony Armstrong as a primary weapon again next year, so taking a premium receiver here in Jones is very good value; more so in my opinion than Cincinnati taking Green 4th overall.

11. Houston Texans - Aldon Smith, LB, Missouri- The Texans could definitely use help in the secondary, but with Amukamara off the board as well, they go OLB here. They have some pieces up front with Mario Williams and Antonio Smith, but they don’t have a pass-rusher yet. Smith has absolutely violent hands, some of the best I’ve ever seen, and can run the arc well. He’ll have a lot of trouble having to drop in coverage, but he’ll provide a nice pass-rush for Wade Phillips’ new 3-4 defense.

12. Minnesota Vikings - Jake Locker, QB, Washington- The Vikings need a signal-caller in light of the Brett Favre disaster last year. With all of the quarterbacks being overvalued, the Vikings have no choice but to pull the trigger on one right now. Locker’s athletic and seems to have a decent football IQ, but he’s got accuracy issues. However, many of these issues appear to be coachable. He’ll be pressed into action early, and it’ll show, but this is the right move for the Vikings at this juncture with how the board as fallen.

13. Detroit Lions - Tyron Smith, T, USC- Detroit can’t land their dream prospect Prince Amukamara, so they finally get someone to protect their investment in Matthew Stafford. Smith’s very athletic, but only has experience at right tackle. Many think he’s got the footwork to move to the left side, but it remains to be seen. I’m not sure if he’s the best left tackle in this class as he’s a notch below where Trent Williams and Russell Okung were last year.

14. St. Louis Rams - Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn- While St. Louis would love to have Julio Jones available here, they still get lucky and land Auburn DT Nick Fairley. He’ll be a force for the Rams inside from day one. He’s an upgrade over Gary Gibson and he’ll play next to Fred Robbins and be able to penetrate gaps and wreak havoc in the backfield. He’s more of a one-year wonder than Da’Quan Bowers, but his best football is still ahead of him.

15. Miami Dolphins - Mike Pouncey, G, Florida- Miami’s another team that’s going to trade down. With the top 4 quarterbacks gone, I think they’ll look to move back and go after Mike Pouncey. In their scheme, he’ll be a pulling left guard – bad value at the 15th overall spot – but you can see them drafted in round one (Logan Mankins). Pouncey should start from day one, and I think he’s one of Miami’s main targets, the others being Mallett and Mark Ingram, but I don’t think he’ll be the 15th overall pick.

16. Jacksonville Jaguars - Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue- The Jags have tried and tried in recent years to get a productive pass-rusher. They’ve experimented with a lot of potential types. Now they just go by the numbers. Kerrigan, while not a smooth athlete, has 37.5 career sacks and 55.5 TFL’s throughout his career. He can play either side in the 4-3, and is best with his hand in the ground. Comes from a program that’s produced a long line of quality defensive players over the years in Roosevelt Colvin, Chike Okeafor, Shaun Phillips, Ray Edwards, Anthony Spencer, Rob Ninkovich, and Cliff Avril.

17. New England Patriots - J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin- The Patriots need to continue getting younger in the defensive front. Ty Warren is coming off injury, and while they added Marcus Stroud, they can still stand to infuse more talent to bolster the line. Watt has a non-stop motor and can get after the passer. He’s very athletic for a 3-4 DE and can kick inside in nickel and dime packages or even play with his hand on the ground in some 4-3 packages.

18. San Diego Chargers - Robert Quinn, LB, North Carolina- The Chargers also get lucky with Robert Quinn’s free fall here. He’ll convert to the OLB spot in San Diego’s 3-4 defense. They need to upgrade their front seven as Larry English hasn’t panned out and they got rid of Shawne Merriman. A year off from football might make Quinn seem a bit sluggish at first. He needs to increase his repertoire of moves, but that concern should be somewhat alleviated in a 3-4.

19. New York Giants - Anthony Castonzo, T, Boston College- The Giants played musical chairs last year on the O-line, and they probably missed the playoffs because of it. Both David Diehl and Kareem McKenzie are aging at tackle. Castonzo is the best pure left tackle in this draft, though, again, a notch below what Williams and Okung were last year. Castonzo can play either side, but he’s best suited on the left where the Giants can kick David Diehl back inside to his natural guard position.

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Cameron Jordan, DE, California- The Buccaneers will have to heavily consider Colorado CB Jimmy Smith at this point due to the impending release of Aqib Talib. However, I doubt they’ll take another CB with issues, and Smith has some. Cameron Jordan gives them a solid strong side end to take up the Kevin Carter position in Tampa. He’s versatile enough to be a number one pass rush threat and he can kick inside on passing downs.

21. Kansas City Chiefs - Phil Taylor, NT, Baylor- The Chiefs need a nose tackle to plug the run on the D-line. They’ll have some high investments there having used 1st round picks on Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson, but Taylor might end up being better than both when all is said and done. He’s 6’3” 334lbs and is very athletic for a man his size – classic “Planet Theory” player. He’ll disappear for long stretches, but he’s got loads of potential and is still coming into his own.

22. Indianapolis Colts - Nate Solder, T, Colorado- GM Bill Polian admitted he regrets taking Jerry Hughes with his first round pick last year and not protecting Peyton Manning. Solder’s a converted tight end with good feet and a blue collar attitude, despite his finesse style of play, and he should start immediately at left tackle for the Colts. He’ll have to learn quickly, but doesn’t everyone when Peyton Manning’s running your huddle?

23. Philadelphia Eagles - Gabe Carimi, T, Wisconsin- As mobile as Michael Vick is, he still took a beating last year. Philadelphia has the left side of the line under control with Jason Peters, but they could definitely stand to improve over Winston Justice. Carimi will have to transition to the right side, but he’s pretty athletic – he was asked to pull from his LT post at UW – and is nasty in the run game.

24. New Orleans Saints - Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa- The Saints need pass rush help opposite Will Smith. They’ve tried to plug players in that spot for the last few years with little success. Clayborn’s a proven rusher who had an outstanding 2009 season. His play fell off a bit in 2010, but that may have been due to injury. He gave Wisconsin T Gabe Carimi fits throughout his career and will have Smith opposite him.

25. Seattle Seahawks - Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado- Pete Carroll’s been known to take a chance on guys with questionable character in the past. The Seahawks have a lot of talent on defense, but can use an upgrade at CB. Marcus Trufant is a solid veteran, but Kelly Jennings’ play has taken a dip recently. Smith’s triangle numbers at the combine were outstanding and he’s a true shut down corner.

26. Baltimore Ravens - Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State- GM Ozzie Newsome is known for sticking to his draft board and landing talented players. He gets another one here with Cameron Heyward. Heyward is a prototypical 3-4 DE and he can start from day one. He’ll allow Haloti Ngata to slide in and be a true NT. Heyward is a 3-down player, but he is coming off a serious elbow injury that bears watching. Excellent value pick here for Baltimore.

27. Atlanta Falcons- Justin Houston, DE, Georgia- The Falcons are stuck between a rock and a hard place with a serious run on pass rushers. They take a chance on local product Justin Houston, who looks the part, but isn’t always productive. A physical specimen at 6’2” 270lbs with a 4.69 40, he’s got a few decent moves. Buyer beware with Georgia pass rushers though.

28. New England Patriots - Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama- I fully expect another team to be picking in the 28th spot - primarily one of the teams that needs to address the quarterback spot like Buffalo or Cincinnati. Ingram fits in well with what the Patriots do, and he’s an upgrade over Laurence Maroney and Danny Woodhead. He’s a tough, tough runner, and has good hands out the backfield. Has drawn tons of comparisons to Emmitt Smith.

29. Chicago Bears - Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois- The Bears need another force up front as Tommie Harris is gone, and Matt Toeaina and Anthony Adams are merely average. Liuget is raw, but very talented and fits that quick, undersized mold the Bears seem to love. He really came on in 2010 and his best football may still be in front of him. Typical Bears selection that will pay off big for them.

30. New York Jets - Muhammad Wilkerson, DE, Temple- The Jets can stand to upgrade their front seven as well. No one knows about the future of NT Kris Jenkins, though Sione Pouha played well at times in his absence. Shaun Ellis is 33 and an impending free agent and Trevor Pryce is a dinosaur. There’s little else in the way of depth aside from Mike DeVito, so Wilkerson can step in as a plug and play DE in the 3-4.

31. Pittsburgh Steelers - Aaron Williams, CB, Texas- Historically the Steelers haven’t taken cornerbacks in round one. With Ike Taylor and Bryant McFadden having less than stellar seasons and getting burned in the Super Bowl, the Steelers add another piece to their defense. Williams has size and speed and enough talent to start from day one opposite Ike Taylor. He’ll eventually be tasked with taking over the #1 CB duties and that should be a relatively smooth transition.

32. Green Bay Packers - Brooks Reed, LB, Arizona- The Packers get a lot of injured talent back in 2011, which makes them even better. The Packers had great success drafting Clay Matthews late in round 1 in 2009, and they dip into the OLB well again. Ted Thompson’s always been a BPA guy, and at this point, that player is Reed. Reed is 6’2” 263lbs has a non-stop motor and good speed. He’s got the size to play the strong side position and he should be able to supplant Frank Zombo there to give the Packers the best OLB duo not named Harrison and Woodley.

2nd Round

33. New England Patriots - Danny Watkins, G, Baylor
- Tough as nails G who can fill the void of Stephen Neal’s retirement at RG.

34. Buffalo Bills - Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State
- A tough, mobile QB that will eventually unseat incumbent Ryan Fitzpatrick in Buffalo.

35. Cincinnati Bengals - Andy Dalton, QB, TCU
- Dalton should take well to Jay Gruden’s new west coast system in Cincinnati.

36. Denver Broncos - Kyle Rudolph, TE, Notre Dame
- The Broncos need a QB-friendly target. Rudolph is big and explosive with great hands.

37. Cleveland Browns - Marvin Austin, DT, North Carolina
- Browns bolster D-line with a 1st round talent who slips because of suspension.

38. Arizona Cardinals - Jabaal Sheard, LB, Pittsburgh
- The Cards get a productive pass-rusher to play OLB. Can put his hand down if needed.

39. Tennessee Titans - Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh
- Immensely talented, but underachieved in 2010. Will challenge troubled Kenny Britt.

40. Dallas Cowboys - Derek Sherrod, T, Mississippi State
- Cowboys get lucky with a solid LT prospect that injects much needed youth to their OL.

41. Washington Redskins - Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada
- Shanahan gets a mobile QB to be the eventual successor…or starter. Talented athlete.

42. Houston Texans - Brandon Harris, CB, Miami
- Much needed upgrade at the CB position and comes from a strong lineage at the U.

43. Minnesota Vikings - Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State
- The Williams wall has started crumbling. Paea is vastly underrated and very strong.

44. Detroit Lions - Ras-I Dowling, CB, Virginia
- Detroit needs help in the secondary and they land a big, physical CB here.

45. San Francisco 49ers - Rahim Moore, S, UCLA
- 49ers land a leader for the secondary to go with their new offensive leader from rd 1.

46. Denver Broncos - Akeem Ayers, LB, UCLA
- Broncos land a talented LB for their new 4-3 defense. Can play either outside spot.

47. St. Louis Rams - Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami
- The Rams get a legitimate receiving weapon for QB Sam Bradford. Underrated player.

48. Oakland Raiders - Johnny Patrick, CB, Louisville
- Nnamdi Asomugha is gone, and Al Davis loves him some speed. Patrick has speed.

49. Jacksonville Jaguars - Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland
- The Jags need more firepower on offense with Mike Sims-Walker about to leave.

50. San Diego Chargers - Kenrick Ellis, NT, Hampton
- Hugely talented player who had some off-field issues at Penn State early in career.

51. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Curtis Brown, CB, Texas
- The Bucs need another CB prospect for when they release the troubled Aqib Talib.

52. New York Giants - Mikel Leshoure, RB, Illinois
- Tough, physical runner to replace Brandon Jacobs in the backfield for the G-Men.

53. Indianapolis Colts - Titus Young, WR, Boise State
- It almost seems unfair to give Peyton Manning another great weapon at the WR spot.

54. Philadelphia Eagles - Davon House, CB, New Mexico State
- Excellent CB with great size/speed combo. Tough as nails and a 4 year starter.

55. Kansas City Chiefs - Randall Cobb, WR, Kentucky
- The Chiefs need a better complimentary player across from Dwayne Bowe.

56. New Orleans Saints - Bruce Carter, LB, North Carolina
- Saints need more bodies at both outside linebacker positions. Carter is a good player.
57. Seattle Seahawks - Jurrell Casey, DT, USC
- Carroll takes a former recruit to bolster the interior of the defensive line.

58. Baltimore Ravens - Jalil Brown, CB, Colorado
- The Ravens need all kinds of help at the CB spot; Brown is very underrated.

59. Atlanta Falcons - Lance Kendricks, TE, Wisconsin
- Falcons get a talented successor to Tony Gonzalez at TE. Will help Matt Ryan a lot.

60. New England Patriots - Mason Foster, LB, Washington
- Potential OLB for the Patriots. Underrated and undersized, but very, very talented.

61. San Diego Chargers - Jerrel Jernigan, WR, Troy
- Speed slot WR who can replace Darren Sproles on kick and punt returns.

62. Chicago Bears - James Carpenter, T, Alabama
- Bears need to upgrade over Frank Omiyale at the LT spot. Carpenter can play T or G.

63. Pittsburgh Steelers - Martez Wilson, LB, Illinois
- James Farrior won’t be around too much longer. Wilson can play both ILB and OLB.

64. Green Bay Packers - Allen Bailey, DE, Miami
- Packers take a chance on physical specimen. Needs training wheels on for a while.

Monday, April 25, 2011

4/25 Quick Hits and Weekend Happenings

A big weekend in the sports world. In case you ate a few too many jelly beans over Easter Sunday, had a few too many brewskis celebrating anything, or spent too much time checking out this awesome baby penguin (I may have done all three), here's all you need to know. I think. Maybe.


Heat and Bulls Can’t Sweep, But Do the Bulls Have Trouble? The Heat and Bulls both lost on Sunday in Game 4 of their Series against the 76ers and Pacers, respectively.While I think both teams are going to cruise past this series (NOTE: I picked both the Heat and Bulls in 5), are the Bulls in a little bit of trouble going forward? The Bulls’ matador, Derrick Rose, sprained his ankle early in the first quarter of Game 4 going up for a layup. He only had 8 points the rest of the way, and shot an atrocious 3 for 16 from the field. Only time will tell how bad this affects the Bulls in their next series against the winner of Hawks/Magic, but something tells me this team REALLY wants to win Game 5 to give DRose some time to rest up.

Come Out Strong. One team’s making my predictions look stupid, the other’s making me look like Nostradamus. The Boston Celtics finished off a sweep of the New York Knickerbockers (I picked the Knicks in 6), behind Rajon Rondo’s triple-double on Friday and recently-called out Kevin Garnett’s 26 points and 10 rebounds on Sunday. Seriously, anybody remember about three years when the question mark about the Celtics was Rondo and his incompetent play? Unbelievable. While many of you will call me out for picking the Knicks, I’m going to say that my pick lost its contractual validity when the unforeseeable circumstances of injuries to Chauncey Billups and Amar’e Stoudemire resulted in impossible circumstances for a Knicks victory. You know what just happened there? You got lawyered.

On the other side of the coin, the OKC Thunder, my Western Conference pick for the Finals, vaulted to a 3-0 lead this weekend over the Denver Nuggets. Guess the questions about the Thunder’s ability to win on the road are answered, especially since they did it in the way high altitude of the Colorado Rockies. This team is going to give anyone fits in the Playoffs, and I’m certainly rooting for them to make me look gooooooooooood.

Surprise! While some people suspected the Grizz would give the Spurs some “fits” in this Series (cough, me, cough), I expected the return of Manu Ginobili to push the Spurs over the edge. I’m not sure people expected the Grizz to overwhelm the Spurs with tenacious D and fiery intensity in the post. The Spurs need to get some post help from big-man DeJuan Blair to counter the twin towers combo of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, who have combined for 91 points in the Grizzlies’ two wins this series. Turning to the Hawks/Magic, what the hell is going on here? The Hawks have taken control with a 3-1 lead behind the ugliest clutch moment ever by best sixth-man ever Jamal Crawford. KD told me the other day that if the Magic don’t make a comeback, Dwight Howard’s already got one foot out the door, ala LBJ and the Cavs last year. The question has to be asked: wher will he go?

The Dog Days Are(n’t) Over. The Mavs and Lakers are mired in the midst of what could be some all-time great first round Series. The Blazers pulled even with a pair of wins at the Rose Garden, and Brandon Roy is finally showing burst in his game that he lacked after surgery on both his knees. Meanwhile, the Lakers need to figure out how to stop Chris Paul.Seriously, CAN ANYONE STOP THIS GUY? He’s unbelievable, posting 27 points, 15 assists, and 13 rebounds in the game on Sunday. He’s keeping this team in the series by himself.


Cards Take Control – KD, you were right. IN CASE NO ONE NOTICED, THE ST. LOUIS CARDINALS TOOK TWO OUT OF THREE GAMES FROM THE CINCINNATI REDS THIS WEEKEND TO MOVE INTO FIRST PLACE IN THE NL CENTRAL. Too bad the Reds couldn’t start Mike Leake on Sunday night to steal the rubber match and hold on to the division. Bazinga! And no, I’m not mentioning anything about Pujols’ minor injury. But yes, I will say that the emergence of Jaime Garcia, Kyle McClellan, and Jake Westbrook once again proves that Dave Duncan is the best pitching coach in baseball. Now if only he would just fix Ryan Franklin…

All’s Right in the AL East – Anyone remember this article? That’s right everybody, all is right with the world. The Yankees, Rays, and Red Sox are now 1-2-3 in the AL East after the Yanks swept the O’s and the Sox swept the Angels. Toronto and Baltimore, it was fun while it lasted. Now… if just the Cleveland Indians would listen up and start tanking...

Roy Roy – In case anyone didn’t notice, Roy Halladay’s the best pitcher in baseball. In his last start he got creamed by the Brewers, giving up six earned runs in six innings, but yesterday Roy made us all remember who he is. Sure it was the lowly Padres, but Roy Roy went 8 2/3 innings with a career-high 14 strikeouts. If you’ve never seen this guy pitch, put it on your bucket list. Reds fans know why. You’re not a Reds fan? You don’t know why? By all means, you’re welcome, I’m happy to help.


Here We Go Again… - Uh oh. The Vancouver Canucks are in trouble. 2009: In the Conference Semis, the Canucks win Game 1, but the Blackhawks win 4 of the next 5 to take the Series. 2010: After winning Game 1 of the Conference Semis, the 2nd seeded Blackhawks win 4 of the next 5. Fast forward to this year. The Canucks, the best team in the NHL, vow to avenge their playoff woes. They draw the Hawks, but immediately go up three games to none and look to put the Series away. After losing 7-2 in Game 4, the Hawks get starting goalie Roberto Luongo pulled and cruise to a 5-0 Game 5 victory. Last night, where the Canucks panic by benching Luongo and starting Cory Schneider in net. The Hawks took a rousing Game 6 to overtime after Schneider was injured trying to save Michael Frolik’s penalty shot. Then in OT, the defending Stanley Cup champs forced Game 7 when Ben Smith had a beautiful putback past Luongo. I have no idea what’s going to happen in Game 7, but the Hawks have put themselves in a fantastic position.

Can I Start in Goal? – The Flyers, using their THIRD starting goalie of the series, forced Game 7 against the Sabres after falling behind 3-1 in the first period. Leighton Meester, starting in goal, was pulled after giving up three goals in his first seven shots faced. Goalie Brian Boucher was stout the rest of the way, offensive playoff maestro Danny Briere scored two goals, and Ville Leino put an OT shot past Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller to seal the victory. If the Flyers need a fourth starting goalie, they need to know that I'm eligible for $1,000,000 per game.

Done son. The Predators finished off a surprising upset of the Anaheim Ducks Sunday behind two goals from Nick Spaling, leading Nashville to their first ever playoff series win. Congrats Nashville - Columbus Blue Jackets, take notice - that’s how you actually make an impact in the league. The Washington Capitals and Alex Ovi took care of business this year in the first round, and took out the New York Rangers in five games.


Turmoil at #1 after wild weekend. What an exciting weekend for the game of golf that absolutely no one paid attention to. Heading into the weekend, Martin Kaymer was the world’s #1 player. No more. World #2 Lee Westwood, perhaps the least accomplished player of all-time to hit No. 1, took charge of the Indonesian Masters and won by 3 shots to wrestle the title from Kaymer. But like Bugs Bunny says, that wasn’t all folks. Luke Donald - an even more unheralded player, with 3 worldwide wins – had a chance to take over the No. 1 position with a win at Harbour Town in Hilton Head, a course I’m proud to say I played I broke 80 on from the pro tees. Vanderbilt alumni Brandt Snedeker fired a Sunday 64 to surge ahead and take the lead, but Donald tied him to force a playoff with two working man’s pars. But then he lost on the famed Lighthouse hole when his ball buried in the bunker. The volatility at the top of the golf world proves that it truly is anyone’s game right now, and it’s going to be an exciting season on the PGA Tour.


The Happy Couple– As KD wrote about this weekend, Dolphins WR Brandon Marshall was stabbed by his wife (ALLEGEDLY!). His wife is being held on charges of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, but she is asserting self-defense, which would relieve her of criminal charges so long as the force she used – with a kitchen knife - is NOT deemed to be excessive. Marshall is still in intensive care, and no indication of his ability to play into the future has been given.

You Mean I Like A Raven and An Irishman? – Proving Rick Reilly’s point that it is in fact possible for NFL players to make a living after the lockout, the ONLY Notre Dame or Ravens player I’ve ever like has found a second calling in the ring. Ravens Safety Tom Zbikowski moves to 4-0 in his profession boxing career with a first round knockout. Anyone have any ideas on who they’d like to see him fight next? My votes: T.O., Troy Polumalu, and Rosie O’Donnell.


Pulled Out, He Wants to Get Back In: Brandon Davies, famously suspended from BYU during its dream season for having pre-marital sex, wants to make a rousing return to the school next season. Davies, a 6’9” power forward who was essential to the team’s success, wants to re-enroll. In order to do so, he is required to be deemed “rehabilitated.” But the question is, once you’ve tasted warm apple pie, how can you come back from that? Secondly, didn’t he get kicked off the team just because he happened to get caught with his pants down? Something’s telling me that wasn’t the first time he broke the school’s honor code.

Bye Bye Cinderella: A few weeks ago, I wrote that there was no way Jim Larranaga was leaving George Mason. I followed that up by saying there was no way he was leaving for a school like Dayton. At least I was only half wrong. Larranaga took the University of Miami (FL) job.


Thanks Again Rich Rod. Seriously: Ruh-Roh. Rich Rodriguez, famously 15-22 at Michigan, came out this weekend saying that leaving West Virginia in the first place was a “mistake.” Rich, on behalf of all Ohio State fans everywhere, I’d just like to say that leaving for Michigan was not a mistake. In fact, it was the best move of your career. Whenever you want to go back, you’re more than welcome.

Fiesta, Fiesta: College Football’s CEO – excuse me, director – Bill Hancock came out this weekend and said that within a month we will know the fate of the Fiesta Bowl and its relationship with the BCS. The investigation into the Fiesta’s status comes after reports that the bowl’s directors reimbursed employees for almost $50,000 in political donations – a clear violation of federal election and non-profit organization laws. Reports are that the Cotton Bowl is ready to step in and take the Fiesta’s spot in the BCS rotation.