Alright ECB fans. So I'm the designated blogger on American Idol this season. If you don't watch this show, don't bother reading the post. If you watch the show, come to this spot regularly each week for snarky comments, predictions, and other miscellaneous thoughts.
February 16, 2008
ESPN.com currently has an article featured that quotes the Athletic Director at NIU as saying "We're going to get stronger." That offended me, of course, because they just as easily could have written the headline "Indiana AD: 'We're going to get stronger'" and I wouldn't have even blinked. Luckily, the article itself discusses how NIU and the athletic department implemented its emergency plan, one that was created in the wake of last spring's VT shootings, in order to attempt to protect the students and student-athletes.
February 14, 2008
Bubble teams are losing left and right, and the ACC bubble hopes are fading quickly as the top teams continue to win. Six teams are officially out barring a miracle (at best, no more than one more loss to have a chance).
IN: Duke, North Carolina
OUT: Virginia (11-12, 1-9), Georgia Tech (11-12, 4-5), Wake Forest (15-8, 5-5), Florida State (14-11, 3-7), Boston College (13-10, 4-6), Virginia Tech (14-10, 5-5)
SHOULD BE IN:
Clemson (18-6, 6-4, RPI: 24, SOS: 25): The Tigers have survived the toughest part of their schedule, and should be able to coast on in. A 9-7 finish in the ACC should make them a lock, and that would be a disappointing finish given their remaining schedule.
PROJECTION: 10-6 ACC, IN.
Maryland (16-9, 6-4, RPI: 51, SOS: 13): One of the hottest teams in the country, two losses to Duke are the only recent blemishes. The Terps are capable of winning out and claiming a decent seed, but a couple losses could leave them squarely on the bubble. 10-6 is still the necessary conference record to feel comfortable.
PROJECTION: 10-6 ACC, IN.
NC State (15-9, 4-6, RPI: 47, SOS: 44): Fading fast, the Wolfpack has the computer numbers to make it, but the schedule looks rough. They need to beat at least one of Clemson, Duke, or UNC at home, and sweep the rest to get to 8-8 in conference. Even that may not be enough because some of the teams that are out may finish in front of them in the conference standings, which won't help.
PROJECTION: 7-9 ACC, OUT.
Miami (15-7, 3-6, RPI: 40, SOS: 38): In a free-fall but their victory on the road at the Hokies could be a turning point. The Canes probably need to finish 5-2 over the last 7 to get in, and it's possible given their schedule. The question is which team will show up. The way they've played most of the conference schedule, they'll finish 6-10 and decidedly out.
PROJECTION: 7-9 ACC, OUT.
More losses by teams on the bubble to help these ACC teams: Cal, UMass
Contributed by Russell at 2/14/2008 10:49:00 PM
After today's duels, there shouldn't be any more questions about the Hendrick engine problems, or the similar Toyota problems, or if Gibbs can win with Toyota engines. Dale Jr. has won both races he's been in so far. Jimmie Johnson is on the pole. Denny Hamlin won the second duel for Gibbs, with Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon in hot pursuit. Casey Mears was 4th in his duel. In what may be a preview of the season to come, the two teams have won every possible event from the Shootout on, and now only the actual race remains. It's hard to imagine two teams that you would have to favor more than these two at any given race. It may be a long year for fans of other drivers.
February 13, 2008
Rejoice Maryland fans, following a tough but fruitless effort at Duke, we did not lose a whole lot of ground. Obviously a win would have been great, but a 12 point loss on the road to #2 is no embarrassment. Here are some other teams that wish they had the Terps' result tonight.
Syracuse - Ouch. Does anything say NIT quite like an 11 point loss at USF, previously 1-10 in the Big East? The Orange were one of the "last four in" according to the latest Bracketology. This is a very, very damaging loss.
Ole Miss - A nine point loss at Alabama leaves the Rebels with 0 wins on the road in the SEC and losers of 5 of their last 6 conference games. Their undefeated record out of conference will only go so far to cover up a poor conference record (3-6 so far).
Houston - Had a lead on #1 Memphis at the half, but couldn't hold on. A marquis win would have done a lot for a team with a really weak schedule.
Dayton - Currently in free fall due to injuries (I think), a loss to Duquesne doesn't help. Strong computer numbers are good, but 4-6 in the A-10 gives you a 10 seed and falling.
Baylor - Started 16-2, but the tough part of the Big 12 schedule is taking its toll. Now losers of 4 of the past 5, Baylor could easily lose the next 3 in a row as well (TEX, @OKLA, KSU). Welcome to the bubble, Baylor. On the positive side, they have 0 losses outside the RPI top 50.
For the Terps, the Duke game wasn't critical. Wins at home against Virginia Tech and Florida State are. We need to put this loss behind us and focus on the task at hand.
Twice this month Roger Clemens has provided testimony under oath regarding the statements made by his former trainer Brian McNamee to the people who created the Mitchell Report. Each time he has done so, every legal expert from CNN to ESPN has made the point that he was testifying at the risk of being charged with perjury if it can be proven that he has lied. In fact, some have used this fact as an indicator that he must be telling the truth.
In addition, the United States Supreme Court has added some other guidelines. First, a perjury conviction (like treason) requires at least two witnesses establishing the falsity of the defendant's statement. Second, a literally true answer cannot be perjurious, no matter how misleading. Third, an answer to an ambiguous question cannot be perjurious, no matter how obvious the intended meaning of the question is.
We know that false sworn testimony and depositions before a House Committee (Oversight and Government Reform in this case) can constitute perjury because the statutes clearly say so. If we assume that either Clemens or McNamee lied today, and we pretend for the sake of argument that there are two witnesses who can testify as to one of them lying, the last barrier is whether the facts lied about were "material."
Photo: New York Times
One also could argue that there was no decision to be made, and thus there could not be perjury no matter what was said in response to any question.
ESPN is reporting that the NCAA has accused Indiana of five major violations, centering around impermissible phone calls made by Kelvin Sampson while he was already under sanctions as a result of previous violations. Potential penalties include postseason ineligibility, and one would think that Sampson's job would be in jeopardy. The primary wrath of the NCAA appears to focus on the fact that Sampson knowingly and repeatedly violated the NCAA recruiting rules on phone calls in spite of having been previously caught in the same offense. His calls exceeded the normal restriction, well beyond the number allowed under his sanction resulting from violations while at Oklahoma.
The Hoosiers have been highly ranked all year, in spite of a soft schedule. Freshman Eric Gordon may find these violations to be a good excuse to leave for the NBA after only one year, and DJ White will graduate after this season. With the potential for serious penalties hanging over the program, this will likely affect the next two recruiting classes. A serious embarrassment for one of the traditional basketball powers, the Indiana administration has no one but themselves to blame for hiring a coach who was already known to have violated NCAA rules. If the NCAA can prove that Sampson knowingly and intentionally violated the same rule repeatedly, their penalty will be harsh. Rumors about this have been swirling, but the official statement by the NCAA detailing the five supposed major violations takes this to a whole new level.
PDF of the NCAA letter
"Sampson failed to deport himself in accordance with the generally recognized high standard of honesty..."
Football's over. Baseball hasn't started yet. The NBA, NHL, and college basketball are going through the paces until the playoffs/tournament. What's a sports fan supposed to do on a cold late-winter weekend? Don't worry, NASCAR returns on Sunday!
If you're new to NASCAR, if you haven't been following the off-season news, or if you only watch the Daytona 500, here are 5 things to watch for during the race.
Last year, Toyota the first foreign car manufacturer to participate in NASCAR's highest division (now called the Sprint Cup, I've already expressed my thoughts on the name change). NASCAR actually has rules to limit participation to American cars, but since Toyota manufactures the Camry in Kentucky, it qualifies.
Toyota's rookie season in the Sprint Cup was a bit of a disappointment. The Camry's best finish was a third place in Talladega by Dave Blaney. This year, Joe Gibbs Racing is making the switch from Chevy to Toyota, so expect better results from the Camry this year.
It will be interesting to see how Toyota's entry and success will change NASCAR. Will we see more manufacturers enter the series? Will Honda let Toyota monopolize the "import" side of NASCAR? Will Toyota draw more fans to NASCAR from the Northeast? Will there be a backlash from traditional NASCAR fans who might resent the idea of a Japanese stock car (think Hank's dad from "King of the Hill)?
Last year, we saw Formula 1's Juan Pablo Montoya make the switch to NASCAR. This year, Jacques Villeneuve (also from F1), Sam Hornish Jr., Dario Franchitti, and Patrick Carpentier join him. This is another area that could see some backlash from traditional NASCAR fans who have always resented the (often snobby) open wheel fans and the drivers they support. On the flip side, these drivers are beginning to show open wheel fans that NASCAR is good racing, not just a bunch of heavy, ugly cars turning left.
ProbationKurt Busch and Tony Stewart will start the year on a six-race probation following a crash and fight in practice last week. Giving the drivers only probation and not fining them or docking points is part of an attempt by NASCAR this season to allow the drivers to "vent in proper ways." Cynics would claim that NASCAR finally realized that driver feuds draw fans, so they shouldn't crack down too hard.
Busch and Stewart have a history of conflicts. Last year, Busch thought Stewart had intentionally wrecked him. After the incident, Busch flew into Stewart's pit stall, almost injuring a crew member. Will things heat up this year, or will NASCAR's probation force the drivers to settle down?
This fracas is more interesting because Kurt's brother Kyle is Tony Stewart's teammate. If things start to get out of hand on the track, who is Kyle going to side with? His big brother or his new teammate?
Dale Earnhardt Jr. no longer drives for the team that bears his father's name. This off-season, he moved from Dale Earnhardt Inc. to Hendrick Motorsports, where he joins new teammates Jeff Gordon and two time defending champ Jimmy Johnson.
How will Earnhard's fans react to the move? They've spent years hating Jeff Gordon, how he's Junior's teammate. Also, has Hendrick finally crossed the line of having too many egos on the same team? I'm not sure how three title contenders can all share the team resources and get along, but maybe they'll find a way to work it out.
Ashley Judd's husband Dario Franchitti moved from IRL to NASCAR this season, bringing Ashley with him. Expect to see many many shots of Ms. Judd on the pit wall Sunday, especially if she dresses the way she did at qualifying on Sunday. Most NASCAR wives dress fairly causally and wear pants at the racetrack. Or, in the case of Delana Harvick, the most annoying wife in any sport, they wear fire suits and pretend they're part of the crew. Ashely Judd turned that all on its head Sunday. And with Kentucky basketball in the dumps this year, we can expect to see her at a lot of races.
February 12, 2008
UNC is not a top ten team without Lawson. Since Lawson's injury, UNC has a loss to Duke, a 2 OT victory at home, and a 1 point win over the worst team in the ACC.
Purdue is legit, and they might run the table in the Big Ten to go 17-1 in conference. At Indiana in a week is the toughest test remaining.
A little something for all you Terps fans out there. Greivis Vasquez headlined Andy Katz's Weekly Watch after an outstanding week. The Terps as a team were also #2 on the teams to watch outside the top 25 list. Joe Lunardi has the Terps as a 10 seed. The Terps just need to keep doing what they're doing and this year will turn out alright after all. 10-6 or even 11-5 in conference are not hard to imagine any more, even if we lose at Duke. If UNC continues to have point guard problems, there's a chance Maryland could finish second in the ACC this year (very slim). The two home games coming up against FSU and VT will be critical to cement our place in the tournament.blahblablahhblahblahblah Photo from Washington Post
In addition, The Sporting News has named Terps F James Gist their National Player of the Week. Gist scored 23 with 7 boards against Boston College and added 30 points, 9 boards and 4 blocks against NC State. He had previously been named ACC Player of Week after the Terps beat then #1 UNC.
February 11, 2008
At the end of the Villanova - Georgetown game tonight in DC, a questionable foul was called which led to game-winning free throws by the Hoyas. The relevant sequence is shown below.
ESPN would have you believe that the official should have "swallowed" his whistle for this one so the teams could decide it in overtime. I disagree. The Villanova player's decision to challenge Wallace's path up the court was poor. Even if there were two more seconds on the clock, Wallace could not have advanced the ball past half court or gotten off a good shot. The Wildcat clearly bumped Wallace, forcing him to carry the ball and almost knocking him out of bounds. He lost momentum and was, by definition, pushed. A foul is a foul, regardless of the time remaining on the clock, and we should be talking about the Villanova player's decision, not the ref's.
Rule 4, Section 29 of the NCAA Rules for College Basketball state "A personal foul...involves illegal contact with an opponent while the ball is live." Incidental contact is defined in part as "Contact that does not hinder the opponent from participating in normal offensive or defensive movements..." When the offensive player (Wallace) is forced to carry the ball and hop on one foot to avoid going out of bounds, I consider that to be contact hindering him from dribbling up the court.
The Wildcats should consider shooting over 20% in the second half or running a better offensive possession leading up to that point, and not bemoan one "bad" call. Many questionable calls are made over the course of the game, and this one should not be overly scrutinized and criticized just because it occurred as time expired.
If we want to talk about getting jobbed by the refs, let's talk about the clock snafu leading to the Lady Vols' victory over Rutgers. Now that's getting shafted.
No article about Villanova - Georgetown is complete without a mention of arguably the best college basketball game ever played. You know the one.
Roger Clemens has provided sworn deposition testimony to a Congressional committee, and will testify under oath publicly on Wednesday. Here's a look at what has transpired thus far, the public relations battle between Clemens' crew and former trainer Brian McNamee's crew, and what we can expect Wednesday.
Jan. 6, 2008 - Clemens appears on 60 Minutes with Mike Wallace to deny the allegations. Clemens states that he was only injected with lidocaine and B-12, neither of which make any sense. I don't feel like linking it, but Google "clemens lidocaine b12 bullshit" and check out some of the results.
The following is a pictorial catalog of the lengths to which coaches will go to ingratiate themselves with their boosters. This countdown goes from least offensive to most offensive, and I do not even pretend that this is a comprehensive listing. If you thought Maryland's gold uniforms were bad, wait til you get to the bottom of this list.
5. Roy Williams - UNC. Being a classy guy and with a good color to work with, Roy pulls off the matching blazer and tie without too much effort.
4. Sidney Lowe - NC State. The bright red is a little much, looks like something you could get at a thrift store.
3. Rick Pitino - Louisville. Pitino's white suit Saturday night for the whiteout game against G'Town washed him out so badly that his team couldn't concentrate. The change to a traditional black suit at halftime energized his team for a second half comeback. Little Ricky should stick to the pinstripes.
2. Bruce Pearl - Tennessee. In an ordinary year, the man who painted his body orange for a women's basketball game would be #1. The orange blazer and tie combo is blindingly garish and totally awful. Conveniently, he blends into the Vols' bright orange court from other angles, lessening the effect. You have to think he would glow in the dark and serve as an emergency exit light if the power went out during a game.
1. Bob Huggins - West Virginia. Putting the others on this list to shame, the coach known for anger is putting his style foot forward. You have to acknowledge his commitment, going with a full suit instead of just the blazer. While the color isn't as bright, the gold shoes put him over the top for #1. Even the assistant has to hang his head in shame for this fashion faux-pas.
Feel free to suggest your own candidates.
U.S. Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA) passed away today at the age of 80 due to complications of cancer to the esophagus. Lantos was the second ranking Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, but due to his health it is not known what role, if any, he would have played in Wednesday's hearings.
Lantos is the only Holocaust survivor to ever be elected to Congress.
Somehow this slipped through the cracks over the weekend.
blahblahblahblah Look out league! The Seahawks have PhotoShop.
February 10, 2008
Roger Clemens' attorney, Rusty Hardin, fears that IRS agent Jeff Novitzky, a key steroid investigator, will attend Wednesday's public hearing on steroids before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Hardin reported stated "I can tell you this: If he ever messes with Roger, Roger will eat his lunch."
blahblahblahblahb For the love of God, STOP F-ING WITH THE FEDS PEOPLE!
I read with some concern your comments in the New York Times today. According to the New York Times, you said it would be "unbelievable" and "brazen" if a federal agent, Jeff Novitzky, attended a Committee hearing scheduled for Wednesday, February 13.