The never ending trend of conference expansion

Back in the early days of college football everything was simple. Students formed clubs that eventually became teams formed by students in the same class (such as “Bloody Monday” at Harvard, a game between the Sophomore and Freshman classes). This trend also hit the university of Dartmouth and continued spreading throughout the Northeast region of the country. Meanwhile similar games were being played in the south in places like Auburn, Georgia and Virginia.

As the game developed around the country schools got tired of playing against themselves and decided to expand their horizons and start playing against other schools with football teams in the region/area. The 1st ever game between two schools took place in the state of New Jersey on November 6th 1869 when Rutgers and Princeton Universities. The two schools located just 37. 1 miles away from each other developed a series and became rivals. The following year Columbia University joined the series which prompted Yale University and Stevens Institute of Technology to form a league or  an early type of conference.

As time went on  football expanded to the west to the University of Michigan in 1879. What started in Ann Arbor quickly spread to places like Chicago (Chicago University and Northwestern University) and Minnesota (Minnesota University). These for schools along with Illinois , Wisconsin and Purdue formed the earliest conference, the “Western Conference”  in 1896 . The conference lasted 3 years before it accepted Iowa and Indiana changing its name to the Big 9 and later the Big 10 once Ohio State joined in 1912.  After a few changes like the swapping of Chicago University and Michigan State in 1949 and the addition of Penn State in 1990 the BIG 10 looked like it was done expanding until last season when they added Nebraska.

My reasoning for going into that much detail over the Big 10 is that all of the teams are in reasonable distance from each other. This not only makes it easier for the fans but also easier for the teams and it helps develop the great rivalries of today. Look at Michigan vs Ohio State for example … The states border each other which provides an automatic rivalry and with conference play it guarantees that they will always play each other every year. Here’s a look at an updated map of how conferences break down by region.

FBS Wiki Map

As you can see the colors are keys for the conference the particular school is affiliated with. For those who can’t see well here are the color codes for the conferences… ACC , Big 10 , Big 12 ,Big East , Pac 12 ,SEC , Independents, Mountain West, WAC , MAC , C-USA and Sun Belt.

Now for some more analysis… In the past weeks the talks of more conference expansion in the FBS Universe have really picked up. From the ACC to the SEC to even the idea that the BIG 12 may be coming to an end. We’ll start with the most recent report of an expansion to the Atlantic Coastal Conference and the likely acceptance of Pittsburgh and Syracuse …

Can anyone tell me where Syracuse and Pittsburgh are located ? If you said ACC Country or near other ACC schools you couldn’t have been more incorrect. Sure they’re both on the east coast but still they geographically belong where they are in the Big East conference. This wouldn’t be the 1st conference expansion move that the ACC would screw up. Back in July of 2005 the brilliant scholars who head the ACC committee/ board accepted an application from a team that wanted to join their conference. This team is located just 752 MILES away from the HQ in Greensboro, NC. That team is none other than Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Mass. The school qualifies for the ACC by level of competition, Academics and school size but is not in ACC Country. Although it does open up the ACC to the New England market I don’t think that the fans in the Northeast wanna see Virginia Tech play UNC or any team below or near the Mason Dixon line for that matter. I know that there are plenty of arguments for the ACC to accept Pitt and Syracuse, I mean as a fan of  an ACC team like the Hokies that lives in a Syracuse market (NY) I should be loving this move but as a fan of College Football as a whole and a writer I don’t like where this whole expansion thing is headed. Which leads me to my next point the possibility of losing the BIG 12.  

ACC Map

 
The BIG 12 conference had been a major power in College Football for as long as I can remember. With teams like Texas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State. But now all 4 of those powerhouse teams may be jumping on board with the other teams who are swapping conferences. The conference has already lost 2 teams (Colorado to PAC 12 and Nebraska to BIG 10) and may be losing up to 5 or 6 more teams depending on upcoming meetings. This could mean the addition of smaller level teams like Houston,SMU , UTEP or even Tulsa. This whole thing in a way has a whole ironic twist to it ; Because the BIG 12, the conference that may be destroyed as a result of conference expansion was actually built by the falling of two major conferences in the southwest and midwest regions that it is currently made up of. All of the BIG 12’s current members either belonged to the BIG 8 conference (Oklahoma, Iowa State, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma State and Kansas State) and the Southwest Conference (Texas,Baylor,Texas A&M and Texas Tech). So I guess it is true that what comes around does come around.
 
Overall as you can tell I am not the biggest supporter of Conference Expansion. I firmly believe that conferences , leagues and divisions should be based on the region/location of the school. Look at the names of conferences…  PAC 12 (Pacific Athletic Conference), ACC (Atlantic Coastal Conference), BIG East (Eastern Conference). It is that reason and that reason only that I am opposed to teams joining and forming super conferences. Now that you’ve heard my side I wanna hear yours so comment and tell me if I’m right or wrong and vote in the poll provided.  
 

Hokies Preview 2011

Another college football season in upon us. It feels like just yesterday I was blogging about the Hokies 2010 preview and saying what high expectations the veteran team led by a star senior QB, Tyrod Taylor had coming for them. The team started out the year losing a close game to Boise State and then getting upset big time by James Madison in Blacksburg. But boy oh boy did the Hokies turn their 2010 campaign around. The team would go on to win 10 straight games including their 4th ACC Championship since joining the conference in 2004. The season would however end in a terrible fashion with a beating from the Stanford Cardinal and QB Andrew Luck in the Orange Bowl.

Hokies in Orange Bowl

Now for 2011…. The Hokies have a veteran Offensive line that features 4 seniors who are all massive in size, an exciting RB that may have a chance at the Heisman depending on how the team does as a whole and most importantly a young up and coming QB that has the experts’ mouthes watering with his size, speed and amazing arm. It also helps that the Hokies have an All-American corner who led the NCAA in interceptions a year ago and 7 starters overall returning on defense.  Now lets break this down piece by piece starting with the big boys on the O-Line.

  1. The Hokies O-line is a group that possesses great size, speed and strength but aside from those obvious attributes the big boys for the Maroon and Orange have a very special characteristic that many people just flat don’t have. That characteristic is leadership the group is led by 4 seniors, in particular the big boy you see wearing number 62 in the snapshot below who is Blake DeChristopher. DeChristopher has been a key player up front playing in 37 games since arriving in Blacksburg. Blake stands at a towering 6′ 5 and weighs in around 311 lbs. The other 3 seniors on the line are guards Greg Nosal (6’6 291 lbs) and Jaymes Brookes (6’2 304 lbs) and left tackle Andrew Lainer (6’5 305 lbs). The lone junior on the line is center Andrew Miller who is also a veteran in the college ranks.The Hokies front 5 is also ranked number 8 in the nation by Rivals.com.  

Blake DeChristopher

2.        Next on my list of key factors is the speedy RB David Wilson. Wilson who is entering his junior year is the last remaining member of a 4 headed running attack that featured two former RB’s (Ryan Williams and Darren Evans) and a speedy QB (Tyrod Taylor). Known for his clutch play on special teams, Wilson will be a major player in the backfield getting almost every carry as the feature back of the Hokie offensive attack. The speed of number 4 is unmatched with almost any one in the ACC, his 4.3 second 40 Time is nothing to mess with and to back it up he also runs track and field in the spring where he helped lead the Hokies to a National title in the triple jump that he was named an All-American. David combines his explosive speed with great instinct and a unique personality to boot which is huge in the huddle and in the locker room. Look for Wilson to make a push in the Heisman race and be a threat all over the field on Special teams and in the tech offense.

David Wilson

3.       The last key factor of the list of 3 that I’ve got for you all today is the one that every college football fan has been talking about… the one the only LOGAN THOMAS. We at the Haven 1st started blogging about the now QB of the Hokies back in 2008 (November 8th to be exact) in a post title “Hokie Update” (The Link is at the end of the paragraph). I said that kid from Brookville who was recruited as a TE/WR at the time was going to be next big thing and how he was the 1st bigtime 5 star prospect the hokies had signed since Tyrod Taylor two years prior. Thomas was also mentioned in a post earlier this year titled “In Logan we Trust” when I compared the QB to Cam Newton in size , speed and overall ability. Thomas has all the pieces from the line to the backfield and even has a veteran recieving core that will catch anything within their reach. Sky’s the limit for Thomas for both this year and years to come.
 
 
As far as the schedule for the Hokies this it doesn’t look too bad. With the opener being a home game against Appalachian State who is definitely not a team to sleep on but shouldn’t be that tough of a game. After that the Hokies have 3 more non conference games beginning with a trip to @ECU followed by a home matchup with Arkansas State and a trip to @Marshall. The the ACC portion of the schedule for Tech begins with visits from Clemson and Miami. Next is a trip to @Wake Forest and a home game with the Eagles of BC followed by a trip to @Duke then a BYE week in week 10. Then come two Thursday night primetime games, The 1st being a trip to A-Town against @ Georgia Tech then a classic thursday night in Blacksburg with the UNC Tarheels on ESPN. And to end the 2011 regular season the gobblers will travel to Charlottesville to beat @UVA for an 8th straight year.
 
When all is said and done I say that the Hokies will be a 11-1 team heading into the ACC Championship game taking on Florida State.
 
Tech’s season kicks off this weekend with Appalachian State @ 12:30 on the ACC Network (or for those who are like me outside of ACC Country it can be found on ESPN 3.com)
 

Fantasy Baseball Playoffs Update

For this year’s fantasy baseball playoffs, Matt decided to give playoff spots to eight teams, as opposed to four.  It is what it is.  And it will be fun to see what it turns out like!

My Team, now named Kevin’s Highlights, after one of my favorite show’s segments, called, what else, Kevin’s Highlights, is he front runner with a 17-2 record.  For those of you who didn’t immediately get it, the show is called Intentional Talk; it’s on weekdays at 5 PM EST on MLB Network.  Check it out, it’s the greatest.

Anyway, I’ll give you all out there a look at each playoff team’s record, notable players, and my finishing prediction.

Andy Mosner – Kevin’s Highlights (17-2)
Overall Finish: 1st
Notable Players:  Jacoby Ellsbury OF, Ryan Braun, OF, Clayton Kershaw SP
Player to Click: Stephen Strasburg SP

Andreas Kaiafas – Old Glorifiers (13-6)
Overall Finish: 7th
Notable Players:  Asdrubal Cabrera SS, Curtis Granderson OF, CC Sabathia SP
Player to Click:  Melky Cabrera OF

Matt Burrill – VT HOKIE HAVEN VT (12-7)
Overall Finish: 6th
Notable Players:  Dustin Pedroia 2B, Roy Halladay SP, Ian Kennedy SP
Player to Click: Evan Longoria 3B

Chris Burrill – REDSOX NATION (11-8)
Overall Finish: 3rd
Notable Players: Adrian Gonzalez 1B, Michael Bourn OF, Cliff Lee SP
Player to click: Desmond Jennings OF

Matt DeBlasio – Clarkstown Stars (11-8)
Overall Finsish: 5th
Notable Players: Troy Tulowitzki SS, Justin Verlander SP, Felix hernandez SP
Player to Click: Carl Crawford OF

Luis Noia – Crimson Chin (9-10)
Overall Finish: 4th
Notable Players: Ian Kinsler 2B, David Ortiz DH, Jered Weaver SP
Player to Click: David Price SP

Mike Doddy – THE BOSS (8-11)
Overall Finish: 2nd
Notable Players: Prince Fielder 1B, Brandon Phillips 2B, Carlos Gonzalez OF
Player to Click: Tim Hudson SP

Matt Cummings – I Am Grimace (6-13)
Overall Finish: 8th
Notable Players: Dan Uggla 2B, Lance Berkman OF, Justin Upton OF
Player to Click: Michael Young

So, my final standing predictions go like this:

1st Place – Kevin’s Highlights
2nd Place – THE BOSS
3rd Place – REDSOX NATION
4th Place – Crimson Chin
5th Place – Clarkstown Stars
6th Place – VT HOKIE HAVEN VT
7th Place – Old Glorifiers
8th Place – I Am Grimace

PS, MATT, I BETTER BE GETTING SOME COOKIES WHEN IT’S ALL SAID AND DONE.

The Once Great Migration

I never really realized it until recently, but have you ever noticed how as players get older and stop producing at “elite” levels, they move out West.  Whether the player gets injured or just gets old, they do, in fact move.  I’ll give you some examples of that in a bit.  All I’m saying is that the East has the better players than the west.  The AL and NL East have the best teams; the AL and NL West have the worst teams; and the AL and NL Central are somewhere in the middle.

Obviously, there are some exceptions to the rule.  The East has some pretty pathetic teams.  Most notably, the lowly New York Mets, and the ‘wrong place, wrong time’ Baltimore Orioles.  The San Francisco Giants, the reigning WS champs, and the ‘slug you to death’ Texas rangers are in the West.  Meanwhile the Central has the most diverse pool of teams.  The fact that are 11 teams, rather than ten or  nine, may lend to that fact.

The Central divisions of Major League Baseball are, like I said, the most diverse.  In the NL, there are some teams that make me scratch my head and others that make me rip out my hair.  The Cubbies, who haven’t won a World Series in OVER 100 YEARS, the Pirates, and the Astros, all make me scratch my head.  I was worried that the Astros might in fact break the Mets’ record 40-120 season.  Thank god that prestigious honor still belongs to New York.  The other half of theleague, being currently, the Brewers, Reds, and Cardinals, all knwo how to play baseball.  The AL Central is in a constant state of flux with the royals 5th, Tigers in 1st, Whitesox, Indians, and Twins somewhere in the middle.

NOW, enough with the teams, let’s get to the players.  I find it to be remarkable how older players just move out there.  Some players start in the West, get good, and move East, then move back.  It’s funny.  I’m going to try and give you a full team of examples, so here goes.  These players don’t have to still be playing, just fit my description.

Catcher:  Mike Piazza, Todd Hundley
First Base:  Jason Giambi, Mike Sweeney
Second Base:  Aaron Hill, Kelly Johnson
Third Base:  Robin Ventura, Jorge Cantu
Shortstop:  Miguel Tejada, Nomar Garciaparra
Left Field:  Manny Ramirez, Hideki Matsui
Centerfield:  Andruw Jones, Vernon Wells
Right Field:  Carlos Beltran, Reggie Jackson

Starters:  Randy Johnson, Nolan Ryan, Greg Maddux, Scott Kazmir, David Wells
Relievers:  Francisco Rodriguez, Heath Bell  Mets Rejects both…..

Now, just before I go, I want to point out that the New York Mets recently put David Wright on waivers.  He was claimed by the Colorado Rockies.  David Wright would join the 3B list if a trade gets completed.  Being the die-hard Mets fan that I am, you might think, ‘WHY would he want David Wright to be traded?!’  I mean, the Mets trading Wright would be like the Yankees Trading Jeter, or the Giants trading Lincecum, or the Nationals trading Ryan Zimmerman!  Well, my reader friend, because if the Mets can get one of or both of the following prospects, I would do it: the Tulsa Drillers’ Drew Pomeranz and/or Alex White, also of the Drillers.  Here’s the deals I would do:

David Wright

Mets give:
David Wright           for               Drew Pomeranz and a PTBN

or

David Wright, Jefry Marte, PTBN             for                 Alex White, Tyler Matzek

The Mets need young pitchign and speed.  And I’m willing to pay David Wright for it.  If any deal goes down, though…  the Mets have sent David Wright on the “Once Great Migration.”

                               

2011 Preseason Haven Rankings

It’s almost here ! No not the NFL season or Baseball Playoffs , but the start of the 2011 NCAA Football 2011 season. This year on Sports Haven we will have a ranking system of our top 15 teams in the nation. These rankings will be updated every sunday once the season kicks off. Like all rankings The Haven Rankings will have a formula. We will base our rankings on a number of different aspects but here is our basic formula for finding our top 15 in the country.

Here’s our formula: 

Overall Record, Strength of Schedule, Point differential, and half of the USA Today and Coaches poll points factored together

This list will be competitive and tough to rank so if any of our readers think we’re completely wrong or completely agree with us just let us know by commenting or voting in our polls. 

Atop our poll at numero uno this year is a team that is in the top 5 every year but never quite gets there. There SOS (Strength of Schedule) is in the top 5 of teams on the list. They have maybe the best QB to WR combo in the country with a good defense to boot. The Preseason Number 1 team in the Haven Rankings in none other than Boomer Sooner; Oklahoma.

 

THE RANKINGS

  1. Oklahoma Sooners–   827 pts    SOS Grade : A-  (@FSU, A&M, MIZZOU & @ OK STATE)
  2. LSU Tigers–  798 pts   SOS Grade : A – (Oregon,@Alabama, Florida & Auburn)
  3. Oregon Ducks– 755 pts SOS Grade: (LSU,@Stanford, USC & @ Arizona)
  4. Alabama Crimson Tide– 707 pts SOS Grade: B (LSU, @ Florida ,@ Ole Miss & @Auburn)
  5. Stanford Cardinal–  695 pts SOS Grade: C+ (Oregon, @ USC, California & Notre Dame)
  6. Oklahoma State Cowboys 675 pts SOS Grade:B- (Oklahoma, @ A&M, @ Texas & @ Mizzou)
  7. Boise State Broncos– 665 pts SOS Grade:  C – (TCU, @ Georgia, Nevada & @ Fresno State)
  8. Wisconsin Badgers– 645 pts SOS Grade:  B (Nebraska,@Ohio State, Penn State & @ Michigan State
  9. Texas A&M Aggies– 640 pts SOS Grade :B+ (@ Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Mizzou & Texas  )
  10. Florida State Seminoles– 635 pts SOS Grade: B-  (Oklahoma,@ Florida, @Clemson & Miami )
  11. South Carolina Gamecocks– 630 pts SOS Grade: B – (Florida, @ Arkansas, @ Georgia & Auburn
  12. Arkansas Razorbacks-629 pts  SOS Grade: B+ (@ LSU, @ Alabama, A&M , & South Carolina
  13. Nebraska Cornhuskers– 623 pts SOS Grade: B + (@ Wisconsin, @ Ohio State, @ Michigan & @ Penn State)
  14. Virginia Tech Hokies– 608 pts SOS Grade: C (Miami, UNC,@ Georgia Tech & Clemson)
  15. TCU Hornedfrogs– 593 pts SOS Grade: D + (@ Boise State,BYU,@SDSU & SMU)

The Analysis

 Oklahoma was a pretty easy choice at the top but after that was not as easy to grade , rank and score. Number 2 came down to LSU and Oregon ; Two very different teams with insane coaches and tremendous expectations in 2011…Guess I’ll just have to wait for Labor Day weekend when the Ducks and Tigers square off on primetime. The 4 through 7 slots were easy to fit in Bama,Stanford,OK State and Boise, but A&M and Wisconsin were close in schedule and points for the 8th slot. I picked Wisconsin based on the teams returning players, (Particularly on the offensive side of the ball.). I had to put FSU in somewhere so 10 felt like a good place… Then South Carolina just beat Arkansas for the 11th spot in our poll.Nebraska has a tough 1st year schedule wise in the Big 10 with trips to “The Big House”, “Happy Valley” , “The Horseshoe” and to top it off a visit to Camp Randall in Madison,WI…After the Cornhuskers are the Hokies who have been plagued with injuries in camp but still have a solid team intact from a season ago. And rounding out my top 15 preseason teams in TCU who is without a veteran QB and playing an AWFUL schedule that features only 1 Quality opponent (Boise).

Our  next poll will be on Monday: 9/5/11… we’ll address the 1st weekend of NCAA Football action and maybe have some shakeups atop the leaderboard.

Also in closing please take a moment and vote in our “Did We Get it Right ? ” Poll

 

HIS NAME IS DAN UGGLA!!!

AH!  The famous homerun call by the Marlins announcers for any time Mr. Dan Uggla hits a homerun
 
Generally, when I think of Dan Uggla, I think of a guy who will absolutely slug you to death.  A 90-30-100 guy who is going to hit around .250.  This season up to about a month ago, was not the same.  The power numbers were still there, but he was hitting about .170.  Which is below that good ol’ Mendoza Line.

However something magical is happening now.  He is on something of a tear.  He is hitting in the middle of a 32 game hitting streak.  Over this hitting streak, he is looking a lot more like the Yankee Clipper!  Joltin’ Joe Dimaggio and his 56 game hitting streak appears to be a record that will stand for the foreseeable future.  I’m not gonna say anything about Mr. Uggla, but I will say that I am enjoying seeing him in such good company.

Moving on to some big names on the DL, such as Alex Rodriguez, Hanley Ramirez, and my guy, Stephen Strasburg!

Strasburg made his second rehab start on Friday, going 3.0 innings, striking out 5 and walking 0.  While I don’t why the Nationals organization is doing this, I’m certainly in favor of it.  I love seeing this guy Pitch.  He just had Tommy John Surgery and he comes back throwing 99 mph.  Another reason I’m so excited about his return, is that in Mr. Matt’s fantasy league, Matt Deblasio, Matt’s cousin, was about to pick him up, but he said he would do it after he went to his baseball game.  Meanwhile, in the Nation Moze, I decided to add him approximately when Matt got to the field.  He came home to look for him on the waiver wire, and POOF!  He was gone and on my DL!!

Steven Strasburg

 
 Alex Rodriguez made his first rehab start the other day.  In his first AB, he smashed a homer to left.  This is good news for the Yankees, getting back their star third baseman.  However, it’s not going to help out in the long run.  The AL East title as well as the American League Pennant is firmly in the hands of the BOSTON REDSOX!

As I sit here, watching the fine programming on MLB Network, I think about just how AWFUL the New York Mets are.  I see former Yankee REJECT, Ian Kennedy, pitching seven strong innings of 1 run baseball against them.  I can NOT stand being a Mets fan…

Mr. Met

With that I leave you fellow baseball nuts!  Remember, always believe and enjoy in the magic of “It aint over till it’s over”

And to close, Imagine a single player winning all three major awards of the 2011 season.With no SP standing out in the NL, a possible candidate for the RoY, Cy Young, and if his team wins the WS, possibly the MVP, Mr. Craig Kimbrel!!!!

Craig Kimbrel

randy moss

Randy moss one of the greatest wide receivers of all time announced his retirement several days ago.  now the question is will he come back or does he mean that he is done for good?

Great players in all sports have a tendency to make comebacks after they have retired two of the most famous are Brett Favre we all know how that story goes. Also, Michael Jordan who retired the first time to play baseball then came back with the bulls then retired again then came back with the wizards.

But getting back to Randy Moss he has done some ridiculous things in his career such as screaming at his coaches and teammates mooning the fans at lambeau field or squirting water on a referee.  it would not surprise me if he did come back for a year or two, and it would also not surprise me if he has a great season if he comes back.

Look Its a Full Moon !!

Randy has had one of the best careers as a wide receiver ever.  he is second in touchdown catches only to Jerry Rice I mean a guy with 954 receptions  14858 career yards 15.6 yards per reception and 153 career TD catches.  despite his shenanigans he is a great player and i hope he comes back and does great. 

Either way best of luck to Randy Moss !