Joe Pa out, Cardinal vs Ducks and Logan Thomas is the BIG man on Campus

There is so much to talk about in the college football universe. Between the firing of the legendary Joe Paterno to this weeks monster matchup in the PAC 12 this week, 4 Stanford vs 7 Oregon and even the Hokies win on Thursday night and the career nights of RB David Wilson and QB Logan Thomas. We’ll start with the hot button topic of Joe Pa’s exit at Penn State.

Paterno and Sandusky

For 46 years Joe Paterno has not only been the face of Penn State football but also one of the great figureheads in college football. He is up there with Bear Bryant ,Bobby Bowden, and Woody Hayes on the Mount Rushmore of College Football coaches. He has 409 wins overall as head coach and has built  a  prestigious program out of nothing. But it has all been overshadowed by one bad decision that he made or one that he didn’t make when he knew of longtime assistant coach and defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky’s behaviors and horrific actions with little boys no older than 10 years of age. I won’t go into detail with the story because it seems to be changing every minute and it is also known by everyone. But the real question with the whole mess lies with the board of trustees’ (Who were appointed by Paterno) decision to relieve Joe Pa of his duties is justified. There are two ways to look at it… He did do the right thing according top the law by reporting it to his superior but morally he failed miserably and is now paying the price for it, granted that Paterno was close to retirement anyways being 84 years old and having to coach from the press box over looking the field of play. This incident will have an impact on the athletics of Penn State and the university as a whole this whole event deeply saddens everyone. My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of this horrific event.

On a happier not we now move to the monster game tonight in the PAC 12 between the only 2 teams of relevance in the conference, the Stanford Cardinal and the Oregon Ducks. These two teams are complete opposites of each other in the way they play the game, the types of players that they recruit and in their mentalities. The Ducks are a fast paced team that runs the spread offense. Everything from their erratic style to their endless number of uniform combinations makes them an exciting team to watch especially with QB Darron Thomas and RB LaMichael James in the backfield. The team in the opposite side , Stanford is based on power and traditional football. The star power of QB Andrew Luck (who will be a future 1st overall selection in the NFL draft either this year or next) and the use of big physical TE ‘s  like Coby Fleener who measures up at 6’6 244lbs has 8 TD’s this season. This game will be close (tonight on ABC @  8pm eastern time) but like Lee Corso I think that Stanford’s experience and leadership will payoff and get them a home victory over the Ducks.

Fear the Tree

 

And now for the Hokie topic of the post… Coming into the season people of Hokie natoin didn’t know what to expect from 1st year starting QB Logan Thomas. Would he live up to his 5 star recruit hype ? or would he be a total bust and be forced back to a TE or WR role ? The answer has been yes to the 1st statement has Thomas has passed all tests (with the exception of Clemson) with flying colors. throwing for over 2000 yards and having a QB rating of 140.3 Thomas is showing why I made suck a big deal about him back when I used to do “Hokie Updates” in 2008 (https://mattburrill.wordpress.com/2008/11/09/hokie-update/). Lets look at Thomas from a defense players perspective. He stands at 6’6 weighs 260 lbs and runs a 4.6 40 ?!?! Impossible is usually the explanation when these stats or attributes get put together but not for Thomas who is only in his Sophomore year giving him up to 2 more years as a Hokie! His size and speed has made him a running threat an automatic go to guy in 3rd or 4th and short situations. To back it up Logan has rushed for 335 yards (3.4 yard average) and scored 8 times by using his legs this season .The other reason for Thomas’ success is the other guys around especially RB David Wilson who like Thomas had a career night in Atlanta.  Wilson who got virtually no carries a season ago splitting time with now NFL players Ryan Williams and Darren Evans has shown that he belongs here. Rushing for 1360 yards so far (175 on Thursday). David Wilson is getting some Heisman Trophy looks as maybe a 3rd or 4th candidate, his chances will depend on the Hokies success moving into critical matchups with ACC opponents UNC and UVA to end the season. The Hokies will next play on Thursday Night Football this week on ESPN @ 8 pm in the Hell Hole they call Lane Stadium.

I have found highlights of Tech’s Triumph over the Yellow Jackets courtesy of thePhreakofVT on youtube… enjoy !

 

 

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.  
 

Performance Enhancers

The phrase performance enhancer means various things to different people.  Some people believe it to be anything that makes you perform better than your highest level and others just think of it or them to be anabolic steroids or human growth hormone otherwise known as HGH .

I bring this up because many of the people who hold great names in sports are accused of using performance enhancers such as Barry Bonds.

Now lets analyze this a little bit… If steroids are outlawed shouldn’t other things that make you perform better be outlawed?  For example golf is a game that relies a lot on depth perception and golfers such as tiger woods have received laser surgery on their eyes to improve depth perception therefore making them play better.  doesn’t this do the same thing as steroids improving how they play the game.

Not taking anything away from Tiger or giving anything to Bonds but didn’t they really just both want to play better and they improved their games? Its just Tiger’s way was legal and Barry’s wasn’t.

Tiger after lasik did this…

  • Wins his next five PGA tournaments after undergoing laser eye surgery
  • Wins five straight golf tournaments after Lasik and for $2 million endorses the center that performed his laser eye treatment.
  • Wins seven of his next 10 golf tournaments after Lasik.  Tiger Woods went into his LASIK surgery on a losing streak and he came out and then won seven of his next 10 tournaments

I would say his game got better

Here are bonds stats his power increased so much that teams didn’t want to pitch to him…

Year ▴ Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB GDP HBP SH SF IBB Pos Awards
1985 20 PIT-min A 71 296 254 49 76 16 4 13 37 15 3 37 52 .299 .383 .547 .930   139   0 1 4 0 PRW · CARL
1986 21 PIT NL 113 484 413 72 92 26 3 16 48 36 7 65 102 .223 .330 .416 .746 103 172 4 2 2 2 2 *8 RoY-6
1986 21 PIT-min AAA 44 186 148 30 46 7 2 7 37 16 5 33 31 .311 .435 .527 .963   78   2 0 3 0 HAW · PCL
1987 22 PIT NL 150 611 551 99 144 34 9 25 59 32 10 54 88 .261 .329 .492 .821 114 271 4 3 0 3 3 *78/9  
1988 23 PIT NL 144 614 538 97 152 30 5 24 58 17 11 72 82 .283 .368 .491 .859 148 264 3 2 0 2 14 *7/8  
1989 24 PIT NL 159 679 580 96 144 34 6 19 58 32 10 93 93 .248 .351 .426 .777 126 247 9 1 1 4 22 *7  
1990 25 PIT NL 151 621 519 104 156 32 3 33 114 52 13 93 83 .301 .406 .565 .970 170 293 8 3 0 6 15 *7/8 AS,MVP-1,GG,SS
1991 26 PIT NL 153 634 510 95 149 28 5 25 116 43 13 107 73 .292 .410 .514 .924 160 262 8 4 0 13 25 *7/8 MVP-2,GG,SS
1992 27 PIT NL 140 612 473 109 147 36 5 34 103 39 8 127 69 .311 .456 .624 1.080 205 295 9 5 0 7 32 *7 AS,MVP-1,GG,SS
1993 28 SFG NL 159 674 539 129 181 38 4 46 123 29 12 126 79 .336 .458 .677 1.136 204 365 11 2 0 7 43 *7 AS,MVP-1,GG,SS
1994 29 SFG NL 112 474 391 89 122 18 1 37 81 29 9 74 43 .312 .426 .647 1.073 183 253 3 6 0 3 18 *7 AS,MVP-4,GG,SS
1995 30 SFG NL 144 635 506 109 149 30 7 33 104 31 10 120 83 .294 .431 .577 1.009 168 292 12 5 0 4 22 *7 AS,MVP-12
1996 31 SFG NL 158 675 517 122 159 27 3 42 129 40 7 151 76 .308 .461 .615 1.076 188 318 11 1 0 6 30 *7/8 AS,MVP-5,GG,SS
1997 32 SFG NL 159 690 532 123 155 26 5 40 101 37 8 145 87 .291 .446 .585 1.031 170 311 13 8 0 5 34 *7 AS,MVP-5,GG,SS
1998 33 SFG NL 156 697 552 120 167 44 7 37 122 28 12 130 92 .303 .438 .609 1.047 178 336 15 8 1 6 29 *7 AS,MVP-8,GG
1999 34 SFG NL 102 434 355 91 93 20 2 34 83 15 2 73 62 .262 .389 .617 1.006 155 219 6 3 0 3 9 7/D MVP-24
2000 35 SFG NL 143 607 480 129 147 28 4 49 106 11 3 117 77 .306 .440 .688 1.127 188 330 6 3 0 7 22 *7 AS,MVP-2,SS
2001 36 SFG NL 153 664 476 129 156 32 2 73 137 13 3 177 93 .328 .515 .863 1.379 259 411 5 9 0 2 35 *7/D AS,MVP-1,SS
2002 37 SFG NL 143 612 403 117 149 31 2 46 110 9 2 198 47 .370 .582 .799 1.381 268 322 4 9 0 2 68 *7/D AS,MVP-1,SS
2003 38 SFG NL 130 550 390 111 133 22 1 45 90 7 0 148 58 .341 .529 .749 1.278 231 292 7 10 0 2 61 *7/D AS,MVP-1,SS
2004 39 SFG NL 147 617 373 129 135 27 3 45 101 6 1 232 41 .362 .609 .812 1.422 263 303 5 9 0 3 120 *7/D AS,MVP-1,SS
2005 40 SFG NL 14 52 42 8 12 1 0 5 10 0 0 9 6 .286 .404 .667 1.071 174 28 0 0 0 1 3 7  
2006 41 SFG NL 130 493 367 74 99 23 0 26 77 3 0 115 51 .270 .454 .545 .999 156 200 9 10 0 1 38 *7/D  
2007 42 SFG NL 126 477 340 75 94 14 0 28 66 5 0 132

 

You decide for yourself should all performance enhancers be outlawed or are some ok and some not ?

The Beauty of Minor League Baseball

The game of baseball has always been a way of bringing people together and giving them something to watch and enjoy. For years fans could go with their families and get some peanuts and cracker jacks and maybe even a program for the hardcore fan. At one point in time believe it or not you could get 5 tickets, food , drinks and souvenirs for a family of 5 at a price under $50. Now a days that kind of bargain is unheard of. Now try $200 to $300 for just the tickets and food and thats not even putting the price of parking into the equation.

Family at the Ballpark

Here is a little question for you to answer. Where can you go to a fantastic ball park , watch a great game with great fans for an affordable price ? The answer my friends in Minor League Baseball ! In my area , Rockland County NY everyone loves the game of baseball and goes to games frequently. Which is why an independent league team , The Rockland Boulders, have come to this baseball crazed area .Tonight (July 2nd , 2011) I went to my second Boulders game.

 I went with my boy Moze Nation and some other guys to watch the Boulders host the Newark Bears. We started the game along the 3rd base side of Provident Bank Ballpark but soon realized that we had to sit with the real fans in the best section of any ballpark!…. The Bleachers! We worked our way out there stopping for some hotdogs, sodas and some other ballpark favorites but once we got there we soon realized why Minor League baseball is so great. We were the only people in the section ! A whole section for 4 guys who are looking to kickoff their summer in an amazing fashion! We started chanting and banging and just flat-out having fun. Soon 4 more boys came over and joined us, followed by more people. By the 7th inning we had at least 30 people(including the usher) chanting and screaming for the Boulders players. We also got to know the outfielders quiet well (RF , Tommy Giles and CF, Sean Smith) getting them to dance and answer questions and even sign a few autographs.  We even did a rendition of the infamous “Rollcall” performed by the best baseball fans in history, The Bleacher Creatures ! (Only difference was that we referred to ourselves as the “Rockland Rockers”). As we chanted the players names 1 by 1 going around the field they all smiled and were very appreciative of the audience and attention that they were getting , despite making a fraction of what the pros are making.

Provident Bank Ballpark

Which is another HUGE reason that Minor League is so much more entertaining than Major League baseball. If we had done what we were doing in Provident Bank Ballpark at any big league stadium we would’ve been thrown out within 20 minutes of us entering. Not because we were swearing (Which we were not) but because we were interacting with the players and being slightly disruptive. At least 80% of major league players are jerks; It is a proven fact ! With these minor league guys who aren’t earning as much in salary , endorsements, or bonuses they are purely there to entertain and most of all have fun playing America’s pastime. 

Well there is my opinion ! Now I wanna hear yours ! By voting in our poll on which is more entertaining ? MLB or Minor League ?I am also interested in your comments or thoughts on the institution of Minor League Baseball!