Sunday, December 30, 2012

Bowl games that should be eliminated

-- by @Josh_Suchon

There’s too many bowl games. We know that. We’ve known that for a long time.

Thirty years ago, in 1982, the NCAA sanctioned 16 bowl games.

In 2012, the NCAA sanctioned 35 bowl games.

There’s 124 total Division I football teams. That means 56 percent of college football teams made a bowl game.

In order to be eligible, you must win six games. It doesn’t matter who those six wins come against. It used to be, you needed six wins against Division I opponents (ie. not against Division I-AA or Division II). These days, all that matters is you schedule a university that puts a bunch of dudes in uniforms, and it counts toward becoming bowl eligible.

So which bowls should go?

Let’s start with the obvious bowls that should stay: the BCS Championship, the Rose Bowl, the Orange Bowl, the Fiesta Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, the Cotton Bowl, the Outback Bowl (in Tampa), the Capital One Bowl (in Orlando), the Gator Bowl, the Chick-Fil-A Bowl (in Atlanta), the Alamo Bowl, and the Holiday Bowl.

That’s 12 bowls that I think everybody would agree should remain. All those bowls have at least one Top 25 ranked team, and most have two.

That gives us 23 remaining bowls. Let’s start knocking down some bowls:

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Does winning a bowl game create momentum?

-- by @Josh_Suchon

Does a win in a college football bowl game build momentum toward the next year?

That’s something EPSN analyst Jesse Palmer said during the Pinstripe Bowl between Syracuse and West Virginia. My first thought was that’s a bunch of nonsense. I thought it was one of those statements that analysts make because it sounds good. Or it’s something that coaches say to motivate their players, and the analyst just regurgitates it.

This isn’t a knock on Palmer. I actually like him a lot and can understand why he’d make that comment. It was midway through the fourth quarter. The game was played in a blizzard at Yankee Stadium. Syracuse was leading West Virginia 38-14. The game is over. You’re just killing time. It’s one of those things that you say because there’s nothing else to say to keep interest in a blowout.

But is it true?

With nothing else better to do, I looked it up.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Why I'm glad I'm not voting for the Baseball Hall of Fame

-- by @Josh_Suchon

When I left the newspaper business in 2007 to pursue my play-by-play dreams, my biggest regret was losing a Hall of Fame vote. At the time, I’d spent seven years as a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America. In three more years, I’d be eligible to vote for the Hall of Fame forever.

If I was one year away, I’d have probably delayed my career switch. Two years would be a tougher decision. Three years wasn’t that tough. No way was I spending three more years in the print journalism world.

Five years later, in what would be my second year as a Hall of Famer voter, I’ve never been happier to not vote. In fact, I think TJ Quinn has the right idea about giving up his vote.

The first reason is the performance-enhancing drug conundrum.

The second reason is the decision has such a massive financial impact on the player.

The third reason is joining a group of people who shouldn’t be making the decision.

I’ll go into more detail on each reason shortly. But first, let it be known that I once viewed voting for the Hall of Fame as the greatest honor for a baseball writer.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Aztecs and Gauchos – Not Rivals, but Kindred Spirits


- by Matt Hurst

I’d like to think that my co-author on this site and I were destined to become friends, regardless of how we met. Major League Baseball may have brought us together, but without even knowing it, we were already brothers in a way.

At least that’s how I feel about anyone from my sister school.

Josh Suchon went to San Diego State. I went to UC Santa Barbara.

Despite our teams sometimes matching up – and even more next year once SDSU joins the Big West in everything but football – the Aztecs and Gauchos are not rivals. We really are both kindred spirits.

Both cities are tourist flocking spots and are each buoyed by the beauty of the beach. San Diego and Santa Barbara each have a mix of the extremely rich, people trying to make it so they can live in the city and college students.

And, let’s be honest, both schools have the reputation as being a party school. And there is nothing that Josh or I did in our four years at each that made those reputations deteriorate. What you called a wild party, we called Wednesday.

Both schools have good fan bases – SDSU in men’s hoops and UCSB in men’s soccer – that give a huge home advantage and each has a large alumni network proud that they were all able to earn a degree despite perfecting keg stands rather than perfecting statistical problems during their experience. 

Aztecs and Gauchos each brag about how much liquor they can consume and debate whether the blondes at SDSU or the blondes at UCSB are hotter. But, really, how do you compare 9’s and 9’s all the time? 

But, rivals? No.

Rivals have something that happened in the past that created a boiling point or there is jealousy or some sort of bragging rights on the line. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Marcus Allen vs. Al Davis -- explained, and never explained

--by @Josh_Suchon

Marcus Allen was the subject of NFL Networks’ most recent “A Football Life” this week, which brought the bizarre feud between Allen and Al Davis back to the limelight. I’ve always been fascinated, amazed, appalled, and incredibly curious how Allen got so deep in Davis’ doghouse.

“I never quite understood what made things go bad,” Allen says, in the documentary.

Whatever the story, Al Davis took it to his grave.

After watching the film, pouring through old archives, and consulting the raw data, here’s my impression of what happened: Davis hated that Allen was a training camp holdout four of five years, Davis signed other players because he thought Allen had become injury-prone and not as productive, and Davis thought Allen was hiding from competition.

However, there must be more to the story than that. If that was the full story, why would Davis not just say it? Even for the notoriously private Davis, who rarely talked to the press, what’s the harm in that explanation?

There’s always been wild speculation about something off the field. Davis fueled that speculation with a cryptic comment in the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary, “Straight Outta LA,” on how the Raiders were embraced by gangsta rappers in the 1980s.

Filmmaker Ice Cube conducted what’s believed to be the final interview before Davis’ death. Their exchange over Marcus Allen went like this: 

Ice Cube: “Did you think he was a true Raider?”

Al Davis: “At one time, he was. Yeah, he was.”

Ice Cube: “What happened with him?”

Al Davis: “I’m not going to tell you. It’s a deeper story than you even dream, that I was well aware of. I just have a certain approach to life.”

Even the fearless Ice Cube didn’t press Davis further. Who knows the real answer? Only a handful of people. Former head coach Tom Flores is one of them.

Now the Raiders radio analyst, Flores joined his play-by-play partner Greg Papa this week for an interview on 95.7 FM The Game in San Francisco

When asked about the sour relationship, Flores said, “The only issue that happened with Marcus, when I was there, is (Allen) held out one year. Al didn’t like people who held out. He did not like that. Having said that, I also remember once, when I was already gone. We were talking about the team and (Davis) said, ‘this is a good team. You would like this team. But we need to get Marcus in here.’ That’s what he said.”

Flores paused, then continued. “I know what the rift was over. It had nothing to do with his football playing. That’s as far as I’m going to go.” Flores laughed nervously, and the hosts didn’t press him further.

Even from his grave, Davis wields remarkable power to keep his most loyal employees silent.