Saturday, September 16, 2017

College Football Weekly Rant - Week 3

COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEKLY RANT

The non-conference slate was fun, but here comes the conference play.  Sure, there are still some decent non-conference games to be played in the 2017 college football season, including this week, but Week 3 we begin to see some better conference games, with fewer high profile non-conference games on the schedule. 

With conference play coming full force in the final weeks of the month, Week 3 sees a lot more of those “buy” games on the slate to let teams get healthy.   The top payout this week is for Georgia State, who is being paid $1.2M to get blasted by Penn State under the lights of Beaver Stadium (but Penn State doesn’t have room for Pitt on their schedule annually…).

Some good conference games highlight the Week 3 schedule with Clemson @ Louisville being the premier game of the week.  The ACC was set up to grab all the eyes this weekend, but Hurricane Irma forced Miami and Florida State to move their annual showdown that was scheduled Saturday in Miami.  Tennessee and Florida re-new their rivalry in Gainesville as well this week.  Another conference game I am looking forward to on Saturday night is one flying under the radar in my mind.  LSU and their new look offense going to Starkville to take on the high-powered Mississippi State offense.

The non-conference schedule isn’t completely barren this week, but just not as good as the first two weeks of the season.  There are still a bunch of Power 5 match-ups this Saturday.  The biggest of those, name wise is Texas traveling to Southern Cal to take on the Trojans in a rematch of the epic 2005 National Championship game.  USC looks like they might contend for a title this year, but unfortunately Texas is not holding up their end of the deal for this re-match, as they are not close to that level.  There are a few other games this weekend that I am sure will peak the interest of the local fanbases, but nothing like what we saw last week, with 3 fantastic primetime non-conference games.

WHAT I LEARNED IN WEEK TWO

*Bob Stoops Left Oklahoma in Good Hands.  It helps to inherit a quarterback like Baker Mayfield when you are a young, first time head coach like Lincoln Riley, but he deserves some credit too.  He took an Oklahoma team that lost tons of playmakers last season, into a hostile environment and won at #2 Ohio State.  There is obviously more to being a head coach than just being on the sidelines in the fall.  We will see how Riley does in recruiting and what happens when he suffers his first loss, but through 2 weeks he has certainly passed every test with flying colors.

*Baker Mayfield Is Everything You Want In a College QB.  This kids just oozes confidence.  He went out and had a career game in an historic venue against a perennial power, then to top it off, he plants the OU flag in the 50-yard line of the Horseshoe.  Michigan fans are so envious.  The only thing Mayfield did wrong was apologize for his acts the next day.   Football teams need badass leaders that give zero F’s, Mayfield is just that, even if he had to go out later and be PC and apologize.  He plays with passion and fire and it showed on the field during and after the game in Columbus.  By the way, that win improved Mayfield to 10-0 on the road as a starter, pretty good!

*Is It Time For Buckeye Fans To Panic?  To be fair, Ohio state has been ravaged by the NFL Draft recently, specifically their secondary, but they also recruit at a VERY high level.  The Buckeyes have now let up 420 yards through the air in back-to-back games and rank dead last in the nation in pass defense.  Things do get easier this week as Army comes to town.  Army is 2-0, but has only completed 2 passes in those 2 wins, totaling 17 yards.  Luckily for Ohio State, they won’t face another formidable passing attack until October 28th, when Trace McSorely and the Penn State Nittany Lions looks to make it two straight against the Buckeyes.

*Clemson Has The Defense To Defend Their Title.  Can we please stop declaring Auburn and their offense a flop this season?  Jarrett Stidham is a very good young QB, made to play in Gus Malhazn’s offense.  They just so happened to play against likely the best defense in the country in Week 2.  Auburn will be fine, but more importantly, Clemson is truly legit.  The Tigers have the best D-line in the nation, which makes this week’s match-up on the road against the reigning Heisman Trophy winner even more intriguing.  If Clemson can leave Louisville with a win Saturday night however, it would put the Tigers in the driver’s seat in the ACC, with an eye on heading back to the College Football Playoff.

*Penn State Is Not Currently Worthy of Their #4 Ranking.  Don’t get me wrong, the Nittany Lions are a very talented team and they did not get their groove last year until mid-October, but I was not impressed with their performance Saturday against Pitt.  Penn State has superior talent at nearly every position in that match-up, yet Pitt dominated the play for long stretches of the game.  I still fully expect Penn State to make a run to repeat as Big Ten Champs, but they will need to improve big time for that to happen.

*USC Will Win This Year Behind Ronald Jones, NOT Sam Darnold.  I still think Darnold might be the best NFL prospect in college football this year, but I also think that he lost too much at the WR position to duplicate his incredible 2016 season.  Something the Trojans didn’t lose however is Ronald Jones and his offensive line.  In two games this season, Jones has run for 275 and 5 scores on 41 carries.  USC also has freshman Stephen Carr to spell Jones.  Carr has run for 188 and 2 scores as a back-up.  Darnold has been good in the 2 USC wins as well, but not spectacular.  The difference is that this year he doesn’t need to be spectacular for the Trojans to win, he needs to rely on his running game.


WHAT I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO IN WEEK THREE

*Show Me Games.  There are a few teams out there, that have lofty rankings, but they haven’t proved themselves on the field yet.  #9 Oklahoma State played Tulsa and South Alabama their first two games of the season.  A road trip to Pittsburgh, might not seem like much, but it will be by far the Cowboys toughest test to this point, before beginning Big XII play next week.  #12 LSU has played BYU in New Orleans and Chattanooga, this week they start SEC play at night on the road.  Mississippi State and QB Nick Fitzgerald could create problems for LSU, if that happens can the LSU offense keep pace with the Bulldogs?  #18 Kansas State is another team that I want to believe in to compete in the Big XII, but I just don’t know yet.  Vanderbilt won’t beat the stiffest of test, but they will be vastly better than anyone the Wildcats have beat up on so far to this point.

*Heisman vs Defending Champ.  Lamar Jackson is playing like he did last year at this time when he jumped out to such a big Heisman lead, that nobody could catch him, despite he and the Cardinals struggling down the stretch.  This week he faces off against the defending National Champs, that beat him last year with a defensive stop inside the 10 yard line in the final minutes of play.  The Clemson defense in even better this year, but by the looks of it Jackson might be too.  To top it off, thanks to the Deondre Francois injury at Florida State, the winner not only gets bragging rights in this game, but also an inside track at the ACC Atlantic Title.

*Bounce Back Games.  With all the big games last weeks, we had lots of ranked teams lose.  This week will give us a chance to see how they respond to their 1st loss of the season.  Notre Dame lost at home to Georgia last week, Saturday they go to Boston College.  The Eagles aren’t a great team, but always play ND tough.  The defense will challenge an O-line that struggled last week.  Could this be a make or break game for Brian Kelly?  Stanford gave up over 300 yards on the ground last week in their loss to USC.  This week they go to San Diego State, to face the Aztec and running back Rashaad Penny, who leads the nation in yards per game.

A GAMBLING EYE
*Iowa State (-10.5, O/U 63) @ Akron – Matt Campbell has the Cyclones offense rolling in year 2.  I am not worried about them scoring points, they have scored 83 points in their 1st 2 games.  Akron gave up 52 to the only FBS opponent they have seen this year. 
*UCLA (-3.5, O/U 73) @ Memphis – UCLA is travelling across the country to play a 9AM game on their body clocks.  Memphis is a team that can score too.  The Tigers will play physical and try to pound the ball.  They ran for 319 yards in their only game this season.  UCLA has allowed an average of 331.5 yards on the ground this season.  Josh Rosen and the Bruin offense should be able to move the ball, it will be interesting to see how sharp they are with such an early start time.
*Baylor (+14.5, O/U 59) @ Duke – Baylor has been dreadful this season, losing to FCS Liberty in Week 1, then to only scoring 10 in a loss to UTSA last week.  The Bears step up in competition, taking on their first Power 5 opponent of the year.  The Blue Devils in turn will be playing their 2nd straight P5 opponent.  The Blue Devils have been one of the surprises in the ACC through 2 weeks. QB Daniel Jones has taken strides from last year and Duke has scored 101 points in two games this year, including 41 on a veteran Northwestern team.
*Tennessee (+4.5, O/U 49) @ Florida – The Gators have only played 1 game this season and it was awful against Michigan.  They have spent the last week trying to recover from Hurricane Irma.  It is tough to say if the Gators will come on playing for the city and state, or come out exhausted and distracted.  Tennessee at least won their opener against a P5 school (Georgia Tech), but the defensive issues that hurt the Vols towards the end of last year, have shown up again this year through 2 weeks.
*LSU (-7.5, O/U 53) @ Mississippi State – This number is interesting to me.  LSU seems like the better team, but for a team like LSU who has struggled to score over the years to be giving more than a touchdown to a team that has had an explosive offense seems odd.  That extra half a point could be the factor in this game.
*Kansas State (-4, O/U 50) @ Vanderbilt – Kansas State is ranked 18th in the country.  Vanderbilt is, well Vanderbilt.  This is another game that seems like the experts know something I don’t.

PLAYOFF PICKS
It is never too early to start projecting the playoff.
1. Alabama – Who in the SEC is going to beat them this year?
2. Oklahoma State – I’m looking forward to seeing the Cowboys in person Saturday.  Despite the Sooners performance last week, I still believe Ok State is the best team in the Big XII.
3. Clemson – Defense wins championships.  Clemson has the best defense in the country.
4. USC – The Trojans still have question marks, but when you have a backfield of Darnold and Jones it makes life much easier.
NEXT UP:
Oklahoma – They proved everything they needed to with their road win in Columbus, now they just need to avoid the bad loss that Bob Stoops teams were so accustomed to.
Michigan – This was supposed to be a re-build year for the Wolverine, but they haven’t missed a step.  Saturday worried me a bit, with them playing down to the level of their opponent.  Air Force comes to town this week in the final non-conference game.  Then Big Ten play begins and right now they are playing as good as any team in the conference.


That is all this week.  Make sure the refrigerator is stocked, the spare remote-control batteries are nearby and enjoy the games!

Friday, September 8, 2017

College Football Weekly Rant - Week 2

COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEKLY RANT

One week of the college football season in the books, and it did not disappoint.

Have I mentioned how much I love teams going out and challenging themselves in the non-conference?  In the Opening Week of the season we had neutral site games between Alabama and Florida State, Michigan and Florida, West Virginia and Virginia Tech as well as Tennessee and Georgia Tech.  We were also treated to Maryland at Texas and Texas A&M in the Rose Bowl against UCLA in other Power 5 match-ups to open the season.   The fun part about those games is that none of them disappointed.  Maybe the competitiveness of the games may not have been what everyone hoped for in some of them, but all of them helped us learn a little more about the teams involved and give us a better forecast of what we might be able to expect from them this season.

The big game last week was obviously #1 Alabama vs # Florida State.  The final score, 24-7, was not as telling as one would think.  Alabama dominated in one aspect of the game, Special Teams, and that was the difference.  Both defenses dominated for stretches, long stretches as a matter of fact.  Both offenses struggled to get the ball to their play makers in space.  As for Special Teams, Alabama blocked a punt and a FG, Florida State also fumbled a kickoff.  All 3 of those plays made a difference on the scoreboard.  The blocked FG just before the end of the 1st half, allowed the Crimson Tide to hold a 10-7 lead at the break.  The blocked punt in the 3rd quarter led to 3 more points for Alabama.  FSU then fumbled the ensuing kickoff, which Bama turned into 8 (touchdown + 2pt conversion) 1 play later.  Late in the game came the blow that most people are taking away from the game, when FSU QB Deondre Francois was sacked from behind injuring his knee.  After the game, it was discovered that Francois would be out the rest of the year with an MCL tear in that knee.

Not to kick a man when he is down, but I don’t see this as big of a loss as others appear to, simply because I have never been a huge fan of Francois.  This Florida State team was built around a fierce defense and a safe QB.  That can still be the recipe for the Noles success behind freshman QB James Blackman, who probably has a higher ceiling than Francois when you really break it down.  Getting reps in this week vs LA-Monroe would have been nice for Blackman, but that game has been cancelled due to Hurricane Irma.  Blackman will now get his 1st career start again rival Miami in Week 3. 

As for Alabama, they are good.  Shocking, I know!  However, I’ll stay off the hype train for at least a few weeks more.  The Alabama offense was very unimpressive against Florida State.  Yes, that could possibly be the best defense that Bama faces this year, but I still expected more growth from QB Jalen Hurts between his freshman and sophomore years.  Hurts completed just 10 passes in the game for 96 yards, 53 of which came on 1 play. 
Alabama’s five scoring drives looked like this:
9 plays, 44 yards = FG
5 plays, 85 yards = 53-yard TD pass
4 plays, -1 yard = FG
1 play, 11 yards = TD
6 plays, 16 yards = FG
Not all that impressive.  Alabama is good, but the offense needs to be much better if they want to be great.

WHAT ELSE I LEARNED IN WEEK ONE

*Michigan is in reload mode, not rebuild:  The Wolverine defense looked big and fast against the over-matched Gators.  The offense is still a work in progress, but with nearly 6 weeks before their next big challenge (at Penn State) the young team will have plenty of time to grow.
*Speaking of that Florida offense, it stinks:  The Gators had a 3-man QB race in camp and apparently still have no QB’s.  Could be another long season for the Jim McElwain and the Gators.
*The Big Ten East had a nice opening weekend:  Maryland was the surprise contributor there, with a 51-41 win over Texas, ruining the debut of new Longhorn Head Coach Tom Herman.  Rutgers didn’t look awful against Pac-12 North favorite Washington.  Indiana show signs of promise in their loss to Ohio State.  Michigan State and Penn State each won easily over their MAC opponents.
*Let's not hand the Heisman Trophy over to Sam Darnold just yet:  Darnold spent Week 1 doing his best impression of other recent USC QB after being thrown into the spotlight, Darnold opened the season throwing 2 INT’s and zero touchdowns in the Trojans win over Western Michigan. 
*West Virginia is going to score points this season:  They only scored 24 in their opening loss to Virginia Tech, but they put up over 600 yards of offense, which doesn’t happen every day against a Bud Foster led defense.  That point total is sure to go up once they get into conference play.
*Welcome to the spotlight Josh Jackson and TaQuon Marshall:  Jackson the freshman QB from Virginia Tech had 336 yards of offense in the game (235 and 1 TD passing, 101 and 1 TD running).  Marshall a junior QB for Georgia Tech accounted for 369 yards of offense including 249 and 5 touchdowns on the ground.  These two dynamic QB’s should make the wide-open ACC Coastal division even more interesting.
*UCLA is awful and Texas A&M is great:  In the 1st half of football games.
*Texas A&M is awful and UCLA is great:  In the 2nd half of football games.

WHAT I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO IN WEEK TWO

*More big non-conference games:  After the opening weekend games that I mentioned earlier, it doesn’t slow down this week.  We get even more Power 5 vs Power 5 games this week.  The Primetime Line-Up is outstanding, with 3 games featuring Top 25 matchups.  Auburn @ Clemson (7pm, ESPN), Oklahoma @ Ohio State (7:30, ABC), Georgia @ Notre Dame (7:30, NBC).  The afternoon slate isn’t as good, but still some fun games.  Pitt @ Penn State, Iowa @ Iowa State, Northwestern @ Duke (The Education Bowl), TCU @ Arkansas, Indiana @ Virginia, Nebraska @ Oregon.
*A big non-conference game too:  Although the ACC gets underway with Louisville @ UNC and Wake Forest @ Boston College, the conference opener sure to have everyone’s attention is Stanford @ USC.  Two of the favorites in the PAC-12 face off in Week 2.  Earlier enough in the season for the loser to rebound, but the winner immediately becomes the conference favorite.  USC struggled stopping the Western Michigan running attack last week.  Stanford wins with defense and running the ball. 
*Great late night watching this Saturday:  Not to single out just those late west coast starts, because there really are good games up and down the schedule this week starting at noon all the way through the final game (San Diego State @ Arizona State, 11pm kickoff), but I always enjoy getting my last fix of college football in with good games.  This week we get some off the radar good matchups.  After the primetime schedule that will test the batteries on your remote control, we have five outstanding late night games kicking off after 10pm EST.  Minnesota @ Oregon State (10pm FS1), The Holy War between BYU and Utah (10:15, ESPN2), Boise State @ Washington State (10:30, ESPN), Houston @ Arizona (10:30, ESPNU) and the aforementioned SDSU/ASU game which is on the PAC12 Network.

A GAMBLING EYE
*Cincinnati (+35) @ Michigan – This might seem crazy but, I don’t think 35 is enough points.  Cincinnati struggled offensively against Austin Peay in their opener, my guess is that Michigan will be slightly tougher than AP.  You also must consider the Asshole Factor involved when giving up this many point, and Jim Harbaugh scores through the roof in that category.  Harbaugh has never shied away from running up the score, and this one would be against long-time Ohio State assistant Luke Fickell in his 1st year at Cincinnati.
*Louisville (-10) @ North Carolina – Something seems off on this line.  North Carolina just lost to a putrid Cal team at home last week, now they are facing the reigning Heisman Trophy winner in Lamar Jackson who accounted for nearly 500 yards by himself last week.  On the scoreboard Louisville let Purdue hang around last week, but the Cardinals also fumbled twice inside the Purdue 2-yard line. Converting those two opportunities puts the game away early and could have turned that game into a rout.
*Buffalo (+16.5) @ Army – The last time that Army was this much of a favorite was in Germany 70+ years ago.  Army ran for over 500 yards last week against Fordham.  Yes, Buffalo is a step up in competition over Fordham, but it might not be as big of a step as you think.
*Indiana (-3) @ Virginia – I saw nothing from Virginia last week against William & Mary that lead me to believe that this game should be anything less than a touchdown spread in favor of Indiana.  The Hoosier hung with Ohio State for the 1st 40 minutes of their game with the Buckeyes, only to let a few big plays break the game open.  UVA doesn’t have the players that tOSU does.  Indiana should be able to score in bunches against the Cavaliers and I don’t think UVA has the fire power to do the same.
*Pitt (+21.5) @ Penn State – I can’t speak rationally about this game due to my obvious bias, I just think 21.5 is a lot of points in a game between rivals.
*Nebraska (+13.5) @ Oregon – Nebraska gave up nearly 500 yards of offense and was outgained by Arkansas State last week.  Good luck stopping Royce Freeman and the Ducks.  Freeman finally seems healthy after two straight years battling injuries.  When healthy he is up there with Barkley and Guice as one of the best RB’s in the nation.  He ran for 150 and 4 scores last week.  I think he has another big week again the Cornhuskers shaky defense.
*Georgia (+4) @ Notre Dame – Georgia is breaking in a new QB after their starter was injured in their Week 1 win over Ap State, but call me crazy, I’m just not buying into this version of Brian Kelly’s squad just yet.  I think ND showed some promise with their dominating win over Temple, especially how they ran the ball, but Georgia will certainly present a tougher challenge and their defense looked very good last week.
*Stanford (+6) @ USC – The Trojans struggled mightily stopping the rushing attack from Western Michigan last week, now they face a much stiffer test in that area in Stanford.  The Broncos ran for 263 on the ground at a 5.5 average.  Stanford ran for 287 in their opener against Rice, with Bryce Love accounting for 180 on just 13 carries.

PLAYOFF PICKS
It is never too early to start projecting the playoff.
1. Alabama – Still not sold on them as the best team in the country, but who on their schedule is going to knock them off?
2. Ohio State – This week will be the Buckeyes toughest test of the season.  Get past Oklahoma and just don’t stumble up in Big Ten play.
3. Oklahoma State – They have the best offense in the country.  If the defense isn’t awful they should reach the Big XII Championship game with 1 loss, if that.
4. Clemson – The Tigers benefit the most from the Francois injury.  They should be favored in every game they play this year now.  They did look good last week, but it was Kent State.  We will know much more about them around 11:30 Saturday night.
NEXT FOUR:
USC – I have my concerns with the Trojans, but that doesn’t discount their talent.  Saturday will be their 1st of many opportunities to make me a believer.
Stanford – I think I am higher on Stanford than most, but that is mainly due to their style of play and their coach.  They still have a question mark at QB, but Saturday should be a nice test for Keller Chryst as he continues to develop.
Oklahoma – Saturday will be Lincoln Riley’s 1st test as a head coach.  The Sooners can afford to lose in Columbus, if they can then run through the Big XII unbeaten.  That would have to include wins in Stillwater for Bedlam, as well as, possibly beating the Cowboys a 2nd time in a month in the return of the Big Ten Championship Game.
Wisconsin – Do I think Wisconsin is one of the best 8 teams in the country? NO.  Do I see them as having the make-up and more importantly the schedule to get them into the playoff conversation? YES.  The Badgers have a massive O-line, a stable of running backs and stingy defense, to go a long with a schedule that might be one of the easiest to navigate for a contender this year.  They miss Penn State and Ohio State.  They host Michigan, one week before the Wolverines biggest game of the season.

That is all this week.  Make sure the refrigerator is stocked, the spare remote control batteries are nearby and enjoy the games!


Friday, September 1, 2017

2017 College Football Season Preview

I have been too busy recently to post a College Football preview RANT, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have tons of thoughts, questions and predictions to make for the upcoming season.

Without further ado, my Cliff Notes version of a 2017 College Football Preview RANT.

Thursday was a fun kickoff to the College Football Season (last Saturday doesn’t count, that was the seasons Soft Open), but didn’t have any big games or surprises that you would hope for in the opening weekend.

Oklahoma State looked ridiculous on offense, as many expected.  At halftime, they averaged 12.5 yards per snap.  Mason Rudolph threw for 303 and 3 scores (also ran for 1), Justice Hill ran for 132 and a score and All-Everything James Washington had 6 catches for 145 and 2 scores.  And none of those players played a snap after the 1st series of the 2nd half.  The Ok State defense was just okay.  Tulsa kinda figured them out as the game went on and piled up over 430 yards of offense including 244 on the ground.  The Cowboys offense is as good as any in the country, but the defense needs to improve if they want to make their Preseason Top 10 ranking hold true.

Ohio State got a scare from Indiana in Bloomington.  Not often does Ohio State open on the road, but to play a conference game in Week 1, on a Thursday Night, might pretty cool to see from a power like Ohio State.  Indiana has big, physical WR’s that Ohio State’s young DB’s struggled matching up against.  The Buckeyes made some halftime adjustments and came out in the 2nd half, putting more pressure on the QB and playing a little zone behind the front 4.  That caused some issues for Indiana and gave the Buckeyes time to get their offense going.  It was certainly not a pretty performance by JT Barrett and the rest of the Buckeyes on the offensive side of the ball, but you could see the in-game adjustments that they were making and how they began to settle into the game after they figured out what was working.  The Buckeyes have a stiff test next week when they host Oklahoma, but after that they go over a month of playing absolute garbage teams, before travelling to Nebraska Oct. 14th.  The Buckeyes will be okay, trust me.

Other quick thoughts on Thursday Night…
We almost had a QB that threw 6 INT’s (Rhode Island) win a game, but Central Michigan survived a 3OT scare from the FCS team.

Cincinnati could be an absolute train wreck in year 1 of the Luke Fickell Era.  Yes, Tommy Tuberville left the cabinets pretty bare, but Austin Peay won almost every statistical category except score.  AP had more yards, more 1st down and dominated time of possession, but lost the turnover battle 2-0 and the game 26-14.  Let me remind you that the FCS Govenors have now lost 44 of their last 45.

Onto Saturday.

There are 6 games on Saturday matching up Power 5 conference teams.  Despite, that only a few really are all that interesting.

Maryland @ Texas – Sure it is Tom Herman’s 1st game at Texas, but Maryland is not a good football team.  Texas will win big and everyone will anoint him the next big thing (everyone that already hasn’t, that is).

Cal @ North Carolina – It’s always fun for those West Coast teams to travel across the country and have to play an early kickoff.  North Carolina lost a lot from last year, but this game still shouldn’t be close.

South Carolina vs NC State (in Charlotte) – I’m really intrigued by this game actually.  I think that SC will be much improved in year 2 of Will Muschamp, but I also want to see what all the hype surrounding NC State is about.  Please someone tell me what I am missing except that the Wolfpack have one elite defensive lineman and a pretty good D-Line as a group!  Someone told me earlier this week that they have a the 3rd best talent in the ACC and could be a darkhorse playoff team.  WHAT?!  Dave Doeren has done NOTHING at NC State in his 4 years there, yet somehow this team is expected to suddenly challenge Clemson and Florida State in the ACC Atlantic?  To tell you how much NOTHING Doeren has achieved at NC State, he is 25-26 (a losing record!!!) and 9-23 in ACC play, going under 500 in the league all 4 years.  The Doeren led Wolfpack are 3-23 in games vs Power 5 teams that finished the season with a winning record, and all 3 of those wins came LAST YEAR.  Those wins were against Wake Forest, UNC and Vanderbilt.  Not exactly your powerhouse names.  NC State is also 1-3 against Boston College in his 4 years at the helm.  BC is one of the worst teams in all the Power 5 conferences.  So let’s slow down on the NC State love until they beat a team or two with a pulse.  By the way, I have the Pack going 7-5 this season, putting Doeren over .500 for his tenure.  That may be enough to get a statue built in Raleigh.

Michigan vs Florida (in Arlington) – The names involved make this sound like a great game, but in reality, both these teams are huge question marks going into their opener.  Michigan has the fewest returning starters in the nation this year.  Florida is starting a FR quarterback and has at least 10 players suspended for the opener.  For as big of a draw these two name-brand schools are, this game will not be played at a very high level and most likely won’t tell you anything about either team.  I expect both teams to be vastly improved heading into October as opposed to how they look heading into September.

Louisville vs Purdue (in Indianapolis) – Lamar Jackson lost a lot of pieces from last year, but he is still one of the most dynamic players in the game.  Purdue is in re-build mode under 1st year head coach Jeff Brohm. 

Florida State vs Alabama (in Atlanta) – Two playoffs hopefuls squaring off in Week 1 on a neutral site field, the same one that we will host the National Championship Game in 5 months.  This is as good as it gets for the opening weekend of the season.  I like Alabama in this game, simply because I still don’t trust Deondre Francois, the Noles QB.  Both teams have very skilled, fast and physical defenses.  I expect it to be a very defensive struggle, especially with since both quarterbacks in the game are vastly overrated in my eyes.

It doesn’t end with Saturday though this week.  In my mind three of the best games come on Sunday and Monday.  Sunday, we have VT vs WVU in DC, as well as UCLA vs Texas A&M in the Rose Bowl.  Monday, it will be Georgia Tech and Tennessee in Atlanta.  All 3 games between Power 5 schools playing for something.  VT and WVU used to be a pretty big rivalry before both left the Big East.  In Pasadena, it is the season opener for 2 coaches that are square on the “hot seat” as the season begins.  In Atlanta, conference bragging rights are on the line as the ACC and SEC meet in the 3rd match-up of the week.

Upsets To Watch (and Root) For:

Bowling Green (+17.5) @ Michigan State – Sparty still has concerns carrying over from last year.  I think they win, but those points are mighty tempting.

Wyoming (+11.5) @ Iowa – The Hawkeyes seem to get off to slow starts every year.  Wyoming and QB Josh Allen are good enough to beat Iowa if the Hawkeyes don’t come to play.

South Carolina (+5) vs NC State – I think I made it pretty clear I am not on the NC State bandwagon.  GO GAMECOCKS!

Temple (+18) @ Notre Dame – I almost hope this happens just to watch the Brian Kelly press conference afterwards and see Twitter burn.  I don’t like Temple to win, but you spot anyone 18 against Notre Dame and I like their chances.

Troy (+11) @ Boise State – This will be the worst Boise State team in a LONG time.  That is mainly because the bar is so high for them, but Troy is no joke.  Troy was a 10-win team last year that put a score into Clemson in Week 2 before falling to the eventual National Champs 30-24.

Southern Miss (+10) vs Kentucky – Not often do Group of 5 schools get an SEC team to play on their home field.   Southern Miss was a 9-point winner last year in Lexington, no reason they can’t do it again in front of their home crowd.

Middle Tennessee State (+3.5) vs Vanderbilt – It is not often that Vanderbilt is giving points on the road, when that happens take the points and don’t ask questions.

SEASON PREDICTIONS:

ACC Championship – Florida State over Pitt (Yes, it’s a complete homer pick I realize that, but the Coastal is wide open, why not Pitt???)

B1G Championship – Ohio State over Wisconsin

Big XII Championship – Oklahoma State over Oklahoma (I am racking my brain to find someone other than OU to pick here, I just can’t do it.)

PAC-12 Championship – USC over Stanford.  These 2 teams play in Week 2, which should be a nice preview for this game 4 months later.

SEC Championship – Alabama over Florida, AGAIN… The SEC East is once again full of average teams.  Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, SC, Missouri, can one of these teams just please make the jump and be the alpha dog in this division?!

Group of 5 Teams to Watch for the right to a NY6 Bowl:
Wyoming
Colorado State
South Florida
Central Florida
Memphis

PLAYOFF:
1) Alabama
2) Ohio State
3) Florida State
4) Oklahoma State

NATIONAL CHAMPION:
Ohio State

Monday, July 31, 2017

Neal Huntington Must Go

The Pirates have failed their team and their fans.

Neal Huntington failed the Pirates players and their fan base.

General Manager Neal Huntington’s contract with the Pirates expires with the team after this season, with a team option for the 2018 season.  He does not deserve to be back with the organization.

Yes, Huntington has done a lot of good for the Pirates.  He helped build the 1st playoff team in overnd straight season that the Pirates lost at home to a dominant pitcher in the Wild Card Game, Huntington has done nothing to move the team forward.  For that reason, the Pirates need to find a new General Manager for the 2018 season.
20 years.  He also oversaw a team that won 98 games in 2015.  He was the General Manager of a playoff team for three consecutive seasons, something not done with the Pirates since 3 straight NLCS appearances in the early 90’s.  Since the end of the 2015 season, which was the 2

Huntington supporters have lots to defend him with.  Two of the best players (Josh Harrison & Felipe Rivero) this season were acquired via trades made by Huntington in his time with the Pirates.  He pushed all the right buttons getting leaders like AJ Burnett, Russell Martin, Francisco Liriano and Edison Volquez among others.  He also has signed players like Starling Marte, Gregory Polanco and Andrew McCutchen to very team-friendly contract extensions. 

More recently however, Huntington did nothing, NOTHING!

After leading the Pirates to 3 straight playoff appearances, the Pirates missed the playoffs in 2016.  To make sure that didn’t happen again, Huntington did NOTHING.

On December 1st, Jung Ho Kang drove his BMW at a high speed over a median, hitting a barrier and left the scene, later receiving a DUI while is South Korea.  It was his 3rd DUI, THIRD!!!  Huntington later admitted that he and the Pirates were unaware of the previous two incidents.  After losing his 3rd baseman to a possible MLB suspension, or worse and what took place, having a suspended visa preventing him to come back to the United States to play for the Pirates, Huntington once again did NOTHING.

On February 10th (71 days after the Kang DUI) Huntington acquired Kang’s replacement.  He waited until less than a week before Spring Training started before attempting to replace his 2nd best hitter from the previous season.  He replaced him with Phil Gosselin.  Gosselin played a total of 216 games in 4 Major League seasons before being acquired by Huntington and the Pirates.  He played more than 46 games just once in his 1st 4 seasons.  Gosselin, who had a career total of 33 extra base hits in 460 AB’s was the replacement for Kang, who had 40 extra base hits in 2016 alone.  UNACCEPTABLE.

The Pirates then had their starting centerfielder Marte suspended for 80 games for PED use.  Huntington reacted to that by doing… NOTHING.  Literally, the Pirates never made any roster moves to acquire an outfielder after losing their best player from the 2016 season for half of the 2017 season.

Already playing with a makeshift outfield including guys like John Jaso, Jose Osuna and Adam Frazier on July 21st, Gregory Polanco injured his hamstring and went to the DL, leaving McCutchen as the only outfielder from the Season Opener on the active roster.  On his weekly radio show July 23rd, Huntington said he would be in the market to add a 4th outfielder.  He didn’t.  The Pirates lost 6 of the 8 games since Polanco went to the DL.

Jung Ho Kang DUI, Huntington did nothing.

Starling Marte suspension, Huntington did nothing.

Gregory Polanco injury, Huntington did nothing.

After all of that, I was okay with Huntington.  He was waving the white flag and he was going to sell at the trade deadline.  Who could blame him after all the unexpected hurdles that came up over the past 8 months? 

The Pirates had a couple of expiring contracts that he could trade off at the deadline, allowing some younger prospects a chance to prove themselves over the final two months of the regular season.  They also had some very nice trade assets of controllable players that they had a chance to flip for some nice young prospects.  Andrew McCutchen, Gerrit Cole, and Josh Harrison all would have brought back a nice haul for the team, which has a nice young core.

Nope.  Once again Huntington did NOTHING.  Well, almost nothing.  He traded away Tony Watson to the Dodgers about an hour before the trade deadline.  He failed to move other expiring contracts like Juan Nicasio and John Jaso.  He did make another deal however.  He acquired 40 year old relief pitcher Joaquin Benoit.  Benoit is FORTY years old and his contract is up after this season, and THAT is the only MLB player Huntington acquired at the deadline.

Correction… 40 year old Benoit is the only Major League player that Huntington has acquired since February 10th, when he acquired… Phil Gosselin.

Neal Huntington did nothing to improve the Pirates this season, NOTHING.  He did nothing when Kang got his DUI.  He did nothing when Marte was suspended for 80 games.  He did nothing when Polanco was injured in the midst of the team’s most important stretch of the season.  He did nothing at the trade deadline.

For those reasons, when his club option comes up for the 2018 season, there is just one thing the Pirates should do… NOTHING!

Friday, July 14, 2017

General Manager Kevin Reitmeyer

It is time to play General Manager For A Day with the Pirates again, as we lead up to the MLB Trade Deadline.

As always, we have to decide where the Pirates are, and if they should be Buyers or Sellers at the deadline.  That one is pretty easy.  They Pirates should be Sellers.  I keep seeing columnist writing that the Pirates should go for it this year.  Radio personalities are advocating that the Pirates push their chips into the middle and go after a weak NL Central division this year.  Let’s slow down…

The Pirates are 42-47, 7 GB in the division and according to Fangraphs have a 4.2% chance of winning the NL Central this year.  So, although the Pirates technically have a shot, there was nothing that I saw from there play in the 1st half of the season that makes me believe they can win the division.  People claiming that the NL Central is weak and very winnable, well Milwaukee is in 1st place with a .549 winning percentage at 50-41, that isn’t all that terrible.  If that W% were to play out the rest of the season the NL Central Champ would have 89 wins.  Not too shabby.  Just to give you an idea, the Pirates would need to go 47-26 in the 2nd half to reach 89 wins.  Are you still a Buyer?  Didn’t think so.

So, now that it is clear that the Pirates are Sellers this deadline, let’s have some fun.

To be clear, I really like the core of this Pirates team.  I think they had a ton of bad luck this year already and if it hadn’t been for the Kang DUI, Marte PED’s and the Tailion cancer, the Pirates could have a real shot at making a nice post season run.  The Pirates could trade away a few pieces and build around the core, much like they did last year.  This would allow them to keep competing without a huge dropoff, but it also probably doesn’t give you enough return to make a giant impact either.  These moves would be simple ones.  Mainly just moving guys with expiring deals (Watson, Nicasio, Jaso) awful contracts that you might get a team to eat (Hudson, Cervelli), or a player that you feel is at absolute peak value (Harrison).  You likely won’t get a ton back in return for these guys (except maybe Harrison), but since you will be losing them in the offseason, you might as well get something.

The Pirates also could just blow things up, knowing that the do have a nice young nucleus and with the right pieces could be very competitive soon, if they are able to make the right deals.

That’s where General Manager Kevin Reitmeyer comes in.

I see 3 moves the Pirates should make if they are available to them.  All 3 of these moves are completely fabricated by yours truly.  I honestly believe that all 3 deals are fair and equal for both sides.

NEW YORK YANKEES:
Pirates trade:
SP – Gerrit Cole
RP – Juan Nicasio
3rd – David Freese
SS Prospect- Kevin Newman (#89 in Baseball America’s Midseason Top 100)

Yankees Trade:
SS – Gleyber Torres (#3 in BA Top 100) – Tommy John surgery in June will keep him out til mid-2018.
OF – Clint Frazier (#49) – Just called to MLB on July 1st.  Batting 292 with 1 double, 2 triples and 3 HR in 7 Games with NYY.
SP – Justus Sheffield (#7 LHP prospect according to MLB Pipeline). Currently in AA, scheduled to make MLB debut during 2018 season. Potential to be a 2-3 Starter.
RP – Domingo Acevedo – Lower level prospect in Yankees organization. Very raw, but throws gas.  Currently a starter, but forecasts to be a back-end RP.  Throws 100 regularly and has been known to hit 103 on the gun.  Projected 2018 MLB debut.

The Yankees are desperately looking to upgrade their starting rotation and they want a guy that they would have future control over.  Gerrit Cole does both, having 2 ½ years remaining on his contract.  Juan Nicasio gives the Yankees a big upgrade to their bullpen as they have struggled to get the ball to their 2 dominant back-end relivers.  The Yankees acquired Garrett Cooper from Milwaukee on Thursday, but he looks to be more of a September call-up type and a future possibility for the team.  If they want to win now, they are still in need of a 1st baseman.  David Freese is a 3rd baseman, that can play 1st base.  The Yankees have a major need at 1st base.  They have had the least productive 1st base bat of any team in the Majors this season.  Kevin Newman helps replenish the farm system at SS, after giving up their top prospect.

For the Pirates, this would be a haul, but one that is very realistic after seeing what Jose Quintana brought back for the White Sox on Thursday.  Clint Frazier gives the Pirates a solid OF bat for if and when McCutchen leaves.  It also gives them flexibility with Gregory Polanco who has continued to struggle.  Torres, becomes your everyday SS once healthy and replaces Mercer who will be in his final year of his contract in 2018.  Sheffield and Acevedo are arms any organization would love to have in their system.

BOSTON RED SOX:
Pirates Trade:
2nd – Josh Harrison
RP – Tony Watson

Red Sox Trade:
SP- Jay Groome (#87 in BA Top 100, #2 LHP in MLB Pipeline) – Young but a monster of a man.  Just 18 years old (1st RD 2016), he is 6’6, 220lbs.  Already touched 97 mph, and will probably improve on that as he gets stronger.  Not expected in the MLB until 2019-20.

The Red Sox need another left-handed arm in their bullpen and even though Watson has not been good, he would still be a really good option considering what Boston is currently working with.  The Red Sox are also seeking help at 3rd base, which is why Harrison makes sense.  Harrison’s versatility will help find a spot for him over the final 3 years of his contract as well.  The Red Sox top prospect, Rafael Devers, will likely take over the Hot Corner for Boston next April.

LA DODGERS:
Pirates Trade:
OF – Starling Marte
RP – Daniel Hudson

Dodgers Trade:
2nd – Willie Calhoun (#74 on BA Top 100, #4 prospect in LA organization) – Calhoun is a power hitting 2nd baseman, that is MLB ready.

The Dodgers need outfield help and Marte gives them a young player with team-friendly contract control.  He would also immediately be the team’s best defensive outfielder.  Marte would help stabilze a rotating door in the Dodger outfield that has already seen 10 different players man the outfield in their first 90 games this season.  Despite having the best ERA of all bullpens in the NL this season, like all other contenders, the Dodgers believe you can never have too many arms in that area.  The Dodgers have already been looking to add to the bullpen.  Hudson would be someone that could help them get the ball to Kenley Jansen.

With Calhoun MLB ready, the Dodgers might not be willing to part with him on this exchange.  The Pirates may have to pay some of the future salary of Hudson (owed $5.5M in 2018), but it would be worth it if you are the Pirates.

I would also not rule out the idea of moving Cervelli to a team like Arizona, who is in need of a catcher badly.  This would get the Pirates out of the awful contract they gave him last offseason, which he will still be owed $22M on over the next 2 seasons.  The Diamondbacks farm system is one of the worst in baseball, so this would likely have to be just a complete salary dump.

Making these moves would obviously put up the White Flag on the 2017 season, but they aren’t winning anyway this year.  The faster the Pirates realize that the better.  The remaining 2 months of the 2017 season become a Spring Training of sorts, a chance for the many question marks in the organization to prove themselves.  The Pirates should be creative with how they use their roster (crazy concept for this organization, I know).  Steven Brault should be in the rotation, maybe Tyler Glasnow gets another shot too.  Maybe even Huntington’s man-crush, Drew Hutchison.  Nick Kingham should probably be ready for a few starts as well come September.  Heck, run a 6-man rotation the last few months.  Use that 10-Day DL to your advantage and just rotate pitchers through it giving everyone some extra rest down the stretch.
 
As for the field, bring up Austin Meadows, let’s see what he can do.  Adam Frazier and Max Moroff (even Chris Bostick and Eric Wood), get to know 3rd base.  If you are going to help the 2018 team, it will have to be at that spot.


I know that most Pirate fans don’t like the idea of a “rebuild” but I don’t see these moves as being that.  With the pieces they would acquire from these trades, the Pirates would be able to put a very competitive line-up on the field in 2018.  Who knows, maybe they surprise some people like the Brewers have done this year or the Astros did in 2015.  These moves also extend the window for the Pirates, which many thought would be closing as McCutchen’s contract comes up and Cole nears Free Agency.

Keep a competitive team on the field, while stock-piling prospects to promise a bright future AND cutting salary... Sounds like a win-win for the fans and ownership!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Hey Pirates, 3 Strikes And You're Out!



As the Great American Pasttime’s famous song concludes, “For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out,
At the old ball game.”
The same can also be said for the Pirates 2017 season.
STRIKE ONE:
December 2, 2016 – Jung Ho Kang DUI
In the early morning hours of December 2nd, Jung Ho Kang was arrested and later charged with fleeing the scene of a traffic accident and driving under the influence of alcohol – his third DUI since 2009.
STRIKE TWO:
April 18, 2017 – Starling Marte Suspension
Mid-afternoon on a Tuesday, with the Pirates coming off a 3-game sweep of the defending World Series Champion Cubs, it is announced that Marte will be suspended 80 games for use of PED’sIn the 25 games played since, the Pirates are 10-15, averaging just over 3.5 runs a game, and scoring 4+ runs just 10 of the 25 games.
STRIKE THREE:
May 8, 2017 – Jameson Taillon Has Surgical Procedure for Suspected Testicular Cancer
While on the 10-day DL from groin discomfort, which was noticed after his last start (May 3), Taillon has surgery to treat what was suspected to be testicular cancer.  Taillon was 2-0 in April with a 2.08 ERA.

Call it bad luck.  Call it the Curse of Barry Bonds.  Call it piss-poor planning by the organization.  However you break it down, in the game of baseball, 3 strikes is an OUT!

The 2017 Pittsburgh Pirates are out!

Out, as in out of contention.  Out, as in out of excuses.

Time to move on, this just isn’t their year.

The Pirates were not setup to succeed this season BEFORE these events happened, so they certainly aren’t setup for success after them.  Consider the fact the Pirates were a -20 in the win column last year from 2015, finishing 8.5 games out of the playoffs.  The Pirates then lost Sean Rodriguez and Matt Joyce, but effective bats off the bench and utility players.  Rodriquez and Joyce both played in 140 games in 2016 and combined for 31 home runs and 98 RBI.  This for a team that is currently 29th out of 30 in home runs this season.  The Pirates also failed to replace Francisco Liriano in the starting rotation or Mark Melancon in the bullpen going into the 2017 season.  Instead, the Pirates front office made just 1 roster move to the Major League roster in the 1st 2 months of free agency.  They signed Daniel Hudson (18GP, 15IP, 0-2, 7.80 ERA).  Even after the news of the Kang DUI, the Pirates waited 7 weeks before replacing him with the Phil Gosselin.  So to put that in perspective, the Pirates front office replaced Kang/Rodriguez/Joyce (52 HR, 160 RBI in 2016) with Phil Gosselin (6 career HR’s)

So, as I said before, the Pirates weren’t exactly set up for success going into the 2017 season.

Now, the Pirates need to prepare for 2018 like they failed to do for 2017.

Sell.  Sell everybody.  Sell everybody NOW!

4 months of Tony Watson is a lot more valuable to a contender, than 2 months.  Put him on the block.  Gotta think the Nationals would love to add a Pirates closer for the 2nd straight playoff push.

Trade Andrew McCutchen.  His value isn’t anywhere close to what Huntington wants it to be, or thinks it should be. Who cares, trade him and move on.  Yes fans will be mad for a few minutes, but most of the fans already hate the ownership, so what does it really matter?

Josh Harrison is a glorified utility player that is still owed over $32M over the next 3 years (or $19.5M if you buy him out of the final 2 years), get rid of him!

John Jaso is a FA after this season, trade him.  You might only get a bucket of Double Bubble for Jaso, if that offer is on the table, take it and RUN!

There have been rumors that the Yankees, want Gerrit Cole.  Well, MAKE THE CALL!  I’m not saying to definitely include Cole in these deals, he doe still has 2+ years remaining on his contract.  It is almost a certainty that Cole will not be signing his next contract with the Pirates, but that doesn’t mean they have to trade him.  He could be the cornerstone of the future rotation. OR… If you ask for the moon, the Yankees, who have more top prospects than anyone in baseball after trading away Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller last year, may be willing to deal.

Don’t worry, I’m not advocating another fictitious 5-Year plan from the Pirates front office.  This team is just 2 years removed from a 98-win season.  This team still has a lot of talented pieces in place for the future.  This team has a ton of potential.  This team has one of the best farm systems in baseball (#4 according to ESPN.com, #5 minorleagueball.com, #7 according to Baseball America, #7 MLB Pipeline).  What I am advocating for, is that  the Pirates to use the 2017 season, which at this point is an huge failure, to plan for the future.

Neal Huntington traded away Francisco Liriano and two Pirates minor leaguers, 1 of which was former 1st round pick and top prospect Reese McGuire for a Drew Hutchison.  This is his make or break time.  Hutchison has to be in the starting rotation in place of Taillon.  If Hutchison is good enough for Huntington to give up what he did for him, then why is he still in the minors?  The Pirates aren’t going anywhere this year, let’s see what this guy can do.  Same goes for Steven Brault, if the Pirates trade away Cole, Brault needs to be the next guy in line to finally prove himself.  If they can’t cut it, then cut ties with them.

The 2017 season has become a disaster, but the Pirates front office shouldn’t let it go to waste.


Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Sports Fix: NFL Relocation

In just over one year’s time, 3 NFL teams have signed papers to relocate their franchises.  Last year the Rams started the trend back up again (this has been a common, yet puzzling trend over the history of the NFL) by moving from St. Louis back to Los Angeles after a 21 year stay in the Midwest. Now this offseason, we have already had the Chargers announcing a move to Los Angeles and the Raiders agreeing to move to Las Vegas.

First things first, Los Angeles has done fine without a football team.  The reason why LA has done fine without a football team is simple, most people in LA aren’t from LA.  The people living in and around LA aren’t born and raised in Southern California, they are from Milwaukee, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Pittsburgh.  In LA they have the freedom of watching their teams when they are on, because every game is on in LA.  As a matter of fact, based on Steelersbars.com, there are 37 Steeler bars in and around the LA area.  Sure the residents of Southern California love their NFL, but they love their own NFL teams.  Now, with the Chargers moving to town, the CBS and FOX games will no longer be the national games, it will be the Rams and Chargers every week.  So, yes the NFL adds the 2nd largest television market in the country, but guess what, those people were watching the game already.  In all likelihood, the ratings in the LA area will go down.  Because now, instead of watching the Game of the Week between the Cowboys and Packers on FOX, they are stuck watching the St. Louis Los Angeles Rams.

What makes this worse is that fans in San Diego, St. Louis and Oakland are losing their teams for one reason and one reason alone, GREED.  The billionaire owners of these teams, that basically are printing money at this point, with the amount of revenue that the league now has, wanted new stadiums and held the fans and cities hostage over who should pay for the new stadiums.  The cities and fans rightly stood their ground and now the owners are leaving.

Now the solution.

When a team relocates, they have to pay a relocation fee to the other owners of the NFL.  That fee is $500 million, which divided evenly to the other 31 owners is just over $16.1M a piece.  If you are wondering why the other owners approve these team relocating, now you know.  The $500M fee is essentially a $16.1M bribe to vote in favor of the relocation.

Here is how to fix this trend.  The NFL owners loan the money to the owners/teams to build their own stadium.

According to Forbes, going into the 2016 NFL season the average value of an NFL team was a record high, $2.34 Billion. Billion with a B!  In 2015, 30 of the 32 teams made at least $50M, with the Cowboys leading the way, banking $300M.  These owners have the money to help out the other owners.  After all, they are one big team, right?  If each owner loaned that same $16.1M we talked about before and you add it to the $500M that the relocating owner was willing to hand over to relocate, you have ONE BILLION DOLLARS to build a new stadium.  This can be done, all while staying in the city and with the fans that have supported you for so many years.

I know that this won’t happen, and it is for the same reason I mentioned before, GREED.  But for the good of the NFL, it should happen. 

In business, marketing can make or break a business.  Is Phil Knight and Nike where they are today without Michael Jordan, the Swoosh or Tiger Woods?  NO!

Moving these teams all over the map is bad marketing for the NFL and bad for business.  The NFL is taking 3 cities and fan-bases and making them castoffs, basically telling the cities of St. Louis, Oakland and San Diego, that they aren’t wanted.  Will the people of St. Louis want to consume the NFL product after that message? I doubt it.

Even worse, the NFL is moving those franchises to cities that don’t want these teams to begin with.  Los Angeles is the 2nd largest city in the country, if they wanted football in Los Angeles it would have been there already.  It would never have left 21 years ago. 

And who exactly is going to pack the stadiums in LA and Las Vegas when these team move?  I’ll tell you who, fans from the visiting teams.  The fans that fill those 37 Steeler bars in LA, will pack the LA Coliseum the next time the Steelers are in town.  And that will happen with every other team in the leagues fan-base too.  How about Las Vegas?  Talk about a great road trip game to go to!  Go to Vegas and watch your favorite NFL team, done!

A few years back, billionaire business man and owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, Mark Cuban was criticized for saying that the NFL was a balloon ready to burst, and that they were getting too big for their own good.  Cuban is a smart man.  After a season where TV ratings, game attendance and cost of Super Bowl tickets were all way down from the previous season, it might be a good idea for the NFL and their owners to start caring about their consumer, otherwise Cuban is going to be exactly right.