The first W&M of 2012 finds us ever so close to the annual sports “dead zone”, when football will be over, Nascar not quite back yet, baseball still several weeks away, and only college basketball (which isn’t all that exciting until March Madness) and the NBA (completely useless until the playoffs begin) to keep us company. And no, I have no interest in hockey in case you are wondering. Take heart sports fans…it’s the perfect time to catch up on your reading, hone your culinary skills, and of course become Manotized!!
I must admit that I did not watch one second of the NCAA championship game between LSU & Alabama, and from what I have heard I didn’t miss anything as it wasn’t that much more interesting than the first time the two teams met a couple months ago. Come on NCAA…it’s time for a playoff!! One argument that I have heard ad nauseum by opponents of a playoff system is the ol’ “College football’s regular season IS a playoff every week…lose and you’re out!!”. Well…not quite. LSU did what it was supposed to do by defeating Alabama in the regular season and were still forced into a rematch, which of course they lost. So that “logic” has now officially gone down in flames. The regular season game between the two meant zero, zilch, nada. I have absolutely no clue why we can’t have a 4 team playoff (which this season would have included ‘Bama, LSU, Oklahoma State, and most likely Oregon) and still maintain a thriving, robust bowl system. There’s just no reason for not doing it.
Speaking of the bowl games…
I am usually not one to boast, but I have to give myself a bit of a public pat on the back. I picked 28 of the 35 post-season games correctly, which is an 80% winning clip and by far the best I have ever done in forecasting those slate of contests. Go Me!!
Conversely, my NFL predictions were mediocre at best. My two Super Bowl teams were San Diego & Tampa Bay. They finished a combined 12-20 and didn’t make the playoffs. Oops. I owe a huge apology to the Cincinnati Bengals, who I picked to go 1-15 and have the top pick in the draft. Instead they went 9-7 and made the playoffs as a wildcard. Mad kudos to Bengals’ rookie quarterback Andy Dalton, who exceeded all expectations and in my universe would be a slam dunk choice for Rookie of the Year. Sadly for him that honor will instead go to Carolina Panthers’ signal caller Cam Newton. I was also way wrong on the NY Giants, who I predicted to go 5-12…far from the division winning 9-7 record with which they ended up. I totally whiffed on the Philadelphia Eagles, but everyone else did too so I don’t feel so bad. I nailed the AFC North race by saying that the Steelers & Ravens would tie, with Baltimore winning the division in a tiebreaker and Pittsburgh being a wildcard team. That is exactly what happened. I pretty much had the AFC East & NFC North pegged right on as well. I did not see the utter implosion of the Indianapolis Colts coming, but then again no one did because the extent of Peyton Manning’s injury wasn’t made known until after the season began. I got 2 of the NFC’s 6 playoff teams right, while in the AFC I chose 4 of 6 correctly.
NY Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez needs a change of scenery. He has obviously lost the confidence of his coach, his teammates, and the fans. That’s tough enough anywhere, but in New York I just don’t think it’s something from which he can recover.
If I am in charge of the Indianapolis Colts I trade the #1 overall choice they “earned” (with a dreadful 2-14 record) for everything it’s worth, which should be atleast a half dozen picks including a slightly lower first rounder. Andrew Luck, as much potential as he has, is overhyped. There will be a next “greatest prospect ever” coming ‘round the bend in a few years (maybe even next year, when Matt Barkley finishes up at USC). Assuming his neck heals Peyton Manning has probably 3 or 4 years left, but he needs a better team around him.
To the Penn St. alumni & former players who have been critical of the hiring of new head coach Bill O’Brien…what is your freakin’ problem?? I fully understand the penchant of college sports teams to hire “within the family”, aka a former player or assistant coach who understands the tradition & history of the program. However, in this case, does it shock a-n-y-o-n-e with a brain that the powers-that-be in Happy Valley want to make a completely fresh start and decided to go with a guy with absolutely no ties to the school, the team, and especially any connection whatsoever to Joe Paterno or his former coaching staff?? Sure in a perfect world interim head coach and long-time Paterno assistant Tom Bradley would have gotten the gig as a reward for all his years of loyalty. But in this case that simply was NOT going to happen. They HAD to have a 100% clean break from the past. It’s a drop in the bucket compared to the issues the school faces and the unseemly reputation they must now fight an uphill battle to overcome, but it is a step in the right direction and was the only choice that could be made.
I will address this issue once & only once, and then I will never speak of it again and erase the abomination from my memory. If the debacle that was the Denver Broncos’ shocking overtime victory over my Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL playoffs taught us anything, it is that, despite their ranking as the league’s #1 pass defense, the Steelers’ secondary is atrocious. They somehow managed to make quite possibly the worst “quarterback” in pro football history look like the love child of Dan Fouts & Dan Marino. When April’s draft rolls around the Steelers simply MUST spend atleast 2 or 3 picks…including their 1st rounder…on new cornerbacks. If there are any talented corners available in free agency they need to sign one or two of them as well. Ike Taylor, their supposed top CB, would be no better than a dime package backup on most other teams. And guys like Bryant McFadden, Anthony Madison, and the atrocious William Gay need to be given their walking papers. This has been an issue for several years that has not been properly addressed by the team’s braintrust. Well gentlemen…the time is now. It may also be time to begin grooming a successor for 74 year old defensive coordinator Dick Lebeau. Undoubtedly he has been very successful, but he’s not getting any younger and in two consecutive seasons post-season opponents…the Broncos this year and the Packers in last year’s Super Bowl…have outcoached him and played his defense like a fiddle.
Some things never change. Even after the death of nutjob owner Al Davis the Oakland Raiders are as dysfunctional as ever. The new regime just fired head coach Hue Jackson after ONE season…a season in which they went 8-8, tied for the division lead, and fell one tiebreaker short of making the playoffs. Really?? Do the suits there think they’ll be able to lure a big name coach that’ll do any better?? Maybe…maybe…twenty years ago. But not now. When will people learn that organizational stability is the cornerstone of success in sports?? Certainly they haven’t learned that lesson in Tampa, where the Bucs also foolishly fired a coach after one bad season. Raheem Morris was in his third year as head coach and had lead a 7 game turnaround, finishing 10-6 in 2010, a vast improvement over their 3-13 record in his first go round in 2009. In 2011 the team admittedly took a step backward, going 4-12. However, based on the success of the 2010 season I feel like Morris should have been given one more chance. Unfortunately I don’t own an NFL franchise.
- Why the Indianapolis Colts Should Trade Peyton Manning and Draft Andrew Luck (bleacherreport.com)
- The Case for Peyton Manning as Next Indianapolis Colts Coach (bleacherreport.com)
- Peyton Manning to Jets: 5 Reasons the Quarterback Is Not a Good Fit (bleacherreport.com)
- Pushing Panic Button for Peyton Manning Only Makes New York Jets Worse (bleacherreport.com)
- NFL Playoff Picture: Patriots and Packers Hope to Avoid Recent Playoff Trend (bleacherreport.com)
- You: Don Banks: NFL 2012 playoff primer (sportsillustrated.cnn.com)
- Don Banks: NFL 2012 playoff primer (sportsillustrated.cnn.com)
- Sports Commentary 1/12/12 (connecticut.cbslocal.com)
- Tim Tebow Got a $250,000 Bonus for Beating the Steelers (celebritynetworth.com)
- Strangers in our midst: Lions and Texans (seattletimes.nwsource.com)