Zidane To The Rescue

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


 

ZidaneThe football (soccer) great Zinedine Zidane has swooped in to “rescue” Real Madrid. A club that is a mere four points behind La Liga leading Athletico Madrid….in January. Four points in Real Madrid’s view is unacceptable.

Zidane is a legend in the soccer community. While most novices of the sport will only remember him for his red card in the 2006 World Cup Final where he famously head butted Marco Materazzi.

Zidane was a heck of a player at Madrid and elsewhere and has been managing Madrid’s reserve side, Real Madrid Castilla, for a couple of years. This in the eyes of the powers that be is enough to manage the biggest club in the world.

His hiring isn’t so much a surprise as is the firing of Rafa Benitez. Benitez managed Liverpool to two Champions League Finals (winning the trophy in 2004) and found success at Valencia, Napoli, Chelsea and Real Madrid. He was 17-5-3 in all competitions since taking over at Madrid but that wasn’t good enough. Apparently a 4-0 loss to arch rival Barcelona and a supposed riff with superstar striker Cristiano Ronaldo is enough to be sacked nowadays.

Don’t worry about Benitez. He walks away with a cool £7million (about $10.2million US) for his trouble. And Madrid can afford to pay. Real Madrid is the richest club in the world. They are estimated a $3.26 billion according to Forbes.

A lot of questions now arise for the 43 year old Zidane. He has played but never coached at this level before and it’s a very big stage to cut your teeth at.

Only time will tell if this is the right decision. Like other sports organizations (college and professional) it is becoming clear that the days of “building” are gone and it’s a “win now or else” mentality around the globe.  And don’t just win, but win by a wide margin.

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What To Watch Fri. 11/20 – Sun. 11/22

All times are Pacific.

Friday November 20th

Montreal Canadiens at NY Islanders – 4:30pm NHL GameCenter: The Habs have cooled off and the Islanders are a tough team.

Cincinnati at South Florida – 5pm CBSN: Hey, we love watching the Bearcats. They have a tendency to score a lot of points or go down in flames.

Air Force at Boise State- 6:30pm ESPN2: A battle that will determine the winner of the Mountain division of the MWC.

Chicago Bulls at Golden State Warriors – 7:30pm ESPN: This could arguably be a Finals preview.

 

Saturday November 21st

Michigan at Penn State – 9am : Our first taste of Harbaugh vs Franklin.

Memphis at Temple – 9am ESPNU: While both teams have suffered losses in recent weeks, they are still two fun football teams to watch.

Real Madrid vs Barcelona -9am beIN Sports: Only a match up between the two biggest clubs in the world. No big deal.

Manchester City vs Liverpool – 9:30am NBC: Liverpool sits 11 points behind City but has a new manager and new hope.

Lafayette at Lehigh – 9:30am ESPN3: The 151st meeting between the two schools which is the longest in collegiate football. There is a reason they call it ‘The Rivalry’.

Montana at Montana State – 11am ROOT Sports: 115th matchup between the two schools. Montana looks to keep their FCS Playoff hopes alive with a victory here.

YaleHarvard at Yale  – 11:30am NBCSN: IVY League title is on the line since Harvard lost last week to Penn. Harvard gets a share if they win and Yale would love nothing more than to spoil that. There is a reason this one is called ‘The Game.’

Michigan State at Ohio State – 1:30pm ABC: No big deal just National Title implications.

UCLA at Utah – 1:30pm FOX: PAC-12 South implications and two pretty good football teams.

Arizona at Arizona State – FS1 : The 2015 edition of the Territorial Cup. Bowl eligibility is on the line for the Sun Devils.

Baylor at Oklahoma State – 4:30pm FOX : OSU looks to keep their College Football Playoff hopes alive but they will have to find a way to outscore Baylor.

TCU at Oklahoma – 5pm ABC: Oklahoma has battled their way back after that loss to Texas to be one of the more dangerous teams in the land. This is a tall order but TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin may not be 100% & they lost their best wide receiver.

Cal at Stanford  – 7:30pm ESPN:The Big Game is a big one once again. Both teams have played well this year and Stanford is also looking to wrap up the Pac 12 North. And with all of the wacky finishes this year in college football, it will be nice to end a long day of football with a game that gave birth to crazy finishes.

Cotto vs Canelo – 8pm-ish PPV: Miguel Cotto vs Canelo Alvarez in boxing’s second super fight of the year. In all honesty, this one should be a better one too.

 

Sunday November 22nd

Tottenham vs West Ham United – 8am NBCSN: Both are sitting just outside the top four and are only separated by goal differential.

Denver Broncos at Chicago Bears – 10am CBS: Future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning will ride the bench for the Broncos as they take on their former head coach John Fox.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Ottawa RedBlacks – 10am ESPNEWS: Winner goes to the Grey Cup. Combination of rain and snow is expected.

NASCAR Ford Ecoboost 400 – Noon NBC: Last race of the year and maybe, just maybe Jeff Gordon can go out on top with a win and the cup.

Toronto Raptors at LA Clippers – 12:30pm NBA League Pass: Raptors are on a West Coast swing and visit Lob City.

Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings  – 1:30pm FOX: Vikings are one of the best teams in the NFC while the Packers are slipping. Can the Pack turn it around?

Calgary Stampeders at Edmonton Eskimos – 1:30pm ESPN3: Not only does the winner go to the Grey Cup but it’s also the Battle of Alberta.

Columbus Crew vs NY Red Bulls – 2pm ESPN: Leg one to decide the Eastern Conference rep in MLS Cup.

Portland Timbers vs FC Dallas – 4:30pm FS1: Western Conference Final and it starts in the best venue in all of MLS. There Ain’t No Pity In the Rose City.

Cincinnati Bengals at Arizona Cardinals – 5:30pm NBC: Cards held on last week in Seattle while the Bengals put up their first loss of the season against the Texans on Monday Night. Rebound in the desert is a tough task for Andy Dalton and crew.

 

 

 

What To Watch – Fri. 10/30 – Sun. 11/1

All times are Pacific.

The best time of year because we have NFL, College Football, NBA, NHL, MLS Playoffs and World Series not to mention Nascar and F1.

Friday October 30

Dartmouth at Harvard – 4:30pm NBCSN: Both are 6-0 and tied for first place a top the Ivy League.

KC Royals at NY Mets – 5pm FOX: Game 3 with the Royals up 2-0. This one is in NY though and that can make a huge difference.

Golden State Warriors at Houston Rockets – 6:30pm ESPN: Defending champs go on the road to a team that is one of their main challengers this season.

 

Saturday October 31st

Chelsea vs Liverpool -5:45am NBCSN: Liverpool looks for it’s first win under the leadership of Jurgen Klopp. Chelsea looks to turn the season around.

2015 Rugby World Cup Final – 9am NBC: It’s Australia vs New Zealand.

Florida vs Georgia – 12:30pm CBS: We don’t care, it’s still ‘The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.’

Oklahoma State at Texas Tech – 12:30pm ESPN: Plenty of points and a tough place for the Pokes to get a win.

Nashville Predators at LA Kings – 1pm NHL Gamecenter: The Preds are the best in the West and LA isn’t far behind.

Pittsburgh Penguins at Toronto Maple Leafs – 4pm NHLN: Sidney Crosby heads to the heart of the hockey world.

Michigan at Minnesota – 4pm ESPN: Michigan is a hard nosed football team and Minnesota will be playing with a heavy heart as their head coach retired due to health reasons.

Notre Dame at Temple – 5pm ABC: Huge game for the undefeated Temple Owls. First visit by ESPN Gameday, they’ve never been undefeated this late in the season. The question becomes, can they handle it all?

KC Royals at NY Mets – 5pm FOX: Game 4.

Stanford at Washington State – 7:30pm ESPN: For the lead in the PAC-12 North believe it or not.

 

Sunday November 1st

Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers – 10am CBS: Boy these two teams are good this year and the Steelers look like they might get Big Ben back under center.

goalDC United vs NY Red Bulls – Noon ESPN: One of the longest standing rivalries in MLS. NYRB took home the Supporters Shield again this year but will Jesse Marsch be able to lead them to an MLS Cup?

NY Jets at Oakland Raiders – 1pm CBS: No seriously, this game should be really good.

Portland Timbers vs Vancouver Whitecaps – 2pm ESPN: If you didn’t watch arguably the most exciting MLS Playoff game ever the other night then…well you missed out. Portland was able to survive and now they host Cascadia Cup foes Vancouver.

Green Bay Packers at Denver Broncos – 5:30pm NBC: Two undefeated teams square off in the Mile High City. Can the Broncos find their offense?

Seattle Sounders vs FC Dallas – 6:30pm FS1: FC Dallas has arguably the toughest road to MLS Cup. Why? Your first playoff game is going to be in front of the largest crowd in typical Seattle wet and cold conditions.

 

If none of these do it for ya, Twitch is running a marathon of ‘The Joy of Painting.’

The Sunday: Full Swing

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Perfect

There were a lot of questions about Marcus Mariota’s professional football prospects. Well things are looking good after week 1. First the Tennessee Titans beat up on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 42-14 and second, Mariota was a big part of that as he went 13-16 for 209 yards and four touchdown passes. He was, in a word, perfect.

 

Showing Class

Oklahoma defeated Tennessee in a fantastic comeback in Knoxville, TN. However now it becomes about actions by OU players after the game. OU defensive end Eric Striker and Tennessee head coach Butch Jones got into it. Jones took issue with Striker’s celebrations after the game. He told him as tweeted by Jason Kersey,

 

Later, safety Hatari Byrd was caught on video flipping off the Tennessee fans. Safe to say that if these teams meet again in the future, there would be no love lost.

Cardiac Cougars

BYU may be the 2015 football version of the ‘Cardiac Pack’.  They won their second straight game via Hail-Mary

There is some questioning of the Cougars though. In the last three games they have had some questionable conduct. BYU offensive lineman Ului Lapuaho punched a Boise State player squarely in the nuts during a scramble for the football on Saturday night. This comes on the heels of the brawl BYU had with Memphis in the Miami Beach Bowl last season and some questionable hits on Nebraska players two weeks ago.

The Sweetness

Love soccer or hate soccer but you have to admit, this was a thing of beauty.

 

What To Watch – Thurs. 9/10 – Sun. 9/13

All times are Pacific.

Thursday September 10th

Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees – 4pm MLB.TV: It’s the first of a four game set for the lead in the AL East.

Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots – 5:30pm NBC: Well Tom Brady is playing and we can only hope that NBC Sports doesn’t pull some nonsense with Ryan Seacrest again.

 

Friday September 11th

Utah State at Utah – 6pm ESPN2: The battle for the Beehive Boot. A tough, hard nosed football game.

Houston Astros at LA Angels – 7pm MLB.TV: The Angels look to keep their playoff hopes alive as the division leading Astros come to SoCal.

 

Saturday September 12th

Everton vs Chelsea – 4:40am NBCSN: The Premier League season has yet to settle down which means there is a chance of an upset in this match.

Liverpool vs Manchester United – 9:30am NBC: Yes it’s a College Football Saturday but this is a classic match-up.

Oklahoma at Tennessee – 3pm ESPN: A power 5 matchup, two Top 25 schools with a lot of history and an orange and white checkerboard stadium. Oh yeah.

Oregon at Michigan State – 5pm ABC: Sparty shut down the Ducks for three quarters last year in Eugene. Then Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota took over and led the Ducks to victory. Mariota is now in the NFL and Sparty wants revenge.

LSU at Mississippi State – 6:15pm ESPN: LSU’s game was cancelled last week and Miss State got in a preseason game against Southern Miss. How big of a factor will that play?

Boise State at BYU – 7:15pm ESPN2: BYU pulled one out of the fire last week with a backup QB fresh off his two year mission and Boise almost blew it against Washington. Should make things interesting.

LA Galaxy vs Montreal Impact – 7:30pm MLS LIVE: Didier Drogba hits LA to take on Steven Gerrard and Robbie Keane. Drogba had a hat trick in his first start for the Impact. What will he do for an encore?

 

 

Sunday September 13th

Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears – 10am FOX: One of the games best QB’s in Aaron Rodgers against one of the games most overrated in Jay Cutler. Can Rodgers still air out the ball without Jordy Nelson and a one shouldered Reggie Cobb?

New Orleans Saints at Arizona Cardinals – 1pm FOX: Can Drew Brees find someone in the redzone now that Jimmy Graham is in Seattle?

Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos – 1:25pm CBS: Could be Peyton Manning’s last go round. And with a new offense no less.

NY Giants at Dallas Cowboys – 5:30pm NBC: It should be a fantastic game but man, Cris Collinsworth twice in one week?

What to Watch Fri. 4/3 – Sun. 4/5

All times are Pacific.

Friday April 3rd

Oklahoma City Thunder at Memphis Grizzlies – 5pm ESPN: Two teams gearing up for the playoffs. Should make things interesting.

Montreal Canadiens at Washington Capitals – 4pm NHL Gamecenter: The Habs are locked into the playoffs while the Caps need to keep on winning if they want that Wildcard slot.

REMOTE

 

Saturday April 4th

Liverpool vs Arsenal – 4:45am NBCSN: A solid match first thing Saturday morning.

Vancouver Canucks at Winnipeg Jets – Noon NHL Network: Winnipeg is on the edge of the playoff chase and the Canucks are looking to secure a spot.

Final Four: Michigan State Spartans vs Duke Blue Devils – 3pm TBS: Great matchup between two of the best coaches in college basketball.

Final Four: Wisconsin Badgers vs Kentucky Wildcats – 5:45pm TBS: This is the matchup we’ve been waiting for this college basketball season. Holla!

Portland Timbers vs FC Dallas – 7:30pm MLS Live: While FC Dallas leads the West (and MLS) with 10pts in four games but Portland is the tough place to play and they really need a win.

 

Sunday April 5th

Houston Rockets at Oklahoma City Thunder – 10am ABC: Two teams looking at the playoffs and wondering, ‘Are we gonna play these guys in a month?’

Golden State Warriors at San Antonio Spurs – 4pm NBA TV: The defending champs are starting to get into playoff form. While it’s a regular season game, it will be fun to see how these two teams matchup if they were to meet in a seven game series.

St Louis Blues at Chicago Blackhawks – 4:30pm NBCSN: Two teams jockeying for playoff position.

St Louis Cardinals at Chicago Cubs – 5pm ESPN2: Baseball is back and it’s a St Louis vs Chicago kind of day.

 

What To Watch Thurs. 2/19 – Sun. 2/22

All times are Pacific

Thursday February 19th

Nashville Predators at NY Islanders – 4pm NHL Gamecenter: A battle of division leaders.

Vancouver Canucks at NY Rangers – 4pm NHL Gamecenter: Well if the game on Long Island doesn’t do anything for you than this one should.

San Antonio Spurs at LA Clippers – 7:30pm TNT: Just a fun match up.

 

Friday February 20th

Toronto Raptors at Atlanta Hawks – 4pm NBA League Pass: Division leaders square off in HotLanta.

Boston Bruins at St Louis Blues – 5pm NHL Gamecenter: St Louis is probably the best team in the NHL. The Bruins are fighting for a playoff spot. Should be fun.

Anaheim Ducks at Calgary Flames – 6pm NHL Gamecenter: These Ducks have to fly north for a night and try to knock off the surprisingly good Flames.

San Antonio Spurs at Golden State Warriors – 7:30pm ESPN: Defending champs head into Oakland to take on one of the best teams in the league.

 

Saturday February 21st

Iowa State Cyclones at Texas Longhorns – 11am ESPN2: Frank Erwin Center in Austin can be a tough place to pay. Upset alert!

Pittsburgh Penguins at St Louis Blues – 5pm NHL Gamecenter: Tough back to back games for the Blues but if anyone can handle it it’s them.

Toronto Raptors at Houston Rockets – 5pm NBA League Pass: Plenty of star power in Houston for a Saturday night. n

UCLA Bruins at Arizona Wildcats – 6pm ESPN: Something tells us that Arizona should be careful.

LA Kings at San Jose Sharks – 6:30pm NBCSN: Outside at Levi Stadium. It would be more fun if it was at old Candlestick Park but we’ll take what we can get.

 

 

Sunday February 22nd

Southampton vs Liverpool – 8am NBCSN: If the season ended today, Southampton would be in the Champions League and Liverpool wouldn’t. Crazy

Dayton 500 – 10am FOX: Nascar is back. Jeff Gordon in his final season took the pole in Daytona. Let’s go racin’!

Ohio State at Michigan – 10am CBS: It’s usually a good football and a lot of times a better basketball game.

Boston Bruins at Chicago Blackhawks – Noon NBC: It’s hockey day in America. You’re welcome.

Memphis Grizzlies at Portland TrailBlazers – 6pm NBA League Pass: A nice way to end a great sports weekend.

 

 

What To Watch Fri. 2/6 – Sun. 2/8

All times are Pacific

Friday February 6th

Anaheim Ducks at Washington Capitals – 4pm NHL GameCenter: It’s a tough road trip for the Ducks who are the best team in the NHL by points. But Nashville one night and then DC the next might be too much.

LA Clippers at Toronto Raptors – 4pm ESPN: Two of the top teams in the NBA face off north of the border.

Golden State Warriors at Atlanta Hawks – 4:30pm NBA League Pass: This is the marquee game of the weekend. The Hawks once reeled off 19 wins in a row and the Warriors are just as good. In fact they only have 17 losses between them.

 

Saturday February 7th

Tottenham vs Arsenal – 4am NBCSN: It’s the North London Derby. Enjoy.

Everton vs Liverpool – 9:30 am NBC: It’s another Derby except this one is north of London and USA National Team Goalkeeper Tim Howard returns for Everton.

Notre Dame at Duke – 10am CBS: Top ten matchup and an ACC matchup which is still crazy to think about. All in one of the best venues in all of sports.

NY Rangers at Nashville Predators – Noon NHL GamerCenter: The Predators are one of the top teams in the NHL and are nearly unbeatable at home. The Rangers are coming off a big win against Boston but goalie Henrik Lundqvist isn’t 100% and they are going to need him against the Preds.

Louisville at Virginia – 4pm ESPN: Man is this a tough stretch for Virginia. They win this one and it’s 2-1 against Duke, UNC and Louisville. Not bad. Now they have to win.

Portland TrailBlazers at Dallas Mavericks – 5:30pm NBA League Pass: This is a playoff preview game. Enjoy.

 

Sunday February 8th

Chicago Blackhawks at St Louis Blues – 9:30am NBC: These two played a playoff series for the ages last year. Get a taste of it here.

LA Clippers at Oklahoma City Thunder – 10am ABC: It’s like watching an All-Star game but different.

Anaheim Ducks at Tampa Bay Lightning – 2pm NHL GameCenter: The best in the west takes on the best in the east.

Atlanta Hawks at Memphis Grizzlies – 3pm NBA League Pass: The Hawks have to play two divisional leaders one weekend. Ouch.

Montreal Canadiens at Boston Bruins – 4:30pm NBCSN: Original six matchup and one of the oldest rivalries in hockey.

What to Watch Thurs. 8/21 – Sun. 8/24

All times are PST.

Thursday August 21st

Pittsburgh Steelers at Philadelphia Eagles – 4:30pm NFL Network: Maybe there will only be 25 penalties in this game. Either way it’s football on a Thursday night.

Friday August 22nd

Real Salt Lake at FC Dallas – 6:25pm NBCSN: Two teams out west jockeying for playoff position.

Saturday August 23rd

Arsenal at Everton – 9:30am NBC: Watch US National Team and World Cup hero Tim Howard go against one of the favorites to win the Premier League this season in Arsenal.

Sam Houston St at Eastern Washington – 12:30pm ESPN: YES! IT’S ACTUAL COLLEGE FOOTBALL!

SF Giants at Washington Nationals – 1pm FS1: Two potential playoff teams meeting at the end of August. Should be fairly intense.

Toronto Argonauts at Edmonton Eskimos – 1pm ESPN3: Toronto QB Ricky Ray makes a return to Northern Alberta to meet his old team.

NASCAR from Bristol Motor Speedway – 4:30pm ABC: Little short track racing East Tennessee style.

Arena Bowl XXVII: Arizona Rattlers vs Cleveland Gladiators – 5pm ESPN: Well either Phoenix or Cleveland will walk away with an actual trophy.

DC United at Sporting KC – 5:30pm MLS LIVE: The top two teams in the Eastern Conference square off in Blue Hell.

LA Angels at Oakland A’s – 6pm MLB.TV: Good pitching matchup with C.J. Wilson vs Jon Lester.

Sunday August 24th

Little League World Series Final – Noon ABC: It’s for all the marbles.

Seattle Sounders at Portland Timbers – 2pm ESPN2: The best rivalry in MLS in arguably the best atmosphere in North American soccer.

Saskatchewan Roughriders at BC Lions – 4pm ESPN3: This should just be an awesome football game.

LA Angels at Oakland A’s – 5pm ESPN: Getaway game for the two top teams in the AL West and in Major League Baseball.

 

EXTRA TIME: Monday August 25th

Liverpool at Manchester City – Noon NBCSN: The two teams who competed for the title last year face off in the second week of the season. Take a long lunch.

At Least Keep Your Dignity

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

With the 2014 World Cup wrapping up a lot of people will look back and remember different things. Whether the goals by Robin Van Persie and Tim Cahill or the run by Costa Rica or the biting incident. Everyone will remember something. Most people though may just remember how Brazil and their fans couldn’t lose with dignity.

There apparently is crying in soccer, at least for the fans of Brazil’s national team. Images were plastered around the globe as Brazil gave up five goals in under twenty minutes to the German national team in the World Cup semifinals. People young and old were shown as if a member of their family died when in reality their team just gave up.

The kicker to this is the players afterwards crying. David Luiz gave a tearful interview apologizing to the fans. Apologies are one thing, not stepping up and going down swinging is another.

The fact is Brazil was beatable and was living on borrowed time. Germany exposed that fact. Yes Brazil was without their captain and best defender Thiago Silva and their superstar Neymar but that still doesn’t excuse the fact that no one from the team stepped up when they went down. No one fought back. No one challenged the Germans. Either they were in shock at what was happening or no one had the gaul to step up and be a leader. It was, in a word, shameful.

Teams get behind early all the time in all sports but all is not lost. Take Liverpool’s comeback in the Champions League final in 2005. Down 3-0 at halftime Steven Gerrard put the team on his back and helped lead them to a win via a shootout.

Another example is the 2006 AFC Championship game where the Indianapolis Colts were down 21-6 at the half to their kryptonite, the New England Patriots. Peyton Manning refuses to lose and leads the Colts to not only a 38-34 win but also a Super Bowl victory two weeks later.

The point is that big players step up in big games, even when they’re down. No one from Brazil did that and most of these players play for big clubs around the world. In the end it may not of mattered as Germany poured on two more goals but at least those players could have walked off the pitch with their head held high knowing that they battled to the end. Brazil’s players can take no such solace.

On another note, if you’re a fan of Brazil, don’t cry be upset! Be upset at the eleven players on the pitch who gave up. And for the adults who were shown on TV crying with over an hour left to play, cowboy up. It’s one thing of a child to be crying but you adults no better. Have some dignity.

Advice on how you should be after a huge loss:

Andy Roddick after losing in the 2007 Australian Open

Jim Mora Press Conference