What To Watch Thurs. 11/26 – Sun. 11/29

All times are Pacific.


Thursday November 26th

Philadelphia Eagles at Detroit Lions – 9:30am FOX: Well, we’d like a better matchup but hey, it’s what we got.

Carolina Panthers at Dallas Cowboys – 1:30pm CBS: The Cowboys have Tony Romo and Dez Bryant back so this could actually be a good game.

Texas Tech at Texas – 4:30pm FS1: Texas has to win out to be bowl eligible and that’s a big deal for a young team. Texas Tech is good but beatable.

Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers – 5:30pm NBC: Awaken from the food coma in time to see if they Packers can win back-to-back games or if the Bears will finally put it together.

 

Friday November 27th

NY Rangers at Boston Bruins – 10am NBC: Ice, skates, rivals. Not a bad way to start Black Friday.

Keenan ReynoldsNavy at Houston – 9am ABC: Winner gets to represent the West in the American Atheletic Conference championship. Also get a chance to see the NCAA all time leader in touchdowns in Navy’s Keenan Reynolds.

Marshall at Western Kentucky – 9am FS1: Last year the final score was 67-66. Just sayin.

Washington State at Washington -12:30pm FOX: The Apple Cup is the most underrated rivalry in college football. Always a solid game.

Armstrong JRIowa at Nebraska – 12:30pm ABC: Nebraska is a lot better than there 5-6 record indicates. Iowa is undefeated and looking for a spot in the College Football Playoff. This rivalry will get a lot more heated after this game.

Chicago Blackhawks at Anaheim Ducks – 2pm NBCSN: Both teams are better than their record indicates and still a whole bunch of talent on the ice.

Baylor at TCU – 4:30pm ESPN: It doesn’t really matter what quarterback plays for Baylor but it does for TCU. Points a plenty in this one.

Miami Heat at NY Knicks – 4:30pm NBA.TV: The Kicks aren’t bad this season but the Heat may be a little bit better.

 

Saturday November 28th

Ohio State at Michigan – 9am ABC: Our first taste of Meyer vs Harbaugh. Add in Ohio State having to put a tough loss behind them and this should be one heck of a ball game.

Louisville at Kentucky – 9am SECN: Kentucky is one win away from bowl eligibility and their cross state rivals would love nothing more than to keep that from happening.

UCLA at USC – 12:30pm ABC/ESPN2: Battle of LA and for the Pac-12 South.

Penn State at Michigan State -12:30pm ESPN: Michigan State controls it’s own destiny when it comes to winning the Big 10 Eastern division.

Wisconsin at Minnesota – 12:30pm BTN: Dude, it’s the battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe! It also gives us a chance to show this video from 2003.

Ole Miss at Mississippi State – 4:15pm ESPN2: The Egg Bowl and if Alabama loses, a chance for Ole Miss to grab the SEC West crown.

Notre Dame at Stanford -4:30pm FOX: Huge game for the Irish against a very, very good Stanford team.

Oklahoma at Oklahoma State – 5pm ABC: Bedlam is here. Winner probably has a legit shot at the College Football Playoff.

 

Sunday November 29th

NY Giants at Washington Redskins – 10am FOX: The winner controls first place in the NFC East.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Seattle Seahawks – 1:25pm CBS: Steelers have been able to keep it together and succeed despite a rash of injuries. The Seahawks looked like the Seahawks for once this season last week. Good luck hearing the play call Pittsburgh.

FC Dallas vs Portland Timbers – 2pm ESPN: 2nd leg and Dallas got an all important road goal in leg one. They did lose 3-1 however which should put the Timbers in the drivers seat.

103rd Grey Cup – 3pm ESPN2: Live from Winnipeg with Fall Out Boy as the halftime entertainment. Oh its the Edmonton Eskimos vs Ottawa RedBlacks.

NY Red Bulls vs Columbus Crew – 4:30pm FS1: The Crew won first the first leg 2-0. NYRB has it’s work cut out for them if they want to advance to MLS Cup.

New England Patriots at Denver Broncos – 5:30pm NBC: The best offense in football goes against the best defense. More or less. Broncos start Brock Osweiler for a second straight week.

All Coaching Aside

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Being a head coach in college football is not just about coaching. While actually coaching football is the cornerstone of the job, the majority of the job now consists of selling, raising money and riling up the fan base. Sounds more like a politician than being a football coach.

There was once a time when Nebraska was the 800lbs gorilla in College Football. That changed in recent years and now they have the ‘nicest guy in the coaching’ Mike Riley heading up their program. Riley, like a lot of other coaches, is out shaking hands, making appearances, and selling the program to future recruits.

Nebraska’s recent video reflects the importance of quality PR when you are trying to put a program back on track. It captures some of the beliefs that Riley has and plans to instill and is actually pretty damn cool.

Yes, coaching on the collegiate level is more than just coaching, especially when you have to get a program back on track. Just look at Tennessee. Lane Kiffin was terrible at PR and Derek Dooley wasn’t much better. Butch Jones on the other hand has embraced the role like seasoned politician. He has riled up the fan base, taken pictures, shaken hands and has done a little bit of that coaching part too. He was gotten Tennessee on the road back to prominence or at the very least, raised expectations.

Former Texas head coach Mack Brown may have been the best at this. He had to constantly win people over in probably the most demanding job in all of college football (and probably in all of Texas.) Pat Forde wrote a great series about Brown a few years ago called Constant Eyes Of Texas or CEO of TexasIt seems that a lot of coaches now are pulling pages out of Brown’s book on how to run a successful modern day college football program. They are being part football coach and part politician.

Being a head coach in major college football is a very tough job. You are the face of the program and the only constant it has. With that comes great monetary reward but also great scrutiny, just like any high profile politician. In order to be successful in this day and age, the PR part is almost as important as the coaching part.

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.

 

 

The Beginning Of The End?

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

The University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB) killed their football program. They are the first university to do so since 1995 when the University of Pacific in Stockton, California killed theirs. Scary thing is that this may be just the beginning but that may also be a good thing.

UAB football

Money and college football have become attached at the hip. While some want to pay players others point to how much it costs to run a program and to dress a team on Saturday.  Now we are seeing with the UAB case that costs truly do play a factor and that not all of the football programs are going to make it.

Sure the big programs like Texas, Alabama, Notre Dame and others will be fine but the smaller programs like Wyoming, UNLV, and Western Kentucky could face the same fate as UAB. In other words, as the rich get richer the poor get poorer.

Can Wyoming, UNLV and Western Kentucky really compete financially with Texas, Alabama and Notre Dame? Of course not but most aren’t trying to. They will always be second class citizens and everyone knows it. The problem with that is fans and alumni still want to win and winning costs money.

American sports fans don’t like losing. It doesn’t matter if their teams will never win a national title they still want to win. When teams don’t win money stops flowing. If smaller programs can’t stay above water then they will fold just like UAB. That means less kids playing football and for some that may be their only way to get a college education.

It’s not just the players. The coaches and support staff are out of work too. While these are not high paying positions there still jobs. These are by-products but it’s still a major change.

UAB killing their football program isn’t the most important thing in the world or even in the sports landscape for that matter. It is however a sign of things to come though.The smaller football programs are just not economically feasible. There may be some good news in all of this though. A side effect may be something that most college football teams want anyway, big teams playing other big programs.

Further reading from the Huffington Post.

 

The Sunday: The Boom and One Proud Papa

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Saturday was suppose to be a low key day of college football. No top 10 matchups and only a few conference games of interest which meant of course that it would be a wild day which it was. Despite the upsets and close games two moments really took the cake. One involved a veteran announcer and the other a former coach celebrating his child’s success.

75 year old Brent Musburger has been calling football for a long time. He is now announcing the SEC Networks primetime game which meant that this week he was in Gainesville calling the Kentucky at Florida game. During OT he dropped ‘boom goes the dynamite!’ on a touchdown run by Kentucky running back Stanley Williams. Yep, he said it and it was glorious.

Possibly the best moment was one that most people were not aware off until Sunday morning. It was of former UCLA QB and Head Coach Rick Neuheisel, who is now an analyst for the PAC-12 Network, cheering on his son Jerry during the UCLA at Texas game.

Neuheisel Watching Son

http://pac-12.com/videos/rick-neuheisel-watches-son-jerry-lead-ucla-victory

Neuheisel’s son came into the game because of an injury to Heisman Trophy candidate Brett Hundley and helped lead UCLA to a hard fought victory over Texas in Dallas. So this came pretty unexpectedly. You could see Rick Neuheisel trying to balance being a dad and being a coach. In the end, being a dad won out.

Credit to the PAC-12 Network for shooting this and getting it out too. It’s such a great moment and with all of the terrible news this week it’s refreshing to see a proud papa celebrating his son’s success. And as Musburger would say, ‘boom goes the dynamite!’

 

 

 

 

The Other Takeaway

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

While the sports landscape is being dominated by Donald Sterling and Michael Sam one interesting detail flew below the headlines this past weekend. The University of Texas did not have a player drafted in the NFL Draft for the first time since 1937.

Texas Longhorns

The players that were eligible for the 2014 draft were part of the 2009 recruiting class (more or less). The 2009 recruiting class at Texas ranked #3 according to ESPN and #5 according to Rivals respectively. Not one of the them was drafted by an NFL team. In fact, that class had a 31-20 record at Texas.

This should be a clear indicator as to why former Texas Head Coach Mack Brown is out of a job. It should also point to why the new Head Coach is Charlie Strong was hired on.

Coach Strong’s previous team, Louisville, had three players taken in the first round of this years draft and four overall. According to Rivals.com,  the 2009 recruiting class at Louisville ranked 77th.

That brings us to the other major take away, recruiting rankings mean nothing at the end of the day. NOTHING.

 

A Not So Silly Season

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Over the last two years this time of year has been a proverbial revolving door when it comes to head coaches in college football. This year, not so much. The main reason is that nearly all of the major college football programs have hired a new coach within the last three years.

Look at the major college football conferences: ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac 12 and Sec. After the 2012 and 2013 seasons there was a total of 24 coaching changes. Between those five conferences this year there will be three coaching changes (give or take).

This is the first time since 2006 that the SEC isn’t changing out a coach. The man who changed that in 2007, Nick Saban at Alabama.

Most people felt back in September that the two biggest job openings this year would be USC and Texas. USC has already been opened and filled. Lane Kiffin was fired (not surprisingly) by USC back at the end of September. He’s been replaced by Washington Head Coach and former USC assistant Steve Sarkisian.

Steve Sarkisian

The Texas job, as of this post, will open possibly by the end of the week if the reports are correct. This will be the biggest job out there by far with all of the resources, money and pressure one could want.

Next year could bring a back the typical ‘silly season’ but let’s hope, for the coaches and the fans, that it comes around as often as the World Cup because it can drive people, well, silly.

How The Mighty Have Fallen

By Brad Hubbard @bradhubbard

Texas, Nebraska and Tennessee have over 2,500 wins in their history. They have some 27 National Championships between them and they lost Saturday by a combined score of 144-58. The most telling stat of all is that the three teams gave up a combined 128 unanswered points.

THE FALL

These three universities have at one point or another been the program in college football at some point over the last 20 years. All three have big donors, the best facilities and a massive fan base. All that didn’t help them on Saturday as they were all embarrassed.

While all three loses were hard they were not all equal. Texas my have been the worse. With high hopes coming into the season they are now 1-2, fired their Defensive Coordinator a week ago and have given up 1,128 total yards in the last two weeks.

They’re in trouble and their Head Coach Mack Brown is firmly on the hot seat.

Nebraska was hoping for better results as well. They have a four year starting QB in Taylor Martinez but their legendary “Blackshirt” defense has been torched this season giving up almost 30 points a game on average. Yesterday was a complete meltdown in the 2nd half as they gave up 38 unanswered points to UCLA.

There may be some hope in Lincoln because they can score a lot of points with Martinez but their vaunted defense hasn’t struck fear into opponents since Ndaukong Suh was their.

Tennessee has been a beaten down program over the last 5 years. They haven’t beaten a Top 25 team since Halloween 2009 and Saturday saw the worse lost in Tennessee history. A program that knew it was in the rebuilding process were harshly reminded of it on Saturday afternoon.

Tennessee will be happy to be bowl eligable this season.

The great thing about College Football is, as Lou Holtz says, ‘You have a different team every week.’ These teams will march on the question is, will it be to victory?

Signing Day Part 1: Why A Top Class Doesn’t Equal Wins

By Brad Hubbard @bradhubbard

Over the last decade the college football world has become consumed with National Signing Day. It’s the first day that a high school football player can sign a letter of intent with the University he wishes to play football at. Before this day it there can be only ‘verbal’ commitments.

Many moons ago National Signing Day wasn’t a big deal accept to the Universities and the players. Now it’s an all day special on ESPNU. There are supposed “experts” from San Antonio to Connecticut.  17 and 18 year old young men sit at tables with every member of their family behind them and try to keep every one guessing as to which school they will choose by having several hats laid out on a table. It’s the months, and sometimes years, of built up into a few fleeting moments for a young man and his family. All broadcast live on cable television and plastered online.

ESPN Homepage

(Above is a look at ESPN.com’s homepage during the frenzy known as signing day)

But what does all this spectacle actually mean? Does the team with the best recruiting ranking win? Do these highly touted players become superstars and difference makers at their schools? Do they do well in the NFL?

We went back and look at scout.com’s team rankings for the last 5 years (2008-2012) to see if recruiting rankings actually mean. (Please note that there are several recruiting sites out there. A list is at the bottom of this post.) At first glance one could say yes. Alabama is ranked in the Top 10 every year with their lowest ranking being 7th and they’ve proceded to win 3 out of the last 4 BCS National Championships.

Alabama’s cross state rivals at Auburn have been in the Top 10 the last 3 years. In that time they’ve won the BCS National Title game and this year fired their coach after a 3-8 season with no wins in the SEC. They’ve seen both sides of the pendulum.

UCLA has been in the Top 10 3 times in the last 5 years. During that time they have a 30-35 record, changed coaches, managed only 2 winning seasons, didn’t have a single player taken in last years NFL Draft and are 1-4 against cross town rivals USC.

Texas has been in the Top 10 in the last 4 years and was even ranked #1 last year. During this time they’ve played for a BCS National Title (they ended up losing to Alabama) and 3 other bowl games. The year after their loss to Alabama they finished 5-7.

The overall point here is that a top ranked recruiting class by ESPN, Rivals, Scout, or Tom Lemming does not guarantee a team anything except for maybe higher expectations. But if you go to Alabama, Texas or Auburn the expectations are pretty high as it is. A top ranked recruiting class does improve your chances to winning but how a staff takes these recruits and molds them into a team is what really wins games.

Recruiting Sites Scout.com, rivals.com, ESPN, CBSSports, MaxPreps