Thursday, December 18, 2008

And the 2008 NFL Rookie of the Year is ...

You can make a case for a handful of rookies, but I'll focus on 4 "can't miss" candidates. I've been impressed (in no specific order) with Chris Johnson (235 carries 1,158 rush yards, 4.9 yds/carry,8 RushTDs, 41 Rec and 1 RecTD) Matt Forte (280 carries 1,115 rush yards, 4.0 yds/carry,7 RushTDs, 58 Rec and 4 RecTDs), Joe Flacco (58.7 Comp% 2,525 yds, 13TDs/12Ints *76.9 rtg*) and Matt Ryan (62.2 Comp% 3,146 yds, 14TDs/9Ints *90.0 rtg*). I'm sure those in H-Town would throw Steve Slaton (230 carries 1,124 rush yards, 4.9 yds/carry, 8 RushTDs, 40 Rec and 1 RecTD) in that mix and rightfully so. My focus is on the 4 mentioned because they are instrumental to teams making or attempting to make Playoff runs, THIS year.

Chris Johnson (Titans 12-2) ... A colleague of mine has been telling me about "THE GREAT" Chris Johnson, since training camp, and he was right on the money. I don't think even HE envisioned the East Carolina "speedster" having the breakout season he's enjoying, but he'll say he did. ;-) (lol) Of the other candidates, Johnson is the only one coming to a team fresh off a playoff appearance, the year before. He's emerged as Tennessee's most explosive threat, with his 4.2 forty speed, as a rusher (4.9 yds/carry) and receiver (41 Receptions). The Titans lack of a vertical passing game hasn't stopped # 28 from having a Pro-Bowl season, in addition to sharing carries with RedZone scoring machine LenDale White.

Matt Forte (Bears 8-6) ... Impressed Bears coaches, with his blocking ability and quick grasp of the offense, from Day One. First Rookie (since LaDanian, in 01') to Rush for over 1,000 yards and catch more than 50 passes. The Former Tulane "workhorse" has already broken the Bears rookie records for receptions (58, currently) and total yards from scrimmage, and on pace to break the Bears rookie rushing record. This 2nd round "steal" has given the Bears a threat they haven't had, since Neal Anderson and is one of the NFL leaders in total percentage of their team's yards from scrimmage.

Joe Flacco (Ravens 9-5) ... The lanky, Rocket armed, pride of Deleware U. has started all 14 games (thus far) and has thrown for over 2,500 yards. His TD (13) to INT (12) Ratio is almost even but he's been forced to get it done with a running game "by committee" and without a Pro-Bowl calibur threat, in the Receiving core (Todd Heap's having a "pedestrian" year, by his standards, with only 30 catches and 3 TDs). Flacco has flashed the big play ability (with his arm and legs), that had some pro scouts comparing him to Big Ben, and has the Ravens (4-12, last year) on the brink of a Playoff run.

Matt Ryan (Falcons 9-5) ... In spite of the Clouds of controversy and confusion that hovered over this organization, last year, Ryan has done nothing but take the NFL by storm. The former Golden Eagle is putting together one of the Best "statistical" Rookie Year's, for a QB, we've seen in some time (62 Comp % over 3,100 yards, 14TDs/9Ints). Matt has handled the pressure of leading this team out of the Petrino and Vick fiascos and into contention in the very competitive NFC South. Ryan, unlike his Ravens counterpart, has a "stud" to hand it off to in Michael "Burner" Turner and a Pro Bowl calibur talent in Roddy White. Rarely do you see a team with a Rookie Coach AND Rookie QB have success, so quickly, let alone TWO teams ?

So where does that leave us ? Chris Johnson made the Pro-Bowl but the truth is the Titans were already a Playoff calibur team, coming into the season. They're more of a surprise because of who's leading them to victories, week in and week out, than anything else. Matt Forte came to an underachieving Bears team and revamped their running attack, single handedly, and is on pace to break multiple Bear rookie records. Joe Flacco has been steering a ship, motored by it's mouth bloodying defense , on course for a Playoff run. Matt Ryan leaped the hurdle of replacing a fallen hero (in Mike Vick) while tasked with ridding the Georgia Dome of the stentch left by the Petrino defection.

With all that said, I think the 2008 NFL Rookie of the Year Award should go to ..........

Matt Ryan ... (as much as the Bears Fan in me wanted to give it to Forte ... *lol* ) Matt took a "3 year plan" and gave Atlanta an immediate return on a long term investment. No matter which one of these Rookies takes home the "Hardware", I don't think either team will argue the fact that they have special players to build their teams around ...

'Til the Next Episode ... JerzeeWorld ... Holla !

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

D-1 College Football Playoffs: “A Dream Scenario”

Is the way that College Football Crowns its National Champion really deemed as fair? Do smaller schools like Ball State, Boise State, Utah, or BYU have a legitimate shot at winning a National Championship? The answer too both of these questions is NO!

Let’s call the BCS what it really is; “Bad Crappy System” and the bottom line is money. Of course the Presidents and Athletic Directors at these Big BCS schools are not going to change the way of the current BCS system because as the old saying goes, money talks and…well you know the rest.

In any case, I have the ultimate cure for this flawed system that would still keep the major Division 1 schools happy and give the smaller schools an opportunity to compete for the National Championship.

The first thing would be to cut the schedules back down to 11 games, plus the Conference Championships for the schools that have them. Secondly, you take the Conference winner from each of the 11 Bowl Sub-Division Conferences, which are comprised of the BCS Schools and a few of the Mid-Major conferences along with one Independent School like Notre Dame. This would give you 12 teams from the Bowl-Sub-Division; the next step would be to include a school from the Championship Sub-Division that consists of Conferences like the Ivy League, SWAAC, and Patriot League. Determine it by taking the school with the highest winning percentage that played the toughest schedule. In the end there would be 13 teams who would compete for the National Championship.

Here is an example of the brackets

The Top three Teams
Oklahoma, 2. Florida, 3. USC (All Conference Winners)

The top 3 seeds would be Idle during the opening rounds.

(4) Penn State vs (13) Richmond (Championship Sub-Division Winner)
(5) Utah vs (12) Buffalo
(6) Boise State vs (11) Troy
(7) Cincinnati vs (10) Navy (Independent)
(8) Virginia Tech vs (9) East Carolina

(1) Oklahoma vs (8) Virginia Tech
(2) Florida vs (7) Cincinnati
(3) USC vs (6) Boise State
(4) Penn Sate vs (5) Utah

(1) Oklahoma vs (5) Utah
(2) Florida vs (3) USC

(1) Oklahoma vs (3) USC
Winner and National Champions: Oklahoma Sooners

Now to satisfy the other schools who didn’t qualify for the Playoffs, their Post-Season play would consist of the traditional Bowl Games, so all is not lost. I think that the bigger schools would still make their money, and the smaller schools would have the opportunity to see how they stack up against the talent from the major conferences, we see how Cinderella provides excitement and upsets during the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, let’s see if Cinderella can provide the same excitement on the Division 1 College Football scale.

For those of you who are reading this Blog, I would like to here from you. Agree or Disagree but let’s do it tastefully.

By: William Terrell

"A Gentleman's Agreement"

Charles Barkley's comments about his Alma mater sent shock waves in the sports world. The mound bound of rebound accused Auburn of using race as a factor in their hiring of former Iowa State football coach Gene Chizik. Of course some intelligent and sane people could probably accept the reasoning of his diagnosis considering the current state of minority coaching opportunities. However "conventional wisdom" in post civil rights America claims that race wasn't a factor.

I'd like to inform some and reinterate to others the clandestine agreements that existed during the early days of college and pro football. Maybe that last statement caught you off guard. I can see the questions forming in your mind. The most obvious one is, what does the ghosts of football past have to do with Auburn's coaching decision. I'm so glad you asked.

The late 19th century saw the dawning of a new game that was brutal in nature but intriguing to a bunch of rag tag college students and working class men. The Ivy leagues were the first "traditional powers" of college football boasting stars such as Pudge Heffelfinger. True sports historians are well versed in the rivalries between Harvard and Yale. Princeton was in the mix as well but I know you're still wondering, what does that have to do with to day?... Don't worry we're almost there.

The turn of the century saw many state and private colleges start football programs. Naturally many people of different backgrounds were attracted to the new game. Tiny Carlisle College was an all Native American school that produced a gifted athlete. Some guy named Jim Thorpe. Ever heard of him? As blacks were attracted to the game men like Paul Roberson were under intense pressure as being the only person of color allowed to play at all white universities.

One of the first black people to play at a major university was William Henry Lewis in 1889 at Amherst College. Though northern, east, mid-western and west coast universities were the first to allow black players, they never allowed on more than one black on the team during a four year letterman scholarship period. This is were the gentleman's agreement was born. Of course in typical regional fashion, they believed themselves to be socially ahead of the curve in comparison to their southern brethren.

The idea of a black player playing in the south wasn't even an option. From that perspective I guess anyone can see how they arrived at this "arrogance" considering the culture of the times. True to its form, racism has a way of causing its victims not to view life through the eyes of obvious context clues. The early days of the southeastern conference bears witness to how the college administrators arrived to their "gentleman's agreement".

That same rule STILL APPLIES amongst the boosters and alumni who have grown more powerful than the college presidents and athletic directors. The gentleman's agreement as morphed into a more subtle and sinister enigma hidden in all of the television contracts that make millionaires out of a lot of people. At some programs, "boosters" have a direct influence on who gets fired or hired as the next coach. They play college administrators like puppets because they are an integral part of the funding of the multi-billion dollar industry that college sports has become.

Maybe you're reading this and you still don't believe that the past has a direct influence on the future. Consider this. During the civil rights struggles, The Southeastern conference school presidents along with "The white citizens council" which consisted of state and local politicians, local and state business professionals and media outlets openly protested the integration of state funded schools.

Before the 1956 Sugar bowl, Governor Marvin Griffin demanded that Georgia Tech not play against the Pitt Panthers because they had a black player. In a telegram to the Georgia Board of Regents, Griffin declared that integration was like "Armageddon". What did Griffin see in his rant that caused him to liken a player participating in a football game to the end of the world? What he saw was ACCESS.

It is the same insightful vision that many people across the nation(not just the south) feared when black people took the field of play, matriculated in state colleges, and yes in modern times have access to the opportunity to run their own business, major corporations and even this great country. White Supremacy had it biggest fears come to light when the SEC and other power conferences started having more black stars become the "face" of their programs.

Could this sentiment still be amongst the ranks of the alumni and power brokers of the Auburn Universities of the world? Is it still that far fetched to believe that Gene Chizik's hiring is one of the biggest head scratchers of the college football coaching carousel? Still on the fence? Okay let's take America's racial history out of the equation for a brief moment.

Let's ask some fair questions in this hire. Chizik had a 5-19 overall record at his two seasons at the helm at Iowa State. He was on Tuberville's staff in 2004 when they were snubbed for the BCS championship game. Let's get this straight, how is it that any Auburn fan can support the fact that the administrators of this proud program replaced a successful coach for a guy who had a losing season and once worked for the guy you just fired?

Secondly, Turner Gill proved himself at a much tougher place to win considering the University of Buffalo's limited success before Gill's arrival. The unspoken gentleman's agreement at Nebraska (during Gill's interview for the job) wasn't that Gill's team was only 5-7. It was the fact that is own Alma mater didn't trust him to be the face of the program. They chose a guy (Bo Pelini) who had very limited ties to the university with the exception of the stint he had as a defensive coordinator there.

Nebraska chose him over a guy that help them make them millions over the course of his 4 year career. Never mind that he set the wheels in motion to land Tommie Frazier who went on to become a 3 time National championship game MVP en route to capturing 2 straight national championships. Typically "coaching trees" carry a lot of weight in the hiring decisions of college administrators.

Turner Gill cut is teeth under Tom Osborne who is a legend in the coaching profession. Did Auburn or Nebraska consider this? Of course not. That would be to much like right and a violation of the updated version of "The Gentleman's Agreement".