College Football

With Alabama’s exciting victory over unbeaten Clemson earlier this week, view the 2015 college football season came to an end and Alabama won the CFP Championship.  Even though the teams have barely settled back into their campuses after the trip to Arizona, is it too early to start thinking about next year?  Well, probably, but let’s do it anyway.  Here are some things to look for in the 2016 season:

  1. The Clemson Tigers will probably open the season ranked #1.  They will most likely be bringing back 17 starters including Heisman Trophy finalist, Deshaun Watson. Even though they have a few significant losses, they will be in a position to regroup around the core players that will be returning.  Key match-up for next year:  A road game against Florida State.  Pencil that one in now as one to watch.  Will the Tigers be able to repeat their perfect season and return to the championship game?
  2. The Expectations for Michigan are Off the Charts.  This year’s 10-3 team also returns a group of strong players, especially on defense, and no doubt Wolverines fans can practically taste the chance to make it to the championship game.  Some oddsmakers are reporting that Michigan has 12/1 odds of making it to the final game.  One thing is for sure: Coach Jim Harbaugh has started the recruiting season and everyone is taking note!
  3.  The Big Twelve May Host a Conference Champsionship Game. At the NCAA convention this week, the league voted to allow the Big 12 to have a conference championship game, even if does not expand from its current ten-team roster.  However, the Big 12 Commissioner walked back the rule change, stating to ESPN that the vote did not necessarily mean that a championship game would happen.  ESPN reports it is unlikely that a championship game would be held next year, in any event.
  4. Alabama isn’t Going Anywhere.  This team has won four championships in the last seven years.  Even with star running back Derrick Henry declaring he will enter the NFL draft next year, can you really count on Alabama not to be in the hunt for a national title?  No.  And if politics have anything to do with it, AL.com encourages Crimson Tide fans to vote democrat in the next election.  Why?  Eleven of ‘Bama’s sixteen championships have come with democrats sitting in the White House.  And four have come with O-Bama occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
  5. Big Ten to Begin Nine Game Conferenece Schedule.  Despite the fact the Big Ten coaches unanimously hate the 9-game conference schedule, it’s here.  All Big Ten teams will now have to play nine conference games and one intersectional game against a power league.  No more padding those scheduleds with MAC teams.  We can only wonder what the bowl eligibiilty will look like with nine conference games.  Yikes.

 

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Happy New Year!  For college football fans, mind there is no better way to ring in 2016 than by binge-watching bowl game after bowl game.  For those of us who will be sitting on our couches today watching those games, doctor  the storyline that will be undoubtably be dominating the airwaves is the performances of Clemson and Alabama last night, viagra sale both earning a trip to Arizona for the CFP championship game on January 11th in convincing fashion.  Sadly for Michiagn State fans, the Spartans were beaten 38-0 by Alabama last night.  You have to wonder just how the game would have turned out if MSU’s interception right before halftime hadn’t happened.  It felt like Michigan State was in the game up until that point, but they just couldn’t recover after that interception.  Hats off to Alabama as they looked like a championship caliber team last night.  The Detroit Free Press has a great analysis of not only the game, but what the Spartans need to do in the future to get to the level of a championship-caliber team.

Then there was the matter of Oklahoma vs. Clemson where the Tigers handed the Sooners a 37-17 loss and earned their way to the CFP champsionship game.  Did you know that “Clemsoning” was a word?  The urban dictionary has an actual definition for “Clemsoning.”  It is: “The act of delivering an inexplicably disappointing performance, usually within the context of a college football season.”  Well take note, urban dictionary, you may need to update that definition.  Clemson fans were anything but disappointed last night. Despite the fact that Clemson came into the game undefeated and ranked #1 in the country, they were underdogs.  The much under-appreciated, disrespected, and often overlooked Clemson team showed everyone last night that they are the real deal and deserve to be in the champsionship game.

So we are set for the showdown in the desert to decide the 2015 NCAA football national champion.  Will it be the Crimson Tide of Alabama who are trying to win their first title in three years?  Or will the Tigers, who have only won one championship – back in 1981, bring home the title?  This southern duel will surely be a fun one to watch.

And Big Ten and Notre Dame fans, even though Michigan State loss its game last night, you are well represented today as four of the five bowl games feature Big Ten teams and the Fiesta Bowl has Notre Dame going against Ohio State.  The day starts off with Northwestern facing Tennessee in the Outback Bowl.  Then Michigan plays Florida in the Citrus Bowl at the same time Notre Dame and OSU battle it out.  Then Iowa takes on Stanford in the Rose Bowl.  By the way, who would have predicted that Iowa would have been representing the B1G in the Rose Bowl this year!

So get comfy on those couches – you’ve got a lot of football to watch today!

 

 

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Back in November, for sale I followed the story about the Missouri football team boycott which ultimately led to the resignation of the university’s President and Chancellor.  The team’s boycott was in response to a student movement, tadalafil including a hunger strike by one student, advice claiming that the school had not done enough to deal with racism on campus.  The story garnered little national attention until the football team united together and threatened to boycott all football activities, including the upcoming game against BYU, unless the President resigned.  I was conflicted about the story then, and I remain so today.

The power this college football team had to instantly grab attention and cause the resignation of two of the university’s highest ranking officials was stunning. Not only did the story dominate the headlines once the football team got involved, but the issue of racism on college campuses was instantly brought to the forefront of the news cycle. The President and Chancellor’s resignations were not in response to a major address by a civil rights leader, political figure, or world scholar.  This was a football team threatening a boycott of a game that some argued had little meaning to the team’s season since Mizzou was not in the hunt for the SEC title. And we have to wonder, would the team have boycotted if the season had been on the line?

It is no secret that Mizzou would have lost $1 million if the football team boycotted the game.  That had to get university officials, the athletic department, boosters, and season ticket holders anxious – to say the least.  So this week a Missouri legislator introduced a bill  in the state legislature that would have caused university athletes to lose their scholarships if they refused to play in a game for any reason other than injury. Let’s think about this:  If the bill passed, it would have been illegal under Missouri law for student athletes to have refused to play in a game for any reason other than an injury.  What could possibly go wrong under a law like that?  There are so many problems I don’t know where to start.

Think the NCAA might want a say in what would constitute a student athlete losing his or her scholarship rather than a state law dictating such terms? Are student athletes now considered university employees?  Somehow I think that NCAA is going to have a problem with that one. And what about the First Amendment?  Yes, no issues there. Thankfully, that bill was withdrawn later this week. But its introduction has done exactly what its sponsors had wanted – created a discussion about how much power is too much power to hand to student athletes.

We know the athletes in this country have a tremendous amount of influence given their endorsement deals, access to mainstream media, and wealth.  But it is not only professional athletes that have this platform.  At a school such as Missouri where the football team is such an integral part of that school’s identity and tradition, when they unite for a cause, there is an instantaneous response.  Their platform is enormous on a college campus – and even nationally.  This Missouri football team clearly identified with and was passionate about their united mission.  The question then becomes, where do we go from here?  Are college sports teams now in a position to threaten to boycott over larger political issues that they feel passionate about?  What if they are all not united?

I don’t have an answer for this, and I suspect most university officials do not either – yet.  The consequences, both financially and structurally, could be devstating for a program if it actually had to forfeit money into the millions of dollars because its team would not take the field.  Entire recruiting strategies would suffer if a program’s instability was evident. Therefore, this is not an easy issue and it will undoubtably develop over the next several months and years.  But one thing is for sure:  Sports are powerful and influential well beyond the actual game.  But then again, we all knew that, right?

 

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Category: NCAA

“Brought to you by AT&T #FootballEverywhere”

Can you believe that it’s already bowl season?! I sure can’t. The debate of who should be in and out is one hot topic. Something that shouldn’t be is not being able to catch your favorite college football team in action!

So when I was offered to cover AT&T’s Football Everywhere partnership with Uber in select cities I jumped at the opportunity. First off, check I love college football, for sale like LOVE. Second, buy I love Uber. And third, I love tech and the way it is incorporated into our everyday lives.

What is “Football Everywhere”? This college football season, AT&T offered and showed consumers how AT&T products and services help get them college football – wherever they are. AT&T brought the delivery of college football to life in a fun way. The program came to life in multiple ways, one being a strategic partnership with Uber to create UberCONNECT, powered by AT&T. This unique product provided fans the opportunity to watch live streaming games inside custom, college football branded Connected Cars so they didn’t have to miss a play on game day.

AT&T also brought College Football Everywhere and its fleet of Connected Cars to Nashville, Detroit and Houston earlier in the season, with special guests like Jerome Bettis, Herman Moore and Dat Nquyen surprising riders. This time in Atlanta on game day AT&T had football everywhere Uber cars (which are RIDICULOUSLY cool) that allow fans to be immersed in college football during ride.

Imagine you are just going about your Saturday plans and you need an Uber, not just any Uber one that comes along with soon to be NFL Hall of Famer corner back Troy Polamalu and music superstar Big Boi and connected and hooked up with all the bells and whistles from AT&T to watch any college football game during your ride.

Check out the super cool AT&T and Uber cars that surprised Atlanta riders last weekend. Man, the one time I wish I lived in Atlanta.  I think these riders’ reactions said it all. Well done AT&T and Uber, well done.

“Brought to you by AT&T #FootballEverywhere”

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With two weeks to go in the regular season, rx there are several great match-ups that have the potential to shake-up the CFB playoff picture.  None is bigger, however, than the match-up of the B1G season between the Buckeyes and the Spartans on Saturday.  In fact, ESPN College GameDay is headed to Columbus for the first time since 2010 for the big showdown.  The Buckeyes beat out a valiant effort by Virginia Tech who tried to entice College GameDay to come to their campus to honor retiring head coach Frank Beamer one last time.  But alas, the OSU v. MSU match-up was just too big to turn down. So what will the fans of both the Spartans and Buckeyes be in store for when their two teams hit the field?

Honestly, one can only reason a guess at this point in the season. But one thing looks for sure: Whichever team loses will most likely end their hopes of being in the playoff consideration.  Whoever wins, probably just put themselves in the hunt for the CFP.  Some argue that MSU will be primed for a win after losing a heartbreaker to Nebraska last week.  And some believe that OSU has had a cupcake schedule this year and this is their first legitimate challenge.

While the match-up between these two powerhouses on the field is certainly attracting well-deserved attention, the one story that really caught my eye this week was much more personal in nature. It was the feature ESPN did on the relationship between Mark Dantonio and Tom Izzo – a football coach and a basketball coach that have fed off of each other, enjoyed each other’s success, and been there for each other during times of struggle.  And that was important last week after MSU lost its chance at an undefeated season.

“We just talked about how to deal with the media and the fans and players. I asked him how he addressed his players Sunday when he got back,” Izzo said. “Mostly, I was just checking up on a friend.” – Tom Izzo via ESPN.

Being a head coach of a Division I college sport, especially a revenue generating sport that is constantly in the national media must be awfully lonely.  You are either a hero who can do “no wrong” or the fans are calling for your job if the season is not going according to plan.  Let’s face it – we are in a “Win Now, Win Often” era of sports, both at the collegiate level and professionally. A college coach who is guiding young men through the bright lights of the wins and the devastation of the losses have to be able to be motivators, comforters, supporters, and to some extent, fathers.

But where do they turn for their own advice and support?  While I’m sure family and close friends provide a much needed support system, no one but another coach in similar situation can really understand. For Tom Izzo and Mark Dantonio, they turn to each other.

It probably is not a coincidence that for almost the past ten years that they have been at the helm of the football and basketball programs, MSU has seen a resurgence of success.  If you don’t know a lot about these two coaches, I would highly recommend reading the story.  And for other colleges out there – this is a blueprint waiting to be followed.

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Category: NCAA

It’s that time of year when the national college football rankings are shuffling around on a weekly basis, medicine the playoff and bowl situation is starting to take shape, capsule and the Heisman watch is heating up.  But before we get to the players who will likely be the top candidates to take home the famed prize, did you know that the Heisman trophy’s earliest roots are right here in Chicago?

John Jacob “Jay” Berwanger, who played halfback for the University of Chicago Maroons football team, was the first winner of the Heisman Trophy (then called the Downtown Athletic Club Trophy) back in 1935.  Berwanger became the first player to be drafted by the NFL in 1936 and was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles.  The Eagles then traded his rights to the Bears becaue they didn’t think they could pay him what he would want.  Berwanger never played for the Bears, however, because after he chose not to sign in 1936 so he could compete for a spot on the U.S. Summer Olympic team in 1936, he and George Halas could never agree on his salary  – they were $2,500 apart.

Wow.  $2,500.  My how things are different for the top Heisman candidates in 2015.  According to ESPN, the top five vote-getters in the race after last week are:

  1. Derrick Henry of Alabama. The current Heisman frontrunner had a fantastic game against LSU and is leading the FSB in rushing touchdowns with 17.  Against LSU he ran for 210 yards and had three touchdowns to  jump ahead of Leonard Fournette in votes.  Up next is Mississippi State for the Alabama running back.
  2. Leonard Fournette of LSU. Is he unfairly losing ground because of his game against Alabama? He still has the FSB rushing lead with 172.9 yards per game. Many have speculated that he may have lost the trophy for good after he directly went up against Henry last week (and Henry clearly took that round), but isn’t that why we play all the games?  And with Arkansas, Ole Miss and Texas A&M left on LSU’s schedule, Fournette could post some big numbers.
  3. Corey Coleman of Baylor.  Now here is an interesting case – he is the only wide receiver in the top five vote-getters last week.  He had 5 first-place votes (more than any other candidate) but is sitting in third place because he did not receive any votes on three of the ballots.
  4. Ezekiel Elliott of Ohio State.  Big Ten fans know Elliott well as he most likely has run through you favorite team’s defense at will since he has rushed for 100 plus yards in 14 consecutive games.  To say he is a workhorse is an understatement.  He will also have a great opportunity to show how he performs against OSU’s multiple ranked opponents in the last month of the season.
  5. Christian McCaffrey of Stanford. McCaffrey has climbed back into the top five after being out for one week.  He rushed for 147 yards against Colorado and even threw a 28-yard touchdown pass during the game.

While it looks like the top two front-runners of Henry and Fournette seem to be going head-to-head in the last few weeks of the season to grab those final and definitive votes, we have all been shocked by Heisman winners in the past – will we be this year too?  One thing is for sure.  There won’t be any future NFL deals blown up because of $2,500.

 

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