Link – Michigan bringing soccer, cheerleading coaches and band staff to satellite camps – CollegeFootballTalk

This continues to be groundbreaking when it comes to selling a school’s brand across the country, and for now Michigan continues to be doing nothing wrong as far as the NCAA is concerned.

I find it interesting that Michigan can send coaches and staff all over the world, all in the name of selling the schools brand. Meanwhile, the guys who don’t get paid at all, because the athletic department who probably claims that paying the athletes would bankrupt them.

How about a little help for my rent and food instead of a recruiting trip to Somoa, especially when it’s the players who people pay to see.

Michigan bringing soccer, cheerleading coaches and band staff to satellite camps

Link – Suspect device blown up at Old Trafford as Manchester United finale abandoned

jarmoluk / Pixabay

jarmoluk / Pixabay

“Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Army experts blew up a suspect package at Old Trafford on Sunday after tens of thousands of fans were evacuated from the stadium ahead of Manchester United’s final English Premier League game of the season, police said.

The emergency was signalled just 20 minutes before the scheduled start of the game in the 75,600 capacity stadium.

United and Bournemouth players were warming up on the pitch when the club ordered fans out of two stands.”

Pretty soon, you won’t be able to bring anything into the stadium with you, and on cold days you’ll have to take all your layers off to have them inspected, which will continue to make staying home and watching on TV a more attractive option.

What would sports look like then?–sow.html

Link – The Dodgers are stuck in the blah of average

2015-11-26 11.16.49

“The Dodgers are barely above average, and, even in the wake of their first pinch-hit walk-off home in nearly three years, they are barely looking like they can turn that into something truly valuable.

The Dodgers are a glorious centerpiece named Clayton Kershaw and a bunch of surrounding knick-knacks that are occasionally colorful but mostly baffling. Are they truly competing for a title or slowly beginning the process of rebuilding? Management has seemingly built this team to do both, which, no surprise, has resulted in them doing neither.”

The other day I was thinking about a post talking about the Dodgers thus far, and I really got a good case of writer’s block.

I just couldn’t find anything interesting to say about the season thus far.

I think this article says it best. I don’t see this team winning a World Series with this roster, even if they manage to win this wreck of a division.

The Dodgers are stuck in the blah of average

Link – Brazil soccer legend: Your life is at risk if you come to Brazil for Olympics

On Instagram, according to the AP, Rivaldo wrote, “Things are getting uglier here every day. I advise everyone with plans to visit Brazil for the Olympics in Rio — to stay home. You’ll be putting your life at risk here. This is without even speaking about the state of public hospitals and all the Brazilian political mess. Only God can change the situation in our Brazil.”

Not exactly a tourism commercial is it?

Crime, political instability and a potential viral epidemic. Is that enough risk to keep you away from the Olympics?

Brazil soccer legend: Your life is at risk if you come to Brazil for Olympics

New York Islanders 2015-16 Post Mortem

cropped-IMG_0073.jpgThe Islanders season ended yesterday in a case of precision demolition at the end of the Lightning in Game 5 of their series. Their first season in Brooklyn gave fans a bit of a mixed bag. The regular season record was not as good as the previous year, and the Isles finished one place further back in the Metropolitan Division. On the other hand they won their first playoff series in 23 years and had a more competitive than it might look 5 game series with the Lightning.

But, was it a success? Certainly many would argue that breaking that 23 year drought is a success, and you won’t see any arguments from me on that one, that was hanging around this organization like an albatross and it feels good as a fan to not have that around any more.

On a deeper level though, we have to ask about the overall plan. Garth Snow and Jack Capuano have been the architects of this team for quite awhile now, and it’s fair to ask if this season ended as another step towards a Stanley Cup, or whether this team, as constructed and coached, has what it takes. That’ a more difficult question to answer.

The reason it’s difficult kind of goes back to what I’ve been saying since last Summer. Given a team that had made the playoffs, but lost in round one due mostly to a lack of scoring, especially on the power play, Garth Snow chose to, essentially, stand pat. He made some minor moves to bring in Marek Zidlicky and Steve Bernier, and swapped out backup goaltenders, bringing in Thomas Greiss, but clearly management believed that the youngsters would blossom after showing some real promise during the 2014-15 season. A big reason why their record was not as good this season had to do with that simply not happening.

Let’s get specific here. We’re talking about Ryan Strome, Anders Lee and Brock Nelson. In 2014-15 they combined for 62 goals and 71 assists. In the 2015-16 season that dipped to 49 goals and 55 assists. More importantly, we also got to see a lot of poor decisions and bad defense out of them at times that didn’t exist the previous season. Poor enough to see them benched, and Strome even sent to Bridgeport for a short time. While Nelson played at around the same level of production, Anders Lee and Ryan Strome regressed, badly. For a team that stood mostly pat during the offseason, and again at the trade deadline, this would prove to be a serious problem.

And, as in the previous season, come playoff time, they were non-factors. (Albeit Lee was a non-factor due to injury)

On defense, the inability of any of the highly touted prospects to even crack the lineup until very late in the season meant the Isles played much of the season with the same holes on defense that they had the previous season. In essence, Leddy, Boychuk, Hamonic, deHaan, Hickey and either Strait or Zidlicky. Or as I like to think of them, 3 second pair and 4 third pair defensemen. Leddy, Boychuk and Hamonic are all good, solid defensemen, Leddy when he really gets skating can even be a borderline top pairing guy, but the other four bring a mix of good and bad on a day to day basis that you’d really rather not depend on for too many minutes. The group still lacks a clear stud top guy. (Ala what we saw from Victor Hedman against the Islanders.)

On top of that gamble, the Islanders also were depending on some of their veteran players playing up to their capabilities as well, but only a few did. Even captain John Tavares was down 16 points from the previous year. Johnny Boychuk, Josh Bailey and Nikolai Kulemin were also significantly less productive while Mikail Grabovski once again couldn’t stay healthy.

All in all, the only area the Islanders actually improved in was in goal. Credit to Jaroslav Halak and Greiss, without them this season may have been a lot worse than it was, and we might still be waiting on that series win.

Anyway you look at it though, the dip in some of the numbers for so many players, and the dip in quality play for some of them, leave me wondering how successful this season really was. Were the Islanders better, or were they just lucky to face a Florida team that wasn’t ready to win in the playoffs yet?

I think, after careful viewing of Round two, that it was the later. Simply put, the Islanders got a Tampa team playing minus an All-Star Center and one of it’s top 4 defense, but still managed to have the play taken to them for most of the series. After catching a rusty team by surprise in Game 1, they were dominated in Game 2. Back home in Brooklyn, the Islanders had late, third period,  leads and plenty of chances to extend those leads and put Tampa away, but wound up losing both of those games, finally getting just completely outclassed in game 5.

In a nutshell, Tampa got their opportunity to put away their opponent in Game 5, and did it clinically. Given the chance to put away their opponent in Games 3-4, the Islanders had no such ability to finish off their chances.

Simply put, I think the Islanders management stood pat this season banking on improvement from within, and got about the same team. They got a better round one matchup and won a series, but did not get closer to competing for a Cup. Much of that falls on the GM for not making a significant move, but I also have to say that when you have young players not improving, and in fact, regressing, that is also on the coaching staff.

Will they be back? Who knows? With new ownership taking control of the team this off season, anything could happen. Looking at the roster, I think there will be some changes made, regardless of the coach and GM. I’ll have more on that in another post this week.

How do you feel about the season. Was it a success in your book because there was at least some playoff success, or was it more of a year of standing still? What do you think this team looks like come September?

NFL Draft – An Ohio State Celebration

BrutusI know I’m hardly the first one to point out that the number of high draft picks, and overall draft picks, from Ohio State sure made it seem like ESPN and the NFL Network were creating recruiting films for Urban Meyer this weekend. There’s no question that recruits were paying attention and seeing all those picks would seem to make them think again about going to Ohio State.

It’s a good thing too, because with that much talent leaving, the Buckeyes are going to need as much incoming talent as they an get! The experts tell us that shouldn’t be a problem, that Coach Meyer and company have plenty of talent in the pipeline to remain competitive, but until that talent is on the field, playing in crucial games, the truth is, you just never know.

After all, the last time we saw a team dominate the draft like this may have been the 2004 draft, when there were six Miami Hurricanes taken in the first round. Who would have thought that program would fall off the map the way it has in the years since? Granted, there were extenuating circumstances in Miami, but their history does show that it’s not impossible to go from these heights of getting players into the NFL, to struggling to even get winning seasons again.

But for today Buckeye fans, we can celebrate the great players who have spent the last couple of years bringing the program to new levels of success, even if it also makes us wonder how they ever lost that Michigan State game. 😉

And for all those young players still in Columbus. You’re up!

Link – The true story of the NFL draft and the competition it really affects

NFL“This parceling out of exclusive negotiating rights to exiting college players has always been presented, even from its low-key inception in a Philadelphia hotel 80 years ago, as a way to ensure competitive balance by giving bad teams first crack at better incoming players.

An added benefit for NFL owners, however — arguably the greatest benefit — is that the draft denies college stars the windfall of potential bidding wars among multiple teams, keeping salaries lower than they might otherwise have been.”

These are both true. All we have to do is look to leagues like European football leagues and see that it is absolutely possible for the richest teams to simply buy the biggest names and dominate the competition. On the other hand, those players are also free to negotiate a contract anywhere, for any amount, which is, unarguably getting them more money than a draft system would.

So, which is better?

The true story of the NFL draft and the competition it really affects

Link – Pending NHL free agents rise, fall during playoffs

“RW Kyle Okposo, New York Islanders: He’s produced five points in five games while averaging four shots per game. The 217-pound Okposo is leading the Islanders with 13 hits. With so many teams looking for scoring and size, Okposo is helping himself with a strong overall game.

C Frans Nielsen, New York Islanders: Nielsen will be looking for a significant raise this summer over the $3.5 million he’s earning. He may get it. He often appears on underrated lists. A versatile player who can check and score, Nielsen has three goals and four points in this first round. His three goals tie him with John Tavares for the team lead. He’s playing 23 minutes per game.”

These two guys are going to get offered a lot of money, and a lot of years, somewhere this Summer. I’m not sold that the Islanders can, or should match that. It’s going to be very difficult for both of these guys to be back in Brooklyn next season and the Islanders are going to have to hope that some of the young kids are ready for the next step, and that Ryan Strome and Anders Lee bounce back. Otherwise, this is going to be a very thin team offensively.

Pending NHL free agents rise, fall during playoffs


Link – The NCAA’s new March Madness TV deal will make them a billion dollars a year

“The NCAA’s best argument for why it gets to make $1 billion every year to put on a basketball tournament starring unpaid basketball players is that it only keeps $100 million for itself. That’s a freakin’ awful argument.”

The pretty much sums it up, doesn’t it? There’s a billion dollars being paid for the rights to broadcast the NCAA basketball tournament, and this article shows how most of it doesn’t ever make it back to the benefit of all student athletes, let alone the ones out there putting on the show that brings in the money.

The NCAA’s new March Madness TV deal will make them a billion dollars a year –