Monday, January 31, 2011

PETA's New Super Bowl Commercial Proves Controversial Again

This seems to be turning into a annual occurrence at the Super Bowl. For the past three years the animal rights organization known as PETA has developed commercials for the Super Bowl that are so racy, they were banned from being aired during the actual game. Last year PETA offered $3 million to NBC, but it was not enough for the network to take on the risk of airing the commercial.

With the 2011 Super Bowl just around the corner, PETA is once again up to their old tricks, and attempting to convert us all into vegetarians, one 30 second spot at a time. As of right now the current ad still has the green light to air during the Super Bowl this weekend. However, it would not be surprising if the commercial is pulled before Sunday.

Kansas State Player Misses Easy Dunk

Not much has gone right for Kansas State this season. After beginning the year ranked No. 2 in the country K-State has fallen out of the Top 25 and with the way things are going they may not make the NCAA tournament at all. Saturday night Kansas State made the two hour trip to instate rival Kansas, and they knew they were going to have their hands full with the sixth ranked Jayhawks. While K-State knew this would be a tough game, you have to think there wee a few shots they expected to go down, and an open dunk in the lane has to be one of them.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Daily Erin Andrews: Check out Jay Cutler's Girlfriend, Kristin Cavallari

By now we all know Jay Cutler hurt his knee during Sunday's NFC Championship game, and he failed to play in the second half. The media firestorm was epic, former players, current players, media members all of them more than ready to rip Cutler and his actions, or lack there of on Sunday evening. What made Cutler's absence from Sunday's game worst was his obvious presence out on the social scene Sunday night after the game.

Jay Cutler was caught out at a popular Chicago steakhouse on Sunday night with his girlfriend. Many in the media where upset when they saw Cutler use the stairs to enter the private dinning room at Mastro's Steakhouse rather than using an elevator. Pretty impressive for a guy who had suffered a sprained MCL just hours earlier.

However, we are not here to talk about what Jay Cutler did after the game on Sunday, we are more concerned with who Jay Cutler was with Sunday evening. It appears that Cutler is currently dating former MTV reality star Kristin Cavallari. Yeah, we had no clue who that was either, but after doing a bit of research we figured she was worth a mention.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Roger Goodell to take $1 Salary during Labor Stoppage

With the Super Bowl just around the corner, the NFL is poised to face an even bigger issue in the looming labor stoppage. While it appears that NFL owners and the Players Union are moving farther away from each other an a potential agreement, members on both side are preparing for the inevitable. In addition we are seeing plenty of posturing by leaders on both sides of the labor line.

Perhaps no one has taken a bigger step in political posturing than NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell who announced earlier today that he would take a drastic pay cut if a labor stoppage were to happen. How much of a pay cut is Goodell willing to take? The NFL Commissioner said he will cut his salary to $1. That's a pretty big step down from the $10 million a year Goodell is accustomed to earning after bonuses. In a memo to his staff Roger Goodell also told his staff that Chief Negotiator Jeff Pash would do the same.

"Let me emphasize that we are fully committed to doing everything possible to reach a new collective bargaining agreement without any disruption to our business," Goodell said. "The entire senior leadership team stands with me in its commitment to resolving the CBA issues with the player's union.

While this is a nice gesture, it's hard to believe it is anything more than that. At the end of the day, the income is still coming in for the NFL. Goodell's $10 million contract is also guranteed, so no matter what he made all his money and was able to save it before the labor stoppage begins. If Goodell wanted to prove a point he should take the over $9 million he is forfeiting, and donate it to the workers and the assistant coaches who are being put out of work due to the labor stoppage. In the end this is a decent PR move, that has no legitimate substance behind it.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Herschel Walker Eyes NFL Return

Herschel Walker was a devastating force when he played at the University of Georgia, and he was able to string together a successful NFL career. For those who remember Herschel Walker was one of the great all time running backs when he was in college. Since retiring from football Walker has taken on a number of different athletic endeavors with varying degrees of success.

In addition to football Walker found success as a US sprinter where he barely missed out on the Olympic rely team when he ran a 10.22 second 100 meter time. Hershel would get the opportunity to live his Olympic dream when he made his way to the 1992 Winter Olympics as part of a two-man bobsled team that finished seventh overall.

Most recently Hershel Walker is making headlines as an MMA fighter. Currently Walker is 1-0 in his MMA career with one knockout to his credit. Lucky for Walker he earned a 5th degree black belt in Tae Kw0n Do before entering the MMA arena.

Now at the age of 48, Hershel Walker is ready to come home. That's right just a few days before his second career MMA bout, Herschel Walker is talking about the possibility of an NFL comeback. I guess watching Bret Favre at 41 years old has inspired Walker to believe he has one more season left in him. For what it's worth Walker has gone on record saying he ran a 4.4 second 40 yard dash within the last week.

While this is probably just talk, Walker has proven capable of performing astonishing athletic feats even at a late age. Maybe this can be another example.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Sevens Positions: Playing Wing

At this time it is an honor to invite in Dallen Stanford of Paki's Corner for the first part of his technical series on Sevens Positions. Dallen is a well decorated 15's and sevens star in the United States who now spends his time covering and writing about the sport he loves.

Sevens is a game that one can play in any position with reasonable success at the lower levels, but as you progress it becomes a lot more specialized. Some items here are also found in my previous articles on playing prop in sevens, playing hooker in sevens, playing scrumhalf in sevens, playing flyhalf in sevens, and playing center in sevens, and are important if reading this piece by itself.

What is required to play wing?

The wing position requires acceleration off the mark, with high top end speed. Generally the wing is the fastest player on the field, and able to beat people one-on-one. In today’s modern game the wing also needs to be quite physical, having to bust through tackles. The player needs to be a finisher, which means they have a sense for the try line; using speed, misdirection in the form of sidestepping or swerving, and vision to score tries. On defense the wing must be an excellent open field tackler. The wing could be a fullback, center or wing in XVs rugby. Obviously many of these statements are generalizations, but are based on my own experience in sevens.

Kickoffs kicked: In previous articles we have mentioned three different types of kickoffs. If the kickoff goes deep (near the opposition 22m area) then the role of the wing is to ensure the defensive line comes up together, with all six players in a line next to each other. It is important that no one shoots out of this defensive alignment; otherwise it will create an easy attacking opportunity for the opposition. The wing does not hang back like in XVs rugby - with the sweeper covering any kick through.

If the kickoff is made in the middle of the field (around the 10-15m area) the wing must come up with the center in case the ball gets knocked in his/her direction.
For a traditional shallow kickoff to one of the sidelines, the wing (who is usually on the opposite side of that kickoff) still comes up with the rest of the defense line.
When kicking off, be on the lookout for some gaps on the wing’s side of the field, as teams sometimes focus on the side that the traditional kickoff is coming. In this way a short 10m-grubber type drop kick for the wing can yield possession for the kicking team.

Kickoffs received: The wing can stand deep (near the 22m area) on the opposite side where the traditional kick is going to take place. If your team claims possession then the wing is in a perfect place to mount an attack. Width and depth are the most important for this counter-attack.

Lineout’s: The winger often tackles his/her opposite number into touch, which is an excellent opportunity to strip the ball carrier and take a quick lineout. Remember the ball just has to travel over the 5m mark, and can now be thrown backwards to your teammates.

The lineout is an excellent attacking opportunity, with the opposition being 20m away. Various set moves can be very effective, and if run correctly can be used at any level of rugby.

Watch the clip below at 1 minute 8 seconds where simple hands across the field after a well-worked lineout sets free the Russian winger. He manages to outstrip the cover defense and sweeper for an excellent try.
While we have this clip open, look at 6 minutes 46 seconds where Fiji have a ruck on their own try line. From that ruck watch the Fijian player sprint towards the sideline dragging all three South African defenders, then do an excellent switch with the player in the wing position. That play is used time and time again with great success at all levels.

Scrums: The scrums are also a great attacking piece, and even if a clean break is not made, a wide ruck is vital for an attacking platform. The center must work very closely with the wing and flyhalf, as it will be up to these three players to secure that wide ruck and send the ball across field.

Often during set pieces there are two gaps the winger can attack. One is out wide, and the other is inside the last defender. The defender covering the center’s channel sometimes doesn’t get into a good position to make that tackle, with the winger using footwork and speed to burst through that gap.

There are hundreds of examples of this, but watch Wang Kuo Feng of Chinese Taipei expose the New Zealanders (who are one of the best defensive teams on the World Series) in Hong Kong in the first try of this clip.
Then 45 seconds into the clip, watch an attack off the scrum from China, with their winger sidestepping a few Australian defenders and sending it towards the other side of the field. His determined attack has created space out wide near where the scrum took place.

Off another scrum - 1 minute 33 seconds - watch Scotland use a set move to take the ball wide. Then a deep switch with the winger brings the ball back towards where the scrum was, and opens up space for the attackers.
Samoa’s Mikaele Pesamino is one of the best finishers in the game, which is illustrated at 3 minutes 20 seconds where he shows his top end speed for a sensational try against England.

Watch 4 minutes 15 seconds, which shows England wing Mat Turner using his speed and anticipation to run a great support line for Ben Gollings, who puts an excellent kick through for his winger.

In the traditional sevens pattern, the ball goes from one side of the field to the other, with a pullout happening on the ends. This pull out, where a support player is 10m or more in support directly behind the winger, with a short runner sucking in the defenders, leaves the winger sometimes with a half gap to attack.

Defense: The role of the wing on defense is different from most positions.
Let me explain the term ‘closing the gate’ (it has various names) but occurs when the defensive team plays a softer defense on the sideline, enticing the offensive wing (or last player) to carry the ball further than he/she should.
The defense uses 5 players to ‘squash’ the offence against the touchline. This is called ‘closing the gate’ as the defenders mimic that motion. A good attacking team will either set up a ruck near the touchline - forcing the defenders to get back on side - or they will use the deep pocket pull-out maneuver to try escape the defensive pressure.

If the team is playing a drift defense (6 defenders vs. 7 attackers, as one defender is a sweeper/fullback) and they are wanting to ‘close the gate’ then the center will push across the field and eventually tackle the offensive wing in that scenario. This leaves the defensive wing to take a late loop or offload should that be needed. Other times it will be man-on-man during defense off a set piece.

In open play the defense will be sliding/drifting across the field as they have only 6 defenders against 7 attackers. In this scenario always leave the attacker further from the ball, as you can always play a softer defense should the ball reach that extra player.

The wing is all about finishing. This means top-end speed and beating defenders one-on-one. Some of the best wingers in the world have a great kick through in case they need it.
Support play for the wing is also vital, with the speedster often drawing in one or more defenders, looking to setup another runner for the try.
Another necessary skill for a winger is the ability to stay inbounds whilst diving over for a try in the corner. Often the defense is tackling the winger as he/she dives over, so grounding the ball before putting a body part into touch is an important skill.

In the following clip New Zealand have an attacking scrum at the 45-second mark. A simple pin and loop move sees scrumhalf Tamasi Cama go around flyhalf Toby Arnold to send winger Frank Halai down the touchline. Halai draws in two defenders and with excellent support play by Cama, it’s an easy looking try.
At 1 minute 2 seconds in the same clip, watch winger Halai pop up in the center position, busting through tackles to free Arnold for another score.
Have a look at 2 minutes 58 seconds in which captain DJ Forbes sets up Tim Mikkelson on the outside. The winger does a superb job putting his head down and sprinting down the touchline for a vital score in the corner.

Both England speedsters Dan Norton and Dan Caprice have the ability to create space through sidestepping and pure speed. Watch 43 seconds into the clip as both Norton steps his way out of trouble, then the ball goes wide to Caprice who does brilliantly to stay inside the try zone for a 5 pointer.
Then at 1 minute 2 seconds watch how the slippery Norton pulls two defenders onto him, whilst opening space out wide for another excellent worked try scored by Simon Hunt.
At 1 minute 50 seconds watch winger Norton (who could step you in a phone booth) weave his way through a couple defenders and then send a beautifully timed pass to the support runner Ben Gollings. You can see they have practiced that many times.

Later at 2 minutes 40 seconds watch the width and depth of Norton again, bursting onto the pass down the touchline. Another perfect inside ball to Gollings yields yet another brilliant try.
Norton’s highlights continue at 4 minute 2 seconds where he burns down the sideline and then steps inside the sweeper for a brilliant solo effort.
Then at 4 minutes 27 seconds watch the accurate kickoff from flyhalf Ben Gollings, which is superbly claimed by his forwards. This possession wins the match for England, with replacement winger Mat Turner able to cut through the defense for a superb score.

A winger should also be able to put the ball onto the foot for either his/her teammates or for themselves. Watch 7 seconds into the clip as French winger Renaud Delmas collects his own grubber to get past South African speedster Ryno Benjamin. Delmas - who is right footed - kicks the ball at a beautiful angle knowing he is almost out of bounds and is then able to pick it up with a few meters to spare.
Then at 1 minute 23 seconds watch Kenyan winger Humphrey Kayange slice through on the outside, and then deliver an unbelievable pass to Collins Injera for the score.
At 2 minutes 13 seconds, look for the classic inside switch with the center and winger. Australia’s James Stannard takes the defense wide sucking in both his opposite center and wing, with Clinton Sills coming off the touchline to collect that switch ball.
Sills then uses his blistering speed at 3 minute 13 seconds to score for the Australians.

Best wings in the world?
Some of my favourite wings of all time include: Mikaele Pesamino of Samoa, Mike Palefau from the USA, and New Zealand’s Victor Vito.
All of these players have the ability to create scoring opportunities out of nothing, with the speed and vision to change the outcome of a game.

Watch this highlight clip to see Samoa’s Mikaele Pesamino (number 10) at his best. Last year Las Vegas hosted their first ever IRB World Sevens Series event, and Pesamino was on fire for Samoa as they claimed the title. Pesamino is fourth on the most tries scored list with 158. He is also 12th on
the all time most points table with 822.

Here is another great highlights reel of Pesamino - IRB Sevens Player of the Year for 2009/2010.

Unfortunately there isn’t that many filmed highlights of USA’s Mike Palefau (number 11) in action. During the 2007/2008 season Palefau was involved in many historic wins for the USA, as they established themselves as a core sevens side on the circuit. Watch at 10 minutes 15 seconds as Palefau eludes three defenders to score against Argentina. What the highlights don’t show is his first try in that match - running all of 70m going coast to coast to setup an excellent win against the highly rated South Americans.

Click here to view video.

Staying with the same clip above, watch some highlights of New Zealaner Victor Vito (number 7) in action. The 2008 Wellington 7s Cup final featured the classic line-up at wing for Samoa’s Pesamino against Vito. The final starts at 21 minutes 27 seconds in the above clip. Checkout the speedster Pesamino who gets on the scoreboard first - unmatched for pace. But Vito comes back at 22 minutes 45 seconds; using his powerful fend, strength and that Maori sidestep! Later center Zar Lawrence (who is featured in the ‘how to play center in sevens’ article) busts through a couple tackles for another brilliant score. Then in the second half at 24 minutes 38 seconds Samoa’s Pesamino realizes there isn’t enough space to get past Vito so he executes a superb chip and chase, sending his teammate over for the score. Lolo Lui (who is featured in the ‘how to play flyhalf in sevens’ article) does his own magic with an unbelievable open field drop-goal.
At 25 minutes 25 seconds, New Zealand has a penalty with 30 seconds left to play. Simple hands to a flying Victor Vito seals the thrilling final as he breaks one tackle to score the winner.
Since then Vito has become an All Black and should feature in the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

Are you a wing?
Acceleration off the mark and top end speed are both vital for the wing position. Having the ability to beat defenders one-on-one is very important, as well as support lines when another teammate has made a break.

Today’s wings are also becoming more and more physical, both on offense and defense. Trytime!

Photo Credits: Getty Images

Daily Erin Andrews: Check out Blake Griffen's Girlfriend

Blake Griffen is tearing teams apart and rattling rims across the NBA in route to what will surely be a NBA rookie of the campaign. However, it appears Blake is stud off the court as well. Thanks to a bit of research (Facebook is good for something) we have found out that Blake is currently dating Jasmine Shein. While you probably do not know who she is, don't worry you will soon enough. The two met while Jasmine was attending USC. Now they are an item.

Friday, January 21, 2011

2011 Early NFL Mock Draft

Yeah we know college football season just ended a few weeks ago, and we haven't even been through the senior bowl circuit. In addition, we know the NFL playoffs are in full tilt, and there's two weeks left on the season, but we simply could not help ourselves. It's time to take a look at the players coming out of college this year and put together an early draft board. Of course, this list will change drastically between now and April, but hey, you have to start somewhere.

Carolina Panthers: Da'Quan Bowers DE Clemson: With Andrew luck opting to remain in college, there is no clear cut No.1 QB available. That leaves new Carolina Panthers coach Ron Riveria to return to his roots and rebuild a once great defense. In Bowers, the Panthers get a great defensive end who can play the pass and the rush.

Denver Broncos: Patrick Peterson DB LSU: Champ Baily may not return to the Broncos for his 13th NFL season, if that is the case, Peterson is as good a replacement as any available. A big physical defensive back, Peterson has the tools to be an impact player in his rookie season. John Fox built his reputation in Carolina on defense, and now he has the opportunity to get a shut down corner to build around in Denver.

Buffalo Bills: Marcell Dareus DE Alabma: In the final weeks of the 2010 season, the Bills put together an impressive stretch where they appeared to gel. While plenty of Bills fans would be happy to see a franchise caliber quarterback come in and lead the team into the future, it appears the front office is happy with the progress Ryan Fitzpatrick made. That leaves the Bills to continue rebuilding their defense. Dareus is a big pass rush D-end who can lift the level of play of an undersized line.

Cincinnati Bengals: Nick Fairly DE Auburn: He's big, he's got a bad attitude, and he's damn good at what he does. Nick Fairly brought the mighty Oregon Ducks offense to it's knees with his ability to create interior pressure. It's about time for the Bengals to rebuild their offense, but that can wait another year, a player of Fairly's caliber is too good to pass on.

Arizona Cardinals: Blaine Gabbert QB Missouri: I'm not sure about this pick, as the Cards are still my favorite destination for Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb. However, till that deal actually goes through, the Arizona Cardinals are in desperate need of a quarterback. Gabbert's stock has risen greatly in the last few weeks, now the question is can he hold on to be the only quarterback taken in the top 10?

Cleveland Browns: A.J. Green WR Georgia: Colt McCoy proved to be a solid QB when given the opportunity, but he needs some weapons around him if he wants to find success in Cleveland he will need some weapons. A.J. Green is all man on the field. At 6'4 he is the prototype for the new age receiver. He runs great routes and he can go up and get the ball. McCoy and Green will enjoy long partnership.

San Francisco 49'ers: Robert Quinn DE UNC: Who? You may be asking yourself, but do not be fooled Robert Quinn was one of the best and most promising defensive linemen in the country two year's ago. then he was forced to sit out his entire junior season thanks to a few parties with agents down at UNC. Despite all of that Quinn is still a stud he will help to rebuild a shaky 9'ers defense.

Tennessee Titians: Ryan Mallet QB Arkansas: The Vince Young experiment went horribly wrong in Tennessee, and with Jeff Fisher remaining as head coach it's safe to say Young will not be back as the teams starting quarterback. A perfect fit for Fisher and his offense is the 6'7 Ryan Mallet. The Arkansas quarterback may actually be the best overall quarterback available in this year's draft. Mallet is big, he has a great arm, and he can make all the throws. Under the guidance of Jeff Fisher and his staff Ryan Mallet should be able to go far.

Dallas Cowboys: Prince Amukamara DB Nebraska: There was plenty that went wrong with the Cowboys last season, however they have most of the tools already in place to fix those problems. One glaring weakness that was never addressed was a weak secondary. With Rob Ryan coming in as the new defensive coordinator he will look to address this problem immediately and Prince allows him to have at least one reliable corner.

Washington Redskins: Cam Newton QB Auburn: If Newton performs well at the combine there's a good chance he's not around at the tenth pick, but if he is, it will be difficult for the Redskins to pass on this top prospect. Donovan McNabb will not be the starting QB for the Redskins, that much we know. What we also know is Mike Shannahan has let it be known he wants to mold and build a quarterback, it's the one thing missing from his legacy as a offensive genius. Cam Newton is 6'4 240 pounds and he has a cannon for an arm. If he can adapt to the NFL style of play he will be a big time play maker.

Houston Texans: Von Miller DE/OLB Texas A&M: Anyone who saw the the Texans play last season knows they need a ton of help on defense. If they are lucky enough to have Von Miller fall, they would be crazy not to jump all over him. Von Miller was so good at Texas A&M that he had a position created for him known as "the joker." Miller is the embodiment of a hybrid DE/OLB. He has the speed to get up field and put pressure on a quarterback, but he is still strong enough to be effective against the run.

Minnesota Vikings: Muhammad Wilkerson DT Temple: Yeah, you probably have no idea who this guy is, but that's okay he can play. The Vikings have had a strong defensive front over the past few season with the Williams boys, but that will most likely come to an end this off season. If the Vikings want Jared Allen to keep his sack numbers up they will need to find a big ugly to plug the middle and Wilkerson can do that.

Detroit Lions: Brandon Harris DB Miami: The Lions are so close to breaking through it's not even funny. It's too bad they play in the NFC North, and not the NFC West where they could do some serious damage. Continuing on their defensive trend, Brandon Harris provides the Lions with an elite cover corner to slow down some of the budding high power offenses in the NFC North.

St. Louis Rams: Julio Jones WR Alabama: If the Rams can land Jones, Sam Bradford might go to the airport himself and pick up the stud receiver. Jones is a big play receiver who can go across the middle and make the tough catches. Sam Bradford put up amazing numbers last season and he never had a true No.1 option. Julio Jones will jump right to the top of the depth chart in St. Louis.

Miami Dolphins: Mark Ingram RB Alabama: Despite getting off to a slow start due to a knee injury, Ingram finished the 2010 season in style. He's a hard nosed runner who many say remind them of Emmitt Smith. The Dolphins have plenty of issues at quarterback but bringing in a solid running back can cover some of the deficiencies in the passing game.

Jackasonville Jaguars: Rahim Morris FS UCLA: Last year was the year of the safety in the NFL Draft with Earl Thomas and Eric Berry both going early and making impacts in their rookie season. There may not be as much depth at the safety position this year, but Rahim Morris can make just as big of an impact.

New England Patriots (from Oakland): Adrian Clayborne DE Iowa: Last year the Patriots rebooted their defense via the draft and the results were seen right away. Thanks to a few pick from the Oakland Raiders, the Patriots will likely do the same thing again this year.

San Diego Chargers:
Aldon Smith DE/OLB: The Chargers had a killer defense last season but it wasn't enough as they failed to make the playoffs. Aldon Smith gives them a pass rusher of the caliber the Chargers have not seen since Sean Merrimen was in his prime.

Tampa Bay Bucs:
JJ Watt DE Wisconsin: The Tampa Bay Bucs are the youngest team in the league and they are ready to play right now. JJ Watt is a hard worker who transfered into Wisconsin and earned his way to All Big-10 honors. Playing next to last year's first round draft pick Gerold McCoy will help JJ Watt to grow very quickly into a Pro-Bowl caliber player.

Kansas City Chiefs:
Justin Houston OLB Georgia: The Chiefs have a ton of young talent on defense, and Houston figures to fit into that mix as the eventual replace for Mike Vrabel.

Indianapolis Colts:
Nate Solder OT Colorado: The Colts were let down this season due to injuries, so it difficult to say what could have been. However, one thing we do know is the Colts running game is horrible. Solder will give them some stability up front, and he'll also be able to protect future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning.

Philadelphia Eagles:
Mike Pouncey G/C: His brother is already starting for the Pittsburgh Steerlers, and there's a good chance Mike will be able to follow in his footsteps.

New Orleans Saints:
Stephen Paea DT Oregon State: Chances are Paea will not be available this low in the draft after he wows the world at the state combine. Nonetheless the Saints will need to take a defensive player to fix a defensive that fell off last season.

Seattle Seahawks:

Baltimore Ravens:

Atlanta Falcons:

New England Patriots:

Green Bay Packers:

New York Jets:

Chicago Bears:

Pittsburgh Steelers:

Monday, January 17, 2011

Daily Erin Andrews: Venus Williams Wears Mini Skirt at Australian Open

The Williams sisters are well known for their championship performances on the court. However, the two sisters have also garnered quite the reputation for the outfits they wear on the court as well. With the 2011 Grand Slam season just underway, it is Venus Williams who is turning heads. Early this week Venus got the crowds at the Australian Open talking both with a dominating performance, and a mini skirt that looks more like a tank top than a skirt. Check out this crazy short skirt Venus is rocking.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Wes Welker Trash Talk's the Jets During Interview

The rivalry between the Jets and the Patriots is reaching an all time high with the level of trash talk that has taken place between the two teams leading into their Divisional Playoff game. On Thursday normally quiet receiver Wes Welker took to the podium and decided it was his turn to stoke the fire. Welker makes 11 different references to feet during his interview in an obvious jab at Jets head coach Rex Ryan.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

College Coaching Rumors: Brady Hoke Hired as Michigan's Head Coach

If feels like despite the BCS Championship taking place last night in Arizona, all the important news in college football world is taking place in Anne Arbor Michigan, where the Michigan Wolverines have finally found their man to coach the football team. This morning it appeared that Michigan was ready to hire Les Miles as their head coach, but Les Miles was not having any of that, and he revoked the Wolverines offer. Now news has emerged that Michigan has come to terms with Brady Hoke to take over as head coach.

Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon announced this afternoon that Brady Hoke will take over for the departed Rich Rodriguez. Most recently Hoke was the head coach of the San Diego State Aztecs.

“We are pleased to announce the hiring of Brady,” Brandon state in a statement. “He is a terrific coach and will be a great ambassador and leader for our football program. We look forward to having him build a championship program on the field and in the classroom.”

Despite attending Ball State, Hoke is considered a Michigan man after spending two seasons as a coordinator under former Michigan coach Lloyd Carr. Brady Hoke spent the past two season as the head coach of San Diego State where he got the Aztecs to be bowl eligible. For his career 47-50 overall record, including six seasons at Ball State.

College Coaching Rumors: Les Miles Turns Down Michigan

For the second time in a week, the Michigan Wolverines have been turned down by their top coaching candidate. This time the Wolverines were spurned by Les Miles of LSU. As recently as this morning it appeared that Les Miles was ready to accept the Michigan job citing he was a Michigan man at heart (we reported that earlier today). However, upon further review Miles decided to remain in his current position as LSU's head coach.

When asked about his decision Les Miles mentioned he was happy with his current situation at LSU. He enjoys the challenge of coaching in the SEC, and likes the recruiting opportunities that are available to him. Basically Les Miles realized he has a good thing going down in Baton Rouge, and trying to rebuild Michigan was simply too big of a task.

A bigger concern that is raised by all of this is what doe the Wolverines do now? They have now been turned down by two big name candidates, and the potential candidate pool is drying up quickly. Due to the fact that Michigan is insistent on hiring a Michigan man they truly are limiting their opportunities.

College Coaching Rumors: Les Miles Michigan's Wolverines Head Coach

According to sources close to Walker Sports, it apparent that Les Miles is prepared to take the job as Michigan's head football coach. It is a known fact that Miles was in Michigan earlier this week and met with officials, and the two sides have come to terms that will bring the coach from LSU back to his roots in Michigan.

It is a well known fact that the Wolverines are looking for a "Michigan man" to fill their coaching vacancy, and Les Miles is exactly that. Currently Miles is under contract with LSU where he has been the coach for the past few seasons, and has compiled an impressive record. The read on Les Miles is the majority of Wolverine nation is split over the decision of bring Miles in as head coach. Plenty of people have questioned Mile's ability as a head coach. For what it's worth, there are plenty of LSU fans who would not be overly concerned should Miles chose to move north.

While the deal appears to be done (an announcement is expected later this week) we have been down this road before. Three years ago Les Miles was all but packed to move to Michigan and take on the head coaching job, and then things changed as Michigan opted to go with Rich Rodriguez.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Daily Erin Andrews: Natalie Gublis New Boyfriend

Okay so Natilie Gublis has graced the this blog on a few occasions, and we always do what we can to get her back whenever we can. As the 2011 PGA and LPGA season begins kicking off, we have a new reason to talking about Ms. Gublis. Natalie appears to have a new boyfriend, and he's pretty famous in his own right as well. This Sunday while at the PGA 2011 opener Natalie Gulbis confirmed rumors by joining her boyfriend as he walked the back 9. Who is the lucky guy? None other than four time PGA Tour winner Dustin Johnson. While the rumors of the two being an item have swirled for months, Natalie put her official seal on the pair by confirming the relationship with this week.

We have to tip our hat to Dustin Johnson and say, congratulations he is one lucky guy.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

NFL Playoffs Better Lines

It may only be a few minutes since the conclusion of Wild Card Weekend in the NFL, but it's already time to begin looking ahead to next weekend and the Divisional Round. Thanks to a massive upset pulled by the Seattle Seahawks yesterday when they knocked off the New Orleans Saints, we have some interesting match ups to look forward to.

Since we are looking ahead to the Division Round of the playoffs, it's time to take a look at the early betting lines for each game. Remember these lines will likely shift between now and the weekend.

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens +3:

Chicago Bears vs. Seattle Seahawks +9.5:

New England Patriots vs. New York Jets +8.5:

Atlanta Falcons vs. Green Bay +3:

Friday, January 07, 2011

NFL Wild Card Betting Lines and Early Looks

The NFL playoffs kick off on Saturday afternoon when the New Orleans Saints and the Seattle Seahawks take the field to kick off the Wild Card round of the playoffs. While there is still plenty of time to break down the teams that are taking the field, we decided it was a good time to take a look at the betting lines Vegas has laid out for us.

New Orleans Saints vs. Seattle Seahawks +11: The Seahawks are the worst team in playoff history. Seriously at 7-9 they have the worst record of any NFL team to ever win a division and/or make the post season. Nonetheless they are in, and they get to host a home game nonetheless. The Saints have stepped up their efforts in the latter half of the season as they have gotten healthier. 11 points is a lot, we're even seeing 11.5 in some markets. Yes, the Seahawks are bad, but they do have a great home field advantage, just ask the St. Louis Rams.

Don't be surprised if Seattle can cover the 11 points. If this line jumps even higher definitely jump on the Seahawks.

Indianapolis Colts vs. New York Jets +3: This is a rematch of last year's AFC Championship. While most felt the Colts and Jets would meet each other again in this year's post season, most did not think they would meet in the Wild Card round. The Jets hit a rough spot during the middle of the season where they failed to score points. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas the Jets were only able to muster 3 offensive touchdowns. However, in the final weeks of the season the Jets broke out of their slump as Mark Sanchez was able to take over control of the offense.

With the Indianapolis Colts you know what you are going to get. Sure plenty of the skill players may have changed due to injury, but the Colts are still run by Peyton Manning, and while his stats are the best, Manning has put forth one of his best efforts to date.

The spread favors the Colts by three points and that's a number I like. Rex Ryan had his guys hyped up at the beginning of the season but they limped into the playoffs. The Colts have had to fight for the past few weeks just to win their division and make the postseason. They will continue their winning ways this weekend.

Baltimore Ravens vs. Kansas City Chiefs +3: This is an odd match up mainly because no one including all the writers at Walker Sports anticipated the Kansas City Chiefs winning their division or making the post season. Nonetheless this functional yet dysfunctional team has made their way into the Wild Card round where they will take on a focused Baltimore Ravens squad.

It's not impossible for the Chiefs to win this game, but they will have to be near perfect. The Ravens are built to win now, and they will do what it takes to pick up the win on Sunday. The spread sits at 3 points, but that should be no issue for the Ravens to cover.

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Green Bay Packers +3: This game is a rematch of the season opener that saw the Green Bay Packers picking up the win. Another note from that game is the Packers knocked then starter Kevin Kolb out of the game and thus ushered in the Michael Vick era.

With Vick at the helm full time now the Eagles are a very different team. At one point under Michael Vick looked unstoppable, but in the final weeks of the season teams seemed to have figured out the Vick situation. One team that has the tools to handle Michael Vick is the Green Bay Packers. The Packers have the linebacking core that can apply pressure and force Vick into some bad situations.

The spread favors by the Eagles by three points, but a lot of people are jumping on the Green Bay bandwagon. I like the Packers, but jump on this line soon. There is a good chance this line could drop down and it will be much less appealing at that point.

TCU Alumn Taunt Ohio State Fans

TCU made their way to the Rose Bowl and did the unthinkable when they knocked off Big 10 powerhouse Wisconsin. The victory gave the school their first victory in a BCS game, and it capped off a perfect season that will likely garner TCU a few first place votes in the final polls of the season. However, despite all the accomplishments of this year's TCU team the die hard fans still had one bit of unfinished business, and that had to do with the Ohio State Buckeyes in Columbus Ohio.

In November Ohio State President got all BCS busters stirred up when he proclaimed that Boise State and TCU could not compile a schedule impressive enough to warrant one of those programs playing for a national title. That statement got everyone into a ruckus, but it looks like TCU is ready to have the last laugh.

Wealthy TCU alum who are in the Columbus Ohio area, spent an estimated $80,000 to purchase billboards around the Ohio State campus. The billboards are purple and white, TCU school colors, and read "Congratulations to TCU for their BCS Bowl Victory. -Little Sisters of the Poor"

There is no question that due to the tag line and the location of these signs they are meant to be a direct jab at Ohio State and their president. There should be more of this in college football, rivalries and pranks like this is what makes college sports great.

NFL Coaching Rumors Jim Harbaugh Agrees to Deal witn 49'ers

Perhaps the most desired free agent of the pending NFL off season is not a player but a coach. Jim Harbaugh is the current head coach of the Stanford Cardinals, a team he took to an Orange Bowl victory earlier this week. Harbaugh's name has been associated with every major coaching opening both in college and in the NFL, and now it appears the choices have narrowed down themselves to two places.

After turning down the Miami Dolphins yesterday, Jim Harbaugh has made it known he will make a decision between remaining at Stanford, and taking a deal with the San Francisco 49'ers. Our sources are telling Walker Sports that Jim Harbaugh is ready to sign a deal with the 49'ers and try his luck as an NFL head coach. While the details of the deal are not fully known we do know the deal will be good for five years.

Stanford boasters are doing their best to counter the deal and keep Harbaugh at the school, but that scenario is becoming increasingly unlikely. The final decision could be made as soon as tonight.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

NFL Coaching Rumors: Two Teams Headed in the Same Direction

Despite a labor lockout looming, there will be no shortage of movement this off season in the NFL. Plenty of clubs are already busy making moves and turning over their coaching staffs in order to be ready for the NFL Draft in April. Two teams that made surprising coaching moves this week were the Oakland Raiders and the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Oakland Raiders informed head coach Tom Cable that they were not picking up the option on his contract and he would be let go. This came on the heels of Cable taking the Raiders to an 8-8 record, the best for the team in the last eight years. The option on Cable's contract was good for two years and $5 million makes one think this is nothing more than Al Davis being cheap and attempting to save money before the lockout.

While 8-8 is not an overly impressive record, it is when you consider the expectations for the Oakland Raiders heading into the season, and their overall performance over the last decade. The Raiders have been nothing short of an embarrassment to football since Jon Gruden left the team in 2003. For the Raiders to reach an 8-8 record it was nothing short of a miracle and all the accolades should be given to Tom Cable who fought hard to pull that team together and install a winning attitude.

There is no logical reason for Tom Cable to be unemployed this morning is a tragedy. While he may not be perfect in how he deals with people, he is a good coach, and provides the order the Raiders desperately need.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Cincinnati Bengals agreed to a contract extension with head coach Marvin Lewis on Tuesday. This is after the Bengals finished the season 4-12, a far cry from their dominating performance last season when Cincinnati swept the division.

The Cincinnati Bengals were a complete disaster this season. After winning the division a year ago, the Bengals failed to ever get of the gates in 2010. During his eight years in Cincinnati Marvin Lewis has compiled a 60-69 record as head coach, while winning one division title, and failing to register just one playoff victory.

As the 2010 season progressed it became clear the Bengals players were tuning their coach out. Quarterback Carson Palmer has failed to progress as a player since his knee injury in 2006. Chad Ocho Cinco is too busy worrying about his off the field ventures to take the time work on improving his skills on the field. While T.O. put up great stats at the beginning of the season, it did not take long (read the losses piled up) before he was up to his old tricks, and the Bengals were forced to deactivate him, another lost contract.

It's clear the Bengals have no direction, and their goals for the near future of completely undefined. A shakeup was needed, and it needed to occur at the top with Marvin Lewis.

These two franchises have represented the bottom of the league for the better part of the last 10 seasons, and now they appear to be heading in the same direction, although they are taking different approaches for reaching the final destination. For the Raiders they are once again dismantling what could have been something special. Cable could have made that a playoff team if given the time, to finish what he started. The Bengals appear content to stay at the bottom of the payroll, and as a result remain at the bottom of the AFC North. Ownership better hope Mike Holmgren does not return to the sidelines in Cleveland or else that division could become an even bigger nightmare.

Gareth Thomas Sits Down to Speak with Ellen

Just over a year ago rugby star Gareth Thomas shocked the sports world by confirming he is gay, making him the first active athlete in a major sport to come out. Since the announcement Thomas has retired from international rugby and rugby union, but he is making waves as a star in rugby league.

A little over year after his announcement, Thomas took some time out of his schedule to cross the pond to sit down with Ellen on her morning talk show. Ellen who made headlines herself over a decade ago when she came out has been an outspoken advocate for gay/lesbian rights. The two stars were able to connect on a personal level, and as a result you get something that you don't always see on a day time talk show.

Check out this is a touching interview.

College Coaching Rumors: Rich Rodiguez Fired as Michigan's Head Coach

Could things get any worst for the once storied Michigan Wolverines? On a day that saw their hated rival Ohio State get past an SEC foe and win the Sugar Bowl, the Wolverines football program appears to be in complete shambles as rumors swirl surrounding the job security of current head coach Rich Rodriguez. Two programs heading in two very different directions.

According to sources close to Walker Sports it appears that Rich Rodriguez has been let go as the head coach of the Michigan football team. This comes on the heels of rumors that have been circulating since late yesterday evening. An official announcement is expect to come later this week.

The story of RichRod's fate first broke last night, but the Michigan athletic department went on the offensive denying all reports. In the end, the final word on Rich Rodriguez will come from Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon.

Rich Rodriquez racked up a 15-22 overall record during his stint at Michigan. In addition he was 0-8 vs. teams with a winning record within the Big 10. In three season's Rich Rod failed to win a bowl game. In addition it appears he has set the program even farther back by utilizing Rodriguez's spread offense.

Rodriguez made a name for himself at West Virginia where he rode his spread offense to a BCS win. During that run RichRod also had the services of Pat White as his quarterback, and Steve Slaton as his starting running back. Two of the fastest men to step on a college football field, and they were able to run the spread attack to perfection. At Michigan Rodriguez was never able to find that star quarterback. We saw glimpses of it this season with the arrival of Denard Robinson, but his inability to stay healthy coast Michigan down the stretch.

It is not hard to understand why Michigan is looking to make a move in a new direction. The Big 10 is expanding into an even bigger super conference. Ohio State once again placed their stamp on the national scene by picking up a big win in the Sugar Bowl. Nebraska is coming into the conference next season and will threaten Michigan for recruits. The Wolverines cannot afford to fall any farther behind the rest of the conference, especially on such a grand stage.

Update: Michigan released a statement Wednesday saying athletic director Dave Brandon will discuss the state of the program at 12:30 p.m. ET.