Friday, September 17, 2010

Meyer: "It's not a dirty program"

I want to break down University of Florida head coach Urban Meyer’s presser regarding recently arrested player Chris Rainey as well as other's arrested during Meyer's tenure at UF...

"I try to evaluate everything about our program," Meyer said Thursday. "I'm real upset about that. After a while, enough is enough. If there's something we can improve on, we're certainly looking into that. It's like if our graduation stinks, then we've got to improve that. If there are other issues in a program that's our job to get it better. People making stupid mistakes, that's something we've got to correct."

I want to preface this with Meyer might be the best college coach today and is arguably the best at evaluating talent. Now, evaluating character is a completely different story. 30 arrests by 27 players in his tenure is no longer coincidental, but a matter of anticipating the next infraction.

If Meyer’s so serious about "enough being enough" then why is Rainey considered suspended instead of dismissed? I understand there’s due process, but set a precedence, man. It’s not like Rainey made the text vague. It’s a clear-cut threat. End of story.

"I don't care," Meyer said when asked if he was concerned the program being perceived as "dirty."

"We do our best to win games. Dirty program? It's not a dirty program. We follow the rules and some guys make mistakes and we've got to correct those mistakes. We follow the rules. We do it the right way at Florida and we have to do a better job with correcting some of the people making mistakes."

The "right" way? Suspending players for a game and then allowing them back on the field and/or team is not doing things the "right" way. It’s actually considered "dirty." What I find hilarious and hypocritical—and I’m not painting everyone with one broad stroke because every fan base has their jerks—is that the majority of Gator fans have crucified Bobby Bowden, Mark Richt, and Pete Carroll for doing the same thing Meyer is currently doing. According to Florida fan, those coaches should be held accountable. Well, why is Meyer exempt?

When reading Facebook and the message boards, the majority of fans want Rainey to be let go. Not one person though has pointed a single finger Meyer's way. You mean to tell me if this was Nick Saban no one would say he needs to be liable and take some of the blame? You're a lair if you say you wouldn't acknowledge such statements.

Asked what Rainey has to do to get back on the squad, Meyer responded: "I don't know."

Wow, way to stand up and take charge of your team there, Urb. "I don’t know?" Don’t run for any political positions. I’m pretty sure you’ll get crushed with thoughtful and insightful answers as, "I don’t know."

In other words, you’re waiting to hear what the law has to say because you know as well as the rest of the college football world that you have zero experience at wide out and a lack of play-maker, especially if Rainey is shown the door.

This is the quintessential definition of "dirty program." The cat's certainly out of the bag, and Meyer's, as well as the University's reputation, hangs on the looming Rainey decision.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

It's NOT Good to be Chris Rainey

University of Florida wide receiver/athlete/loud mouth Chris Rainey was arrested on stalking charges after sending his on again/off again girlfriend a text that read, “Time to die.”

Rainey allegedly went to his girlfriend’s home to find out where she was after he called her multiple times and she didn’t respond. He sent her the cryptic text and she immediately called police.

Rainey’s best remembered for all of these brilliant quotes.

The question now becomes, “What to do with Rainey?” Urban Meyer’s tenure at UF has been a cyclical collaboration of success and demise. Win a National Title…get fifteen players arrested.

Does Meyer do the right thing and boot Rainey off of the team? I say he won’t. Of course he needs the facts to surface first, but facts aren’t as fun as playing Devil’s Advocate.

What if Meyer’s daughter received a text like that from her significant other? Rainey has been in Urban’s doghouse on many occasions and this should be the last straw, but considering Florida is thin with experience at wide receiver I fully expect Rainey to be back by the Kentucky game. I’ll honestly be shocked if Meyer releases Rainey from his scholarship.

As I write this, it seems that Rainey’s charges have already been dropped, which isn’t really a surprise. I still need to confirm. He’s a future multimillionaire. Of course she dropped the charges!

Should they be dropped and taken lightly? The “Oh, he’s not serious” line doesn’t exactly apply here and this isn’t a joking matter, especially with nut jobs coming out of the woodworks. Do you really need me to spell out the loonies we’ve seen over time that have done something heinous and when witnesses are interviewed they’re wide-eyed and stunned saying, “He was so quiet” or “Everyone loved him. He was such a great guy and would never hurt a soul.”

Bottom line: revoke his scholarship and kick him off of the team. There’s no place for this sort of behavior in any facet of life

Friday, August 20, 2010

Top Athlete Picks 'Noles, Nerds Meltdown

James Wilder Jr., son of legendary Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back James Wilder, is considered one of the nations top high school football recruits. Hailing from Tampa Plant High School in Tampa, Florida, Wilder has over 80 offers from FBS programs – formerly D1 – and narrowed his extensive list to Georgia, Florida, and Florida State. After his LeBron-esque live TV announcement, the talented athlete chose the Garnet and Gold as his destination next fall. It’s only a verbal commitment and certainly nothing’s set in stone until National Signing Day in February, but I wish this young man the best.

As over the top and ridiculous as the announcement proceedings were, even more absurd was how the fans handled the release. Message board users all over the Internet went ballistic after hearing Wilder’s choice and what ensued was a melee of numerous “Message Board” guy’s. Oh, we all know “Message Board” guy and his extensive knowledge of anything and everything in all facets of football, and in life. If you want a better understanding of “Message Board” guy click here.

Seconds after Wilder threw his FSU hat on, Florida State fans invaded Gator sites with garbage like, “Look who we got!” and “Suck it, Gates!” Okay, I’m slightly exaggerating, but I’m not. What in the world are ‘Nole fans thinking? Because they got themselves a top prospect it allows them to peacock and act like idiots? That’s the beauty of message boards. Total anonymity and the user can transform into their loser, alter-ego without sacrificing their true, loser self. It gets better.

Gator fans then have to react and return fire with gems like, “I hope he enjoys losing every year” and my personal favorite, “I hope he breaks [whatever appendage].” Stay classy, Florida fan.

And before you come at me with, “What, I don’t get an opinion?” Have one all you want, but you lose all credibility and respect the moment you wish ill-will on an amateur athlete. Not that anyone that posts on the Internet cares anyway. It’s all about who can one up the next jerk.

I really don’t have issues with guys acting like complete tools via the Internet. I think some of it is hilarious, but I also think it’s a bit cowardly and completely low-class to not only call out other users, but to rip on kids. 17- to 18-year old kids, mind you. But hey, every fan base has them and no one’s perfect.

Stick to Star Wars and arguing over who’s stronger, Frodo or Willow. Dorks.

Good luck to Wilder at FSU.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bucs' Home Game May Be Blacked Out

Yes, you read correctly. This Saturday’s preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Raymond James Stadium may be blacked out. So, if Bucs’ fans want to sit back and enjoy sloppy, mediocre football on their television, they’ll either have to cough up a regular-season ticket price and go to the game or travel 50-miles away from Tampa in order to catch it on Direct TV. Nope, I’m not kidding.

The NFL is chalk full of ridiculous rules and antics, and they’re upsetting fans everywhere by absolutely robbing us of any pro football enjoyment. Does the NFL actually expect us to pay a regular-season ticket price to go to a game that’ll feature the starters for maybe 30 minutes? Preseason football is typically horrendous and boring, not to mention Buccaneer preseason games are often delayed due to inclement weather. If you live in the Bay area and you’ve gone to a preseason game, you know what I mean.

There’s no way a blue-collared working man is going to pay $60 for 300 level seats to watch fourth string kids and journeymen try to make a team. Let’s say Mr. Blue-Collar wants to take his family. He’s easily looking at $240 in tickets and another $100 in concessions for four people, as well as $20 or more in parking. That’s a pretty hefty price to admire a bunch of “What’s His Face’s” and “Who’s He’s?”

The NFL needs to readjust and change this preseason ruling quickly or else every team will be blacked out during the exhibition season. Not a single person likes it and we all just sit around praying the regular season approaches faster than it does.

Thank goodness for the Fantasy Draft.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Hellickson Wins Again

The Tampa Bay Rays have a huge decision ahead of them. Rookie right-handed pitcher Jeremy Hellickson put up another gem against the Baltimore Orioles Sunday afternoon (8/15) in front of a crowd of nearly 30,000. Hellickson made his third start of the season allowing three hits, one walk, and five strike outs through six innings in a game that is considered his worst start of the season. The Rays won 3-2 thanks to Carl Crawford’s two-RBI game and, of course, Hellickson’s stellar performance. Hellickson is the first player in the modern era to pitch at least six innings and allow three hits or fewer in his first three major-league starts. The young man is three and 0 and pitches like he doesn’t have a pulse. So what do the Rays do with him?

There has been chatter that the Rays may go to a six-man rotation, but apparently James Shields isn’t cool with that, which is hilarious considering “Big Game” James is the weak link in this fine stable of pitchers the Rays have assembled. Once Jeff Neimann and Wade Davis return from the DL, Hellickson will most likely head to the bullpen. I’m not sure how I feel about that. I think going with a six-man rotation is a great call considering David Price’s pitch count is extremely high for this point in the season and they’ll need him fresh for the playoffs. Having a sixth man would also allow the walking wounded like Neimann an extra day of rest before it’s his turn to start.

Like Price, Hellickson’s season pitch count is also high. He’s had a ton of starts while he played in Durham - Tampa Bays Triple-A affiliate - and has pitched deep into games while in the minors, so that’s something the Rays organization needs to keep an eye on. He’s a young kid and they certainly don’t want to wear him out so early in his professional career. There’s a better than average chance his nasty stuff will be called upon, especially once the 2010 Playoffs begin.

The Rays have a good problem on their hands. Jeremy Hellickson has shown us that, even when he plays poorly, he can pitch exceptionally well and positively contribute to a Rays team that is post-season bound and is knocking on an A.L. East title. Hellickson’s season stats so far: 1.35 ERA and only three total earned runs. Freaking. Legendary.

Monday, August 9, 2010

FSU's Fortson Dismissed

Florida State junior wide receiver Jarmon Fortson has been dismissed from FSU for committing the same infraction multiple times, according to, a Rivals/Yahoo sports network. The specific term used was “Violation of Team Policy,” which only clouds speculation as to what actually happened. Sources have revealed that Fortson failed multiple drug tests and head coach Jimbo Fisher had no choice but to release the talented wide out.

Fortson is best remembered for dropping what would have been the game winning touchdown in the opening game last year against Miami. He did an excellent job of rebounding from that loss and made spectacular catches throughout the rest of the 2009 season.

Jimbo Fisher does not receive any praise for this dismissal. Fortson had to be booted via NCAA rules and I wonder if Jimbo would’ve kept Fortson on the team if the NCAA didn’t have these regulations in place. I’ll give Fisher kudos if he dismisses Nigel Carr next, but he’s not going to get one for doing what he’s supposed to. I don’t get credit for paying my taxes; Jimbo shouldn’t get any for validly throwing a player off of his team.

Fortson was on pace to have a breakout season with a veteran quarterback slinging him the ball and multiple speedy wide outs to help alleviate him of any double teams. If there is one good thing to come out of this debacle its wide receiver may be the deepest position FSU has on the team. This leaves the door wide open for sophomores Willie Haulstead and Rodney Smith.

Hopefully others on the team learn, but I highly doubt it. Good luck to Fortson and all his future endeavors.


Saturday, August 7, 2010

Chris Rainey: Ultimate Bonehead

University of Florida wide receiver Chris Rainey has a loaded, loud mouth and he isn’t afraid to use it. The former running back, turned wide out has been reprimanded by Urban Meyer on multiple occasions. As a matter of fact, Meyer has told Rainey that he expects the senior to think about his answers 24-hours in advance before ever addressing himself, his coaches, teammates, and most importantly the media. Well, Rainey decided to ignore his coach’s warning and dropped a major bomb. “I guess we got rid of the prima donnas – all the selfish cats” said Rainey during one of the Gators summer practices, according to the Miami Herald. Bone. Head.

Mr. Rainey, exactly whom do you speak of? Is it your All-American middle linebacker that was the backbone to a dominating defense last season? How about a reliable tight end that bailed the offense out week after week? Or - and the thought is repulsive – is it one super athlete that won a Heisman trophy and is cherished by Gator Nation? No…No!

I don’t care who he’s referring too. Chris Rainey might be one of the dumbest young men to ever get in front of a microphone. Way to keep team morale together, Rainey. Terrell Owens thinks you said something overboard. And this isn’t the first time Rainey has been caught with questionable quotes. As a senior at Lakeland High School, he talked about how people in Lakeland just give him money and gifts all of the time, which is a huge recruiting and NCAA violation. It led to his now famous statement, “Damn, I’m glad I’m Chris Rainey.” He later retracted his statement at the advice of his head coach. Rainey went off again his freshman year at UF and I quote, “I’m a white woman man” in reference to all the attractive co-eds he sees on a daily basis. Good for you, Chris. Just don’t pull a Travis Henry, big guy.

This isn’t the first time a Gator player has said something controversial this year. Google Deonte Thompson and, “You know, a real quarterback” and enjoy that melee.

When is Urban Meyer going to be held accountable and responsible for what his players say to the media? That’s the popular question now in the college football world. When are the coaches accountable? Turning a blind eye and saying, “I didn’t know” is not going to cut it anymore.

So, Mr. Rainey, enjoy your senior season at UF. Just remember to learn from your adoptive brother, and former teammate, Maurkice Pouncey and don’t accept $100 grand from an agent…allegedly. Make sure you use good judgment when speaking to a beautiful co-ed, regardless of skin tone. And most importantly, never, and I mean never tell anyone who you meant when referring to “prima donnas.” I think we all know who you’re talking about, but Gator Nation will tear you limb from limb if you actually let it all out. Have a great year. Just keep quiet.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Soriano Deserves MVP Honors

No, I don’t mean A.L. MVP honors. Instead, I mean when that vote comes out by the A.P. voters - I think - and they announce who they believe is each team’s MVP for that season…yeah, that MVP.

Imagine if Tampa Bay Rays right-handed closer Rafael Soriano was on this squad last season. Imagine how many more wins there would’ve been. Remember all of the blown saves last year? Remember that epic night in Cleveland on Memorial Day when the Rays were smoking the Indians only to allow them to score like 15-runs in the bottom of the 9th, which preceded one of the most painful losses in Rays history? Or how about when Jason Bartlett blasted a bomb against Seattle during a 13-inning game to take the lead? Remember how confident we all felt with J.P. Howell coming out to close? Yeah, he gave up a 2-run shot that left the Rays’ dugout looking completely lost and dejected.

I’m not here to dwell on last season’s failures. It’s done…gone, whatever, but it’s fun to pretend and use a hypothetical, right? What I’m getting at is this squad may not have the record it currently holds without Soriano closing out some tough and tight games. He currently is the A.L. leader in saves and is tied for the lead in the M.L. Joaquin Benoit has exceeded expectations and he might’ve been the closer at some point if there wasn’t a Rafael Soriano on board, but number 29 has been lights out.

The guy has ice in his veins, shows zero emotion, and does what he’s supposed to do…close out games and get the Rays a victory.

Longoria’s the pretty boy that shows up on TV and on the cover of video games. Carl Crawford is the current superhero on staff that the league holds in the highest regards. And Rafael Soriano is the quiet kid who gracefully flows to the pitcher’s mound when called upon and succeeds in putting opponents away. Thankless. Humble. MVP.

FSU's Carr Needs To Go

If you haven’t heard by now, Florida State linebacker Nigel Carr was arrested on multiple felony accounts including grand theft auto and felony fraud. Carr was one of FSU’s most dependable linebackers, especially towards the end of the ’09 season, but it seems that his tenure as a Seminole is over. Or is it?

New head coach Jimbo Fisher has currently placed Carr under the - oh so vague -“suspended indefinitely” tag and he’s awaiting for Carr’s trial to be finalized before he gets the final say. Carr has actually pleaded not guilty to his five counts, which is a pretty smart move on his part (or his lawyer’s, whichever) considering there is a substantial amount of evidence against Carr. (Seriously, kid…what’re are you thinking?) I really shouldn’t be surprised because this has been a Florida State m.o. for decades, but this was supposed to change under Fisher who has a tighter grip and clearer understanding of today’s student-athlete.

Coach Fisher needs to set precedence immediately by releasing Carr of his scholarship and sending him away. Carr will be fine going to a smaller school and becoming a D-2 superstar like every other Seminole that has been booted the last several years. Fisher needs his current and future players to understand that the days of bone-headed pranks and acts are over and there will be zero tolerance. Carr was a highly recruited young man and he still may have a bright future ahead of him, but it can’t be at FSU. Keeping him on the team is only going to undermine Jimbo’s authority and the echoed words of one Bobby Bowden’s, “Boys will be boys” will forever haunt Fisher while he’s in charge.

Make an example and kick Carr out of school and allow him to feel what it is to be an adult with responsibilities and that for every action there is a reaction. I get kids do stupid things and everyone deserves a second chance, but Florida State’s boosters and fans ought to be getting a bit sick of this swan song stuck on repeat. We might’ve committed just as many brainless exploits when we were in college, but we’re not under a microscope and we’re certainly not set to the high standards of these student-athletes.

Do the right thing Jimbo or else you’ll soon be forever known as just another coach that harbors criminals in the State of Florida.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Price, Rays Sweep Sox

David Price continues his Cy Young-like season by downing the Boston Red Sox Wednesday night allowing 8 hits, 2 earned runs, and striking out 10 in 7.2 innings pitched as the Rays completed the 3-game sweep 6-4. Price earned his 12th win of the season and is currently the front-runner to start for the A.L. in this Tuesday’s (7/13) All-Star game in Anaheim. This is such an unbelievable feat for a Rays pitcher and further gives the team and organization much deserved notoriety.

Hopefully Longo’s bomb in the 4th inning on the 1st pitch he saw from Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield helps snap him out of this mini slump that he’s currently fighting off. The team went 3 for 12 with men in scoring position, which isn’t great, but it got the job done. Leaving Sean Rodriquez stranded on 3rd base with no one out during the bottom of the 2nd inning could have been a major blow, but with Price in the zone the Sox didn’t sniff a run until the 6th inning and Tampa had a solid lead by then.

Things did get hairy during the top of the 9th when Boston put up two more runs making it 6-4. Randy Choate gave up a single to J.D. Drew and Matt Garza came in to try and close the game out. Drew stole 2nd on indifference and Garza gave up a huge double to Darnell McDonald scoring Drew. Garza then walked Big Papi. With men on 1st and 2nd, 2 outs, and Garza clearly struggling, Kevin Youkilis had a chance to be a hero, but popped out to B.J. Upton to end the game. The Trop was truly electric and it felt good to see Sox fans leave with their heads down and mouths shut. If I had to hear, “Let’s go, Red Sox!” one more time, my head was going to explode.

The controversy of the night came in the top of the 9th when Rays skipper Joe Maddon decided to go with Matt Garza as his closer. I had no problem with this. Garza struggled during Monday night’s game and was benched early. He was probably the freshest pitcher in the bullpen and the pen, especially closer Rafael Soriano, had been overworked since the Minnesota series during the holiday weekend. The knock on Garza is he’s a slow starter and it was too important of a situation to gamble on the hard-throwing righty, but he got the job done and that’s all that matters. No point second-guessing something that worked. Matt should be good to go for his slated start Saturday night.

Tampa Bay goes up against Cleveland in a 4-game set. Taking 3 of 4 against the Indians would carry huge momentum over through the All-Star break and it’s not something that’s out of the question. Hopefully the true Rays fans that showed up throughout the Red Sox series continue to show their support over the next few days.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Ponder's Heisman Campaign

I want to preface this with I’m a huge Christian Ponder fan. The senior quarterback for the Florida State Seminoles is an exemplary student-athlete and I believe he deserves all of the accolades in the world. He graduated with his Bachelor’s in two years and will have his MBA by the end of the college football season. He gets little to no recognition even though he has partaken in many community service outings within the state of Florida as well as his home state of Texas. The young man wasn’t highly recruited at all, but former FSU offensive coordinator Jeff Bowden saw something in the young signal-caller to give him a scholarship offer during one of the Seminoles’ high school camps. He went from an average quarterback as a sophomore to a star the following season and he is beloved by ‘Nole Nation. Depending on how well he does this season, many publications have Ponder as a late 1st to early 2nd round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. His Heisman Trophy campaign went viral (here) at midnight, July 7th and I think this is a horrible idea. Here’s why…

Florida State has been borderline mediocre for the past six seasons with only a handful of bright spots during this time. Obviously, one of these bright spots is Christian Ponder. With a bevy of weapons and an experienced offensive line, there’s no reason to believe Ponder can’t win the Heisman. Before his ‘09 season was ended early due to a shoulder injury, statistically he was one of the top QB’s in the nation. Well, now the Florida State Athletic Department has put a huge bulls-eye on Ponder’s back and teams will surely be gunning for him even more.

The ‘Noles were prime for a breakout season with a new, and fiery, head coach in Jimbo Fisher and a brand new defensive coordinator in Mark Stoops, who’ll be implementing a unique Cover-2 scheme that has never been utilized at FSU. This was supposed to be the year they got back on track and it was by flying under the radar that was going to help the Seminoles succeed. Teams already know how good Ponder is. No need to assist them and pump them up by showcasing this campaign. Now, there’s pressure on a kid when there wasn’t pressure before on a team that is still developing talent and trying to climb back in the right direction. Who actually thought this was a good idea?

I understand this is supposed to help recruiting because there’s a player in the spotlight that’ll be featured on ESPN daily and it’ll make the program more appealing, but this is a new age where highly touted recruits don’t care about that anymore. They’re in it for themselves. I’d say the majority of them want the spotlight, serve their three years, and go on to the NFL. If they happen to win a National Title during their college career then that’s a bonus.

Heisman campaigns are for Top-5 talent teams that actually have a shot at winning a National Championship, something the ‘Noles will not be playing in this season. The element of surprise has officially been exposed and FSU doesn’t have the defensive talent capable of taking some of the pressure off of Christian. He has what it takes between the ears and his physical attributes are clearly there, but a Heisman is truly won by a team and not just the individual. I honestly wish the young man luck and I hope that he proves me wrong, but this was a bad idea for FSU’s 2010 season.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Rays Fans: Let's Support These Boys!

It’s embarrassing for a 1st place team to be welcomed home to an empty stadium. As of this last home stand, the Tampa Bay Rays are averaging 23,065 per home game--83 less attendees’ than last season’s final average. I’m certainly not going to complain about 83 people, but I will throw my arms up in the air at how the community isn’t banding together by going to the Trop to support the Rays. Last season’s team was a good ball club, and the ‘08 Rays were simply jaw-dropping, but this squad is shaping up to be much better than the ALCS Champs of ‘08 and the brass still can’t get fans to come to the games. Why is that?

The Rays have a superstar athlete and an all-star 3rd baseman in Evan Longoria who is easily the most recognizable face of the franchise. He’s on the cover of the MLB 2K10 video game, has nationally televised commercials, and is talked about on ESPN daily. He’s a good-looking young man that treats the media well and will be the Rays poster boy for years. Carl Crawford is just as recognizable as Longo. CC has been in commercials (Dick’s Sporting Goods commercial with Griffey Jr. and Torii Hunter) and has represented Tampa Bay in multiple all-star games, including winning the MVP trophy in last season’s all-star game. You’d think that would get fans excited to drive to the park and witness future greatness, but it’s not enough.

Andrew Friedman, the Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations for the Rays, is a regular guest on the nationally syndicated Jim Rome radio show and receives excellent feedback as well as glowing remarks from a host that won’t invite a guest again unless it’s a great interview. The conversation is always compelling and Friedman is an outstanding businessman that sees much potential in a once meager franchise. He’s done such an outstanding job and this organization has evolved light-years to the crap that it used to be before Friedman arrived.

As previously mentioned, the Baseball Tonight crew on ESPN geeks out and talks about the Rays being the best team in baseball nightly. All of this nationally positive pub and we can’t get a near sell out on a Wednesday night against the Oakland A’s? There’s something clearly wrong with this picture. There are hundreds of cities that would trade places with us in a heartbeat. So what’re the excuses?

The economy is horrific and I’m not going to dispute that in any way, but how is it that the Boston Red Sox sell out every game and the Los Angeles Dodgers have a near sell out? Both teams, as of this blog, are below .500. Is it because these teams have more tradition than the Rays? Probably, but we can’t build a tradition by sitting at home and not supporting the team. Are these cities recession proof? The economy is hammering the city of Detroit, but the Tiger’s attendance is still better than the Rays.

“The drive’s too far” is hilarious to me. I don’t even want to waste my time jotting down how dumb an argument that is because I’m sure we’ve heard the discussion ad naseum and rehashing it doesn’t help. Depending on where you are in Pinellas or Hillsborough County, the drive is anywhere from 25 to 45 minutes. That is seriously nothing compared to what other fan’s franchises have to go through. I digress…

“This is a football town” is a great one too because there is so much football being played right now. Going to Rays games helps the summer fly by, especially with them winning. You’ll be watching the Bucs, Bulls, Gators, whoever in no time, so enjoy baseball while you can. What’s football even have to do with anything? It’s the off-season!

Don’t even come at me with, “It’s too expensive.” The Rays are considered the most affordable franchise, not just in baseball, but in all sports.

And before you say, “Well, Knucklehead, where have you been? Have you been going to the games?” I’m not rubbing this is anyone’s face because I’m certainly not a hypocrite and I believe in practicing what I preach, so come have an adult beverage with me in section 145 because I do have season tickets. I’m not saying blow your wallet on season tickets, but try and make the effort to go to two or three games with some friends or family this season.

Aren’t you tired of having Sternberg and Friedman beg for us to go to the games? Aren’t you sick to your stomach walking into the Trop and seeing more Red Sox and Yankee fans than Ray’s fans? Don’t you want a product you can be proud of and call your own? This isn’t some rally cry nor is it a threat, but if we all don’t do our part and contribute this team will be gone and we will regret it. Let’s not let it get to that. It’s time to stand up and support the Rays.

I'm Back!

I'm sorry I haven't posted here in awhile. My blogs could be seen on the What's Hot Tampa Bay website, but there's a new site and it's still being tweaked, so you can catch up on my blogs with my beta, "old school" Knucklehead site.


Thursday, February 4, 2010

National Signing Day

National Signing Day has come and gone and four of the major universities in the state of Florida did an outstanding job of not only filling needs with talented prospects, but also receiving letters of intent from good character students who look to make their new destinations proud. I’m going to break down these schools and their prospects…

University of South Florida

The Bulls typically get FSU and UF’s leftovers, but the South Florida staff has gotten extremely aggressive the past few seasons, stealing top defensive end recruit Ryne Giddens from Florida last season and ripping top cornerback Terrance Mitchell this season from Florida State. Mitchell is the top recruit in this class for USF and I expect him to compete for immediate playing time. Todd Chandler, from Miami, Florida, was once a University of Miami commitment, but signed his letter of intent with the Bulls. If Skip Holtz can establish a relationship with in the south Florida region, he’ll continue to build solid recruiting classes. The talent down there is unbelievable. Jamius Gunsby from LaGrange, Georgia, didn’t have the biggest offer sheet, but this kid can no doubt play quarterback. Rivals has South Florida ranked 64th and Scout has them ranked 50th. Don’t let these rankings discourage. This is a good 1st class for Holtz and they’ll only get better.

University of Miami

The ‘Canes are known for bringing in top tier talent without even trying and this season is no different. They can recruit central and south Florida and easily compete in the ACC, but if they want to make a splash on the national level they have to be able to get the elite talent from both the state of Florida and the nation. Offensive lineman Brandon Linder is the top prospect in this seasons class. Linder is a physical specimen (6’6”, 290 lbs) and can play any position on the offensive line. His St. Thomas Aquinas teammate, Keion Payne, is a big cornerback and has the tools to face some of the taller wide outs in college. Running back Storm Johnson is a man among boys. This young athlete looks NFL ready now with his physical stature and speed. Expect him to be the opening day starter if Greg Cooper struggles rehabbing from his knee injury. Rivals ranks UM 24th and Scout has them at 17th. This’ll be the class critic’s look back at if Shannon fails a year or two from now.

Florida State University

The Seminoles seem to have a knack for recruiting incredible high school athletes that don’t pan out. Whether it’s coaching or the player, new head coach Jimbo Fisher is making it his mission to get these kids prepared for the collegiate level. Linebacker Christian Jones is the prized jewel of this seasons class. This kid is a beast of a football player. Size, speed, moves laterally with ease, and will absolutely lay the lumber on opposing running backs. Problem is he’s a big kid (6’4”, 220) and may grow into a defensive end. Regardless, it’s a good problem to have. Lamarcus Joyner from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, is considered to be one of the top 1 or 2 cornerbacks in the nation and is such a phenomenal athlete; most expect this young dynamo to play both sides of the ball. An intriguing prospect is defensive lineman Bjoern Werner. Werner hails from Germany and came to the United States three years ago as part of an international exchange program set up by USA Football. ‘Nole fans are excited to see what this young man will accomplish in the future. Rivals and Scout ranked FSU 10th and ESPN ranked them 6th. Jimbo Fisher put together a great 1st class and most of these kids will contribute in 2010.

University of Florida

Ever hear of the term, “The rich get richer?” Florida pulled in an unbelievable class. Basically, take all of the top talent at pretty much every position and place them at UF. That’s how astonishing this class is for the ’08 National Champs. I’d love to give you a few names like I have for every other school, but literally every prospect has superstar potential. Once Meyer comes back from his leave of absence, he can take his pick of who’ll play and who’ll redshirt, which is not a bad thing at all. The Gator’s depth with be something every school fears. Both ESPN and Rivals consider Ronald Powell out of Moreno Valley, California, the top overall prospect in the nation and he can play multiple positions, including defensive end, linebacker, or tight end. A “freak” sums this kid up. Matt Elam out of West Palm Beach is another athlete who can play many positions. He has been compared to FSU and Buccaneer legend Derrick Brooks, but linebacker is only one of many positions he excels at. Safety may be his final destination, but he is an established running back as well. Rivals has UF ranked 2nd and Scout and ESPN have the Gators as the top recruiting class in the nation. Like I said earlier, Meyer can redshirt all of these kids and it’ll not affect his program. The best athletes will get on the field though.

That’s about it. Check out the aforementioned sites and research your favorite team(s) to learn more about your incoming classes. Just think, only 6 more months until college football starts back up. Ugh…

Is The Pro Bowl Enjoyable?

No, really, is it? Is there anything more meaningless than seeing some of the best players in the NFL go half-speed and pretend to be enjoying themselves? Is it even really the best players in the NFL taking part of this game? Hasn’t the Pro Bowl become more of a popularity contest than anything? Manning and Brees weren’t participating. I know they’re playing in the Super Bowl, but then the NFL shouldn’t label the Pro Bowl as an “All-Star” game. Heck, some of the guys elected to the Pro Bowl didn’t even want to play in the game. How is that supposed make fans watch? Seeing superstars like Matt Schaub and Johnny Knox made the game so compelling and competitive, I didn’t want to switch to the Grammy’s at all. William Hung thought that some of the players weren’t talented.

Hasn’t the NFL gone too far with this Pro Bowl stuff? No one cares and they’re shoving it down our throats. I guess we should be grateful because it’s football and the season’s almost over and we should take what we can get, but no one even attempts to compete during the game. You’re trying to tell me Asante Samuel easily bit on a double-move by Andre Johnson. Samuel has seen that act a thousand times. I’m pretty sure he wanted to get in the game for a few series, do as little as possible, and bench himself before he could potentially get hurt.

If the NFL is that serious about having competitive football before the Super Bowl than here’s my advice: have a Pro Bowl team, but make it more of an honor than an actual game. Then, the week before the Super Bowl, have the collegiate Senior Bowl played at the location of the Super Bowl. I believe the NFL holds the rights to the Senior Bowl anyway. Fans will actually get a chance to see kids who WANT to compete for obvious reasons and it would be somewhat enjoyable. And before you say, “You can’t make money off of these kids. That’s an NCAA violation.” If you really think the NFL doesn’t exploit and make money off of these kids then you’re not exactly the brightest crayon in the box. Once a collegiate player’s eligibility is up, they’re fair game.

Maybe my idea’s stupid. I don’t know. The Pro Bowl is just as dumb of an idea. Get rid of it. No one cares. Now, I’m going back to watching the Grammy’s.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sorry for the lack of blogs...

I'm now writing for "What's Hot Tampa Bay," so catch all of my blogs there as well!

Tebow And The Draft

You have to tread lightly and be extremely careful with what you say in regards on Tim Tebow in the Tampa Bay area. According to Florida fans, it’s a reason to go if someone says something even remotely negative about the Gator superstar. To them, the young man is the greatest college football player ever, greatest leader ever, greatest human being ever, and can play all twenty-one positions on the field as well as beat teams by himself. Yeah, Tebow’s that amazing…and if someone comes up with a competent and intelligent argument against the former Heisman winner, it doesn’t matter. You’d be wrong and then Gator fan would want to go.

Why are people afraid to come out and say the negatives about Tim Tebow? The kid was a tremendous college player and will go down as one of the best, but his college career is over and it’s time to focus on his potential NFL future. He’s currently participating in the Senior Bowl practices and, from all accounts, looks awful. He can’t handle a snap from center, his accuracy is way off, his mechanics are atrocious, and his footwork reminds coaches of a person wearing cement blocks. With all of that said, scouts refuse to leave it at those critiques. Typically, they’ll follow all of that with, “But there’s just something about him.” What?! Because I would take a chance in my business with someone that has little skills, but I have a “gut” feeling about. Success in college does not necessarily lead to success in the big leagues.

I’m not trying to hate. He’s an unbelievable collegiate athlete as well as a great kid. The charities, volunteering, et cetera, are enough for me to know that this is a remarkable young man, but this is football and he has a giant target on his back because of the hype that has surrounded him throughout his entire football life. According to ‘50’s hairdo connoisseur and NFL draft guru, Mel Kiper Jr., Tebow’s an H-back with his physical style of play and athleticism. Most QB’s in the NFL have major egos. Can Tebow suck it back and switch to a different position if his quarterback stint fails or will he sulk and whine about it? I don’t know. I think it’ll be an interesting situation and I’m curious to see how it unfolds.

Tim may have to switch positions anyway because according to multiple sources in team offices, organizations don’t want to have to alternate their offenses to suit Tebow’s quarterback skills. If you switch to a different offense that means you’ll have to have a back-up QB the likes of a Tebow and they’re not easy to come by. Actually, they’re nonexistent. It’s a major risk, especially the violent way Tim plays QB. Hopefully, a stable team like New England drafts Tim so he can sit and learn how to actually play quarterback, not “wild cat QB that can throw.”

I’m trying to see this from a different perspective and play Devils Advocate, Gator fan. Relax and don’t try and beat me up. I truly hope the young man succeeds. Heck, you’re telling me Kiper and the rest of these draft nerds knew Tom Brady was going to be any good? Or Kurt Warner? Steve Young was seen as a serious project because of his unusual play and he’s one of the greatest NFL QB’s ever. Tim has the want to and heart to be great, but, in the NFL, it takes more than that. Good luck, Tim.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Leavitt Back In The News

The Jim Leavitt Saga continues with two more accounts of the Joel Miller incident. The situation becomes more bizarre and has taken a life of its own with two USF players speaking out.

Senior wide receiver, Colby Erskin, may have an axe to grind with South Florida Head Coach Jim Leavitt and Erskin is the reason why the alleged altercation has been revived. Erskin told AOL Fanhouse, who first broke the Leavitt accosting Miller story, that everything Joel Miller said was true. Erskin was part of the five unnamed sources that Fanhouse originally posted. According to Erskin, none of the “sources” wanted to speak out in fear of losing their scholarships. The senior broke his silence after Jim Leavitt supposedly emptied his locker and threw all his belongings into a trash bin. The equipment manager confirmed it was Leavitt that did it personally.

Erskin claims that Miller approached him for answers on how to handle the Leavitt situation a few days after it happened and Erskin advised him to seek Athletic Director Doug Woolard and tell him everything. As we all know, Miller was too afraid to say anything because he was afraid of being kicked off of the team. The Fanhouse story broke from that point and we know the rest from there. Leavitt supposedly emptied Erskin’s locker in retaliation for giving Miller counsel.

Now we have someone finally defending Jim Leavitt. Sophomore safety Jerrell Young says that everything Erskin and Miller have reported is bogus because Young was in the room when the alleged slap took place. According to Gary Auman of the St. Pete Times, when asked why more players haven't spoken out in support of Leavitt, Young said the players were specifically told by athletic director Doug Woolard not to speak publicly about the incident.

See, this is where the whole situation becomes ridiculous. If erroneous allegations are made about my head coach whom I respect and admire, I come out right away and back him up. The fact that USF football players were quiet throughout this whole process makes me believe that there’s actually something to this story. Why would Miller come out and accuse Leavitt of wrong doings then retract his statements the next day? Only one person saw what really happened and has the guts to speak out? Where are these other five “sources” that secure Miller’s side of the story?

This thing is far from over and I fully expect there to be more players that defend both Miller and Leavitt. Grab your popcorn, folks. This is will get interesting.

UPDATE: Leavitt fired. More to come...

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

NCAA Ruins Bowden’s Farewell

It’s weird for me to write this because his title was always Florida State “Head Coach” Bobby Bowden, but the 34-year ride has come to an end with an emotional 33 to 21 victory over West Virginia in the Gator Bowl on New Years Day. The 80-year-old Bowden has officially stepped down and did so in a nonchalant, classy fashion chalk full of post-game jokes and a heart-felt good bye.

It should have ended that way. It should have ended on a high note and the man who took a program from nothing to prestige should have walked off into the proverbial sunset and not have to ever look back. Alas, it isn’t so for the mythical coach. The NCAA has put a wrench into what could have been a glorious ending to a fabled career. It pains me to write this, but former Florida State Head Coach Bobby Bowden will have multiple games stripped from his record leaving him with 375 career victories due to the violations FSU reported to the NCAA back in 2007. The offenses were documented, investigated, and have been well publicized as well as criticized/defended throughout the sports world. My question to you is, “Does Bobby deserve this?”

Whether you love Bowden or hate him, the man gave his all to the University and did something unbelievable by taking a program on the brink of disbandment to national power and did so in only a few short seasons. I’m absolutely appalled and disgusted by the NCAA, who, similarly enough, operates much like the Soprano’s. Florida State hasn’t been making the NCAA money the way they used to and they’re now taking it out on the University and Bowden. FSU had much bigger troubles in the ‘90’s and not a single infraction took place, and if there were violations they were slaps on the wrist. The ‘Noles were also winning big games and National Championships. So why attack now?

Take a look at what’s going on at Southern Cal or Tennessee. The Trojans have been on top of the college football world this past decade and have been associated with many alleged wrong doings. Reggie Bush and OJ Mayo immediately come to mind. Google it if you’re not sure what I’m talking about. The NCAA has to protect its prized conference so nothing will come out of Tennessee even with multiple arrests. And not just “caught with marijuana” type arrests. These are student athletes with gun charges, aggravated assault, so on and so forth, and not a whisper from the NCAA.

FSU notified and reported themselves to the NCAA. They even suspended players for the Music City Bowl back in 2007, which probably cost them the game, due to these transgressions. Of course rival fans are going to cry, “Bobby should have known what was going on. It’s his fault.” How? How in the world is one man supposed to know what all his players are doing at all times? Did Meyer know where Dunlap was when he received his DUI? How about Lane Kiffin and his posse who robbed a man in his car at gunpoint like a pack of hoodlums? You’re kidding yourself if you truly think these coaches know what their kids are doing at all times. And you’re absolutely in denial if you think this doesn’t happen at every university. Yes, people speed every day and don’t get caught. It still doesn’t make it right and I’m going to laugh when it eventually catches up to your school.

Bobby Bowden still walks away with his head held high and he can still win a room with his southern charm and quick wit. He stole the hearts of Seminoles fans, as well as college football fans everywhere. This will certainly tarnish his legacy, but at no fault of his own. Bobby did what he was supposed to do and got reprimanded anyway. The United States is a forgiving country and this will all blow over in a few years. If anything, it’s good it finally came out now so the school can move on. Something I can never forgive is the NCAA and their sleazy operation. Thank you, NCAA. You killed a legend.