Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Jeff Long and the Rest of the Committee are Clueless Establishing Equitable College Football Playoff Criteria

College Football Playoff committee chair Jeff Long is openly appointing teams to the inaugural playoff by justifiably making the rules up as he, and the rest of the committee, proceed.

Long, who is also University of Arkansas's Athletic Director, made headlines by discussing the controversially subjective, puzzling, and ESPN-created "Game Control" criteria, which Long assures has always been part of the discussion amongst committee members and the selection process, and denies the claim the 4-Letter Network has any influence over the conversations.

During last night's broadcast, Long rationalized why Mississippi State is still considered in the playoff race by ranking the Bulldogs no. 4 in the nation even after losing to Alabama 25-20 November 15th.

Long stated, "(Mississippi State) do have wins over teams who were previously in the Top-25. The committee takes that into account. They view those teams as when they were played and when those games were played.”

In other words, Mississippi State defeated teams while they were in the Top-25, but those same schools are no longer in the Top-25. The Bulldogs defeated LSU while the Tigers were ranked no. 8, Texas A&M while the Aggies were no. 6, and Auburn while the Tigers were no. 2. Out of the three, only Auburn remains in the Top-15.

There is nothing wrong with this bit of logic. Inflated preseason rankings and the ambiguity of which team(s) will preform early in the season isn't the committee's fault. After the Aggies lambasted the then no. 9 South Carolina Gamecocks 52-28, pundits were ready to crown Texas A&M National Champs.

Since then, both the Aggies and Gamecocks have been a major disappointment. 

One would suppose the committee would be more consistent with it's explanation as to the barometer set in choosing which schools make the Top-4, but conflicting explanations have irritated most fan bases.

On November 11th, Long clarified why undefeated Florida State dropped in the rankings by seeding the Seminoles no. 3, allowing one-loss Oregon to leap FSU and causing a ruckus amid the Seminole faithful.

“Oregon has three (current) Top-25 victories. Florida State only has two,” proclaimed Long during the November 11th ESPN broadcast.


Fair explanation, except it contradicts Long's present thoughts.

The committee didn't take into account Louisville, who was ranked 25th when Florida State defeated the Cardinals 42-31 in Louisville on Thursday night. Since then, Louisville has worked its way back into the Top-25.

Oregon lost 31-24 at home to a then unranked Arizona team. According to Long's logic, the loss should go against the Ducks.

Why is it agreeable to forgive Mississippi State's "no-longer-in-the-Top-25" wins, but Florida State's vacant Top-25 wins, such as Notre Dame, go against them? Why did the narrative change from November 11th to today? What happened?

The Seminoles currently hold victories over two current Top-25 teams. Alabama and Mississippi State, the present and past no. 1 seeds, have two. Combined ('Bama's victory over Mississippi State and Mississippi State's victory over Auburn). Long hasn't mentioned inequalities between Power-5 conferences, so the "SEC is a superior conference" excuse has yet to be offered, and the defense cannot be used until differing weights are applied to each conference. 

So which criteria is the one being given? The originally accepted, "It must be a current Top-25 win to hold credence," or the SEC popular, "A Top-25 win is a Top-25 win no matter when it was played?" 

The rules and regulations constantly altering and changing gives off the impression the committee is being swayed and aren't deemed reliable.

Is TCU and Baylor nipping at the heels of the no. 4 seed the reason for the change of heart? Is Florida State, as polarizing as they are, who're forced to wear the black hat, the reason for the imbalance in the selection committee's methods?

For all the faults of the BCS, the process was objective and there were clear standards set in place. The obvious solution is to use the BCS formula and have the Top-4 battle it out. 

But there's no bias and leverage in that sort of sensible thinking.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

ESPN's Paul Finebaum lacking evidence against Florida State's Jameis Winston

Paul Finebaum, ESPN's pompous and vacuous, Alabama-based radio show host concluded an interview with Keith Olbermann regarding Florida State quarterback, and reigning Heisman winner, Jameis Winston.

The focus of conversation is whether Winston will have a "sophomore slump" in 2014, which is an informal way of stating a decline in productivity as a second-year starter. Finebaum deliberately rants about everything except Winston's expectations for the 2014-2015 college football season.


As a high school English teacher, my students know the fundamentals of properly administering and organizing their thoughts when expressing a position, or "argument." They know to voice the opinion, or as we like to call it a "claim," by validating their thoughts with evidence to reinforce their opinion. A lack of evidence to support the claim is considered fallacious.

They must also explain their evidence, which is what teachers call "commentary." Commentary and evidence is severely lacking in Finebaum's claim.

Olbermann asks Finebaum, "Is there an expectation that he (Winston) won't be able to repeat anything like his Heisman season?"

Finebaum dodges the question by answering, and I paraphrase, he's not sure how anyone puts stealing crab legs from a grocery store behind them.

I recently went to Publix and accidentally forgot to pay for an item, and it didn't dawn on me until I got home. Embarrassingly, I turned around and admitted to my fault - paying for the item and apologizing. My life hasn't changed and I still enter the same Publix for my groceries.

Where is Finebaum's evidence proving Winston will be affected by his shoplifting incident, and what does it have to do with expectations?

Finebaum follows his opinion by stating, "I thought Johnny Manziel last year was a head case after his (2013) Heisman season. Winston has taken it to a different level."

Different level? How's so? Manziel was allegedly hungover at the Manning Camp last summer and was then purportedly told to leave. The former Texas A&M and current Cleveland Browns quarterback was consistently in the news for his random tweets and destructive behavior.

Winston has stayed out of the negative news since the theft. Worse than Manziel? Where's the evidence to support this claim (opinion)?

"(Winston's) still very brash. He's very arrogant," continues Finebaum. Once again, where? Other than talking his teammates up, the lofty expectations Winston has placed on himself and the preseason ranked No. 1 Seminoles, where is said arrogance?

"He has been talking a lot of trash." Prove it. The red herring logical fallacy can be seen painted across this entire interview. Finebaum has yet to answer Olbermann's question.

The interview concludes with Finebaum laughing while declaring, "Lying. Cheating." Although Louisville Head Coach Bobby Petrino was loosely mentioned due to Florida State traveling to Louisville this season, the attention was and is mainly on Winston.

Most "journalists" exercise sensationalism to exploit a story by making it seem bigger than it is through assuming the worst possible scenario. By Finebaum's claim and lack of evidence with no commentary, I'll assume he means Winston and the Seminole's cheated in defeating the Auburn Tigers during the 2013 BCS National Championship game.

If Finebaum can somehow prove deceit, it would make him credible - something the show host has been lacking his entire career.

The Seminoles play Oklahoma State August 30th at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Initial Reaction: Tampa Bay Rays drop the ball on David Price trade

The Tampa Bay Rays waited until the waning moments of the July 31st deadline to trade pitching ace David Price. Price has been named in trade rumors with the St. Louis Cardinals, Seattle Mariners, and Los Angeles Dodgers for the majority of the season, but the Detroit Tigers end up snagging the hard-throwing lefty, and for pennies, at that.

In a three-team trade also involving the Mariners, the Rays receive left-handed starting pitcher Drew Smyly, infielder Nick Franklin, and infielder Willy Adames.

Rays' General Manager Andrew Friedman failed to address a long-standing problem with the organization and that's the addition of a big bat. While Franklin hits for a solid average and Adames is still young (18-years-old), neither is a power hitter. Run production has plagued the Rays for years, and help is certainly not coming anytime soon.

Smyly is a solid pitcher with a 3.77 ERA in 100.1 innings pitched, but he's no Price. Few are. This addition could have favored the Rays if elite prospects were tacked on to help quench the organization's dwindling talent in the minors. 

Franklin, while hitting .294 with 16 doubles in Triple-A Tacoma, is a liability as an infielder. The Mariners saw his inefficiencies and moved him to the outfield. Rays' Manager Joe Maddon is a defensive-minded coach who plays the statistics, especially with the infield. If Franklin can't get it together as a short stop, his natural position, then he'll quickly become another utility man.

Adames was considered the Tigers fourth best prospect. The youngster has excelled at short stop, but is struggling seeing the ball, posting a .269 average with Single-A West Michigan. He's not afraid to take chances either on the base path, attempting nine stolen bases this season and only being successful three times. 

The Rays Organization has done a tremendous job in the past  with these trades, but the majority of them have been in the offseason. With 54-games remaining and being 5.5 games out of the second Wild Card, the Rays could have easily waited until the Winter Meetings to pull off this exact same trade. 

Precisely what are the Rays telling its fans? Two-games down from being .500, how will the players in the locker room react? Will this galvanize them or will Evan Longoria and company feel sorry for themselves while watching the clock as the innings crawl by?

For a serviceable pitcher and two hopefuls, this was not a good trade.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

NFL/Roger Goodell Sends Women Message After Ray Rice Suspension: We Don't Care About You

The Twitterverse exploded Thursday morning after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell issued a two-game suspension to Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice for aggravated assault. Rice was captured on camera battering his then fiancee, now wife, Janay Palmer back in February.

Women everywhere should gratefully thank Goodell for meting out his lethal punishment and assuring the Shield's female fan base how concerning domestic violence is and how it will not be tolerated by gingerly slapping the wrists of one of the NFL's most recognized superstars. 

Instead, the NFL and Goodell should continue reeling in its female viewers by informing the public that breaking women's faces, as long as it's during a player's personal time, is accepted.

But in the confines of the game, such as the tale of Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Dashon Goldson's vicious hit on the field, although objectively clean and legal against a man in the contexts of football, won't be tolerated and therefore received a one-game suspension.

Or Washington Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather receiving a suspension, which was reduced from two games to one, after a brutal hit on Chicago Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery. Perhaps if Jeffery was a woman, Meriweather wouldn't have earned any sort of penalizing.

Mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, wives, and grandmothers should also be obliged by how immediate the process developed – taking nearly six months to propose the discipline, even with clearcut photographic evidence. 

The overwhelming positive applause can be heard reverberating across social media and, more importantly, the survived domestic violence victims of the United States.

Goodell missed this one. By a million miles. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Tampa Bay Rays: Significant Surprises, Monumental Disappointments, and Second-Half Expectations

The Tampa Bay Rays have been an exhaustive letdown, posting an aggravating 44-53 record  9.5 back of the AL East leading Baltimore Orioles and tied for last place within the division at the MLB All-Star break.

Injuries have cursed the Rays, losing former all-star pitcher Matt Moore for the year to an elbow injury, shelving pitcher Alex Cobb for multiple weeks to an oblique strain, sending pitcher Jeremy Hellickson to Double-A affiliate Port Charlotte for an extended rehab session after shoulder surgery, disabling designated hitter/outfielder David DeJesus to a fractured hand, recently disabling catcher Ryan Hanigan (his second stint to the DL this season) to an oblique strain, and 2013 AL Rookie of the Year Wil Myers is reportedly out until August with a wrist injury.

With the rash of injuries, the Rays have been forced to regularly start the aging Jose Molina, who is batting .195 in 149 at-bats, journeyman pitcher Erik Bedard, posting a 4.76 ERA in 75.2 innings, and second baseman Logan Forsythe, who, up until recently, has been a disappointing acquisition, but has improved – hitting .250 with two doubles and a home run in July.

Trade rumors surrounding former Cy Young Award winner and club ace David Price have been circling for months. Price has one more year under club control and is allegedly due $20-plus million in arbitration, then becomes a free agent after 2015.

Rays' utility man Ben Zobrist has also been the conversation of trade. Zobrist has one-year remaining in his contract and is due to earn $7 million this season and $7.5 million in 2015.

Although Price won't admit it, the trade rumors, along with the excessive amount of injuries, has got to be a distraction in the locker room.

With that said, the Rays have been on a tear, winning 11 of the last 15 games, getting a major boost from rookie outfielder Kevin Kiermaier, and seeing a resurgence in its starting pitching. Winning the AL East isn't out of the question, either. With 65 games remaining, and the AL East continuing its nosedive, the Rays could potentially climb back.

The post-season certainly isn't out of the question, but with the hefty price tag attached to Zobrist and Price, as well as the depleted talent to the Rays' farm system, does Tampa Bay want to risk passing on top-tier prospects to replenish its minor league affiliates for a slim shot at the playoffs?

Multiple teams, including the St. Louis Cardinals and most recently the Seattle Mariners, have inquired about Price and what the fee will be to trade for the all-star, but so far nothing has been confirmed. General Manager Andrew Friedman has to make this trade if the Rays are to rebuild and reload for the 2015 campaign.

The Rays success these past six seasons can be attested to a solid minor-league system, but the talent pool in Montgomery and Durham have diminished with players being called up, players traded, and prospects who just haven't panned out. Friedman needs to make the Price trade and stock up on future prospects if a small-market team like the Rays is to survive.

Fans will recall the magical 2011 season where Evan Longoria hit a home run in the bottom of the 12th inning during game 162 to propel the Rays to a playoff berth, but no such enchantments will boost the Rays this time around. Tampa Bay has to make the necessary trades if they are to be in any sort of playoff discussion in 2015. If the Rays hold onto Price while dropping to its knees in prayer, the Devil Rays days may be on the horizon.

Significant Surprises

The consensus seems to be Kiermaier, but reliever Jake McGee has been exceptional. Posting a 1.52 ERA in 41.1 innings and seven saves, McGee has solidified himself as the number one option as Manager Joe Maddon's closer in 2015.

Monumental Disappointments

Once again, the consensus is former closer Grant Balfour, but Longoria is supposed to be the team's leader and clutch hitter. Longo has been anything but – batting .257 in 373 at-bats with 11 home runs. Maybe the lack of presence batting in front and/or behind him is the problem, but the clutch hitting is missing.

Second-Half Expectations

Tampa Bay has been grinding to get back into the playoff picture since mid-May. While the Rays make it interesting by getting close to .500, the team will eventually tire out, finishing fourth in the AL East – ahead of the New York Yankees and behind the Boston Red Sox.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Former Florida State Defensive Coordinator Jeremy Pruitt Inexplicably Leaves for Georgia

Jeremy Pruitt instantly made his mark at Florida State by being the mastermind behind one of the most prolific defenses in NCAA history.

Armed with veteran leaders such as defensive back Lamarcus Joyner and linebacker Christian Jones, a deep and talented defensive line, a fiery and experienced staff, and loads of gifted athletes across the board, Pruitt's defense ranked No. 2 in total defense, No. 1 in scoring defense, and No. 3 in turnover margin, all of which contributed to the Seminoles' perfect season.

News broke earlier today that Pruitt has left FSU after one season and has joined Mark Richt as the new defensive coordinator at Georgia. The story came as a shock to Seminole fans who expected Pruitt to stay in Tallahassee for at least another season.

Pruitt was making $500,000 a year at FSU, and was expecting a raise this upcoming summer. His new salary at UGA will be $850,000 per year. It's unsure whether Florida State tried to match the offer. Considering the job is a lateral move, Pruitt's actions speak volumes – "cash grab" comes to mind.

The Seminoles return an abundance of talent on the defensive side of the ball, most of which saw plenty of playing time due to blowouts. Pruitt leaves a team prime to make another national title run for a defense that ranked 45th in total defense and 10th in the SEC in scoring defense

Recruiting ought to be a concern for FSU Head Coach Jimbo Fisher. Pruitt, a former National Recruiter of the Year, may try to sway some of the current Florida State commitments to Georgia, almost certainly leaving FSU's staff scrambling to remedy the situation.

The departure leaves the 'Noles without a defensive coordinator, but the popular replacement may already be on FSU's staff. Sal Sunseri, the Seminoles defensive end's coach, should be the favorite to replace Pruitt. Sunseri has experience as a defensive coordinator while at Tennessee in 2012, although that was the worst year defensively in Volunteer history.

FSU linebacker's coach and special team's coordinator Charles Kelly will get a look by Fisher, as well.

Seeing as Pruitt has the arduous task of transforming a porous defense, this move reeks of Richt desperately attempting to save his job after the 2014 season, and Pruitt appreciating the money over success.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Head Coach Lovie Smith Assembles Staff Based on Didactic Approach

Lovie Smith has nearly completed his search for assistant coaches, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers new head coach has the tall order of reviving a once respectable franchise from the current gutters of derision into a unified team willing to battle for victories.

The former Chicago Bears head coach was fired at the end of the 2012 season after starting 7-1, then finishing 10-6 while narrowly missing the playoffs. Smith finished 84-66 in nine seasons with the Bears, claiming the NFC North three times, and earning a Super Bowl berth once, in 2006, losing to Tony Dungy's Indianapolis Colts.

Smith, a pupil under former Bucs coach Dungy, has assembled a group of teachers rather than drill sergeants to aid in rejuvenating a club that finished 11-21 the past two seasons. Will this strategy benefit a group of players who have been entrenched in the losing culture for the past two seasons?

Jeff Tedford, the former Cal head coach, has been brought on as offensive coordinator. The interesting yet controversial hire has Bucs' fans scratching their heads, and it begs to ask the question, "What does Lovie know that no one else in the NFL knows?"

While Tedford has successfully placed many college quarterbacks in the first round, none of them, except Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, has panned out. Can Tedford work his magic and turn Mike Glennon into first-round type talent? Probably not, and the train of thought is the Bucs may look quarterback in the upcoming draft.

Can Tedford's innovative, offensive mind be successful in the NFL? He doesn't have pro experience, which ought to be alarming to fans.

Former Minnesota Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier has been hired as the Bucs defensive coordinator. Frazier, another one of Dungy's students, has had success in the NFL as a coordinator. In Frazier's first year with the Vikings, he finished with the 20th ranked defense - first in rushing, and last in passing. In 2008, Frazier's second year, the numbers drastically change, going from 6th overall, first in rushing, and 18th passing.

Except for his first season, Frazier's defenses didn't fall out of the top 10 while as coordinator.

Guys like Hardy Nickerson, who is responsible for making the Tampa-2 defense a power in the late 1990's and early 2000's, as the new linebackers coach, is an energy guy that has 15 years worth of experience to teach.

Tim Spencer, Tampa's new running back's coach, helped propel Thomas Jones into new heights as a premier running back. Jones was nearly a first-round bust before exploding onto the scene in Chicago.

Smith has done this before. He has been a success at every level. He knows what he's doing. Bucs fans need to trust in Smith's staff because the mistakes he made in Chicago are almost guaranteed not to be repeated.