Saturday, January 07, 2012

Sports Saturday: 1/7/12

College football - College football season is basically over, but there is this Penn State head coach business. I think it's official now that New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien will get the job. There is a quite a bit of a, let's call it a negative vibe among Penn State fans about this, and I think it's gone a little over the top, so I think I need to provide some reasonable, unemotional, rational discussion.

First off, it's too bad that Penn State has become one of those "elitist" schools where "outsiders" who don't know our "tradition" aren't welcome (at least according to a few high profile former players), and that the head coach of the football team is thought of as so much more than just a football coach. I think being the football coach should only about, you know, coaching the football team. This goes back to the idea that the football team is bigger than the school. It shouldn't be. That's how we got into this mess in the first place, right? Let's not take this so seriously.

That said...it's hard to get excited about the hire, if O'Brien is in fact the next coach. O'Brien was (is?) also a candidate for the Jacksonville Jaguars head coaching position, prompting Florida Times-Union writer Vito Stellino to tweet something to the effect of, "How many Bill Belichick coordinators have to fail as head coaches before teams finally stop hiring them?"

Well, whatever. Hire whoever you want, guys. Given the status of the Penn State football program at the moment, they might as well go with a cheap hire, I suppose.

NFL - First, about the Jacksonville Jaguars: this could be the most interesting offseason to date, now that we have a new owner. Is Shahid Khan going to open up his pockets and grab a big name head coach and/or big name free agents? Even if that doesn't immediately translate into more wins, it might keep this "new buzz" afloat and help sell tickets, and that might be better in the long run. And with a full offseason to work (unlike prior to this season), how much better will Blaine Gabbert be in the 2012 season? Will he have a better receiving core to work with next season? (Let's hope so.)

As for everyone else who's still playing...of this weekend's playoff games, I am probably the only person in the world outside of Cincinnati and Houston who is most interested in the first game of the weekend: Cincinnati at Houston (Sat 4:30p, NBC). Why? Because somebody has to win, right? Houston is pretty much screwed without Matt Schaub, and Cincinnati is only here because they kind of "backed in" to the playoffs. Yet, one of those teams is about to win a playoff game, which the Bengals haven't done since 1990, and the Texans never have. These two teams are the ultimate underdogs in these playoffs. Wouldn't it be great if either of them went on to win the Super Bowl?

Other games, none of which I have anything interesting to say about:
Detroit at New Orleans - Sat 8:00p, NBC
Atlanta at NY Giants - Sun 1:00p, FOX
Pittsburgh at Denver - Sun 4:30p, CBS

College basketball - With the start of conference play, it's time to finally get serious about college basketball.

First, my favorite college basketball website, kenpom.com, put up a paywall for this season, and I chose not to pay. But we can still look at his rankings, I guess.

As a Florida State/Penn State fan, it may not ever get better than it did last season. Both teams made the NCAA Tournament, and one (Florida State) even won a couple of games. But will either make the NCAA Tournament this season? I'm thinking, no. As good as Florida State's defense is, they seem to get worse and worse on offense every year. Sometimes, it looks like they just don't have a clue, especially when they play an Ivy League team. Leonard Hamilton can recruit, and he can get his players to play outstanding defense, but on offense, these guys are completely lost. And it's never more evident than in close or late game situations. I can't tell you how many times I've watched the Seminoles have a chance to win the game on the final possession, and fail. It's kind of discouraging when I'm watching an FSU game and it comes down to the final minute. Well, I guess every team has their weaknesses. Regardless, FSU can still plausibly win 10 games in the ACC. Florida State at Clemson - Sat 4:00p, ESPN2

Penn State: well, I'm just assuming they aren't good enough to make the NCAA Tournament. That's always a reasonable assumption with these guys. But hey, they beat Purdue! Indiana at Penn State - Sun 12:00p, BTN

This site has been my source for complete college basketball television listings this season. I don't know if it's 100% complete, but it's close, at least. Due to frequent stoppages, especially near the end, basketball is the kind of sport I can only watch on DVR, so I usually just choose a few games to DVR and then watch them later. I can get through an entire college basketball game in one hour this way. That's pretty sweet.

NHL

Things haven't improved much for the Carolina Hurricanes over the last few weeks. They're now dead last in the Eastern Conference (as of Friday afternoon). Time to start trading for prospects? Who do they trade, anyway? Dare they consider trading their two highest-paid players (Eric Staal and Cam Ward), both of whom have underperformed this season, and both of whom are signed to potentially franchise-killing long term contracts through the end of the 2015-16 season? Of course they won't, but I think it should at least be discussed. Florida has found success this season by hitting the reset button; maybe it's time the Hurricanes do the same. (Staal is still worst in the league in plus/minus, by the way: -23.) Carolina at Nashville - Sat 8:00p, FS Carolinas

Nationally televised games this weekend, which is pretty good if you're you a Red Wings fan.
Vancouver at Boston - Sat 1:00p, NHL Network
Detroit at Toronto - Sat 7:00p, NHL Network
Detroit at Chicago - Sun 7:30p, NBCSN

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