Category Archives: Sports

Hold Me Back

The best bench reactions from the NBA and beyond. Be prepared to be held back.

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Hold Me Back

I have one athletic goal left in life. I want to be on the bench during an NBA game when someone on my team absolutely posterizes an opponent with a monster dunk. I want to jump out of my seat, scream, strike a pose, then attempt to hold all of my teammates back from storming the court in appreciation. Just look at the video below of Harrison Barnes embarrassing some Euro dude on the Timberwolves. A great pass from the post off an aggressive cut, huge elevation and diesel power finish. Barnes knows he’s the man, but the bench needs to let him know how sick a facial he just delivered. The Warriors are terrible and who cares if they won or lost the game–that moment will be talked about and replayed all season. There can be no purer joy in sports, nay the world.

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"Not a Dime Back, I'd Like to Retire Someday"

Calhoun

After much speculation and deliberation, UCONN Men’s Basketball Coach Jim Calhoun announced his retirement today. UCONN Assistant Kevin Ollie will take over next season. The decision is a surprise, but not shocking since Calhoun recently broke his hip and has constantly battled health issues over the past five years. UCONN and it’s fans knew this day was coming, although we hoped for at least two more years (when his contract ran out).

Calhoun’s basketball legacy is obvious. Three National Championships, building the Connecticut program up from nothing, churning out several NBA stars in the past two decades. He is one of the greatest coaches alive and is already a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, the last few years have been rough on the man and the NCAA recruiting violations will be a silly footnote on an illustrious career.

All the numbers and accolades are great, but unless you’re from Connecticut, you just don’t understand how much the man did for the University, but also the state. Connecticut has no professional sports teams. The Whalers left Hartford in 1997, making UCONN sports the only game in town. That was right about the same time when Calhoun’s teams started to make an impact on a national level. Ray Allen’s championship game-winner against Georgetown in the 1996 Big East Tournament is one of the ultimate sports highlights of my youth.

Since that bucket, UCONN basketball has been the only game in town. (OK, the women’s team has been good, but…) Jim Calhoun made Connecticut relevant. He made me proud to be from the nutmeg state. He gave us something to root for. Some people trash Calhoun for his crusty attitude and hot temper, but I love it. Calhoun has never minced words and has always been a thoughtful, intense and passionate coach. His famous “Not a Dime Back” press conference is a YouTube classic. Calhoun was ours and we had his back.

The UCONN program is in good hands with Ollie. He knows has learned from the best, knows the tradition and still has connections to the NBA. The post season ban will hurt them this year, but the team will still be competitive. It is good to hear the Calhoun will still be involved with the team and university, just not on the sidelines. The Jim Calhoun retirement tour/celebration will be long and deserving, although he probably will hate all the extra attention. Coach Calhoun has given me some of my greatest athletics experiences and memories. The games won’t be the same without him.

Calhoun has always had a quick hook for his players, never hesitating to go to his bench after a turnover or terrible play. Well, Calhoun has finally called his own number and is hitting the showers. Thank you, Jim and good luck at whatever is next.

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Diesel Fantasy Studs and a Sleeper

It’s that time of year again–fantasy football draft season. Here are my picks for who I see finishing as the top five players in all of fantasy come the end of the season. I’m out on a limb. But winners rarely play it safe.

1. Tom Brady, QB

I’ve hated Tom Brady ever since the Tuck Rule screwed the Raiders in 2001. I’ve taken great joy in watching the Patriots lose Super Bowls, tear ACLs, and film other teams and/or “audition tapes.” As much as I despise New England, I’m not stupid. Fantasy is about playing with your head, not your heart. (Robert Kraft knows what I’m talking about). The addition of Brandon Lloyd and Josh McDaniels could mean 2007 déjà vu. Brady has the weapons to throw for 50 touchdowns and over 5,400 yards. Whatever he puts up, it’s going to be better than what Aaron Rodgers did last year. Belichick and Brady need to make fans forget about Manning to Manningham and will do so by crushing their 2012 opponents with offensive malice. The Patriots have the easiest schedule in the league (again!?!) and will run up the score frequently. The departure of BenJarvus Green-Ellis opens some opportunity in the back field for Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen, but what would you rather do at the five-yard line, hand off to STEVAN RIDLEY or have The Golden Boy throw a quick out to Gronk (or Welker or Hernandez or Lloyd)? Bill Simmons should book his trip to New Orleans now.

2. Ray Rice, RB

Anthony Allen. That’s who is currently second on the Raven’s depth chart at RB. Of all the top rushers out there, Ray Rice has the least competition and the most potential. Rice’s 15 all-purpose touchdowns and 76 receptions in 2011 put him at the elite level everyone knew he was capable of. He played every game last season and only scored in single digits twice, one of those games being against San Francisco’s league-leading run defense. Rice is consistent and safe, two words you rarely associate with the city of Baltimore.

3. Darren McFadden, RB

I’m all in on McFadden this year. I’m not scared of his injuries and I believe that he will play all sixteen games and deliver the best year of his career, making him a top-three fantasy running back. At 5.3 YPC and potential to be integrated more into the pass game, Greg Knapp will call anythi—WAIT, breaking news from Raiders camp…Adam Schefter reports Darren McFadden out 4-6 weeks with a sprained ankle after tripping over Matt Leinart’s bong. NOOOO!

4. Julio Jones, WR

If the pre-season has been any indication, it’s going to be a huge year for Julio Jones. Wide receiver is crazy deep this year (DRINK!) and he’s the only player at the position I’d consider drafting before the fourth round. Size, speed, athleticism—Jones has got it all and it feels like Matt Ryan has locked in on him. With ten of the Falcon’s sixteen games scheduled in domes this season, expect Julio to continue to be the big play threat that led the league in YAC during his rookie campaign. Also, I like his new haircut.

5. Maurice Jones-Drew, RB

Things don’t look good for potential MJD owners, but have faith. Last year’s leading rusher will play this season and he will be a beast. Henry Hill will narrate his every carry and each touchdown will be celebrated by a death stare/middle finger to Shahid Khan sitting in the owner’s box, followed by an accomplice in the end zone stands presenting him with balloons and a Publisher’s Clearing House-sized check. Joe Buck will call the display “disgusting” then silently fist pump and taunt Troy Aikman because MoJo fell to him in the second round.

Sleeper

The man with three first names, Alshon Jeffery. Dude is 6-3, 216 with hands as soft as Jay Culter’s new baby’s ass. Word from camp is that he’s impressing coaches and picking up the offense quickly. The Devin Hester experiment has failed. Earl Bennett is serviceable. Brandon Marshall could be off his meds and stabbed by his wife again any day now. It would not surprise me if Jeffrey becomes the breakout receiver of 2012. Alshon’s rookie ceiling is probably 50 catches, 800 yards and six touchdowns. For someone with an ADP of around 145, I’d much rather take a gamble on a prospect with stud potential than a known commodity who you know you’ll just end up dropping for whoever pops on the waiver wire.

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2012 NBA Lottery Mock Draft

lottery

The 2012 NBA Draft is all about that one dreaded word: potential. Beyond Anthony Davis, there are no sure-fire All-Stars out there. Sure, a few guys could develop and work their way up, but we’re a long ways away from that. General Managers are in the unenviable position of picking the one player that could either make or break their careers. Do you pick Kevin Durant or Greg Oden? Fans always know what their team needs. Unfortunately, the NBA Draft is all about what a player could be or how his current skills compare to others players in the league. Common sense is, “we need a point guard, so we’ll draft a point guard.” Rarely do things play out this way. I expect numerous trades and movement from teams on draft night, so my mock below will probably be blown to shit by the second pick. This mock is based on the current order, basic team needs and simple common basketball knowledge. No one knows what will happen beyond New Orleans’ first pick. And that’s half the fun of watching.

1. New Orleans Hornets – Anthony Davis, PF, Kentucky
Pretty much a no-brainer. Davis needs to put on some muscle, but he’ll make an immediate impact for a shitty team.

2. Charlotte Bobcats – Thomas Robinson, PF, Kansas
Rumors are that Charlotte will trade down to acquire more talent. And they need it at basically every position besides point guard. I would love to slot Andre Drummond in here simply for the bust possibility and the Jordan-Kwame Brown comparison. Thomas Robinson is a solid forward with a great personal story who knows how to handle adversity. Perfect for the worst team in the league.

3. Washington Wizards – Bradley Beal, SG, Florida
Why is Beal so hyped? I have no recollection of this dude playing at Florida. Good for Brad, but seriously, Eric Gordon is your best comp? And you’re going top-5? This is why the NBA Draft sucks. Fun “What If”: Cleveland trades up, steals Beal, Washington says “fuck it” and gambles on Drummond where he can be mentored by Emeka Okafor (another UCONN guy) and Nene. Completely stole this from Chad Ford.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers – Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, F, Kentucky
Kyrie Irving was a good start last year, now they need to build with more talent. Kidd-Gilchrist was the catalyst for the Wildcats’ championship run and will add to the rebuilding process. He still won’t make up for Lebron abandoning his home state.

5. Sacramento Kings – Harrison Barnes, SF, North Carolina
Barnes will probably be a better pro than college player. He has the size, skill and potential, but does he care more about his “brand” than becoming a better player? Sacramento, with head cases Cousins, Evans and Fredette, will fit him perfectly.

6. Portland Trail Blazers – Damien Lillard, PG, Weber St.
Who? Supposedly the best point guard in the draft, Lillard will try to be a good point guard in Portland. I got nothing.

7. Golden St. Warriors – Andre Drummond, C, Connecticut
Slip sliding. At what point does potential out-weigh common sense? Drummond is a physical freak with all the tools to be a beast on the court. He could be Dwight Howard or Kwame Brown. I watched Drummond for a season at UCONN and he was a huge disappointment. He doesn’t assert himself, he’s not aggressive in the paint, and is totally raw offensively. In the NBA, all he needs to do is rebound and dunk, which he can do–double-double every game. But does he want to? It feels like he only balls because of his size and not because of his passion. If he goes to Golden St. or a team that doesn’t know how to utilize him, he’ll flounder on the bench and only have a couple “Holy Shit!” dunk highlights in his rookie season.

8. Toronto Raptors – Jeremy Lamb, SG, Connecticut
Lamb is another guy that lets the game come to him. He’s much better off playing the sidekick than the star. Again, huge potential, but it comes down the right situation and his drive to get better. I think the Toronto experiment hasn’t really worked out, so it would be a shame for Lamb’s talent to be wasted in Canada.

9. Detroit Pistons – John Henson, PF, North Carolina
Another big, athletic forward. Just what the Pistons need!

10. New Orleans Hornets – Austin Rivers, PG, Duke
If the Hornets land Davis and Rivers, they’ll win the draft and set themselves up for a bright future. They’re in a tough division, but with Eric Gordon coming back, New Orleans becomes an exciting, young team.

11. Portland Trail Blazers – Tyler Zeller, PF, North Carolina
Portland is still trying to recover from the Greg Oden bust and Brandon Roy retirement. With two picks in the lottery, they might trade out, or try to set themselves up similar to the Hornets, mixing big and small.

12. Milwaukee Bucks – Meyers Leonard, C, Illinois
A big white dude from the Midwest. Perfect for Milwaukee in their attempt to replace Andrew Bogut.

13. Phoenix Suns – Dion Waiters, SF, Syracuse
There are rumors of a promise to Waiters here at thirteen but even stranger rumors of teams pulling the trigger even earlier on the Syracuse sixth man. He could be a great roll player on a good team, or an obnoxious ball hog on a cellar dweller.

14. Houston Rockets – Perry Jones, PF/C, Baylor
Two years ago, Jones was a top-3 prospect. Last year he was still top-5. Now he’s fallen to possibly out of the lottery. At fourteen, Houston should go for the best available and he could really blossom with the right coaching and weight room. Look for teams to trade up into this spot too, as Houston is always a big mover and shaker on draft night.

Tune in Thursday night to see how things play out and laugh at how wrong I am.

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2012 NFL Mock Draft

Diesel contributor Mike Schaedler is the man and takes time to share his obsession and break down the 2012 NFL Draft.  Mel Kiper and Todd McShay are tools. Dr. Schaedler is the only source you need for draft coverage. Tune in Thursday, April 26 for all the action and see how Mike does.

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By Mike Schaedler

I love the NFL draft. I’ve written mock drafts for Mr. (and now, Mrs.?) Diesel in the past, and I think I’ve probably discussed why I feel that way. I think it’s fascinating the way that teams (multi-million dollar businesses, really) spend so much time, effort and money on the analysis of potential rookies, only to find that the success of these prospects is generally highly unpredictable. Things like “safe picks” and “sure things” can turn out to be anything but, and a team can either become contenders for a decade or be set back by a number of years based on the performance of a high draft pick. The chances that a first round quarterback is successful? About 50/50, based on recent history. Remember that blue-chip pass rusher your team drafted 4 years ago? Well, it turns out he sucks, so now you probably need to revisit that position this year, which has effectively set your defense back. So how do you decide which players around whom to build your team’s future? It’s not really a science; it’s more of an art.

Every team approaches the draft differently, and a good mock draft is simply an educated guess as to how the draft is likely to play out. In the end, they are all pointless. People complain about mock drafts a lot. They’re not meant to be accurate or prophetic. They should just be informative and fun for football fans to discuss. So here goes:

1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford. The Colts have already informed him that he will be the #1 pick, and it seems that they can’t go wrong with him based upon the skills he already has and his potential. However, it may take time for him to produce because the Colts seemingly have no good offensive players left. For all the hype, I don’t think he’ll be as good as last year’s No. 1 pick, Cam Newton. He should be excellent, though.

2. Washington Redskins: Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor. RG3 is a very exciting prospect who will probably range anywhere from solid to unstoppable at the next level. He may be a similar player to Cam Newton but it’s not likely that he’ll be quite as good because Newton is simply bigger, stronger and more durable. These two are revolutionizing the QB position; we’re looking at the future when watching them. (This will be the last pick other than Carolina’s in which I discuss Cam Newton.)

3. Minnesota (Los Angeles) Vikings (Some other mascot): Matt Kalil, LT, USC. The Vikings have talked about trading this pick or taking CB Morris Claiborne or WR Justin Blackmon. This should be simple. One of the easiest picks you can make near the top of any draft is one who projects to be a superstar franchise left tackle. It gets even easier when you need to protect your young first round QB who already has offensive weapons around him. WR can be addressed later in the draft. If they don’t take Kalil, they should be stripped of future draft picks as punishment for ineptitude. Don’t over think this, Minnesota (L.A.).

4. Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama. The Browns have talked about trading this pick to accumulate more picks. They’re desperate for offensive weapons though, and the smartest thing to do would be to use a premium pick on a premium offensive talent who is the BPA here. The RB position is losing value in today’s NFL, but Richardson is the exception to the rule. I think he’ll be just as good as other blue-chip running backs like Adrian Peterson and Arian Foster. He has no weaknesses in his game, and excels at almost everything a RB needs to do.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU. They’ll take Trent Richardson if he is available here. CB is a premium position in the league these days with all the great passing teams; Claiborne should be a great cover corner and improve their secondary immediately.

6. St. Louis Rams: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State. A perfect fit here, as he will be the BPA for most teams and projects as a solid receiver in a west coast offense with Sam Bradford, a good QB for a west coast offense. It’s too bad Brian Schottenheimer is their offensive coordinator, whose system is lame and whose game plans are over-thought and completely ineffective.

7. New York Jets (Projected trade with Jacksonville Jaguars): Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina. Surprise! The Jets trade this year’s #16, one fifth and one seventh round pick and QB Tim Tebow to the Jags for the #7 overall pick. Using Jacksonville’s desire to obtain Tebow as leverage, the Jets get the prospect that they covet in Ingram and make the most hilarious trade in draft day history, effectively waving a giant middle finger at all the media who criticized and over-analyzed the Tebow trade. This would be an absolutely brilliant move, first maneuvering past the Jags for Tebow in the first place and then using him to steal their top-10 draft pick. You heard it here first. Ingram is incredibly versatile and athletic and will be a pass-rushing demon for Rex Ryan.

8. Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M. More and more teams are reaching for potential franchise quarterbacks these days, and Miami is as desperate for one as anybody. Tannehill should really go much later (early second round or so), but QBs are being drafted higher than they should be these days because they are more important than ever to a team’s success. Plus, Miami’s new head coach Joe Philbin coached Tannehill at Texas A&M and the two are familiar with each other. Very difficult to predict whether this will be a good pick.

9. Philadelphia Eagles (Projected trade with Carolina Panthers): Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State. Andy Reid loves to take defensive lineman in the first round, and Cox would fit the “wide nine” defensive front that Philly likes to use to pressure the opposing QB. They trade the #15 overall pick along with a 3rd and 5th round pick, and get a 4th round pick back as well.

10. Buffalo Bills: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame. The Bills pick the WR that many feel has more upside than and a superior skill set to Justin Blackmon. That remains to be seen, but Floyd does seem to be bigger, stronger, and faster without pads on, whatever that means. He should provide a great compliment to WR Steve Johnson and improve the Bills offense immediately. Solid pick if he falls to the Bills.

11. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College. The best at his position in the draft, Kuechly looks to be the Trent Richardson of inside linebackers; no weaknesses, supremely athletic and highly productive. His instincts and play recognition are second to none. He is a tackling machine and will start from day 1. This pick will take KC’s defense to the next level. I believe that Kuechly will win Defensive Rookie of the Year. (Note: 10-15 years ago, Kuechly would be in the mix for #1 overall pick. The NFL has changed a lot, and, much like RB, the ILB position has been devalued while pass-rushing positions like 4-3 DE, DT and 3-4 OLB have become the priority among the front seven. The CB position has also seen a drastic rise in value. Anything to hinder the opponents passing game.)

12. Seattle Seahawks: Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina. Seattle is upset that Kuechly is taken immediately before their pick, but are happy to have Coples fall to them. Coples is a boom-or-bust prospect with supreme athleticism. He seems to check out of games mentally at times, which should raise some red flags. Pete Carroll will have to coach him up, but he should be a productive pass rusher.

13. Arizona Cardinals: David DeCastro, G, Stanford. The boring BPA pick, but who cares. DeCastro is projected to be an elite player – elite – for 10-12 years. Cardinal fans should be happy with this pick; they fill a need with a fantastic, NFL-ready player with a lot of potential who is also the BPA. This is what an ideal first round pick is all about.

14. Dallas Cowboys: Mark Barron, S, Alabama. Good fit for the Cowboys. They need help in the secondary, and Barron does everything a safety is asked to do well. He does not have elite speed or coverage skills, but is good enough in these areas and is excellent near the line of scrimmage and in run support. He has good instincts and is a great tackler as well. I just wouldn’t ask him to turn and run with the NFL’s most athletic wide receivers one-on-one.

15. Carolina Panthers: Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis. Poe is 6’3”, 346 lbs, ran a 4.98 forty yard dash and bench-pressed 225 lbs 44 times. Sound impressive? It does. Unfortunately, his game tape seems like the opposite of those statistics. Namely, underwhelming. Someone will fall in love with his athleticism and potential though, and think that they can coach him into a superstar. And they might actually do it. He’ll probably go in the top 20, with Carolina as a potential destination. They took a chance on an athletic freak last year, and it worked out pretty well.

panthers

Who will wear this hat Thursday night for Carolina?

16. Jacksonville Jaguars: Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina. Jacksonville is enamored with this CB, who some feel is the #2 CB in the draft (he is in this scenario). The Jags benefit drastically from their trade with the Jets, getting one of their most coveted prospects despite a lower draft position along with a few extra picks and the QB that actually fills their stadium (Tebow).

17. Cincinnati Bengals: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama. Solid choice here as the Bengals are still feeling the void left in their secondary when CB Jonathan Joseph left. Kirkpatrick is likely to be pretty high on several teams’ draft boards.

18. San Diego Chargers: Nick Perry, DE, USC. The Chargers could use a pass-rusher. Perry has all of the physical tools necessary to be a solid OLB in a 3-4, but it’s a tough position to master with a lot of responsibilities and necessary skills. The Chargers hope that he can put it all together and become dominant.

19. Chicago Bears: Whitney Merciless, DE, Illinois. Merciless, in addition to having a great name, has great potential as a 4-3 DE for the Bears. He led the nation in sacks last year. He looks to be more of a project player than other DE/OLBs in this draft, but he may have more upside than any of them and there are no concerns about his attitude/effort on and off the field. If he pans out, he’ll be terrorizing QBs opposite DE Julius Peppers. That would suck for the Packers and Lions (the Vikings will be in LA, so, no worries).

20. Tennessee Titans: Michael Brockers, DT, LSU. Solid value at #20, Brockers was a star defensive player on an elite team in college football’s toughest conference. Should be at least a productive starter on a 4-3 defense. They were probably interested in CBs Dre Kirkpatrick and Stephon Gilmore, but these guys are no longer available.

21. Cincinnati Bengals: Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor. Cincinnati adds talent to both sides of the ball in the first round of this draft. Wright has the potential to be an explosive playmaker in the NFL and is great at locating the ball in the air on deep passes. Having WR A.J. Green playing opposite him will only help him, as he will have a great chance to exploit single coverage while defenses focus on Green.

22. Cleveland Browns: Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State. The overdrafting of QBs continues as the Browns are not convinced that Colt McCoy is their QB of the future. Weeden has the skills and intelligence to be a franchise QB. The problem? He’s 28 years old already. This probably matters more to fans and less to GMs who will get fired if the team isn’t good after 3-4 years, though. If Cleveland believes he can make them significantly better quickly (and save jobs), they’ll pick him early.

23. Detroit Lions: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa. Detroit gets some O-line help at #23 due to Reiff unexpectedly slipping out of the top 20. Those in the media have projected Reiff as a top 10-15 pick, but word is that NFL scouts have him graded lower than that. Detroit still sees a solid value at 23 and knows that their priority here should be protecting Matt Stafford. They can get a WR to play opposite Megatron in rounds 2-3.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Courtney Upshaw, OLB Alabama. A versatile, relentless linebacker who has fallen farther than expected. Pittsburgh has other needs, particularly on the O-line. They tend to draft based on value, though, and they see this as the BPA at 24. Upshaw should fit in with their violent, aggressive defense beautifully. He is not an elite pass rusher but can get about 6-8 sacks a year and is good in coverage and great at setting the edge and defending the run. He plays his best ball in the biggest games and is capable of learning and playing several roles in a complicated defensive scheme.

25. Denver Broncos: Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State. Denver needs help at this position and will add a good player to a solid defensive front. A few months ago Worthy was predicted as a top 10-15 player but his stock seems to have fallen for whatever reason. Denver won’t mind taking advantage of that.

26. Houston Texans: Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford. Immediately replaces Eric Winston at RT. If Martin adjusts to the pro game quickly enough, Houston’s offense won’t miss a beat. RT will be easier to learn than LT, and perhaps he can move to LT at some point in the future.

Brady Combine

Does scouting and the combine even matter?

27. New England Patriots: Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse. New England’s defense wasn’t pretty last year, and they lost both of their best pass rushers this offseason. Jones is aggressive, versatile, fast and strong and actually has room to bulk up a bit. Can provide a sorely needed pass rushing presence for the Pats.

28. Green Bay Packers: Shea McClellin, DE, Boise St. Clay Matthews and the Pack had trouble putting pressure on the opposing QB last year because opponents focused so much of their attention on Matthews. McClellin will help take some of the heat off Matthews and could help revitalize the Green Bay’s once-feared defense.

29. Baltimore Ravens: Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin. If Konz can play guard, he can replace Ben Grubbs, who left in free agency. If he needs to stay at center, he can eventually replace Matt Birk. Either way, a solid value at 29.

30. San Francisco 49ers: Janoris Jenkins, CB, Northern Alabama. Jenkins has the talent to be a top 10-15 pick but has slipped due to “character concerns”. He is arguably the best cover corner in the draft due to his speed and change of direction ability, and has made it clear that he wants to move on from his troubled past. SF may get the steal of the draft here if he pans out. They have the coach and the locker room to handle him. If this pick becomes a homerun, they will likely have the best defense (and perhaps the best team) in the league. Peyton Manning should have gone to SF, BTW.

31. New England Patriots: Harrison Smith, FS, Notre Dame. This is the draft that I think New England finally uses two first round picks. They realize that Tom Brady has only a few good years left and that it’s time to use premium picks and add some blue-chip players to make a few more runs at the Super Bowl. They add talent to the weakest area of their team (their secondary) with Smith, who can cover and defend the run well. Their defense should be the focus of their first two picks.

32. New York Giants: Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford. Athletic, pass catching tight ends are the wave of the future in the NFL, and everybody is already looking for the next Gronkowski (who the Giants were probably relieved to see playing at about 50% in the Super Bowl). Fleener is the best TE in the draft and a pretty safe bet here, arguably the BPA at 32. Conveniently enough, the G-men have a need for a good TE. But, really, they’ll probably just take a defensive end that will go on to have a 16-sack season.

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The Death of the Big East

Orange Crushed.

News broke over the weekend that Syracuse and Pittsburgh applied to join the Atlantic Coast Conference. Less than 24 hours later, they were unanimously accepted, and ripples are still being felt throughout the Big East. Should we even be surprised any more? Is this move the final tipping point? The NCAA is a corrupt monolith and conference affiliations are now a joke.

Colleges and universities use to belong to conferences due to geographical and economical reasons. Teams like Boston College, UCONN and St. John’s we’re in the Big East because that’s where their schools were. But slowly geography became less important. Cincinnati and Notre Dame joined the Big East despite being in the Midwest. What we saw over the summer with the Pac-10 and Big-12 was only the beginning.

Now, it’s all about one thing: money. What matters now is how can each school best positions themselves to make the the most money in every sport (especially football) off their invaluable “student athletes.” Far more intelligent scholars and writers have already covered this topic. But what kills me is that schools maintain bullshit excuses and reasons for the defections. Continue reading

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