San Diego State Sports

College Football Thoughts – Week 2

Last weekend was wild. From start to finish we had bowl quality games. It was a great weekend for college football.

Last weekends highlight? Jackson (5) and I got to go on the field at halftime of the Aztecs game. Very cool, thanks again Aztec Club!

And this weekend? Not so much. Pretty much all of the Power 5 teams have headed for a date with Cupcake City. Most of these match-ups are about point differentiation and no one getting hurt… not seeing who has the best team.

San Diego State

Last week, the Aztecs did about what we’d expect them to against an inferior opponent: They kicked their booty.

I was surprised how long it took into the first quarter before said butt kicking was unleashed. But it was unleashed and Aztec fans left happy.

This weekend is a test of another kind with Cal coming to town. Each time we play a Power 5 conference team I go into hoping that we’ll be able to compete and win, and that’s what I’m hoping for here. We’ve got a better all-around team than they do. We should beat them. But will we? That’s why you play the game. The team that wants it more will win.

Week One Results


Week Two Picks

Maryland @ Florida International – Terps
Louisville @ Syracuse – Cardinals
Nevada @ Notre Dame – Irish
Cal @ San Diego State – Aztecs
Penn State @ Pitt – Nittany Lions
Cincinnati @ Purdue – Boilers
Wyoming @ Nebraska – Huskers
Utah State @ USC – USC
UConn @ Navy – Navy
Tulsa @ Ohio State – Buckeyes
Wake Forest @ Duke – Dukies
Kentucky @ Florida – Gators
SMU @ Baylor – SMU
NIU @ South Florida – South Florida
South Carolina @ Mississippi State – Miss State
Arkansas @ TCU – Frogs
Iowa State @ Iowa – Iowa State
BYU @ Utah – BYU
North Carolina @ Illinois – Illini
Va Tech vs Tennessee – Virginia Tech

San Diego State Sports

College Football Thoughts – Week 1

Here we go again.

Minus a bit of a novelty game last weekend between Cal and Hawaii in Australia this weekend should be an amazing beginning to the college football season. Sure, there are some powder puff games but there are tons of heavy hitters that should make for some good television viewing.

Storylines I’m watching

  • Conference expansion and realignment – Who will the Big 12 extend invitations to? And will the Big 12 go to 16 teams, which may force other P5 conferences to go to 16 teams?
  • Is the Pac-12 back? Last year they kind of beat one another up at the end of the season. Will a Pac-12 team emerge for a playoff spot?
  • Is the best ACC team going to be better than the best SEC team? I think the SEC is the best top-to-bottom conference, but FSU and Clemson have been impressive the past few years.
  • Does the slipper fit? See below for the Aztec storyline.

San Diego State storylines

  • It’s all about Donnel Pumphrey. Pumphrey is on target to break nearly every record set by Marshall Faulk. Can this small back, listed as 5-9 and 180 lbs, withstand a season of punishment? If he can– look out. If he can’t– I’m really excited about the guys we’ve got behind him. I think Pumphrey and Rashaad Penny will be among the most explosive backfield in the country.
  • Beat Cal. We’ve got two non-conference road games that will be tests for the team, Northern Illinois and a payback game for the humiliating loss to South Alabama last season. If we can beat Cal and make a run in the Mountain West Conference we might just break our way into a Group of 5 bowl spot come December. Lose to Cal and we’re stuck right where we’re at… a very good small conference team.
  • The Chargers and their stadium. While not technically having anything to do with the Aztecs, there are proposals on the ballot that could just impact the Chargers future in San Diego. I think both ballot measures will ultimately fail. But the mere mention of football will link Aztec football to the November elections.
  • Defense, defense, defense. Just like our basketball team the football team is hanging it’s brand on tough defense. The chatter among the defensive players is that the #1 offense is struggling to move the ball against the #1 defense. That’s good and I’d expect to hear that. I just want to know who will emerge on the field to replace J.J. Whitaker and Jake Feely? We shall see. 

Week One Predictions

Appalachian State at Tennessee – Vols

K-State at Stanford – Trees

Colorado State vs Colorado – Buffs

Hawaii at Michigan – Wolverines

Oklahoma at Houston – Sooners

Iowa at Miami (OH) – Hawkeyes

LSU vs Wisconsin – LSU

Fresno State at Nebraska – Huskers

UNC at Georgia – UNC

SMU at Kentucky – Kentucky

Mizzou at West Virginia – Mizzou

USC vs Alabama – Bama

San Jose State at Tulsa – Spartans

Clemson at Auburn – Clemson

New Hampshire at SDSU – Aztecs

NIU at Wyoming – Huskies

BYU at Arizona – Zona

Northern Arizona at Arizona State – ASU

Notre Dame vs Texas – Irish

Ole Miss vs Florida State – FSU


The Simple Life

Who throws 96 mile per hour fastballs and lives in a camper van for $10,000 per year? The Toronto Blue Jays Daniel Norris.

ht to Tim Mauer

Notre Dame San Diego State Sports

College Football Thoughts – Week 6

Let’s start by offering a tip of the cap to Charlie Weis. Charlie is still getting paid by Notre Dame about $5 million per year through 2015 and after getting fired; on Sunday he got fired from Kansas with 2 years left on his $2 million per year deal. In other words, he’s getting paid about $7 million not to coach college football right now. By contrast, all Mountain West Conference head coaches will make a total of about $8 million in 2014.

Ain’t nobody mad at you, Charlie.

Hoke Watch hits week six. I’ve got to admit that I’m surprised he’s still employed in Ann Arbor. The second half of last week’s game against Minnesota was highlighted by two things: Chants loud enough to be heard on TV of “Fire Hoke. Fire Brandon.” And “Shane Morris Brain Gate” which was so bad that Michigan AD David Brandon issued a press release at 1:15 AM last night. Will Hoke get fired before seasons end? I am starting to think that he won’t… that they will Charlie Weis him instead of Lane Kiffin him. (See what I did there?)

Last week was another week of almost upsets among the top 25 with only South Carolina succumbing. But there were some scares which made the week interesting. But mostly, things played out as you’d expect.

San Diego State

I didn’t get to see any of the game because I was traveling. But I like that Donnel Pumphrey gathered 4 TDs before halftime. The key into this weekends game with Fresno State is going to be at QB. Fortunately for us, even though we’ll have a rookie signal caller, the plays will most likely involve handing it off to the left or handing it off to the right with the occasional screen pass. The Aztecs aren’t very good this year, but let’s face it… neither is the Mountain West.

Notre Dame

Haters gonna hate. Despite having the countries toughest schedule we’re already starting to hear that the Irish haven’t played anyone. They beat up on Syracuse last weekend and fell in the polls. With Stanford, Florida State, Arizona State, and USC left on their schedule… the bottom line is simple: An undefeated Notre Dame team would be #1 in the country come January and a 1-loss Notre Dame team would probably get a spot in the playoff. So then there’s that. Heading into this weekend I think we’re going to see  a tough game on the defensive side of things and the Irish just go over and around Stanford. (Who struggled mightily with Washington and couldn’t move the ball at all against a USC team who gave up 37 points to Boston College… and Boston College then got beat by the 4th best team in the MWC.)


Week 5: 8-5

Overall: 26-26

Week Six Predictions

Stanford at Notre Dame – Irish

Aztecs at Fresno – Fresno

Utah State at BYwho – Holy Rollers

Texas A&M at Miss State – MSU

Florida at Tennessee – Florida

Bama at Ole Miss – Bama

Oklahoma at TCU – Okies

Baylor at Texas – Baptists

Navy at Air Force – Falcons

LSU at Auburn – Tigers (of LSU)

Michigan at Rutgers – Rutgers

ASU at USC – Arizona State

Nebraska at Michigan State – MSU doesn’t lose at night

Notre Dame San Diego State Sports

College Football Thoughts – Week 5

Last weekend was the “big upset that wasn’t” weekend. Auburn, Alabama, Florida State, and Oregon all had near misses. In fairness, the Alabama game wasn’t that close at the end but Florida sure had them nervous in parts of that game. And let’s all admit that every non-Alabama fan wants to see them drop 4 games this season just because they are due.

Meanwhile, the Big 10 finally realized the college football season was underway, with everyone but Michigan beating a non-conference opponent. Raise your hand if you thought you’d ever hear: “Indiana with the conference leading upset of the day.” referring to Hoosier football? Yeah, no one outside of the delusional in Bloomington has ever uttered a phrase.

Finally, I don’t want to think about the college football playoff too soon. And while ESPN is desperate to get their $7.3 billion investment back by talking about the playoff at every stop in the season I want to take the time to enjoy the ups and downs of the season before making predictions about who is in and who isn’t. Flat out, while some teams are legitimately out of contention there are probably 20 teams with realistic scenarios to get in… it’s simply too early to think about it.

San Diego State

The Aztecs made of game of Oregon State in 2013. That wasn’t to be in 2014. We were simply overmatched by a Beaver team that was bigger on defense and run by a true NFL-ready QB in Sean Mannion. He was laser-like and we struggled to disrupt his passing lanes all day. He had plenty of time and just flat-out picked us apart. That said, at 1-2 the season is hardly over. We were in the same spot in 2013 and ended up winning 8 games in a row including a bowl game. I look forward to the Aztecs heading into conference play… I think we’ll walk all over UNLV on Saturday.

Notre Dame

The Irish had a bye last week. So they got a little healthier and the pressure came off of them a bit for a week. This week, they get back 2 key starters on defense, and play in their second Shamrock Series game of the year, this time in MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. (For those keeping track the Irish haven’t had a true road game yet. They are just relocating some home games to neutral sites for recruiting purposes… because they can fill any stadium, any where.) I think that Syracuse will play the Irish tough this week but ultimately Golson’s legs will remind the Orange that this is football and not basketball. (The Irish get 5-star recruits in football while the Orange get 3-4 star recruits.)


Week 4: 7-6 (Another Michigan reference!)

2014 total: 18-21

Week Five Predictions

Syracuse at Notre Dame – Irish

UNLV at SDSU – Aztecs

Fresno State at New Mexico – Bulldogs


Tennessee at Georgia – UGa

Northwestern at Penn State – PSU

Arkansas vs. Texas A&M – A&M

Minnesota at Michigan – Gophers

Stanford at Washington – Cardinal

Cincinnati at Ohio State – Cincy

Missouri at South Carolina – Gamecocks

Boise State at Air Force – Broncos

Oregon State at USC – Beavers


Notre Dame San Diego State Sports

College Football Thoughts – Week 4

It’s hard to believe that the first quarter of the college football season is already in the books! It’s a reminder that the senior league (aka NFL) drags on ad nausaem whereas every game counts in college.

San Diego State

Last week was their bye. This Saturday they play their toughest opponent of the year, Oregon State.

Notre Dame

I’ll confess that I didn’t get to see the game and I only saw a short package of highlights on ESPN. As I suspected, the Purdue game was way closer than it needed to be. That’s what happens when you play teams like Purdue… it’s their bowl game, it’s their best shot at recruiting for the year, and it’s their only time on National TV. Watching a team like Purdue hang around is one reason I wish Notre Dame would get out of their NBC deal. But who turns down $15 million per year to have their own network? No one. 

The Irish take the week off to heal up and get ready for Syracuse. Sitting at #9 and an easy match-up with Syracuse, they are posed to be ranked in the top 6-7 when they take on Stanford, at home, on October 4th.


Week 3: 8-5 (Speaking of 8-5… this would be a dream record for Michigan this year)

Season total: 11-15


San Diego State at Oregon State — OSU

Auburn at K-State – Roll Tigers

Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech – Hokies

Hawaii at Colorado – Guy on a Buffalo

North Carolina at East Carolina – UNC

Florida at Alabama – Bama

Virginia at BYU – Virginia

Utah at Michigan – Michigan

Miss State at LSU – LSU

Clemson at Florida State – Noles

Miami at Nebraska – Huskers

New Mexico at NMSU – New Mexico State

Oregon at Washington State – Ducks

Notre Dame San Diego State Sports

College Football Thoughts – Week 1

A new season has dawned in college football. Off-season storylines fade into the past as new storylines emerge on the field. All of the hype about who is the best without playing a game gets set aside now that we’re at full-contact and full-speed.

Some questions going into the season:

  • Will Florida State maintain?
  • Will the SEC continue its dominance?
  • Can the Big 10 catch up with the SEC and ACC?
  • Will a new coach at USC elevate the Pac-12’s stature?
  • Will any non-P5 conference emerge as relevant?
  • And, of course, what will be the impact of the new playoff?

San Diego State

State continues it’s climb. Our fans and program aren’t just interested in being competitive. We want to consistently be the best in the conference. We’d love to see ourselves as the replacement for Boise State. (Even thought State fans cringe at that comparison.)

We will see how close we are to that goal this weekend as the Aztecs travel to Chapel Hill to take on #25 North Carolina.

It was tough to tell how good we really are from last week’s game against Northern Arizona. We dominated them from the kickoff until the final whistle. It was bad enough where the aging, rusted haul of a stadium known as The Q was mostly empty by the middle of the third quarter. (We left at halftime with the score 24-0.)

But we moved the ball and we played decent enough defense. I think we have a chance to beat UNC if we find some strength at the linebacker position.

Notre Dame

With all the pre-season drama I wasn’t sure what to expect against Rice. What we saw was an Everett Golson who isn’t just interested in a comeback for the Irish, but wants to collect the Heisman on his way to a return trip to the National Championship.

Big questions remain for the Irish. With Austin Collinsworth out at corner for a few weeks, the defenses quarterback, I expect them to struggle against Michigan. But I also fully expect the alma mater to be played at the end of the game. Really bummed to see this on-again-off-again rivalry go on hiatus. Reminds me of when Lou and Bo couldn’t get along and we took the last pause. The Wolverines will be back on our schedule in a President or two.


For those new to this football post, I make predictions for each week and tally them. I did pretty good in 2013.

Week Two Predictions

Michigan at Notre Dame – Notre Dame (in a squeaker) – CORRECT!

San Diego State at North Carlina – SDSU (coming out party!)

Mizzou at Toledo – Toledo

Buffalo at Army – Buffalo

Central Michigan at Purdue – Boilers

USC at Stanford – Cardinal

NIU at Northwestern – Cats

Ole Miss at Vanderbilt – Ole Miss – CORRECT!

Michigan State at Oregon – Sparty

BYU at Texas – Texas

Virginia Tech at OSU – Buckeyes

Air Force at Wyoming – Cowboys – CORRECT!

Colorado State at Boise State – Rams




Unsolicited Advice for New MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred

Any reader of this blog knows I’m a sports nut. I love football, basketball, soccer, golf, and just about any other sport.

I like the idea of Major League Baseball… I’ve been to lots of MLB games, a couple years ago we even dipped our toes into buying a package of tickets at Petco.

But I’ve since given up completely because the product of Major League Baseball lost it’s allure. I’d rather not go as opposed to find a way to go. Nostalgia only gets so much interest when the product on the field is defined by it’s boringness, worse it’s boorish attitude that it’s sense of historic value would be bothered by making the game more interesting to watch.

Yesterday, MLB announced that Rob Manfred has been hired to replace Buddy Selig as the new commissioner of baseball.

I think he has a tough job ahead. The NFL, NBA, and NCAA football and basketball are surging in popularity. And the rising popularity of the World Cup, 100,000 fans in Ann Arbor for a friendly, or even Sounder’s game in Seattle proves that soccer and specifically, MLS is on the rise. While it’s true soccer is a step-child to most other popular sports… don’t forget that it’s the world’s most popular game when the United States is rapidly changing demographically.

With the least interesting part of the regular season to come, there are more teams with less than 60% of their stadium filled on an average night than there were a year ago. Plus, fewer teams have more than 90% average attendance in 2014 than in 2012 or 2013. (Don’t forget about TV. TV is down,  too.)

So, with that in mind, I thought I’d offer a few unsolicited bits of advice for Mr. Manfred.

  1. You’ve got to speed up the game. Have you been to a game lately? Not much excitement. 95% of the game is like a middle school track meet. Too much talking, too much stretching, not enough action. You could easily shave 30 minutes off the typical game and increase the enjoyment of the live experience. A soccer player runs miles and miles each game. A baseball player trots to position and waits for something interesting to happen.
  2. De-emphasize the historical stats. Does anyone really care who is the best left-handed 3rd basemen when facing a sidearm pitcher from Canada? Of course not. It makes no difference to the outcome of the game. It’s all just time filler for a boring product on TV.
  3. Forget instant replay, you need a pitching clock. Pitchers hold the ball too long. It’s not unusual for there to be 30 seconds between pitches. Give the pitcher 10 seconds to deliver the ball to the catcher or first base. Never allow the batter to step out of the box to reset it either. If the pitcher doesn’t release the ball in 10 seconds, it’s a balk and the batter advances.
  4. Cut down the time between innings. Run a clock, give teams 2-3 minutes max. Show your commercials but keep the action moving.
  5. Loosen the strike zone. Watch the Little League World Series. With a less strict strike zone batters have to actually bat and defend the plate, making more contact with the ball and keeping the game moving.
  6. Give up the PED hoax. Let’s keep it real… PEDs have been part of baseball forever. Speeding up the game is going to keep players honest anyways. But if a guy wants to pull a Mark McGuire and put on 50 lbs of bulk in the off-season, let him. People like to see the ball fly 780 feet. And if that player wants to shrink his testicles to make that happen… well, it’s a free country, right?

What are your ideas for making MLB more interesting? Heck, what are some things you’d do to make other boring sports more interesting to watch? Leave a comment and share your ideas. Best idea gets to own the Indians. 

Photo credit: Fenway Park by Werner Kunz via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Sweet 16

It kind of sucks that we lost last night. There’s no hiding that. I’m bummed for our players and our team. We’re a program climbing the mountain, struggling to get to a new pinnacle. So to be so close to advancing to the Elite 8 but not getting it done was hard.

The flip side is that we played tough and the guys didn’t make mistakes. Flat out… it took one of the nations best teams playing at their best to come back and beat us. They took it from us, not the other way around.

For those watching on TV you need to know how big the SDSU/Arizona game was compared to the Wisconsin/Baylor game that preceded it.

Wisconsin/Baylor game panorama


San Diego State/Arizona panorama


Here’s one thing I learned this year about NCAA basketball: So much of it is “made for TV.”

There are very few teams that travel as well as San Diego State & Arizona did last night. It was a great environment.

Having been to the round of 64/32 games in San Diego last weekend and the Wooden Legacy tournament over Thanksgiving… you just need to remember that those are events produced for a television audience.

Everything in the stadium is staged for TV. Anything that’ll be on camera is paid for as a sponsor to the TV producers or covered up. For example, every single inside of a cup holder was covered with blue tape in the Honda Center. 20,000 cup holders were taped on the inside…

Product placement is hilarious like that.

At Viejas, the standing policy is that you can bring outside food and empty water bottles. But for the NCAA games? Only Dasani water bottles, empty, were allowed to be brought in.

At games where there are lots of empty seats… they strategically place cameras so that the game looks full. And when you hear all that crowd noise on TV… for games that are nearly empty it’s just piped in. 

This December 2012 game between Texas & UCLA was supposed to draw up to 40,000 fans. Less than 1,000 showed up.

I share all of that for one reason: Nothing needed to be staged last night. That game was hopping. No weird camera angles. No piped in music. Just two top teams duking it out in front of 17,000 screaming fans.


Quick Round 3 Picks

What a crazy two days of basketball! My back is sore from watching 12 hours of basketball in the San Diego regional after waking up at 5:30 AM and flying to San Diego from Chicago.

Here’s what I’m seeing the round of 32.