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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.

Results

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

Season total: 11-15

Picks

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

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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.

Results

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

RESULTS: 3-10

SEASON RECORD: 3-10

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Sports

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)
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Sports

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

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San Diego State/Arizona panorama

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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. 

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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.

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Sports

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.