The Trouble with G.O.A.T. (Greatest of All Time) Debates

February 12th, 2017

by Gus Griffin

gus

 

 

 

 

Image via KnowYourMeme.com

Image via KnowYourMeme.com

About a week ago, BEFORE the outcome of the Super Bowl, I made the case against Tom Brady being the G.O.A.T. …or more specifically, against the overly simplistic criteria of Super Bowl rings so many use to come to such a conclusion. Since the Patriots’ improbable comeback, social media has been inundated with claims that it validated his G.O.A.T. status.

 

Even before last week’s win, Brady was well within the conversation…even if the conversation itself is inherently flawed and incomplete. Why? Consider Joe Montana’s response to the question about Tom Brady.

 

“I think that it’s really hard to put anyone in that bucket,” he said. “Even before he got five-you look back to some of the guys some people don’t even know, Sammy Baugh or Otto Graham, I can’t remember which one but one of them won like seven or nine championships and was so far ahead of their time. It’s so hard to compare guys from then to now, how they would compare here and how we would compare back then.”

 

Maybe this is merely one competitor’s refusal to surrender the mythical throne to another, but even if it is, can it be denied that he has a point?

 

Here is the trouble with G.O.A.T. debates: 1) they wreak with recency bias; 2) they lack consideration for era context; and 3) its participants have no way to factor in the eye test.

 

Why are they subject to recency bias? Because it is a natural tendency of human memory. That is precisely why those running for political office try to get the last positive idea about themselves and/or negative idea about their opponent out before the actual election. Whatever is most recent is often deemed “better” or at the very least, most reliable. This is compounded as time goes by. As hard as it might be to comprehend, in 30-40 years some very knowledgeable basketball fans will be having a G.O.A.T. debate and it will not be open and shut that such a title will go to Michael Jordan. In fact, some will not even give MJ proper consideration. As ridiculous as that sounds, trust me, it will happen.

 

Then there is the lack of consideration for the context of eras. Regardless of the sport, different rules and circumstances provide for different challenges. So essentially, the comparisons are next to never “apples to apples”. For example, for most of Mel Blount’s career as the best corner of the 1970s, he could literally maul receivers all over the field until 1978 when the “one chuck within 5 yards” rule was implemented. Add that to the fact that he didn’t have to cover long playing on the back end of the Steelers “Steal Curtain” defense and pass rush. So as great as he was, how does one compare him to Deion Sanders as a cover corner?

 

How does one compare Johnny Unitas to Tom Brady, who faced the same 11 guys on defenses that were far less sophisticated when compared to today’s defenses? But Unitas also had to use receivers that had a much more difficult time getting open then any that Brady has had. Finally, defenders could actually rough up Unitas without getting the flag that they would get today against Brady.

 

The differences cannot be limited to sports factors alone. Our food supplies are different, one could argue for both the better and worst of that supply, I contend has led to bigger and stronger athletes, if not necessarily better. Thus, the more recent era produced a 300+ pounder named Shaquille O’Neal. It’s often said he would have knocked Bill Russel into the second row. But would he have been 300 pounds had he come along during Russel’s era? Would Russel have been a mere 215 pounds had he come up during Shaq’s era? Unless an adjustment is made for both, it’s as a ridiculous comparison as it would be comparing the production of a secretary with a typewriter with one that has a computer. Or the closure rate of a homicide detective with DNA with one before DNA.

 

The last factor in the flawed GOAT debates is the lack of the eye test. This is what stat junkies fall for all the time. Statistics alone do not provide the nuance that only actually watching an athlete does. In other words, consider sports greatness the same as the Supreme Court considers pornography: you may not be able to define it, but you know it when you SEE it.

 

Statistically, some will make the case for Andy Petite being a viable Baseball Hall of Fame (HOF) candidate over other lefthanders such as Mickey Lolich, Dave McNally, Mike Cuellar, Vida Blue, or David Wells; none of whom are or ever will get into the HOF. I remember all five of them and trust me; Andy Petite, though a very good pitcher for many years, was not as good as any of them.

 

So how can we continue these flawed, but highly entertaining debates? One simple adjustment; instead of declaring who is the G.O.A.T., how about we simply limit it to the G.O.Y.T. or Greatest of Your Time? Under this banner, we are all qualified. Recency bias is not a factor, we can all speak to era context and we limit our assessment to those we have actually seen play.

 

Gus Griffin, for War Room Sports

City of Atlanta Top 5 Sports Meltdowns

February 7th, 2017

by Gus Griffin

gus

 

 

 

 

HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05:  Devonta Freeman #24 of the Atlanta Falcons and Matt Bosher #5 react after losing to the New England Patriots 34-28 during Super Bowl 51 at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

HOUSTON, TX – FEBRUARY 05: Devonta Freeman #24 of the Atlanta Falcons and Matt Bosher #5 react after losing to the New England Patriots 34-28 during Super Bowl 51 at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Honorable mention: 1981 Falcons had a 2-touchdown, 4th quarter lead on the Cowboys at home in the NFC playoffs, only to give up 20 4th quarter points and lose 30-27.

 

Honorable mention: 2012 Falcons blow a 17-point lead at home in the NFC championship game, losing to the San Francisco 49ers

 

5) Twins outlast Braves in 7 games of the 1991 World Series on Jack Morris’ 10-inning, 1-0 shutout

ATL #5
4) 1996 Braves bring a 2-0 World Series lead over the “Stankees” back to Atlanta and proceed to lose 4 straight, as the defending champs

ATL #4

 

3) 1998 Falcons lose Super Bowl XXXIII to the Denver Broncos after their safety and NFL Man of the Year gets busted in a prostitution sting on South Beach in Miami, the night before the game

ATL #3

 

2) After winning game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semis in Boston, the 1988 Hawks bring a 3-2 lead back to Atlanta, only to lose in game 6 and then game 7 in Boston, overshadowing one of the greatest basketball duels ever, between Dominique Wilkins and Larry Bird

ATL #2

 

 

And the top Atlanta Sports meltdown of all time is……you know. LOL

 

Gus Griffin, for War Room Sports

The New England Patriots are Super Bowl Champions for a 5th Time!!!

February 6th, 2017

TB

For New England Patriots Super Bowl LI gear, click HERE or click the link below.
New England Patriots Super Bowl Championship Gear

Why Tom Brady is NOT the G.O.A.T. (Greatest of All Time)

February 5th, 2017

by Gus Griffin

gus

 

 

 

 

TB

Tom Brady is a beast: a straight up mercenary of NFL defenses.

 

Don’t give me all the Spygate, Deflategate, or any other gate asterisks. As much as I would like to cite these factors as the reason he has tormented my Steelers so much, it just does not stand up to scrutiny.

 

Before the spying was revealed in 2007, the Patriots were 4-1 with him under center, including two playoff wins in Pittsburgh, against my Steelers. His touchdown to interception ratio was 7:3 and his QB rating was 97.9. Pretty damn good, right?

 

Since the spying was revealed, the Patriots are 5-1 with Brady under center, including scoring 55 points against my team in 2013, most ever against a Pittsburgh team. His TD/Interception ratio is 19:0 and his QB rating is 127.3.

 

No typos there, folks.

 

If they were spying before, I wish they would go back to spying today.

 

He is indeed on my Mount Rushmore of NFL quarterbacks.

The case here isn’t that he is not on the shortlist of greatest of all time. Only that he is not THE greatest of all time, and that isn’t as much due to him as it is us. The primary thing we use to put Brady over say Aaron Rogers is Super Bowl rings. Why is that flawed? Because the “how many rings you got?” is the most superficial and intellectually lazy argument in sports.

 

If it’s all about the rings, then Jim Plunkett and Doug Williams were both better than Dan Fouts, right? Mark Rypien and Trent Dilfer were better than Dan Marino, right? Of course not, GTFOHWTBS!!!!

 

Likewise, Tom Brady is not better than Aaron Rogers or Joe Montana, just as Bill Russell was not better than Wilt Chamberlain or Mickey Mantle was not better than Willie Mays.

 

Football is the ultimate team sport. So how silly is it that we assign credit for winning Super Bowls to one position in these debates? Brady has been instrumental in the Patriots great run. He has not won Super Bowls by himself.

 

And even if we were inclined to credit him based on individual performances, Brady has been a shadow of his regular season self in the Super Bowls. Consider them one by one: against the Rams he was still in the game manager mold. His MVP in that game was as much based on sports writers’ anti-kicker and defense bias as it was Brady’s performance. Everyone knows Vinatieri was as or more valuable in that game. Against the Panthers he threw 3 interceptions. In other words, he kept both teams in the game.

 

Against the Eagles, Deion Branch won MVP. Any time a receiver, not named Jerry Rice, wins Super Bowl MVP, it’s an indictment of the QB performance. And don’t let me start on who the real MVP was that game, playing on a barely-heeled broken leg. Hint: the writers are still dissing him in HOF voting and his initials are T.O.!

 

Granted he torched Seattle, arguably the best defense that he has faced in any Super Bowl. But we all know that but for the worst call in football history (not just NFL but AFL, USFL, College, and High School), the Patriots don’t beat Seattle and Brady would be a .500 QB in Super Bowls going into tonight’s game. As a matter of fact, both he and Belichick are a few plays here and there from being 0-6 in SB’s.

 

By contrast, Joe Montana’s TD/Interception ratio in 4 Super Bowls is 11:0! That too, is not a typo.

 

So win or lose tonight, Tom Brady is not the greatest QB of all time.

 

Gus Griffin, for War Room Sports

To Stand or Not to Stand at Sporting Events?

February 2nd, 2017

by Gus Griffin

gus

 

 

 

 

NA

On Thursday, I’ll be attending my first Washington Wizards game of the season.   They would be on a 15-game home winning streak as my Lakers roll in to make their one and only DC appearance of the year.  One could make the case that I shouldn’t stand for the National Anthem in protest of how bad my Lakers have been these past 3 years.  But of course the issue is much larger than this notion.

 

Long before Colin Kaepernick decided not to stand for the National Anthem, I was conflicted about the whole issue.  On the one hand, the mere fact that I do have the right “not to stand”, is in of itself, a reason to stand. There is something to be said for that rationale. There certainly are places where if I were to dare not follow the company patriot line, even at a sporting event, I would be subjected to much more than mean stares.  For me, that would be about the extent of my “persecution”, here in America.

 

Then on the other hand, should Black people feel obliged to honor a country that has treated us as it has?  And while that treatment has certainly varied and even subsided over the course of time, only volunteer denial would assert that it has ended.  Would standing be an honor to those before me never afforded full American status, or those who died trying to attain such, or a dishonor?

 

While the decision is personal for all, my conclusion is ultimately this: what good is it to have a “right to protest” and then not use it to raise awareness about the very fragility of one’s life?

 

So there it is.  I will not be standing again anytime soon.

 

Now surely some will read this and will say, “if you don’t like it here leave!”   I will likely take them up on that offer upon retirement.

 

Still others will say, “sports is supposed to be an escape from such issues”.   To a limited extent, it can be.  But when I enter that arena at about 6:59 PM, whatever realities existed about being Black in America will neither be suspended nor dissipate because I stood for the National Anthem.  Likewise, when I leave at about 9:30 PM, those realities will still be here.  In fact, my standing will only co-sign maintaining the status quo.

 

The last most common response is, “I support your right but wish you found another way to do it”.  To that I say, such as what?

 

Voting isn’t enough!

The accumulation of wealth isn’t enough!

Education isn’t enough!

Pulling up your pants in favor of a suit and tie isn’t enough!

And even going to church for Bible study and prayer isn’t enough.

 

While I don’t dismiss all of the above as useless, I do contend that they have all been tried and are simply not enough to address the shameful treatment of Black folks in America since our forced arrival.  So who among us with serious intent to address the problems would offer more of the same solutions?   If we do the same, we’ll get the same.  But if we dare to do something different, at the very least we can spark some conversations that may lead to positive change.

 

The best option as I see it, based on history and my personal experience, is to engage in organized struggle to include protest.  It is neither easy nor simple.  But I see no collective progress made that did not require this, and sports is as viable a venue to spark such struggle as any other.

 

Gus Griffin, for War Room Sports

MY ATLANTA FALCONS ARE GOING BACK TO THE SUPER BOWL!!!

January 23rd, 2017

by Nwaji Jibunoh

Nwaji Blog

 

 

 

 

Falcons head coach Dan Quinn gets the infamous Gatorade bath.

Falcons head coach Dan Quinn gets the infamous Gatorade bath.

The date was January 17, 1999. I was in the West Towers Dormitory of Howard University. It was my sophomore year and The Atlanta Falcons had risen as the formidable force in the NFC. They had beaten the 49ers and were coming off a regular season 14-2 and were getting ready to go up against The No.1 seeded Vikings. The game went back and forth and The Vikings were keen on showing why they were pretty much unstoppable that season. When the game went into overtime, I felt as though this might be it. Two plays later and that man [Morten] Andersen kicked a FG that sent the Dirty Birds to the Super Bowl. “Elation” cannot explain the feeling I experienced until that elation quickly turned into despair only 2 weeks later, when the Falcons got a hiding at the hands of John Elway. Very painful…..let’s move on.

After that Super Bowl, the Dirty Birds became a regular NFL team that really didn’t accomplish much. We went from season to season just coasting along and remaining relevant in the NFL. It wasn’t until we drafted Michael Vick in 2001 that we began to see a resurgence of Atlanta magic at the Georgia Dome. Those years of having a deeply athletic elite QB made a big difference in some foundation work of where the Falcons would eventually end up. Then, the dog fight situation happened (grrrr), Vick gets suspended, and then we get a number 3 draft pick with Matt Ryan in 2008.

When Ryan joined the Falcons, I was optimistic given what he had done at Boston College. Since he joined, The Falcons have been to the playoffs 5 times where Matt was only able to record 1 win. Matt Ryan went from “Matty Ice” to “Matty can’t win in January”. 2012 was promising because we saw the Falcons go 13-3 in the regular season and then make it to the Conference Championship Game, only to be ousted by the San Francisco 49ers, even though the Falcons started off the game 17-0.

From that point up until now, we have barely broken .500 and not even gone to the playoffs. Last season, long time coach Mike Smith was replaced by Dan Quinn; a no nonsense thoroughbred Defensive coach that came up through the Seattle system. Immediately we saw a turnaround in the way the team played by starting out the 2015-2016 season 5-0, only to be hampered by injuries, bad situations on penalties costing us vital plays, and overall sloppiness. The season ended 8-8 and most fans were wondering what next and how do we build on these mistakes.

2016 started out promising.  Flashes of the previous season prevailed in certain games, but it wasn’t until the game against the Philadelphia Eagles in November that we began to see the Falcons firing on all cylinders, only losing one game from that point up until now, making it a 7-game winning streak going into the Super Bowl.

The last two games of the playoffs have been nothing short of a phenomenal display of the ability of this team. Beating teams with powerhouse quarterbacks such as [Russell] Wilson and [Aaron] Rogers shows just how far and how prepared this quad is. The offensive weaponry at the disposal of Matt Ryan justifies why he leads the league in touchdowns to several different receivers. Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu Jr are having epic seasons and the ground game controlled by [Tevin] Coleman and [Devonta] Freeman are just gems to watch. Then you have the mostly rookie defense who get stronger by the day.

All in all, it has been a fairytale story for the Falcons. From relative obscurity to playing in the Super Bowl for the second time in their history remains remarkable for fans like me that were introduced to this franchise via association, by living in the city.

Sunday, February 5th, the Dirty Birds will have the opportunity to take us back to the days of Jamal Anderson and the antics that defined the Dirty Bird, but this time flying away sky high in Texas.

 

Nwaji Jibunoh, International Correspondent for War Room Sports

Located in Lagos, Nigeria, Nwaji Jibunoh is War Room Sports’ International Soccer Contributor.  Nwaji also contributes commentary on U.S. sports from an international perspective.  He’s an Atlanta Falcons fan, Howard University alum, and former tight end for the North Atlanta High School Warriors.

Dear Steeler Nation Mike Tomlin Ingrates: Take a Seat and Shut the F#%& up!!!!

January 15th, 2017

Gus Griffin

gus

 

 

 

 

MT

The divisional round of the NFL playoffs are underway this weekend.  If your team is still alive with the hope of reaching and winning a super bowl, be grateful.

 

After all, you could be a Bills, Vikings, or Browns fan.

 

This brings me to the baffling criticism more than a few of my fellow members of Steeler Nation have for head coach Mike Tomlin. Yes, that Mike Tomlin.  The Super Bowl winning coach with a 64% lifetime winning percentage; the same one who has not had a losing season in his first ten.

 

A summary of the critique is that he was a token fast-track hire due to the Rooney Rule, which is the NFL rule that mandates a minority coach be interviewed for all head-coaching jobs; 2) he inherited a great team, and situation with an upper echelon QB in Ben Roethlisberger; and 3) that he has lost to a lot of bad teams.

 

Let’s address them all from the last forward:

 

Under Tomlin the Pittsburgh Steelers have absolutely loss to a lot of bad teams.  There is no way around this.  Even if we overlook losses in 2012 and 2013 when the team was only 8-8 itself, there is still more than enough of a sample of mind boggling losses to include 3 in 2009 as defending champs to the likes of a 4-12 Chiefs team, and 5-11 Raiders and Browns teams.  (The Raiders loss was especially appalling, given it was at home to a career backup journeyman QB.  Tomlin has gone 1-3 to very bad Raider teams).  In 2014 there was the home loss to the 2-14 Buccaneers and another loss to a 4-12 Jets team.  And who can forget the playoff loss to a Denver team in 2011 as defending AFC champs?   Yes, by definition that Denver team was not a bad team, by virtue of making it to the playoffs.  But you still can’t lose to a team led by Tim Tebow.

 

So that criticism is valid and is on Tomlin.

 

The other two are crap!

 

Was Tomlin handed a great situation, team, and upper echelon QB?  The answer to that is mixed:  yes, great situation for the stability the Steelers management provides but Ben was hardly an upper echelon QB at the time.  As matter of fact, he was coming off his worst year as a pro, throwing 23 picks in 2006.  Upon Tomlin’s arrival in 2007 he had one of his best two years of his career.  Has it ever occurred to any of Tomlin’s haters that just maybe he has had as much of a hand in Ben’s success as the other way around?

 

Sure, the team was a year removed from winning it all in 2005, but went 8-8 and missed the playoffs in Bill Cowher’s last year of 2006.  I would not call that great.

 

Has it occurred to you that Tomlin might know something about coaching, even without Ben?  After all, in the 17 games Ben did not start under Tomlin, the Steelers actually have a winning record (9-8), including a 3-1 start in 2010, when Ben was suspended.  When Bill Belichick started this year at 3-1 without Tom Brady, it was lauded as evidence of his coaching brilliance.  Why not the same for Tomlin?

 

I am not suggesting that he is as good a coach as Belichick.  He is not!  I only insist that our critiques have a semblance of consistency.  The fact is that over his career, Belichick is 50-53 in games not started by Tom Brady.  Green Bay’s Mike McCarthy is 3-5-1 when Aaron Rogers does not start. Sean Peyton is 0-2 without Drew Brees for the Saints.  Winning consistently with or without an upper echelon QB is nowhere near as easy as this faction of Steeler Nation would have you believe.

 

How have others done who have inherited even better situations?  Let’s look at when George Seifert took over the reins from Bill Walsh for the 49ers, and when Barry Switzer took over for Jimmy Johnson and the Cowboys.  Both inherited SB champs and HOF QBs in Montana and Aikman, much further along in their development than was Ben when Tomlin took over the Steelers.  Seifert would repeat in ’89 and win yet again in ’94.  After 8 years, he won over 70% of his games.

 

A cautionary tale for Steeler nation is that it wasn’t enough for the 49er faithful and they ran him out of town.

 

They have not won a SB since.

 

Switzer won in his second year in 1995, then presided over the gradual decline of the Cowboys to become an afterthought by the late 1990s.  Only now are they beginning to emerge from the wilderness.

 

I ask you Steeler Nation: would you rather have had Barry Switzer?

 

Winning consistently in the NFL is never a sure thing.

 

Winning Super Bowls, even with a HOF caliber coach and QB is even less of a sure thing.

 

There have been a total of 5 such combinations over this era to include Shula/Unitas, Allen/Juergensen, Grant/Tarkenton, Shula/Marino and Levy/Kelly that NEVER won a Super Bowl.  This group of 5 has a cumulative record in the super bowl of 0-10!!!!!!

 

Sure, Shula won when paired with Griese, but the point remains that they don’t grow Super Bowl winning coaches on trees, nor are they bottled and sold.

 

The last suggestion (which is that Tomlin’s hire was tokenism) is as insulting to the Rooneys as it is to Tomlin.

 

If any organization in sports deserves the benefit of the doubt when it comes to which coach to hire, it is the Pittsburgh Steelers.  When they picked Tomlin to be their coach, they had only two for the better part of the previous 40 years.  Both won Super Bowls.  Tomlin has won a Super Bowl.  They got this!

 

If those of the football world were only as outraged by the reasons for the Rooney Rule as they are about the Rooney Rule, we may not need a Rooney Rule!

 

On an even larger level, the snipes at Tomlin reflect a larger, uglier American reality reaffirmed by the recent presidential election.  The simmering narrative that anyone Black who ascends to a position of prestige and or privilege did so without merit and at the expense of “hard-working Americans”, which is dog-whistle-code for “White folks.”

 

When Ronald Reagan employed his brand of the “Southern Strategy” to lure what would become known as “Reagan Democrats,” ground zero for this demographic was the greater Pittsburgh, PA region. As the steel mills of the area closed, Steeler fans spread all over the country, which is what in part makes up Steeler Nation today, but that mindset is as prevalent today as it was when Reagan won the White House in 1980.   Donald Trump used the same formula, only on steroids, to win the same office in November.

 

As for solutions, within football alone, there aren’t any.  If Tomlin continues to win, it’s what he is supposed to do with all that was “given” to him.  If he does not, it’s validation that he is not a good coach and should have never gotten the job.  He could walk on water and his critics will complain that his feet got wet.

 

This solution is above and beyond football and requires the critics to look at themselves in the mirror and reassess their expectations. This requires rational self-assessment…..a quality that fanatics (fans) have very little history of displaying.

 

Gus Griffin, for War Room Sports

Way Too Early Top 25 Heading Into 2017

January 13th, 2017

by Fred Perdue

FP

 

 

 

 

The 2016 Season didn’t disappoint with Clemson finally getting its long-awaited revenge against Alabama. A new season is now upon us and it will be here before you know it. 2017 will pose different challenge for every university, whether it be coaching changes or just reloading a new cast of characters. Let’s take a look into the crystal ball and see what could be in store for us in 2017.

AL

  1. Alabama (2016 record: 14-1)

The fire has been lit after being upset in the national title game. Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide are the best in the nation at reloading after losing a ton of talent. Jalen Hurts returns, marking the first time in 4 years that the Tide have some continuity at the position. Former Washington and USC Head Coach Steve Sarkisian gets a full offseason with his young quarterback and a top recruiting class doesn’t hurt either. The Tide open 2017 against Florida State in Atlanta which should tell us a lot.

FSU

  1. Florida State (2016 record: 10-3)

With defending champion Clemson losing a ton of talent the Noles are poised to be back on top in the ACC Atlantic. Losing defensive lineman Demarcus Walker will hurt a pass rush that was really good, but dynamic Safety Derwin James returns after being sidelined for the majority of the 2016 season. Quarterback Deandre Francois looks to improve on a sensational 2016 season. Dalvin Cook decided to go pro so the Noles will have to find a new running back, and fast. Alabama is looming in the opener.

OSU

  1. Ohio State (2016 record: 11-2)

The Buckeyes suffered one of the worse losses in school history to eventual champion Clemson. Urban Meyer will be on a mission to prove his Buckeyes are better in 2017. Ohio State loses a ton of talent, including CB Gareon Conley, RB Curtis Samuel, WR Noah Brown, S Malik Hooker, LB, Raekwon McMillan. Quarterback J.T. Barrett does return for his senior year.  If Urban Meyer can find him some more weapons in a not so stacked Big Ten, another playoff appearance could be in the future. The Buckeyes open the season with Big Ten opponent Indiana.

USC

4. Southern California (2016 record: 10-3)

The hype is already swelling after USC finished the 2016 season strong with a Rose Bowl win and momentum heading into spring ball and summer workouts. Head Coach Clay Helton seems like the right hire and Sam Darnold was the right choice at quarterback. Losing a bevy of NFL hopefuls may slow the process but the Trojans seem to finally be back. An Early season matchup against Texas in L.A. will tell us a lot early.

Clem

  1. Clemson (2016 record: 14-1)

Clemson finally did what no other team could do, defeat Alabama and become National Champions in the process. Dabo Swinney and his Tigers recruit at such a high level that the losses of QB Deshaun Watson, WR Mike Williams, WR Artavis Scott, C Jay Guillermo, TE Jordan Leggett, RB Wayne Gallman, DT Carlos Watkins, LB Ben Boulware, SS Jadar Johnson, CB Cordrea Tankersley won’t sting as much as many think, but expect a slight step back as the Tigers reload.

Ok

6. Oklahoma (2016 record: 11-2)

Every year we place Oklahoma on a pedestal just to be let down again. NOT SO FAST.  The Sooners are losing three major cogs on offense in Heisman WR Dede Westbrook, RB Joe Mixon, RB Samaje Perine. While they do return Quarterback Baker Mayfield the Sooners desperately need to improve on defense to give themselves another chance at a Big 12 Title and Playoff berth. The Sooners get early season road tests at Ohio State and Baylor to help their resume.

Wash

7. Washington (2016 record: 12-2)

The Huskies showed they are ready to contend with their appearance in the Peach Bowl vs Alabama. Despite losing major pieces like WR John Ross, S Budda Baker, CB Kevin King and CB Sidney Jones, the Huskies could be better in 2017. With Oregon and Cal going through coaching changes in the Pac-12 North the Huskies are primed and ready for another playoff push under Coach Chris Petersen.

PSU

  1. Penn State (2016 record: 11-3)

Penn State has rebounded well after sanctions left them for dead. Quarterback Trace McSorley, running back Saquon Barkley, and Offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead’s decision to return in 2017 is huge for the Nittany Lion.  2017 presents the challenge of visiting Columbus for a showdown against Ohio State, where Penn State has had minimal success. Good to see the Nittany Lions back in primetime nonetheless.

UM

  1. Michigan (2016 record: 10-3)

Jim Harbaugh in year three won’t have any more Brady Hoke hold overs. Harbaugh has been a relentless, elite recruiter, which will help after a senior laden team moves on to the next level. Talent isn’t the problem in Ann Arbor, it’s finishing strong for the Wolverines. The next chapter of the Harbaugh era starts in Jerry World vs SEC power Florida and ends with the Buckeyes at home. Can the Wolverines secure a Big Ten Title for the first time since 2004? We shall see.

OS

  1. Oklahoma State (2016 record: 10-3)

Oklahoma St has been one of the most consistent teams in the country in the past decade under Mike Gundy, winning 10 games five of the last seven seasons. Quarterback Mason Rudolph and receiver James Washington return to an already potent offense that hosts TCU, Baylor, Kansas State, and Oklahoma in Bedlam.

LSU

  1. LSU (2016 record: 8-4)

It will be odd not seeing the Mad Hatter pacing the sidelines in Death Valley, but Ed Orgeron validated why he should be the head coach in Baton Rouge. Leonard Fournette is gone but Derrius Guice steps right in and has been stepping in, in relief for the past two seasons. Expect big numbers from the ground game but if the quarterback position can’t be solved and the offense can’t open up a bit more, the Tigers may have a long season ahead.

 Wis

  1. Wisconsin (2016 record: 11-3)

Another consistent year for the Badgers under Paul Chryst. Nothing here to see. The Badgers are in the mix for the 3rd spot in the Big Ten behind Ohio State and Michigan and battling with Penn State.

Va T

  1. Virginia Tech (2016 record: 10-4)

Justin Fuente hit the ground running in what was supposed to be a rebuild in Blacksburg. Not only did he win a division title but is building in recruiting. The Hokies look to be heading in the right direction.

Aub

  1. Auburn (2016 record: 8-5)

The ultimate Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde team. Week to week you didn’t know what you would get. The Tigers should have a healthy competition going forward at the Quarterback position with Baylor transfer Jarrett Stidham joining the mix. The defense will be solid as well.

Stan

  1. Stanford (2016 record: 10-3)

The Cardinal have to replace do it all running back Christian McCaffrey and find weapons for an undetermined quarterback. Two big tasks that Coach David Shaw should have sorted out very soon. The Cardinal will be physical on both lines of scrimmage and post another 10-win season while competing in a very weak Pac 12 North.

BSU

  1. Boise State (2016 record: 10-3)

Quarterback Brett Rypien leads the top-ranked team from the Group of Five Schools. Expect another high-octane offense leading to another 10-win season.

GA

  1. Georgia (2016 record: 8-5)

The development of rising Sophomore Quarterback Jacob Eason will be critical. Nick Chubb and Sony Michel return, which should help tremendously. Anything less than this could incite a riot in Athens in year two under Kirby Smart.

Tenn

  1. Tennessee (2016 record: 9-4)

Replacing one of the most productive quarterbacks in school history in Joshua Dobbs won’t be easy. The SEC East looks to be up for grabs and the HOT SEAT is hotter than ever for Butch Davis.

Lou

  1. Louisville (2016 record: 9-4)

Lamar Jackson returns for what looks like his final year after a prolific year ending with a Heisman Trophy but a blowout loss to LSU. Expect Jackson to pick up where he left off as he looks to impress NFL scouts. The Cards are still behind FSU but slightly ahead of Clemson in the ACC Atlantic.

S Fla

  1. South Florida (2016 record: 11-2)

Charlie Strong returns home to the Sunshine State and with a fertile recruiting ground, a dynamic quarterback in Quintin Flowers at the controls, and a fan base clamoring for another great season, the Bulls are primed to go after an AAC title.

Utah

  1. Utah (2016 record: 9-4)

It’s safe to say the Utes are now a national contender. Another good season including wins over USC and a solid ranking to start the season only adds more fuel to an already hot team. SAFE BET.

Fla

  1. Florida (2016 record: 9-4)

The offense has been the issue and will continue to be the issue if a signal caller can’t be found. Jim McElwain and Co. better turn things around on the offensive side. For now, their defense will still lock teams down. The Gators have to travel to Jerry World for a showdown against Big Ten Power Michigan to open the season.

WV

  1. West Virginia (2016 record: 10-3)

A new quarterback, new pieces in the defensive backfield, and yet you can still expect the Mountaineers to compete for a Big 12 Crown. Expect another big year for Dana Holgersen and company.

Tex

  1. Texas (2016 record: 5-7)

New head coach, young sophomore quarterback, and an explosive offense, albeit inconsistent at times. The defense needs an overhaul. The Longhorns have some hype behind them. They may not be far off either. We will find out how good the Longhorns are very early with a trip to the L.A. Coliseum to face USC on Sept 16th.

UCLA

  1. UCLA (2016 record: 4-8)

Another strong year in recruiting, Josh Rosen returns from injuries for his Junior season and yet something says don’t trust UCLA under Jim Mora. The verdict is still out. To be continued.

 

Fred Perdue, for War Room Sports

The Clemson Tigers Are Your College Football National Champions!!!

January 10th, 2017

Congratulations to Dabo Swinney, Deshaun Watson, and the Clemson Tigers!  Order your Clemson National Champs gear HERE…or click the photo below!!!
Clemson Tigers 2016 National Champions

Aqib Talib…and Where is an Old Raider When You Need One?

January 6th, 2017

by Gus Griffin

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By now, you have heard that Denver Broncos corner Aqib Talib literally snatched the chain off the neck of Oakland Raiders receiver Michael Crabtree.

 

For this he was not penalized.

 

For this Crabtree did nothing.

 

Think about that for a minute…….

 

My guess is that most will think about one of two things: 1) What the hell is the matter with Talib?;  or 2) What the hell is the matter with Crabtree?

 

Can you imagine anyone doing such a thing to Raider legends Jack Tatum, Lyle Alzado, or even mild-mannered Cliff Branch?  It would have NEVER happened.  And if it did, Talib would have been dealt with on the spot!  No one bullied the old Raiders….they were the bullies as “The Autumn Wind” confirms.

 

On Talib, in the era of football when it is most difficult to be a good corner, he is a great corner.

 

That’s the end of the contextual accolades for him.

 

He is also a first class jackass.

 

We know he is not the sharpest tool in the shed.  You can’t be if you shoot yourself, which he did.  But I would like to think his deal is more complex than simply being an idiot.

 

I don’t know if the root of this is a bad upbringing, mental illness, or any of the other usual suspects.  Frankly, after people hit 25 years of age, I don’t especially give a damn about the “why”.  We are not talking about a child, but a grown damn man running around daring someone to check his ass.  If he goes up against the wrong dude in a night club, he may be obliged and blown away.  If this ever happens, some will lament about how “misunderstood” he was when in fact he is on the short list of professional athletes most likely to be mourned the least in the wake of such a tragic ending.

 

That very foreseeable ending for Talib is the most important reason why Crabtree needed to do something!  Bullies are never bilingual.  They understand one language and one language only, and that is their own.  By doing nothing, Crabtree contributed to the embolden of Talib making the tragic ending I or anyone else can foresee all the more likely.

 

Dolphins Seahawks Football

I am not saying that it was Crabtree’s obligation to save Talib from himself.  I am saying that in the larger scheme of things, it would have been better for all parties involved, had he retaliated in the one language Talib understands.  Not out of some inflated sense of machismo or superficial notion of manhood, but out of a need to do his part to keep the world around him in balance.  When we allow anyone to get away with mistreating us without accountability we allow a dangerous imbalance that will inevitably demand correction.  That correction almost always comes in the form of loss….be it loss of face, profession, freedom, or life.

 

Crabtree’s failure to respond will only encourage the Talibs of the NFL to continue along the same pattern and sends a message to the rest of the league that they can treat Crabtree any way it chooses.  Can you imagine what the likes of Pacman Jones will do to Crabtree now?

 

Whatever the ensuing melee that would have resulted from a justified Crabtree response would have been, we all know it would not have ended in anyone being shot to death.

 

In the streets or at the club, not so sure.

 

Gus Griffin, for War Room Sports