Archive for the ‘Football’ Category

College Football and the Myth of American Meritocracy

Friday, December 8th, 2017

by Gus Griffin

gus

 

 

 

 

UCF

For the most part, sports are the closest thing in American society to a genuine transparent meritocracy. Unlike other areas of American life where who you know, race, class etc. are as much or more relevant than ability, this is not the case in American sports. If you cannot play, none of the above noted factors will save you. Furthermore, from a team concept, if you accomplish predetermined goals, you are guaranteed via systemic triggers the opportunity to go further. This is reflected by winning your division or conference to qualify for a PLAYOFF.

The only team sport in America that has no such structural system is major college football.

Enter the University of Central Florida (UCF) Knights.

They completed an undefeated season in which they never scored less than 31 points in a game.  Still yet, there was a better chance of Donald Trump showing humility than there was for UCF to make it to the college football “playoffs”. Even Ohio State, which was beaten handily in both of its TWO losses, was going ahead of undefeated UCF. Am I suggesting UCF was better than Ohio State? No! But then again, I did not believe that the 2010 7-9 Seattle Seahawks would beat the defending super bowl champion New Orleans Saints. They did and in doing so, treated us to one of the greatest runs in NFL history by Marshawn Lynch. We would have never seen that under the college football “system”. Likely outcomes are not the issue.  Systemically guaranteed opportunity is, and college football does not allow for this in spite of how often we tout the feel-good underdog narrative.

Some will argue that UCF is in a weak conference and played a weak schedule. I agree…but that is a woefully incomplete analysis that assumes this reality was completely within their control. It isn’t. Colleges are contractually bound to their conferences and to leave for a more competitive conference, one must pay a costly exit fee. Even if the college decided to pay the fee, it would need another conference that wanted it…or should I say wanted the Orlando, Florida TV market, because that is the issue more so than the quality of the program. The SouthEastern Conference couldn’t care less about Texas A&M or Missouri as football programs. It did care about the Houston and St. Louis TV markets. That was even truer of the Big Ten’s courting of Maryland. It was all about the Washington DC TV market.

So, could UCF strengthen its non-conference schedule?  Not likely…especially after a season like the one just completed. Think about it, if they call in-state powers Miami, Florida State, or Florida for a home and home two-year series, why would either of them accept? There is nothing for either of them to gain and everything to lose because they are supposed to win the game.

So, what it comes down to is no matter what UCF did, they NEVER had a remote chance of making it to the college football final four or playoffs. No amount of hard work on their part was going to change that reality because the system is structurally biased in favor of the “haves” in the form of the 5 power conferences, to which UCF does not belong.

So too is the larger American capitalistic economic system in favor of the “haves”.

The latest example was this week when CVS pharmacy bought Aetna Insurance for $69 billion.  It’s the first time in American history that we have seen the merger of a retail pharmacy chain, an insurance company, and a pharmacy benefit manager. This acquisition will accelerate the extinction of the small family owned pharmacy and there is absolutely no amount of hard work alone on the part of that small family pharmacy that will stop this process.

That small pharmacy has about as much of a chance surviving as UCF did of making to the playoffs.

So, it’s clear both in big time college football and the larger American business world that hard work alone is not enough to maximize one’s potential. The question is: why do we keep promoting the myth that it is? Why aren’t we willing to be honest enough to say, be it to UCF in college football or that small pharmacy, that the system is structurally rigged and we must dedicate continuous energy to changing that system?

I am not suggesting that hard work is irrelevant. It is in fact a significant part of the formula for success, both individually and collectively. It just is not the only ingredient.

The good news is that the big-time college football system has actually improved. There was a time when tradition alone dictated the college football champion via bowl match-ups and the number 1 and 2 teams were not guaranteed to meet. Then, due to fan demand, they moved to a system that guaranteed the top two teams would meet. Today it’s determined, albeit subjectively, that the top 4 teams will play one another for the title. I suspect eventually that the current format will be extended to 8 teams. While it’s still very flawed, it is moving in the right direction because fans demanded it move.

If we want to transform American meritocracy from myth to reality we must demand it as much as college football fans have steadfastly demanded a playoff system.

As Frederick Douglas said, “Power Concedes Nothing without a Demand. It never did and it never will”.

 

Gus Griffin, for War Room Sports

 

 

Preseason Top 25

Friday, May 26th, 2017

by Fred Perdue

FP

 

 

 

 

NCAAFB

Usual suspects dominate Preseason Top 25

Signing day and Spring Football have come to an end and the dog days of summer are here which means preseason ranking season has arrived as many of the top teams in the nation wrap up their spring semester and hit the practice field for summer workouts and practices. With no football until September there is a ton to talk about and we will gladly start here.

 

  1. Alabama:

 

 

2016 record: 14-1, 8-0 SEC
Way-Too-Early Last ranking: 1
Returning starters: 6 offense, 5 defense, 1 special teams

 

The motivation behind this season is clear. The Crimson lost a heartbreaking national title to the arm and legs of one DeShaun Watson and now the Tide are hungrier than ever to reclaim their throne at the top of the college football world. Former New England Patriots assistant Brian Daboll is tasked with taking over the offense and taking Sophomore Quarterback Jalen Hurts to the next level as a passer. Bo Scarborough, Damien Harris and Josh Jacobs will share carries while 5-Star Freshman Najee Harris looks to find his place in the rotation. Junior Calvin Ridley should garner All-America honors, with seniors Cam Sims and Robert Foster and freshman Jerry Jeudy rounding out the key targets. Jonah Williams will move from Right to Left Tackle. The secondary will be the strength of the defense featuring versatile defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick will flip between safety and corner and will be accompanied by backfield mate Ronnie Harrison and seniors Anthony Averett and Tony Brown returning at cornerback.

 

An early season test vs Florida State in the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta to kick off the season will tell us all we need to know about this iteration of the

 

 

  1. Ohio State:

 

 

2016 record: 11-2, 8-1 Big Ten
Returning starters: 8 offense, 7 defense, 0 special teams

 

The Buckeyes were a year ahead last based on the returning talent and they still made another appearance in the CFP. This time around they are primed and ready with a more than stacked defense led by Tyquan Lewis, Sam Hubbard, Jalyn Holmes and Nick Bosa on the defensive line J.T. Barrett and the offense struggled in the passing game in 2016 but have shown some improvement under new offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson. Running back Demario McCall and receiver Johnnie Dixon showed big play ability in the spring game and should be involved heavily going forward

 

Key Early Season Matchup: vs Oklahoma, September 9th, 2017

 

 

  1. Florida State:

 

 

2016 record: 10-3, 5-3 ACC
Returning starters: 7 offense, 9 defense, 2 special teams

 

 

Jimbo Fisher did a masterful job with the pieces or lack thereof that he had last year, notching his 5th straight double digit win season. Quarterback Deandre Francois was the toughest signal caller in the nation and all the hits and busted offensive line assignments will pay off because it’s time for him to break out. The offensive line is still a project but if they can protect Francois expect explosive plays all season long. Freshman running back Cam Akers went off for 102 yards in the spring game, which has to give the coaching staff some confidence. Derwin James who missed last season with a left meniscus tear and looks to be primed and ready to wreak havoc on the ACC will lead the defense. An early season test against #1 Alabama on September second in the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta will tell us about the Noles early.

 

 

  1. USC

 

 

2016 record: 10-3, 7-2 Pac-12
Returning starters: 6 offense, 8 defense, 2 special teams

 

The hype behind the Trojans is on a level not seen since the Pete Carrol/Reggie Bush/Matt Lienhart era. The Trojans started out slow last season until they made switch from Max Browne to Sam Darnald and their fortunes quickly changed. Darnold is receiving looks from the NFL but his focus has to stay with the Trojans for at least another year. This team is very young and inexperienced and can’t drop the injury bug. Toa Lobendahn, Viane Talamaivao and Steven Mitchell all missed spring practice, while Porter Gustin, Deontay Burnett, Chuma Edoga and Kenny Bigelow, among others, dealt with health issues. The Trojans might be the best team in the nation but we need to see more before we jump on the hype train.

 

 

  1. Penn State

 

 

2016 record: 11-3, 8-1 Big Ten
Returning starters: 9 offense, 7 defense, 2 special teams

The Nittany Lions under James Franklin have resurrected quickly and after upsetting Ohio State last season they didn’t turn back. The Nittany Lions return all but one starter on the offensive line, Saquon Barkley will contend for a ton of hardware while Trace McSorley will be the heart and soul of this team. The Big Ten just might be for the taking if they can survive their midseason stretch of Michigan (Oct 21st), Ohio State (Oct 28th) and Michigan St (Nov 4th).

 

 

  1. Clemson

 

 

2016 record: 14-1, 7-1 ACC
Returning starters: 5 offense, 7 defense, 1 special teams

Clemson climbed the mountain and slayed the evil Saban. Now the journey of being defending champions begins and unlike many defending champions, a large majority of the pieces aren’t returning so Dabo Swinney will have to rely on some new names and faces. Junior Kelly Bryant exited spring as the frontrunner to succeed Watson. A loaded front seven will take the pressure off until he is ready to lead this team.

 

 

  1. Washington

 

 

2016 record: 12-2, 8-1 Pac-12
Returning starters: 7 offense, 7 defense, 1 special teams

 

The Huskies have tasted success under coach Christ Petersen en route to a birth in the CFP. Jake Browning returns under center and in case you missed it, this offense is loaded. John Ross ran his way into the NFL but Dante Pettis and Chico McClatcher return, as do RBs Myles Gaskin and Lavon Coleman. The defense was hit hard but a viable pass rush behind Vita Vea and Greg Gaines should be enough.

 

 

  1. Oklahoma

2016 record: 11-2, 9-0 Big 12
Returning starters: 8 offense, 7 defense, 2 special teams

Every year Oklahoma comes in highly touted and every year they disappoint despite the talent on the roster. The offensive line is one of the best in the country but without Biletnikoff Award winner DeDe Westbrook and backfield tandem Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine the offense will take some time to gel early. With Ohio State looming early in September the Sooners will need to get things going quickly.

 

 

  1. Oklahoma State

 

 

2016 record: 10-3, 7-2 Big 12
Returning starters: 7 offense, 6 defense, 1 special teams

QB Mason Rudolph turned the NFL and for a good reason.  LSU transfer WR Tyron Johnson joins a stacked receiving corps led by James Washington should light up the scoreboard. Don’t expect much defense from the Cowboys so shootouts galore will be the storyline week to week. Fun times in Big 12 country.

 

 

  1. Auburn

 

 

2016 record: 8-5, 5-3 SEC
Returning starters: 9 offense, 8 defense, 1 special teams

Auburn has had a ferocious defense for the last few years when healthy but the offense has been so pedestrian that we hardly notice. Baylor transfer Jarrett Stidham looks to change that and coach Gus Malzahn is in full support as he allowed him to sling it around the yard in the Tigers Spring Game. Kamryn Pettway is college football's leading returning rusher, pair him with Kerryon Johnson and you have one heck of a backfield.

 

 

 

  1. Michigan

 

 

2016 record: 10-3, 7-2 Big Ten
Returning starters: 4 offense, 1 defense, 0 special teams

 

Jabrill Peppers and 10 other draftees are gone so now that the previous regimes hold overs are gone, it’s time to see if the Wolverines take a step back or take the Big Ten back from Ohio State. Former No. 1 recruit DE Rashan slides into a starting role. If incumbent starting QB Wilton Speight can improve as a passer, the Wolverines could be formidable.

 

 

  1. Wisconsin

 

 

2016 record: 11-3, 7-2 Big Ten
Returning starters: 7 offense, 7 defense, 1 special teams

 

The Badgers had one of the toughest schedules last season. In 2017, they avoid Ohio State and Penn State but crossover match ups against Michigan and at Nebraska will be challenging. Sophomore QB Alex Hornibrook has to improve his timing and anticipation for him to be successful. All-America tight end Troy Fumagalli will be one of Hornibrooks favorite targets and the combination of Bradrick Shaw, Chris James and Taiwan Deal should be enough to compensate for the loss of running back Corey Clement.

 

 

  1. LSU

 

 

2016 record: 8-4, 5-3 SEC
Returning starters: 7 offense, 5 defense, 1 special teams

The Ed Orgeron era begins with a bang as potential Heisman contender Derrius Guice runs behind a stout offensive line. It will be up to QB Danny Etling to take in new offensive coordinator Matt Canada’s offense. The defense should be stout if DL Arden Key gets going. While it may not be pretty in Baton Rouge, it should be effective.

 

  1. Georgia

 

 

2016 record: 8-5, 4-4 SEC
Returning starters: 7 offense, 10 defense, 2 special teams

 

The first year under Kirby Smart went about as expected. Freshman Quarterback, injuries and inconsistences on defense due to youth and injuries will drive any coach mad. Jacob Eason is a year older and further in the system and should improve. Nick Chubb and Sony Michel are both healthy but the offensive line has to improve.

 

 

  1. Stanford

 

 

2016 record: 10-3, 6-3 Pac-12
Returning starters: 7 offense, 9 defense, 1 special teams

 

The formula hasn’t changed in Palo Alto. Smash mouth football with a tough offensive line will be in full effect. The cast of characters will change as Christian McCaffrey has moved on and Bryce Love is now the guy. David Shaw has his work cut out for him.

 

  1. Louisville

 

 

2016 record: 9-4, 7-1 ACC
Returning starters: 5 offense, 7 defense, 2 special teams

 

The Cardinals dropped their last three games including getting shellacked by LSU in the bowl game. Former Florida Gators assistant Mike Summers is back to help with the offensive line after Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Lamar Jackson was sacked 46 times last season. Bobby Petrino has Jackson working more under center and going through more progressions as he reads routes down the field. The defense lost CB Shaq Wiggins to transfer and that is only the beginning of the issues that plague the Cardinals porous defense.

 

  1. Kansas State

 

 

2016 record: 9-4, 6-3 Big 12
Returning starters: 8 offense, 6 defense, 2 special teams

 

Bill Snyder, who is coaching while undergoing treatment for throat cancer. Quarterback Jesse Ertz returns along with four offensive linemen, and Kansas State hosts West Virginia and Oklahoma. The schedule is set up to make a run at a Big 12 Championship

 

  1. Florida

 

 

2016 record: 9-4, 6-2 SEC
Returning starters: 9 offense, 5 defense, 2 special teams

 

Former Miami Hurricanes Head Coach takes over as the Gators Defensive Coordinator which means the Gators should have a hyper aggressive defense which it will need to make a splash when they face Michigan at Jerry World. The Offensive line will be anchored by Martez Ivey. The quarterback position has been an issue since Tim Tebow walked the halls and as the QB battle ensues, Feleipe Franks seems to have the lead on Kyle Trask but only time will tell in a battle that could go to the wire.

 

 

  1. South Florida

 

 

2016 record: 11-2, 7-1 AAC
Returning starters: 7 offense, 9 defense, 2 special teams

 

New Head Coach Charlie Strong inherits dynamic quarterback Quinton Flowers. As a junior in 2016, Flowers threw for 2,812 yards and 24 scores and accounted for 1,530 yards and 18 touchdowns on the ground. The defense gave up 31.6 points per game last season but should improve with the arrival of Strong who is an expert on that side of the ball.

 

 

  1. Miami, Fla.

 

 

2016 record: 9-4, 5-3 ACC
Returning starters: 6 offense, 8 defense, 1 special teams

 

The Canes showed some promise in 2016 under Mark Richt. Now Richt will be tasked with finding a new signal caller to replace Brad Kaaya who went on to the NFL. Malik Rozier is the only one with experience and once heralded recruit Jack Allison has transferred. Freshman N’Kosi Perry may put some pressure on Rozier in summer. Whoever the quarterback is they will inherit explosive perimeter players in budding receiver and freshman All-American Ahmmon Richard and Braxton Berrios with Mark Walton in the backfield.  Nine starters return on defense that was young but productive late in the season. The baby Canes should blossom if they can get past Florida State on September 16th. Beware Canes fans, this is a work in progress.

 

  1. West Virginia

 

 

2016 record: 10-3, 7-2 Big 12
Returning starters: 4 offense, 3 defense, 2 special teams

 

The hype surrounding former Florida quarterback Will Grier who transferred to WVU a year ago is uncanny. Completing 12 of 18 passes for 202 yards, and drawing praise from coach Dana Holgorsen for his command of the offense, expect huge numbers from the offense as this could be one of the best redemption stories of the year.  One starter returns on

 

 

 

  1. Texas

 

 

2016 record: 5-7, 3-6 Big 12
Returning starters: 8 offense, 10 defense, 1 special teams

 

Tom Herman is in year one looks to energize an offense that looked pedestrian at times. Shane Buchele isn’t in the clear yet with Sam Ehlinger coming in to challenge for the position. Texas has 10 returning starters and several other contributors back in the fold. Expect a slight turn around but this process could be slower than expected.

 

 

  1. Mississippi State

 

 

2016 record: 6-7, 3-5 SEC
Returning starters:  6 offense, 4 defense, 1 special teams

 

Don’t let the record fool you. Dan Mullen’s Bulldogs are a solid team just waiting to jump on any team that is taking them too lightly. QB Nick Fitzgerald quietly led the SEC in total yards last season. He needs to improve as a passer but that will come in time. Redshirt freshman CB Cameron Dantzler emerged in the spring, joining JUCO S Brian Cole in a potentially ball-hawking secondary. JUCO DT Deion Pope could be another big addition for new coordinator Todd Grantham.

 

  1. Washington State

 

 

2016 record: 8-5, 7-2 Pac-12
Returning starters: 7 offense, 9 defense, 2 special teams

 

Luke Falk is back for another season and so is All-American G Cody O’Connell. The Cougars offense should be high flying as any Mike Leach lead team is but the question is can the defense step up and hold teams to a respectable score so that the offense isn’t in a shootout every week. We don’t know that yet so for now the Cougs need to earn their way around these parts.

 

 

  1. Boise State

 

 

2016 record: 10-3, 6-2 Mountain West
Returning starters: 5 offense, 6 defense, 0 special teams

 

Quarterback Brett Rypien entering his third season as a starter. Boise State has to replace star tailback Jeremy McNichols, who ran for 1,709 yards with 23 touchdowns last season, and his expected replacement, Alexander Mattison, missed the spring after undergoing shoulder surgery. The Broncos were looking for two new starting linebackers, and then senior Joe Martarano, the expected starter in the middle, left the team to pursue baseball. Junior college transfer Michael Young emerged as a potential starter at one of the cornerback spots.

 

Best of The Rest

Oregon

Baylor

Nebraska

Notre Dame

Michigan State

Tennessee

Utah

Texas A&M

UCLA

TCU

 

Fred Perdue, for War Room Sports

Quick Slants: 2017 Spring Football Schedule

Thursday, April 6th, 2017

2017 Spring Football Schedule

Friday, Apr. 7, 2017

School Time (ET) TV / Online
FIU 7:00pm
Florida 7:30pm SECN
Rice 8:00pm

Saturday, Apr. 8, 2017

School Time (ET) TV / Online
Coastal Carolina 11:00am
Bowling Green 11:30am
Air Force Noon
Ole Miss Noon SECN
TCU Noon
Tulsa Noon
Louisiana Tech 1:00pm
Purdue 1:00pm BTN
South Alabama 1:00pm
UL Lafayette 1:00pm
Auburn 2:00pm SECN
Iowa State 2:00pm
Ohio (open practice) 2:00pm
Oklahoma 2:00pm FSSW / Stream
SMU 2:00pm
Texas A&M 2:00pm ESPNU
ULM 2:00pm
Clemson 2:30pm ACCNExtra
Eastern Michigan 3:00pm
Florida State 3:00pm ESPN
North Carolina 3:00pm ACCNExtra
North Texas 3:00pm CUSA.TV
Wake Forest 3:00pm
Mississippi State 4:00pm SECN
Utah State 4:00pm
Boise State 8:00pm

Thursday, Apr. 13, 2017

School Time (ET) TV / Online
Indiana 7:00pm BTN2Go

Friday, Apr. 14, 2017

School Time (ET) TV / Online
Buffalo 7:00pm
Cincinnati 7:00pm
Kentucky 7:30pm SECN
UTEP 9:00pm
Memphis TBA

Saturday, Apr. 15, 2017

School Time (ET) TV / Online
Ball State Noon
Georgia State Noon
Texas State Noon
Western Michigan 11:00am
Ohio State 12:30pm BTN
Louisville 1:00pm
Michigan (practice) 1:00pm BTN2Go
Minnesota 1:00pm BTN2Go
Pittsburgh 1:00pm
Troy 1:00pm
Utah 1:00pm Pac-12N
West Virginia 1:00pm
Army 2:00pm
Kansas 2:00pm JTV/ESPN3
Middle Tennessee 2:00pm
Missouri 2:00pm SECN
Nebraska 2:00pm BTN2Go
Oklahoma State 2:00pm
Texas 2:00pm LHN
UTSA 2:00pm
Houston 3:00pm
Old Dominion 3:00pm
USC 3:00pm Pac-12N
San Jose State 3:30pm
Stanford 4:00pm Pac-12B
USF 4:00pm
Arizona State 5:00pm Pac-12N

Thursday, Apr. 20, 2017

School Time (ET) TV / Online
UMass 7:00pm

Friday, Apr. 21, 2017

School Time (ET) TV / Online
Arkansas State 7:00pm
Georgia Tech 7:00pm ACCNExtra
UConn 7:00pm
Wisconsin 7:30pm BTN
Iowa 8:00pm BTN2Go

Saturday, Apr. 22, 2017

School Time (ET) TV / Online
Syracuse 10:00am ACCNExtra
Tulane 11:00am
Akron Noon
Boston College Noon Stream
Temple Noon
Maryland 12:30pm BTN2Go
Notre Dame 12:30pm
Baylor 1:00pm
Miami (OH) 1:00pm
Southern Miss 1:00pm
California 2:00pm Pac-12B
East Carolina 2:00pm
Georgia 2:00pm SECN
Kansas State 2:00pm K-StateHD.TV
Virginia Tech 2:30pm
Alabama 3:00pm ESPN
Colorado State 3:00pm MWN
Marshall 3:00pm
NIU 3:00pm
Penn State 3:00pm BTN
Washington 3:00pm Pac-12N
Florida Atlantic 4:00pm
Tennessee 4:00pm SECN
Western Kentucky 4:00pm
Wyoming 4:00pm
Rutgers 5:00pm BTN
Washington State 5:00pm Pac-12N
Charlotte 6:00pm
UCF 6:30pm
LSU 8:00pm SECN
Central Michigan TBA
New Mexico TBA

Friday, Apr. 28, 2017

School Time (ET) TV / Online
Idaho 9:00pm

Saturday, Apr. 29, 2017

School Time (ET) TV / Online
Arkansas 1:00pm SECN
Fresno State 1:30pm
Oregon 2:00pm Pac-12N
Virginia 3:00pm
Nevada 4:00pm
UCLA 4:00pm Pac-12N

No Spring Game in 2017: Appalachian State, Miami (FL), Navy

Spring Game/Scrimmage completed: Arizona, BYU, Colorado, Duke, Georgia Southern, Hawaii, Illinois, Michigan State, NC State, New Mexico State, Northwestern, Oregon State, San Diego State, South Carolina, Texas Tech, Toledo, UAB, UNLV, Vanderbilt

Way Too Early Top 25 Heading Into 2017

Friday, 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

Quick Slants: My College Football Top 5 of All-Time

Thursday, January 5th, 2017

by Fred Perdue

FP

 

 

 

 

QS

I’ve been watching College Football since I was about 5-years-old. In that time so many great players have come and gone, but time and time again the players continue to remind me how much they shaped my ideal College Football player regardless of system, team or coach. Until unseated, these 5 players are my All-Time best. #CollegeFootball

Top 5

1: Reggie Bush: The most dynamic runner in space I have ever seen. (I still to this day wear number 5 in any football video game) #WeAreSC#USCTrojans #PAC10

2: Tim Tebow: The heart of champion. Hated the guy but couldn’t keep away from watching his games. #TebowTime#SEC#FloridaGators

3: Ricky Williams: The most powerful runner I have ever seen. Short runs, long runs, ran with power, speed, finesse, and could run out of a traditional I-Formation #HookEm#TexasLongHorns#Big12

4: Johnny Manziel: The most dynamic QB I have ever seen. There was nothing he couldn’t do with a football. Off the field antics aside, dude was a nightmare to defend. #JohnnyFootball#GigEm #SEC

5: Charles Woodson: 2-way player and only defensive player to win the Heisman. #CWood#MichiganWolverines#BigTen

 

Fred Perdue, for War Room Sports

McCaffrey and Fournette Are Right!

Thursday, December 22nd, 2016

by Gus Griffin

gus

 

 

 

 

(Image courtesy of The Sporting News)

(Image courtesy of The Sporting News)

 

Both Christian McCaffrey and Leonard Fournette have chosen to skip their bowl games in preparation for the NFL combine and draft.

 

Their basic reasoning is risk/reward analysis: the risk being another Jalen Smith or Marcus Lattimore cautionary tale by getting hurt and losing millions by dropping out of the first round of the draft, where virtually all of the guaranteed money is.  The reward: a pat on the back from your pimp…ah I mean coach and athletic director for leading your team to a victory in a game that is all but meaningless to everyone except those who collect the TV revenue, and that ain’t the players.

 

From some corners we hear the same old tired responses such as, “they signed a contract” or “they are quitting on their teams.”   

 

Let’s address both.

 

On the contract, it would seem to me that a natural evolution of the student athlete organizing movement would be to challenge just how legally binding are these contracts?  After all some are with 17-year old minors.  My Judge Mathis law degree says such are not binding.  Even if they are, who really thinks that a 17-18-year old fully understands all the parameters of such a commitment?   The most compelling response to the contract piece is the fact that highly sought after coaches routinely break their contracts for the cash and greener pastures after having “promised” their recruits in their parents’ living rooms that they will be there for the duration.  If the college experience is truly an educational environment and coaches are themselves educators, then both McCaffrey and Fournette have learned well.

 

As for quitting on their teams, yep, that is exactly what they are doing.  No way around that except to say that many of those same teammates that they are quitting on would do the exact same thing if they were in that position.   And what position is that?  The position of coming to the reality that all college athletes are not created equal.  If the 3-year starting left tackle at Ohio State or Alabama can’t see that his value is higher than his teammate who is the 3rd string tight end and occasional special-teams player in his fourth year, he is an idiot. 

 

Finally, what they won’t do is feed you or your family if you suffer a career-ending injury or worst in a meaningless game.  Any bowl game short of the playoff means about as much as a professional pre-season game.

 

The stakes are even higher for a running back, which is the ultimate pro-sport disposable.  They last on average of about 3 seasons.  They cannot begin to draw their pension until 55 and the annuity at 35.  According to a Sports Illustrated report in 2014, nearly 80% of NFL players are broke 3 years into retirement. 

 

Against this backdrop, if Fournette or McCaffrey were your sons, can you honestly say you would advise them otherwise?

 

They are both making a sound business decision and showing that they have learned the valuable lesson of placing the proper value on their labor.

 

NCAA big-time college sports is as transparent an example of the American Capitalistic “pimp and ho” system as there is.  If these two young men have learned to pimp themselves in their best interest rather than passively allow others to do so in their best interest, I say more power to them and hope and suspect more will follow suit.

Gus Griffin, for War Room Sports

War Room Sports 2016 All-America Team

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

by Fred Perdue

FP

 

 

 

 

AAT

The 2016 College Football regular season was as good as any, with big time games, upset specials, and dominance in Tuscaloosa ensuing. It is now time to honor some of the top players in the nation. The SEC was in full force yet again with the Big Ten and ACC also contributing in a big way.

First Team

Offense

QB: Lamar Jackson, Louisville

RB: D’Onta Foreman, Texas

RB: Dalvin Cook, Florida State

WR: DeDe Westbrook, Oklahoma

WR: Corey Davis, Western Michigan

TE: Jordan Leggett, Clemson

OL: Cam Robinson, Alabama,

OL: Pat Elflein, Ohio State

OL: Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin

OL: Cody O’Connell, Washington St

OL: Dorian Johnson, Pitt

 

Defense

DE: Myles Garrett, Texas A&M

DE: Jonathan Allen, Alabama

DT: Ed Oliver, Houston

DT: Demarcus Walker, Florida St

LB: Jabrill Peppers, Michigan

LB: Reuben Foster, Alabama

LB: Ben Boulware, Clemson

CB: Jourdan Lewis, Michigan

CB: Adoree Jackson, USC

S: Malik Hooker, Ohio St
S: Jamal Adams, LSU

 

Specialist

K: Zane Gonzalez, Arizona St

P: Mitch Wishnowsky, Utah

KR: Quadree Henderson, Pitt

PR: Adoree Jackson, USC

 

Second Team

Offense

QB: DeShaun Watson, Clemson

RB: Donnel Pumphrey, San Diego St.

RB: Christian McCaffrey, Stanford

WR: Zay Jones, East Carolina

WR: James Washington, Oklahoma St.

TE: Evan Engram, Ole Miss

OL: Conner Williams, Texas

OL: Jonah Williams, Alabama

OL: Dan Feeney, Indiana

OL: Tyler Orlosky, West Virgina

OL: Braden Smith, Auburn

 

Defense

DE: Derek Barnett, Tennessee

DE: Malik McDowell, Michigan St

DT: Montravius Adams, Auburn

DT: Carlos Watkins, Clemson

LB: Zac Cunningham, Vanderbilt

LB: T.J. Watt, Wisconsin

LB: Tim Williams, Alabama

CB: Jalen “Teez” Tabor, Florida

CB: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama

Tarvarus McFadden, Florida State (Tie)

S: Budda Baker, Washington

S: Tedric Thompson, Colorado

 

 

Specialist

K: Daniel Carlson, Auburn

P: Johnny Townsend, Florida

KR: Adoree’ Jackson, USC

PR: Jabrill Peppers, Michigan

 

Fred Perdue, for War Room Sports

War Room Sports All-SEC Conference Selections

Friday, December 2nd, 2016

by Fred Perdue

FP

 

 

 

 

SEC

Offense

QB: 1st Team: Jalen Hurts, Fr, Alabama 2nd Team: Joshua Dobbs, Sr, Tennessee

RB: 1st Team: Derrius Guice, Soph, LSU 2nd Team:

RB: 1st Team: Rawleigh Williams III, Soph, Arkansas 2nd Team:

WR: 1st Team: Josh Malone, Jr, Tennessee 2nd Team: Christian Kirk, Soph, Texas A&M

WR: 1st Team: Josh Reynolds, Sr, Texas A&M  2nd Team: J’Mon Moore, Jr, Mizzou

TE: 1st Team: Evan Engram, Sr, Ole Miss 2nd Team: O.J. Howard, Sr, Alabama

OL: 1st Team: Cam Robinson, Jr, Alabama 2nd Team: David Sharp, Jr, Florida

OL: 1st Team: Ethan Pocic, Sr, LSU  2nd Team: Avery Gennessy, Sr, Texas A&M

OL: 1st Team: Martez Ivey, Jr, Florida  2nd Team: Dan Skipper, Sr, Arkansas

OL: 1st Team: Frank Ragnow, Jr, Arkansas 2nd Team: Isaiah Wynn, Jr, Georgia

OL: 1st Team: Braden Smith, Jr, Auburn  2nd Team

K: 1st Team: Daniel Carlson, Jr, Auburn   2nd Team Gary Wunderlich, Jr, Ole Miss

Defense

DL: 1st Team: Myles Garrett, Jr. Texas A&M 2nd Team:

DL:1st Team: Derrick Barnett, Jr. Tennessee 2nd Team: Carl Lawson, Jr, Auburn

DL:1st Team: Charles Harris, Jr, Mizzou 2nd Team: Arden Key, Jr, LSU

DL:1st Team: Jonathan Allen, Sr, Alabama 2nd Team: Darius English, Sr, South Carolina

LB: 1st Team: Tim Williams, Sr, Alabama 2nd Team: Reuben Foster, Jr, Alabama

LB:1st Team: Zach Cunningham, Jr, Vanderbilt  2nd Team: Richie Brown, Sr, Miss St.

LB:1st Team: Kendall Beckwith, Sr, LSU 2nd Team: Roquan Smith, Soph, Georgia

DB:1st Team: Jalen “Teez” Tabor, Jr, Florida 2nd Team: Tray Matthews, Jr, Auburn

DB:1st Team: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Soph, Alabama 2nd Team:

DB:1st Team: Jamal Adams, Jr, LSU  2nd Team: Tre’Davious White, Sr, LSU

DB:1st Team: Justin Evans, Sr, Texas A&M 2nd Team: Mike Edwards, Soph, Kentucky

P:1st Team: J.K. Scott, Jr, Alabama 2nd Team: Johnny Townsend, Jr, Florida

ST:1st Team: Carlos Davis, Sr, Ole Miss  2nd Team: Isaiah McKenzie, Jr, Georgia

 

Fred Perdue, for War Room Sports

War Room Sports All-Pac 12 Conference Selections

Friday, December 2nd, 2016

by Fred Perdue

FP

 

 

 

 

Pac 12

Offense

QB: 1st Team: Jake Browning, So., Washington 2nd Team:  Luke Falk, Jr., Washington State

RB: 1st Team: Myles Gaskin, So, Washington, 2nd Team: Phillip Lindsay, Jr., Colorado

RB: 1st Team: Christian McCaffrey, Jr., Stanford 2nd Team: Ronald Jones III, So., USC,

WR: 1st Team: Chad Hansen, Jr., California 2nd Team: Gabe Marks, Sr., Washington State

WR: 1st Team: John Ross, Jr., Washington 2nd Team: JuJu Smith-Schuster, Jr., USC

TE: 1st Team: Pharaoh Brown, Sr., Oregon 2nd Team: Nate Iese, Sr., UCLA

 

OL: 1st Team: Trey Adams, So., Washington 2nd Team: Sean Harlow, Sr., Oregon State

OL: 1st Team:  Scott Quessenberry, Jr., UCLA 2nd Team: Jeromy Irwin, Jr., Colorado

OL: 1st Team: Conor McDermott, Jr., UCLA 2nd Team: Isaac Asiata, Sr., Utah

OL: 1st Team: Garett Bolles, Jr., Utah 2nd Team: Damien Mama, Jr., USC

OL: 1st Team: Zach Banner, Sr., USC 2nd Team: Jake Eldrenkamp, Sr., Washington

K: 1st Team: Zane Gonzalez, Sr., Arizona State 2nd Team:  Andy Phillips, Sr., Utah

 

Defense

DL: 1st Team: Hunter Dimick, Sr., Utah  2nd Team: Hercules Mata’afa, So., Washington State

DL:1st Team: Tak McKinley, Sr., UCLA  2nd Team: Stevie Tu’ikolovatu, Sr., USC

DL:1st Team: Elijah Qualls, Jr., Washington 2nd Team:  Vita Vea, So., Washington

DL:1st Team: Solomon Thomas, Jr., Stanford 2nd Team: JoJo Wicker, So., Arizona State

LB: 1st Team:  Cameron Smith, So., USC 2nd Team: Keishawn Bierra, Jr., Washington

LB:1st Team: Jayon Brown, Sr., UCLA 2nd Team: Azeem Victor, Jr., Washington

LB:1st Team: Jimmie Gilbert, Sr., Colorado   2nd Team: Kenny Young, Jr., UCLA

DB:1st Team:  Budda Baker, Jr., Washington 2nd Team: Ahkello Witherspoon, Sr., Colorado

DB:1st Team: Adoree’ Jackson, Jr., USC  2nd Team: Chidobe Awuzie, Sr., Colorado

DB:1st Team: Marcus Williams, Jr., Utah 2nd Team: Tedric Thompson, Sr., Colorado

DB:1st Team: Sidney Jones, Jr., Washington  2nd Team: Shalom Luani, Sr., Washington State

P:1st Team: Mitch Wishnowsky, So., Utah 2nd Team: Matt Haack, Sr., ASU

ST:1st Team: Adoree’ Jackson, Jr., USC 2nd team:  Dante Pettis, Jr., Washington

 

Fred Perdue, for War Room Sports

 

War Room Sports All-Big Ten Conference Selections

Friday, December 2nd, 2016

by Fred Perdue

FP

 

 

 

 

Big 10

Offense

QB: 1st Team: J.T. Barrett, Jr, Ohio St. 2nd Team: Wilton Speight, Jr, Michigan

RB: 1st Team: Saquon Barkley, Soph, Penn State 2nd Team: Mike Weber, Fr, Ohio State

RB: 1st Team: Corey Clement, Sr, Wisconsin 2nd Team: Justin Jackson, Jr, Northwestern

WR: 1st Team: Austin Carr, Sr, Northwestern 2nd Team:  R.J. Shelton, Sr, Michigan State

WR: 1st Team: Curtis Samuel, Jr, Ohio St 2nd Team: Amara Darboh, Sr, Michigan

TE: 1st Team: Jake Butt, Sr, Michigan 2nd Team Mike Gesicki, Jr, Penn State

OL: 1st Team: Pat Elflein, Ohio State 2nd Team: Kyle Kalis, Wisconsin

OL: 1st Team: Dan Feeney, Indiana: 2nd Team: Billy Price, Ohio State

OL: 1st Team: Ryan Ramczyk, Jr, Wisconsin 2nd Team: Jamarco Jones, Ohio State

OL: 1st Team:  Erik Magnuson, Sr, Michigan 2nd Team: Beau Benzschawel, So, Wisconsin

OL: 1st Team: Mason Cole, Jr, Michigan 2nd Team: Ben Braden, Sr, Michigan

PK: 1st Team: Tyler Davis, Jr, Penn State 2nd Team: Tyler Durbin, Sr, Ohio State

 

Defense

DL: 1st Team: Taco Charlton, Sr, Michigan, 2nd Team: Tyquan Lewis, Jr, Ohio State

DL:1st Team: Malik McDowell, Jr, Michigan State 2nd Team: Ryan Glascow, Sr, Michigan

DL:1st Team: Jaleel Johnson, Sr, Iowa 2nd Team: Dawuane Smoot, Sr, Illinois

DL:1st Team: Chris Wormley, Sr, Michigan 2nd Team: Ifeadi Odenigbo, Sr, Northwestern

LB: 1st Team: Jabrill Peppers, Jr, Michigan 2nd Team: Vince Biegel, Sr, Wisconsin

LB: 1st Team: T.J. Watt, Jr, Wisconsin 2nd Team: Riley Bullough, Sr, Michigan State

LB: 1st Team: Raekwon McMillan, Jr, Ohio State 2nd Team: Josey Jewell, Jr, Iowa

DB: 1st Team: Desmond King, Sr, Iowa 2nd Team: Rashard Fant, Jr, Indiana

DB: 1st Team: Jourdan Lewis, Sr, Michigan 2nd Team: Delano Hill, Sr,  Michigan

DB:1st Team: Malik Hooker, Soph, Ohio State 2nd Team: Gareon Conley, Jr,  Ohio State

DB:1st Team: Marshon Lattimore, Soph,  Ohio State 2nd Team: Sojourn Shelton, Sr, Wisconsin

P: 1st Team: Cameron Johnston, Sr, Ohio State 2nd Team:  Kenny Allen, Sr, Michigan

ST:1st Team:  Jabrill Peppers, Jr, Michigan 2nd Team: Desmond King, Sr, Iowa

 

Fred Perdue, for War Room Sports