Posts Tagged ‘WRS’

Where Jemele Hill Went Wrong

Friday, September 15th, 2017

by Gus Griffin

gus

 

 

 

 

JH

“Trump is the most ignorant, offensive president of my lifetime.”

“His rise is a direct result of white supremacy. Period.”

“He is unqualified and unfit to be president. He is not a leader. And if he were not white, he never would have been elected.”

“Donald Trump is a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself w/ other white supremacists.”

“The height of white privilege is being able to ignore his white supremacy, because it’s of no threat to you.”

“Well, it’s a threat to me.”

“Donald Trump is a bigot. Glad you could live with voting for him. I couldn’t, because I cared about more than just myself.”

“I hate a lot of things but not enough to jeopardize my fellow citizens with an unfit, bigoted, incompetent moron. But hey, that’s just me.”

These are the tweets that landed ESPN commentator Jemele Hill into hot water.

Every last word is true!  

At the very least, it’s much easier to support what she says about the current president of the “Divided” States of America than it would be to refute them.  

And still yet often in America, truth is not the point! The denial of truth is.

Hill’s comments addressed the truth.  They did not address the denial of the truth, which is a prerequisite.  

It’s like trying to administer treatment or medicine to someone that does not acknowledge being sick.

I realize that this is a hard thing for truth loving people to stomach, especially those of us who are either more likely to be vulnerable to the adverse effects of the current president’s mindset and policies.  It is equally troubling for those who thought that they could find refuge from political commentary in sports.  

The point is that in America we have tacitly understood sacred cow subjects around which we are required to steer clear of under all circumstances, and race in sports is right at the top of that list.  

Full disclosure: Jemele Hill, along with Bomani Jones, Tim Kurkjian, and Jay Bilas, are my favorite ESPN commentators. Unlike Erin Andrews of Fox (throw a nickel out the window and you could hit 20 others who can do what Andrews does), she actually knows sports. She is insightful beyond sports, which is why she had to know that she was violating the code. What code you ask? The code that says as a sports commentator you are to, above all and foremost, insure that your white audience is comfortable with your commentary. Calling a man that more than a few of them voted for, a white supremacist, though absolutely true, is a violation of the code. One of the requirements to maintain a position such as the one Hill occupies is self-censorship.  

Now the other end of this is Jason Whitlock, who either consciously or subconsciously talks about race all the time, but in a way that placates the very element that is currently outraged about Hill’s comments.

As a result, his place in the mainstream sports media is secure.

I am not saying that she should not have said what she did. I am actually always happy to hear “insiders” rock the boat.  I am saying that when you do, understand that the pushback will be fierce and swift, and if one is not prepared to absorb such pushback without apologizing, why say it at all?  

My first degree from Howard University was in Journalism. My desire was to be what Hill is today, which is part of why I am a fan and have such great respect for her. I actually wrote for a Washington Black weekly paper upon graduating and was offered an internship with ABC News under Sam Donaldson. I turned it down and have no regrets. My thinking even then, over 20 years ago, was that to progress in such an environment would require I engage in the type of self-censorship that would have kept Hill out of the hot water she is currently in, and I knew that I simply could not adhere to “the code”.  

In the end, the issue is not Jemele Hill or even ESPN. The issue is the delusional notion that sports is some isolated haven, free of political commentary, or even that it should be. History proves this to be a fallacy.  Be it the influence of Jackie Robinson’s breaking the color line in baseball, or the civil rights movement, or Muhammad Ali’s stand against the Vietnam War, sports has always been a platform to address larger issues to include politics as well it should be. But until the contrary myth is debunked, the likes of Jemele Hill and others of her valuable consciousness have a decision to make: is it best to maintain her current platform and speak truth to power from within the existing mainstream system or leave it and all of its perks and restraints to do so from the outside?  Neither you nor I can make that decision for her. If she leaves on principle, I’ll miss her on ESPN but respect her decision.  If she remains, she will surely have to understand that the push-back she is receiving is indeed the price of the party.

Gus Griffin, for War Room Sports

I Changed My Mind: The Case for Guaranteed NFL Contracts!

Monday, September 11th, 2017

by Gus Griffin

gus

 

 

 

 

Image via The Point After Show

Image via The Point After Show

That’s right. For years, I have been of the opinion that NFL owners should not be at risk for fully guaranteed contracts in a sport where the risk of injury was so great.

Then a fiscally-conservative buddy of mine expressed surprise at my position.   

Whenever those types are to the left of me, I get concerned. LOL

So I began to rethink my position, which was based on “reasonable owner risk”.  

The good part is that the term reasonable is so broad and subjective that it was not hard to undermine my own position with factually based reasoning.  

First of all, player health risk should be, at the very least, as much of a concern as the financial risk of billionaires. Sure, players signed up for this and thus certainly assume a degree of health risks. That does not mean that they absolved themselves of any right to advocate mitigating those risks. Speaking of signing up for risks, that is what any business owner does when he/she starts a business. For NFL owners, guaranteed contracts should be among those risks.

But even with that, are the owners really at risk? The TV money is divided up evenly among all 32 teams.  Owning an NFL team is like having a cash printer in your basement. Your team doesn’t even have to be good. Even the sorry winless 2008 Detroit Lions made big profits. If owners can’t simply write bad contracts off on their taxes, I’m sure they will TELL their Congressional lackeys….I mean representatives, to simply rewrite the code for their benefit. The 1 percent has been doing that since the beginning of the tax system. The only obstacle on this front would be an adjustment to the salary cap, allowing the injured players debt to be removed which would allow a team to replace him without taking a cap hit.

So capacity is not the issue. NFL revenues are projected to surpass $13 billion when all the receipts come in for the 2016 season, and that number will only increase. Yet, of the 4 major sports, NFL players have the lowest career earnings, even when the comparison is adjusted for the same number of years.   

Simply put, they got the loot and between tax loopholes and insurance policies, owners wouldn’t lose a dime.    

There are two primary issues that will make this an uphill battle: 1) a lack of player unity; and 2) the owners’ control of the narrative that the public largely believes.  

On the first issue, NFL players must have unity if they are to have any chance of getting guaranteed contracts. That will be especially challenging given that they have a very small window to make as much money as they can. Getting nearly 1700 guys to come together would be no small task, even for the best of labor organizers, and the owners know this. The 32 owners, on the other hand, are far better equipped to miss a few checks than are the 1700 players. A good place to start would be to abandon these ridiculous long-term deals. They are highly misleading and the sports media is complicit in the deception.  For example, say a player signs a 6-year deal worth $100 million. Unless he is an upper echelon QB, chances are that the majority of the money is back loaded and everyone, including the player, knows that he will never see that money. This leads us to the second issue, which is the capacity of owners to craft a narrative that appeals to a critical mass of the 99%, and thus undermines the player position in the court of public opinion. That narrative basically says that “you are being paid good money to play a game. You play at your own risk. Shut up and entertain us!”   

Such a narrative exploits the envy that many fans have of NFL players and their obsession to themselves join the 1% so much so, that they are willing to do the ideological bidding of the owners. The line of thinking is not that much different from the fact that most whites supported slavery, even though very few were themselves slave owners, which was a sign of aristocracy. Or many of today’s poor supporters of the “crony capitalist” in the White House. The reality is that players will get guaranteed contracts BEFORE the cartel of NFL owners or any other element of the 1% permit the fan class to join them. Ask Marc Cuban, the very wealthy owner of the Dallas Mavericks. He is both rich and white.  But it was not enough to gain his admittance when he attempted to buy the LA Dodgers. Major League Baseball literally allowed the team to go into bankruptcy rather than allow an “outsider” into the fold. The NFL cartel is even more discriminating than that of baseball.

So what it comes down to is organized people vs organized money. Contrary to the misleading narrative promoted by owners and their mainstream media PR firms, the players are not among the organized money class. If as fans, you can say that you watch football more so because of who owns the team as opposed to who is playing, then disregard everything that I have said.  But if you are honest and get on the right side, then the players have a chance to reap a more secure piece of the pie that they largely bake.

Gus Griffin, for War Room Sports  

Ode to Venus Williams

Friday, July 14th, 2017

by Gus Griffin

gus

 

 

 

 

VW

Venus Williams is the single most underappreciated athlete in the world over the past 20 years!

The primary reason for this is understandable: when your little sister is on the short-list of greatest athletes of the last century, your accomplishments just might get a bit overlooked.

Just to summarize, Venus has won 7 Grand Slam titles and 49 tournaments overall.  Her lifetime record against top 10 opponents is 321-159, which amounts to a winning percentage of 67%.  Her lifetime record against the world’s number 1 ranked player is 10-5.  Even on clay, her worst surface, she has a winning percentage of 63%.  In Grand Slam finals, she is sub .500 at 7-8.  Seven of those eight losses have come to her little sister.  Simply put, Venus Williams has only lost one Grand Slam final to anyone not named Serena.

It is often noted if it were not for Venus, Serena would have even more Grand Slam titles.  But the opposite is true as well.  Without Serena in the picture, Venus could very well have 14 major titles.  That would have her in the G.O.A.T. conversation.

Those numbers alone are enough of a resume, but there is more.

It was Venus who was the most vocal active player in the fight for equal pay at Wimbledon for the women’s champion compared to the men’s champion.

In 2011, she was diagnosed with a rare ailment called Sjogren’s Syndrome.   Two of its symptoms are pain in the joints and fatigue; no small factors for a professional tennis player.    Being north of 30 and having already been a seven-time Grand Slam winner, it would have been understandable if she called it a career.  She did not, and as a result she is entering her second Grand Slam final of the year Saturday morning at Wimbledon, after having dominated up and coming Brit Johanna Konta in Thursday’s semi-final.   She is now 21-7 this year and will re-enter the world’s top 10, all at the age of 37 years old.   If she wins it will be her 6th Wimbledon title and she will become the oldest woman to win a Grand Slam event in tennis history!

Beating Garbine Muguruza for the Wimbledon title, a Grand Slam champion in her own right, will be a tall task.  I consider her to be the most likely to succeed Serena as the world’s undisputed best player.

But losing won’t take away from the fact that despite age, an ailment that would retire lesser competitors, some media that have been flaky at best to embrace one half of what is arguably the greatest story in the history of American sports, and the huge shadow of her little sister, VENUS IS RISING AGAIN.  We should not only notice, but we should show her the love and give her the standing ovation she so richly deserves.

 

Gus Griffin, for War Room Sports

Dear Kevin Durant Haters: Let It Go!

Saturday, June 17th, 2017

by Gus Griffin

gus

 

 

 

 

KD

Russell Westbrook averaging a triple-double this past year brought much deserved attention to the great Oscar Robertson, who previously had been the only player to accomplish such a feat, way back in 1962, his second year in the league.  Robertson came close to doing it his first 5 years in the league, usually missing because he would “only” average 9 assists one year or 9 rebounds another year.  He also had 5 different seasons in which he averaged over 30 points a game.

But as for rings for NBA titles with the Cincinnati Royals, he had nothing to show for his greatness.  While his teams made the playoffs 6 straight seasons from 1962-67, they lost to either Bill Russell’s Celtics or Wilt Chamberlain’s 76ers in 5 of those six seasons.   Four of those 5 defeats were to the eventual NBA champions.

It was not because he did not elevate his game in the big moments.  He averaged a triple-double in the 1962 playoffs.  Over that 6-year period his average playoff numbers were 29 points, nearly 10 assist, and over 8 rebounds a game.  Oscar Robertson spent his first and best 10 years in the NBA losing year after year in the playoffs because his team was simply not good enough.

Here is my question for the Kevin Durant (KD) critics who insist that he should have never joined the team that he could not beat: do you honestly believe Oscar Robertson would have stayed in Cincinnati all those years with the same foreseeable outcomes if he had the choice to join Wilt in Philly or Bill in Boston or even Elgin Baylor and Jerry West in LA?

Would you have?  If your GPS tells you that you can shave 10 minutes off your commute to your destination, can you honestly say you would ignore it and insist on going the hard way?

The fact is he didn’t have a choice because free agency at that time was a mere shadow of what it is today.  As a matter of fact, Robertson would go on to become the National Basketball Players Association president and in that capacity, in 1970, would file an anti-trust suit under his name against NBA owners which challenged, among other things, to do away with the option clause which bound a player to one team.  Though the suit was eventually dismissed as part of a collective bargaining agreement, it was an important piece of leverage that led to the free agency today enjoyed by players like KD.

With this important piece of historical context and the larger issue of LABOR RIGHTS, I am at a loss for why all this shade is being thrown at KD for joining the Warriors?

Whatever happened to “if you can’t beat them join them”?

That’s what Deion Sanders did when he left the Falcons to join the division rival 49ers to win a Super Bowl ring.  That’s what Greg Maddox did in leaving the Cubs to join the Braves to win the World Series.  What KD did is not new in sports.

Ok, if KD tweeted criticism of LeBron for going to Miami, he set himself up for some of this.

Furthermore, admittedly there is a competitive romantic side of me that would have admired KD even more as a champion had he done it from Oklahoma City.  There was an additional gratification when seeing the long-suffering likes of Andy Murray in tennis and Phil Mickelson in golf finally win major titles after multiple heart-breaking disappointments.  The same feeling came watching the Cubs in baseball and of course the great Akeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler with the Houston Rockets.

But that romanticism will always be trumped by the necessity to appreciate the struggle, yes even among professional athletes, for labor rights.  The fact that most of us in our lifetime will not have the leverage to impact our compensation and place of labor the way professional athletes do is not a basis to begrudge them.  After all, the simple reality is that millions of people have no interest or willingness to pay to watch you nor I do our jobs.   It should be an incentive to improve our own collective 99% lot and not hate on them, be it John Elway or Eli Manning maneuvering out of Baltimore and San Diego, or KD leaving Oklahoma City.

I suspect that the common sports myth of loyalty is a factor of the KD hate.

Weather we as fans want to continue to deny getting the memo or not, sports loyalty has always been at best the exception and not the rule.  Don’t let the final chapters for Kobe Bryant and Derek Jeter fool you.  The more common finality between a player and a team is that of Babe Ruth who ended his career with the Boston Braves when he could no longer hit homers for the Yankees.  Or Johnny Unitas who ended with the San Diego Chargers when he could not throw enough TD passes for the Colts.  The reality is under capitalism, even the all-time greats are mere commodities for the enrichment of the owners.  And yet you can find more needles in a haystack than you can fans that hold never-ending grudges against teams for their lack of loyalty to players.

Chris Rock once declared that men are only as loyal as our opportunities.  That bit of truth is not restricted by gender or other aspects of life to include sports.   So, I urge you KD haters; chill, get your favorite mind-altering substance, plug in some Toni Braxton, and LET IT GO!

 

Gus Griffin, for War Room Sports

Bob Dandridge Visits The War Room!

Thursday, June 8th, 2017

BD

Milwaukee Bucks’ legend, Bob Dandridge will be in The War Room this Thursday, June 8th, to discuss a myriad of NBA topics, past and present!

Tune in Thursday, June 8th at 6pm EST to hear our conversation with the NBA Champion/SHOULD-BE Hall of Famer!  To tune in, go to www.WarRoomSports.com and click the “Listen Live” button…or dial 323-410-0012 to listen live by phone.  If you can’t catch us live, listen to the replay at ANY time after the live show on the War Room Sports Podcast Network, at www.WRSPN.com.

In the meantime, join the War Room Sports Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/WarRoomSports to talk sports 24/7 and follow us on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/WarRoomSports (@WarRoomSports)!

Finally, if you own an Android phone or tablet…an I-Phone, I-Pad, or I-Pod, please go to your Google Play Store or Apple App Store and download the FREE War Room Sports mobile app, or get it from the links below!  It’s the VERY BEST way to stay up on all of our media content!

Android: http://bit.ly/WRS4Android
Apple: http://bit.ly/WRS4IOS

When Facts are Not the Truth: The Blackballing of Colin Kaepernick

Monday, June 5th, 2017

by Gus Griffin

gus

 

 

 

 

CK

It seems Dan Orvlovsky will be calling it a career.

Yes, that Dan Orvlovsky was still in the league in 2016.  The same one who in 2008, made the 2nd most egregious (after a throwing a pick 6 inside your own 20) hustling backwards move a QB can make.  He literally sacked himself!

While with what would become the 0-16 Lions, Orvlovsky retreated away from the Vikings Jared Allen and with absolutely no awareness of the back of the end zone, which by rule is a safety and two points for the Vikings, and gives them the ball.

This play was literally his claim to fame.

Nevertheless, he was never subjected to the ever sticking “he can’t read defenses…I mean the back of end zones”.  In fact, after that season and play, 3 other NFL teams, the Texans, Colts, and Buccaneers thought he was good enough to be a backup.  Simply put, a guy who was not good enough for arguably the worst team in NFL history still got 3 other jobs with NFL teams.  Still, yet some are still trying to rationalize with a straight face that “system” incompatibility explains why Colin Kaepernick doesn’t have a job?

You may as well piss on me and try to tell me it’s raining!

This is a perfect example of when an analysis can be factual and well-based and yet not be truth at the same time.  Facts are statements or analysis that can be supported with verifiable reality.  Truth are facts within the full context of contributing factors.

The facts are that Colin Kaepernick is not, nor ever has been a traditional drop back passer.  It simply is not his strongest skill-set and thus a system calling for that is not a good match.  Some pitchers have a great fastball but not much of an off-speed pitch.  Some guards are good at penetrating but don’t shoot well from the outside.  Most professionals are incomplete.  It doesn’t mean that there is no job for them.

But when these facts are offered up to explain why he doesn’t have a job in the NFL, they are not truthful.

Always be leery of the “he can’t read defenses” critique, which is a dog whistle way of calling Black quarterbacks dumb.  The fact is he has had a poor offensive line which has contributed to an unreliable running game and non-threatening receivers.  Under such circumstances, knowing when to get the hell out of Dodge is actually a sign of intelligence.  Staying in the pocket to take an unnecessary beating would be dumb.

The truth is, the overwhelming number of NFL QBs, both historically, present day, and even the Hall of Famers are system dependent!

Only one today is not burdened with such limitations and that would be of course Aaron Rogers!  He is the beginning and end of the current list to have all the specialized skills that can accommodate any of the common offensive schemes/systems of today.  In short, one must be able to throw the deep out, be accurate in traffic, avoid the rush, and extend plays when the pocket breaks down; and also know when to get rid of the ball, usually with a 3-step drop.  Historically, for me, only 4 others come to mind; Roger Staubach, Warren Moon (you must remember the Moon at Washington and in the CFL), John Elway, and Steve Young.

No, Tom Brady cannot run the read-option or avoid pressure, nor could Peyton Manning.  Big Ben has never nor ever could be a traditional 3-step drop West Coast passer.  In fact, that would be contrary to his strength which would be to extend plays.

So, if 95% plus of NFL QBs are system dependent, then that could not possibly be the reason for a QB not being able to get a job.  The truth is that the NFL is arguably the most exclusive cartel in the world.  Its owners only answer to a commissioner that they have the authority to fire.  Even if their product is bad, every team prints money.  Such people are not very interested in anyone posing serious questions about the society that allows them such privilege, and that is what Kapernick did.  They didn’t have to all agree on a conference call or meet at some golf club for the blackballing to take place, any more than drug lords need to verbally agree that potential witnesses need to be taken out.  It’s understood.  Common interests often are reflected in common motives and behaviors.

It is warranted to “peacock” about American freedom of speech.  I am not aware of such a principle being written into law quite the way it is here.  But part of that pride should come from having the capacity to stomach the speech or expression one does not like or agree with as well.  Thus far, the NFL has not mastered that aspect of the principle.

 

Gus Griffin, for War Room Sports

Bryce Harper was Right And the Myth of Code Loyalty

Wednesday, May 31st, 2017

by Gus Griffin

gus

 

 

 

 

BH

I so appreciate the sports of the San Francisco Bay Area.  Be it Colin Kaepernick or the Golden State Warriors, they give me material.  And now Bryce Harper and my San Francisco Giants.

Yes, my San Francisco Giants.  Full disclosure for those who have been under an FB rock, baseball is and has always been my favorite sport, and the Giants are my favorite team.  I got it from my pops.  I modeled my pitching motion after high-leg kicking Giants pitchers Juan Marichal and Vida Blue.  I lived long enough to see them win 3 world series rings in 5 years to lap the hated Dodgers in titles.  Simply put, over the past 8 years, it’s been good to be a Giants fan.

And with all that being said, I am 100% in support of Bryce Harper for going after Hunter Strickland for intentionally hitting him with a pitch upwards of 97 miles per hour.

This all played out with the larger backdrop of baseball trying to reign in “bean ball” wars.

Good luck with that.

Since its inception, baseball has long had an unwritten code that says if you throw at one of ours, we will throw at one of yours.  Of course, the likes of Don Drysdale, Bob Gibson, Nolan Ryan, and Roger Clemens took this internal vigilantism to an entirely different level, both for retribution and intimidation.  It was all understood that this was how things were done.

Of course, the other complication is that there is a legitimate tactical justification for pitching inside.  The gentlemen’s agreement has long been that the outside part of the plate belongs to pitchers and the inside belongs to hitters.  If a hitter gets greedy trying to crowd the plate to take aggressive hacks at pitches on the outside corner, things must be put back into order and the inside fastball is the mechanism for doing so.  While this will surely result in some batters being hit, to ban the tactic in of itself would tilt the balance of competition so far in the direction of hitters to the point of the game ceasing to be what we have known it to be.

Baseball’s challenge is against whom and when does it intervene; against the first violator or the second?  On the first shot, a pitcher could have legitimately simply lost control of a pitch.  Should he be thrown out of the game?  If second offender (or retaliator) is ejected, that will essentially give the initiators a free shot.  The bottom line is that as MLB moves to eliminate this internal policing of the game, hitters can no longer count on their pitcher to keep things in order.

So, when a guy throws a 97 mph baseball at a hitter, what the hell do we expect him to do?  If Harper does not make a stand, then the message to the rest of the league is clear; you can throw at him with impunity!

None of that contextual backdrop applies to what Strickland did Monday in San Francisco.   He was simply pissed off because 3 years ago in the playoffs, Bryce Harper hit not one, but two moonshot home runs off him.  The espoused offense was that Harper ran around the bases too slow.  I was at the game in Washington.  The ball cleared the Jackie Robinson number in the upper deck.  While I did not think it was funny at the time, you could not help but be impressed.  The one in San Francisco cleared the stadium and landed in McCovey Cove.  Simply put, if Harper decided to walk around the bases, I would have had no problem with it at all, and if Strickland did, he should have learned to throw a damn change up!

The other aspect of the incident that has garnered a lot of attention was the Giants’, especially all-star catcher Buster Posey, lackluster attempt to “protect their guy”.  Admittedly, it is unusual for the catcher not to grab the hitter or at least attempt to do so in that situation.  Some have speculated if this will affect how Posey is perceived in the locker room.  That is an assessment that cannot be made without knowing how Strickland is perceived in the locker room.  If he is viewed as some out of control lone wolf who takes matters into his own hands, Posey’s place in the locker room will not be affected one iota.

The truth is that these “ride or die” loyalty codes we men swear to adhere by unconditionally are anything but unconditional.  We espouse to believe in them because they are often a rites of passage for peer group, cultural and societal acceptance.  But the graveyard has its share of dudes who actually took that nonsense literally at a party or on the streets.  Such blind loyalty is romanticized in the media.  Buster Posey is neither Cookie from Empire nor Marines from A Few Good Men.  No matter how sincerely committed, there will come a time when one must use your capacity to think for yourself, to dismiss the group code in favor of your own individual best interests.  Doing so doesn’t make one cowardly or disloyal.  It makes one intelligent.  In the real world, when the rubber meets the road, the sheer practicality of self-preservation will rule the day, be it among the Bloods and Crips or the Mafia.   We should expect no less from baseball players.

Simply put, if a loose cannon like Strickland fires off a 97 mph fastball at a hitter for no legitimate tactical reason, and without any pre-approval or reassurance from the leadership or team collective that they have his back, HE IS ON HIS OWN!

 

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

SAT Scores and the NFL Combine: Why Both are So Often Unreliable

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

by Gus Griffin

gus

 

 

 

 

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28: A general view of the draft stage during the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 28, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

 

NFL Draft day is here.  And what we think we know from our instant information on steroids era is leaving us no more informed about who will be a good player than in past years prior to the NFL Combine.  Call it a case of too much information in the wrong hands.

 

A great case study for this was the 2003 NFL Combine when a very well run franchise wanted a particular player very badly.  However, it was feared that the player would not be there when the teams’ turn came.  Though this team had two first-round picks, it did not want to trade up or give up one, if not necessary.  So their best hope was for the player to run a disappointing 40-yard dash.   This organization was smart enough to realize that the teams picking ahead of them were doing so for a reason: they were not very smart and overvalued NFL Combine information.

 

The player they wanted obliged them and ran a poor 40-yard dash, and as a result, the Detroit Lions bypassed him and took WR Charles Rogers at number 2.  The NY Jets did the same and took DL Dwayne Robertson at 4, as did the NO Saints taking DL Johnathan Sullivan at 6.   None of those three played more than 6 years in the NFL, a combined 14 years overall and 0 Pro Bowl selections.  This team with its 10thpick took an edge rusher out of Arizona State who would go on to record 6 double digit sack seasons and become a 6-time Pro-Bowl player.  Even after missing most of 2015 with an injury, he had 8 sacks last year, at age 33.  This year will be his 15th in the NFL.

 

The team was the Baltimore Ravens and the player was Terrell Suggs.  In addition to being the ugliest man in the NFL, he has been terrorizing my Steelers and the whole damn league ever since.

 

It’s not just the NFL.  Remember all the fuss about how much weight Kevin Durant could or couldn’t lift?

 

It might surprise some of you how this process of reading way too much into combine data is not much different than the impact of the SAT/ACT scores on the college admission process.   In my time as an educational professional, I wish I had a dollar for every student I have come across with great SAT/ACT scores who fell flat on his or her face, not just at a 4-year college, but also at the community college level.  I would be even richer if I had a dollar for all those I have encountered speaking little to no English and/or coming from impoverished situations, often with no household knowledge of the college process, and yet thrived, even to the point of earning transfer scholarships.

 

What the two processes have in common is how much of an indictment they both are of how we assess human potential.  Even more disturbing is the underlying reason we fall prey to this; simply put we are analytically lazy.

 

It’s a lot easier to look at numbers and be overly reliant upon them when making an assessment than it is too take the time to make a holistic and comprehensive assessment.  What NFL combine numbers and SAT scores do not measure is resilience, work ethic, and emotional intelligence, in spite of the fact that there are tools to measure both resilience and emotional intelligence.  Instead the NFL uses the Wonderlic.

 

I am not suggesting that none of the information collected is valuable.  I am, however, adamant that the vertical leap of an offensive linemen in football is not a piece of information that serves any useful purpose.  Furthermore, I argue the information collected should never replace direct interaction and other developmental factors, such as those already mentioned.  After all, at age 18-22, none of us are fully developed neurologically and thus even the best assessments are grasping as indicators of future success.

 

There is good news on the college front.  There are now over 800 accredited, bachelor-degree granting institutions that have changed their approach to standardized test scores, by not requiring the SAT or ACT for admission.  So when high school counselors advise students with poor SAT or ACT scores about their college options, they can still offer them hope to include both those 800 colleges, in addition to the far too often undersold community college.

 

Unfortunately, I see no trend in the NFL against the current conventional thinking, which is to remain a slave to combine data for fear of looking stupid if one takes a chance on an outlier way of thinking.    It’s as if teams would rather continue to fail doing what most of the league does as opposed to taking a chance doing things differently.

 

Tonight, the cycle continues.  I’ll kick back with friends and watch but not far from my mind will be something a highly successful college and NFL coach once said about the draft, to paraphrase; you only have to worry about maybe a 3rd of the league.  The other two-thirds are so dysfunctional that they will self-destruct under the weight of their own idiotic decision making.

 

I wish the Ravens were among that two-thirds dysfunctional group back in 2003.

 

Gus Griffin, 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