Posts Tagged ‘WRS’

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

The Cavalier/LA Conspiracy

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

by Brandon McConnell

Brandon Mac Blog

 

 

 

 

 

DL

The NBA has always been full of conspiracies, for years.  Let us take a look back at some of them.  The Orlando Magic becomes a new franchise and just so happen to get the #1 pick, two years in a row.  The Cleveland Cavaliers happened to get the #1 pick the same year Akron’s own LeBron James is available.  Chicago Bulls just happen to get the #1 pick the year Chicago’s superstar Derrick Rose become eligible for the draft.  Lastly, the Cleveland Cavaliers get three #1 picks after LeBron James leaves to go back to Miami, making it very convenient for him to come back home to a championship contender.

Now for the latest conspiracy.  Lonzo Ball to the Los Angeles Lakers.  This year, the Los Angeles Lakers have the second worst record in the league.  Their pick is only protected if they get a top 3 selection, or the pick goes to the 76ers.  With that being said, the Lakers are obviously trying to lose games in order to be bad enough to get a top three pick.  They got rid of their top scorer, Lou Williams, to the Rockets and now are sitting several veterans in order to assure a bad enough record to align themselves to draft UCLA’s Lonzo Ball.

Nothing in the previous paragraph should be anything new to the average NBA fan.  Now I am going to enlighten you on a conspiracy that no one seems to be talking about.  Everyone has been conversing this week on why the Cavaliers sat their “Big 3” on Saturday night versus the Clippers, on a nationally televised game, but played everyone against the terrible Lakers on Sunday.  Their reason for sitting the “Big 3” was for rest due to back-to -back games, but they didn’t have a game on Friday.  Let me give you a little history about coach Tyronn Lue.  He just so happens to have 2 NBA championship rings as a player, 1 championship ring as an assistant coach, and 1 championship ring as a head coach.  Where did he win his player rings?  You got it, with Shaq and Kobe as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers.  Remember the Iverson step over?  Yes, that was Tyronn Lue.  He won his first coaching ring as Doc Rivers’ assistant coach with the Boston Celtics.  Look at any film that year Boston won, that was Tyronn Lue behind Doc Rivers every game.  So, let us break it down.  The Clippers are currently in 5th place in the Western Conference, fighting for a first-round home court advantage, with several other teams to get the 4th spot.  Tyronn, being the nice guy he is, decided to help his mentor Doc Rivers gain a win to help position the Clippers to become a 4th seed while playing his starters and winning Sunday against the terrible Lakers, which helps put them in a better position to get a top 3 draft pick.  A top three pick would allow them to keep the pick and not give it to the 76ers.  If you look back at the previous paragraph, the NBA just so happens to do a good job with allowing the next coming superstar to join their hometown team.  Ask yourself, why don’t you ever see the lottery balls get selected?  So, expect the Lakers to get Lonzo Ball.  Tyronn Lue just happened to be a pawn in what I call “NBA CHESS”.

 

Brandon McConnell, for War Room Sports

3 all-time greats go down on the same day!

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

 

by Gus Griffin

gus

 

 

 

 

PKI

March Madness trivia question:

 

Have 3 coaches with more combined wins ever all lose on the same day in the NCAA tournament?

 

Mike Krzyzewski – 1071, Rick Pitino – 770, and Tom Izzo – 544,  for a total of 2385.

 

Throw in 8 national titles as well.

 

Gus Griffin, for War Room Sports

DADDY BALL AND THE HYPE MACHINE OKIE DOKE

Friday, March 17th, 2017

by Gus Griffin

gus

 

 

 

 

LB

For those of you so caught up and even “outraged” over LaVar Ball’s mouth, relax! You are missing a much larger business and commerce point which is the fact that the NCAA, shoe companies, and even coaches routinely do to its athletes, what we fear and complain he is doing to his son.  Which do you think has his best interest at heart?

The only thoughts that I will add center around Harold Miner, or better known at the time as “Baby Jordan”.

That’s right, there was once a player, also out of Southern California, he literally went to and played for USC, hyped to be the next Michael Jordan. With that hype was a shoe brand which both the maker and he profited off well. He did win 1 or 2 slam dunk contests, if that impresses you. Beyond that, he had an enduring 4-year NBA career, averaging 9 points a game. And in the end: who cares?

Here is what those annoyed by Daddy Ball don’t understand. When it comes to hype or promotion, it doesn’t matter if the words are true. It doesn’t matter if there is reason to project them to be true in the future. Hell it doesn’t even matter if either the father or son believe the hype themselves. All that matters is that we are talking about it, and by that measure, LaVar Ball is indeed crazy…crazy like a fox.

As for those who contend he is putting undue pressure on his son, it would seem to me that you would actually have to know his son personally to confirm that, and most of his father’s critics do not know the son. If on the court play is any indication of him feeling the pressure, my guess is that UCLA wants his father to talk even more. Last year they won 15 games. With Ball as the only major addition they have won 29 games thus far this year, including road wins over Kentucky and Arizona. He averages 14 points 6 assists, and nearly 8 boards a game. If you have actually watched him play, a more athletic version of Jason Kidd is a valid basketball-based comparison. Where is the evidence of his father’s mouth adversely affecting him?

In the end, my money is on LaVar Ball looking a lot more like Richard Williams than Marv Marinovich, and both he and his son(s) will take that to the bank. If more parents of phenom college athletes took his approach, maybe we could make more progress in breaking the NCAA’s monopoly on its endless supply of free labor.

 

Gus Griffin, for War Room Sports

ARSENAL AND BARCELONA: SIMILAR STYLE OF PLAY, TWO COMPLETELY DIFFERENT PHILOSOPHIES

Monday, March 13th, 2017

by Nwaji Jibunoh

Nwaji Blog

 

 

 

 

Arsenal-vs-Barcelona

During the first games of the Round of 16 Tournament of the UEFA Champions League, we saw two clubs; Arsenal and Barcelona (two clubs with a history of being purists when it comes to the execution of the Total Football strategy, otherwise known as “Jogo Bonito”- The Beautiful Game) getting completely hammered in the first legs of their games. Barcelona lost 4-0 to Paris St. German (PSG) and Arsenal lost 5-1 to Bayern Munich.

Now, both Bayern Munich and PSG are leaders in their respective leagues in Germany and France and their results from the first set of games not only proved how good they are but it also showed how impossible it would be for any team to recover from those first two heavy defeats to progress beyond this round, given the aggregate formula used in European Football.

So come games 2 and Mission Impossible. Sport writers and pundits had already written off Barca and PSG coming into these games with insurmountable odds. What happened next completely defines the philosophies of both clubs.

Arsenal Football Club located in London, England is one of the oldest clubs in England, having joined the English Football Association in 1893. Since 1996, Arsene Wenger has been managing the club and is responsible for bringing the Jogo Bonito Total Football style to Arsenal. Such style focuses on dominating possession during a football game, intricate passing in all directions, and capitalizing on the point of maximum opportunity to score goals. This style over the last 20 years has seen Arsenal rank among the most successful clubs in England and Europe.

Barcelona Football Club, located in the Catolonia region in Spain have been a global powerhouse in Sports for decades, but more so over the last 10-12 years when the initial foundation work of Legendary Coach John Cryuff grew exponentially under Frank Rijkaard and succeeding coaches. The Barcelona system has been so successful that not only because has it seen them dominate Spain and Europe, but it has also ensured that regardless of whoever is at the helm of affairs, the winning formula and mentality continues. Barcelona, very much like Arsenal, also rely heavily on dominating the possession game, intricate passing, and the capitalization of scoring when the opportunity is created, versus when the opportunity randomly presents itself.

So here you have two powerhouses of European football who mirror each other in terms of their style of play and how they are coached.  And here you have two powerhouses of European football going into their second games of the round of 16 after having suffered “insurmountable” losses in their first games. How both teams responded has completely redefined their genetic makeup.

Arsenal came into this game after having lost 3-1 to Liverpool FC only a few days prior. Spirits were low and the general attitude for Game 2 was just to make the score line respectable. Barcelona on the other hand, led by the likes of Lionel Messi, Neymar, Luis Suarez, and Iniesta, had a hint of belief over accomplishing mission impossible. Their two games leading up to the rematch with PSG saw them thrash Sporting Gijon 6-1 and Celta Vigo 5-1. This meant that they were going into their showdown with PSG having scored 11 goals over two matches. They needed a miraculous 5 unanswered to progress to the next round.

So come match day and the ensuing series of events, Arsenal travelled to Germany to take on Bayern Munich and Barcelona hosted PSG at home.

The Arsenal v Bayern Munich game saw a deflated and demoralized team who started well by scoring first, but then capitulated once The Bavarians equalized. Arsenal got absolutely thumped by the exact same score line to the first game, 5-1. After a while the players looked like all they wanted to do was go home.

However, the Barcelona v PSG game saw a Barcelona team come out from the very beginning looking to shoot their shot against all odds. They didn’t particularly play well and some players (including Messi) looked out of sorts. But the deep-seeded philosophy/belief was evident that night, especially in the opening minutes. Barcelona need to score 5 answered goals in order to progress to the next round.

The plan was in motion and Barcelona were getting closer and closer. They had scored 3 answered and were feeling the impossible was inevitable. It wasn’t until Edson Cavani scored a wonder goal for PSG that brought things back down to Earth. PSG felt that they were in the clear and it appeared to the Barca players that this mountain they needed to climb only got much higher. So at this point, Barca now needed 3 answered goals. 8 minutes were remaining and only divine intervention could get Barca through, and divine intervention manifested itself in the form of Neymar. First it was a free kick…GOAL. Then a penalty…GOAL. Then at the death of it all, a sublime pass again from Neymar to Sergio Roberto slides the ball into the net…GOAL.

The unimaginable had happened. Barcelona, through sheer grit and determination pulled off an impossible comeback.

What Barcelona did was solidify their philosophy as a team that will never give up, which is ironically the final ingredient that defines Jogo Bonito. An ingredient missing with Arsenal when it was required.

Two teams who share similar philosophies but two teams who will forever define greatness differently. We can blame the coach and the execution of the game strategy etc, but at the end of the day history always vindicates those that pursue greatness.

Well done to Barca….and on to the next one in this legendary story.

 

Nwaji Jibunoh, International Correspondent for War Room Sports

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

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

Sunday, February 12th, 2017

by Gus Griffin

gus

 

 

 

 

Image via KnowYourMeme.com

Image via KnowYourMeme.com

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Gus Griffin, for War Room Sports