Friday, September 17, 2010

When A Free Education Is Not Enough

Still the '05 Heisman winner in my eyes
Reggie bush gave back his Heisman trophy earlier this week and yesterday he spoke to the media about it. He said giving it back was "not an admission of guilt," and that he gave it back "out of respect for the Heisman trophy itself." I think the whole situation is senseless (I really wanted to use another adjective there).

I'll go ahead and say that I do think that Reggie accepted all those illegal benefits, however I don't think he was wrong in doing so. I know its against NCAA regulations for student-athletes to accept extra benefits but I also know that certain student-athletes are not properly compensated for their contributions and are taken advantage of. Most student-athletes get "rewarded" a full scholarship, a free education, to play sports for the particular school. The education has long been said to be fair compensation for the athlete, as it gives them a chance to earn an education that they most likely would not have been able to afford. In most cases the free ride is certainly a reward for the athlete's contribution to the program, but in a very few cases its not. There are regular student-athletes, where the free ride is fair compensation, and then there are the superstars, where its not. These superstars bring in so much money for their prospective programs and don't see a dime of it, but are expected to see the free ride as fair compensation. #Ridiculous

Its nearly impossible to imagine how much money USC made during the time that Reggie played there but I'll go out on a limb and say it was more than the 160,000-170,000 it cost them. The areas in which USC made money off of Bush include: ticket sales, merchandise, bowl games births and enrollment hikes. It can be argued that fans would have gone to the games anyway, bought merchandise anyway, USC would have gone to bowls anyway and that students will always want to go to USC regardless. I'll argue that there was higher demand for tickets because people wanted to see Bush (not Mario Danelo), Bush jerseys were probably the best seller (not Thomas Williams), Bush's play certainly helped ensure bowl births (lets not forget that Fresno St game) and that there are some students who now go to/want to go to USC because of Reggie Bush. 

Consider this, a BCS bowl game birth is worth 17 million, BCS bowls games USC went to during Bushes 3 seasons: 3. Granted he himself wasn't the only reason for that but as I mentioned earlier he was an instrumental force and in some cases the main reason (again check the Fresno St game).  

For people to not expect Bush, or any other superstar student-athlete for that matter, to not take/receive extra benefits is crazy. So many people make so much money off of them and they are expected to not take a lil something on the side?  What happens if they get injured or something else happens and they can no longer compete? Star athletes fall from grace real fast, especially in college football, and teams/programs will forget you and move on. Look how USC has handled everything surrounding this controversy: removed his jersey and the replica Heisman. They knew what was going on, but as long as they were winning and making absurd amounts of money it was cool. Now that this controversy presents a threat to the wins and future earnings they're done with him.

Some people say athletes should just wait until they go pro and get their benefits/proper compensation. Yea, that's true kinda, if it were guaranteed that they'd go pro. They could get hurt or face other obstacles to prevent them from making it. Additionally, if you do make it to the pro leagues all it means is that someone else will be taking advantage of you until you're not lining their pockets anymore, and they're much better at it in the pros too (See LT, Jets flaking on Revis, Seahawks cutting Housh and Eagles handling of player health).

I think its unfair to expect the free ride to be fair compensation for all student-athletes. Some are greater than others and bring in more money than others and risk their lives doing so. They shouldn't be punished, stigmatized, erased from history, for doing whatever than can to ensure some security for themselves and their families. I know its against the rules to receive benefits, but maybe the rules themselves need to be revisited as opposed to the athletes being demonized for breaking them.

This post was inspired by this article.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Ray Don't Play That...

If I saw Ray Lewis walking in my direction I'd cry. I mean he's a killer, on the football field at least. He's scary, ridiculous, crazy, intense, vicious....need I go on?

Dustin Keller just became Ray's most recent victim....

Ray hit him so hard that he was clearly dazed 2 plays later when he failed to get the 1st on a 4th down catch. Bet Keller won't cross the middle versus the Ravens again...

Monday, September 13, 2010

Durant, B-Team Earn Gold

Francis Scott Key and James Naismith would be proud
The so called "B-Team" finished on top at the Worlds.

Team USA cruise to gold with an 81-64 win against Turkey in the Gold medal game of the World Championships. Kevin Durant led this version of Team USA to the 1st USA Gold in the World Championships since 1994 (when he was 5). Durant was an offensive force, scoring 33, 38 (USA Record) and 28 in the tournaments final 3 games. He averaged 22.8 ppg during the tournament and was named the MVP.

This team was a reluctant favorite to win. They were young (6 players under the age of 22), inexperienced (only 3 played on an international team), undersized (one true center on the roster) and lacked star power (only 8 all-star game appearances). However. they did have talent, freakish athleticism and that guy Durant.

Throughout the tournament the team used their speed, length and athleticism to play impeccable defense, limiting opponents to 68 points per game. Durant, who some feared may not be ready to take the national team on his shoulders (myself included), rose to the occasion and was for the most part unstoppable scoring at will and not having any off nights (another thing people feared). He's not even 22 yet...

The Gold ensures Team USA a spot in the 2012 Olympics, meaning the team won't be under pressure next summer. The only question is what the 2012 roster will look like, and who from this team might make that one...Durant for sure.

My vote:
Starting 5: CP3, Wade, Kobe, LBJ, Dwight
Bench: D-Will, Durant, Melo, Bosh, Rose Iguodala, Some additional big man (Boozer, Odom, Love, Chandler, Amare, B. Lopez,  Bynum).

We'll see...anyway #Respect to this team...coming home with Gold.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

502 yards

Notre Dame got embarrassed yesterday. They only lost by 4, final score was 28-24, but they gave up 502 yards, to one man. 


Denard Robinson racked up 502 yards (can't stop saying it) in a spectacular performance. He threw for 244 and a TD on 24-40, and ran 29 times for 258. #Ridiculous. He lead Michigan to the win in the final minutes with a great drive on which he went 4-4 and ran in the game winning TD. 

The man is fast, he took off for a 87 yard TD run (Longest in ND Stadium history). What's crazy is that he doesn't tie his shoelaces, which lead to his nickname: shoelace. He's also tough, he took a lot of hits with all those carries. He's exciting, last year he scored on his first collegiate snap. He won the starting job this year and has had 2 amazing weeks. It should be an interesting season for my boys.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Prescription

So I'm on vacation staycation this week so maybe I can get 1 post in a day...there are a lot of things to talk about...

Aight, so I love music. The actual music, notes and what not, as well as the lyrics. This is especially true for Hip-Hop/Rap music. I like listening to rappers who tell stories so well I feel like I'm watching them unfold. I like listening to songs and saying "damn that was crazy," either because the lyrics are crazy or because they make me think so hard. Naturally some of my favorite rappers are Jay-Z, Nas, Lupe and Fabolous (very long list) all of whom are capable of doing those things. The "new guard" of rappers is pretty adept too. J. Cole, Drake and Wale are very ill lyrically, something I really appreciate.

I was put onto Wale by my roommate in college (#shoutout @dueordie). He told me to listen to The Mixtape About Nothing and see if I liked the guy. I did and have been following ever since. After the success of that mixtape, and Back to the Feature, there were great expectations for his debut album Attention Deficit. It didn't really live up to the hype though. Although it received mostly great reviews it didn't sell well, only going gold. It was also easily forgotten amongst the other rap albums that dropped that year (BP 3Deeper Than Rap, Man on the Moon, Loso's WayRelapse). Recently I re-listened to Attention Deficit in preparation for finally listening to More About Nothing (#latepass). I just have to say that the album was indeed overlooked but Wale did warn us that that would happen, and even gave us something to prevent it: The Prescription.

The title of the CD let us know how Wale felt, and what I think ultimately happened, people wouldn't be able to pay attention well enough to enjoy the CD. The decline of hip-hop/rap over the past few years has been well known. It has been going away from the lyrical prowess that it was once known for, to the dance friendly, catchy beats/hooks, lets make something for the club era. Wale, aware of this, takes pride in his lyrics and dubs himself the prescription to the ills of the rap game. Proclaiming yourself as the "House" that's been needed to solve the rap game's rubic is bold and something that everyone has been doing of late, but Wale made a great claim on the track.

Pay Attention!

Don't let the pain getcha
I swear my lane will provide as a painkiller
A painkiller, a 16 of Percoset
Just let it chill Joe
That lil' burn that you feel, feel good don't it?
Just sit back and relax and take it easy
And let the beat play
Close your eyes, whoever uninspired
Pay me no mind, I put Adderol in ya eyes
Riddle them with Ritalin, attention deficit
Niggas start listenin', and what I'm givin' them
The drug that they brain need
Them niggas sick of hip-hop so they appointed me
And I invened but the IV inside of me
And ignorance was drug of choice but they OD'd
Couldn't alone leave 'em
I am the sole leader
The young soul that the OG's still believe in
And if you not convinced keep on promotin' them
I breathe life in the game, they are Kevorkian
They provokin' suicide but as soon as signed
I drew designs from consumer's minds so in time
I do it for all y'all, do it for all y'all
Don't gotta wait long
The doctor has arrived just be patient
please, please

Friday, September 3, 2010

Preseason Polls? #HateIt

College Football returned last night, I should say that Major College football returned: my Alma mater played their first game of the season last weekend. The big boys, Football Bowl Subdivison D-I, started yesterday with a bevy of games. Ohio St vs Marshall, The U vs FAMU, Pitt vs Utah, and a couple of USC games: South Carolina vs Southern Mississippi and Southern Cal vs Hawai'i were the headliners.

I'm so happy College Football is back. Of all sports I think its my favorite (depends on the day season lol). I really do love it though. The traditions, the rivalries, the stadiums, the fans, the uniforms, the history (kinda), just about everything except the preseason polls. Ah, yea, I hate em.  They're stupid.

Every summer miscellaneous publications put out their preseason top 25 rankings. The most prominent of these are the Associated Press and USA Today. The AP poll (as well as many others) consist of writers (#norespect) while the USA today poll consist of 60 coaches (#alilrespect). In actuality the preseason polls are guesses of how well teams will do this upcoming season based on returning starters, incoming recruiting classes and bowl performance. There really isn't anything wrong with that, we all guess how well teams will do. The problem is that preseason polls become the "be all end all."

Pollsters spend so much time researching (I say that sarcastically) and constructing their preseason polls that they do their very best to stick by it as long as possible. They will not move teams until they absolutely have to (when a team loses). So every week they will have the same top 5 as long as no one loses. Even if their top teams lose they don't drop them that far. A perfect example of this is last year when BYU beat Oklahoma opening weekend. Joe Schad only moved BYU up to 13th because they weren't in his preseason poll and had Oklahoma at 12. Even though he is not an AP pollster you can imagine that some think just like him. The AP did get it right dropping OU to 13th, but really without Bradford were they the 13th best team in the nation?

This problem of sticking close to your preseason poll can also be seen in a different method. Suppose a team unranked in the preseason opens up 3-1 against "ranked" opponents while the highly ranked teams open up 4-0 against cupcakes or with 1 lose? Shouldn't the unranked team rank higher? I mean they played and beat better teams right? Wrong. Ask Miami. Last season they opened up 3-1 against 4 ranked teams and ended ranked #11 behind a team the beat (VT) and some other teams who had easier games (Cincinnati, LSU, TCU, Boise St, USC, OSU).

Then there is the issue of over ranking. If a team finishes out a season strong (few wins and a win in a bowl game) and return a few star players they are vaulted into the next seasons top 25, usually in a place they don't deserve. We saw this in '08 When UGA was ranked #1 thanks to finishing with 8 straight wins in '08, mashing Hawai'i 41-0 in the Sugar bowl and returning Knowshon Moreno and Matt Stafford. We remember how there season turned out. Some examples of teams getting over ranked last year are: USC preseason #4 finished #22, Ole Miss preseason #8 finished #20 , Oklahoma State preseason #9 finished unranked, California preseason #12 finished unranked, Florida St preseason #18 finished unranked, Norte Dame preseason #23 finished unranked. It happens every year and it leads to "upsets": #3 USC losing to Washington#5 Oklahoma State losing to Houston, #4 Ole Miss losing to South Carolina. If there weren't preseason polls those games wouldn't have been called upsets, just teams losing to teams just as good as them or better (except the SC game).

I think preseason polls should be done away with, at least in terms of importance. Its cool to have a few people write out their lists early on so we could have some hype build up, but I think the AP should put out their 1st real rankings during the season, say week 4. After teams have gotten in a few games and actually played. Then you could really say who is #1, based on play as opposed to how you picked them in the preseason. Of course it usually doesn't matter because of the early season cupcake games that "top" teams play, so you can't really gauge who is better than who because of the lack of competition but I think it would force teams to have a more interesting early schedule. This probably wont happen so all we can ask for is that the pollsters actually re-evaluate their lists every week, really go through and rank the best teams as opposed to just keeping them the same if no one has lost. We, the fans, deserve something better.