"Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel"

My new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" is the follow-up to "Illegal Procedure" and "Roughing the Passer" and is now available in print and in e-formats at amazon.com, smashwords.com and iBooks. Follow me on twitter @kevinkrest.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

MARCH MADNESS: A CLOSER LOOK AT THE SWEET SIXTEEN SINCE 2010

When top seeded Villanova was stunned by Wisconsin and second seeded Duke was surprised by South Carolina in the east region of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, one may have been led to believe that Bracket Armageddon had occurred. However, I looked back, starting in 2010, at the composition of the Sweet Sixteen and found some surprising and revealing facts.

Top Four Seeds: This year, twelve of the top sixteen teams made it to the Sweet Sixteen. That's the most of any year in my sample. The year with the least of the top seeds advancing was 2010, when only half of them advanced to the second week. But what is really interesting, in terms of consistency, is that when the fifth seeds are included, the numbers are very similar from season to season. The most of the top five seeds to get to the Sweet Sixteen is still twelve, but at least ten have advance every year since 2010.

Eleventh Seeds: Teams seeded in this spot have advanced to the Sweet Sixteen an astounding nine times in the past eight seasons. That's more than any other spot outside the top four seeds. This leaves me wondering if for some reason, the committee is missing the boat on this particular seed line. But what it really tells me is that despite us feeling like there are more upsets in any particular year, it's actually pretty constant from season to season.

The Bottom of the Field: I commented during my last couple of appearances on the "Lou in the Morning" program that I generally spend a lot more time analyzing the top seeds than I do looking at who might squeak into the field. To my point, no seed lower than an eleven has advanced to the Sweet Sixteen since 2013, when a twelve, thirteen and fifteen all made it. That's half of the total from that group to advance that far in the last eight years. So while an improbable run by a Florida Gulf Coast stays in our memory, it's primarily because of its rarity.

Number One Seeds: Only twice in the last eight years has every top seed made it through the first two rounds, and not once has more than one fallen in the same season. Again, that's an extremely consistent and interesting statistic. Therefore, Villanova's loss to Wisconsin was more the norm than the exception, with the Wildcats joining five others since 2010 to watch the second weekend from home.

 Number Two and Three Seeds: All of the two seeds have never advanced to the Sweet Sixteen, likewise with the number three's. In fact, those two seeds are more vulnerable, albeit barely, than the fours since 2010. No more than two seconds seeds have advanced since 2013 and in the last eight years, an average of just two third seeds have gotten past the second round. Whether this demonstrates parity, or a flaw in the seeding, I suspect a case could be made either way.

Number Four Seeds: Despite having to play, at least theoretically, tougher teams, the fours have more success in getting to the Sweet Sixteen than the seeds above them. All of the number fours have advance twice, the same number as the top seeds, both instances occurring in the last four years. Over that time, only one less four has advanced than the top seeds. My point is that even though a lot is made about being a top seed, it hasn't been that big an advantage in the most recent tournaments.

The challenge going forward of course is to determine that single number one that's going to get knocked out by an eight or nine, and trying to predict the couple of twos or threes that will advance. As you can see from these numbers, Warren Buffett is no fool when it comes to offering a hefty bounty for anyone that can successfully predict the first 48 games. It's no easy task, and virtually impossible from a statistical perspective.

Hear my recent interview with legendary sports agent Leigh Steinberg, where we discussed his agency, concussions, franchise relocation and philanthropy at http://thechtonsports.com/cold-hard-truth-sports-radio-show-1242017/

Also listen to our conversation with author and sports journalist Mike Carey, as we discussed his latest book "Bad News" about Marvin Barnes and reminisced about Mike's coverage of the Boston Celtics during their glory years with Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Danny Ainge and Robert Parish. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/golongmedia/2017/02/08/the-cold-hard-truth-on-sports-radio-show

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" at  Amazon.com and listen to me Friday's at 8:40 am EDT/ 7:40 am CDT on Lou in the Morning, streaming live on www.WPFLradio.com, 105.1 FM. Also check out www.thechtonsports.com for our podcasts and live broadcast on Tuesday's at 8:30 pm EST. I can also be reached via email at kevin@pkfrazier.com.




Monday, March 13, 2017

MARCH MADNESS IN FULL SWING: SOME INTERESTING TAKES ON THE BRACKET

Sunday night saw the unveiling of yet another March Madness bracket, otherwise known as the  schedule for the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship. As I reviewed the match-ups, some interesting, and occasionally strange thoughts entered my mind.

Tulsa: A Presbyterian school is hosting the regional where the Methodists, Baptists and very possibly the Catholics will have teams in attendance. That's right, all eight teams are the guests of Tulsa, and among them are SMU and Baylor, with a chance for Providence if they get by USC in Dayton. I'll be at this regional and fully expect a multi-denominational church service to break out between games. Let's not forget that Oral Roberts University is also in the city, so even though they have no official role on the tournament, I'm sure they'll be there in spirit.

Orlando: The NCAA selection committee is either really lucky, or they're just looking for sold out venues. Florida, Florida State and Florida Gulf Coast will play at the home town of Disney World, Universal Studios and Sea World. For residents of the state that have tired of trips to Orlando, the presence of three of the five Florida teams in the tournament at a single venue should get them to make the drive up or down I-4. Compare that with Virginia Tech, Wisconsin and Notre Dame having to shuffle off to Buffalo for their first round games.

Salt Lake City: In the SAT/ACT bracket, Northwestern makes its first NCAA tournament appearance against Vanderbilt. With the number of sports media members that are graduates of the Evanston, IL school, I'd expect there to be a large contingent of them in attendance. They'll either be there to cheer on their Wildcats, or if we can believe the reports of impending layoffs at ESPN, to hand out resumes.

Buffalo: Notre Dame and Villanova could be joined by a third Catholic school, Mount St. Mary's to make it an unfair fight against Princeton, founded by Presbyterians a few years before Dick Vitale began annoying college basketball fans. I'm surprised they didn't move this regional after Syracuse was shocked to be left out of the field with a stellar mark of 18 - 15, with only two of those wins coming away from their beloved Carrier Dome.

Greenville: When the NCAA decided to punish the State of North Carolina for their controversial LGBT law, they must have been left with a difficult task of finding another city that started with Green and an arena that could host basketball games. The State of Arkansas sent in a couple of candidates: Greenland and Green Forest. With a combined population of a little over 4,000, the reasoning was that there would plenty of room for the fans. But ultimately, in what I understand was a tight vote, the committee decided on the South Carolina town a couple hours from Greensboro. Unfortunately, North Carolinians attempting to make the trip will be stopped at the border and sent north. Hey, I don't make the rules. I'm just the messenger.

Indianapolis: In a rare move, all residents of the city will exchange places with those living in Lexington and Louisville for the weekend. That way all of those University of Kentucky and University of Louisville fans will have a place to stay, and the Indiana fans won't have to drive around trying to figure out where the Hoosiers aren't playing. In an unprecedented show of flexibility, the NCAA has also included Cincinnati as an alternative destination, as there will probably be some Northern Kentucky University fans making the trip, as long as they can edge their gold and black vehicles into the long line of blue and red heading to Indiana.


Hear my recent interview with legendary sports agent Leigh Steinberg, where we discussed his agency, concussions, franchise relocation and philanthropy at http://thechtonsports.com/cold-hard-truth-sports-radio-show-1242017/

Also listen to our conversation with author and sports journalist Mike Carey, as we discussed his latest book "Bad News" about Marvin Barnes and reminisced about Mike's coverage of the Boston Celtics during their glory years with Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Danny Ainge and Robert Parish. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/golongmedia/2017/02/08/the-cold-hard-truth-on-sports-radio-show

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" at  Amazon.com and listen to me Friday's at 8:40 am EDT/ 7:40 am CDT on Lou in the Morning, streaming live on www.WPFLradio.com, 105.1 FM. Also check out www.thechtonsports.com for our podcasts and live broadcast on Tuesday's at 8:30 pm EST. I can also be reached via email at kevin@pkfrazier.com.




Thursday, March 9, 2017

MARCH MADNESS IN FULL SWING ALREADY: DOWN GOES KANSAS

Hear my recent interview with legendary sports agent Leigh Steinberg, where we discussed his agency, concussions, franchise relocation and philanthropy at http://thechtonsports.com/cold-hard-truth-sports-radio-show-1242017/

Also listen to our conversation with author and sports journalist Mike Carey, as we discussed his latest book "Bad News" about Marvin Barnes and reminisced about Mike's coverage of the Boston Celtics during their glory years with Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Danny Ainge and Robert Parish. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/golongmedia/2017/02/08/the-cold-hard-truth-on-sports-radio-show

TCU on the Rise? There have been relatively few upsets so far in the conference tournaments, but TCU's 85 -82 defeat of Kansas was the biggest to date. Jamie Dixon left a relatively healthy Pittsburgh team to coach at his alma mater and try to bring them some basketball success, something they've had very little of in the past. To put things in perspective, the Horned Frogs' six league wins are the most since joining the conference. So even though Kansas was playing without suspended guard Josh Jackson and his 16 point scoring average, it's still a huge win for the TCU and Dixon. What does the Jayhawks' loss mean to their NCAA Tournament seeding? Likely very litte. They'll still be seeded first in the Midwest and likely play the first two rounds in Tulsa. A fall from the first overall seed to two or three is probable, but that may not make that big of a difference. If they get through their first two games in Tulsa, then they get the regional in Kansas City, a distinct advantage for the team and its fans. I don't see the committee significantly punishing them, particularly since it was a close loss and Jackson was out. The big victim here is the Big 12 tournament, also being held in Kansas City. There were over 18,000 at the TCU - Kansas game, but with the Jayhawks ousted, it's doubtful their fans will see much point in attending the rest of the tourney.

Bracketology: What's the Point? I certainly understand the various sports media outlets, particularly ESPN, Fox, CBS and Sports Illustrated attempting to predict who will get in the tournament, where they'll be seeded and even what venue they'll be playing in. But it all seems like a waste of time, especially since so much depends on what happens in not the power conference tournaments, but in the mid-majors and others. In addition, the selection committee has a lot of rules that govern the seeding and regional placements of teams, particularly those from the same conference. While the pod structure has certainly aided the committee in creating more regional balance, it forces the committee to reward the higher seeded teams by keeping them closer to home. This can have ramifications farther down the line. For instance, the Tulsa sub-region would appear to be locked into having both Kansas, a projected top seed, and Baylor, a projected number two seed at the moment, at that venue. Of course that means that by default, the committee has to send sixteen, fifteen, eight,  nine, seven and ten seeds to Tulsa. Given that Kansas is pretty much a lock for the Midwest region, that means Baylor will be placed in a different region, and so on and so on. And that's just one of eight sites. It helps somewhat that many conferences have already completed their tournaments, or will by Friday night. But you still have the power conferences and a handful of others, like the Atlantic 10 that won't be completed until Saturday night or even, in the case of the Big Ten and the SEC, on Sunday, shortly before the field is announced. It's obviously fun to speculate and prognosticate, but for me, we'll all know soon enough without wasting a lot of time on something very few people can predict.

How Many Teams Have a Chance? The NCAA field is comprised of 68 teams, all with at least a slim mathematical chance to cut down the nets in Phoenix. But how realistic is it for most of them to believe it could actually happen? Not very, if history tells us anything. Sure, we've seen some spectacular surprises, like NC State and Villanova in the 80's. We've even seen Butler make it to back to back Final Fours. But even NC State, Cinderellas as they were, came from, at the time, the top two conferences in the country. George Mason and VCU have cracked the Final Four in recent years as well, neither one making it out of the semifinals. And even last season, Syracuse got hot and made it all the way through as a regional champ. But those cases are rare, and if you're filling in brackets, it's probably wise to stay primarily with favorites. The last couple of seasons, I've finished in the top 3.5% of the ESPN bracket challenge, and that's submitting a single bracket. It's generally wise to stay with the top two seeds in a region, unless for some reason one feels the committee really missed the boat. Historically, the winners come from the Power Five conferences, and the Big East, evidenced by Villanova's and UConn's recent successes. Early upsets are fun, but you rarely see a team that can truly contend for the national championship go out before the Sweet Sixteen. So my belief is that there are probably twelve to fourteen teams with a legitimate shot to win it all. They will all be at least a four seed, and most likely a three or higher. Is there potentially more depth than normal this year because of a lot of parity in the major conferences? I don't think so. In fact, there are probably less really good teams than normal, with the SEC a great example. Kentucky is at the top of the league, but they're young and vulnerable. Florida is second, and I wouldn't count them as a powerhouse. The real strength lies out west, with Gonzaga, UCLA, Arizona and Oregon virtually unknown east of the Mississippi, but all of which I would have to count as teams with a good shot at the. One thing's for certain, a perfect bracket is hard to come by, but a perfect Final Four pick is possible.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" at  Amazon.com and listen to me Friday's at 8:40 am EDT/ 7:40 am CDT on Lou in the Morning, streaming live on www.WPFLradio.com, 105.1 FM. Also check out www.thechtonsports.com for our podcasts and live broadcast on Tuesday's at 8:30 pm EST. I can also be reached via email at kevin@pkfrazier.com.




Wednesday, February 8, 2017

WEDNESDAY MUSINGS: TIGER TAKES A STEP BACK, PHIL JACKSON POKES AT MELO, MARCH MADNESS AROUND THE CORNER

Hear my recent interview with legendary sports agent Leigh Steinberg, where we discussed his agency, concussions, franchise relocation and philanthropy at http://thechtonsports.com/cold-hard-truth-sports-radio-show-1242017/

Also listen to our conversation with author and sports journalist Mike Carey, as we discussed his latest book "Bad News" about Marvin Barnes and reminisced about Mike's coverage of the Boston Celtics during their glory years with Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Danny Ainge and Robert Parish. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/golongmedia/2017/02/08/the-cold-hard-truth-on-sports-radio-show

Tiger Done? After last week's withdrawal from the Dubai Desert Classic, it would appear that Tiger Woods may be facing a much more difficult road back to respectability on the PGA Tour. His back spasms that forced him out of the tournament were much less troublesome to me than than his birdieless five over 77 in the first round. I was always a bit perplexed by his decision to play in a tournament that required a lengthy trip, given his back issues and the strain that can put on your body. I traveled internationally for many years, and it's pretty tough to perform at a high level when you're dealing with jet lag and other pressures. But unlike the PGA Tour, the European Tour allows for payment of appearance fees, so there were other motivations at play here. Unlike at Torre Pines and the Hero Challenge before that, Tiger didn't seem to have much focus and showed a lot more rust by failing to make putts and give himself any chance at at decent score. He has a couple of weeks to regroup and get back in the States, but a west coast start followed by one in Florida will test his 41 year-old body, even if he does travel by private jet. From what I've seen so far, I'd have to say it's extremely unlikely for the former world number one to contend for a tournament title this year. But I also hope I'm wrong.

Too Much Drama in the Big Apple: The New York Knicks seem to be farther away from relevance than when Phil Jackson and his eight figure salary took over basketball side of the franchise. His recent denigration of Carmelo Anthony, who Jackson himself granted a no-cut contract extension, is not quite as baffling as one might believe. On ESPN's Mike and Mike Show this morning, the thought was expressed that Phil might be trying to make life so difficult for Melo that he would accept a trade that he might otherwise reject. The rumor that the Cleveland Cavaliers would be willing to part with Kevin Love to acquire one of Lebron James' closest friends is patently absurd. Love has proven to be a valued member of a triplet of players, along with Kyrie Irving and James, that accounts for a reliable 70 points a night, not to mention bushels of assists and rebounds. All Carmelo Anthony brings to the table is the propensity to shoot the ball, and not always that well. He plays no defense and brings no ball distribution skills. Adding him to the Cavs without giving up Love might  make sense, especially in the absence of injured JR Smith. If Jackson can't find a home for Anthony, there is almost no way he can rebuild the Knicks. If he can find a home for Anthony, there is almost no way he can rebuild the Knicks. It seems to me the one person they need to move away from isn't Carmelo Anthony, but instead it's Phil Jackson.

Let the Madness Begin: It's barely the second week in February and this past weekend felt like an upset laden first day in the NCAA tournament. Six of the top ten teams lost on Saturday alone. The selection committee will be making periodic releases of where they are leaning for the top four seeds in each region. I recommend that they get a bunch of Etch-a-Sketches because judging from this past week, those seeds will be changing more than the choice of sport coat by the late, great Craig Sager. This just may be the most tumultuous season in recent memory, which speaks to two issues, one positive and one not so much. First, there's incredible parity among the top teams in men's basketball. Talent, for the most part, is spread around regardless of conference or geography. I can't help but believe that part of that is coming from a somewhat diminished desire to play football, with more athletes opting for other sports, primarily basketball. Most high school players compete in multiple sports, with the most talented getting opportunities to make a choice of which one to follow into college and ultimately the pros. Which brings me to the second reason for some unpredictability and inconsistency of some top teams, and that's the one and done rule imposed on the college ranks from the NBA. Top players are barred from advancing directly to the NBA from high school, so they have to go to class for a semester and audition on their college team for a spot in the pros. College coaches are forced, in a way, to promise these top players playing time immediately or run the risk of not signing them. But basketball is a team game, and showcasing an individual at the expense of the team runs counter to the philosophy of the sport. How long did it take Lebron James to become a distributor as well as a scorer? John Calipari has seemed to master both the recruiting and coaching aspect of embracing the rule, but even his teams can be inconsistent as a result. I believe the rule will eventually be challenged in court and changed, but until it is and since football is facing an uphill battle regarding brain injuries, college basketball fans will be entertained with uncertainty and upsets.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" at  Amazon.com and listen to me Friday's at 8:40 am EDT/ 7:40 am CDT on Lou in the Morning, streaming live on www.WPFLradio.com, 105.1 FM. Also check out www.thechtonsports.com for our podcasts and live broadcast on Tuesday's at 8:30 pm EST. I can also be reached via email at kevin@pkfrazier.com.




Wednesday, January 25, 2017

WEDNESDAY MUSINGS: MUSBERGER HEADING TO VEGAS, ROETHLISBERGER NURSING HIS WOUNDS, JAMES LOOKING FOR HELP, TIGER'S BACK

Hear my recent interview with legendary sports agent Leigh Steinberg, where we discussed his agency, concussions, franchise relocation and philanthropy at http://thechtonsports.com/cold-hard-truth-sports-radio-show-1242017/

Also listen to our conversation with author and sports journalist Mike Carey, as we discussed his latest book "Bad News" about Marvin Barnes and reminisced about Mike's coverage of the Boston Celtics during their glory years with Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Danny Ainge and Robert Parish. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/golongmedia/2017/02/08/the-cold-hard-truth-on-sports-radio-show

Brent Musberger Leaving Play By Play Duties: I was a freshman in college in 1975 and the first weekend at school was the beginning of the NFL season. As Redskins fans, my dorm mates and I huddled around a small black and white television to tune into what we thought would be another boring pre-game show on CBS, at that time the network that broadcast the NFC games. But instead, we heard a new voice say "You're looking live at RFK Stadium in Washington, DC" and instantly knew something very different was happening and 12:30 pm on Sundays would never be the same. Musberger, along with Irv Cross and former Miss America Phyllis George brought an entertainment aspect to the program that mesmerized the nation. The host was young, dynamic, smart and captivating. Irv Cross brought a player's perspective and Phyllis George brought, well, Phyllis George. One year later, Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder would be the first to actually pick games against the spread, something we take for granted today. The groundbreaking show was our introduction to one of the most enduring sports broadcasting figures in history. Today, ESPN announced that Tuesday night's Kentucky - Georgia basketball game on the SEC Network would be the last broadcast for legendary announcer Brent Musberger. Whether it was football, tennis, basketball, baseball or golf, Musberger brought something special to the big events on CBS until he was fired in 1990. He didn't miss a beat, quickly ending up at ABC and shortly thereafter on ESPN as part of the Disney tandem of networks. When I think of iconic broadcasters, it's a pretty short list. Vin Scully, Pat Summerall, Keith Jackson, Al Michaels, Verne Lundquist and Brent Musberger immediately come to mind. Initially, he added tremendous value to the network for his ability to pitch prime time programming, making each new show sound like the one that would literally change your life. Later, it was his preparation and professionalism that were particularly noticeable to me. Put me at a table with Keith, Al, Verne, Brent, Vin and a couple of bottles of wine and I wouldn't wish for anything else for the rest of my life. The stories those guys could tell must be amazing. But unlike Keith Jackson and Vin Scully, Musberger isn't retiring, but instead heading to Las Vegas to start a sports handicapping business. I guess he must have learned some secrets from Jimmy The Greek way back in the day, huh?

Big Ben Hinting At Retirement? Is Pittsburgh Steeler quarterback Ben Roethlisberger just frustrated and banged up after his team's loss to the New England Patriots in the AFC championship game, or is there more afoot here? Big Ben recently stated that he was going to reflect on this past season and  ponder the next one, if there was one. Given the amount of punishment Roethlisberger has endured over the course of his thirteen year career, it's not inconceivable that he could be pondering retirement. In an interview that I conducted with Leigh Steinberg earlier this week, he laid out a very grim picture of the damage repeated hits to the head inflict. With three young children, probably a pretty secure financial situation and his still moderately good health, is there really any reason for the two-time Super Bowl champ to return for more physical punishment? Only he knows the answer to that question, but it really wouldn't surprise me if Big Ben decided to hang it up. In a recent article in "Sports Illustrated", Roethlisberger was portrayed as someone who tolerated more than sought the spotlight. If his competitive drive has been diminished, what else does he need to prove? His resume is probably already worthy of consideration for the Hall of Fame. Is the preparation necessary to get ready for another grueling 16 game season worth placing himself at risk for serious personal injury?

Help Wanted: Backup Guard for Lebron James: Apparently, Cleveland Cavalier great Lebron James is a bit frustrated that his team has lost four of their last six games, with the superstar forced to play excessive minutes in the process. Before the season, you see, guard Matthew Dellavedova accepted a nice offer from the Milwaukee Bucks and since then small forward J.R. Smith has gone down with an injury, leaving only Kyrie Irving and Lebron to distribute the basketball. The trade deadline is less than a month away, but that's still plenty of time for Cavs' GM David Griffin to make a deal. I guess Lebron is wanting to make sure the guys in the front office have a clear picture of the needs of the team. Really? This is a GM that has done a pretty good job of getting the right pieces to the puzzle, including signing and keeping Kevin Love, bringing in the now injured Smith and adding a role player or two along the way. Center Chris "Birdman" Anderson, who was with The King in Miami, would have given the team better rebounding, but he's out for the season with a torn ACL. On this morning's "Mike and Mike Show" on ESPN, Stephen A. Smith was critical of James for being so public with his frustration because it would just drive up the price of any players that Griffin chose to work a trade for. I tend to agree. It's one thing to speculate what your trading partner's urgency is, another to know with certainty that they're desperate to appease the best player on the planet so they have a shot at a second consecutive title, probably having to face either the Warriors or Spurs in the Finals. My feeling is, inflated value or not, Griffin and owner Dan Gilbert will find a way to get one or more deals done to bring much needed help to ensure James gets to his seventh consecutive Finals, if not capturing another championship.

Tiger Woods: New Clubs, New Swing: Even at the age of 41, Tiger Woods is still indisputably the biggest draw in golf. It's been a year and a half since he last teed it up in an official tour event, and you'd think from today's coverage that he was the only guy in the field. Regular readers of my blog will know I'm unabashedly a huge Woods fan, primarily because I focus on action on the course, field and court. The former number one in the world and winner of fourteen majors brings a new swing and a new club sponsor to Torre Pines for the Farmer's Insurance Open. Woods announced today that he has signed with Taylor Made to play their metal woods, irons and wedges. He'll continue to wear his Tiger Woods branded Nike apparel, but the deal has to be a shot in the arm for Taylor Made. The clubs aren't the only thing new about his game. Tiger's swing is clearly less violent, which should place significantly less stress on his surgically repaired back. I'm not expecting a lot from Woods this week, a made cut probably the most he can hope for, if for no other reason than to be able to get four competitive rounds under his belt. He tees off at 1:40 pm EST Thursday, and I'm betting The Golf Channel alters their coverage to make sure his first tee shot is shown live. Nothing against Jordan, Jason, Dustin, Rory, Justins (Rose and Thomas) and the other young guns, but it's good to have Tiger Woods back on tour.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" at  Amazon.com and listen to me Friday's at 8:40 am EDT/ 7:40 am CDT on Lou in the Morning, streaming live on www.WPFLradio.com, 105.1 FM. I can also be reached via email at kevin@pkfrazier.com.




Monday, January 16, 2017

COLLEGE FOOTBALL RECAP: ACC BETTER THAN THE SEC, AT LEAST FOR NOW?

It's been an entire week since the College Football national championship game, won in scintillating fashion by Clemson. The Tigers finished the season the way they started, by defeating an SEC West team from the state of Alabama. That's a pretty good way to bookend the season, especially given the SEC's dominance in the recent past. Since 1992 and the advent of at least a partial attempt to pit the top two teams together in a championship game, the SEC has a total of 17 appearances, with twelve wins, including seven straight from 2006 to 2012 What's even more impressive is that those appearances are spread out over five teams, all of which played in at least two of those games. Only the Big 12 had more than two teams represented, and one of those was Nebraska, now in the Big Ten. Of course, these results are skewed in a way, because until the advent of the BCS in 1998, the Big Ten and the Pac-12 didn't participate, choosing instead to maintain their annual meeting in the Rose Bowl. Nonetheless, it's still an impressive showing by SEC teams.

The last four years have painted a little different picture. Suddenly, the ACC, after over a decade of absence from the championship game (remember, Miami was in the Big East when it made its last appearance following the 2002 season), has had a resurgence, tying the SEC with three appearances and one-upping them with two championships. In addition, this past season saw the ACC run up a record of 10 - 4 against the SEC, winning an impressive four out of five in the postseason. What does this say about the relative strength of the two leagues? Since I have close ties to both Virginia Tech and Arkansas, I tend to watch a lot of games involving teams from both conferences. My take is that the SEC just had a bit of a down year, while the ACC is benefiting from longer tenured coaches or in the case of Virginia Tech, new energy at a solid program. Teams like Ole Miss and Mississippi State that had seen their programs rise recently in both talent and results, were in more of a rebuilding year. Unlike Alabama and LSU, and to a lesser extent Florida, which tend to reload rather than rebuild, the other schools in the conference tend to ride a couple of decent recruiting classes to three or four successful seasons before having to replace key players. This is especially true of Mississippi State, which had to replace an almost singular talent in Dak Prescott. We need look no further than the rookie QB's performance with Dallas this season to appreciate what he brought to Starkville. 
The SEC East was breaking in new coaches at key schools like Georgia, South Carolina and Missouri. LSU, meanwhile, was dealing with the circus surrounding their handling of the Les Miles era.

I believe the anomaly isn't so much that the ACC is more competitive against the SEC, it's that it was off the radar from a national perspective for much of the first decade of the new millenium. Mark Richt's presence at Miami, what Dabo Swinney is doing for a traditionally strong program at Clemson, Jimbo Fisher's commitment to keep Florida State in the spotlight, Bobby Petrino's always dangerous offense at Louisville, the aforementioned revitalization of Virginia Tech under Justin Fuente and the always difficult offensive scheme of Paul Johnson at Georgia Tech have all emerged to bring the ACC back to national prominence. I also believe that the ACC is making a better effort, at least at the top, of focusing more on improving their out of conference schedules. The addition of Notre Dame's commitment to play five ACC teams every season, bolsters, at least on paper, the pedigree of the ACC. For instance, in addition to Notre Dame, Virginia Tech took on Tennessee in the Battle at Bristol. Clemson opened at Auburn and finished the season against South Carolina. Pittsburgh took on Penn State and Oklahoma State, while North Carolina played Georgia and Illinois to open the season. True, Boston College, Syracuse and some others played embarrassingly weak non-conference slates, but half the SEC did as well.

Can and will the SEC bounce back? Every indication from the past would point to yes. Arkansas, with Bret Bielema in the final year of his contract, should be better with a full season under QB Austin Allen's belt. Missouri, with its strong football tradition, will probably rebound in Barry Odom's second season, building on a season ending win over Arkansas. Will Muschamp at South Carolina and Kirby Smart at Georgia will be in their second year, while Tennessee's Butch Jones will be looking for a way to build on a season that, while not up to early expectations, ended on a positive note with a bowl win over a tough Nebraska team. With just over seven and a half months (but who's counting?) until the 2017 kickoff, we still have a lot of time to speculate. One thing is certain, though, when it comes to the SEC. Alabama is king of the hill, and at the moment it's a long way down the closest challenger!

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" at  Amazon.com and listen to me Friday's at 8:40 am EDT/ 7:40 am CDT on Lou in the Morning, streaming live on www.WPFLradio.com, 105.1 FM. I can also be reached via email at kevin@pkfrazier.com.






Thursday, January 12, 2017

LOS ANGELES RAMS GO YOUNG AT HEAD COACH: NOT A GREAT IDEA

The Los Angeles Rams have hired 30 year old Sean McVay, most recently the offensive coordinator for the Washington Redskins, as their head coach. McVay will be the youngest head coach in the history of game. With the track record of young coaches, it appears that McVay will have a difficult time getting the Rams back to respectability. If reports are to be believed, he will need to build a coaching staff that can do a better job of developing quarterbacks, including L.A.'s top pick last year, Jared Goff, who wasn't even active for much of last season. Can a 30 year-old command the kind of respect necessary to manage and motivate 53 professional football players? Recent history would indicate that he probably can't.

Lane Kiffin took over the Oakland Raiders at the age of 31 after a 2 - 14 season. Granted, it was the Raiders, still run by an aging Al Davis who had a propensity for hiring young coaches through the years, including John Madden and Jon Gruden. But Kiffin failed miserably, going 5 - 15 in less than two seasons and has been bouncing around the coaching ranks ever since.

Raheem  Morris was tapped to replace Jon Gruden in Tampa Bay following the 2008 season in which the Bucs finished a respectable 9 - 7. Despite taking over a pretty good team, the 32 year-old Morris could only manage one winning season while going 17 - 31 in three years at the helm.

Back in 1993, Cincinnati hoped to get more out of the Shula name by hiring 32 year-old Dave as their head coach. He inherited a team that had gone 3 - 13 the previous season and even though he bettered that record twice in his tenure with the Bengals, he exited with an overall record of 19 - 52 with his best season a mediocre 7 - 9 in 1995.

Another 32 year-old, Josh McDaniels, followed a long tenure by Mike Shanahan in Denver after the fourteen year head coach was fired following an 8 - 8 season. Despite inheriting a decent team, McDaniels was unable to find success and was fired twelve games into his second season after going 3 - 9 for a two year record of 11 - 17. McDaniels has since found success with the New England Patriots as their offensive coordinator and is reported to be in the running for another head coaching opportunity.

Combined, the four previous youngest head coaches had a combined 62 - 115 record, with only one winning season between them in nine full years and three partial seasons. With the recent history of young coaches being so brutally bad, why would the Rams think they can break the mold? Perhaps in this day and age, there's a perception that experience doesn't matter. But that perception clearly doesn't match the stark reality of a 35% winning percentage. The other thing that is interesting is that only one of these coaches was given more than three seasons to turn things around, indicating to me that there could have been other issues in play. Could it have been lack of maturity and leadership? You think?

I'm not advocating some archaic good old boys' network requiring people to "pay their dues" for inclusion in the head coaching fraternity. I'm just saying that the track record of coaches thirty-two and younger is drastically different than those thirty-four and older. Take a look at the next four youngest coaches that took over since 1990.

Jon Gruden at the age 34, now ESPN's Monday Night Football analyst, turned around the Oakland Raiders in 1998 after a 4 - 12 season in 1997. His record was a respectable 38 - 26 before leaving for Tampa Bay, where he won a Super Bowl against his former team in his first season with the Bucs. He won two more NFC South titles in Tampa before getting fired and finding his way to the broadcast booth.

When Chuck Noll retired in 1992, the Pittsburgh Steelers brought in 34 year-old Bill Cowher to add new life to a team that went 7 - 9 in 1991. Did he ever, winning five division crowns in his first six seasons and getting to the Super Bowl following the 1995 campaign, losing to the Dallas Cowboys. Cowher retired after fifteen seasons, compiling an impressive 149 - 90 -1 record and winning Super Bowl XL.

Coincidentally, Cowher was succeeded by another 34 year-old, current Steeler head coach Mike Tomlin. All Tomlin has done is go 104 - 57 with a Super Bowl title and no losing seasons. Pittsburgh takes on Kansas City this weekend, with the Patriots looming in the AFC title game.

Also at the age of 34, Eric Mangini inherited a 4 - 12 Jets team in 2006 and went 10 -6 in his first season in New York (well, New Jersey technically, but...). He lasted three years and compiled a respectable 23 - 25 record while adding another winning record.

So the contrast is rather dramatic, although it could be argued that the Steelers are one of the top organizations in the league, which gives Cowher and Tomlin a bit of an edge. But the sample size here is large enough to offer up what seems to be a clear differentiation between thirty-two and younger versus thirty-four and older. Which leads me predict that unless something radically changes in Los Angeles, we're likely to see Sean McVay back in the press box calling plays for another team in a two or three years.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" at  Amazon.com and listen to me Friday's at 8:40 am EDT/ 7:40 am CDT on Lou in the Morning, streaming live on www.WPFLradio.com, 105.1 FM. I can also be reached via email at kevin@pkfrazier.com.