"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.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

THE NCAA; WHAT SHOULD THEY REALLY BE DOING?

The decision earlier this week by the NCAA to allow satellite football camps for high school students and college football coaches is a reversal of a ruling earlier in the month that disallowed the camps. Reportedly, the initial decision was urged by a few power conference schools that seemed to think that by running the camps, they were enabling their competitor schools to possibly pull recruits from their grasp. It's a shame that the very organization whose sole purpose should be to promote college athletics and benefit student-athletes has instead become a money machine and protector of the high revenue schools and conferences. The NCAA and its member schools have a television contract for their basketball tournament that generates around $1 Billion, yes, that's with a B, alone. Ticket sales for the tournament are probably in the $60 - 100 million range, more than enough to run the event. By my calculations, the cost of scholarships for all 351 Division 1 men's basketball programs, assuming an average of $40,000 cost of attendance, is in the area or $160 million. That leaves a lot of money for everyone but the student-athletes. I've previously blogged about this from the football perspective, and the math isn't much different.

My point is, there certainly seems to be a lot of money generated that doesn't appear to have a specific purpose for dissemination. Which brings me back to the sattelite camp issue. My proposal is that the NCAA organize and fund the camps. There are a lot of benefits to this idea. First, it takes any ownership and funding out of control of individual schools. If the NCAA is really concerned about some schools gaining an advantage over others, then why not give every student-athlete and every school the same opportunities? If the camps are held regionally, they could be virtual combine types of gatherings, minimizing travel issues and costs. Depending on the number of camps, perhaps coaches and athletes could attend up to a certain number or the NCAA could offer travel money to kids that can't afford the cost of attendance. I'd much rather like to see the NCAA engage in that type of activity than spending money making and enforcing arbitrary and seemingly unnecessary regulations.

If the organization can't use its extensive funds to add value for student-athletes, then I strongly recommend that the NCAA is disbanded and we find some other way to manage the activities of college athletics, including organizing and running championship events. It just seems like the current version is bloated and intent on spending  a lot of money on unnecessary activities, including staffing, travel and enforcement. I'd rather see funds spent on research for football and lacrosse safety, ways to educate student-athletes on life after competition, programs on domestic violence prevention or any number of other positive activities. Is is easy? Absolutely not. But the money is getting out of control, whether it be contributions from boosters or salaries for high profile coaches. There are a lot of ways to spend money for the benefit of student-athletes without paying them. It's time the NCAA or its successor to get a little more creative.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first two, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel" and "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and SmashwordsTune into www.WPFLRADIO.com at 8:40 am EST every Friday for my Beyond the Commentary segment on "Lou in the Morning" with Lou Vickery and Jonathan McMath.





Monday, April 25, 2016

NBA AND NHL PLAYOFFS, THE NFL'S EAGLES PAYING FOR TRADING UP AND 2 1/2 INCHES OF CONTROVERSY

Capitals Take Care of the Flyers: As a Washington Capitals fan, I breathed a big sigh of relief as they finished off a 4 - 2 series win by holding on and eliminating the Philadelphia Flyers by a score of 1 - 0. The Capitals, who came into league in 1974, have never won the Stanley Cup and only have a single appearance in the Finals in their 42 year history. They have blown five 3 - 1 leads in playoff series, so it wasn't out of the realm of possibility that the Flyers would score a late goal in regulation and then force a game seven by winning in overtime. What made the win even better for the Capitals was that they were forced to fend off a two minute five players on three power play after a high-sticking penalty was called even though it was obvious by all that were watching that the Flyers' player was hit with a stick of one of his teammates. Next up for the Caps is the Pittsburgh Penguins, another matchup between the Caps' Alex Ovechkin and the Penguins' Sidney Crosby. If it wasn't the NHL, we'd probably be thinking that the series winner would be a shoe-in for the Finals. It looks like a couple of more weeks of elevated blood pressure readings.

Steph Curry Out Two Weeks...At Least: It probably won't make much difference in the current series between the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets, but 2015 MVP Steph Curry of the Warriors is sidelined for a minimum of two weeks with a sprained MCL. With the Clippers and probably the Spurs, or even the Thunder looming, this can't be good news for the Warriors. Injuries are part of the game, but there is no player more valuable to their team than Curry, except possibly Lebron James with the Cleveland Cavaliers. His three-point prowess and passing ability make him almost impossible to replace. For a team with 73 regular season wins and a 3 - 1 series advantage over the Rockets, perhaps they'll have time to adapt to his absence. I wasn't particularly optimistic about the Warriors repeating even with Curry in the lineup, so this is probably a pretty big blow to their chances. Curry was already nursing a bum ankle, so his injury issues could definitely linger even if he makes it back and Golden State advances to the conference finals. It's too bad if he is diminished, because I would love to see a healthy Cavalier squad try to change the outcome they experienced last year in the Finals against the Warriors.

Sam Bradford Asks to be Traded: The Philadelphia Eagles traded up in this week's NFL draft, giving up a king's ransom, presumably to draft a quarterback. The only problem is, if you're Sam Bradford and were expecting to be the starting signal caller, you might feel a bit disrespected by the entire affair. Well, Bradford confirmed that today by declining to participate in offseason workouts and asking to be traded. Really? Who does this guy think he is, Joe Montana, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers? He can barely stay healthy for consecutive offensive series, much less make demands. He's getting paid $36 million for two years, with $22 million guaranteed. He's never led a team to the playoffs and is still reaping the benefits of a long-ago Heisman Trophy and solid rookie season. Is he insane? How many sucker general managers does he believe there are in the NFL? I mean really, what team is going to eat that contract for an oft-injured, inconsistent, barely pro  caliber quarterback? He's thrown 78 TD passes and 51 interceptions with a 60% completion percentage and 6.4 yards per attempt for his career. Just because his ego was stroked with a misguided, overblown contract with the Eagles doesn't change who he is and what he is. I say he needs to shut up, get to practice and cash his checks. Oh, and he'll probably want to put most of it in the bank, because there's a good chance it's his last contract unless he can start winning football games.

Advertising Patch Kids: The National Basketball Association recently announced that they would be selling a 2 1/2 square inch  patch on players' uniforms to prospective advertisers. Why wouldn't they? FIFA, the ruling body of soccer, sells not just jerseys, but entire franchises to commercial interests. The NFL sells every right from soft drinks, to beer, to rental cars, to shoes, well, you get the picture. But the NBA is catching all sorts of push back on the uniform patch. It's totally ridiculous that the media and fans are even paying attention to this development. However, since it seems to be such a big deal, I'll chime in. First of all, the job of any commissioner is to increase the value of the league, including what the individual franchises are worth. How many of you actually watch commercials during a game broadcast? My guess is not a lot. Most of you probably DVR every game and fast forward through every ad. So with diminished viewing of commercials, why wouldn't the league and advertisers look for ways to get their message across that isn't bypassed by viewers? Are fans actually going to stop watching the games because there's a small patch of advertising on the jerseys? No chance.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first two, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel" and "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and SmashwordsTune into www.WPFLRADIO.com at 8:40 am EST every Friday for my Beyond the Commentary segment on "Lou in the Morning" with Lou Vickery and Jonathan McMath.





Saturday, April 23, 2016

ESPN DELIVERS WITH A GREAT 30 FOR 30

I just finished watching a terrific documentary by ESPN on the Buffalo Bills teams that advanced to four consecutive Super Bowls and failed to come away with any victories in the ultimate game of their sport. It features appearances by Jim Kelly, Scott Norwood, Darrell Talley, Bruce Smith, Thurman Thomas, Andre Reed, Steve Tasker, Don Beebe, Frank Reich, former head coach Marv Levy and former General Manager Bill Polian. It's a well produced and poignant look back at a team that has, over time, become much more appreciated for what they accomplished. It also does a great job of characterizing the city of Buffalo as a community that embraces its team and appreciates the efforts of the Bills players.

Personally, I have some particular attachments to that Bills team. First of all, Bruce Smith played for Virginia Tech, my alma mater. Smith is also from the Tidewater area of Virginia, where I grew up. I remember, during my last year at Tech, my roommate and trainer on the football team informed me that the Hokies had recruited a kid from Norfolk that could change the face of the program. Little did I realize at the time how prophetic it was. I attended handful of games during his tenure in Blacksburg and watched him single-handedly dismantle opponents' offensive schemes. Bruce Smith went on to win the Outland Trophy as the best lineman in college football, get chosen as the first player in the NFL draft and get elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. A few years ago, I got the opportunity to hear Frank Reich, who quarterbacked the biggest comebacks in both college and NFL history, speak at a luncheon in Northwest Arkansas. Reich at that time was in ministry, but has since returned to coaching. Much of his inspirational message was based on how the Bills continued to fight in face of adversity, and a lot of that same theme is apparent in the 30 for 30 episode.

The show got me thinking about the significance of what those Bills teams accomplished. They won four consecutive AFC titles, a difficult feat in and of itself. That means they not only qualified for the playoffs in each of those seasons, but they also had to navigate through a difficult postseason schedule four years in a row. Granted, they are one of only two franchises to advance to four Super Bowls without a win, the other being the Minnesota Vikings. But they are also one of only nine teams to get to four Super Bowls. The Lions, Browns, Jaguars and Texans have never even been to a single one, while the Eagles, Titans, Bengals, Panthers, Falcons and Chargers are still without a Super Bowl crown. The last time the Chiefs made the Big Game was 1970, the Jets the year before. The Dolphins haven't been since Dan Marino's rookie season in 1984, and the formerly mentioned Chargers, Falcons and Cardinals have only made one appearance.

My point here is that the Bills have been roundly criticized and even ridiculed for going 0 for four years, but that grossly diminishes their accomplishment of making it to the Super Bowl for four consecutive seasons. There are a lot of players, as pointed out in the show, that never made it to the Super Bowl. That list includes current and future Hall of Famers like Chris Carter, Dan Fouts, Eric Dickerson and Tony Gonzalez. It's easy for people that aren't in the game to take pot shots at those that are, but if you've never played the sport and experienced what it takes to excel at the highest level, then it's probably best to keep your mouth shut. I highly recommend watching the 30 for 30 episode "Four Falls" to gain a great appreciation for a very special team.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first two, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel" and "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and SmashwordsTune into www.WPFLRADIO.com at 8:40 am EST every Friday for my Beyond the Commentary segment on "Lou in the Morning" with Lou Vickery and Jonathan McMath.





Friday, April 22, 2016

WEEKEND MUSINGS: NBA PLAYOFFS HEAT UP, TIGER GETS CAUGHT ON VIDEO, THE NFL DRAFT APPROACHES

Warriors Can't Pull Out a Close One: Without guard Steph Curry to take the last shot, the Golden State Warriors turned the ball over with a second left in Game 2 of their NBA Western Conference playoff series and lost by a point to a resurgent Houston Rockets team. Does this mean that the defending champs are in trouble against a team that barely showed up for two games in Oakland? Probably not, but it certainly underscores Curry's importance to the Warriors. Although they still took a late lead, Golden State didn't look particularly in sync offensively and the Rockets' James Harden had far too much room to operate against the Warriors' defense. Fortunately, Curry will have an extra day of rest for his injured foot/ankle, as Game 4 isn't scheduled until Sunday. The loss also gives us a glimpse of how fragile the Warriors' jump shooting style may be as they move forward in the playoffs. The play is rougher, less fouls get called and unlike last season, Golden State has already been affected by an injury, much like their opponents during last year's run to the title. And much like UNC's defensive lapse that allowed Villanova to get an open look at the game-winner in the NCAA championship game, Golden State allowed Harden to take the ball into the lane, push off and nail a jumper to give the Rockets the lead with 2.7 seconds left. Somehow, I get the feeling this isn't going to be 2015 all over again.

Cavaliers Look Brilliant in Game 2: After beating an inspired Pistons team by five points in Game 1, the Cleveland Cavaliers spread the ball around and eventually showed just how powerful they can be with healthy Lebron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving playing together and with purpose. I've said all season that I felt the Cavs were wrongly dismissed as a worthy contender after losing to the Warriors in six games last year. After all, Love and Irving sat out the finals and Lebron was still able to will his team to a two games to one advantage before falling short, most likely from shear fatigue. The Cavs moved the ball well in Game 2, setting up Love for easy three pointers and dribble drives by Irving. Of course, there is always the Lebron factor, as his size and talent give him the ability to almost score at will. Can someone in the East defeat the Cavaliers in a seven game series? If they stay healthy, it's unlikely. The bigger question is can someone slow them down enough to take a couple of games and wear them down a bit prior to The Finals. Once again, it's unlikely. You can join me on the Lebron, Kevin and Kyrie bandwagon anytime. You'll have about six weeks to jump on board.

Spurs Beating Up on the Diminished Grizzlies: As good as the Spurs are, it's tough to tell how well they're playing because their opponent is so physically beaten up. It's too bad, because the Grizzlies are gritty and fun to watch as they battle for wins. But it's a pretty fair bet that the Spurs will sweep the series and be well rested for the Thunder series.

Tiger's Return Imminent? After video was released showing Tiger Woods ripping drivers and stinger 2-irons at a clinic, speculation is that the former number one player will be returning to action sooner than had previously been thought. Is it possible that he could be ready to come back as soon as the Wells Fargo on May 5, in time for a tuneup for the Players the following week? If so, that would put him in great position to enter the U.S. Open at Oakmont in June. However, a few shots on a driving range are hardly an indication that Woods is ready for competitive golf at the highest level, but for those of us that would like to see him return to action, at least it's a positive sign. Even with the great young crop of players, no one generates the same buzz as Tiger Woods. I've been privileged to see him in action many times, including at major championships and the Players, and there is no one close in creating fan interest. Here's to a successful return for Tiger and the PGA Tour.

Big Trades Signal Interesting Draft: I'm not particularly interested in the NFL Draft, but the trades by the Rams and Eagles to get to the top two picks, presumably to take a couple of fairly mediocre quarterbacks, indicates that this year's version could be a bit more entertaining. Actually, it already has been. I think there might be some more jockeying for position, especially given the plethora of picks the Titans and Browns received when they traded down. The Browns in particular are interesting, as they try to turn around a dismal draft history and get past the Johnnie Manziel mistake. Heck, I might even tune in this year!

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first two, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel" and "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and SmashwordsTune into www.WPFLRADIO.com at 8:40 am EST every Friday for my Beyond the Commentary segment on "Lou in the Morning" with Lou Vickery and Jonathan McMath.





Tuesday, April 19, 2016

TUESDAY SPORTS MUSINGS: NBA PLAYOFFS UNDERWAY, CAPITALS DOMINATE IN NHL, NEW PGA PRO MAKING A SPLASH

Thunder Squander Chance at Home: Since it's unlikely that the Oklahoma City's dynamic duo of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant will have a repeat of Monday's horrendous shooting percentages, I still believe that the Thunder will eventually take care of business in their first round series with the Dallas Mavericks. But for a team that has actually been mentioned as a possible finalist in the western conference, their fourth quarter collapse against a clearly over-matched opponent could be troublesome. If they get past Dallas, they'll take a significant step up in class against the San Antonio Spurs, who will no doubt find a way to take advantage of any weaknesses in the Thunder's approach.

Super Steph on the Bench For Game 2: After tweaking his ankle, last season's MVP and leader of the defending champion Golden State Warriors sat out game two of his team's opening round game against the Houston Rockets. It didn't look as if it mattered much to the team that set a record for victories in a season with 73.  Of course, it didn't look like it mattered much to the Rockets either, as defense seems to be a concept they are still attempting to grasp. And for the record, they appear to have a long way to go. The only drama left in this series involves how many games Curry will play and how many contests that the Rockets decide to show up for. My guess on both is one at the most.

Cavaliers Withstand Hot Piston Shooting: In a game that could have gone the other way, the Cleveland Cavaliers used some good ball movement and a strong effort from Kevin Love to hold off a feisty Detroit Piston team that shot almost 52% from three-point range. With Love and Kyrie Irving combining for 59 points, it left Lebron James in a position to distribute the ball, ending up with 22 points and 11 assists. If the Cavs continue to play the way they did on Sunday, it just doesn't appear likely that anyone in the eastern conference will be able to take four games from them. And a rested Cavalier team could be a true threat to anyone out of the west that will probably have to go deeper into series to get advance.

Caps Put a Beat Down on the Flyers: Monday night saw the Philadelphia Flyers come out in inspired fashion and score in the first minute of the game against the Washington Capitals, the winningest team in the regular season. Unfortunately for Flyers, it was their only score of the night and by the time it was mercifully over some two and a half hours later, the Caps had beaten them 6 - 1 to take a commanding 3 - 0 lead in the series. The Flyers tried physical play, they tried finesse, they even turned to downright violence in a late game hit, but nothing worked. As a Caps fan and with their history of playoff disappointment, I'm hesitant to heap too much praise on them, but they sure looked good in the win. With winger Alex Ovechkin scoring and goalie Braden Holtby stopping virtually everything that is shot his way, the Caps are dangerous in almost every phase of the game. I just hope I'm still writing about them in early June.

PGA Tour Rookie DeChambeau Opening Eyes: From his Ben Hogan style cap to his unilength irons, reigning U.S. Amateur champ, NCAA individual champ and Masters low amateur Bryson DeChambeau is beginning to look a lot like Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth. The rookie has seven sponsor exemptions in which to earn enough money to qualify for the PGA tour without having to go to qualifying school for the Web.com tour. His almost $260,000 for a fourth place tie at the RBC Heritage is a nice jumpstart which also qualified him for this week's Valero Texas Open without having to use one of those precious exemptions. The fact that all of his irons are the same length is a curious trait, one that gives him an upright swing on every shot and makes him unique in his look. Will he be able to advance to the PGA Tour this season? Given his success in the past year, I sure wouldn't bet against him.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first two, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel" and "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and SmashwordsTune into www.WPFLRADIO.com at 8:40 am EST every Friday for my Beyond the Commentary segment on "Lou in the Morning" with Lou Vickery and Jonathan McMath.





Sunday, April 10, 2016

MASTERS TOURNAMENT SUNDAY: NO TIGER, NO PHIL, NO RICKY, BUT PLENTY OF DRAMA

Tiger Woods is nursing his surgically repaired back, Phil is practicing his putting and Ricky is probably hanging out, waiting for one of his buddies to do again what he has yet to do. Meanwhile, on the grounds of Augusta National Golf Club, a few more players have hopes of winning the Masters  than did after Jordan Spieth walked off the sixteenth green holding an imposing four shot lead. A double bogey and a bogey on the last two holes, while still providing the defending champion with the lead, brought a lot of other scenarios into play. Fifty-eight year old two time champion Bernhard Langer, despite giving up to forty yards on his drives to his younger competitors, is lurking, ready to pounce if the nerves get to some of the kids, many of whom weren't even born when he last slipped on the green jacket in 1993. Dustin Johnson, who would probably be leading if he could have sunk a few very makeable putts, has the physical ability to overpower any course, and in particular this one. Jason Day, who has been playing under the radar since a triple-bogey six at Thursday's sixteenth hole, figures to be in the mix as well. But there's one guy down the leaderboard that despite never winning a major, has a solid game and has contended at the Masters before. Forty-two year old Lee Westwood, in the anticipated calm conditions, could make an early run and erase some of the four shot deficit before the last pairing tees off. If Speith struggles with his ball striking and his composure as he has the last couple of days, look for seasoned veterans like Westwood to contend. Of course, the second-ranked and probably best player in the game could just as easily put it all together and run away on the back nine today. Being paired with Smylie Kaufman, a tournament rookie, will most likely benefit Spieth, as the two go way back to their junior golf days, like five years ago.

If you look as far as six shots back, which realistically is probably a bit much to make up, the leaderboard is dotted with others who could make a run. Danny Willett is playing great and has quietly worked his way up to twelfth in the world rankings. Also at one-under par is Brandt Snedeker, a great putter who has a tendency to erupt with a great round now and then, as he did to win in San Diego earlier this year in horrendous conditions. Rory McIlroy, despite an awful, birdieless round yesterday, stands at two-over, just in front of major winner Justin Rose and past Masters champ Angel Cabrera at plus three. If you discount Kaufman, not just because of his inexperience but also the fact that just a single Masters rookie has prevailed, Spieth still has a couple of shots in hand over the closest realistic challenger. He's held the lead by himself now a record seven consecutive rounds, so momentum and recent success is clearly on his side. But should he slip, it could be one of the most interesting back nines at Augusta that we've seen in a long time. Just remember though that you heard it here first: Beware the Westwood.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first two, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel" and "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and SmashwordsTune into www.WPFLRADIO.com at 8:40 am EST every Friday for my Beyond the Commentary segment on "Lou in the Morning" with Lou Vickery and Jonathan McMath.





Saturday, April 9, 2016

NCAA MAJOR COLLEGE MATH: IT DOESN'T QUITE ADD UP

It's interesting that what is lost in the debate over whether to pay college football players for their services is simple math. This is especially intriguing because the institutions for which these supposed student athletes play are colleges and universities, which I assume teach things like mathematics, finance and economics among their many course offerings. Forgive me if I've overlooked it, but I watch and listen to a lot of sports talk shows and even have my own segments on a variety of programs, and I've never seen anyone apply math to the argument. Well, it's time someone did.

First of all, I'm not about to propose any specific changes to the way things are done today in major college football and basketball. My purpose is simply to provide some thought provoking numbers and let you make your own decision on whether and how things could be improved. I'll start with college football. Currently, the football programs at most schools have to earn or raise money to pay the school for the value of the scholarships they provide their players. If you believe most administrators, this is supposedly a significant hardship. Really? I'll be conservative in my example, so that I can't be accused of using extremes, like Alabama or Michigan.

My assumptions for this exercise are as follow: A power conference school, average ticket sales of 50,000 per game, seven home games a year and average ticket price of $40. Most can agree that in the majority of cases, those numbers, with the exception of the of home games, can be much higher. So in an average season, ticket revenue alone is $14 million. Now let's say this same school has a total cost of attendance, the new value that is provided the athlete, of $40,000. Once again, for most public institutions, that number is high, but I'm trying to make sure I don't use values that clearly skew the results in the favor of my thesis.

So at 85 scholarships, the maximum allowed under NCAA rules, the football program owes the university a whopping $3.4 million. On ticket revenue alone, the school still earns a profit of $11.6 million after accounting for the cost of their labor pool. Oh, but wait, we have to pay the coaches. Okay, once again, I won't use the big time programs as examples, because those coaches make, on their own, more than the entire cost of the scholarships of the players they coach. But let's say the head coach makes $1 million, and the rest of the staff makes another $2 million. We're still $8.6 million dollars in the black in gross margin. Travel costs to away games, even at $1,000 per play per game, is less than $500,000. I'll say it once again...Really?

It's even better in basketball. Once again, conservative numbers here. 8,000 a game, 15 home dates and $25 a ticket. That's $3 million in revenue. Twelve scholarships with a $40,000 cost of attendance is an almost impossible amount to afford of $480,000. Coaching staff salaries of $1.5 million and we're still ahead by over $1 million. Both of these scenarios are before television money, other advertising revenue, booster contributions and bowl or NCAA tournament shares from the conference are taken into consideration. I'll let you be the judge, but it doesn't take a tremendous leap to get to exploitation, especially when the people getting  all of the money also have all of the freedom to go where they please in the system. Coaches can move around without restrictions from the NCAA, the so-called ruling body with the student-athletes' best interest at heart. However, if the coach that recruited a player into a particular system, provided him playing time, etc. leaves and a less favorable coach is hired that hurts said player's chances at success, the player can transfer but has to not only sit out a season, but loses a year of eligibility in the process.

 A case in point is Christian Hackenberg, the former Penn State quarterback who started his career under Bill O'Brien, a coach who had a pro-style offense. O'Brien left for the NFL's Houston Texans and was succeeded by James Franklin, who instituted a spread offense that was not conducive to utilizing Hackenberg's skills. O'Brien gets a great NFL job, Franklin gets to move from Vanderbilt to a Big Ten school, and Hackenberg gets shafted.  The two coaches in this example made a fortune, yet Hackenberg will most likely lose a significant amount of career income as a result. It's patently unfair and something needs to be changed. And given the economics that I outlined earlier, there is no way for the college athletic system to be able to justify the status quo based on financial hardship.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first two, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel" and "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and SmashwordsTune into www.WPFLRADIO.com at 8:40 am EST every Friday for my Beyond the Commentary segment on "Lou in the Morning" with Lou Vickery and Jonathan McMath.






Tuesday, April 5, 2016

MARCH MADNESS FINALE ONE FOR THE AGES, NOW IT'S MASTERS TIME

Villanova and Carolina Don't Disappoint: There were a lot of people, me included, that not only hoped that last night's NCAA Basketball Championship game would be a great game, but also felt strongly that it probably would deliver. It certainly did, most likely exceeding a lot of expectations in the process, and possibly becoming the best ever. Even before Marcus Paige's acrobatic three-pointer tied the game with just shy of 5 seconds on the clock, the last six minutes were electric. The Tar Heels crawling back from what looked like an insurmountable deficit by doing something they aren't known for doing well, making three pointers. And Villanova grabbed that lead by dominating in the paint, something no one really expected them to do against a bigger UNC squad. But a play that was as key to the game as the winning jumper by Kris Jenkins was the four point turnaround at the end of the first half. With Carolina up by seven, they had a fast break opportunity that would have ended the half and given them a nine point lead heading to the locker room. Instead, a block and a basket the other way allowed 'Nova to get within five, a much different feel as they headed to the second half. In terms of quality of play, I thought it was outstanding given the difficulty of the venue and the intensity of the game. I like that the officials in this year's version of March Madness almost universally let the kids play, calling what seemed to be fewer touch fouls, giving the games a better flow and leaving the result to the players. Another positive was the preponderance of upperclassmen-laden teams in the Final Four. Despite the lack of close contests in the semifinals, particularly Villanova's historic beat down of Oklahoma, I still think it was a great tournament that resulted in a very worthy champion. Congratulations to coach Jay Wright and his team!

From One Shining Moment to the Green Jacket: Now that the NCAA Men's Basketball Champion has been crowned, it's time to move onto arguably the most storied place in golf. Pebble Beach and St. Andrews might be able to lay claim to that honor, but neither one hosts a major championship every season. The Old Course gets that chance every five years, while Pebble Beach is on more of a once a decade schedule. So Augusta National, as far as the casual golf fan is concerned, gets the opportunity to open the golf season, at least for majors. With the azaleas in bloom and the patrons lining every fairway and filling the space around every green, we tune in with the familiarity of knowing the holes, remembering the shots from the past and expecting drama behind every pine tree. We're not generally disappointed. This year is also the 30th anniversary of Jack Nicklaus' tremendous 30 on the back nine to secure his eighteenth and final major win. It's fascinating that his total is the same as the number of holes on a regulation golf course, an almost random number that was arbitrarily established way back when golf was getting its start in Scotland. One player that won't be providing any fireworks is Tiger Woods, still four shy of Jack's number. He's been idle since August and although he is said to be making progress, a timetable for his return to tournament golf is still unclear. We have a new crop of stars to fill the void, and they're doing a great job. Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Bubba Watson, Ricky Fowler, Dustin Johnson and others are providing wonderful competition while also moving the game forward and showing an appreciation for tradition at the same time. We still have Adam Scott and Phil Mickelson as well, and given the importance of experience at Augusta, you can't count the veterans out. Does it sound like I'm excited for the Masters Tournament? You bet, and with good reason.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first two, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel" and "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and SmashwordsTune into www.WPFLRADIO.com at 8:40 am EST every Friday for my Beyond the Commentary segment on "Lou in the Morning" with Lou Vickery and Jonathan McMath.




Sunday, April 3, 2016

BIG CITY BASKETBALL AND CANADA HOCKEY TEAMS HEADED TO THE GOLF COURSE

NBA Big Market Void: It's hard to believe that the NBA teams from the largest metropolitan areas in the United States will be watching the playoffs from their living rooms or the nineteenth hole of their favorite country club. If the season ended tonight, both New York teams, the Lakers, Bulls, Rockets and Suns would be eliminated from the post-season. Only the Clippers, the perennial red-headed step child of the City of Angels would be playing into May. How is this good for the league? Okay, I guess you can make a case that even though Golden State plays in Oakland, they represent all of Northern California. But it's a harder sell to say that the Boston Celtics carry the torch for the entire Northeast. Add in the AAU team impersonating an NBA franchise in Philadelphia and you have roughly a third of the nations populace without a rooting interest in the NBA playoffs. Charlotte, Indiana, Oklahoma City, Portland, Memphis and Utah? All of them are wonderful cities in their own right and I've enjoyed good times in all but one. However, they're hardly bastions of ratings gold. Even Cleveland with Lebron James, while he carries more of a national following, isn't the population center it was three decades ago. There's no question that a Cavaliers - Warriors rematch would ignite interest. But what about Hawks - Hornets first rounder? Or even the Thunder - Grizzlies, two of the NBA only major cities? Where are the big numbers for the league? If I was commissioner Adam Silver, I'd be concerned. No New York, no Chicago, no Philly, no Houston, no Phoenix, less than half of Los Angeles. Unlike the NFL, whose playoffs comprise a total of eleven games, including the Super Bowl, the NBA stages dozens of games in a format that takes real fan commitment to follow. The NFL doesn't really need to be concerned if the Giants and Bears are left out of the mix. Hell, they haven't even had a team in the nation's second largest market for the last twenty plus years. But the NBA needs to be more attentive as their big ratings franchises fall further into disarray. The casual fan just can't devote the time necessary to make the NBA playoffs viable without fans with a rooting interest.

NHL: Sport without a Country: It's hard to believe that it will be Florida 2 and the entire country of Canada 0 when it comes to teams in the NHL playoffs. If you think Adam Silver has a problem, how would you like to be NHL commissioner Gary Bettman? You're more likely to get a sunburn than a Molson at this year's Stanley Cup playoffs. Teams from Florida (2), Washington, Texas, Tennessee and California (3) give the whole affair more of a college football feel than one that generally features teams from north of the border. Really? What are Canadian hockey fans supposed to do for two months? Oh, yeah, they can watch the Raptors make a run in the NBA playoffs, complaining all the while that Lebron should be called for high sticking. Or maybe gear up for the NCAA lacrosse championships, since that sport is in fact the national sport of Canada. More likely they'll watch anyway, mostly out of habit than support for a particular team. Much like Europeans would tune into a World Cup Soccer final between Brazil and the United States. But on a more serious note, the NHL really needs to be concerned that an entire nation is left out of the playoffs in a sport that is nothing short of a religion in Canada. Americans just don't watch hockey on television, as evidenced by the inability of the league to keep a network contract for any length of time. And if the Canadian fans choose to opt out this year, things could get even tougher for the league from a broadcast perspective.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first two, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel" and "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and SmashwordsTune into www.WPFLRADIO.com at 8:40 am EST every Friday for my Beyond the Commentary segment on "Lou in the Morning" with Lou Vickery and Jonathan McMath.




Friday, April 1, 2016

FRIDAY THOUGHTS: FINAL FOUR VENUE, U.S. WOMEN SOCCER EQUALITY, NBA PLAYOFS LOOMING, BIG TEN TRANSFER TRAVESTY

Waterskiing Behind an Aircraft Carrier: I can certainly understand the financial motivation by the NCAA to hold its highest profile event in a venue designed for a different sport, but staging basketball's Final Four in a football stadium is just a lousy idea. I was at NRG Stadium in 2011, the last time the championship was held in Houston. The basketball was atrocious, with the players' inability to adapt to the cavernous facility. In order to have all 70,000+ seats available, the NCAA has elected not to place the court at one end of the field and use the end zone as sideline seats for basketball. I attended the South Region games in the Georgia Dome in 2006 and the stadium was basically cut in half. The quality of play was more like what you would expect in a large arena. Does the revenue difference between 40,000 and 70,000 seats really justify the terrible basketball that it creates? I don't think so and the NCAA should rethink the ridiculous practice of playing basketball games in football stadiums. What's next, playing lacrosse games on a golf course?

Why Not Have Equality?: I applaud the five members of the Women's National Soccer Team for filing a claim with the EEOC to get pay equity with their male counterparts. According to reports, the women generate over $16 million in profit for the US Soccer Federation, while the men lose $2 million, yet the players on the men's team make up to ten times per game what the women get. This practice is preposterous on a number of levels, but more importantly, it's illegal. Based on the similarity in the schedules and qualifying processes for both World Cups, it's absurd that the women are so blatantly taken advantage of. In addition, and this is a FIFA issue, the men don't have to play on artificial surfaces, while the women are not afforded the same consideration. Like the corruption scandal that is currently unfolding in FIFA, this issue needs to be addressed. It's not unlike the situation in college athletics, where everyone seems to get their's except the so-called student athletes. As a former HR Director, I can say with confidence the U.S. Soccer Federation is clearly in the wrong, both philosophically and legally. They should get ahead of this by proposing immediate changes, but we all know they probably won't, because it just makes too much sense to everyone but them.

Big Ten Transfer Rule, Big Time Hypocrisy: Talk about doing the wrong thing, how about Michigan's former stance that Spike Albrecht, a player whose scholarship has been revoked by the university and who has already received his degree, can't transfer to a Big Ten school or any school on Michigan's schedule for the next two and receive a scholarship without sitting out a year, which would exhaust his eligibility.  NCAA rules don't prohibit the move, with players who have graduated being allowed to transfer and play immediately. Plenty of players have taken advantage of the rule. What makes this situation even more egregious is that Albrecht can't stay and play at Michigan because coach  John Beilein gave away his scholarship. After a firestorm of criticism, primarily from Yahoo's Pat Forde and ESPN Radio's Mike Greenberg, Beilein has changed course and lifted the restrictions. Maybe good for him, but it's ridiculous that this absurd situation occurred in the first place. Beilein is free to go wherever and whenever he pleases to another coaching job, and make millions in the process. The kids he recruits however, are stuck. Is that fair? Absolutely not. And trying to justify the practice by saying they all know the rules when they get into it is simply a very poor excuse.

NBA Playoffs, Some Surprises on the Horizon: A Cleveland Cavalier team that was decimated by injuries came within two games of winning the NBA championship last season, but all I'm hearing is that Golden State and San Antonio will apparently settle it all in the Western Conference finals, leaving the championship series as something of a coronation. But if you're the Clippers, the Thunder, or even the Jazz, I'm thinking you don't believe the competition ends with the final regular season game. I maintain that even though the Warriors are enjoying arguably the greatest regular season in history, their post-season run might be a little rougher. The Cavaliers might end up arriving at the Finals healthy and rested, and a healthy and rested Lebron James, as he has shown in the past, can put a team on his back and will them to victory. Am I discounting Toronto? Not really, but I don't see them taking four games from the Cavaliers, especially if Cleveland holds onto home court advantage. I'm just saying this thing isn't over yet. As well as the Warriors are playing, they don't necessarily remind me of the Chicago Bulls of the 90's, considered the best team in recent memory.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first two, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel" and "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and SmashwordsTune into www.WPFLRADIO.com at 8:40 am EST every Friday for my Beyond the Commentary segment on "Lou in the Morning" with Lou Vickery and Jonathan McMath.