The Geographic Fallacy that is the #SEC

The Gateway to the Midwest is in the SEC Eastern Division, West Virginia is in the Big 12-formerly the Southwest Conference. What in the name of Lewis & Clark is going on!?!? While all this conference expansion has been happening some of the conferences have forgot about grade school when you learned that Never Eat Shredded Wheat could help you figure out North South East West. Some conferences have it right, the Pac-12 has its northern members in a Northern Division and southern member in a Southern Division. Wow something that actually makes sense, and lo and behold it works! When Texas A&M and Missouri latched on to the SEC, I immediately looked at a map and found which team I thought would be moving East. Auburn is the easternmost West Division institution, so logic dictates that they move to that division right? Channeling Lee Corso-Not so fast my friend! Things are not black and white, grey areas such as preserving the Alabama-Tennessee game, the Auburn-Georgia game; now Missouri-Arkansas are permanent rivals, as well as South Carolina-Texas A&M. So let me get this straight, the two teams that are the furthest away in the conference who have never had anything in common are now permanent rivals and the only game worth preserving is Alabama-Tennessee? I’ll explain. Moving Auburn to the East Division preserves Auburn-Georgia, making Alabama-Auburn permanent rivals preserves the Iron Bowl. Problem not solved, what about the Third Saturday in October? Now here comes the fun part, coaches and fans are going to love this. A nine game conference schedule, a 6-2-1 format where every team in the SEC has 6 division games, 2 cross division permanent rivals, and 1 game that rotates a home/home. How did I accomplish this? I have a friend named Microsoft Excel that I like playing around in and a spreadsheet was the only way I could take in all the data I needed to produce this next piece of information. By flipping Auburn to the East and Missouri to the West you balance the geography of the conference. Right now the conference looks like a rectangle that someone drew a line from the upper left hand corner to the lower right hand corner and exclaimed “Divisions!” So by flipping the two above mentioned institutions how did that make all the rivalry games satisfied, without further adieu here are the institutions listed alphabetically.

Alabama-Western Division

2 common opponents: Auburn (79 all-time meetings) and Tennessee (96 all-time meetings)

The Iron Bowl and the 3rd Saturday in October are the reason we have what we have now, this allows these two precious games to still be played annually.

Arkansas-Western Division

2 common opponents: Tennessee (17 all-time meetings) and South Carolina (22 all-time meetings)

Arkansas’ common opponent upon entering the league has been South Carolina. After Auburn, Arkansas has faced the Gamecocks and Volunteers most among SEC East teams. Arkansas-Tennessee share a border as well, a good border war even though the schools are on opposite sides of the state.

Auburn-Eastern Division

2 common opponents: Alabama (79 all-time meetings) and LSU (49 all-time meetings)

The Iron Bowl and the Tiger Bowl, I believe that explains these two pairings.

Florida-Eastern Division

2 common opponents: LSU (61 all-time meetings) and Mississippi State (54 all-time meetings)

The Gators have met LSU and Mississippi State the most out of SEC West teams.

Georgia-Eastern Division

2 common opponents: Ole Miss (45 all-time meetings) and Texas A&M (5 all-time meetings)

Here’s where the waters get murky. Since we took Auburn to the East the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry is now a division game. The Bulldogs have faced Alabama most, but the Tide are already maxed out on opponents. We go down the list and find Ole Miss has the next highest total for Georgia. The Texas A&M matchup is out of necessity, someone has to play the old Big 12 schools. As I went thru the schedules, the other options for Georgia ran thin.

Kentucky-Eastern Division

2 common opponents: Mississippi State (42 all-time meetings) and Missouri (5 all-time meetings)

Kentucky has been a cross division rival with Mississippi State since 1992 when the conference decided to make cross division rivals, we can’t get rid of this game if we can’t get rid of Alabama-Tennessee. I love a good border war and Kentucky shares a border with Kentucky (roughly 60 miles) and there is a little known area called the “Kentucky Bend” that the rivalry could be named after.

LSU-Western Division

2 common opponents: Florida (61 all-time meetings) and Auburn (49 all-time meetings)

Florida has been LSU’s common opponent since 1992 and the Tiger Bowl is a game worth watching each and every year.

Mississippi State-Western Division

2 common opponents: Kentucky (42 all-time meetings) and Florida (54 all-time meetings)

Getting our information from above, Kentucky is Mississippi State’s first cross division rival and Mississippi State has played Florida the most out the original SEC East teams.

Missouri-Western Division

2 common opponents: South Carolina (5 all-time meetings) and Kentucky (5 all-time meetings)

Although Missouri has met Vanderbilt the most out of any SEC East school, Missouri and South Carolina have something even better in common. Columbia, South Carolina and Columbia, Missouri are the homes of these two institutions and that makes the Mayor’s Cup a rival. As mentioned above I love a good border war and Missouri-Kentucky share a roughly 60 mile stretch that makes a border war possible.

Ole Miss-Western Division

2 common opponents: Vanderbilt (89 all-time meetings) and Georgia (45 all-time meetings)

The Ole Miss-Vanderbilt rivalry is the most played such rival for each school amongst SEC schools. After Vanderbilt and Tennessee, Georgia has played Ole Miss the most and since Tennessee is maxed out on cross division rivals Rebels and Dawgs it is.

South Carolina-Eastern Division

2 common opponents: Missouri (5 all-time meetings) and Arkansas (22 all-time meetings)

The Mayor’s Cup is the reason for making the South Carolina-Mizzou game permanent. South Carolina and Arkansas were permanent rivals upon the Hogs joining the SEC in 1992 and the Hogs are South Carolina’s most played SEC West opponent.

Tennessee-Eastern Division

2 common opponents: Alabama (96 all-time meetings) and Arkansas (17 all-time meetings)

As mentioned above the 3rd Saturday in October game is the reason we are all in this predicament. Tennessee shares a border with Arkansas, and a border war is what I like seeing in collegiate athletics.

Texas A&M-Western Division

2 common opponents: Georgia (5 all-time meetings) and Vanderbilt (1 all-time meeting)

Here’s the trouble when you add members with no history with teams from another division. Sure A&M has a long history with Arkansas and LSU but nothing really with SEC east teams. This is why Georgia and Vanderbilt get the Aggies.

Vanderbilt-Eastern Division

2 common opponents: Ole Miss (89 all-time meetings) and Texas A&M (1 all-time meeting)

The Ole-Miss Vanderbilt game is one of the most played rivals in the SEC. The Commodores have only had a longer rivalry with a D-3 school named Sewanee who were both founding members of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association, the Southern Conference, and the Southeastern Conference. By virtue of every other team having both cross division rivals, Vanderbilt will now play Texas A&M which makes sense because they are the westernmost school in each division.

This may never happen the way I am suggesting but I believe I have been fair to each member institution of the SEC and preserved most of the longest tenured rivalries in the conference.

Data for the game was researched using http://www.winsipedia.com/

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The Steroid Era in #MLB

Steroids, mention that word in a MLB clubhouse and you will probably see some dirty looks-cursing your way even. Its a dirty word-one of the dirtiest non 4 letter words. We’ve seen the steroid era come and go and now we have entered the Pitching Era in MLB. It seems you can not tune into a game and see a pitcher throwing the ball 95 mph+. There are still remnants of PED users still playing-here’s looking at you A-Rod. It is cheating according to the rulebook. Its cheating according to most rulebooks in any organized sport across the globe. How often have you heard of Olympic runners or Tour de France cyclists being banned for months, years, even life for “doping”. There is another non 4 letter dirty word. My dad always told me that he never wanted to hear of me “smoking dope”. At first I did not know what he meant, doping was what athletes did to get an illegal edge. He was referring to marijuana, which will be legal here in the States in the next decade I predict. I can remember my high school days, I was probably 14 or so and I was introduced to Creatin in the field house by some of the older guys lifting weights. They chose to put that into their bodies and I chose not to let that in mine. I was never made to play football honestly, I was a runner and I saw no positive outcomes for me to bulk up with some powder stuff. So I never took any of it and went on to become an All-State cross-country runner in Arkansas (Didn’t make to the track capital of the world-Fayetteville though). The point here is I had enough sense as a teenager not to put something in my body that might effect me later in life. To my knowledge none of the guys that took Creatin at my high school have not had any either, but they never made it to the MLB, NFL, NBA etc. None of us ever made to a D-1 school. So why am I writing this? I can remember watching the Great Home Run Chase of 1998. Mark McGwire versus Sammy Sosa hitting bomb after bomb in search of Roger Maris’ home run record of 61 in a single season. The Cardinals were not the machine they are today back in ’98, they finished 83-79 and 19 games back of the Central Division champion Houston Astros (yes the current American League West leaders). They drew 3,195,691 fans into Busch Stadium. Wait they finished nowhere near playoff contention, in fact they had the 14th best record in MLB and still drew over 3 million fans? That was good enough for 6th in MLB. Lets look at the other participant-the Chicago Cubs. They finished 2nd in the NL Central and made the playoffs. Their attendance was 11th in MLB at 2,623,194. Those two fan bases really did not factor in who won the World Series yet the Cardinals outdrew the World Champion Yankees and the Cubs outdrew the NL Champion Padres. Why? The reason was the Great Home Run Chase. The reason baseball was saved after the 1994 labor stoppage was the Great Home Run Chase. I was pissed that baseball ended during the ’94 season, can you remember the commercials showing someone making a “snow angel” on the infield dirt? I can, I can still feel the hatred I felt towards baseball at that time. I played, probably Little League or thereabouts. I played the game as hard as I could, outfielder by trade. I could not fathom in my little mind why these guys that made millions of dollars a year could just stop playing a game that I loved to play. So once the next season rolled around it took a little while for me to come around to start following the game again. Then the bombs starting going, the “Chicks Dig the Longball” commercials in 1998 happened. McGwire versus Sosa happened, then Barry Bonds happened. Once Barry Bonds happened and powers that be had their greedy pockets full and baseball was saved they started cracking down on steroid users. “Kids aren’t just talking about their favorite teams’ chances in the pennant race,” said Representative Tom Davis, Republican of Virginia and chairman of the committee. “They are talking about which pro players are on the juice.”

http://www.nytimes.com/learning/teachers/featured_articles/20050318friday.html

Kids like I was at the height of this over criticized era in MLB. The whole reason Congress stepped in and did anything was kids. It is NOT a player in any sport’s responsibility to raise the worlds’ kids. That responsibility falls onto the parents of those children to teach them the right from wrong. I have two boys, I don’t care if taking a substance would help them pedal a bike faster, hit a ball further, even build a lego statue better, they are NOT taking those things. It is not because some league somewhere mandated that steroids are illegal, it is because as their father I care enough about their well-being to not want them to have an episode where their heart explodes in their 40s or they snap and kill their families as we’ve seen in the professional wrestling community. Those instances can be traced back to steroid use. To get this back into baseball, lets look at something besides home runs as a stat to see if steroid use. Sammy Sosa was a career .252 hitter and was a 30-30 man in 1993, 11 of 18 seasons Sosa hit over 30 home runs and averaged 33 per season. Mark McGwire hit 49 home runs as a ROOKIE in 1987 and was a career .263 hitter.  However in 12 of 16 seasons McGwire hit over 30 home runs. Unless he was juicing his whole career that is impressive. Averaging 36 home runs per season is impressive. They were not great hitters before alleged steroid use.  Barry Bonds was a HOF caliber 5 tool player before all the home runs he hit, a 40-40 player in 1996. You think steroid use had anything to do with Bonds drawing 177 walks in 2001 when he hit 73 home runs, drawing 198 walks in 2002, 148 walks in 2003, or 232 walks in 2004? Last I checked steroids did not help eye sight or hand-eye coordination. He batted .328, .370, .341, and .362 in those 4 seasons. You think of steroid use as beefing up a player to look like Mr. Atlas not helping them stealing 30-40 bases in a season. These are three of the major players in MLB that SAVED the sport in the exact manner that Bird-Magic did in the NBA during the 1980s. Now the Hall of Fame won’t even recognize the existence of these players or their on the field accomplishments. Look some players it helped some it did not, if you hold what Canseco says true then most everyone was on them. I say so what if they want to destroy their bodies for an extra edge on the field. The problem is rampant use apparently, and anabolic steroids have long been proven to deteriorate the human body. However human growth hormone is a much more natural approach and has a more natural progression to building muscle. This is what Bonds allegedly used during his playing time. You can spend days reading about the steroid era and how over publicized it was, Congress having any say in the sports realm is utterly ignorant in my opinion. Make laws that pertain to the masses not the best 1% at playing a game. MLB officials: don’t turn your back on the very players that saved your sport. Parents: teach your children right from wrong instead of being too busy for them and relying on “role models”. And finally players: abide by the rules, play the game hard and at your collective bargaining agreement meetings submit benefits of legal nutrition and whatever else you can to help your bodies as you play the game. Injuries are too often the cause of a potential great players career being cut short. To the fans: keep up the good work of showing up to games and demanding reform when you see something go awry. It was apparent that the steroid era didn’t effect attendance and it increased popularity of baseball because guys were going bananas at the plate and owners’ wallets were growing.

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What #MLB active players are rounding the bases, headed for Cooperstown?

I want to premise this article by saying this. Anything is possible in the game of baseball, it is a game of failure. Injuries can derail any one of the players who are about to have their name listed here. Also I would like to set the parameters. I only considered active players (we all know Jeter and Mariano are HOF worthy), players were only considered if they turned 30 by the end of 2015, I evaluated numbers only-meaning I did not take proven or speculated PED use in my consideration. I understand that some of you can’t stand the thought of A-Rod being a HOF worthy player, however if you just look at numbers it is quite undeniable. I will probably back this article up with one describing how the PED era was one of the most over-covered and ridiculous acts we’ve seen in modern sports media. That being said here is the list, the players are going to be listed in chronological order of their age and the numbers you see are projected based on what they’ve done up to this point until the age of 40. Forty seemed like a good round number. I am going to list the position players first, then we will finish with the pitchers.

Position Players: There are numbers that a player can reach and in my belief guarantees them into Cooperstown. Some players have multiple milestone numbers they hit and some may only hit 1 number. 3000 hits (only 29 players in MLB history have amasses this many hits). 500 doubles (only 58 players in MLB history have amassed this many doubles). 100 triples (only 161 players in MLB history have amassed this many triples). 500 home runs (only 26 players in MLB history have amassed this many home runs). 1500 Runs Batted In (only 53 players in MLB history have amassed this many RBI’s). 1000 Walks (only 116 players in MLB history have amassed this many walks). 500 Stolen Bases (only 37 players in MLB history have amassed this many stolen bases). 4000 Total Bases (only 88 players in MLB history have amassed this many total bases). This list will contain MVP’s, I will also include Silver Sluggers for players that have those. For those players who not only excel at the plate but in the field as well I am going to include fielding awards as well. Note: MVP, Silver Slugger, and Gold Glove/Fielding Bible awards, etc. are current stats-I could not come up with a way to project those in fairness to all the great players in the Show.

All stats taken from http://www.baseball-reference.com

Ichiro Suzuki

Age: 42-HOF numbers: 10x Gold Glove, 3x Silver Slugger, 1x AL MVP, Closing in on 3,000 hits and 500 stolen bases

Torii Hunter

Age 40-HOF numbers: 9x Gold Glove, 4040 total bases

Alex Rodriguez

Age: 40-HOF numbers: 10x Silver Slugger, 3x AL MVP, 2x Gold Glove, 3046 hits , 537 doubles, 680 homers, 2038 rbi , 1306 walks, 5685 total bases

David Ortiz

Age: 39-HOF numbers (projected to age 40): 6x Silver Slugger, 601 doubles, 518 homers, 1693 rbi, 1288 walks, 4582 total bases

Carlos Beltran

Age 39-HOF numbers (projected to age 40): 3x Gold Glove, 2x Silver Slugger, 551 doubles, 1578 rbi, 1112 walks, 4692 total bases

Jimmy Rollins

Age 37-HOF numbers (projected to age 40): 4x Gold Glove, 1x Sliver Slugger, 594 doubles, 134 triples, 549 stolen bases, 4529 total bases

Adrian Beltre

Age 36-HOF numbers (projected to age 40): 4x Fielding Bible, 4x Gold Glove, 4x Sliver Slugger, 3317 hits, 670 doubles, 1739 rbi, 5559 total bases

Ryan Howard

Age 36-HOF numbers (projected to age 40): 1x NL MVP, 1x Silver Slugger, 1500 rbi

Albert Pujols

Age 35-HOF numbers (projected to age 40): 6x Silver Slugger, 3x NL MVP, 2x Gold Glove, 3512 hits, 768 doubles, 737 homers, 2231 rbi, 1533 walks, 6535 total bases

Mark Teixiera

Age 35-HOF numbers (projected to age 40): 5x Gold Glove, 3x Silver Slugger, 543 doubles, 546 homers, 1736 rbi, 1206 walks, 4698 total bases

Matt Holliday

Age 35-HOF numbers (projected to age 40): 4x Silver Slugger, 602 doubles, 1540 rbi, 1004 walks, 4546 total bases

Carl Crawford

Age 34-HOF numbers (projected to age 40): 1x Gold Glove, 1x Silver Slugger, 173 triples, 676 stolen bases, 4057 total bases

Curtis Granderson

Age 34-HOF numbers (projected to age 40): 1x Silver Slugger, 125 triples

Ian Kinsler

Age 33-HOF numbers (projected to age 40): 1x Defensive Player of the Year (2B), 546 doubles, 4100 total bases

Robinson Cano

Age 33-HOF numbers (projected to age 40): 5x Silver Slugger, 2x Gold Glove, 3215 hits, 722 doubles, 1568 rbi, 5173 total bases

Adrian Gonzalez

Age 33-HOF numbers (projected to age 40): 4x Gold Glove, 2x Silver Slugger, 1x Fielding Bible, 599 doubles, 1645 rbi, 1078 walks, 4785 total bases

Yadier Molina

Age 33-HOF numbers: Yadier Molina does not have HOF hitting numbers, however this is what he has accomplished: 7x Gold Glove, 6x Fielding Bible, 3x Platinum Glove, 1x Silver Slugger

Jhonny Peralta

Age 33-HOF numbers (projected to age 40): 549 doubles, 4043 total bases

Miguel Cabrera

Age 32-HOF numbers (projected to age 40): 5x Silver Slugger, 2x AL MVP, 1x Triple Crown, 3712 hits, 787 doubles, 656 homers, 2307 rbi, 1486 walks, 6518 total bases

Joe Mauer

Age 32-HOF numbers (projected to age 40): 5x Silver Slugger, 3x Gold Glove, 1x AL MVP, 552 doubles, 1202 walks

Joey Votto

Age 32-HOF numbers (projected to age 40): 1x Gold Glove, 1x NL MVP, 512 doubles, 1339 walks

Jose Reyes

Age 32-HOF numbers (projected to age 40): 1x Silver Slugger, 3032 hits, 540 doubles, 186 triples, 766 stolen bases, 4510 total bases

Ryan Braun

Age 32-HOF numbers (projected to age 40): 5x Silver Slugger, 1x NL MVP, 548 doubles, 1577 rbi, 4792 total bases

Hunter Pence

Age 32-HOF numbers (projected to age 40): 4420 total bases

Dustin Pedroia

Age 32-HOF numbers (projected to age 40): 4x Gold Glove, 3x Fielding Bible, 1x AL MVP, 603 doubles

Hanley Ramirez

Age 31-HOF numbers (projected to age 40): 2x Silver Slugger, 571 doubles, 4560 total bases

Pitchers: There are numbers that a player can reach and in my belief guarantees them into Cooperstown. 3000 strikeouts (only 16 players in MLB history have amassed this many strikeouts). 500 saves (only 2 players in MLB history have amassed this many saves). This list will include Cy Young Awards, Delivery Man of the Year Awards (now known as the Mariano Rivera Award (AL) and Trevor Hoffman Award (NL), Gold Glove Awards, and any other awards applicable to the art of Pitching. As mentioned above these awards will be current as I could not come up with a way to adequately predict who will win what award with respect for all the great hurlers we see in the Show.

Jonathan Papelbon

Age 35-HOF numbers (projected to age 40): 1x Mariano Rivera, 502 saves,

Francisco Rodriguez

Age 33-HOF numbers (projected to age 40): 2x Mariano Rivera, MLB single season saves record holder (62), 567 saves

Justin Verlander

Age 32-HOF numbers (projected to age 40): 3x strikeout champion, 2x AL wins champion, 1x AL triple crown, 2x no-hitter, 1x AL MVP, 1x Cy Young, 3268 strikeouts

Huston Street

Age 32-HOF numbers (projected to age 40): 525 saves

Zack Greinke

Age 32-HOF numbers (projected to age 40): 1x MLB era leader, 1x AL Cy Young, 1x Gold Glove, 1x Silver Slugger, 3070 strikeouts

Jon Lester

Age 31-HOF numbers (projected to age 40): 1x no-hitter, 3070 strikeouts

I must reiterate that any of these projections could be altered year to year, anything can happen and if I have left any player you feel is worthy of consideration please let me know.

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Why netting should be installed above the dugouts at all #MLB Stadiums

I’m sitting down flipping through the sports channels and see that the Texas Rangers are playing the Detroit Tigers. I join the game in the bottom of the 8th inning and the first pitch I see is fouled off to the 3rd base side. Immediately you hear the ooh of the crowd, the kind when something is not good. The batter does not step back in the batters box, a look of concern on his face. The Tigers and Rangers are all looking in the direction of where the ball was fouled off, the same concerned look on their faces. The announcers bring up the fact that discussions have been made to extend the netting that is behind the home plate area. Immediately I agreed. Having been to both Wrigley Field and Kauffman Stadium this year and seeing how many foul balls there are, this issue of fan safety should not be an issue anymore. An estimated 53,000 foul balls are hit each season and 1,750 spectators are injured by these foul balls each season.-via foulballz.com and a Bloomberg article that you can check out here:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-09-09/baseball-caught-looking-as-fouls-injure-1750-fans-a-year

The netting only protects the fans that are seated behind home plate. The next time you are at a MLB game check out the fans located beside the on-deck circles. The netting is not extended to protect these fans. I’ve read articles claiming that the viewing experience of the fans will be altered if netting were to be extended to the edges of the dugouts. To this I would say: if you are that concerned about the viewing experience as opposed to your personal safety then buy different seats. Having this netting will protect the fans. Need I remind everyone that tonight is certainly not the first instance of this happening this season. A fan was struck at Fenway Park earlier this year and was immediately rushed to an hospital with life threatening injuries. What if something even worse happened? What if it were a child that was struck in the face with a baseball traveling at over 100 mph. Its quite simple, that child would most likely be killed. This happened at Dodger Stadium in 1970, a 14 year old child was killed by a foul ball. Even though that was 45 years ago now, seeing these two examples this season should give MLB enough of a reason to protect the fans that pay to come watch the games. Another added element to extra netting being added to cover the dugouts would be player and coach safety. Remember when Royals first base coach Tom Gamboa was brutally attacked by the father-son duo causing permanent hearing loss at Comiskey Park in Chicago? That was one of the most insane events I have witnessed watching sports and certainly has not left my mind. The answer is simple, extend the nets in order to provide more of a barrier or deterrent to fans entering the playing surface and keep the fans without malicious intent protected from foul balls screaming in their directions.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/mlb/2015/06/06/broken-baseball-bat-fan-feway-park-netting-maple-bats/28611829/.

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The argument for #RedWolves vs. #Razorbacks

In the State of Arkansas we have two Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS or D-1 if you prefer) programs that do not play each other in an in-state rivalry game. This, quite frankly, needs to change…immediately. Arkansas and Arkansas State have never met on the football field from what I can find, and haven’t met at all since the first round of the 1987 NIT Basketball Tournament. Do other states have this issue? In the SEC; Auburn plays Alabama, Mississippi plays Mississippi State, Tennessee plays Vanderbilt, Kentucky plays Louisville, Georgia plays Georgia Tech, Florida plays Florida State, South Carolina plays Clemson, THE LAST 4 AREN’T EVEN IN THE SAME CONFERENCE WITH EACH OTHER. Around the nation you can point to Utah playing Utah State and BYU who aren’t Power 5 conference members (The BYU-Utah game is taking a 2 year hiatus so Utah could play Michigan this year and last), Colorado plays Colorado State every year and Colorado State is not a Power 5 conference member. North Carolina has 4 teams playing each other in the same conference each year. As does California in the Pac-12, remember that USC-Fresno State game that Reggie Bush went crazy in? Both schools in California. It eventually will get to the point in this state where it will be weird if the Hogs and Red Wolves don’t meet in not only football, but basketball, and baseball. There is an easy solution for each one of the three games I just mentioned to take place. War Memorial Stadium, Verizon Arena, and Dickey-Stephens Park all in Little Rock, Arkansas. Before you get your heads all in a tizzy thinking about how this will affect recruiting, take a look at the 100 man roster for the Razorbacks. 69 out of state, 41 in state-that is clearly doing your work in the other 49. Here is another argument I hear that does not hold water: Arkansas would lose money. Absolutely not, Arkansas pays other lower tier FBS schools to come to either Fayetteville or Little Rock and more often that not get their heads kicked in at the hands of the Razorbacks. Arkansas paid Louisiana Monroe $950,000 to come to Little Rock in 2012. ULM won that game in what was one of the most embarrassing seasons on the Hill. Think about if it were Arkansas State that the Hogs played in War Memorial. They could split the revenue 50/50 on the 54,120 ticket sales, concession sales, merchandise sales, etc. If they could not agree to terms on a Little Rock venue, then a home and home series would be the next option to consider. That’s ridiculous you say, is it too far out of the realm of possibility? Arkansas’ newest rival Missouri is traveling to Jonesboro to play Arkansas State this season. If Missouri can, Arkansas should. Its a rivalry anything Missouri does Arkansas should be willing to do even better. Arkansas State is not just a run of the mill program anymore, they have become a program that competes in bowl games year in and year out. With this money coming in from traveling to other schools and bowl games, Arkansas State is in the middle of renovations: an $11 Million Student Activities Center (Indoor practice facility) that is 62,000 square feet; a $7 Million Press Box Expansion that is 40,000 square feet; and a $12 Million Football Operations Complex that is 53,000 square feet. That is not taking the football program lightly. Arkansas State is trying its dead level best to play with the big boys and it is time that the Arkansas Razorbacks (and their fans) took notice that little brother ain’t so little anymore. Centennial Bank Stadium now seats over 30,000 fans, a far cry from what Reynolds Razorback Stadium seats at full capacity, however that is the second largest stadium in the Sun Belt (after Louisiana-Lafayette). Perhaps with a game every other year at the venue, Arkansas State would expand the stadium around the northern perimeter and get this stadium into the 50,000 seat range. That would make for a lot of fans to come and watch a game. As for who would broadcast this game? That is pretty easy, the SEC Network would most likely take this game and run with it. The media likes the shiny new thing, market this as the Diamond Cup. The Golden Boot was created by former Arkansas Linebacker David Bazzel and I am sure there is someone in this state that could come up with a design that showed off our state being unofficially being nicknamed ‘The Diamond State’. One last reason I find that this should not be a series is “no one will bother to show up”. To me that is an absolute fallacy. Sure maybe some of the uppity fans from the U of A would not take this game seriously, but there is a whole contingency of A-State fans that are chomping at the bit to get their chance at the Hogs. I would love our state to have an instate rival. General George S. Patton once said that “Battle is the most magnificent competition in which a human being can indulge. It brings out all that is the best, it removes all that is base. All men are afraid in battle. The coward is the one that lets his fear overcome his sense of duty. Duty is the essence of manhood.” I think Arkansas vs. Arkansas State is the duty of both of these institutions and the fear of losing to the Red Wolves makes Razorback fans, the alumni, and media cowards. If you are not worried about the outcome because you believe in your heart of hearts that you can roll that big Hog helmet in Fayetteville, Little Rock, Jonesboro, etc. then play A-State. Arkansas deserves better than for you to turn your nose up to the other side of the fence and put your fingers in your ears and scream la la la when this issue comes up. Figure it out, in other states this game has been congressionally mandated to play and perhaps if we could get our state legislature involved we could really have this game in the Natural State played on a yearly basis.

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Who will be in the #CollegeFootballPlayoff

The last 5 articles we have went over the Power 5 conferences in the world of collegiate football trying to determine which teams are the ones that are contenders. Now we are going to make some predictions for the four spots in this upcoming edition of the College Football Playoff (Played in January 2016). Taking into consideration the schedule, preseason rankings, and each team identified as a ‘team to watch’ we will now slice that list down into the 4 locks I feel are going to play for the National Championship. Starting in the ACC I stated that Clemson, Georgia Tech, and Notre Dame were the 3 teams to watch. In the Big 10 Michigan State, Ohio State, and Wisconsin are the 3 teams to watch. The Big 12 gave us only 2 teams: Baylor and TCU (who were left out last season. In the Pac 12 I found that whoever comes out of the UCLA-USC game on Nov 28 has the best chance to be in. The SEC was probably the most difficult to decipher as there are good teams littered throughout college football’s deepest conference, with Georgia-Alabama-Auburn emerging as the three teams. There are head to head games between some of these selections. Starting with Clemson, they host Notre Dame on October 3 in an early season knockout game. The following week on October 10 Clemson hosts Georgia Tech, tough two week stretch for Clemson. Speaking of Notre Dame, their annual rivalry game with USC is slated to be on October 17. Notre Dame also plays Georgia Tech, hosting the rambling wreck on September 19. These four games will give us 1 candidate to zero in on as a frontrunner to make the Playoff as early as mid-October. In the Big 10, Wisconsin starts the season with Alabama, now last season Ohio State was able to overcome an early season loss to eventually be crowned National Champions. But, whoever loses this game will have the rest of their conference schedule ahead of them. Wisconsin has the favor of not meeting Michigan State or Ohio State until potentially the Big 10 Conference Championship game. That is a major coup for the Badgers. The Michigan State-Ohio State matchup is scheduled to be on November 21, this is the second to last game of the season for each team and the game will be played in Colombus Ohio. Big advantage for the Buckeyes. As mentioned above the Baylor-TCU game will effectively be the Big 12 championship game, played in Ft. Worth on November 27, and should separate one or the other as a clear contender for the Playoff (barring a meltdown in the week after for the winner). Also as mentioned above the UCLA-USC game on November 28 could also be a play in game, given the Trojans take care of business by defeated Notre Dame earlier in the season. This brings us to the SEC, Auburn hosts Georgia on November 14, and hosts Alabama on November 28. Meanwhile Alabama also travels to Georgia, on top of going to Auburn, on October 3. The real thing to pay attention to is whoever comes out of these games will still have major work ahead of them, as it is highly likely that one of these regular season matchups will wind up being the SEC Championship game. Could one of these teams lose in the regular season then defeat that same team in that game, spring-boarding themselves into Playoff contention. You better believe that this scenario could very happen. Georgia, on top of these potentially 3 huge games, travels to Georgia Tech in the last regular season matchup on November 28. Where are these teams currently ranked? Right now they look like this: 1) Ohio State 2) TCU 3) Alabama 4) Baylor 6) Michigan State 7) Auburn 9) Georgia 10) USC 11) Notre Dame 12) Clemson 14) UCLA 17) Georgia Tech 18) Wisconsin. Who’s left out? 5) Oregon (who has a say playing Michigan State & USC) 8) Florida State (who has a say but they travel to both Clemson & Georgia Tech). That’s it for the Top 10. Unless a reincarnation of Cam Newton or Johnny Football is out there on another Top 11-25 team that has a loaded defense as well, the National Champion will come from this list. Who’s in?

September 5

Alabama vs. Wisconsin – Alabama is breaking in a new QB, Wisconsin is breaking in a new Head Coach-I’m taking Alabama.

September 19

Georgia Tech @ Notre Dame – The Irish lost a starting D-Lineman two days ago . Will that be enough to stop this option attack? I’m taking Georgia Tech.

October 3

Alabama @ Georgia – Its still early in the season, the Tide QB folds in the raucous environment. I’m taking Georgia.

Notre Dame @ Clemson – An early season loss to Georgia Tech hurts, but losing at Clemson effectively knocks the Irish out. I’m taking Clemson.

October 10

Georgia Tech @ Clemson – Is one week enough to prepare for the option after having a tough game against Notre Dame? (Channeling my inner Lee Corso) Not so fast my friend! I’m taking Georgia Tech.

October 17

USC @ Notre Dame – This is always a big game, USC is too talented and with a veteran QB. I’m taking USC. (Notre Dame is officially eliminated)

November 14

Georgia @ Auburn – The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry. This one means a lot, will there be a last second hail mary? Possibly, I’m taking Auburn in a close thriller.

November 21

Michigan State @ Ohio State – The weekend before Elimination Weekend sees one of our contenders go away. Sorry Spartan Nation I am taking Ohio State. (Michigan State is officially eliminated)

November 27

Baylor @ TCU – Plain and simple: The Horned Frogs take revenge for last years letdown in Waco. I’m taking TCU. (Baylor is officially eliminated…schedule better non-conference games to be considered in upcoming years)

November 28-Elimination Saturday

Alabama @ Auburn – The Iron Bowl is at Jordan-Hare this season, good luck Tide. I’m taking Auburn. (Alabama is officially eliminated)

Georgia @ Georgia Tech – Last year it was the State of Mississippi that captured college football. This season the State of Georgia will see its two major football programs undefeated heading into this rivalry game. In a very close game I will take Georgia Tech.

UCLA @ USC – Oh wait a minute, there are two teams in the State of California that are undefeated as well! The game is at The Coliseum, USC has the veteran QB (as mentioned above). I’m taking USC. (UCLA is officially eliminated)

Conference Championships

ACC Championship Game – Clemson vs. Georgia Tech – Can Clemson solve the option this time? No! I’m taking Georgia Tech to finish an undefeated season. (Clemson is officially eliminated)

Big 10 Championship Game – Ohio State blows out Wisconsin, again. I’m taking Ohio State with the perfect season. (Wisconsin is officially eliminated)

SEC Championship Game – Auburn vs. Georgia – Another rematch, earlier I picked Auburn and that makes them undefeated heading into this game. Georgia is coming off a close loss to rival Georgia Tech and has saw them punch their ticket into the College Football Playoff. Georgia spoils Auburn’s perfect season. I’m taking Georgia (Auburn is officially eliminated)

So if you’ve paid attention, Ohio State, TCU, USC, and Georgia Tech are all undefeated and Georgia has one loss that they avenged. Georgia has officially eliminated the SEC from the College Football Playoff by avenging that loss. Too bad for all those SEC fans, the drought continues. (Georgia is officially eliminated)

Based on the rankings being what they are, we are left with the 4 undefeated conference champions seeded as follows: 1) Ohio State 2) TCU 3) USC 4) Georgia Tech. The Orange Bowl will get the ACC representative and the Cotton Bowl will get the Big 12 representative. Therefore 1) Ohio State vs. 4) Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl and 2) TCU vs. 3) USC in the Cotton Bowl. I will take the higher ranked team in each of those matchups. That leaves 1 vs. 2 like we always want in a game for all the marbles.

The National Championship Game – 1) Ohio State vs. 2) TCU

Horned Frogs spring the upset and are National Champions for the first time since 1938

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#SEC Football best vs worst case scenario 2015

I can-and probably will-write an article explaining how to fix the SEC’s hatred of geography by putting Missouri in the Eastern Division. But, that is not why we are here today. It has been 2 years since the SEC last won a National Championship in football. We do football different here in the South, how can this 2 year drought be stopped? Has collegiate football changed so dramatically that the advantages the SEC had in the trenches been rendered obsolete? Time will tell as it always does, maybe there is a national title contender among the ranks. Winning every game in this conference is borderline impossible anymore, especially in the West Division (which might be the best division in football). Disclaimer-this just states the best and worst case scenario, it does not predict which team will be in which bowl.

Alabama

Last season: 12-2 (Defeated by Ohio State in the AllState Sugar Bowl)

Vegas over/under win prediction: 9.5

Still searching for answers at QB less than 3 weeks before the season starts, Nick Saban will lead his team into a showdown in Arlington against Wisconsin to open the year. Now Roll Damn Tide is used to this big game to open the season, however questions at QB are going to have to be answered before they take the field. Only 4 true road games the rest of the way will help Alabama’s signal caller be comfortable in Bryant-Denny. Best case scenario: College Football Playoff. Worst case scenario: Tier 2 bowl such as the Outback Bowl.

Arkansas

Last season: 7-6 (Defeated Texas in the Advocare V100 Texas Bowl)

Vegas over/under win prediction: 8.5

Back is the starting QB, both 1,000 yard rushers, the O-line, etc. The Hogs seem to have turned a corner under Bret Bielema. Last season was not going very well, they were losing plain and simple. Getting a week off before the two shutout wins was huge. Getting a week off after back to back road games at Tennessee (Oct 3) and at Alabama (Oct 10) will also be huge this year. Look for the Razorbacks to build on last season. Best case scenario: At-large selection New Years 6. Worst case scenario: A tier 2 bowl such as the Music City Bowl.

Auburn

Last season: 8-5 (Defeated by Wisconsin in the Outback Bowl)

Vegas over/under win prediction: 8.5

Losing 4 out of 5 including the bowl loss after winning those close games the year prior prompted Auburn to attempt to fix its defense. Hiring Will Muschamp as the new Defensive Coordinator was the step they took. Auburn always recruits well, this ought to be a better team that 8-9 wins. A 3 out of 4 game stretch on the road might do this team in however, at Kentucky (Oct 15) is a Thursday night game and one to keep an eye on. At Arkansas (Oct 24) will not be an easy game, and at Texas A&M (Nov 7) finishes that stretch. Getting Alabama at home is huge, they should be well rested because the week before Idaho comes to Jordan-Hare. Best case scenario: College Football Playoff. Worst case scenario: Tier 2 bowl such as the Liberty Bowl.

Florida

Last season: 7-5 (Defeated East Carolina in the Birmingham Bowl)

Vegas over/under win prediction: 7.5

Out with Muschamp, in McElwain we trust. A former Saban understudy, McElwain took Colorado State to being a ranked program for parts of last season. The defense still should be as stout as ever, but the Gators should score more points. The schedule bookends the conference schedule with nonconference games that Florida should win. Finishing better than 4-4 in the conference would mean stealing a victory on the road in one of the following: at Kentucky (Sep 19), at Missouri (Oct 10), at LSU (Oct 17), or at South Carolina (Nov 14). Best case scenario: A tier 2 bowl such as the Belk Bowl. Worst case scenario: taking a step backward and finishing under .500.

Georgia

Last season: 10-3 (Defeated Louisville in the Belk Bowl)

Vegas over/under win prediction: 9

Three losses hurt Georgia last season. Each one to a rival. When is Georgia going to take that next step in National Championship contention? It could legitimately be this season. No back to back road games, Georgia should be undefeated heading into the showdown at Auburn (Nov 14) and if they get passed that unscathed they will be staring down at Georgia Tech (Nov 28) for a shot at the Playoff. Best case scenario: College Football Playoff. Worst case scenario: At-large selection New Years 6.

Kentucky

Last season: 5-7

Vegas over/under win prediction: 6

Kentucky just missed a bowl game last season, losing by 4 to rival Louisville hurts. But so does losing the last 6 games of the season. Kentucky might just get over that hump this season and make a bowl for the first time since 2011. Two winnable road games (when is the last time you read something like that) at South Carolina (Sep 12) and at Vanderbilt (Nov 14) shed some optimism on this season. Best case scenario: Texas Bowl. Worst case scenario: finishing below .500, again.

LSU

Last season: 8-5 (Defeated by Notre Dame in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl)

Vegas over/under win prediction: 8

LSU replaces John Chavis (Who took his talents to College Station, TX) with Kevin Steele. The last time Steele was a defensive coordinator Clemson gave up 70 POINTS to West Virginia in the 2012 Orange Bowl. Lets hope for the sake of Les Miles and the entire Bayou nation that performance does not manifest itself again. LSU is one of the schools not afraid to go anywhere and play, however a trip to Syracuse (Sep 26) isn’t really eye opening. This years edition of the “Game of the Century” will be in Tuscaloosa on Nov 7. Best case scenario: Citrus Bowl. Worst case scenario: Kevin Steele’s defense is as bad as that ’12 Orange Bowl and LSU plays 12 shootouts only winning 5.

Ole Miss

Last season: 9-4 (Defeated by TCU in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl)

Vegas over/under win prediction: 8.5

Ole Miss has a lot of talent, that is obvious after last year saw them start 7-0. The Rebels have a question at QB (which seems to be every team)…enter Chad Kelly (Jim Kelly’s nephew) who threw for 3,906 yards and ran for another 446 while leading East Mississippi Community College to their 3rd National Championship since 2011. I feel like this is the Oregon article, if he is anywhere close to how effective he was at EMCC then Ole Miss may be on to something. They have some tough road games: at Alabama (Sep 19) at Florida (Oct 3) at Memphis (Oct 17), at Auburn (Oct 31) and at Mississippi State (Nov 28). Best case scenario: At-large selection New Years 6. Worst case scenario: Independence Bowl.

Mississippi State

Last season: 10-3 (Defeated by Georgia Tech in the Capital One Orange Bowl)

Vegas over/under win prediction: 7

The darlings of last season, Mississippi State started 9-0 then the wheels fell off. Dak Prescott is back to lead this team. However, losing a lot of senior leadership from the defensive side of the ball will be what hurts this team the most. They may only win 1 road game and that is the first game of the season at Southern Miss (Sep 5). It could be a long season in Starkville as opposed to the dream season it just had. Best case scenario: Birmingham Bowl. Worst case scenario: finishing at 5-7 or worse.

Missouri

Last season: 11-3 (Defeated Minnesota in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl)

Vegas over/under win prediction: 7.5

After two consecutive SEC Championship game appearances I think it is safe to never underestimate a Gary Pinkel coached team. A real possibility of starting 2-2 however as the schedule starts with road games at Arkansas State (Sep 12) and at Kentucky (Sep 26). Another tough game will be a neutral site game against BYU (Nov 14). Best case scenario: A tier 2 bowl such as the Liberty Bowl. Worst case scenario: Independence Bowl.

South Carolina

Last season: 7-6 (Defeated Miami in the Duck Commander Independence Bowl)

Vegas over/under win prediction: 7

After getting blasted at home by Texas A&M in the first game of the season, South Carolina had an up and down season. Finishing with a bowl win is always a good thing, however Steve Spurrier won’t be the coach forever and the erosion of the program back into obscurity is taking place. The Gamecocks could start the season 0-6 and be staring down the stretch run with only games against Vanderbilt and the Citadel as sure wins. Best case scenario: returning to the Independence Bowl. Worst case scenario: finishing 3-9.

Tennessee

Last season: 7-6 (Defeated Iowa in the TaxSlayer Bowl)

Vegas over/under win prediction: 7.5

It won’t be long until Tennessee is back in SEC championship game contention. This isn’t that year however. Winning 4 out of the last 5 games last season is a good springboard into this years campaign. Tennessee has a legit chance to start 5-0 heading into the Georgia game (Oct 10). From there two tough road games at Alabama (Oct 24) and at Kentucky (Oct 31) will make or break this teams chance at a major bowl. Best case scenario: Citrus Bowl. Worst case scenario: Tier 2 bowl such as the Music City Bowl.

Texas A&M

Last season: 8-5 (Defeated West Virginia in the Autozone Liberty Bowl)

Vegas over/under win prediction: 7.5

New Defensive Coordinator John Chavis is looking to improve the Aggie D that finished 102nd in total defense last year. Will that happen this season? Kicking off against Arizona State will be a good test to see how far this defense has came with only part of the offseason to turn things around. The good news is Texas A&M doesn’t play a true road game until at Ole Miss (Oct 24). In fact they only play 3 road games all year (scheduling win). One of those is at Vanderbilt (Nov 21) and they finish the season at LSU (Nov 28). That is a good schedule for anyone. Best case scenario: At-large selection New Years 6. Worst case scenario: returning to the Liberty Bowl.

Vanderbilt

Last season: 3-9

Vegas over/under win prediction: 3

It was a long season for the Commodores. After losing James Franklin the wheels have fell off of what he built in Nashville. So far off that Vanderbilt now plays 6 road games this season including at Middle Tennessee (Oct 3) and at Houston (Oct 31). It is safe to assume that Vanderbilt is hoping to not get blown out in each conference game and hoping to steal those two on the road. Best case scenario: matching Vegas’ win prediction. Worst case scenario: not winning a single game 0-12.

Conclusion: This is still the best conference in the world of collegiate football, but the teams to watch are as usual Alabama, Auburn, and Georgia.

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