The 2012 / 2013 Cover Corner College Football Preview

This year’s 2012 / 2013 College Football Preview comes down to three, simple letters:

USC

The Big Questions break down as follow:

Can USC overcome whatever SEC Challenger comes out to face them?  LSU and Alabama will be great again (as every year) but this might be the first in which they are vulnerable.  Two teams in the PAC – 12 could easily win the National Championship (Oregon being the other one).  This season there are virtually two conferences with everyone else on the outside looking in.

Can Wisconsin overcome the fact that they are simply not as good as USC, LSU, Alabama or Oregon?  Probably not.  Wisconsin cannot really play great defense and any SEC Team can destroy their offense with a suffocating D (see all the previous overrated examples like O-State multiple times).  The other teams in the Big 10?! (who knows what the bloody conference is called) that could “make noise” are Michigan St and Michigan.  However, the Wolverines will play Alabama this week and will be blown away.  Long story short, the Badgers will not win the National Title.

Can anyone beat Matt Barkley in the Heisman race?  It always seems as if the presumptive champ never ends up being the winner: Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck, Matt Leinart….etc.  How will this play out, something tells me Barkley will be alright and will finish up being very competitive and in the race until the last week.

National Champs: Three little letters…USC.

 

Advertisements

Free Kicks – Aug 19, 2012

Welcome to the new season of Free Kicks – The Cover Corner’s weekly look at the world of English Premier League Football.  Here are some thoughts on the kickoff of the Premier League season (Editor’s Note: There may be a slight Chelsea bias):

Hazard comes through for the Blues – Chelsea kicked off the first game since winning the Champions League in style with a solid win away at Wigan.  The squad performed well, including againg vets Ivanovic and Lampard (both of whom scored in the opening seven minutes) and new arrival Hazard who set up the opening goal and generally controlled the middle with his quick, attacking play.  Fernando Torres looks fit and had a wonderful chance that would have made the final 3 -0 had it not been cleared off the goal line.  A nice win for the Champs to open their season on.

Tottenham has some work to do – The Spurs made a go of it against Newcastle but desperately need midfielders.  Without soon to be transferred Luka Modric and injured Scotty Parker the squad struggled in the middle.  Strikers are also a concern although diminutive Jermaine Defoe came up huge again.  A tracksuited AVB (attempting to distance himself from his Chelsea image?) needs to find the players to run his system or this team could be in some trouble.  Speaking of which…

Arsenal and Liverpool are in trouble – Liverpool put on a dismal performance against West Brom taking a lopsided 3-0 beating.  Arsenal managed a draw against Sunderland but lacked the miraculous scoring that RVP brought time and again last season.  Arsenal is a team in transition and needs to pull together quickly lest they be left behind by their rivals (selling their two best players is not going to help).  Liverpool on the other hand looks awful and seems to be completely directionless.  New manager Brendan Rogers is going to need a strong hand to pull them up.  Where are the goals going to come from for the Reds, no one seems to know nor really care on this squad.

Man City surives – Despite the loss of top striker Sergio Aguero and being down 2-1, Man City managed to grab 3 points in what is certain to be a tight race to the finish this season.  City has stockpiled ridiculous talent at striker and has refused to let them go – despite rumors of a $40 million offer for Mario Ballotelli the club kept him.  The team certainly has enough talent to win the league and they are a stronger team after bonding last year.  Can they hold off Man U and Chelsea? 

 

The Premier League Preview

Now that I have an English Premier League team to cheer for (in case you missed my epic journey it ended up being Chelsea) I can be excited for a new season.  Finally a sport is being played that I can follow and enjoy – I have tried baseball but can only get into the playoffs.  Chelsea seems primed for a great run thanks to multiple great signings (Hazard, Oscar…) while others did not do much (Man City – keeping their incredible squad together).  Who will come out on top?

Man U.

Man City will be a year better, and they have an incredible team as it is.  However…they barely beat a beat up and hack filled Man U team that had to rely on 90 year olds Paul Scholes (who came out of retirement for crying out loud!) and Ryan Giggs.  This year they made “the move” – just yesterday in fact.  Man U snagged the biggest of transfer prizes: RVP.  Arsenal finally sold their vaunted striker to one of their great rivals.  Having someone to play off of makes Wayne Rooney even more ridiculously dangerous.  Now he has a shored up midfield, a healthy Tom Cleverly and the best striker in the EPL.  City may still have a ton of striker talent and are a more established team, but RVP gives Rooney a new weapon not unlike the old Ronaldo days. 

My Top Five:

1) Man U

2) Man City

3) Chelsea (I really wanted to put them 2nd…)

4) Newcastle

5) Tottenham

Enjoy the kick off on Sunday!

The Dwightmare Concludes

In 2012 the end of the basketball world arrived rather loudly, and not at all with a whimper.  The Dwightmare is finally over and “the most hated player in basketball” is now an LA Laker.

Even though this has long been inevitable, now that the day has arrived it just seems unfair.  LA is stacked beyond belief and did not give up Pau Gasol.  How is this even possible?  The Lakers got rid of one head case center and got a much, much, much better headcase center in return…for virtually nothing.

Was Orlando promised the first pick in the 2013 Draft?  The Magic may have realized they were never going to get over the hump with Dwight…but to take virtually nothing but Aaron Afflalo and horrific late-20’s draft picks is unforgivable (unless they are getting the first pick in the 2013 NBA Draft).  How did Orlando not take the much better offer from Brooklynn?  Or even the Lakers earlier offer that included Bynum and Gasol?

I applaud Dwight for one thing only: he went to the Western Conference.  He saw LeBron and Miami getting better and better, but recognized that the West could potentially be won.  Sure OKC is an incredible team led by the second best player in the game, but Howard is joining a team with Steve Nash, Old Kobe and a hungrier than ever Pau Gasol who just destroyed the Olympics.  How does that sound Dwight?  Is LA alright now?

At the conclusion of last season, watching my Miami Heat raise the NBA Title, I was not sure if the Miami Thrice Title Quest Diary could continue…now I have a reason to keep going – I hate Dwight Howard.  As much as I desperately want Steve Nash to get a ring (more than anyone) knowing what it would mean if he did get one makes me feel a little sick.  Kobe would get his sixth (but not as Alpha Dog, which means that of his 6 titles, he was Alpha Dog for only 2 of them – Jordan was the man for all 6) which would ingnite a ridiculous Kobe or Jordan debate.  No question: Jordan…then LeBron (in my opinion).  Additionally Dwight would get a title and few people have deserved one less – only Melo comes to mind.  Howard proved over and again that he never cared one iota about winning.  He only cares about Dwight.  His fake show of loyalty turns the stomach and it will be interesting to see how he fits in with Kobe.

This year is all about “Beat LA” and you can consider me fully in.

The Miami Thrice Twice as Nice Title Quest Continues!

 

Screw U…SA

On Monday, a new team joined the “Pantheon of Teams I Hate the Most” (Alongside the Post-Shaq Lakers, Eli Manning, Any Team from Boston, Vince Young, most teams from Texas, Russia and USA Hockey and the Toronto Maple Leafs ) – that team is of course USA’s Female Soccer Team.

Rarely can I remember turning on a team so quicky and completely.  After their performance in the semi-finals against Canada however, I can honestly say I am straining for a team I despise more (aside from the Bruins and USA Hockey).  Then there was the team’s performance afterwards; in case you missed it, both Hope Solo and Alex Morgan attempted to devalue Canada (and Christine Sinclair’s) efforts.  Solo said Sinclair was able to score 3 incredible goals due to US defensive lapses.  The first goal Sinclair scored, by the way, was absolutely stunning.  She dangled two US defenders and then powered the ball past Solo in a near superhuman effort.  Her second and third goals (both through the air) came with Sinclair being simply better than anyone else on the field.  Rising far above everyone else on the pitch and positioning herself in the perfect place at the perfect time.

Alex Morgan was also in on the bashing of Canada, saying the US simply did not consider the game a real challenge and that Canada’s fitness was simply not there.  Morgan was among the most dangerous players on the field but Canada kept her under wraps until the last few moments….which were aided of course by two of the worst goddamn calls in the history of sport.

To recap: Canadian goalkeeper Erin Macleod was called for holding the ball for more than 6 seconds which almost never happens without a warning first.  To make matters worse, Hope (may she be forever) Solo held the ball more than 3 times for over TEN SECONDS – once for 14 seconds!  To make matters even worse: Abby (I hate this woman) Wambach stood counting with the referee to point out the foul because “they had to have a goal”.  Cheap.  So very very cheap.  What followed was an absolute travesty.  The ball was kicked at a Canadian player who never reacted or moved towards the shot at all.  It hit her elbow which was tucked against her body (which is not a violation of the rules!!!!) and was called for a handball.  The US got a penalty shot which they buried to tie the game 3-3.

After the game, Sinclair went off due to the horrible officiating and I do not blame her at all.  Then came word that she might be suspended for the Bronze Medal game with France for her comments.  None of the US Players like Solo and Morgan were in line for suspension despite their comments.  Had she been suspended and I was a Canadian athlete with no medal chances, I would have withdrawn from the games in protest.

Long story short, I hate Women’s US Soccer.  I hate Hope Solo and Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach and Megan Rapino and Kelly O’Hare lose.  I hope they lose to the much better Japanese team that should hand them their butts and knock them off their self-made pedastal.  Then I hope Canada wins bronze because damnit, no team or player has ever deserved it more than Christine Sinclair.  As she stands on the podium and accepts her bronze I hope the USA knows that notice has been served and Canada is going to catch them one day.

One day Canada will beat them.

On that day I will cheer as loudly as I ever have.

Until that day, Japan’s (hopefully massive and back breaking) victory will have to do.

Olympic Thoughts

Some quick thoughts on the Olympics at the end of the first week of competition:

Congrats Canada! – Specifically Brent Hayden who finally got a much deserved bronze medal in swimming and the womens soccer team who made the quarterfinals of a major tournament for the first time in history!  Congrats ladies, and Brent (and all the other athletes doing us proud) – some major tests ahead but we are playing hard and no one has been sent home for racially insensitive tweets!  Yes!

Clara Hughes is tougher than anyone – The lady who has competed in every Summer and Winter Olympics since ’96 just finished her astounding career (the only person in history to medal at multiple summer / winter Olympics and she carried the flag in Vancouver – if we ever get another Canadian Olympics she will deservedly light the torch) after admitting that she had to train with a broken back.  A final golf clap for the most incredible Canadian athlete in recent memory.

Lochte / Phelps…Franklin?! – Missy Franklin has been incredible, and Michael Phelps has proved his mettle now.  In his last three events (he still has a relay to go) Phelps has won gold.  Vet moves by the greatest Olympian ever – 17 Gold All-Time (21 total).  Farewell Ryan Lochte, Phelps and upstart Franklin have stolen your games.

Basketball Team says “Game On” to Dream Team – The Supreme Team has now done something that the Dream Team never did in setting several all-time scoring records.  They destroyed a team by 80+ points – a team with NBA Players.  Unbelievable.  Game on Dream Team.  Somewhere Michael Jordan angrily begins looking into time traveling and how he can get the Dream Team into 2012 to play a seven game series.

Now on to the track and field next week!

 

The Greatness Generation

In my lifetime I have witnessed the following careers:

Michael Jordan, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Tim Tebow (for college – not pros), Tim Duncan, Barry Bonds, Derek Jeter, Albert Pujols, Mariano Rivera, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Martin Brodeur, Patrick Roy, Sidney Crosby, Steve Yzerman, Lionel Messi and more.

And now we can add Michael Phelps to that list in an All-Time position.  Sure we could have put him on the list after his 8 Gold Medal performance in Bejing, but now that he has captured the All-Time Medal lead, his spot is assured.  For the following reason:

He owns the two most significant Olympic records –We all remember the name Mark Spitz.  Now we know Michael Phelps who surpassed him four years ago with 8 golds – easily the most dominant performance any of us will ever see.  Then, just to cap it off, Phelps (who also won golds in Athens as well) has now won 3 medals in London.  He won a silver and never really had a shot at gold.  He won a bronze and never really had a shot at gold.  Then he earned the all-time record with a fantastic gold medal.  Phelps taking the record with a gold feels right.  Phelps would be in the pantheon with just his Bejing performance but he has now gone on to medal in three Olympics.  His longevity in a sport that requires ridiculously tough training is also impressive.  Think about it this way: Mark Spitz never set the All-Time record and Michael Phelps passed him.  Then he still went on to take the All-Time Record.

Welcome to the club Michael.  Congrats.  You really earned it and have a place among the greatest of the Greatness Generation.