December 19, 2013
This is it, the final go-round for the BCS.
The much-maligned system for determining college football’s national champion will be mothballed after this season, replaced by a four-team playoff next season.
As finales go, it’s hard to argue too much about the final title-game participants. Florida State was the only major-conference team to finish undefeated and Auburn had the best resume of the one-loss teams.
That’s the big one, but of course there are 34 other bowls, starting with four on Saturday, that will feature plenty of other good teams, star players and interesting match-ups.
To get you ready, we’ve got a rundown of what to look for:
BCS National Championship, Florida State vs. Auburn, Jan. 6, Pasadena, Calif. Duh.
Sugar Bowl, Alabama vs. Oklahoma, Jan. 2, New Orleans. Two storied programs that fell short of their national-title aspirations are still pretty good.
Orange Bowl, Ohio State vs. Clemson, Jan. 3, Miami. Teams that are a combined 45-5 since the start of last season and among the highest-scoring in college football.
Rose Bowl, Stanford vs. Michigan State, Jan. 1, Pasadena, Calif. If you like smash-mouth, defensive-minded football, this is your game.
AdvoCare V100 Bowl, Arizona vs. Boston College, Dec. 31, Shreveport, La. So what’s so exciting about two 7-5 teams? Two All-American running backs going at each other: Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey and BC’s Andre Williams.
Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State. Won the Heisman Trophy, playing for a national championship. Not a bad freshman season.
AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama. There will be no three-peat as national champion, but he’s been as good a college quarterback as we've seen in a while.
C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama. Collects tackles like baseball cards.
Ka'Deem Carey, RB, Arizona. Second nationally in yards per game, runs like he’s trying to punish defenders for daring to tackle him.
Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M. Last year’s Heisman winner could be making his last hurrah in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl against Duke.
Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State. Arguably the most disruptive interior lineman in the country.
Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State. All-American can turn the simplest of routes into a score.
Food is king among bowl sponsors for the third straight season.
The 2013-14 bowl season includes seven bowls with food affiliations, from potatoes to pizza to wild wings.
Second on the list are financial companies with six and auto-related companies are third with five.
This year’s bowl lineup also includes a helicopter company, a university, a defense contractor, a department store and a cause (Fight Hunger).
The folks at Glantz-Culver have made Florida State a decided favorite over Auburn in the national championship game at 8 1-2 points.
In the other bowls, the biggest spread is the Fiesta Bowl, where Baylor is a 16 1-2-point favorite over Central Florida. Right behind is the Pinstripe Bowl, with Notre Dame giving away 15 1-2 points to Rutgers. Alabama also is a 15-point favorite over Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl.
Tightest odds? San Diego State and Buffalo are a pick `em in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl and three other bowls — Cotton, New Orleans and Capital One — all have 1-point spreads.
Florida State and Auburn will have to make quite a road trip to play for the final BCS championship despite being about 200 miles apart.
The Seminoles will cover about 2,200 miles to get to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., and the Tigers have a trip of roughly 2,100 miles to get there.
That’s still not the longest road trip to a bowl. That distinction belongs to Boise State, which will travel about 2,800 miles to play Oregon State in the Hawaii Bowl. Central Florida also has a long trip ahead of it before the Fiesta Bowl, needing to go over 2,100 miles to get from Orlando to Glendale, Ariz.
Tulane has the shortest trip, staying in New Orleans for its bowl, but its opponent, Louisiana-Lafayette, doesn’t exactly have to go far, traveling about 130 miles for the New Orleans Bowl. Rutgers has a short trip over about 45 minutes across the Hudson River — depending on traffic — for the Pinstripe Bowl against Notre Dame and Maryland should be able to get to the Military Bowl in Annapolis in about a half hour. North Texas has a similar drive to play in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.
2-Female officials (Sarah Thomas and Maia Chaka) working the Fight Hunger Bowl, a first for an FBS game.
13-Years since UNLV played in a bowl game. The Rebels will face North Texas in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.
56-Years since Rice had won an outright conference title before taking the Conference USA championship this season.
624.5-Yards of offense per game by Baylor, most in the nation this season by over 50 yards and second-most all-time to the 624.9 by Houston in 1989.
4,866-Passing yards by Fresno State’s Derek Carr, which led the nation.
December 19, 2013
RENTON, Wash. (AP) -- Seattle Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner was suspended indefinitely by the NFL on Wednesday for violating the league's substance abuse policy.
The suspension is the second in two seasons for Browner. He was suspended four games last season for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances. He's the second Seahawks player to be suspended for violating the substance abuse policy this season. Fellow cornerback Walter Thurmond is serving the final week of a four-game suspension.
Browner, whose suspension is effective immediately and without pay, sent out a lengthy statement vowing that he would continue to fight his suspension and sounding resigned that his career with the Seahawks was over.
"I want to thank the Seahawks organization for the incredible opportunity they gave me when they took a chance on a player who was out of the NFL and playing in the CFL for 4 years," Browner wrote. "I also want to thank all of my teammates, coaches, trainers, staff and the 12's (fans) for their support, respect, and friendship and for helping me grow into the player, father, and person I am today. I have been treated with nothing but first class by everyone associated with the Seattle Seahawks and for that I am forever grateful.
"Although I disagree with the circumstances surrounding my suspension, I accept responsibility for all of my actions and I apologize for any that causes any unflattering reflections of my family and the Seahawks. I believe in my innocence and will continue to fight with all legal resources available to me to."
Browner, who was injured in Week 10 against Atlanta and hasn't played since, filed an appeal of the suspension while injured and the Seahawks were waiting for an answer from the league. Seattle coach Pete Carroll said earlier Wednesday before the suspension was announced that he was frustrated the process for making a determination on Browner's status had taken so long.
"It has taken a long time and I've been a little disappointed in that, but we're handling it," Carroll said.
Browner is in his third season with the Seahawks. He started all 26 games he has played for the Seahawks and has 19 tackles, one interception and 10 passes defensed this season. He was a Pro Bowl selection in 2011 when he had 23 passes defensed and six interceptions, but had not been able to match those numbers in the subsequent two seasons.
Browner was to become a free agent after the season and could file for reinstatement after one year.
News of the suspensions for both Browner and Thurmond came as the Seahawks were returning from their bye in late November. Browner is the seventh official suspension for a Seattle player for substance-abuse or performance-enhancing drugs violations by the league since 2011. That doesn't include Richard Sherman, whose suspension was overturned on appeal late last season.
The two suspensions have given chances to backups Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane. They have played well enough that it was not guaranteed Thurmond or Browner would get their starting spots back when they returned.
December 12, 2013
By Ken Brooks
LAWT Contributing Writer
The Cavaliers’ 23-game winning streak ended with a consensus sentiment, by those in attendance, that they were shafted. Officials flagged them 12 times for 115 yards as opposed to Chaminade, which received two penalties for the entire Western Division championship game. The final and heavily discussed phantom pass interference call was not detected on replay. It was one of multiple daggers that halted one of the great runs in all of California.
Since the inception of the California State Football Championship Bowl, Serra is the one local program that proved it can reach it with a degree of consistency and come out on top. Its relevancy is evidenced by state titles in different divisions with completely different rosters.
Other perennial powerhouses in the community too have impressively represented at the state bowl and are not to be ignored. But its back to square one for everybody and for some more so than others. From Narbonne, Crenshaw has taken the last key to the City Section which is becoming extinct as it is incorporated into the Southern Section. And after 13 seasons, Long Beach Poly will have a new head coach in 2014.
As Serra has proven it can go the distance, it leaves local football fanatics anxious for the next winning streak and everything that usually comes with it. And so, let the next chapter begin.turning a page toward another chapter. –Ken Brooks Photo
December 12, 2013
By Everett L. Glenn
NNPA Special Contributor
LAST OF A 3-PART SERIES
(As a sports agent, Attorney Everett Glenn has negotiated contracts for some of the biggest names in sports, including NFL Hall of Famers Jerry Rice, Richard Dent and Reggie White as well as 11 first round draft picks. He has also had a front-row seat observing how Black athletes and the Black community are exploited, enriching others while leaving the community and, ultimately, the athletes themselves destitute. Sports are a $500 billion per year industry, but few of those dollars return to the African-American community. According to Sports Illustrated, by the time former NFL players have been retired for two years, nearly 80 percent of them “have gone bankrupt or are under financial stress because of joblessness or divorce.” Within five years of retirement, approximately 60 percent of former NBA players are broke. After more than three decades of looking at this tragedy on the collegiate and professional level, Attorney Glenn pulls back the cover on these practices in a 3-part series for the NNPA News Service and, more importantly, outlines what can be done to halt the wholesale exploitation and initiate economic reciprocity.)
WASHINGTON (NNPA) – A description of Rice University’s stand-alone major in sports management describes the enormity of the sports business: “Experts conservatively estimate the sport industry at $500 billion a year making it one of the top 10 industries in the nation.”
Touting its sports management program, George Washington University in the District of Columbia observes: “No single aspect of our culture receives as much media attention nor has the power to bring people together as sport.”
It is clear from above that universities are following the money in hopes of their students getting a larger slice of it and, along the way, praying that alumni will not forget their alma mater when they write checks to charity.
However, as we’ve seen in Part I and Part II of this series, Black athletes are primarily fueling this money-machine at the collegiate and professional levels yet African-Americans are excluded from everything from getting in on construction contracts, agent representation, media advertising and accounting to financial planning.
This must change.
In its TV commercials, the NCAA accurately states that most college athletes will turn pro in a field other than athletics.
I hereby submit Community Action Plan #1:
Petition the NCAA to finance a study to determine what happens to the 99 percent of Black student-athletes in college basketball and football who do not go pro.
Some who do turn pro are ill-equipped for life.
One of the saddest spectacles I have ever witnessed was former All-Pro defensive end Dexter Manley of the Washington Redskins testifying before Congress in 1989 that he could not read, write or spell. He was failed at every point in his life – from high school and university coaches who allowed him to play football without mastering basic academic skills to the NFL that allowed him to continue on his dead-in path to nowhere.
That’s one of the reasons we at the National Sports Authority established our Business of Sport Success program (BOSS). Essentially, we use sports as a vehicle to motivate middle and high school students to complete high school and go on to college by exposing the students to the business side of athletics.
To get our young Black males pointed in the right direction, we hereby submit Community Action Plan #2:
As part of the BOSS initiative, convene a national conference, to be jointly sponsored by such organizations as 100 Black Men and male Greek organizations for the fall of 2014 to address Black male issues, including Black male student-athletes.
As was pointed out in Part I of this series, Black athletes represent 52.9 percent of Ohio State University’s basketball and football rosters and dominate among its star players, fueling a nearly $130 million athletic department budget on a campus where Black males represent only 2.7 percent of the student body. The disparity between the graduation rate for OSU’s Black football players, at 38 percent, and all student-athletes, at 71 percent, represent the highest disparity in the Big-10.
Community Action Plan #3:
Petition the NCAA and each of the six major conferences (ACC, Big East, Big-10, Big-12, Pacific-12 and SEC) to impose sanctions on their members, including the loss of scholarships and/or a ban on bowl appearances, if the graduation rate of Black student-athletes in basketball and football is not within 20 percent of the graduation rate of all student athletes in their respective institutions, commencing in 2016 when the NCAA’s new eligibility standards for prospective student-athletes go into effect.
In Part II, we cited examples from the long list of professional athletes who earn millions of dollars yet, in the case of Allen Iverson, for example, he had reached to point where he said he could not afford to buy a cheeseburger.
Again, this is where family and friends – true friends, not vultures looking for a soft landing spot – can assist.
It was inspiring to see that Philadelphia 76ers rookie Michael Carter-Williams, who is being managed by his mother and her best friend, is placing his entire salary in a trust fund that he cannot touch for three years. Instead of dipping into his salary of $4.5 million over his first two season – with the possibility of earning $10 million if the 76ers pick up the final season of his two-year deal – Carter-Williams is living off of the money he is making from endorsement deals with Nike and Panini trading cards. Other pro athletes should follow his example.
Of course, athletes need stadiums and arenas in which to play. And, like everything else related to the business side of sports, Blacks are Missing in Action.
Our taxes are used to help finance new or modernized sports facilities, but we do not get a return on our investment.
Approximately two-thirds of the $21.7 billion spent on the 95 stadiums and arenas built between 1990 and 2000 were heavily subsidized or entirely financed by tax revenues. The carnival of construction taking place today is proceeding without an effective strategy to ensure meaningful participation by Black construction professionals. The National Sports Authority (the “Authority”), of which I am president, was established in last year, in large measure, to reverse this trend.
The entire Black community will benefit if we can redirect just 10 percent of the sports industry spend on goods and services. Such a shift will create new and exciting opportunities for Black accountants, construction professionals, consultants, financial and real estate professionals in the sports industry.
It will also have the trickle down effect of increasing discretionary income available to Black professionals and businesses to support institutions and organizations in our community, from the NAACP, the National Urban League, the National Action Network and the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition to Black churches that have been the backbone of our community.
We know from first-hand experience this can work.
The National Sports Authority was able to secure more than $25 million in contracts for people of color on the Levi’s Stadium project, the new home of the San Francisco 49ers, even though the project was already 60 percent complete and contracts for more than 80 percent of the work had been awarded.
On the heels of that experience, our organization has initiated conversations with the principals on the new $500 million Sacramento Kings arena and the $1 billion-plus Atlanta Braves stadium/entertainment center project, with a view towards creating even more opportunities by being engaged from the very start of those and other projects.
Our effort was supported by more than 12 million Blacks who are members of the California Black Chamber, the National Association of Minority Contractors, the Empowerment Experiment, the Fritz Pollard Alliance, the NAACP, National Action Network, the National Association of Real Estate Brokers, the National Baptist Convention, the National Urban League and the U.S. Black Chamber, Inc., as well as the San Francisco and Oakland African-American chambers.
Of course, the problem extends beyond sports.
A Nielsen report, produced in cooperation with the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) titled, “Resilient, Receptive and Relevant: The African-American Consumer 2013 Report,” disclosed that although annual Black spending is projected to rise from its current $1 trillion to $1.3 trillion in 2017, advertisers allot only 3 percent of their $2.2 billion yearly budget to media that target Black audiences.
To address this and related problems, we offer Community Action Plan #4:
Convene a national conference in July of 2014 jointly sponsored by major civil rights organizations and the U.S. Black Chamber to develop strategies for holding colleges, professional leagues and major corporations accountable for the lack of economic reciprocity in their goods and services they purchase.
As Cheryl Pearson-McNeil, senior vice-president, public affairs and government relations for Nielsen, said, “Until we do a better job as consumers in the choices we make and invest in companies that invest in us, we are not going to have any changes.”
We hope you’ll join our nationwide effort at the National Sports Authority to empower our community by letting everyone know that sports in more than a game – it’s a business.
December 05, 2013
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Here’s another adjective Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin can call his ill-timed two-step onto the field last Thursday night against Baltimore.
The NFL fined Tomlin $100,000 on Wednesday for interfering with Baltimore’s Jacoby Jones on a kickoff return in the third quarter of a 22-20 loss to the Ravens on Thanksgiving night.
The fine is the second-highest ever levied by the league on a head coach, behind only the $500,000 the NFL docked New England's Bill Belichick in 2007 for spying on an opponent’s defensive signals.
There is also the chance the Steelers have a draft pick taken away “because the conduct affected a play on the field.” Though he was not penalized, the league said the Steelers should have been flagged 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct.
All that from what Tomlin called an “embarrassing, inexcusable” case of being “mesmerized” while standing in a restricted area that separates the sideline from the playing field and staring at the video board during Jones’ 73-yard return.
Jones had to swerve to avoid running into the coach and was tackled during a return that might have gone for a touchdown if not for the obstruction. Tomlin briefly stepped onto the field before he jumped back.
Tomlin insists the “blunder” was not intentional but has no plans to appeal the ruling.
“I apologize for causing negative attention to the Pittsburgh Steelers organization,” Tomlin said in a statement Wednesday. “I accept the penalty that I received. I will no longer address this issue as I am preparing for an important game this Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.”
Jones didn’t blame Tomlin for his own inability to score on the return but allows it put the coach and the league in a difficult position.
“I’m not going to lie, it’s tough,” Jones said. “I can’t say he did it on purpose because I don’t know what he was thinking. It definitely sends a message across the league. He stepped across the line, which definitely threw it off.”
Tomlin said he was following his normal routine on the play and said standing on the 6-foot wide strip is common practice.
New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin didn’t disagree. Coughlin drew a 15-yard flag during the preseason for stepping onto the field during a field goal attempt.
“You find yourself sometimes running down the sideline on the white, but nevertheless, you’re not even supposed to be even on the white because the officials have to have access there,” Coughlin said. “That is a most difficult thing to absorb.”
Tomlin's players leapt to his defense in the immediate aftermath, and safety Ryan Clark allowed he is “always on the field.” The 12-year veteran, however, is hardly surprised the NFL is considering taking an extra step of stripping the Steelers of a draft pick.
“It’s not supposed to be fair,” Clark said. “It’s Roger Goodell, so when has he been fair?”
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger doesn’t believe Tomlin’s near-trip will serve as a distraction for Pittsburgh (5-7), which remains in the playoff hunt as December begins despite an 0-4 start.
“If anything, guys joke about it more,” Roethlisberger said. “They’re the ones pulling up the pictures online and joking with coach about something. If anything maybe it’s a light-hearted fun thing.”
The league will not determine whether to take a pick away from Pittsburgh until after the draft order has been set. It would be an unprecedented move for a coach getting involved during a live play.
The NFL fined the New York Jets $100,000 in 2010 when cameras caught strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi tripping a Miami player on the sideline. Alosi was suspended by the Jets and eventually resigned after the season.
Tomlin is hardly in danger of losing his job, and said Tuesday he had not spoken to team owners Dan and Art Rooney II about the situation.
“I would imagine if the Rooneys thought that I was capable of that or they thought my intentions were that, I wouldn’t be sitting at this table talking to you guys,” he said.
Tomlin makes $5.25 million a season and the fine constitutes less than 2 percent of his annual salary. He can absorb the relatively small financial hit. He’s far more concerned about the uncomfortable position he put the league and the Steelers in after failing to get out of the way with any sense of urgency.
“I will take this as an opportunity to strenuously defend the game of football and the NFL. I won’t defend myself,” Tomlin said. “The people that know me, I don’t need to do that. The people that don’t know me, they are going to make their judgments any way.”
Tomlin’s predecessor, Bill Cowher, raised eyebrows but not the ire of the commissioner’s office in 1997 when he feigned tackling Jacksonville’s Chris Hudson as Hudson ran back a Pittsburgh field goal attempt for a touchdown on the final play of a 30-21 Jaguars victory.
While Tomlin has no plans to change the way he goes about his business, he plans to do a better job of policing himself. The 41-year-old understands this will stick with him once the furor dies down. His goal is to make sure it doesn’t stain the team as well.
“The only thing we can control is our preparation and ultimately our play this week,” he said. “That’s the now and what’s immediately ahead of us. I try to relay that sentiment and attitude to our team, and I think it’s something they embrace.”