On the eve of Thanksgiving weekend, I thought I'd share what I am thankful for in sports.
Football - I really enjoy it at this point in the season for both college and pro. In the NFL, this is where the rubber hits the road and teams separate themselves and begin the move towards the playoffs. How you look in Week 1 doesn't matter as much as how you look when Thanksgiving comes along. In college, a lions share of the great rivalries take place this time of year and things start to take shape for conference championships.
College Basketball - With the early season tournaments, it's fun to have college hoops on TV just about any time of day. It provides some very attractive non-conference matchups and some upset opportunities for some of the smaller conferences to take down some of the big boys. It gets me thinking about how much I love March Madness, especially the first two full days (not the play-in games that precede it), when the great upsets or near upsets happen. I so much want to see a #16 seed take down a #1 seed for the very first time.
Multiple Sports Networks - While ESPN commands the universe in sports television, I love having the additional offerings that CBS, NBC and Fox have provided. I've grown tired and weary of ESPN with their arrogance and self promoting. It is nice to have other outlets to get sports news and play by play coverage and I hope they continue to grow. I don't think any of one of them will become as big as ESPN but together, they might bring ESPN down a notch or two.
I am also thankful for this new blog I am doing and I appreciate you taking time to read my posts. I'm very near to launching my podcast to which I will let you know about. I would also appreciate a follow on Twitter @jeffallen_88. Feel free to share this with your friends who might think will enjoy my content.
Personally, I am also thankful for my loving wife, our furry four-legged children, and my wonderful family and friends. I hope you have many blessings that you are thankful for this holiday season.
Next week - I'll share some of my pet peeves in sports.
Little did I know at the time I snapped this pic early in the first quarter, that this was as close as the Cowboys would get to the end zone against the Bucs this past Sunday. Normally when I watch Dallas play in the friendly confines of my man cave, I sync up my satellite radio to hear the Cowboys radio broadcast. As this game unfolded, I was wishing I was there and imaging Brad Sham and Babe Laufenberg commenting on how this 10-6 snoozer was setting back the league 75 years. I can always count on their broadcast being entertaining and bringing levity whether the game is a classic between two top teams or like this one, where neither team had gotten to 200 yards of offense midway through the third quarter.
The Cowboys could not get Tony Romo back quick enough. They went 0-7 without him. For the critics who don't view him as an elite quarterback, the evidence has always proven they can't win without him. Simply put, he is one of those players that makes those around him better. His escape-ability in the pocket makes a very good offensive line even better. Having a potent passing attack makes the run game better. And he can diagnose a defense and check into a better play, something sorely lacking when Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel were at the helm. See the theme there? I kept using the word "better". Dallas' playoff hopes are on life support but a weak division gives them a glimmer of hope but no margin for error. I did see an interesting scenario that if the Cowboys won their next three, the Giants lose next two and both the Eagles and Redskins lost 2 of 3, the whole division would be 5-7. Not impossible but a lot has to happen there.
Speaking of quarterback play, I have to say how much I admire Ben Roethlisberger. His toughness is so old-school. While his linebacker mentality does bring about some of his injuries, you can never question his heart and desire to win as he came off the bench this past week with a foot injury that originally had forecast him being out several weeks. If he can stay upright, the Steelers could make some noise in the playoffs. They haven't played their best football yet and if they get hot, they are a team no one will want to face. And for all his great quarterbacking, his tackle on Nick Harper of the Colts after a Jerome Bettis fumble saved that playoff game and fueled a championship run in '06
A little history last night in Orlando, as 7-foot-6 centers Tacko Fall, of UCF, and Mamadou Ndiaye, of UC Irvine went toe to toe in UC Irvine's 61-60 overtime win. They are the two tallest centers to start a game and are two of the 40 tallest people in the WORLD. The other interesting tidbit is that both hail originally from Senegal. Ndiaye is a junior and key component to UC Irvine making the NCAA tournament last year and nearly upsetting Louisville. Fall, the freshman, got the better of the matchup early with a couple of blocked shots on Ndiaye, who rebounded after foul trouble to play a key role late in the game.
That's it for this week. Please remember to follow me on Twitter @jeffallen_88.
I've made conscious effort to avoid doing this on Overreaction Monday, particularly during football season. Yes, you know the day that fan reaction goes extreme to when a team loses, they can't possibly win another game the rest of the season and when a team wins, they want to print tickets to the championship game. Most of this is generated by the need to fill the news and opinion cycle to fill airtime on TV and radio and of course to build traffic and comments on websites and blogs like this one :). While one game at a time is cliche, football and the NFL in particular is a week to week business. You just can't bury most teams or anoint a champion at mid-season. Too much happens too quickly from one game to the next. No matter what, it comes down to health and who is playing at their best when the money is on the line. So don't stress the 400 some odd power rankings that get disclosed each week. It don't mean diddly.
The New York Attorney General says that FanDuel and DraftKings, the fantasy sports sites are indeed gambling and has ordered betting to cease in that state. The sites claim that winning is based on skill and therefore is not gambling. I disagree. Weekly fantasy games are a game of chance. Now, do I believe gambling should be banned? No, I don't. I myself am not a gambler but if people choose to toss their money down a black hole, that is their business. If anything, all 50 states should tax it and generate revenue that way instead of speed traps on the highway (my wife would agree with that!). One end result I would like to see is far fewer commercials from those outlets. There should be a cap on how many spots they can buy in any one broadcast.
I now have a twitter account. Please follow Jeff Allen Sportstalk @jeffallen_88. I'll be sending out updates when I post a new blog and share other random sports thoughts there from time to time.
And one last thought on this Veterans Day...my personal thanks for sacrifices for our great nation to all our veterans.
After 20 years away from sports broadcasting, I have spent that time working in Advertising and Publishing. I still have my passion for sports and have decided to use today's technology and mediums to have some fun again, sharing sport opinions and engaging with you. Doing this blog will be my first platform. I'll be adding a podcast and a Twitter feed in the very near future. So, let's get this party started...this one will be a little football heavy.
Cowboys cut RB Joe Randle - He stated DeMarco Murray left some meat on the bone last year. Well Joe, you left the meat, skin and feathers on the bird by earning your release today. He wasn't horrible but not spectacular either and his off the field problems and not handling his demotion well earned him a ticket out. Darren McFadden has taken advantage of the opportunity but history suggests he won't hold up. As much as Dallas' run game has gotten better of late, it won't be as good as last year until Tony Romo gets back and Dez Bryant shakes the rust.
Offensive Coordinators are taking a beating this year with the pink slips. Detroit bounced Joe Lombardi and now Indianapolis fires Pep Hamilton. I think by and large that Head Coaches look a little lame sacrificing the OC's but you can thank the Ravens John Harbaugh for creating the template when he bounced Cam Cameron and promoted Jim Caldwell to the post and they went on to win the Super Bowl in 2013. Interesting that Caldwell as the head coach is dusting off that plan in Indy. At least one head coach got the blame today with Tennessee firing Ken Wisenhunt.
While having a College Football Playoff is a step better than the old BCS, the one thing they carried over from that flawed system is the weekly rankings and that is still flawed. While I know it is solely intent on driving conversation about the college playoff, it just gets nauseating and tiring because it is all about the Power 5 Conferences. I'd like nothing better than to see The American, as one of the lesser Group of 5 conferences, have one of their teams take down a Power 5 in one of the big games on New Years.
Okay, some baseball....Kansas City, World Champions - While the players should get the credit, I think GM Drayton Moore should be getting more praise for building this team. He learned from John Schuerholz in Atlanta and Braves fans wish he would have succeeded Schuerholz instead of Frank Wren.
And finally, from time to time I'll share who I like to follow for sports coverage. My favorite morning show is Steve Czaban on Yahoo Sports Radio. He and his crew have great chemistry and I like that Czabe loves gadgets and technology and promotes the 3 TV setup in the man cave. I have 2 TV's in mine and the wife thinks I'm nuts. The other thing I like is that this show is not always PC, which can occasionally be uncomfortable but most times is refreshing. Another great aspect is that they do not take one topic and hammer it for the whole show. It stays fresh from segment to segment.
Thanks for reading my blog. I hope you'll continue to visit and comment as well. I would request keeping it clean and not resort to name calling. We can disagree on opinions but maintain respect for one another. Cheers!
Jeff Allen worked in Sportstalk radio in Orlando from 1983 to 1996. most notably as the Program and Sports Director at WGTO in the early 90's, anchoring morning sports reports and various sportstalk shows. Now, after many years, Jeff is deciding to have some fun again to share sports opinions through this blog, on Twitter @jeffallen_88 and with his podcast available on iTunes, SoundCloud and TuneIn.