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ESPN incites NCAA mob.

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Here is possibly the worst article presented as a news item since Gutenberg.  But as of 4:00 PM yesterday, it rated as an ESPN headline.  As of this morning it had over 2300 comments.

I can’t believe I’m going to try to get to the bottom of what they’re trying to report because — really — I know this is troll bait.  But I’ll dig in because:

  1. It introduces an NCAA conversation I’ve wanted to have, and;
  2. It’s just so bad.

Here’s the text of the article:

A member of a women’s golf team at a West Coast Conference school has been sanctioned by the NCAA for washing her car on campus, according to University of Portland basketball coach Eric Reveno.

Reveno tweeted about the violation Wednesday after he learned of it during conference meetings, culminating his message with the hashtag #stopinsanity.

“Just heard about two NCAA violations in WCC. 1) athlete using Univ. water to wash car, 2) coach text recruit ‘who is this?'” Reveno wrote.

The WCC school in question self-reported the extra benefits violation to the NCAA, Yahoo Sports! reported. Yahoo also reported the NCAA asked the golfer to pay the school $20, which they said was the value of the water and hose.

I’m no Scripps J-School alumnus and even I can see some problems here.  What is the golfer’s name?  Which WCC school does she play for?  How did event come to be found a violation in need of sanction?  Was there an NCAA g-man staking out a car wash?  For $20 was there the interior vacuumed?  Did she tip the towel guys?  Where’s the link to the Yahoo Sports* story?  Has Yahoo! changed the placement of their trademarked exclamation point?  Where’s the link to the Reveno tweet?  Is #stopinsanity a thing?

And the main question ESPN:  when a basketball coach uses a #stopinsanity hashtag to tweet about a different school’s self-reporting of a golfer for a trivial NCAA violation… aren’t you being manipulated for a specifically anti-NCAA agenda?

Or is it your anti-NCAA agenda?

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Also: 18-45 in past two years.

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Meet Eric Reveno.

Meet Eric Reveno, self-promoting college basketball coach.  When your twitter home page doubles as a resume you’ve crossed some sort of line and wandered beyond ‘savvy use of social media.’  Hey bro, that online seminar you attended about improving your brand?  They really were talking about sprucing up your LinkedIn profile.

[UPDATE:  I am informed by friends closer to the University of Portland program that Reveno is a decent guy.

Reveno is good guy.  Like “so good that he’s going to get swallowed by his profession and eventually fired because he can’t compete with snake-oil salemen like Calipari” good.  He’s an entertaining interview if you watch their games because he’s such an engineer (I think one of his degrees is in engineering, if I’m not mistaken) that he actually tries to answer those sideline reporter questions sincerely, and ends up answering before he fully forms his response.  It’s tremendous to watch.

But he’s also definitely the opposite of self-promoting coach or one who would use those circumstances to promote his program.  He seems like a guy who is actually wildly uncomfortable with all the non-coaching aspects of being a coach, so if he comes across as self-promoting, it’s just as likely because he’s awkward.

So I stand corrected there.  Will leave original snarky post intact for consistency’s sake.]

In seven years at Portland he’s 96-126.  No NCAA Tourney appearances.  His teams have finished like this in conference:

  • 2007:  7th /of 8
  • 2008:  7th;
  • 2009: 3rd;
  • 2010:  3rd;
  • 2011:  5th;
  • 2012:  8th;
  • 2013:  7th.

So the guy is probably feeling some pressure.

This isn’t too hard to figure out:  would you rather spout meaningless hashtags to an eager mob or talk about that 18-45 win-lose record over the last two years.

Thus we find this bizarrely random, remarkably info-less tweet about someone else’s player at someone else’s school in someone else’s sport:

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Huh?

(more…)

The No Bitching About Refs Diet.

Simultaneous catches not review-able? No biggie.

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It’s been ten days since I made this pledge:

I’m going to try to go a month without bitching about umps/refs. And no passive-aggressive ‘I’m not saying anything’ tweets where you know exactly what I’m not saying. Gonna go all in on this.

me, 5/19

This experiment is going so well, I must recommend it to all.  It’s been a breeze and a joy.

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Liberation and peace.

I’m approaching the games I watch now with the full expectation that there will be bad and missed calls.  It’s a fundamental truth but yet so roundly unaccepted.  Once this mindset is adopted, every aspect of the game-watching is improved.  I can only describe it as liberating.

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Replay. Not as easy as you think it is. (Hey Comic Sans.)

Take a baseball game for an example.  MLB is creeping toward an average of 300 pitches per game.  I found a datum saying that ~130 of those pitches are swung at.  So.. of course the home plate umpire will not get 170 calls right.  There’s no good in expecting different.

When you make your peace with this,,, all is light.

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Miami Heat games provide excellent opportunities to put the theory lifestyle to the test.

First, it spares you from needing to learn the myriad rules for where replay can be used in the NBA.  Click the link at right, you’ll be surprised.

Second, only calls made can be reviewed, not non-calls.  Thus the obviously missed 24 second call against the Pacers leading to directly to a 12-2 Heat run was not reviewable in spite of the imperative to get it right.  But when you know going in that the rules are imperfect, you’re better prepared for such problems.

All of those background problems evaporate when on No Bitching Diet. (more…)

Joe Banner is gonna fix your uniforms with focus groups.

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One of these teams was founded in 1931. But all look like expansion teams from the 90s. /focus grupe’d

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Ooops, my bad.  New Jags logo.

Why do seemingly reasonable men turn into pompous asses when they take charge of the Browns’ operations?

  • Carmen Policy.  Wins four Super Bowls as CEO with the 49ers; abruptly quits as Browns CEO under a cloud.*
  • Mike Collins.  Marketing executive pulls sloppy back-channel power play to fire GM Phil Savage, gets fired himself.
  • Mike Holmgren.  SB winning coach can’t be bothered coaching, wants to learn the CEO side of the business and wades into Port of Cleveland parking contract negotiations.

And now this guy Banner.  It’s time for Joe Banner to follow the advice command he’s given to the rest of Berea and speak less.  Because he had quite an interview with Clark Judge Wednesday.  He leads off with a stunning display of ignorance and gracelessness:

Julio+Jones+Jacksonville+Jaguars+v+Atlanta+16q4wTRtSSTx

… future draft picks.

New York Jets vs. St. Louis Rams

Was traded for…

Everybody talked about a long-term plan, but when’s the last time the team traded for a future draft pick? When’s the last time the team said, ‘We may not have position ‘X’ with the best player this year because there’s nobody in the marketplace who’s that good, and we don’t want to waste all the future cap money just so we win six games instead of five?

I don’t know Joe, two years?  three years?   This is awkward, Joe … but … The Mark Sanchez trade?  The Julio Jones trade?  I’m not even going to link them, but they were in the news.  You can look them up via Google.  Yeah, I know you don’t Joe.  Ask that IT guy who’s a security risk.  He’ll help you with that.

As far as cap space, is not cap space truly wasted when it evaporates into the ether?  It’s a good thing you have all those analytics-y math-y smart guys over there.  Maybe one of them can explain to you that cap space dollars are not like cellphone rollover minutes.  And as much as you say not spending cap monies is smart, it’s dumb.  It puts your team at a competitive disadvantage.

But today is not about pointing out the obvious, i.e., NFL player payroll at $130M is usually better than a player payroll at $100M.  Because buried later in the interview we find out …

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Joe Banner is gonna fix our logo and uniforms with focus groups.

New, forward-looking, and energetic.
Yet still 55-75 since the change.

That’s right.  FOCUS GROUPS!  

From the same Judge interview we find this:

Q: But everyone has a plan when they go in. What’s yours and why do you think you can do what others before you have not?

Banner: Over the next couple of years, for instance, we’re going to change the logo and uniforms in a way that will respect the history but will be forward looking.

Q: You’re going to change the uniforms? How do you think that will fly with a loyal fan base?

Banner: We promise that the helmet won’t change. We promise the new look will respect the history. We’re going to do a lot of focus groups. We’re not going to put something out there that we haven’t done a lot of research on. It’s not going to be anything radical, I can guarantee that. But it will be new, forward looking and energetic (!!). It will reflect what we want the franchise to be.”

I’ve got your focus group right here, Joe. (more…)

How bout Brook Lopez?

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As long as we’re throwing out trade target names — Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, Chris Bosh (?!) — let me add my pick.

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Three year plan? Ok, three year plan.

One of the main takeaways from the Cavs’ draft lotto was that Gilbert & co. don’t want to be in Secaucus next year.  He tweeted as much and I’m pretty sure there were post-draft quotes to that effect.

Pretty bold talk for a 24-58 team.

If we take those quotes at face value and if we look at last year’s performance, it’s hard to see how a 200 pound slender 6’11” 19 year old coming off ACL rehab and projected to see the floor in December (~20 games in) will contribute enough to add 20 wins to last year’s team.

Yeah, yeah, sure sure:  KI missed 23 games last year, AV 57.  TT took major steps forward last year and I’m very optimistic that will continue.  Waiters will get better.  We’ll get a full year from Ellington versus the 38 last year.  No doubt the Cavs are better next year just by standing still.

But if we’re on year three of a three year plan, that’s a flag to acquire an immediate impact player in 2013.

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Cavs have ammo.

Hardly a laughingstock.

Chris Grant has assembled an embarrassment of trade-able assets for use this offseason.  The draft picks are #1, #19, #33, and #35.  They’re 28th in current player salaries and under the cap.

The Cavs can trade high and multiple picks and the Cavs can take on contracts.

There’s no other team that can do this.

Among the teams under the cap, you could look at Houston and Portland and say they’re looking to be in the playoffs next year.  But they don’t have the draft picks to send back to teams in cap jail.   Portland has the 10th pick and a bunch of second-rounders.  Houston doesn’t pick until #34.  The view from here is that the Cavs are where you shop if you’re looking to straighten out a cap mess and the storefront is open.

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What’s the Cavs’ need?

If we’re in it to win it; what piece offers the greatest upgrade to the roster?

  1. Point guard, KI/??:  good, but a reliable backup is a need;
  2. Shooting guard, Dion/Ellington:  good;
  3. Small forward, Gee/Miles/Walton:  need… but this will be filled in 2014 free-agency by a notable Bath Township resident (But if you want to tend to this without handcuffing the future, @ClevTA offers an interesting take here.);
  4. Power forward, TT/AV:  good;
  5. Center, Zeller/??/AV:  need.  Speights likely leaving; you can’t rely on AV here and it’s not his position anyway.

So, to me, this isn’t even a question.  The Cavs have needed a prototype NBA center for years.  It reminds me of the Browns’ right tackle wars where then tried to patch Ryan Tucker’s retirement with Shaeffer, St. Clair, and Pashos before committing to fixing it with a smart investment.  The difference is that the Cavs’ Ryan Tucker retired in 1994.

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Can you identify the center to match up with 7’1″ 270 lb. Marc Gasol? Me neither.

When I say “prototype center” I mean I center who lives on the block, down low, in the paint.  Zydrunas always seemed like a really tall shooting forward.  AV lives down low, but doesn’t have the mass of the prototype.  That could be why he’s only played 81 games in the last three years (32.9%).  Besides he’s always seemed more power forward and shoehorned into the center position. (more…)

Clearing the decks.

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With the first pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers select…

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NBA Draft items.

Very cool to win the NBA Draft lottery.

NBA Draft picks? Truly.

Alex Lin Len.  7’1″ 255 19 years old from the Ukraine.  We haven’t had a real “5” since Brad Daugherty.  Sign me up.

It’d be one of the more Cleveland things ever for the Cavs to sign Lebron, win 65 games in the 2015 season, blow through the East … and then lose 4-1 to the Warriors who somehow acquired Dwight Howard and employ an offense of Howard abusing Nerlins Noel down low and kicking out Steph Curry/Klay Thompson drilling threes on the perimeter as a baffled Mike Brown looks on.

(That’s a reference to the 2009 playoffs vs. Orlando.) 

But you don’t want to know from me.  In 2011, I’d have taken Derrick Williams and then hoped for Enes Kanter.  (And I still really like Kanter.)  (And I just clicked this link and learned Kanter started two games for Utah last season.)  (See dog at right.)

I’m content to ride with Chris Grant’s call.  In my opinion, he’s been stellar with every transaction he’s made.  Seriously… I can’t think of a move he’s made that looks bad.  And he left himself open for second guessing with the TT and Waiters picks.  He’s got a courage of convictions which, it appears, is derived from doing lots of homework.  We in good hands.

Final draft thought:  gotta give an assist to Byron Scott.  It would have been easy to win three more games and draft in the New Orleans, Sacto range.  But Scott stayed true to the mission:

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Scott did his job and did it heroically.

Only partly tongue-in-cheek here.  We’re not pro tanking.  No not at all. And yet …

The good citizen.

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Good on Chris Perez for dropping twitter.

I know some like the ability to interact with the athlete via twitter but it’s such a double-edged sword, especially for the thin-skinned.  Once you show a chink in the armor, there’s always someone out there to tweak it, just for sport.  (Didn’t anyone have little brothers?)

If you’re an athlete with twitter, it’s pretty good policy NOT to interact.  Take a tip from Alex Mack:  he still hasn’t responded to my request for updates on his contract extension and whether he’ll go into free agency if it’s not done by end of camp.  Wise man that Cal grad.

As you may know I’ve been hard on Perez.  But let the record show that I’ve noted a more focused Perez this year and duly sent the props.

Regarding last weekend, I think I’m willing to chalk up it to a sore shoulder.  And even as I write that, I don’t really believe it.  Perez has always had a lot of loud outs.  With Perez’ commitment to first pitch strikes, it was a matter of time before batters would get the scouting report and starting opening up on him early.  Home runs are to be expected.

To be honest, I’d rather have him giving up homers than walks (if that makes any sense).  You’re the closer:  close.  Attack.  Challenge.  Closers have to have that kind of attitude and sometimes it bites you in the ass. Perez ain’t Gossage and never will be.  He’s not overpowering.  His strength is, ironically, that god damn attitude that I haven’t liked but could grow to as it matures. (more…)

Dan Gilbert: all you could want in an owner.

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When you’re the only one investing in Detroit, you get featured in the Sunday Times.

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Scott over at WFNY jogged our memory on the Kyrie acquisition a couple days ago.  (See tweet at right.)  He’s right of course:  the Clippers included a non-protected first round pick in the Baron Davis for Mo Williams + Jamario Moon trade.  The Clippers’ pick, not the Cavs’, was the lottery winner that turned into Kyrie Irving.

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And thank you Dan Gilbert as well.

But there’s more to this story.

The Clippers have a history of making bad choices, but these are not the Stepien-era Cavs.  The 2010 Clippers rolled out Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman, DeAndre Jordan, Baron Davis, and Blake Griffin.  They thought they were playoff contenders.  But they started slow (4-17), Kaman and Gordon got injured, the season was shot, and they decided to re-tool for 2011.  They became sellers at the trade deadline.*

If you’re in re-tool mode and you’re a young team with a #1 overall rookie all-star to build around… 31 year old guards don’t figure into the plan.  Baron Davis had a nice run with the Hornets and Warriors, averaging 20 PPG with a 42% FG% when he moved to LA.    But things went sideways fast.  Injuries and age caught up with Davis, his 3P% slipped below 30% and then there’s his contract.  Davis had $27M due him over the next two years.  The Clippers needed to dump that salary if they wanted to play in the free agent market.  And free agency is where the Clippers needed to be, not the draft.  They needed ‘the one piece.’  No rookie project will do.

Good luck finding a team owner willing to spend $27M on injury-prone, [slightly] chubby, very clubby, 30% shooting, 31 year old PG.  Even with the draft pick which is 72.5% likely to be #8 (2.8% chance at being #1), that’s a tough sell.

We don’t know, but we expect that the Clippers shopped the Davis + pick deal all over the NBA.  With three hours left before the deadline, the Cavs had the best deal on the table and the trade was made.  Looking harder at the numbers:

Davis is still owed nearly $28 million over the next two seasons and the balance of his $13 million contract this year. Moon’s contract expires after this season. Williams is owed the balance of his $9.3 million salary this season and, with player options of $8.5 million for each of the next two years, potentially could get out of his contract altogether. The savings should give the Clippers more flexibility in free agency the next two seasons.

[Math section]

Davis owed:  $28M + (13 * .25) = ~$31M
Williams:  8.5 + 8.5 + (9.3 * .25) = ~$19M
Moon:  3.0 * .25 = ~1M

The delta is roughly $11M.

[end Math]

Baron Davis was waived in December 2011… that’s nine months.

In other words:  Dan Gilbert spent $11,000,000 for the 2.8% chance to draft Kyrie Irving.

Ain’t that more than you can reasonably expect from a team owner? (more…)

Don’t care about WAR.

“…a boring, life-sucking disaster?”  Well yeah, they’re 17-24.

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I was reading a Grantland piece on the Mets last night and it was interesting.

Jay and I care not about Wins Above Replacement Player.

… So let’s not mince words: The 2013 Mets are a boring, life-sucking disaster.

Now that’s good writering.  Ok Mr. Grantland, you have my attention.

Their roster boasts the third-worst combined Wins Above Replacement in the ma…

o_O.  Ooops.  You lost me.  Gonna click on my Wunderground map now, check the weather.

Third worst WAR?  In MLB?  Their roster boasts this?  DONT CARRRREEEEE!

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I enjoyed a good Archies comic book back in the day.  Those teen-age hi-jinx at Riverdale High.  Why don’t you like Betty more Archie… she’s good looking *and* nice to you?  I had a lot learn on that front but circling back to sports, the comic book experience included an ad whose combination of placement and message left many a ten year old spellbound.  Strat-o-matic.  The origin* of Sabermetrics.

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Kat-nip for kids.

I was ten when got my first Strat-o-Matic game in 1971 or 72.  No.  It was 1970 and I know this because Merv Rettenmund hit .322 that year and even though he didn’t start for Earl Weaver, he started for me.  Don Buford was the odd man out.  Strato did that.

I got the five team starter set** which worked great for me as a Reds fan in Grandview Heights.  I was several years away from our family’s move to Lorain County and it accompanying adoption of the ~1975 Indians due to a mix of wanting to embrace my new Cleveland-ness and it was just too easy being a Reds fan so I sought the richer complexity of rooting for Charley Spikes.  Rose, Geronimo, Tolan in your outfield with Foster and Griffey waiting behind them?  Where’s the sport in that?  No.. appreciating the nuance of Spikes, Hendrick, Manning was more interesting to me.  (Actually .. this is all true.)

Pre-emptive.

Anyway, through Strato I exploited the Rettenmund edge in BA, got over the Lee May trade because he whiffed a lot, inserted Dave Cash in the Pirates lineup long before Danny Murtaugh, Cesar Tovar could play any position,,, and Tom Hall.  Look at this guy’s 1970 K/9 ratio and you tell me why he wasn’t the Twins’ closer in 1970 (or why the Twins traded him to -who else- the Reds).

I offer this background as a proof point that I’m an original stats guy from way back.

And I think the wonk trend in baseball is a tad overdone.  Juuusst a little. (more…)

WWHE #4: The Bully Pulpit.

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Trust-buster? Bust this. –Elaine Benes.

The Bully Pulpit is a position sufficiently conspicuous to provide an opportunity to speak out and be listened to.

When coined by Theodore Roosevelt, he was using ‘bully’ as a descriptor synonymous with good, superb, wonderful.  As in:  the White House provides a terrific platform from which to advocate an agenda.

As the term bully took its now more common form – harasser of the weak – so too has the Bully Pulpit become less a platform and more a bludgeon.

In the world of sports there is no bigger platform with as many bludgeon-wielding blow-hards than ESPN.  With their bully pulpit, ESPN can drive the discussion and drive it however it suits them.

Propagandists have demonstrated over and over that logic and truth are less important in the mass shaping of thought than repetition and a need to belong.  That’s how newspeak words like ‘regressive’ get used without irony even by Orwell readers.  That’s how regional acceptance of ‘can’t have too many pass rushers’ occurs.  And that’s how ‘more replay is good because getting it right is most important’ becomes prevailing thinking among sports fandom.

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Item:  Not everyone buys into more replay for baseball.

There are plenty of people out there who share my disdain for replay.  For today, let’s narrow the aperture and look at replay in baseball specifically.  Here are some views not heard amidst the din of the stampede toward more replay.

Ex-player Doug Glanville cautions:

Tulo gets it.

We can force systems to get better, and sometime worse. We can overrule, overturn, overthink, and even overreact and delete that last post. But let’s be careful because we may not want to know how deep the rabbit hole goes when we try to make perfection.  Maybe a missed call will be a thing of the past. Maybe that is a good thing. But I get the feeling we may actually miss a missed call, no matter what we say in 140 characters or less.

Current player Troy Tulowitzki:

I have mixed emotions about it.  I think baseball has been known for so long by the respect for the umpires and the calls they make. Right or wrong, you just go about your business and play.

Mark Kiszla from the Denver Post nails it in his piece from Thursday:

More replay in baseball? To determine whether a ball raked down the right-field line is foul or a double? Really? … This just in: Life’s not fair. Why should baseball be any different?
It’s only a game, not to mention a game that already takes three hours to play way too often.

Wisdom and depth from sports types.  Whoa.

But if you consume sports from the same places I do, those opinions are not what you generally hear.  Because one guy with a microphone can get on a kick and dominate the discussion… if the microphone he holds has ESPN on it.

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Jayson Stark’s raison d’être:  Get more replay into MLB, ASAP!

Wants more replay and shorter games.  Ohhh-kayyy…

Stark’s pieces earlier this week prompted this WWHE.  Here’s the first, Eight ways to improve umpiring:

1. More replay.

Well, there’s good news. More replay is coming. A lot more replay. Like next year. It might not all kick in at once. But at some point, it’s possible nearly every type of call except Ball one … Strike one will be reviewable. And that will solve everything.  All right. No it won’t. But it’s a start. As Angel Hernandez proved last week, even with replay, some calls will still get hopelessly messed up. But not nearly as many. And Angel will be happy to hear that an important byproduct of expanded replay will be better technology.

And this, MLB must get replay right: (more…)

Horton would’ve brought Norv to Arizona.

Bidwell: It wasn’t the braids Ray, honest. We just really wanted the 60 year old with the 35 years as an assistant and no experience as full time HC.

While researching some Ray Horton background (We cannot confirm that Horton lost any job opportunities due to his corn-rows braids.), I uncovered something that made me do a double-take.

… Horton revealed that he “unequivocally” had Norv Turner (and Mike Tice) as coaches for his offensive staff. In fact, Horton said that both Norv and his wife were excited to come to Arizona.

“Norv Turner was on Ray Horton’s list to come to be the coordinator,” Horton said. “We had spoken several times, Norv Turner and I, and he was excited about the opportunity.”

The SBNaton piece is here.  The radio interview is linked within it.  Horton comes off bright and energetic and if he’s angry about the hiring process, you can’t tell it from what he says or how he says it.  (Although there’s one wag who thinks the interview “… didn’t help [Horton] become a head coach.”)

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All about the coaching staff.

Anyway, weren’t we all told that Chud was able to deliver top end coordinators and that was a big reason why he was hired?  Yes, I’m sure that happened.

But if you look at the timeline, and consider that Horton was selling Norv Turner to the Cardinals as part of his interview process after Chud was hired… well it quite doesn’t square up. (more…)

Browns’ new defense already out-dated?

NFL’s elite last season used one of the two apparent foundations of Kelly’s Oregon offense — either the up-tempo no-huddle (Ravens, Patriots, Broncos) or the read-option (San Francisco, Seattle, Washington).

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Mike Lombardi met the press Monday and even though it wasn’t his intention, he said something of significance:

“It’s a passing league. Last year there was only one team in the NFL that ran the ball in the first half more than it threw. One.  People say, ‘You have to establish the run.’ Teams that are going to the playoffs run it 33 percent in the first half. You’ve got to be able to throw.”  — Mike Lombardi.

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The interwebs confirm: The NFL is a passing league.

Hmm.  That doesn’t square with what Vince Lombardi said:

“Football is first and foremost a running game.  That will never change.” — Vince Lombardi.

But the ‘It’s a Passing League’ assertion is out there and much accepted.  Kanick’s innate distrust of conventional wisdom now engaged, let’s examine the veracity of this idea.*  Today I want to take a second look on whether or not the deprecation of the running game is pre-mature.  Because my take is that it’s not a run league; not a pass league.

It’s a copycat league.

It’s a copycat league and those coaches who are out front with innovations and see success are the template makers and championship winners.  The rest are reactors and re-builders.

Paul Brown, Bill Walsh, Buddy Ryan, Don Shula all changed the game with their ideas and left their competitors scrambling to contrive their own innovations.  This is the what the best coaches do.  Example:  Bill Walsh’s WCO changed the game?  Bill Parcells’ 3-4 rose to meet it.  (Spoiler:  IZR/OZR is designed to exploit attacking 3-4 defenses.)

Massillon Tigers!

Hell, take Knute Rockne.  Do you think he won two pro pennants for the Massillon Tigers because he practiced his teams harder?  Did he win four championships at Notre Dame by recruiting better athletes?  Better fight songs?  Gipper speeches?  Perhaps those were factors in his success but I suspect his adoption of the forward pass at Massillon and introduction of backfield shift for the Irish had more to do with his unmatched success before dying at 41.

Innovation is the key.  And hearing our GM spew trite homilies like a panelist on CBS NFL Today is a concern here.

It turns out that the running game is not dead and there’s a new coach in the NFL who spent the last six years demonstrating this.  What did Chip Kelly’s offense do at Oregon?  How will that impact the NFL?

And, as pertains to the Browns:

  • What’s the benefit of insanely good depth on your defensive front if you can’t sub players in and out?
  • What good having a defensive end as your best player when where ever he chases, the ball goes elsewhere?
  • And of course, if the slogan of your defense is ‘Can’t have too many pass-rushers’ what happens when your central ‘It’s a passing league’ tenet is proved incorrect.

The first two bullets define the success Kelly’s offense.  Let’s take a closer look at his up-tempo and zone read concepts. (more…)