Tag Archives: review

Upon Further Review, Scrap College Football Replay

As we stand upon the brink of the 137th year of college football, there are few things that could be changed that would make the game itself better.  But, no single game-centric issue needs more fixin’ than the system for college football replays.

We love the college game and it is simply better than the NFL in most ways.  However, the college football replays system should, without question, be conducted the same way they do it in professional football.

Two Scenarios That Capture the Shortfalls of College Football Replays

It’s first and goal at the 2-yard line when a powerful tailback goes off tackle and into a pile.  The officials can’t tell if the ball crossed the goal line because of the mass of humanity mashing against each other.  When the dust clears, the officials make a call…

Whether the refs ruled a touchdown or not is irrelevant here.  Why?  Because you can guarantee that play will be stopped and we’ll all lose patience watching the different angles to see if the guy got in.

The next scenario looks like this.  The offense faces 2nd & 9 at their own 32 late in the first quarter when the QB completes a three-yard pass that may or may not truly have been complete.  When the initial replay is shown, it’s unclear as to whether the nose of the ball hit the ground or if the receiver got his hands under the ball.

No matter.  The “genius” eye in the sky stops play to look at the play from every angle except the receiver’s helmet cam.  Four minutes go by when the ref pulls off the headphones and announces that the call on the field stands.  The result?  It’s now 3rd & 6 instead of 3rd & 9.  Wow!  That’s progress, right?

Upon Further Review…

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with going back to the way it was for over a century.  No replay.  The refs make the call and the call is final.  Now, get to the line of scrimmage and let’s play.

But, that will never happen and continuing this system makes us bleed from the eyeballs.  So, here’s a solution.

The NFL system puts the decision on the coach.  In both of the aforementioned scenarios, the coach of the defensive team probably never would’ve wasted his challenge on those plays.

If he challenges scenario A and wins, there’s still a good chance that the QB will score on a sneak from the 3-inch line on the next play anyway.  He’d save his challenge for a different scenario.

If he challenges scenario B and wins, the offense is just as likely to convert on third down whether they need six or nine yards.  Again, he’d save his challenge.

In the college system, there are already stoppages in play that destroy the flow of the game and the involuntary replay stoppage makes the games almost unbearable for the fans inside the stadium.  If coaches were given one challenge, they would be likely to use them carefully and then the fans would not be subjected to the endless delays that disrupt the flow and, ultimately, make the games longer.

Instead, the Rules Committee chooses to completely ignore the flaws in the replay system.  The inherent flaw with their approach to their decisions is that millionaire head coaches are the Rules Committee and the last thing they want is more accountability.  So, they leave it up to the replay official to remove the burden.  To boot, this change to the system would result in fewer replays and speed up the game, which will give the networks more dependable windows of time for their broadcasts.

Again, college football is the greatest sport on the planet and I hate to seem like I’m bashing this thing I schedule my year around.  But if I were Czar, I’d make this change to make it that much better.

E-mail Mark at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @MarkCFried.

Photo courtesy of Brian Cantoni on Flickr.

Josh’s Five Thoughts: AFC Team by Team 2014 Season Review Edition

Here’s the quick and dirty AFC team by team 2014 season in review, presented to spur some conversation. Join me @MTAFSports or More Than a Fan on facebook.  All of these things are indisputably true.

Check out my NFC Review!

I know this is more than five thoughts. I’m terrible at math.

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AFC East

It’s a little known fact that the AFC East is actually the preferred model for a successful society’s financial situation. A small wealthy segment, a small impoverished segment, and most of the population right in the middle. The Patriots are a Super Bowl favorite, the Jets are terrible, and the Bills and Dolphins are on the firm ground provided by not sucking.

New England Patriots (12-4)

Three running backs with 89 carries or more – Shane Vereen, Stevan Ridley, Jonas Gray – plus the late addition of LeGarrette Blount and his 60 carries combined for 1,424 yards. Oh, and guys named Tim Wright and Brandon LaFell are second and third on the team in rushing and receiving touchdowns.

The only thing more reliable than never knowing what’s going to happen in New England is knowing Tom Brady and Bill Belichick will make them good.

Buffalo Bills (9-7)

The Bills got Sammy Watkins and are lookin… What? They lost to Oakland in week 16, with the playoffs on the line?

Well, at least the Bills helped the Browns look even more stupid by not having a top five draft pick in 2015.

Miami Dolphins (8-8)

The Dolphins have to do a great deal worse then .500 to be a bigger embarrassment than the home run abomination the Marlins built.

New York Jets (4-12)

The real lament of an NFL blogger is never being able to come up with an original foot fetish joke to describe the Jets. Now that Rex Ryan is gone, I’ll have to spend next season actually having a football opinion about Gang Green.

I take solace in the fact that there’s at least one team in the NFL with a worse quarterback situation than my hometown Cleveland Browns.

AFC North

I can’t quite tell if the AFC North is the best division in football, or if feasting on the NFC South, Jacksonville, and Tennessee put a shine on average teams. And, yes, feasted is the right word. The AFC North went 19-4-1 in a combined 24 games against that dreadful sextet.

The Ravens actually benefited the most from those games, going an undefeated 6-0. The Bengals were next at 5-0-1 (ties are stupid), with the Browns and Steelers both finishing that soft gauntlet at 4-2. On one hand, I give the AFC North a lot of credit for knocking over the teams in from of them. On the other, I can’t help but wonder if these win/loss records are a little inflated.

On the bright side, we’ll find out in the playoffs! Not the Browns, though. One playoff game every 15 years is their limit.

Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5)

Whatever, Steelers. Just keep winning, even when you suck. Ben Roethlisberger will always find a way to throw the ball on a rope 45 yards to some magical wide receiver while Dick LeBeau is on the sideline sewing together another magically effective patchwork defense.

If I seem like a bitter Browns fan now, it’s not going to get any prettier in the next few paragraphs.

Cincinnati Bengals (10-5-1)

Is it racist to make a joke about Andy Dalton‘s red hair and freckles?

Asking for a friend.

Baltimore Ravens (10-6)

ilikerayrice

Cleveland Browns (7-9)

OH. AND THIS CIRCUS HERE.

I’m too close to the Browns to give a concise opinion about the 2014 campaign. Going from 6-3 to 7-9 and all but admitting that your two most recent first round draft picks are untrustworthy knuckleheads? And the best wide receiver in the AFC finished serving his THIRD OFFENSE drug suspension just in time to get suspended for not showing up to a walk through?

AND OH MY GOD AT LEAST THE COACH LOOKS LIKE A PROFESSIONAL WRESTLER.

AFC South

The sin of the AFC South this season is the hocus-pocus wizardry of suck the Browns dropped on the Ravens will keep J.J. Watt out of the playoffs. Outside of Watt’s utter domination, the AFC South was little more than a jumping off point for Andrew Luck‘s third try at a Super Bowl.

Indianapolis Colts (11-5)

The Luck led Colts have finished 11-5 for the third consecutive season. Two seasons ago saw a loss in the Wild Card Round, last season was a loss in the Divisional Round, and this year, Head Coach Chuck Pagano hopes his team can take the next couple of steps and bring home the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

In related news; the Colts leading rusher is Trent Richardson. I wouldn’t bet  any money you’re not comfortable with losing.

Houston Texans (9-7)

I’m SO pissed J.J. Watt isn’t in the playoffs. This would have been the year he could have scored more points than half the skill position players in the AFC playoffs. Ultimately, the playoffs were too much to ask from a team quarterbacked by Ryan Fitzpatrick, Case Keenum, and Ryan Mallet.

Jacksonville Jaguars (3-13)

I’m sorry, was there a football game happening? Where? OH, down THERE.

Tennessee Titans (2-14)

This team was worse than Jaguars.

AFC West

The AFC West might have actually been the best division in the NFL. Three teams over .500 playing the NFC West plus the Patriots is arguable more impressive than what the AFC North did, playoff berths be damned.

Denver Broncos (12-4)

The Broncos are impressive yet again, but fell short of the #1 seed in the AFC because of that pesky week 11 drubbing at the hands of the Patriots. Peyton Manning is an all-time great with Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas combining for 112 catches and 2025 yards… but the Broncos don’t smell like a team that can make the big game.

We’ll see. The other day I thought my three month old pooped, but she didn’t, so my sense of smell might not be 100%

Kansas City Chiefs (9-7)

The Chiefs are really the team that could have been this season, and it looks like their window is closing soon. Veteran pass catchers Dwayne Bowe and Anthony Fasano are both 30, and all-pro running back Jamal Charles is 28 and already not likely to return to his peak production.

Quarterback Alex Smith had another solid, but not impressive season, and that’s pretty much the story of the 2014 Kansas City Chiefs. Better luck next year, when everyone is older and the schedule will probably be harder.

San Diego Chargers (9-7)

The ONLY thing I still like about Chris Berman is that he calls the Chargers the San Diego Super Chargers. However, going 2-4 against the division, including the season-ending crap fest against the Chiefs, is not super.

The young guys on this roster have talent, but the old guys are old. Antonio Gates, Philip Rivers, and Malcom Floyd are 33, 34, and 33. Somehow they’re all still chugging along. Hope is riding out of San Diego and into the sunset, but he’s not gone yet. There are still too many good bolo ties around to leave.

Oakland Raiders (3-13)

The only wind a Raider is anymore is a fart. Here, I feel sorry for Raiders fans. This is a neat video.

Tell me what I missed at @RailbirdJ or [email protected]

2014 Terps: End of Year Superlatives

With the Terps’ inaugural Big Ten season in the books, I decided to take a glance back at some of the more memorable plays, players and moments from the 2014 season. At times we laughed, we cried, we jumped for joy; so what better way to relive some of the Maryland football season than with high-school-yearbook-style superlatives?

 

Offensive Player of the Year: C.J. Brown

Don’t laugh. The sixth-year senior undoubtedly had the most up-and-down season of any Terrapin, and this came as no real surprise to those who have watched the Maryland offense over the last several seasons. Controversy arose by mid-season as Brown continued to struggle with both accuracy in throwing the football and decision-making. Any questions about who should be starting under center faded with the season-ending injury to backup quarterback Caleb Rowe, and Brown finished out the season as the Terps’ starter. Unfortunately for Brown, he will probably be remembered more for his interceptions thrown directly to defenders with no Terrapin wide receiver in sight, being pulled at halftime of the loss to Ohio State and missing wide open receivers on… well… more than one occasion.

Despite consistently being inconsistent, Brown led the Terrapins to a 7-5 record in their first season as members of the Big Ten. The dual-threat quarterback finished 2014 with a respectable 20 total touchdowns (13 passing, seven rushing) and accounted for over 2,500 yards of total offense (2,083 passing, 569 rushing).

Honorable Mention: Stefon Diggs

Had Diggs not missed the final three games of the regular season (and performed well in those games) I probably would have chosen the junior wideout over C.J. Brown. Before his suspension/injury, Diggs recorded 52 receptions for 654 yards and five scores. He had a good chance of reaching the 1000-yard receiving mark, which would have been a monumental accomplishment especially in light of the Terrapins’ typically anemic offense. His role as a kickoff returner should also not be overlooked, as his speed and elusiveness gave the Terps’ offense decent starting field position more often than not.

 

Defensive Player of the Year: Will Likely

Cornerback Will Likely had a breakout year in 2014 and gained national attention for his play. Likely finished the season with six interceptions, the most by any player in the Big Ten. The sophomore corner was one of two players in the conference to score two defensive touchdowns, and he was awarded Big Ten Player of the Week honors twice this season. Likely appears to be a star in the making. With a couple more productive years as a Terrapin, Likely could potentially have a similar career path as his recent predecessor, Dexter McDougle, en route to a mid-round draft pick in the NFL.

Honorable Mention: Cole Farrand

Inside linebacker Cole Farrand had an impressive year for the Terps, finishing the 2014 season with 111 total tackles (64 solo, 47 assisted). He was an integral piece to the Terrapins’ first conference win, as he helped contain one of the nation’s leading running backs in Tevin Coleman to well below his season rushing average. Farrand recorded a season-high 19 tackles in that contest and was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week. He followed up his standout performance at Indiana by notching 17 tackles the following week in a home loss to Ohio State.

Honorable Mention: Andre Monroe

Monroe, although slightly undersized for his position, anchored the Terrapin defensive line in 2014. After missing all of the 2013 season with a knee injury, Monroe returned in a big way. The senior finished the year with 56 total tackles, nine sacks, and 12 tackles for loss.

 

Best Catch: Marcus Leak

In 2013 the Maryland Terrapins suffered an embarrassing 20-3 loss to the Syracuse Orange in College Park. This season, Maryland traveled to upstate New York and returned the favor, as the Terps impressively defeated a solid Syracuse team by two touchdowns. C.J. Brown looked sharp early throwing the football, and he connected with wide receiver Marcus Leak for a 25-yard touchdown in the first quarter. The TD grab was not Leak’s most impressive catch of the game though. With Maryland leading 14-13 early in the second quarter, Brown let one fly down the sideline towards a streaking Leak in single coverage. Both Leak and the Syracuse defender jumped for the ball, and both got their hands on it almost simultaneously. The defender seemed to have a secure grasp on an interception, but Leak wrestled the ball away as both fell to the artificial turf of the Carrier Dome. It was such a great catch the game announcer initially didn’t realize Leak came away with the 46-yard reception.

 

Unsung Hero: Jacquille Veii

Injuries and suspensions depleted the Maryland wide receiver corps in 2014, and by season’s end previously unknown players like Daniel Adams and Juwann Winfree were catching passes for the Terps. Question marks also surrounded the backfield all season long, as no Terrapin running back finished with more than 100 yards rushing in a game until the final game of the season. Sophomore Jacquille Veii stepped up and filled some of the void for Maryland as both a wide receiver and running back in 2014. Veii’s role as a receiver was more prominent, as he finished the season with a total of just 19 carries for 105 yards and two rushing touchdowns. While that’s an average of under two carries a game, it must be noted that only five times all season did a Terrapin running back get more than 10 carries in a game; two of the five instances occurred in the Terps’ first game of the season, a blowout win over James Madison. Veii struggled occasionally with dropped passes at times, but still provided a veteran presence to a depleted receiving corps. Veii finished the year with 16 receptions for 230 yards and a touchdown.

 

Worst Play Call: Randy Edsall

While Maryland undoubtedly had an overall successful season, it just as undoubtedly ended in heartbreak with the monumental collapse to Rutgers at home. Maryland blew a 25-point lead and the Scarlet Knights offense, under new offensive coordinator Ralph Friedgen, scored touchdowns on four straight possessions to defeat Maryland. The embarrassing loss was sealed when Maryland head coach Randy Edsall inexplicably decided to keep the offense on the field on 4th and 1 with just over a minute left to play, passing on a very makeable 46-yard field goal attempt. Maryland was stuffed and the game was over. After the game, Edsall effectively placed the blame on his players for not getting the first down instead of taking blame for a horrible coaching decision. Edsall said, “You can always look back and say you could have called this or could have called that. They are always good calls if the plays are executed.”

By the way, last week kicker Brad Craddock received the Lou Groza award, honoring him as the best kicker in the country.

Honorable Mention:

Edsall’s decision to go for it on 4th and 12 from the Wisconsin 35 yard line on Maryland’s first drive of the game. The Terps unsurprisingly turned the ball over on downs, and the Badgers proceeded to hand Maryland one of their most lopsided losses in school history.

 

Most Likely to Succeed: Stefon Diggs

This one is a no-brainer. Junior wide receiver Stefon Diggs has been the Terps’ best player for nearly three years. He is dynamic, elusive, and is uncatchable in the open field. Diggs has produced at his position despite injuries and inconsistent quarterback play. Over three seasons, Diggs averaged more than five receptions and 77 receiving yards per game, as well as recording a touchdown every two games. In nine games in 2014, Diggs notched 52 catches for 654 yards with five touchdowns. If not for his one game suspension and injury, Diggs had a fair chance at having a 1000-yard receiving season.

 

Biggest Disappointment: Wes Brown

Wes Brown returned to the Terps’ backfield after serving a season-long suspension in 2013. Many thought he would automatically assume the starting role over fellow tailbacks Brandon Ross and Albert Reid. Instead, the Maryland coaching staff employed an absurd running back by committee approach that gave headaches not to opposing defenses but to Maryland fans instead. Only once did a Terrapin running back have 100 yards rushing in a game (Brandon Ross on 10 carries against Rutgers), but Brown’s lack of production, when afforded his limited opportunities, was notable. Brown finished the season with 341 yards on 97 carries (3.5 rush yds/att) and five touchdowns. The touchdown total appears respectable, but many of these were goal-line carries when the coaching staff arbitrarily chose Brown over other backs to carry the football. So I suppose this is a slight knock on Brown, but a bigger knock on Edsall.

Honorable Mention: Any other Maryland running back

 

Mr. Reliable: Brad Craddock

Aussie kicker Brad Craddock had an incredible 2014 season for Maryland. The junior did not miss a field goal until the final game of the regular season (a miss from 54 yards that sailed just outside the left upright) earning him the nickname “Automatic” Craddock. He finished the year having made 18 of 19 field goal attempts, and converted all 41 of his PAT attempts. His heroics included a school-record 57-yard field goal against Indiana and the winning 43-yard field goal against Penn State in Happy Valley. Craddock received the Lou Groza Award, honoring him as the nation’s best place kicker.

Amazing Aaron to Zero Zippers from Matt Nadel Knocks it Out of the Park

Pre-order Amazing Aaron to Zero Zippers from Amazon TODAY!

I sat down to write a book review for Amazing Aaron to Zero Zippers – An Introduction to Baseball History, but I kept losing my way. For me, this book wasn’t to be reviewed, it was to be relived.

To be sure, Matt Nadel’s new book is a go to reference for some of the biggest and brightest moments of the game. Amazing Aaron to Zero Zippers is filled with enough baseball history to keep even the most ardent baseball historian turning the pages.

Don’t believe me? The first chapter has me covered. Everyone knows about the legendary Hank Aaron. We’ve all seen video of his iconic, record breaking home run off of Dodger’s hurler Al Downing. But did you know that June 21, 1959 marked an unlikely milestone? That day against the Giants, future Home Run King Hank Aaron posted his only three home run game. In the pantheon of sluggers, I had no idea one of the greatest of them all didn’t hit three bombs in a game more than once.

From the foreword penned by Hall of Famer Jim Palmer to the bits of trivia at the end of each chapter, Matt Nadel’s voice and topics make Amazing Aaron to Zero Zippers a joy to read.

Now, the reliving.

I don’t remember much about 1994 – I was a 13-year old troublemaker, after all – but I remember staying up all night watching Ken Burns’ penultimate documentary Baseball on PBS. We didn’t have cable, and I didn’t want to sleep, so I spent what seemed like an eternity reading comic books while public broadcasting pledge drive segments aired, waiting for John Chancellor’s voice to bring me back to my new obsession.

Baseball.

Amazing Aaron to Zero Zippers took me back to the moments when I picked up the baseball bug. Sure, I’d been a fan as a child, just as most young ones in the sports crazy Cleveland area were, but those early moments of Baseball turned me into a baseball guy. I learned the history and the romance of the sport, and felt how those things worked their way into my worldview. Suddenly, baseball mattered more.

Matt Nadel marched me back to the days when baseball took over my life, and reminded me that America’s Pastime should still be running the show. I’m thankful for that marching. If you’re a baseball person who’s lost their way, or a hardened, dyed-in-the-wool fan, Amazing Aaron to Zero Zippers will take you back to your best baseball place.

Buy Amazing Aaron to Zero Zippers – An Introduction to Baseball History on on Amazon today!

Follow Matt on Twitter at @BaseballwMatt and visit his blog, baseballwithmatt.blogspot.com. OH! And visit his archives on More Than a Fan!

My New Favorite Golf Balls

I’m talking about the KickX TourZ premium golf balls that are on sale over at Golf Shop Central. And before you get all worked up over me using More Than a Fan to shill for swag, I’m not getting paid a dime to say good things about my new favorite piece of equipment. I don’t sell these balls or get a dime from Golf Shop Central. Promise.

A few weeks ago I was on Twitter talking about golf and talking equipment with @GolfShopCentral, a Brunswick, Ohio golf equipment company. After talking about playing Titleist Pro V1 the last couple of rounds I’d played, @GolfShopCentral asked if I’d like to try a sleeve of the new KickX TourZ balls directly against the Pro V1s. I’m always up for trying new things, and I had already read some good reviews, so I decided to give them a shot.

So, full disclosure and all, I did get a pack of KickX TourZ balls free. But trust me, if they were terrible, I just would have said thanks and no one would have heard from me about them again. So, on with the review.

There are two things that I noticed immediately when I pulled the first ball out of the sleeve to tee it up; the markings and logo, and the feel of the ball in my hand. I’ll hit the markings and logo first.

Continue reading My New Favorite Golf Balls