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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Tuesday Rant: The Myth of the 'Lookahead' Game

Over the past few weeks a college football writer, who I shall not refer to by name, has been vocal to the point of insulting, in his belief that 'mental toughness' of young athletes plays a huge part in inconsistent week-to-week performance, played a huge part in the wave of upsets last weekend, and that 'sandwich', 'trap', 'lookahead', 'hangover', and 'letdown' games are engrainged in college football because of it. We're not sure why he is so angry? I am not sure you would find many football fans who would argue that the emotions and mental toughness of college football players and coaches can, and do, play a huge part in the final outcome (see Bo Pelini last Saturday night). One of the key expectations for any football coach is that they have their players physically and mentally prepared (read: fired up) to play each Saturday. Many teams even employ sports psychologists at enormous salaries. Do teams lose because they get caught 'looking ahead'? Maybe, but it's a myth to think you can distinguish getting outplayed and being'sandwiched', 'trapped', 'hungover', 'letdown' or any other ridiculous adjective you can think of to rationalize an upset.

Claiming to reconcile the level of 'mental toughness' of a group of 60+ college athletes week-to-week based on final scores and what you see on TV is complete bullshit. I am sure some of you believe that the reason Oregon State and RB Jacquizz Rodgers were able to gash USC's porous defense as 25 point home underdogs last Thursday for 186 yards on 37 carries, including 7 or more yards on 8 of his first 11 carries, was because Rey Maualuga and the Trojans 'D' were not 'mentally tough'. If you can prove it with data, I'll buy you lap dances for a week at 20's. What I saw last Thursday night was DLs standing up on running plays, LBs over-running plays, and more ball-tackling in USC's secondary than I saw when Dr. D 'accidentally' wondered into the gay end of Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras 2000. Why can't USC get beat by a better team on a given night? Why do we feel the need to marginalize upsets with bullshit claims of 'look ahead' and 'trap' games? Here is what a talented sportswriter, Bruce Felmdan of ESPN the Magazine, had to say about the USC-Oregon State game, which he called the biggest upset of the year:

"Oregon State over USC, 27-21: Sure, the Trojans lost to the Beavers on their last trip up to Corvallis, but this was supposed to be a much better USC team than that bunch two years ago. And these Beavers appeared to be so much worse than the 2006 squad. Heck, they'd already lost to Stanford and got drilled by Penn State, so what could the mighty Trojans do to them? After all, USC had just destroyed Ohio State 35-3. Some were touting this as Pete Carroll's best team ever. The defense, loaded with projected future first-rounders, looked dominant. Vegas made OSU a 25-point underdog. Then 5-foot-6-inch Jacquizz Rodgers, a Texan playing in only his fourth college game, ran all over USC for 186 yards and two touchdowns, as State carved up that vaunted Trojans D, bewildering the USC defensive front. By halftime it was 21-0. It wasn't as shocking as Stanford's win at USC last year, but given how the Beavers just took it to the Trojans on both sides of the ball, it was more impressive. This really wasn't so much a case of USC beating itself; it was Oregon State executing a great scheme and playing its butt off."

Wow, I could not have said it better myself. Bruce, next time you are in the Valley of the Sun, beers are on me.

Let me explain, with data, why NONE of the other Top 10 upsets from last weekend had anything to do with looking ahead, behind, or any other direction. First up is Florida. Some would think Florida lost in a 'letdown' game because of an emotional win at Tennessee the week before. Really? Didn't seem to affect Tennessee nearly as much as they almost won at Auburn (I guess Auburn could have been 'hungover' or 'letdown' from the loss to LSU the week before). However, the true reason why Florida has no excuse is that, much like USC's loss, Florida LOST in Gainsville the last time Mississippi visited in 2003. You wouldn't think you would look past a team that beat you as a 12 point underdog the last time they visited? Surely Urban Meyer reminded his players of that embarrassment and if he didn't have his team mentally prepared to face an improved and talented Rebel squad, then Florida alums should be demanding some explanation.

Next up is Wisconsin. With a 19-0 halftime lead at Michigan last week, there is little chance they came out 'looking ahead' to the Ohio State game this Saturday. This really wasn't that big of an upset either. I mean Phil Steele listed Michigan as his 'Underdog Play of the Week'. Should be no suprise here. Lastly, let's look at Georgia. Do you really think Georgia was in 'hangover' or 'letdown' situation after their big win in Tempe the week before? ESPN Game Day was there, the team wore all black, and it was the first time Sanford Stadium hosted teams ranked this high in 25 years. Georgia was flat-out whipped on both sides of the ball.

Here is what Mark May said of Bama's huge win:
"If you dominate a game up front, you're going to win that game nine times out of 10. Alabama dominated the line of scrimmage, committed just one penalty, didn't turn the ball over and played smart and played hard. That's how you beat the nation's third-ranked team on the road."

I haven't agreed with ESPN like this since they fired Michael Irvin. Georgia head coach Mark Richt said after the game, "We just got whipped, There’s no excuses, and don’t expect any from me.” Touche Coach, touche. Now if only the experts would stop making excuses for you.

However, if you still believe in this 'look ahead' nonsense, then I invite you to call the Malouf brothers and reserve the Rain Man Suite at the Palms this weekend because there are two absolute locks on the schedule (and the talent at the Palms was so strong last Saturday night that I was walking around like Ron Burgundy in the office). Nebraska (+11 vs. Mizzou) and Wisconsin (+3 vs. Ohio State) are simultaneously in 'letdown', 'hangover', 'sandwich', and 'look ahead' games on Saturday and each team only plays once! Nebraska plays at Texas Tech next weekend and surely Wisconsin will be looking ahead to the game against Penn State at home next weekend. Actually, that's just dumb.

A Very Big Head

From Mizzourah:

With Hate Week in effect for us Missourians, the DXP crew has asked me to hop aboard and expand on my hate towards Nebraska. There are several reasons that I hate the Huskers. It's too bad that I'm only limited to five per the fine management of DXP (read: We all got really fucking wasted and neither Sammy, T. Rose, A. Rose, Jeffie Husker, Dr. D or I could remember anything past 5p, so five ended up being the number.). You've seen me lurking around DXP for the past 1 1/2 years, either talking shit, ogling chicks, or giving out brain exploders like "Is Bruce Pearl really Larry Eustachy?". Many of you may have come over to your personal darkside, Mizzourah.net, to tell me how much I suck or to throw out death threats. Cool, glad you're reading.

Let me give you the prerequisite that I lived in Omaha with 85% of DXP readers for the past three years, and my eastern Nebraska "experiences" (ie. in Lincoln) should cover at least another 11% of crazed ass Husker fans that read DXP. The other 4% probably breaks down to 3% out-of-staters and 1% of anything west of Lincoln that has a 'puter AND can read. Sorry, Alliance. I'm talking about you.

5). Tommie Frazier
This one doesn't have much to do about football. Sure, TF was a good option QB on a team full of jailbirds and assclowns, and I'm sure TF is a nice guy outside of being the huge bag of douche that he's been the five or six times I've met him. But I didn't really like him as a player, felt a little remorse for the blood clot thing, and then figured out the guy was a huge prick. Being the Omaha nightlife connosuier that I am, I've run into TF on more than one occasion trying to lay lines on a hot broad, only to succumb to the fattie friend. If he had a pair, he'd flex that "Tommie Frazier" name and yank some skanks. Oh wait, he already does let everyone know who he is every fucking five minutes. Next time, TF might want to lose the wedding band if he's hitting on some poontang. Need more Tommie Frazier-age?

4). Flea Kicker game
I'll never forget this game. I was in high school, sitting in my parents basement, trying to work one of my dad's beers out of the fridge, and Corby Jones was en fuego. Being a lifelong Mizzou fan, we hadn't seen anything close to Corby. Hell, Larry Smith hadn't seen a team like that '97 squad. Sure, we were used to getting jobbed on weird plays/calls like the infamous 5th Down against Colorado a few years earlier. It was the first time in forever that Mizzou had a good vibe going into a Nebraska game, and the fans were jacked. A booted ball later, I hate Matt Davidson, who I personally hold a grudge against to this day, solely on this game and the fact that I had to see or hear this guy every damn Saturday when I lived in Omaha or at a Creighton/Nebraska game at the 'Blatt.

I hated Scott Frost until I showed up wearing a Mizzou hat to his old bar out at Village Pointe (Letter Club). He sat down, bought me a few beers, chatted, and was a cool guy. He brought up the Flea Kicker game nine years later, and said everyone still asks him about it. I walked into that restaurant wanting to hate it, and instead, ended up there every Monday Night for MNF. Jerk owes me a ton of my money back if he and the gang couldn't keep the place open just on my bar tab.

3). Eric Crouch
The guy is an absolute fuck. He killed some sub par Mizzou teams, but that was expected. My first radio gig included covering the St. Louis Rams Training Camp, which I ended up doing for a few years for a couple of different groups. Crouch came into camp and was told he wasn't a QB, was moved to receiver, bitched and moaned until he was released and then was nabbed by the Packers and same story...WR, bitch, released. I once tried to interview him and all he talked about was how he won the Heisman.

2). "Missouri will always be Missouri"
The always stellar excuse that things never change. Unfortunately for you, things do. Actually, you, Jim Huskerfan should realize this by looking in the mirror. That "1994 National Champions" faded sweatshirt you wear around Indigo Joes should represent the faded days of Husker football, you know, when you were actually good.

Welcome to 2008. Mizzou and kU have passed you up, and Colorado is equal. The Mildcats could be if Ron Prince wasn't recruiting college dropouts, and the Fightin' Chiziks aren't laying down like a Papillion South cheerleader on prom night anymore. Many Husker fans actually see the light. All DXP writers and most DXP commenters agree- Callahan wrecked the Huskers until at least 2010. Then again, after the Solich fiasco, Steve Pederson deserved to get run out. But, I enjoyed every minute of Callahan.

1). Tom Osborne
Baby Jesus Osborne has to top the five. The guy had the balls to try to run for governor, only to get his ass handed to him. TO ran on the platform of "I am Nebraska Football and I hate porn", and failed, which seemed to be close to impossible. Maybe if he was pro-porn, or just ran on the "I wear Red" slogan, he would have won.

I was hoping that would be the last I'd have to hear about him, until...goodbye Steve Pederson. TO was brought in to be the savior, and in a senior moment, hired a coach with ZERO head coaching experience to clean up the morgue of red in Lincoln. It's sounding like I should like the guy for effing up the program for another coaching era, but then we look into the past. Osborne made the Miami programs of the late 80's and 90's look clean with some of the shit he had. Being from St. Louis, Lawrence Phillips comes to mind immediately. Especially Rams coach Rich Brooks having to bail him out of jail right after draft day if I remember correctly. All the incidents kinda get blurry- tossing girls down stairs in Lincoln, only for TO to give the "he's better in a structured environment talk", to beating chicks in a nightclub, to trying to run over some kid that punked him in a pick up game, to auto theft, to...well, you get the point. Read Jason Peter's book? Glad he cleaned up, but he was pretty messed up himself. Tom Osborne, that father figure willing to throw some gas on a burning fire of hopelessness in people.

The Point Spread is One Louder, Isn't It?



"you're on 10 here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up.....where can you go from there? Nowhere, exactly."

Looking at the point spread for the Mizzou/Nebraska game Saturday night on docsports.com is like watching Nigel point out the board on the Marshall amplifier in Spinal Tap. I guess we'll see if the Tigers need that extra push over the cliff this weekend.

Monday, September 29, 2008

DXP Pick 'Em Updates

ESPN Group
1. Sammy Vegas, 234 points, 99.8 %
2. Sordid Spreadmaker, 230 points, 99.4%
3. T. Rose, 227 points, 98.8%
4. Jeffie Husker, 224 points, 97.8%
5. D. Thiele, 223 points, 97.5%
6. Husker Guy, 217 points, 94.7%
7. fatbucket, 214 points, 92.9%
8. Aaron hearts KSU, 211 points, 90.9%
8. MizzouHusker, 211, 90.%
10. A. Rose, 210 points, 90.2%

YAHOO Group
Rank Pick Set Name Total Points
1A. Rose64
2T. Rose's Locks62
3Frank Solich's Breathalyzer60
4Schrute Bucks59
5TimmyssonTJjr57
6Sordid Spreads56
6Paint Man56
8Don't Get Eliminated55
9Sammy Vegas54
9BugEater195254


I hate being right 99.8% of the time.

I like it when I am right 100% of the time.

For example, I would kiss everyone one of these SEC girls in alphabetical order 100% of the time...

Sunday, September 28, 2008

BOligerant

"I have to be smarter than that" - Bo Pelini when asked about his 4th quarter unsportsmanlike conduct penalty

Touche' coach. Down 28-23 late in the 4th quarter, the Husker defense had Virginia Tech at 4th and 2 on the NU 35 yard line. Roughing penalty. Move the ball to the 20 yard line. Argue the call. Move the ball to the 10 yard line. Touchdown Tyrod Taylor. 35-23 and two possessions down.


When Pelini was flagged for the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Va. Tech's game winning drive, it was inexcusable. It doesn't matter how bad the personal foul call on Ndamukong Suh was. It was called and that's that. There is no instant replay for penalties. There's nothing to be gained by arguing at that point. There is another 15 yards to lose. Let the Hokies have the ball at the 20 yard line. Your defense was playing well enough to hold them to 3 points. Allowing a field goal means it's still a one possession game. Handing the ball to Tyrod Taylor for a first and goal is probably not what you had in mind coach.

Virginia Tech Post-Game Thoughts

· Frustration, frustration, frustration.

· Is there anything more cliché than having a punt blocked by Virginia Tech?

· One major positive was the crowd, which appeared to be at a “big game” level. Unfortunately the team didn’t match their standards.

· Running game – broken record. The play action passes to McNeill were there until Nebraska proved it wasn’t a consistent threat to run the ball.

· The past four years have been full of frustration. But the most enduring image has been watching Marlon Lucky spend his career running up the backs of his offensive linemen. Does anyone really still believe he should be much more than a situational back?

· Ganz didn’t play well. Tyrod Taylor did. That was the major difference in the game.

· Speaking of Ganz, I’m a little concerned about a new habit he is developing. The drop back and run toward the LOS like he’s tossing a javelin isn’t going to be successful. The ball will have a tendency to float and we’ll see more and more balls glance off our receivers and into the hands of defenders. That’s if he doesn’t continue to get penalized for crossing the LOS before throwing.

· I told my dad during the bye week that Missouri would beat us worse than a year ago. That was based more on what I had seen from their offense than on our own performances. I stand by that statement and now imagine more of you are hitching yourself to that wagon this morning.

· Where are our athletes? Outside of Nate Swift and Roy Helu I have trouble identifying any truly Big 12 caliber performances.

· Ndamukong Suh meet LeKevin Smith.

· Nebraska’s defense put on a clinic last night. Unfortunately the clinic topic was “how to lose outside containment”.

· Worse stream of obscenities from me last night came when Larry Asante failed to get himself to the area vacated by a blitzing Armando Murillo resulting in a big gain. Where did he think Taylor was going to go with that ball? Anticipation, please.

· But I also wonder if Asante has some sort of peripheral vision issue after watching him let the VT player run right by him on the punt block. Beau Davis could have done that much.

· Under Callahan we seemed to have receivers running open all day long. We just lacked a QB to get the right guy the ball consistently. Last night I didn’t see a lot of open receivers. Is VT’s secondary that talented? We better hope so, or we are in deep trouble.

· Most common words I uttered while watching, “This is the gameplan we got on both sides of the ball with two weeks of preparation?”

· I’d love us to have a running game, but I’m apparently more easily frustrated than Watson. If we can’t move the ball on the ground consistently let’s try the short passing game. It’s not really playing to Ganz’s strengths, but I’m a realist when it comes to our offensive line.

· You don’t develop depth on the defensive line by having the backups sit on the bench. As it stands, teams are going to continue to wear us down late in games. Besides it’s not like the starters are lighting teams up.

· Ok, that’s enough for now. I need to call in my prescription for Prozac.

Friday, September 26, 2008

It's Carl This, Carl That...


Matt Schick from Omaha television station KETV sat down for a one-on-one interview with Husker defensive coordinator Carl Pelini. Schick interviews Pelini on such topics as his popularity, why he gets all the credit, and what it's like having his younger brother Bo live in his shadow. (Schick also happens to be the spot-on voice behind the Bill Callahan impersonations on local radio station 1620thezone.)

Watch the interview with Carl Pelini by clicking here.

Pete Carroll's Halftime Speech Fails To Inspire

Congratulations to the Beavers for seriously damaging the chances of USC making another title run with a 27-21 stunner last night. Only 6 times has a #1 ranked team lost to an unranked opponent, and as Husker fans are aware, two of those have come at our expense.

Year











Team Opponent
2008











USC Oregon St.
1985











Auburn Tennessee
1984











Nebraska Syracuse
1981











Michigan Wisconsin
1972











Nebraska UCLA
1964











Ole Miss Kentucky

That's two straight trips to Corvallis without a win for Pete Carroll. That's also the same group of Beavers from Corvallis that were crushed by Penn State 45-14 earlier in the year. It's harder than you think for a Trojan to pound a Beaver.

Obviously, Pete Carroll's plea at intermission for his team to keep their composure wasn't taken seriously. "We can't have anyone freak out out there.......we've come too far......there's too much to lose."


Oops!... I Did It Again

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Take the Double Extra Points

Week 5

Last Week: 7-3 ATS
Season: 25-14-1 ATS (64%)
DXLock: 3-1 ATS



So far, so good. After Week 4, we are sitting a pretty sultry 64% Against The Spread for the year with our weekly lock at 3-1 ATS. Unfortunately, the DXLock missed last week with Rutgers losing outright to Navy. Fortunately, odds are it hits this week. Grab your pen, paper, and hand lotion. If you like making money, this is probably for you.

TIMMY ROSE

4* CENTRAL MICHIGAN (-6) over Buffalo: Before we get to the picks, I'd like to remind Dr. D that T. Rose is on a 6-0 run and looking to sweep the board for the 3rd straight week. Might want to lay down some cash on these picks, er, locks. Central Michigan is off a heartbreaking last minute loss at Purdue last week while Buffalo lost to Missouri in a game that was nowhere near as close as the final score might suggest. Turner Gill's D gave up almost 600 yards to one of the Chases and were outgained by over 300 yards. Meanwhile, the Chippewas controlled every facet of the game against Purdue, yet came up short giving up a 40-yard TD run with just over a minute left. CMU has covered 7 of their last 8 MAC home games and we call for a dominating win with a bye week on deck.

3* OKLAHOMA (-17.5) over Texas Christian: If you don't think Bob Stoops has this game circled on his calendar then I have a portfolio of booming investment bank stocks to sell you. The contributors to this blog may have trouble recalling any Saturday in the last 4 years, but the Sooners have not forgotten the beating they took in their 2005 home opener. TCU embarrassed the Sooners in Norman as a 25-point underdog (sound familiar Sun Devil fans?) 17-10 in a game that really wasn't that close. With Baylor on deck, the Oklahoma will look to score early and often and we call for a 21 point lead at the half. Although the Horned Frogs have covered 6 out of their last 7, the Sooner offense is hotter than Google searches for Kelly Carrington (go to her home page after reading this) and this one has blowout written all over it.

2* Kent State (+18) over BALL STATE: The first thing all of us at DXP wish to say regarding this game is that our thoughts and prayers are with Dante Love and his family as we hope for a full recovery from a spinal cord injury he sustained in last week's blowout win at Indiana. Husker fans everywhere can attest to Dante's playmaking abilities as Ball State nearly pulled the upset last year in Lincoln, due in large part to big-time plays he made throughout the game. We hear he was an equally gifted player off the field. That said, the spread on this game is simply too big. Although Kent has looked terrible in the second half of every game this season and finished last season with 6 straight conference losses (each by less than 11 points), they return 16 starters and have the talent on both sides of the ball to keep this one closer than Vegas thinks.

SAMMY VEGAS

4* DUKE (-7) over Virginia: Duke coach David Cutcliffe (former Ole Miss coach) has the Blue Devils off to a 2-1 start this year. More importantly, he has them undefeated vs. the spread with the help of QB Thaddeus Lewis who is the ACC's second leading passer with 238 yards/game, 5 TDs, and 0 INTs. Duke's only loss this year came at Northwestern where they outgained the Wildcats by almost 150 yards and had a 29-14 first down advantage. Virginia's offense has been worse than DXP's offense at Barry's around 11 p.m. with a dance floor full of cougars. Al Groh has the Cavaliers averaging 233 total yards/game and they have lost their two FBS games by a combined score of 97-17. Duke will earn their first ACC win in 25 games here at home.

2* MIAMI, FL (-7) over North Carolina: Butch Davis returns back to Miami with a 2-1 Tar Heel team that is loaded with young talent. However, the most important part of that talent was QB TJ Yates who will be out for at least several weeks after injuring his ankle last week that cost UNC a win at home vs. V Tech. In his place, freshman QB Mike Paulus threw 2 INTs and had 23 yards. UNC's win over Rutgers is seeming less and less impressive as Rutgers still has yet to win a game. Miami took out some of their frustration from the Florida loss by destroying Texas A&M and gets to return home where great freshman QB Robert Marve will make his first start. With a defense loaded, and I mean loaded, with future NFL players, the Hurricanes have a big dose of revenge on their minds from last year's loss to UNC.

2* Pittsburgh (-15.5) over SYRACUSE: I'm not going to bore you every week with how bad Syracuse is. However, if you are coach Greg Robinson and your douche of an A.D. (see Dr. Daryl Gross 'the employee of the month') says, "It isn't working out... It's very disappointing … He has some work to do out in front of him," just this week to ESPN, things aren't good. At season's end, Robinson and his one million+ salary will be 8-38 over his four years at Syracuse thanks to Dr. Gross and his brilliant dissertation on how to hire a football coach. Pittsburgh is off a big win over Iowa and watch running back LeSean McCoy have a career day.

A. ROSE

3* Michigan State (-8) over INDIANA: After an opening week loss to Cal, the Spartans have won 3 straight behind the nation's second leading rusher Javon Ringer who lit up Notre Dame for 201 yards last week. Meanwhile, Indiana became the first BCS team to lose to Ball State 42-20 last week, although Nebraska tried its best to earn that distinction at home against the same team a year ago. The Hoosiers gave up 224 yards on the ground to Ball State, exposing a weakness the Spartans will be sure to exploit. Expect Ringer to get 35+ carries for the best football team in Michigan (no offense Central Michigan).

2* GEORGIA (-6.5) over Alabama: The Bulldogs made last week's highly anticipated game at Arizona State look easy by more than doubling the total yards put up by the Sun Devils. The Georgia defense was stifling, allowing 4 net rushing yards to ASU after allowing only 18 to S. Carolina. Alabama looked impressive against a rebuilding Arkansas team last week and faces its toughest test of the season in a night game at Athens on Saturday. Georgia's defense will be the difference in this one.

2* IOWA (-8.5) over Northwestern: Outyarding Pitt by over 100 yards last week wasn't enough to get the Hawkeyes and Kirk Ferentz a win. Coming back home against a Wildcat team that squeaked by Ohio a week ago should give Iowa a boost. Ferentz desparately needs wins against the mediocre teams in the Big 10 to continue to justify his $2.7 million annual salary, which makes him the most overpaid person on earth not named Barry Zito. Speaking of giving Iowa a boost...


DOUBLE EXTRA LOCK

OHIO STATE (-17) over Minnesota: Buckeye fans prayed. Brutus the Buckeye answered. Brutus granted both Terrelle Pryor and Beanie Wells a start this week. Pryor is off a 4 passing TD game vs. Troy where if he doesn't play the whole second half, they probably lose. Now, with Beanie back to join him, the Buckeyes will be emotionally charged in front of their home crowd. Minnesota is 4-0 this year which can be attributed to a +11 turnover margin against very, very inferior opponents. We have to think Ohio State is itching for a statement game in their Big 10 opener here and should win this game with defense and special teams helping in a big way to cover 17 points.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Thunder Collins Charged With Murder


From KETV news,

Former Nebraska running back Thunder Collins was arrested late Wednesday morning, almost 24-hours after one person was shot to death and a second person was wounded in a shooting near 70th Street and Military Avenue in Omaha. Police said Timothy Thomas was killed in the shooting. Thomas' body was found in a house at 3902 N. 70th Circle. Marshall Turner was critically injured in a nearby shooting, police said. Turner was found in a parking lot of the Baymont Inn at 72nd and Grover streets. Police believe the two shootings are connected.

An arrest warrant issued Wednesday morning for Collins accused him of first-degree murder, and attempted second-degree murder. Collins also faces felony weapons charges. Earlier Wednesday, police arrested another man, Karnell Burton on suspicion of criminal homicide, attempted first-degree murder, and two weapons charges.

A third man, Ahmad W. Johnson, 21, was also named in the same arrest warrant. Johnson is now a suspect in connection with the shooting. Thunder Collins was part of the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers football program during the 2000, and 2001 seasons. Since his departure, Collins has had several legal problems, and in 2002, he served 135 days in jail for failing to complete a diversion program following his arrest for domestic violence. Most recently, Collins reported the theft of $13,500 from a fundraising event in Lincoln in August, 2008. Lincoln police said Collins was a host of the event, but the money belonged to a theater, and the production company Owe Boy Productions.

This is terrible news for the victims' families, Thunder Collins, and college football. It never ceases to amaze me how some athletes that are given every opportunity and resource in the world somehow never can be rehabilitated. It has to be frustrating for his mentors, coaches, teachers, and teammates who I am sure went above and beyond their job description to help this kid out in every way they could only to have him turn around and do shit like this.

Nike's Employee of the Month



Due out October 10, "The Express" is a sports drama movie based on the life of Syracuse running back Ernie Davis. In case you are not that familiar with him, Davis was a running back for the Orangemen from 1959-61, and after his final season in 1961, he became the first African-American to win the Heisman trophy. In the 1962 draft, Ernie was drafted in the first round by the Redskins and subsequently traded to the Cleveland Browns where he would team up with old Syracuse teammate Jim Brown. Shortly after signing an 80,000 dollar contract which would make him the highest paid player in NFL history, Davis was diagnosed with monocytic leukemia and would die just a year later never playing football again.

Syracuse A.D. Daryl Gross hired Bruno Lucchesi, an 82 year old New York sculptor, in the spring of 2007 to erect a statue honoring the great Davis. After spending over a year creating the statue, here is the final product that was unveiled last week...



Some quick facts:
  • Davis passed away in 1963.
  • Nike was created in 1971.
  • Syracuse needed funding to complete the statue.
  • Nike sponsors Syracuse.
  • The Nike 'Swoosh' can be found on the statue's helmet, jersey, pants, and shoes.
  • From sculptor Bruno Lucchesi: "Syracuse University sent me all of the materials of Ernie's uniform and football gear of the clothing, the helmet, cleats, pads and the football to be used in the making of Ernie's sculpture. When the clay stage was completed, Syracuse University approved it. When the bronze was completed, Syracuse University again approved it. And they paid for it upon its completion."

Add this incident to the list of reasons why Syracuse A.D. Dr. Daryl Gross will be joining football coach Greg Robinson on a one-way train to Quebec this December. It took almost half of a century for Syracuse to honor the first African-American Heisman Trophy winner. Davis was abused, verbally and physically, throughout his short life and still persevered to break the color barrier in much the same way Jackie Robinson did for his sport. Now, thanks to the great Ernie Davis and all of his achievements, Athletic Director Dr. Daryl Gross can exploit him to pay off a million dollar/year football coach he hired to go 8-31 in 3+ years and fund an athletic department that is so deep in the hole they don't have 10,000 dollars for a bronze statue.

Said Nike spokesman Kejuan Wilkins,
"It's pretty straightforward. There wasn't any involvement on our end. We didn't even know the statue was being erected. Is it embarrassing? The university has addressed it publicly, and we're glad to hear that they're going back to make the correction. If there was any involvement on our end, we wouldn't shy away from it."

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Notre Dame's Smoking Gun



In the first half of Michigan State's 23-7 win over Notre Dame last week, ND Coach Charlie Weis was told to remove a laptop from the coach's box. Apparently, a graduate assistant was using the computer during the game. Said Weis after the game,

"It wasn't like there was somebody trying to do something illegal. I asked upstairs if there was one. I was talking to Michael and he said, `No.' Then, I guess one of the interns had one over there. Then I immediately told (the officials) that there was an intern (with a laptop) and he took it off a ledge and put it on the floor. The last thing I want to do is lie."

Said Michigan State spokesman John Lewandowski,

"The first thought you have is, `Are they tracking tendencies or other data.' You cannot use that type of that resource in the coaching box. That's just like you can't have a replay monitor."

The NCAA needs to break out a red flag here. Former New England Patriots videographer Matt Walsh stated last summer in an interview with The New York Times that Weis' inlovement in the 'SpyGate' incident was 75%. In fact, (according to Walsh) it was Weis who would relay the play in to the quarterback after the defensive signals were stolen. I appreciate how Weis says 'the last thing I want to do is lie' about the Michigan State incident, but remember, Weis also never once lied about 'SpyGate' because he refused to talk. More than likely, having your graduate assistants and interns doing whatever they were doing with their laptop during the game points to you trying to get an unfair advantage in some way, shape, or form. I am not necessarily saying what they did is a big advantage because nobody knows what they did exactly - yet. It's fact though that what they did is illegal and the Notre Dame coaching staff knew that beforehand. And in my opinion, it should go without saying that the Bill Belichik and Charlie Weis relationship is more than just a coincidence here.

As Terrell Owens once said, "like my boy tells me: if it looks like a rat and smells like a rat, by golly, it is a rat."

Big Weekend to Sell the Program




Besides the first test of the season for the Husker football team, the Va. Tech game gives the coaches a chance to sell the program to an impressive list of recruits. According to the Lincoln Journal-Star, the list of recruits who will be in attendence for the game includes at least five highly ranked high school seniors with multiple offers. The headliner is Rivals 4* and #1 ranked all-purpose RB David Oku from Oklahoma. His 4* teammate and safety recruit Daytawion Lowe will also be there. Keenan Graham, a 4* OLB recruit from Las Vegas, Alex Logan from Denver and Lester White from Riverside, both 3* safeties, will all be there as well. Oh, and before anyone comments on whether or not the 4 star ranking on both Oku and Lowe actually means anything, the answer is yes, the rankings indicate prospective talent at respective positions. Althougth not indicative of future success at the college level, I will take great talent with great coaching (see USC and Pete Carroll) any day of the week on my team. As for the gameday experience aspect, it doesn't really set up any better than a nationally televised night game in front of 85,000 fans at Memorial Stadium. Let's just not get too excited and turn into "JoJo the Indian circus boy with a pretty new pet" pitching the program, 'cause in case you haven't noticed, it's been awhile since we've pulled a commitment. My suggestion is to utilize more persuasive recruiting measures (not free tickets or free Husker gear). Melissa, can you help us out?


Monday, September 22, 2008

No $$$ for the G.I. Joe with the Kung-Fu Grip??



"people who own the pork belly contracts are saying, "Hey, we're losing all our damn money, and Christmas is around the corner, and I ain't gonna have no money to buy my son the G.I. Joe with the kung-fu grip! And my wife ain't gonna f... my wife ain't gonna make love to me if I got no money!" So they're panicking right now, they're screaming "SELL! SELL!" to get out before the price keeps dropping. They're panicking out there right now, I can feel it."
Well, they sure are panicking out there. Billy Ray Valentine says "wait until Citigroup hits $10 before you buy.....you should've cleared out all the suckers by then." Thankfully we can focus on college football instead of 401(k) statements and CNBC. Just a few quick notes on the upcoming Va. Tech game, that looks more winnable for the Huskers than it did at the start of the season. Steve Sipple of the Lincoln Journal-Star gives us a 65% chance to win this one. I'm going with a 75% probability of a Husker win for a couple of reasons. A nationally televised night game gives the Huskers a slight edge, but the lack of any Hokie passing attack will be the real difference. Key to this game will be turnovers and special teams play. If Nebraska doesn't turn the ball over and doesn't make any special teams blunders, I don't see Va. Tech scoring more than two touchdowns in this one. The Hokies have a mobile QB in Tyrod Taylor, but he has yet to show much of a threat with his arm. The Huskers have looked pretty good stopping the run so far this year, and with a bye week to get healthy for this one, I see a Husker win and return to the top 25 for a showdown with Mizzou.

That's Going To Leave A Mark

I can't begin to imagine how Texas TE Blaine Irby's right knee was feeling after it was dislocated by this hit in the Longhorn's 52-10 win over Rice last Saturday. Irby's absence hurts the Texas offense as the sophomore standout had 10 receptions, 95 yards, and 2 touchdowns so far this season and was getting better every week. The only good news, if there is any, for him and for Longhorn fans is that after extensive surgery and a year of rehabilitation, Irby could be back in 2009 with three years of eligibility after he is granted a medical redshirt for this season. Personally, I just hope the poor kid will be able to walk again.

Catching Up With Bill Callahan

Bill Callahan was kind of enough to call in to an Omaha radio station several weeks ago to let everyone know how his new job as offensive line coach for the New York Jets is working out plus his take on this year's Cornhuskers after week 1.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

DXP Pick 'Em Updates


"Okay, let me ask you a question, which one do you want cause we're gonna stick to this?
I've always had a thing for blondes.
Good, cause I'll take anything."


Now back to the other pick 'em. We definitely have some good competition in both DXP contests. Solid work thus far gentlemen and especially to Sordid Spreadmaker who is only 16 points off the overall lead on ESPN and 16 points away from a tv and game system that he is going to donate to the DXP fund if he wins. JK.

From the ESPN group,

1 Sordid Spreadmaker, M. Suder: 197 points 99.7%
2 Big P Steele, T. Rose: 194 points 99.2%
2 Husker Guy, T. Dale: 194 points 99.2%
2 Sammy Vegas: 194 points 99.2%
5 Thiele, D. Thiele: 192 points 98.6%
6 fatbucket, R. Peterson: 191 points 98.2%
6 Jeffie Husker: 191 points 98.2%
8 PACinfel, P. Cinfel: 190 points 97.7%
9 Doc1028, E. Drey: 183 points 93.9%
10 Hughes, J. Hughes: 179 points 91.0%
10 MizzouHusker, M. Goble: 179 points 91.0%

From the Yahoo group,

1A. Rose
55


points
2Frank Solich's Breathalyzer
54



points
2T. Rose's Locks54

points
4Schrute Bucks53

points
5TimmyssonTJjr51

points
6BugEater195250

points
7Sordid Spreads49

points
7Paint Man49

points
7Sammy Vegas49

points
105 Star Prospect47

points



Best of luck the rest of the way and kisses to everyone...

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Party Like It's 1908!!!



From ESPN,

"Leo Hildebrand, 104-year-old Cubs fan who lives in nearby Bensenville, threw out the first pitch. 'What a wonderful day,' he said. 'Let's make it even more wonderful by winning.' Hildebrand, who has been a Cubs fan since he moved to Chicago in 1923, said he was too young to remember the Cubs last championship in 1908. Hildebrand added that he was at Wrigley Field to see Babe Ruth hit his famous called shot."


We love Leo. We love soccer moms dressed in flags. We love the Cubs. We love you.



Go Cubs Go!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Friday Night Lights: Robert Griffin

Tonight, the Baylor Bears play at undefeated Connecticut at 7:00 central on ESPN2. Connecticut sits 3-0 on the season and should be a major player in the Big East Conference at the end of the year. However, I won't be watching this game because I love Big East football. I'll be watching the game because of true freshman QB Robert Griffin of the Baylor Bears. If you live outside the state of Texas, chances are you probably aren't too familiar with him.

Although Griffin was a 4 star recruit from Texas, not many teams were going to give him the chance to play QB in college. Eventually, then Houston Cougar coach Art Briles would be the first to offer him that opportunity and Griffin took it. Yada, yada, yada, Briles goes to Baylor, yada, yada, yada, Griffin lands in Waco a semester early for spring classes, spring football, and track .
"I felt I could play early (at Houston)," Griffin says. "I didn't
want to sit and wait and watch somebody else play. But I told everybody when I committed that my commitment to Houston was really a commitment to Coach Briles. I wanted to stay true to him."
After spring football ended, Griffin joined the track team for the final three weeks. In those final three weeks, Griffin would become an All-American in the 400 m hurdles after winning the Big 12 championship and the NCAA Midwest Regional title with a time of 49.22 seconds. Eventually, he would win the bronze at the NCAAs in Des Moines, IA and qualify for the US Olympic Trials.



Griffin didn't start week one in a 41-13 loss to Wake Forest (was behind former Miami, FL QB Kirby Freeman) but has started the last two games vs. Northwestern State and Washington State. In his two starts, Baylor has thrown up 45 and 51 points. His passing numbers are solid: 33/53 passing with 548 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. His rushing numbers are frightening: 32 attempts, 288 yards, and 4 touchdowns. Last week vs. Washington State, to go along with 129 yards passing and 1 touchdown, Griffin had 217 yards rushing on 11 attempts and broke the Big 12 record for avg yards/rush at 19.7 that included three runs of 58, 58, and 57 yards. With that performance, Griffin won the Big 12 offensive player of the week award ahead of Chase Daniel and Sam Bradford and now has been selected twice for ESPN's Top 10 plays.



Perhaps the biggest reason why Griffin brings hope to the perennial doormat of the Big 12 is that his upbringing has grounded him. After being born in Japan and raised by a retired Army sergeant, Griffin is much more mature than most freshman 18 year old football players. Last spring, he earned a 3.65 GPA in 16 hours of classes and one day wants to go to law school. In other words, he will be playing football for four years. On the field, comparisons are already being made to Eric Crouch, Michael Bishop, Brad Smith, Seneca Wallace, and yes, Vince Young. Like I've said before though, I peg him more like former Oregon QB Dennis Dixon. I'm not ready to anoint him 'the next coming,' but I am saying Baylor needed help and they got it - a lot of it. Baylor isn't going to win many more games this year, but they aren't going to be a bye week anymore for other Big 12 teams. Tonight's game vs. UCONN should give Baylor opponents an underestimated idea of what it's going to be like having to prepare for them in the upcoming years.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Take the Double Extra Points

Week 4

Last Week: 6-3-1 ATS
Season: 18-11-1 ATS (62%)
Double Extra Lock: 3-0 ATS


After coming off another strong week, it is time to give credit where credit is due. An extra special thanks needs to go out to all of the lovely college coeds that motivate us to do this every week. It's great how college football, girls, and gambling can make a better threesome than Matt Dillon, Denise Richards, and Neve Campbell in 'Wild Things.'

SAMMY VEGAS


4* ARKANSAS STATE (-5) over Middle Tennessee State: Don't be fooled by past success as the ASU Red Wolves are legit this year. While averaging 511 yards/game on offense, they won at Texas A&M, scored 83 points on Texas Southern, and lost by a field goal at Southern Miss. QB Corey Leonard has 645 yards with 7 TDs/1 INT to go along with RBs Arnold and Lawson who each have over 300 yards rushing this year with an 8 ypc and 10 ypc average respectively. MTSU is also off to a good start with close losses to Troy and Kentucky and a win over Maryland. However (as the great Stephen A. would say), MTSU doesn't practice running the ball or stopping it. They average 2.0 yards/rush (70 per game) as a team and give up 4.5 yards/rush. ASU averages almost 7.5 yards/rush as a team and give up 3.0 yards/rush. Stats + veteran QB + conference opener + night game with drunk fans = Arkansas State by 2 touchdowns.


2* PENN STATE (-28) over Temple: Strike the iron while it's hot and Penn State is hot. The Nittany Lions have now outscored their opponents this year 166-37 behind QB Daryll Clark. Amazingly, Penn State is averaging 273 yards passing/game and 263 yards rushing/game. Their defense is allowing a measly 250 total yards/game (64 rush yards/game), most of which have come in clean up duties. Temple is off two straight losses - one in OT and one on a Hail Mary - and now get to travel to Happy Valley. In three games this year, Temple has yet to gain more yards than their opponent. There will be a week this year that Penn State won't cover, but it's not going to be this one.

2* INDIANA (-3) over Ball State: Although the suspension of Indiana QB Kellen Lewis last spring was thought to be permanent, somehow coach Bill Lynch found it in his heart to reinstate the best dual-threat QB in the Big 10 that even Rich Rodriguez would give his left and right nut for right about now. In their two blowout wins this year, Lewis has completed 67% of his passes and rushed for 183 yards. QB Nate Davis, who Husker fans remember well, has lit it up this year for Ball State with 305 yards/game and 9 TDs. However, defense will be the big difference here as Indiana gives up 215 yards/game to Ball State's 385 yards/game. Since this is a night game, keep your eyes glued on your television for a drunk professor (Dr. D) serving rohypnol collata's outside Nick's Bar to every IU co-ed with a valid fake i.d.

TIMMY ROSE

3* GEORGIA TECH (-7.5) over Miss St: Very few games jump off my laminated betting sheet this week, but I do like going against terrible offenses (see USC pick from last week). Miss St is averaging a meager 115 rushing yards per game and under 300 total yards per game. Last week, their offense put up just 116 total yards and was shut out against Auburn with the defense getting credit for the lone points. The Bulldogs do have a strong D with 8 starters returning, but must prepare for Paul Johnson's triple option and endless motion a week after Auburn's no-huddle spread offense. Georgia Tech returns just 9 starters from last year, but have a bye, Duke, and Gardner-Webb on deck and will be fired up for this SEC match-up. The Yellow Jackets get two 4th quarter scores to cover in a low-scoring affair.


3* STANFORD (-9) over San Jose St: Two weeks ago, we loaded up on Arizona State against Jim Harbaugh's group as we felt we were getting terrific line value at home against a team that ASU hammered by 38 last year. It's deja vu here at DXP as Stanford is giving up single-digit points against a team they blew out 37-0 a year ago giving up less than 200 yards of total offense. Stanford is off of a tough road trip at TCU where the game time was moved and the offense failed to even show up as they generated just 193 total yards. The Spartans looked good in a win over San Diego St, but face a much tougher defense this week. With road trips at Washington and Notre Dame on deck, we call for Harbaugh to have the Cardinal prepared for what could be their last winnable game until November.


2* TOLEDO (+7) over Fresno St: Following last week's heartbreaking loss, the Bulldogs should be more letdown than than A. Rose walking into 20's on a Friday night only to find the 'B' team working. This is Toledo's home opener and they are off an impressive 24-point road win, albeit at E. Michigan. Coach Amstutz is big on non-conference games as they have beaten both Pitt and Kansas at home in the last 5 years. Fresno State has UCLA on deck and we call for the Bulldogs to sleepwalk through 3 quarters and barely pull out a tougher than expected road win.

A. ROSE

3* Florida (-7.5) over TENNESSEE: I know what you're asking yourself: hasn't he learned his lesson on taking road favorites in the SEC after Auburn last week? The answer is 'kind of.' I'll admit, a monkey throwing darts could not have done any worse than my 0 for 3 performance a week ago. The Gators have had two weeks to prepare for this one and looked impressive in a win against Miami. The Volunteers lost a heartbreaker to UCLA in the opening week; a loss that looks embarassing after Skippy's Bruin team was humiliated 59-0 by the vaunted BYU Cougars last weekend. Don't expect the Gators to be intimated when Smokey, the 12-year old, flea-invested Bluetick Coonhound leads the Volunteers onto the field. Do expect the dog to get into the end zone more than the players as Florida's defense dominates.

2* Miami (-2.5) over TEXAS A&M: An up and coming Hurricane team goes on the road this week to face the worst team in the Big 12 South (yes, Baylor is better), and is only giving up 2.5? If last year's game between these two was any indication, the Aggies will need a 13th man to score some points on offense. This year's Miami team has more experience, more talent, and has a game against Florida under their belt, while A&M has a win over New Mexico (DXP cover) and a loss to Ark. St. Any BCS school that loses to Ark. St. at home is looking at a brutal year. The Aggies will have to wait for until Army next week for their first home win of the season.


2* Utah (-8) over AIR FORCE: The Utes have dreams of crashing the BCS party again. A possible season ending game against the BYU Cougars should decide which undefeated team gets to throw a sparkling grape juice party that ends at 9:30pm with no one getting laid but 18 girls getting pregnant. Air Force will run the ball 78 times in this one against a solid Utah run defense that held Michigan to 36 yards on 25 carries. I'm guessing Michigan's O-Line outweighs Air Force's by 30 lbs a man, giving me plenty of confidence Air Force will have problems. Look for the Utes to win big and 21 year-old students to bring all 4 of their kids to the Kool-Aid tailgate at the local Chucky Cheese in Salt Lake City.

DOUBLE EXTRA LOCK

Rutgers (-6) over NAVY: The DXLock hits the road this week with Rutgers who needs to get out of New Jersey worse than Vito Spatafore did in the final season of 'The Sopranos' after he was outed. After losing to Fresno and North Carolina at home, Rutgers gets to take on a Paul Johnson-less Navy team that is allowing almost 9 yards per pass attempt this year against Towson(W), Ball State(L), and Duke(L). Navy can still run the ball, however, as they are averaging almost 370 yards/game with Shun White. Rutgers has owned Navy in the past (6-1) and has held Navy to only 190 yards/game the last 3 years. Rutgers QB Mike Teel and WR Tiquan Underwood will break out of their slump here against a team allowing 325 passing yards/game as Rutgers desperately needs a win before Big East play starts.

These Guys Get Paid To Do This?










Todd McShay (ESPN)







Matt Zemek (FSN)

You would think that after going 3-0 on last week's Take the Double Extra Points feature and covering by almost 24 points per game, I would be happy today. Actually, I'm more pissed off than Norv Turner and Charger fans around the country. Why? Not because I was correct in my prediction that Ohio State would get embarrassed at the Coliseum, but because Todd McShay of ESPN and Matthew Zemek of Collegefootballnews.com said that I, and thousands of other college football fans, "don't know college football if (we) thought Ohio State would get blown out" last Saturday. Maybe you two condescending douchebags can take your heads out of Jim Tressel's ass long enough to enlighten the rest of the college football world exactly why we are so flat-out stupid to think that the most overrated college football team from the most overrated conference in America could get blown out on the road based on their ugly performance in Week 2 against the vaunted Ohio Bobcats? Please, snorkelers around the world have e-mailed me all week asking how you two were able to breathe during the game. Matthew Zemek stated in his own words:

"Very simply, ladies and gentlemen, if you think that Ohio State is in trouble against USC because of the way the Buckeyes played against Ohio, you know nothing about college football and have failed to pay attention to this sport during your lifetime.

Nothing more need be said."


Todd McShay said almost the exact same thing on ESPN Radio a few hours before kickoff on Saturday afternoon. In the words of two of my favorite Jewish brethren, Penn and Teller: "When someone tells you that you are stupid for believing in the probability of an unknown outcome, you should see more red flags raised than at the 1936 Summer Olympics." While we offer strong opinions here at DXP and expect our readers to have equally strong opinions of their own, we will never call them stupid and tell them they know "nothing about college football" if they disagree with us. If we were so bold as to make that claim, we would at least try to back it up with something we like to call "fact-based logic", clearly a foreign term in the McShay and Zemek households. Quite frankly, Mr. Zemek and Mr. McShay, we know a lot about college football and don't get paid to do it. Let me better explain why I thought the Buckeyes would be, well, the Buckeyes in the what ESPN ridiculously called "The Collision at the Coliseum" based on what I saw in person at the Horseshoe on September 6th.

First, QB Boo Jackson and RB Donte Harden, running behind an inferior Bobcat OL, piled up 118 yards on just 18 carries. Boo Jackson was able to scramble out of a collapsing pocket several times during the game, including 21 yards on the Bobcats' lone TD drive. I was confident if Buckeye defenders looked that slow against Ohio, Joe McKnight's shiftiness would give Tressel fits. The Buckeye D lacks lateral quickness and closing speed to prevent those type of plays and remind me of Nebraska defenses from the early 90's. James Laurinaitis gets more tackles following 7 yard gains than any LB I have ever seen. Those tackles don't seem so impressive when it's 2nd and 3 all day. Most importantly, the Ohio D didn't just shut down Ohio State's offense, they had 3 or more defenders tackling RBs and QBs the entire game. I thought that if Ohio State's flat-footed OL could not sustain blocks against Ohio, it would be a long day trying to get the running game going against Fili Moala, Kyle Moore, Everson Griffen, Rey Maualuga, and Brian Cushing. I could go on, but you get the idea.

We do actually do some research to come up with our DXP picks with some of it from being at the games. And please don't tell us that USC would have beat every other college football team in America last Saturday. That may or may not be the case, but I can guarantee you that Oklahoma, Missouri, Florida, Georgia, and even LSU would have made it a game for more than 10 minutes. If Todd McShay really wants to help college football fans, he'll stick to evaluating high school kids and leave the grown up analysis to people who can think for themselves. And Matt Zemek should take a sabbatical from telling the rest of us how much we know or don't know about college football. We're doing just fine, thanks.

"Very simply ladies and gentlemen, if you think a 12-point underdog can't get blown out on the road based upon a terrible performance in the prior week, you know nothing about college football, math, statistics, and probabilities and have failed to pay attention to all sports during your lifetime.

Nothing more need be said, except...

Aaannngggrrryyy."