Tag: American football

The college football team that could go undefeated and not play in the College Football Playoff

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The College Football Playoff is organized by CFP Administration, LLC. While College Football Playoff games are played under NCAA football rules, the College Football Playoff is not an officially an NCAA-sanctioned national championship.

Tonight, at 6 P.M. Central Time, Western Michigan University (WMU) will face Ohio University (Ohio U; not to be confused with The Ohio State University (Ohio State), which is in a different college athletic conference) for the Mid-American Conference (MAC) college football championship. The game will be played at a neutral site, Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan, and television coverage of the game will be provided by ESPN2.

2016 is looking like it could be the first year that the College Football Playoff (CFP), a four-team postseason playoff incorporating two bowl games as semi-final games and a stand-alone championship game designed to determine an unofficial NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (Division I FBS) national champion, could be very controversial. One of the reasons why the CFP could be controversial in its third playing is that WMU could go undefeated and not be selected for one of the four spots in the CFP, which go to the top four teams in the CFP rankings after conference championships are awarded.

WMU has played an incredible college football season this year. In non-conference play, they defeated two teams from the much more prominent Big Ten Conference (specifically, teams from Northwestern University and University of Illinois), and they’ve won every in-conference and non-conference game that they’ve played this season. However, since Western Michigan plays in the Mid-American Conference, which is not considered to be one of the so-called “Power 5” conferences (Southeastern Conference (SEC), Big Ten Conference (Big Ten), Big XII Conference (Big XII), Pac 12 Conference (Pac 12), and Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC)), they are ranked 17th in the CFP rankings after the 13th week of the college football season. By contrast, the only other undefeated team in Division I FBS football is the University of Alabama (Alabama) team, ranked at the very top of the CFP rankings. While there’s no disputing that Alabama has been the strongest team in top-level college football this year, there are a total of 15 teams with at least one loss ranked above WMU, including one team with four losses (Auburn University). WMU could defeat Ohio U by an obscenely large margin in the MAC title game and go into bowl season undefeated, yet not even come close to getting one of the four CFP spots, with at least three of the four, or, if Alabama loses the SEC title game, all four, teams being selected for the CFP getting playoff spots.

Additionally, it’s very likely that Ohio State, which isn’t playing for the Big Ten title, could get a CFP spot, while both of the teams playing for the Big Ten title on Saturday night (The Penn State University vs. University of Wisconsin; 6 P.M. Central Time on Fox), may not get a CFP spot despite the winner of the championship game between them being the Big Ten champion. Furthermore, if Alabama loses to University of Florida (Florida) in the SEC title game, Florida may not get a CFP spot despite being conference champion, potentially resulting in two or fewer of the CFP teams being conference champions.

If one were to regard the Electoral College as an unfair way to decide a president and a vice president, then the CFP is an even unfairer way to decide a college football national champion. However, it’s the system we have, not the system that I would like to see in place, that is official (in the case of the Electoral College) or generally recognized as determining the champion (in the case of the CFP).


Katrina Shankland knows more about the NFL’s player salary structure than Scott Walker does

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The author of the blog post is a New England Patriots fan who lives in Illinois, and Wisconsin State Rep. Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point) is, like the vast majority of Wisconsinites, a Green Bay Packers fan. Anyways, the Chicago Bears are a bunch of losers.

At a recent private, invite-only “listening session”, Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, while claiming that the NFL’s free agency system should be a model for paying public school teachers, demonstrated that he has no knowledge of how the NFL’s player salary structure works. Here’s what Walker said:

If the Green Bay Packers pay people to perform and if they perform well on their team, (the Packers) pay them to do that…They don’t pay them for how many years they’ve been on the football team. They pay them whether or not they help (the Packers) win football games.

Wisconsin State Rep. Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point), the Assistant Minority Leader of the Wisconsin State Assembly, issued this brilliant response to Walker’s absurd claims about the NFL player salary structure and absurd comparison between NFL player salaries and Wisconsin public school teacher salaries. I encourage everyone who is reading this blog post to read Shankland’s statement in full, but I’ll summarize three points that Shankland made in her statement:

  • NFL teams often have a total player payroll that is well under the league’s salary cap, whereas public school districts in Wisconsin are barely able to make payroll thanks to Walker’s funding cuts to public K-12 schools in Wisconsin
  • NFL players have a strong labor union representing them, whereas Walker and his Republican allies severely weakened Wisconsin public school teachers’ unions by restricting collective bargaining rights.
  • For the third point, I’ll directly quote Shankland: “…the NFL does pay their athletes regardless of whether or not they win games. Ask the Chicago Bears about this.”

For those of you who are wondering, the Chicago Bears compiled a record of 6 wins and 10 losses, and failed to make the playoffs, in the 2015 NFL season. Oh, and NFL players do not lose a penny of their base salary if their team loses a game.

The salary and unionization structure of NFL players and that of public school teachers in Wisconsin are not identical by any rational person’s imagination. I applaud Katrina Shankland for having a far better knowledge of the NFL player salary structure than Scott Walker does.

While Illinois doesn’t have a state budget, the University of Illinois hires a new football coach

It is pretty clear to me that the State of Illinois, under the failed leadership of Republican Governor Bruce Rauner, is completely incapable of adequately funding state universities, including Chicago State University (which is laying off its entire workforce) and Eastern Illinois University (which is in serious trouble financially due to a lack of state funding).

Yet that hasn’t stopped our state’s flagship university, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), from hiring a new coach for the university’s football team. Lovie Smith, a former NFL coach, was hired by UIUC to be the university’s new head football coach. I’ve not received any word on what Lovie’s annual salary will be, but I’m guessing that it’s a lot more than any elected official in Illinois makes, and that a significant chunk of it will be paid by Illinois taxpayers.

Bruce Rauner’s Illinois has the wrong priorities. While Rauner is completely unwilling to fund higher education in Illinois, Rauner has no problem with public universities shelling out big bucks for football coaches.

Failed USFL team owner Donald Trump complains about recent emphasis on player safety in the NFL

Donald Trump, who, decades prior to running for the Republican presidential nomination, was the owner of the New Jersey Generals of the failed United States Football League (USFL), complained at a recent campaign rally that the National Football League (NFL) has become “too soft” because of the increased emphasis on player safety in recent years:

As Donald Trump watched Saturday night’s Steelers-Bengals game, with hard hits that caused concussions and drew penalty flags, he thought he saw a metaphor for the direction that our country is heading in.

“Football has become soft like our country has become soft,” Trump said at a campaign rally today, to cheers from the audience.

Trump said he’s frustrated to see the way the NFL has changed the rules to take many hits to the head out of the game, at the expense of what Trump views as the old-school style of play that made the game great decades ago.

Make no mistake about it, football is a big part of American culture, with the Super Bowl traditionally being the most-watched television program of the year and the NBC Sunday Night Football jingle being effectively America’s second national anthem. In fact, I’m a big fan of football myself, with football being my third-favorite sport behind curling (a winter sport that is almost never on American television) and stock car racing.

Back to the main point of the blog post…player safety is something that should be a major focus of football at all levels of the sport. Head injuries are very serious, and repetitive head injuries have caused many former football players to suffer long-term medical problems. Many deceased former football players, including Frank Gifford and Junior Seau (last name pronounced say-OW), were diagnosed post-mortem with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease that causes, among other things, memory loss and suicidal mentality. I believe that any non-incidental contact above the shoulders should be banned in football at all levels.

Let’s not forget that Trump was largely responsible for the USFL, a professional football league that operated for three seasons in the 1980’s, folding:

Soon after Trump bought the Generals after the USFL’s inaugural season, which was played in the spring of 1983, he started pushing his fellow owners to move the league’s games to the fall and go head-to-head with the NFL. “If God wanted football in the spring,” Trump once said, “he wouldn’t have created baseball.” After the league’s third season, the owners agreed to move to a fall schedule in 1986.

“I think it was a big mistake,” said Dr. Ted Diethrich, one of the league’s original owners. “When that decision was made, the course for this was charted, and it was going to be a wreck.”

Several teams were having financial difficulties at the time, and the league lacked the fall TV contracts that supported the NFL. The USFL instead tried to take on the NFL in the courts by filing an antitrust lawsuit. The hope was that the USFL would either merge with the established league or win a sizable settlement. The merger never happened, and despite winning the lawsuit, the USFL was ultimately awarded only $3 for its troubles. The league soon folded, and Trump’s push for the fall schedule and a lawsuit against the NFL is generally cited as the main reason.

Remember, Donald Trump has derailed professional football once before, so he’s not credible when it comes to talking about the current state of professional football in America.

Aaron Schock caught using taxpayer money on airplane trip to NFL game

Disgraced U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) has been implicated in one scandal after another in recent months, most notably the Decorgate scandal, in which Schock had his Washington, D.C. office decorated in a lavish, Downton Abbey-inspired style.

Now, Schock has been implicated in yet another scandal. This time, it involves taxpayer money, a private airplane, and a NFL game between the Chicago Bears and the Minnesota Vikings (the Bears defeated the Vikings 21-13 in that game):

Schock chartered an aircraft to take him from Manassas Regional Airport in Virginia, about 30 miles from the Capitol, to Peoria on Friday, Nov. 14. The return trip to Reagan National Airport was set for the next Monday. The side trip to Chicago was tucked in between, on Sunday, according to the pilot who flew the plane.

The newest official House disbursement records show a November payment of $10,802 to pilot Keith Siilats for “commercial transportation.”

Siilats told me in an interview on Sunday, “That whole weekend was paid by the government.” The only invoice Siilats said he submitted was for government payment.

Siilats also told me he attended the Bears game with Schock.

There are no records showing any reimbursement from Schock for the Chicago flights.

That’s right…Aaron Schock is using your taxpayer money to fly to professional football games. I think it’s absolutely ridiculous that federal tax dollars, which could be better spent on things like rebuilding crumbling infrastructure, helping the poor, and so on, are being used for a Member of Congress’s trip to a NFL game.

Aaron Schock should resign from Congress immediately…in fact, he should have resigned a long time ago. In the meantime, I’ll start referring to this latest Schock scandal as the “Bearsgate” scandal.

Did Ohio State football violate NCAA rules on selling memorabilia once again?

In tomorrow night’s College Football Playoff (CFP) championship game, the Buckeyes of The Ohio State University will face off against the Ducks of the University of Oregon at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

While the CFP title game in the Jerrydome hasn’t gotten as much media attention as the NFL playoffs, most notably the Packers/Cowboys NFC Divisional game which will take place on the Frozen Tundra of Green Bay in a couple of hours, I do want to bring attention to an apparent violation of NCAA rules by Ohio State.

I came across this tweet by an Auburn University football fan containing a set of four pictures of a Ohio State jersey signed by quarterback Braxton Miller, who is currently a member of the Ohio State football team, but will not play in the CFP title game due to the fact that he’s still recovering from shoulder surgery:

Since Miller is still a member of the Ohio State football team, Miller may have violated NCAA rules that prohibit student-athletes in NCAA-sanctioned collegiate sports from selling official jerseys, other types of sports gear, and awards while a member of the team. NCAA rules prohibit student-athletes from profiting off of sales of memorabilia and awards, and disciplinary action can range anywhere from a mandatory donation to charity to the player being suspended or declared ineligible to sanctions, such as bans from postseason play, against the player’s team.

This isn’t the first time an Ohio State player sold memorabilia while a member of the school’s football team. In 2010, when Terrelle Pryor, now the quarterback for the NFL’s Carolina Panthers, was a college football player for Ohio State, he and four of his college teammates were caught selling jerseys, championship rings, and trophies to a tattoo dealer, which resulted in Pryor and the other four players being suspended by the NCAA for the first five games of the 2011 season.

The NCAA should definitely investigate whether or not Braxton Miller violated NCAA rules prohibiting memorabilia sales.