Tag: 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).

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U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team fights for equal pay in sports

While the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team (USMNT) is struggling badly in its efforts to qualify for the 2018 FIFA (Men’s) World Cup in Russia, the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNT) is winning on the field and fighting for justice in front of the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission:

On Thursday, five of the biggest stars on the U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) — Carli Lloyd, Becky Sauerbrunn, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, and Hope Solo — filed a federal complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, charging the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) with wage discrimination.

The players, who were all key members of the Women’s World Cup championship team last year, say that while the popularity and success of the USWNT generates revenue for the federation, they are still paid less than their male counterparts.

According to USWNT member Becky Sauerbrunn, the pay discrimination complaint is supported by the entire USWNT roster:

The USWNT members are being very honest when they say that they’re being discriminated against by the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF), which is responsible for front-office management of both the women’s and men’s national soccer teams here in the United States. In fact, USWNT members get paid far less than their male counterparts, despite the fact that the USWNT is expected to become responsible for generating more of the USSF’s revenue than the USMNT, as well as the fact that the USWNT is the reigning Women’s World Cup champions while the USMNT may not be able to qualify for their World Cup. In fact, USWNT members have been paid as little as 40% of their male counterparts, despite being considerably more successful than their male counterparts.

Once again, the USWNT is proving that they are badass American heroes on and off the field. I support the fight for equal pay for equal play.

 

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.

I care about women in sports, thanks in no small part to the U.S. women’s soccer team

Last night, the U.S. women’s national soccer team (USWNT) defeated Japan by a score of 5 to 2 to claim the third Women’s World Cup for the United States and the first one for the U.S. in 16 years.

While an estimate of how many people watched the FOX telecast of the Women’s World Cup final, which was held in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, is not yet available, I was among the people who watched the Women’s World Cup final live, although I originally didn’t intend to. The start of the broadcast of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race from Daytona International Speedway in Florida, which was televised by NBC, was scheduled at roughly the same time as the opening kickoff of the Women’s World Cup final, and, as a big NASCAR fan, I originally intended to watch the NASCAR race live and watch the soccer game late at night via DVR. However, because rain delayed the start of the NASCAR race by over three hours, I ended up tuning into the soccer game live a couple of minutes after the start, right before Carli Lloyd scored the first of her three goals for the USWNT, and I ended up being able to watch the rest of the game live because the NASCAR race ended up starting well after the soccer game was over. I was not disappointed one bit by the soccer game, in fact, I’m absolutely excited that our nation’s women’s soccer team are, once again, the world champions of women’s soccer.

I hope that the incredible success of the USWNT in this year’s Women’s World Cup leads to a greater public acceptance, and a greater level of respect, for female athletes in all sports.

Usually, the only instances where female athletes get any significant level media attention in this country is when the Olympic Games are taking place, when the major tennis championships are taking place, when Danica Patrick runs in automobile races, and…you guessed it…when the Women’s World Cup of soccer is taking place. This is one of a number of reasons why women’s sports have not been accepted by as much of the American public as men’s sports have. I’m fortunate to have an expensive enough satellite television package where I can, during the winter months in non-Winter Olympic years, find women’s bobsled, skeleton, and curling on television. When female athletes do get a significant level of media attention in this country, it’s often in a sexist manner. When the sports media covers female athletes, they often talk about subjects like the athletes’ love/sex lives or whether or not they have kids, subjects that have nothing to do with an athlete’s performance and the sports media rarely talks about in regards to male athletes.

I hope the U.S. women’s soccer team’s World Cup victory leads to less misogyny towards, and more acceptance of, female athletes in all sports.

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.

FOX News supports domestic violence

The hosts of the FOX News morning program FOX & Friends, think that former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice beating the woman who is now his wife unconscious in an elevator is a laughing matter:

The hosts of Fox & Friends on Monday turned video of NFL player Ray Rice punching his then-girlfriend unconscious in an elevator into a joke, saying that in the future she should “take the stairs.”

[…]

“I think the message is take the stairs,” (Brian Kilmeade) added, as co-host Anna Kooiman giggled.

“The message is, when you’re in an elevator, there’s a camera,” (Steve) Doocy concluded.

There’s a reason why I referred to Rice as a former Baltimore Ravens running back: the Ravens have officially fired Rice from the team due to the fact that he physically assaulted the woman who he is now married to.

I’m not laughing at a professional athlete beating a woman until she was unconscious, and that’s because it’s not funny at all. Domestic violence is a very serious problem in this country, and anyone who thinks that domestic violence is something worth laughing at or making jokes about is effectively defending those who physically abuse wives, fiancés, and girlfriends. Sadly, defending the most disgusting people in society is nothing new for FOX News, which is a far-right propaganda network.