Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Athletes, Swim Or Sink

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

After hearing Philadelphia Eagles QB Michael Vick's interview with ESPN's Hannah Storm, there is no question he is maturing.

During the interview, Vick accepted his back-up role to Kevin Kolb graciously despite outstanding performances against the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions. In an opening week 27-20 loss to Green Bay in Philadelphia, Vick threw for 175 yards and ran for 103.

In a 35-32 win against Detroit at Ford Field Sunday, he passed for 284 yards and two touchdowns. He has completed 63.8 % of his passes and posted consecutive games with a passer rating above 100% for the second time in his career.

As it turns out 24 hours later, instead of having to accept his back-up role and wait down the road for the opportunity to start in the NFL with the Eagles or another team, Eagles Coach Andy Reid made a bold decision to name Vick the team's starting quarterback beginning with this week's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday in Northern Florida.

Although Eagles Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg failed as head coach of the Detroit Lions from 2001-02 by compiling a 5-27-0 mark for a .156 winning percentage in a pair of seasons, he's done an outstanding job transforming an athletic quarterback into a complete player. Mornhinweg has a great reputation as an excellent offensive mind.

At 30-years old, Vick still has the speed to take a dead play and keep it alive. Against the Lions, he added 37-yards rushing, running for his life most of the afternoon. His passing numbers weren't statistics that Atlanta Falcons fans were accustomed to seeing.

Yet, the 37 rushing yards against Detroit are deceiving because that doesn't count how many yards Vick gained scrambling out of the pocket locating receivers and wearing out defenders. Vick was sacked six times by Detroit and without his mobility who knows how many more sacks the Lions would have amassed.

Thanks to Reid and Mornhinweg, Vick has become a smarter player.

Thanks to prison, Vick has become a humbled man.

He realized that after being in jail on dog fighting charges that he had an excellent career and squandered it. More importantly, he lost his freedom!

But now he has it back and everybody is better for it. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell can use Vick as an example that by giving a player a second chance that's paid his debt to society, this can result in numerous positive messages.

Having Tony Dungy as a mentor to Vick was a brilliant move by Goodell.

Do you think No.7 Jerseys are selling in Philadelphia? I'd say so.

After Vick's opening week performance against the Packers, did the local radio sports talk shows seize the opportunity to create buzz, excitement and benefit by booming ratings to create a quarterback controversy? You bet.

I admire Eagles Owner Jeffrey Lurie and his organization for taking the chance on Vick despite the opposition of animal cruelty groups. Lurie made Vick do lots of Community Service work to bring awareness to Animal Cruelty.

Now Lurie's decision to keep Vick will put money in the owners pocket and fill seats at Lincoln Financial Field.

I wouldn't be surprised if Lurie played a role in having Vick as the new starting quarterback even if Reid looked at the film and knew his best chance to win was with Michael at the helm.

I admire the Philadelphia fans for finally accepting him into the community. We all know that Philadelphia fans can be tough because former QB Donovan McNabb was booed on draft day and heard many more during his long tenure with the Eagles. We're talking about fans that also booed Santa Claus in 1968, but thus far, they've handled the Vick situation fairly well.

But while Vick's story has turned out nicely, will we see similar endings to Baltimore Ravens WR Daunte Stallworth, who was involved in a fatal drinking and driving accident in Miami Beach, Florida as he killed a walking pedestrian?

How about Plaxico Burress, who shot himself outside of a New York night club and is in jail? Since being in jail, Burress has been denied early work release twice, plus the incident has cost him millions of dollars along with a couple of NFL seasons. Giants signal caller Eli Manning enjoyed having Burress as his tall target and could use him now. I hope Burress his paying attention to Vick's revitalized NFL career.

My good friend Jillian Ricard posted on Facebook that "New York Jets WR Braylon Edwards was arrested at 5:15 am for blowing a 0.16-double the legal limit! DWI, another Edwards arrest!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOW!"

This is the first time that I heard about the incident.

Yet, what's amazing about the situation is the NFL has a policy that if a player needs a "Free Ride" after he's been drinking, all he has to do is just make a phone call and he'll receive it without having to give an explanation. He bypassed this, but what was worse, he had a pair of teammates in the vehicle with him.

It's a "Player Protect" benefit that the player will be transported home in a luxury vehicle with a police officer that acts as a Chauffeur, who is fully armed and protected for their safety. NFL players have this available to them through the end of the Super Bowl.

My response on Jillian's wall was, "These overpaid clowns never learn! He better start taking the Subways, Find himself a Cab Driver, or a Personal Driver! Otherwise, he'll join Plaxico Burress in the slammer. A Michigan Wolverine and Michigan State Spartan, teammates in the same Jail System. One for the ages."

When Jillian's friend Jeffery A Cross asked me, "What does pay have to do with anything?"

I responded, "Everything. He thinks because he has money that he can buy his way out of trouble by hiring the best lawyers and beat the legal system. What he doesn't realize is no lawyer can appeal Goodell's right to suspend him under the NFL's Personal Conduct Policy. Once a player can't play, he loses paychecks, you can only hope that he'll get the message and not embarrass ' The Shield.' Edwards poor track record only makes things tougher to fight his case since he was charged with disorderly conduct in Cleveland. Goodell has a reputation of coming down harder than the authorities. Just ask Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, who was suspended six games but did get it reduced to four games by complying with Goodell's conditions for straightening out his life. There is no question that Roethlisberger's actions in Georgia, and Lake Tahoe, Nevada factored into his decision. Roethlisberger did get injured in a motorcycle accident and Goodell had to have mentioned this to him when they met." Stallworth was suspended for an entire NFL season!

Ricard reminded all of her friends about the "NFL's Personal Conduct Policy" and was prepared to re-post it on her website Dolfanjill.com.

One can only hope that more athletes would turn out to be a "Vick Feel Good Story."

But I highly doubt it will happen because as long as these athletes have money, they'll think they're a step above us all, a step above the law, therefore, the off the field incidents will unfortunately continue.

As Goodell says, don't put yourself in a position of being where you shouldn't be.

Athletes, bars, night clubs, strip clubs and money are a bad combination. They create problems!

It gets very tiring that in a poor economy we have to talk about highly paid athletes constantly getting into trouble. Besides television and radio, the emergence of Facebook, Twitter, and Blogging on the Internet have created zillions of ways to get news.

The money these athletes squander is more than the average household makes in a year(s) or lifetime.

A lot of these athletes don't manage their money properly. Their earnings power will never be as high in retirement as it is now.

Therefore, don't expect the general pubic to show these athletes any sympathy as foreclosures, bankruptcies, mounting credit problems as a result of continued financial hardships lead to more individuals who voluntarily decide to go to sleep permanently.

So in the end, will these Athletes continue to Swim or Sink?

Now we have zillions of ways to find out to see if there is another Vick story to look forward or another sad commentary in Edwards.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at scottsports33@aol.com and his blog can be seen at www.scottsports33.com.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

MLB'S Medicare Managers

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

When Joe Torre (70) decided to retire as manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers Friday, the 2010 MLB season has watched three of the greatest skippers step aside. This marks a changing of the guard for the Grand Old Game.

There could be more managers that find themselves filing for Medicare as well, as they're all over 60-years old. This means that the landscape of managers will show an entirely different look in 2011.

Torre has been replaced by Don Mattingly (49) but will leave the game with four World Series Titles and to date, has 2,318 wins which is fifth all-time.

Managing under the late George Steinbrenner from 1996-2007 may have added years to his life, therefore in retrospect, Torre could pass for 80, but there is no doubt that his accomplishments in the Bronx have him labeled as a Future Hall of Fame Manager with his next stop, Cooperstown, NY.

Have we seen the last of Torre?

I'd like to believe we have but for some reason, as good as he looks, I have a gut feeling if the Chicago Cubs call, Joe's cell phone will be on and he'll be listening. While it appears as though he's accomplished everything in baseball, winning a World Series with the Cubs would be the equivalent to multiple titles anywhere else because of the 102-year championship drought.

Speaking of the Cubs, Lou Piniella (67) retired in August to be with his ailing mother but his 1,835 wins and one World Series (1990) title with the Cincinnati Reds, will certainly earn him consideration for Cooperstown. Here is another guy that worked with Steinbrenner and had success with the New York Yankees, Reds, Seattle Mariners and Cubs. He also did the dirty work for Tampa Bay Rays Manager Joe Maddon.

I think Piniella needs a couple years to recharge, but between himself and Torre, I believe that Joe would likely manage again and Lou lands behind the microphone as a color analyst. Piniella leaves the game as the 14th winningest manager.

In a perfect world, it would be great to see the Atlanta Braves send Bobby Cox (69) into retirement with his third World Series title. But I have a feeling that the man who is the fourth winningest manager with 2,496 to date, plus holds the All-Time record with ejections (158) will come up short.

I predict that the Philadelphia Phillies will be back in the Fall Classic for the third year in a row.

But nobody can take away the his major league record of 15 division titles, 14 with Atlanta and one with the Toronto Blue Jays. I'll bet few people realize that Cox won a World Series ring in 1977 when he served as the late Billy Martin's first base coach for the New York Yankees before his managerial career.

Martin taught Piniella and Cox and they have all put on animated shows when they're tossed out by the umpires and all three won the World Series as a manager.

When Cox retires after the end of the season, he has agreed to stay on as an advisor for team baseball operations for the next five years.

Toronto Blue Jays Manager Cito Gaston (66) reaped the benefits from Cox's work in Canada winning two World Series Titles in 1992-93. The baseball strike in 1994 prevented Gaston from winning three championships in a row, but to date, Gaston is the Blue Jays winningest manager with 809 triumphs. There is talk that he might retire but nothing is official as of yet.

St. Louis Cardinals Manager Tony LaRussa (65) may still have a lot of piloting left though his future in Missouri is up in the air. He is currently the third winningest skipper with 2,626 victories. He trails John McGraw (2,763) and Connie Mack (3,731). It's hard to believe that Mack's career record was 3,731-3948-76 with a .486 Pct.

LaRussa is only one of two managers to ever win a World Series title in both leagues leading the Oakland A's in 1989 and the Cardinals in 2006. The other was Sparky Anderson who won with the Cincinnati Reds in 1975, 76 and Detroit Tigers in 1984.

LaRussa is second all-time for games managed with 4,773 trailing only Mack who had 7,755. Even though I doubt he'll break Mack's win total, he definitely won't eclipse his losses mark.

The baby of this group is Cincinnati Reds Manager Dusty Baker (61). He is the first African American Manager is Reds history.

He ranks 26th in all-time wins with 1,397 and has had successful stints with the San Francisco Giants, Cubs and now the Reds. Although he recently turned down a contract extension and is in the final year of his three-year contract, I have a feeling that since the Dodgers managerial position has been filled by Mattingly, Baker will be managing off of I-75 in Southern Ohio if he doesn't retire.

The Reds currently lead the NL Central with an 83-65 record, six games ahead of LaRussa's Cardinals.

So now the question remains, what men will be filling out line-up cards in the future?

I will toss out some names of managers that could be good fits in certain places.

Former Tigers Manager Alan Trammell (52) has been under the tutelage of Piniella working with the Cubs since 2007. Learning from Piniella and Anderson should be enough for Trammell to resurface again, but this time with a much more competitive team. There is no way that Trammell would accept another rebuilding job as he did with Detroit where he posted a 186-300 mark and a .383 winning percentage.

A good spot for Trammell would be Toronto and Blue Jays fans know him well during their AL Eastern Division battles back in the 1980's. If Alan doesn't land there, he could end up rejoining Kirk Gibson's staff in Arizona as a bench coach until a more enticing position opens up.

I do believe that the interim tag will be lifted and Gibson (53) becomes the permanent manager of the Diamondbacks. Gibson is an intense person, lets his players know where they stand, has learned under Anderson and Tommy Lasorda. His fiery demeanor and two historic home runs in a pair of World Series wins for Detroit in (1984) and Los Angeles in (1988) lend plenty of credibility.

Now that Gibson has mellowed over the years with the media, he'll know how to sell his team. He will be an excellent manager with the right talent and the Diamondbacks have been playing well and not quitting against contenders down the stretch.

Over the years, Mattingly has learned from Torre, Martin, Piniella and Dallas Green. With Lasorda in the organization, I'm sure that he'll draw off the Artful Dodger and hire an experienced bench coach. Larry Bowa is still on the Dodgers staff and they've worked together for a few years. I think Mattingly will be fine because he's a blue collar worker and student of the game, in addition to the fact that he's a lifetime .307 hitter, six-time All-Star and nine-time Gold Glove Winner.

Since Cox is remaining with the Braves, this is the reason why former Florida Marlins Manager Fredi Gonzalez (46) turned down the opportunity to interview with the Cubs.

He is the Marlins winningest manager with 276 victories. In 555 games, he led Florida to a 276-279 mark, a .497 winning percentage. He led Florida to winning seasons in 2008 and 2009 despite having the lowest payroll in the major leagues. He is a natural choice to return to the Braves where he served as Cox's third base coach for four years.

Gonzalez succeeded Joe Girardi (45) as Marlins manager on October 3, 2006. Girardi won a World Series with the Yankees in 2009 and if history repeats itself, another former Marlins manager could have huge success with a team that has much more resources to give him tools to win in the postseason.

When Girardi piloted the Marlins in 2006, he was named the Sporting News Manager of the Year for the National League, leading a team with the lowest payroll in the Major Leagues, at $14 million to a 78-84 record which stayed in wild-card contention. This payroll was lower than the salaries of several MLB players. He was fired after the 2006 season because of his tense relationship with Owner Jeffrey Loria.

If the Cubs entice Girardi to leave the Yankees and pay him more money to return to his hometown, then look for the Bronx Bombers to turn to Willie Randolph (56), currently with the Milwaukee Brewers. Randolph is a link to the glory days of the 1970's and his World Series titles under Martin and Bob Lemon would be a good fit. He also won four championships with the Yankees as a coach under Torre to give him six rings with the Yankees. If current Brewers Manager Ken Macha is fired, Randolph could take over since he was a finalist for the position.

If Girardi stays in New York, then it would make sense for the Cubs to either retain Mike Quade (53) as manager for a couple years and move legend Ryne Sandberg (51) up from the farm system to serve as bench coach until he's ready to manage in the major leagues.

Otherwise, just hire Sandberg as the new manager if there isn't a suitable experienced manager available to handle the burden of a 102-year drought.

Sandberg was named the 2010 Pacific Coast League's Manager of the Year for the AAA Iowa Cubs leading them to an 80-60 mark.

With the amount of vacancies that could be open, my instincts tell me that Bob Brenly (56) will be back in the dugout. The current Cubs announcer would be a logical candidate to be their skipper or he can take his 303-262 record and one World Series Title in 2001 in 3 1/2 seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks somewhere else.

All of the managers I've mentioned have solid credentials and I would be curious to see how they perform with their next opportunities. Meanwhile, the six skippers in the over 60 club certainly have made great contributions to the grand old game.

Regardless of where these managers wind-up, they can only hope not to land with the Pittsburgh Pirates, who have posted 18 straight losing seasons, the longest in North American Professional Sports. These guys may be good, but they're not miracle workers.
The Pirates are the AAA affiliate for the rest of MLB.

This is a sad commentary because the loyal Pittsburgh fans deserve much more than they've been given, especially from a franchise which has a proud tradition that includes five World Series titles and now a new stadium.

But one thing is for certain, you haven't heard the last of these six men that are going to be getting Medicare. I have a feeling they'll continue to be around the game which is a benefit to all connected with the "Great American Past Time."

Scott Morganroth can be reached at scottsports33@aol.com and his blog can be seen at www.scottsports33.com.






Saturday, September 11, 2010

Pat White's Royal Audible

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

What a week for former Miami Dolphins quarterback Pat White.

He failed to make the Dolphins 53-man roster and received no calls from the pass happy Canadian Football League.

The UFL could have been an option for the 6-0, 197 pound product of West Virginia, but now he's going to take his arm to the Kansas City Royals, who signed White to a minor league contract.

Instead of playing in NFL Stadiums this fall, White could be headed to the Arizona Fall League to get back in the swing of things. The Royals Spring Training Headquarters are in Surprise, Arizona.

White is no stranger to the diamond as he was a star pitcher and outfielder at Daphne High School in Alabama and led his team to a pair of state championships in three years.

The Anaheim Angels selected him in the fourth round of the 2004 draft and offered him a six-figure bonus to play that sport. He became a Mountaineer instead.

The Royals are the same franchise where 1985 Auburn Tigers Heisman Trophy winner Bo Jackson played. Jackson went on to have a productive baseball career, but his decision to play on the diamond instead of the gridiron is largely attributed to not wanting to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who drafted Jackson first overall in the 1986 NFL Draft.

Jackson never played a down at the torn down Tampa Stadium.

Bo is best known in baseball for hitting a monstrous 448 blast in the 1989 All-Star Game in his first at bat during the bottom of the first inning. He would go on an earn the MVP Award as the American League defeated the National League 5-3 at Anaheim Stadium.

Bo would have a productive baseball career with the Royals, Chicago White Sox and California Angels. Jackson was selected in the seventh round of the 1987 NFL Draft, 183 overall, by the Los Angeles Raiders, as Owner Al Davis agreed to pay him a full-time running back salary, yet allowed him to play baseball.

In his brief NFL career, Jackson rushed for 2,792 yards, 16 touchdowns with a 5.4 yard average. Jackson's defining moment in his NFL career occurred in 1987 when he rushed for 221 yards in a Monday Night Football contest against the Seattle Seahawks. During the game, he ran over Seattle linebacker Brian Bosworth, who had insulted Jackson at a media event before the game that he would contain him, but Bo had the last laugh.

Have we seen the last of White on the gridiron?

Time will tell.

But here are some of the other prominent players that have taken the football to baseball route. They found the diamond to be much more prosperous than the gridiron.

When Hall of Fame Quarterback John Elway vowed he'd never play for Robert Irsay as a member of the Baltimore Colts, he meant it!

Drafted as the top player selected in the 1983 NFL draft, Elway played in the New York Yankees farm system before he was traded to the Denver Broncos. Elway simply used the Yankees as leverage to force this trade, trading Irsay for the late George Steinbrenner.

The move worked. The rest is history.

Former Michigan State Spartans wide receiver Kirk Gibson was drafted by the NFL's St. Louis Cardinals but elected to play for his hometown Detroit Tigers. Gibson is best known for hitting a memorable World Series home run when the Tigers defeated the San Diego Padres in 1984. He hit another dramatic World Series round tripper in 1988 as the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Oakland A's. His pinch-hit homer off Hall of Fame pitcher Dennis Eckersley remains one of the greatest moments in baseball history. Gibson is currently the interim manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Deion Sanders played 14-seasons in the NFL and played a nine-year, part-time baseball career, playing in 641 games with four teams. He had a career batting average of .263 with 558 hits and 186 stolen bases.

Colorado Rockies first baseman Todd Helton was ahead of Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning on the depth chart at the University of Tennessee. But injuries saw Manning move ahead of Helton, who was a two-sport star. Todd chose to pursue a baseball career that saw him become a first round selection of the Rockies, eighth overall, in the 1995 Major League Baseball Draft.

Helton, 37, is a lifetime .324 hitter, five-time All-Star, three-time National League Gold Glove Winner and is the first player in MLB history to hit 35 doubles in 10 straight seasons. Helton made the Rockies roster in 1997. The closest he came to playing in an NFL Stadium was when the Rockies and Broncos shared Mile High Stadium.

The fans in Denver have been fortunate to have Helton and Elway's career overlap so they could enjoy two of the best athletes in this generation. If there is a Hall of Fame in the Rocky Mountain Area, these two would be in it.

Helton's No. 17 jersey will eventually be retired at Coors Field.

I'm sure there are other baseball to football connections that I haven't mentioned and I encourage you readers to mention others. But these are the ones that stand out and as smart as White is, I'm sure, he's heard of the ones that I've mentioned.

We'll see if White eventually joins this group and trades "The Wildcat" for a "Wild Ride" in a sport where the careers are much longer on the baseball diamond. The contracts are also guaranteed. If he stays with baseball, he won't have to worried about being locked out of his sport next March because he'll be in Spring Training having done the "Royal Audible."

Scott Morganroth can be reached at scottsports33@aol.com and his blog can be seen at www.scottsports33.com.


Friday, September 10, 2010

College Football Thoughts

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

1) A year ago former FAU QB Rusty Smith found himself and the rest of the Owls getting blasted by the Nebraska Cornhuskers 49-3.

This fall, Smith has made the Tennessee Titans 53-man roster as their third string developmental signal caller selected in the sixth round, 176 overall, in the 2010 NFL Draft. Ironically, his head coach Jeff Fisher was a late round pick by the Chicago Bears in the 1981 draft. Fisher was taken in the seventh round, 177 overall, and did earn a Super Bowl ring with the Bears as a reserve. It's amazing how Fisher and Smith were one selection apart, but when you consider that the Jacksonville Jaguars and Carolina Panthers didn't exist, Fisher understands that good talent can come in the later rounds of the NFL draft especially since he was an underdog in his own right.

While Smith is on the same team as starter Vince Young, have to wonder if they'll be watching the FAU vs Texas Longhorns contest on November 20 in Austin. The last time these two schools faced each other in 2008, Young and his Longhorns blasted FAU and Smith 52-10. Nonetheless, this should be an interesting interaction between the two teammates and former rivals.

2) Speaking of Nebraska, I'll bet Smith and the rest of us never thought this would be the Cornhuskers final year in the Big 12.

But indeed it is. I don't know if the Big Ten Network is allowed to televise Nebraska's non- conference games either live or on tape delayed, but if there is a way, they should familiarize the fan base with their newest member. If you have a new toy, you might as well have some fun with it. If not football, they could attempt this in basketball.

3) I have no problem with the Big 10's new two division format. One division consists of Michigan, Nebraska, Minnesota, Northwestern, Iowa and Michigan State. The other division has Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Illinois, Purdue and Indiana. It will be interesting too see a new rivalry get created with Michigan/Nebraska, while the The Wolverines & Ohio State rivalry will remain the last weekend of the season.

Must see TV will be Ohio State and Penn State while the Nittany Lions cross-division match-up will be with the Cornhuskers, two super powers that used to be National Championship powers that now find themselves as the 11th and 12th members in the Big 10. The last time Michigan faced Nebraska was in 2005 when the Cornhuskers won a wild 32-28 affair in the Alamo Bowl at the Alamo Dome in San Antonio.

With the Wolverines drawing a college football record of 113,090 fans in their season opening 30-10 win over Connecticut Saturday, a U-N vs U-M contest with these two could hold over 150,000 fans if "The Big House" in Ann Arbor were big enough.

4) Brigham Young has announced it will go Independent and leave the Mountain West Conference. The Cougers say they will play 4-5 Western Athletic Conference games a year and have scheduled series with Notre Dame and Texas. More power to BYU because they have their own TV Network, plus inked a deal with ESPN to televise their home games.

I respect BYU as much as Notre Dame. Since BYU is located out West, it doesn't get the exposure and recognition that the Fighting Irish receives. But the Cougars do have a National Championship that they won ironically against the Michigan Wolverines in 1984, plus have produced Super Bowl winning quarterbacks Jim McMahon (Chicago Bears) and Steve Young (San Francisco 49'ers).

5) There is talk that the Wolverines and Notre Dame will take a break in their series. I have no problem with this. As much as I like seeing these tradition rich powers play, it wouldn't be a bad idea to see these schools take a break.

Perhaps the Wolverines could schedule a Pac 10, ACC or Big East team. The Michigan vs Connecticut game looked intriguing since the Huskies are a basketball power and are new to the FBS. We all know that football is a bigger cash cow. Michigan could schedule West Virginia since they hired the Mountaineers football and basketball coaches. I can see U-M's Rich Rodriguez having some sleepless nights.

I'm sure Skip Holtz at USF would like to take my Alma-Mater to "The Big House" and compare experiences with his father Lou, who went there with Notre Dame and Minnesota. Would U-M's athletic department consider inviting back Appalachian State? The Wolverines could schedule series with Florida, Florida State, Miami, Tennessee, USC, UCLA or Colorado. I guarantee that Kordell Stewart won't throw another game winning "Hail Mary" pass this time.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at scottsports33@aol.com.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Wildcat vs Run N' Shoot

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

When the Miami Dolphins cut QB Pat White on Saturday to complete their 53-man roster, I never understood the logic behind drafting the former West Virginia signal caller in the second round, 44th pick overall, in the 2009 NFL Draft.

Miami had Chad Pennington and drafted Chad Henne from the Michigan Wolverines in the second round, 57th overall, of the 2008 NFL Draft.

How do you draft a player to perform in a gimmick offensive scheme, to run in "The Wildcat" or the Dolphins version of a spread offense?

In 2008, the Dolphins implemented "The Wildcat" in the third game of the season to perfection by scoring four touchdowns (three rushing, one passing) in a 38-13 road upset over the New England Patriots. This formation caught the Patriots off guard and running backs Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams executed it to perfection.

Dolphins Offensive Coordinator Dan Henning is one of the best offensive minds in the business. He's currently entering his 31st season as a coach in the NFL. Therefore, there isn't anything that he hasn't seen which surprises him.

What puzzles me about the White pick is Miami probably had other potential needs and they blew a high selection to add to their gimmick. I have the utmost of respect for Bill Parcells, but he stubbed his toe on this selection.

Although their gimmick was good enough to earn them an 11-5 season in 2008, the opposition had time to adjust to it and as a result, they prepared for it in 2009. The Dolphins, with a tougher schedule and "The Wildcat" had a "Bullseye" on them as they regressed to 7-9 in 2009.

Now White is gone.

A second round pick is gold!

Teams don't have to pay them as much as a first round pick from a signing bonus and salary standpoint. They also have chips on their shoulder because they're angry that they were passed on by every team once especially after being highly touted.

Second round picks salaries increase when they either out perform their contracts or when it expires. This is how Super Bowls are won.

NFL executives, personnel directors, scouts, coaches, etc... can't afford to make these errors.

In 1979, the San Francisco 49'ers drafted a quarterback out of Notre Dame in the third round, 82nd overall, by the name of Joe Montana. All Montana did was win four Super Bowls. He was a three-time Super Bowl MVP.

So what lies ahead for White?

I wouldn't be surprised to see him land with the New England Patriots. For some reason, since "The Wildcat" beat the Patriots, Patriots Coach Bill Bellichick may want to utilize this gimmick in his offense. Bellichick used a gimmick with Doug Flutie kicking a field goal by "Drop Kicking" the ball. This is the same franchise that once used a "Snow Plow" to defeat the Dolphins.

If White doesn't land with the Patriots, there is always Flutie's old stomping grounds, the Canadian Football League. Nobody said Flutie could play in the NFL so all he did with his strong arm and 5-10, 180 pound frame "North Of The Border" was win three Grey Cup Championships before he returned to the NFL. Flutie utilized the wide field and 55-yard line to his advantage giving him more room to roam than a gazelle.

White can use that to his advantage and return to the NFL a better and more polished player because the CFL is ideal for an athletic quarterback.

I'll never forget back in the 1990's another gimmick offense consisted of the "Run N' Shoot" which used one running back and two-four receivers. This is where a flexible offense adjusts on the fly and the quarterback has to read and react to the defenses coverages in an improvised manner than with other offensive schemes.

Back in the USFL Days, former Miami Hurricanes QB Jim Kelly ran it for the Houston Gamblers under Jack Pardee, Mouse Davis and June Jones. It was great for a league with a smaller talent base but the Gamblers never won a USFL Championship with it. It was exciting for the fans that attended games at the Houston Astrodome.

When former Detroit Lions Coach Wayne Fontes hired Davis and Jones, they installed the "Run N' Shoot offense, then proceeded to draft 1989 Heisman Trophy Winner Andre Ware from the University of Houston in the first round, seventh pick overall. Ware ran the same offense in college but he was a bust in the NFL.

What led to Ware's downfall in the NFL was he held out during training camp and missed most of the preseason due to not signing his rookie contract immediately. Thus he fell behind and experienced a lost season.

In the NFL, the game is faster, players are bigger & stronger and with the lack of a running game, ball control, the Lions defense was wearing down by not being able to kill the clock, thus it gave the opposition more opportunities to score. That would happen with any NFL team, and these days, you'll find teams stocking up and adding more depth at running back. It's hard to win shootouts in the NFL.

The "Run N' Shoot" in college was much different than in the pros.

The reason Kelly had a successful NFL career is before he was involved in the "Run N' Shoot" he learned his craft from the "Pro Passing Attack Offense" under former Hurricanes Coach & current Florida Atlantic Owls boss Howard Schnellenberger.

Therefore, Kelly was able to adapt to the Buffalo Bills offense when he was surrounded with good runners and receivers. This enabled him to lead his team to four consecutive Super Bowls under Coach Marv Levy, which led them both to the Pro Football Hall Of Fame.

While I have nothing against gimmicks, trick plays or creative offensive schemes, my point is don't base your draft around them especially when you have depth at one position, plus have other needs to fill.

When I was covering the Miami Dolphins in 1983, before a Monday Night Game at the Orange Bowl, I once asked OJ Simpson what was more exciting, a good running or passing game. Simpson, who was a color analyst for ABC responded by saying, "whatever one is successful is more exciting."

How true.

For those that don't know, Simpson was the first running back to rush for 2000 yards in a season when he amassed 2003 in 1973 during a 14-game schedule.

Say what you want about Simpson's personal life but when he was on the football field, he was a great player that was electrifying and fun to watch which is why he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall Of Fame.

I still think "The Wildcat" will be like the "Run N' Shoot because it will be an offense that will dissolve over time or be De-emphasized in favor of the more conventional, two back, two-three receiver sets which will be even altered more as two tight-ends are inserted.

"The Wildcat" will remind me of "Disco" because it has it's time and place. Disco was a fad.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at scottsports33@aol.com and his blog can be seen on www.scottsports33.com.

Monday, September 6, 2010

David vs Goliath, Twice

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

I'll bet the Michigan Wolverines fans had sympathy for what happened to the Ole Miss Rebels Saturday in Oxford, Mississippi.

The Rebels lost to the Jacksonville State Gamecocks 49-48 in two overtimes in front of 55,768 stunned fans.

This contest featured the debut of Ole Miss prize transfer quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, who came from Oregon. On this day, when it was all said and done, when a school takes an everything to gain and nothing to lose attitude, anything can happen. Ole Miss led 31-13 by the end of the third quarter, but the Gamecocks mounted their comeback to come out on top.

On Sept 12, 2009, Jacksonville State gave Florida State a scare in Tallahassee but the Seminoles prevailed to earn a 19-9 victory.

On Saturday, Kansas Jayhawks Head Coach Turner Gill made his debut against the North Dakota State Bison. The Bison won for the first time ever against a Big 12 opponent earning a 6-3 victory in front of 48,417 stunned fans in at Memorial Stadium in Lawrence, KS.

Between the two venues, there were 104,185 stunned fans featuring two David vs Goliath contests.

When an FCS team defeats an FBS squad, especially from a BCS Conference, people take notice.

Even though the Wolverines 34-32 loss to Appalachian State on September 1, 2007 turned out to be the biggest upset in college football history and grabbed the most attention, players from all divisions of college football still go to the NFL Scouting Combines in Indianapolis, participate in the season ending All-Star Games, Skills Competitions as well as other pro related functions.

Former Delaware Fighting Blue Hens QB Joe Flacco was taken in the first round, 18th selection overall in the 2008 NFL Draft. Delaware has always been one of the top schools at the FCS level.

Meanwhile, the Miami Dolphins selected former Michigan Wolverines starter Chad Henne in the second round of the 2008 draft, 57th overall.

Ironically, both players shared the same color scheme and winged helmets, yet they're on other ends of the spectrum as the Blue Hens are in FCS while the Wolverines are the all-time winningest program in the FBS.

But in the end, both schools and levels develop players.

How many people know that Hall of Famers Jerry Rice (Mississippi Valley State) and the late Walter Payton (Jackson State) came from smaller schools? Yet, the NFL people found them.

So the next time you see a major upset by an FCS institution over a FBS, these players are good.

They can run, catch, punt, kick, and throw. But the only time you ever hear about them is at the end of the season when the NCAA does have a football playoff system to decide their national championship, or when they play these non-conference games against heralded opponents. That's the only time their games are televised or shown on national highlight shows.

What people fail to realize about Appalachian State is the Mountaineers are one of the best teams in FCS. Prior to the game, this contest made me nervous because I knew how good they were because they have a great history of winning national championships at their level.

Before Ohio State Head Coach Jim Tressel took the Buckeyes job, he built a powerhouse at Youngstown State. Tressel won four Division I-AA Championships for this Ohio based school.

If these FCS schools were to have rematches against their FBS opponents, who would come out on top? I'd say the FBS schools win the second time.

But these David vs Goliath match-ups are what makes the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament a lot of fun to watch so we can predict these upsets.

Yet when they happen in football, they catch us off guard and they're a bigger deal.

I wouldn't be surprised to see Michigan play Appalachian State again down the road. I'm sure the Wolverines would win by a large margin.

The bottom line is there is exciting football on all levels and these FBS schools are learning to not take these smaller universities lightly.

One other thing worth mentioning is college football doesn't have preseason games to work out the kinks, unless you know that you're scheduling as College Basketball Analyst Dick Vitale would say there is a "Cupcake" looking for a huge payday and doesn't mind getting blown out to build their athletic department.

However, that's besides the point.

I won't ever take an FCS team lightly and neither will Michigan, Mississippi and Kansas.

If you listen to those endings of these smaller schools radio broadcasts, you could hear these announcers scream from from Key West, Florida to Iceland. These broadcasts will be archived until the end of time for generations to hear and ESPN Classic won't hesitate to re-air them.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at scottsports33@aol.com and his blog can be seen at www.scottsports33.com.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Maurice Clarett's Comeback

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH


As NFL dreams get dashed over the next week because coaches scramble the waiver wire to find out what players will make up their 53-man rosters, plus fill out their practice squads, there is one guy who doesn't have to worry about that situation.


One of the major reasons he doesn't is due to his college coach's Letter of Recommendation.


While Ohio State Head Coach Jim Tressel is known for his 8-1 record against the Michigan Wolverines along with a six-game winning streak against U-M, plus his vest on the sidelines, loyalty will go down as another major attribute.


The player that led him to a national championship against the Miami Hurricanes in 2002 by rushing for 1,237 yards and 18 touchdowns is named Maurice Clarett.


The Buckeyes were the first team ever to go 14-0 defeating the Hurricanes in double overtime 31-24 to win the 2003 Fiesta Bowl as OSU ended a 34-year championship drought.


Since that national title, Clarett was suspended for the entire 2003 season for taking gifts and lying to the NCAA. He later lost a court case challenging the NFL's rule requiring a player to be out of high school three years before becoming eligible for the draft.


The Denver Broncos drafted Clarett in the third round in 2005, but he was hindered by a groin problem, never played in a preseason game and was cut before the regular season.


Things would get worse for Clarett as he spent 3 1/2 years in prison for having a hidden gun and holding up two people outside a Columbus, Ohio, bar in 2006. To Clarett's credit, he worked out in prison and stayed in shape. Being in prison gave him a chance to sort out his head and he was recently released from prison.


He did take classes with Ohio State and was smart enough to reconnect with the university.


Clarett's latest opportunity came on August 30, when he signed a one-year contract with the Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League (UFL). The average salary in the UFL is $50,000.


Former Green Bay Packer Ahman Green, a native of Omaha and four-time Pro Bowler will act as his mentor. The Nighthawks feature Pro Bowl Quarterback Jeff Garcia and several other players with NFL experience.


Despite the embarrassment that Ohio State had to deal with while Clarett was there, to Tressel's credit, he saw the young man paid his debt to society and went to bat for him when he needed him.


Clarett, 26, who is listed at 6-0, 220, will wear the No. 13 he wore so well as an Ohio State freshman eight years ago. He is 10 pounds lighter than his playing days with the Buckeyes and a million pounds more humble.


Meanwhile, Tressel has compiled a 95-21 record at Ohio State. His overall collegiate record is 230-78-2 and is 5-4 in bowls.


But because of Clarett's one dynamic season, to win a national title at a top-flight university like Ohio State, where the name Woody Hayes is etched in the minds of Buckeye Nation, you can rest assure that Tressel is grateful to Clarett for helping him build his legacy in Columbus.


Winning does a lot and Tressel knows that if he can still mentor one of the best athletes that has ever played for him with the irony that he was born in Mentor, Ohio, this has to make him feel good inside.


Ironically, the Miami Hurricanes will face the Buckeyes next weekend in Columbus and then make a trip to South Florida a year later. I wonder if the TV Announcers assigned to these games will bring up the Fiesta Bowl, National Championship and Clarett.


You can count on it! It will be played up big-time.


Whether Clarett attends the game is anyone's guess. But if he doesn't, he'll be preparing for his UFL pro career and there will be some communication between himself and Tressel as a reminder of the good old days.


This year, the UFL plans to play a full season. It will be interesting to see how Clarett progresses. One thing is for certain, if he has a pretty good season, because of the demand to win in the NFL, there is always another team looking to give a second chance.


Since Cleveland lost LeBron James this summer, maybe the Browns could sign Clarett to play in his home state. Right now, that may seem to be a stretch. We know that Clarett isn't thinking along those lines.


He's just thankful that instead of seeing his hands in handcuffs, that he'll be receiving hand offs from a quarterback. Instead of being behind bars, at least he has offensive linemen in front of him where he can look down field looking for holes to run instead of looking outside his prison cell wondering if an inmate will harm him.


If he succeeds in the UFL, this will be a feather in this leagues cap to promote it and lure new players with dreams to return to the NFL. UFL Commissioner Michael Huyghue gave his blessing for Clarett's comeback.


I hope that Clarett can shake the bust tag that he's been labeled and will bust through more tackles. Tressel does know that he can win with Clarett in another way.


Should Maurice have any type of success, this will be a great recruiting tool to land blue chip prospects. Not that Ohio State should have any problems, but this could only help.


Since Ohio State competes for a national title every year and Tressel does run a clean program, in an era filled with agent corruption and different types of scandals, there aren't many coaches that can say that they have a national championship and were runners-up two years in a row.


In 2007, OSU lost to Florida 41-14 (Glendale, Arizona) and in 2008 came up short to LSU 38-24 in the Tigers backyard, the Louisiana, Superdome.


I hope this works for both sides.


Scott Morganroth can be reached at scottsports33@aol.com.

Tale of Two Running Backs

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

What do Tennessee Titans Head Coach Jeff Fisher and Ohio State Buckeyes boss Jim Tressel have in common?

They've earned my respect by showing compassion for two running backs that have had difficult pasts who still want to play pro football.

A year ago, the Oregon Ducks opened their 2009 season with a 19-8 loss to the Boise State Broncos. Shortly after the game, Boise State defensive end Byron Hout taunted LeGarrette Blount and touched him on the shoulder. When Broncos Head Coach Chris Peterson attempted to intervene, Blount punched Hout in the jaw, knocking Hout to the ground.

After apologizing for his actions, Blount was suspended for the rest of the 2009 season but was allowed to retain his scholarship and practice with his team. Later in the year, Oregon Coach Chip Kelly allowed Blount to play against in-state rival Oregon State as well as in the Rose Bowl after being encouraged by Peterson figuring the young man learned from his mistakes.

Blount would get an opportunity to play pro football with the Titans as he was signed as an undrafted free agent. During training camp, Blount got in a fight with a teammate during practice and once again his fists were flying.

But this time, the discipline was much different.

There was none!

Fisher downplayed the entire situation after practice.

He didn't care about Blount's past.

Coaches respect a youngster's feisty, aggressive, hungry, hard-nosed competitor attitude, who has talent and figure that Super Bowls are won in the second and third day of the draft.

If you sign a successful undrafted free agent, you're a hero in your owners and fans eyes.

Fisher said he liked Blount's powerful running style and knows the kid is fighting to earn a spot on the Titans roster. Fighting in training camp is expected with all the competition to make the 53-man roster.

Blount, who was born on December 5, 1986 in Madison, Florida., received an early birthday present Saturday. He made the 53-man roster.

As he wakes up Sunday morning, he'll not only realize that Oregon blew out New Mexico 72-0, the day he officially became a paid employee of the Titans, but on Labor Day, No. 3 Boise State will face No.10 Virginia Tech Monday night.

I'm sure when he sees Peterson on the Broncos sidelines, he'll smile and thank him for the assist in making his pro career a reality.

If Blount has a productive career with the Titans, then Fisher will also look like a genius. Although, with a 141-116-0 record and a trip to the Super Bowl with the Titans, Fisher already looks great by giving the 23-year-old, 6-0, 241 pounder an opportunity.

Giving Blount a chance should let folks know that Fisher does believe in underdogs.

After all, in 1981, he entered the NFL as a seventh round pick of the Chicago Bears, 177, overall.

What do Blount and Tressel have in common? Tressel was born on December 5, 1952 in Mentor, Ohio.

I'm sure Blount could have played for Tressel.

However, the Ohio State head coach had another big challenge to deal with. That player led him to a national championship against the Miami Hurricanes in 2002 by rushing for 1,237 yards and 18 touchdowns.

His name was Maurice Clarett.

The Buckeyes were the first team ever to go 14-0 defeating the Hurricanes in double overtime 31-24 to win the 2003 Fiesta Bowl as OSU ended a 34-year championship drought.

Since that national title, Clarett was suspended for the entire 2003 season for taking gifts and lying to the NCAA. He later lost a court case challenging the NFL's rule requiring a player to be out of high school three years before becoming eligible for the draft.

The Denver Broncos drafted Clarett in the third round in 2005, but he was hindered by a groin problem, never played in a preseason game and was cut before the regular season.

Things would get worse for Clarett as he spent 3 1/2 years in prison for having a hidden gun and holding up two people outside a Columbus, Ohio, bar in 2006. To Clarett's credit, he worked out in prison and stayed in shape. Being in prison gave him a chance to sort out his head and he was recently released from prison.

He did take classes at Ohio State and Tressel proceeded to give him a Letter Of Recommendation so that he could pursue another opportunity to play pro football again.

That opportunity came on August 30, when he signed a one-year contract with the Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League (UFL). The average salary in the UFL is $50,000.

Former Green Bay Packer Ahman Green, a native of Omaha and four-time Pro Bowler will act as his mentor. The Nighthawks feature Pro Bowl Quarterback Jeff Garcia and several other players with NFL experience.

Despite the embarrassment that Ohio State had to deal with while Clarett was there, to Tressel's credit, he saw the young man paid his debt to society and went to bat for him when he needed him.

Clarett, 26, who is listed at 6-0, 220, will wear the No. 13 he wore so well as an Ohio State freshman eight years ago.

Tressel has compiled a 95-21 record at Ohio State. His overall collegiate record is 230-78-2 and is 5-4 in bowls.

But because of Clarett's one dynamic season, to win a national title at a top-flight university like Ohio State, where the name Woody Hayes is etched in the minds of Buckeye nation, you can rest assure that Tressel is grateful to Clarett for helping him build his legacy in Columbus.

Winning does a lot and Tressel knows that if he can still mentor one of the best athletes that has ever played for him with the irony that he was born in Mentor, Ohio, this has to make him feel good inside.

Unlike coaches that followed Hayes like Earle Bruce and John Cooper, Tressel does seem to beat the Michigan Wolverines and his teams compete for a national title every year.

Ironically, the Miami Hurricanes will face the Buckeyes next weekend in Columbus and then make a trip to South Florida a year later. I wonder if the TV Announcers assigned to these games will bring up the Fiesta Bowl, National Championship and Clarett.

You can count on it! It will be played up big-time.

Whether Clarett attends the game is anyone's guess. But if he doesn't, he'll be preparing for his UFL pro career and there will be some communication between himself and Tressel as a reminder of the good old days.

As I've written this story, starting with the ironies of birthdays with Blount and Tressel, the year after Blount's infamous punch, Blount making the NFL the same day that the Ducks won a football game, seeing Boise State on Labor Day night and the long awaited rematch between the Miami Hurricanes & Ohio State Buckeyes, this brings all of these events full circle.

Yet, because Fisher and Tressel, they were classy enough to give these "Tale of Two Running Backs" the chance to pursue their dreams.

If there is an ideal continuation of this story, it would be amazing if one day we could see Clarett and Blount playing for the Tennessee Titans working in the same backfield for Jeff Fisher.

This would be the closest thing to another "Music City Miracle."

Right now, it's just a miracle that the fans can see two flamboyant talented, gifted performers play to realize that not only have they come along way off the field, but are still young enough to gain many more yards on the field.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at scottsports33@aol.com and his blog can be seen at www.scottsports33.com.


Saturday, September 4, 2010

Transferring Is Tricky

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

The story of Mississippi QB Jeremiah Masoli winning an NCAA appeal to have his eligibility restored so he could play in 2010 instead of having to wait until 2011 was very refreshing.

First of all, the Ole Miss Rebels needed him because they have two inexperienced signal callers at the most demanding position.

In reality, it's hard to imagine that Masoli would not be able to complete his final season at Oregon wearing the green, yellow and white for the Ducks. But the youngster did self destruct after being kicked off the team with two run ins with the police.

He pleaded guilty in a January theft at a fraternity house and was suspended for the entire 2010 season by Oregon Coach Chip Kelly. Then in June, he was cited for misdemeanor marijuana possession and dismissed from the team.

The senior has completed his undergraduate degree and enrolled in Mississippi's Parks and Recreation graduate program. The NCAA will sometimes waive a one-year residency requirement for athletes who are transferring but are enrolling in a graduate program not offered at the previous school.

When I heard earlier in the week that Masoli was going to be ineligible, once again, the NCAA made a mistake.

But to the kid's credit, he appealed the decision and won. He claimed he was kicked off the football team but not out of the university.

There is no question that Masoli made some mistakes and he paid the price for it. I do commend Kelly for doing his best to run a clean program at Oregon.

But the biggest thing that has to be emphasized is did Masoli learn from his mistakes and is he entitled to a second chance? Yes!

To Mississippi Coach Houston Nutt's credit, he gave Masoli that second chance but under the condition that he's on a short leash and better play it straight otherwise his collegiate playing career will be over.

Don't kid yourself, Nutt does want to win and he needs the best player at quarterback to compete in the SEC. The conference's recent track record of winning national championships with LSU, Florida and Alabama speaks for itself.

But to Masoli's credit, the kid found a loophole in the situation. He took a negative and turned it into a positive. He got his undergraduate degree and by thinking on his feet to continue his education elsewhere at a school that didn't have his major, that was brilliant. Being a quarterback requires you to think on your feet and he scored a touchdown with this move.

We'll call this the academic audible.

Don't think that NFL scouts aren't taking notice of that. He gets to play the final year in college and will be able to get ready to seek a pro career next season. While character issues are important in the pros, being able to be humbled before you get there does minimize the extensive process that it takes to get there.

As I look at Masoli's situation, it hits closer to home.

Back in 1984, I was completing my Associates Degree at Broward Community College (BCC) in Journalism. The only course that I needed to get that degree was Math. I had to take Math a second time.

I also took two courses at Florida International University and got a C & D therefore the 1.5 GPA was what I had to deal with.

When I was seeking a transfer to the University of South Florida, the requirement was that I had to have a 2.0 GPA to be accepted from my last institution. As it turns out, I was initially rejected.

But when I told the person in charge of admissions that I earned a C in Math at BCC my last term and had a 2.0, he looked at me and nodded his head the said, "Welcome To The University of South Florida. But I will put you on academic probation your first term."

I never thought that my worst subject in school would turn out to be my best friend when I needed it. Indeed it was.

Institution turned out to be institutions.

I said to him that probation will be history by January and managed to get a pair of B's. The probation was gone and I was determined to earn my degree on time. In 1986, the mission to get My BA Degree was complete and am a proud USF Bulls alumnus.

How about those loopholes. With a little bit of salesmanship, thinking on your feet and a lot of hard work, while "Transferring Is Tricky" it can get done as long as the game plan is executed properly.

When it was all said and done, at least Masoli and I have that much in common and I'm hoping that he makes the most of the 2010 season.

Just winning a decision against the NCAA was big enough, but at least last years Rose Bowl Game will not be his last one with the controversy that forced him to relocate from the Pacific Northwest to the Southeast. Hopefully he has more victories left.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at scottsports33@aol.com and his blog can be seen at www.scottsports33.com.






Friday, September 3, 2010

Five Impossibilities

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

There are five events, match-ups or occurrences in sports that I know I'd like to see but am confident will never happen!

I encourage you sports fans to provide me with feedback and we can compare. The most enjoyable part of this short list to keep is to see whether I'm relating to the baby boomers or the older generation.

1) I've mentioned it in other blogs and I'll talk about it again. Since I'm from Hockeytown (Detroit), I wish Mr. Hockey Gordie Howe and Wayne "The Great One" Gretzky played in the same era as members of the Original Six NHL teams. I wonder how many goals Gretzky would have scored if his competition knew him inside and out. Would he have his NHL record 894 goals? I highly doubt it. Howe had 801 goals and he compiled his numbers against tons of Hall of Fame Players. Speaking of the Original Six, it would be neat if they were all in the same conference, but like the Howe vs Gretzky, all of this will never happen.

2) Washington Nationals pitching sensation Stephen Strasburg just underwent Tommy John Surgery today and is expected to miss between 12-18 months. The Nationals have millions of dollars invested in this 22-year old youngster. They even limited his innings and pitch count and tried to take things cautiously so he wouldn't get hurt. Unfortunately, the cornerstone of the revitalized franchise will be without their biggest draw until what figures to be 2012. So the question remains, will we ever see another starting pitcher ever complete 20 games in a season? No way!

Teams will continue to protect their pitchers. Baseball is so specialized with long and middle relievers, set-up guys and one inning closers. The only three pitchers that come to my mind that could have performed in my era of yesteryear are Roy Halladay & Roy Oswalt of the Philadelphia Phillies and Cliff Lee of the Texas Rangers. Growing up, pitchers used to work on three and four days rest. Now it's mainly five days.

3) It's time for me to pick on college football. It's the biggest revenue sport without a true playoff system to determine an actual champion. With all of the politics going on with the bowl system, these clowns know what the right thing is to do, but it will never get done!

Heck, we can't even get the "Plus One" scenario where the top team faces the fourth rated, and two would meet three with the winners playing that extra contest to decide a champion. With multiple unbeaten teams every year, just adding the one contest would somewhat quiet the debate.

When these clowns get it right, then we'll "See A Mule Win The Kentucky Derby." I've always been taught to never say never. I'm saying never and I'm sure there will be many people that would agree in this case.

4) I'd like to see the Super Bowl played at Lambeau Field in Green Bay. If they're going to play one in New York at the $1.7 Billion home of the New York Jets and Giants, why not up in Wisconsin? Like New York, it's a cold climate, so we'll see football played in the natural elements. I know there aren't any beaches or golf courses in Green Bay, but you still have the Packers Hall of Fame. There is ice fishing. The history in Green Bay would make the Super Bowl a memorable experience. Critics could argue that hotel accommodations there wouldn't be enough.

But when I was in Jacksonville, Florida they had cruise ships and that still wasn't enough to get the job done. I slept in a Rest Area for two days in My Jeep and in the Media Center on a Lazy Boy Chair the third night. I did bring a couple pillows and a comforter and the jeep was big enough to get the job done. Then I used truck stops to get cleaned up.

I understand that New York should be awarded for building their new stadium, is the largest city in the USA, but Green Bay's football tradition still tops New York. I also have no problem with a Super Bowl in New York as the city still does recover from the terrorist acts of September 11. I still remember my days watching the Detroit Lions when they played their home games at Tiger Stadium. It was neat taking blankets to the game and drinking hot chocolate in the stands.

The warm weather sites are OK 90% of the time, but it would be great to slip in a historic cold weather climate once in awhile. I'm still optimistic that the Big Ten Conference will play their championship game on the "Frozen Tundra."

5) Can you imagine the day if former Heavyweight Champion Mike Tyson steps into the Octagon and gets involved in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)? Tyson was a great pay-per-view draw even past his prime in boxing. I'd love to see Tyson fight Brock Lesnar. I've heard that Lesnar is one of the craziest fighters in MMA. With that said, the promoters should jump on this one. When you hear Tyson want to eat Lennox Lewis children, get disqualified from his heavyweight championship fight with Evander Holyfield because he bit his ear off, go to jail in Indiana for a few years because of rape, plus have a tattoo on his face, the entire civilized world would like to see him get pummeled by Lesnar.

For what little I know about MMA, when these guys go after your feet first, slam you to the ground, whatever punching they do shows they're incredible athletes. I give James "Lights Out" Toney credit for trying this sport. But to see Tyson get his rear end blasted quickly would be heavy duty entertainment. He wouldn't have time to bite any one's ear off, especially Lesnar, who is an animal in his own right.

During his prime, Tyson was known for quick knockouts and had a chance to be one of the greatest fighters of all-time until he self destructed in and outside the ring. I was dumb enough to spend $50 on the pay per view event during the ear biting incident. I figured since I saw Tyson and Holyfield's first fight in Las Vegas lasted deep into the bout it was worth the investment for the sequel.

But I'd host a party at my place in Deerfield Beach, Florida if Tyson and Lesnar ever faced each other. Who would be the promoter, Don King or Dana White? We'll never know!

Scott Morganroth can be reached at scottsports33@aol.com and his blog can be seen at www.scottsports33.com.

Detroit's Newest Bad Boy

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

The Detroit Lions have seen their share of fines over the years but there are two which standout in my mind.

When Detroit hired Steve Mariucci as its head coach on February 4, 2003, Lions General Manager Matt Millen was hit with a $250,000 fine for failing to comply with the NFL's Rooney Rule where teams have to interview a minority candidate for their head coaching job.

Needless to say, Lions Owner William Clay Ford Sr. was furious after this occurred but had to live with the decision. Ford defended his track record of hiring minorities for his organizations and wasn't pleased that his integrity was attacked.

Detroit's latest fine occurred on Friday as defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh found himself $7,500 lighter in the wallet by the NFL for his roughing the passer penalty on quarterback Jake Delhomme in an exhibition game against the Cleveland Browns.
The No.2 overall pick April's draft grabbed Delhomme's face mask and twisted it, then wrapped his arms around the quarterback's head and slammed him to the ground in the second quarter of last Saturday's game, resulting in a 15-yard penalty.

Even Cleveland Coach Eric Mangini said this week he didn't think the former Nebraska Cornhuskers standout intended to injure Delhomme.

Lions Coach Jim Schwartz certainly wasn't going to comment on the fine just the fact that the play cost Detroit 15-yards.

But deep down inside, Schwartz may have used this as an opportunity to use this as a "Teaching Moment," however, you can rest assure that he must have smiled and pat his rookie on the back for his passion and aggressive play.

As for the Ford's, both William Sr. & Jr, they must have enjoyed this fine as well because now there is a little a nasty streak on their defense anchored by the rookie.

The Lions recently added black to their uniforms because they wanted to toughen their image. Adding players like Suh will only enhance the team's new identity as it hopes to add wins for a franchise that has finished 2-30 the past two years.

Whether Ford actually pays the fine or if it gets payroll deducted out of Suh's check is the small story.

There will be a charity tax write off some place.

For all we know, the fans in Detroit would pony up the coin just to prove a point that they want to see more players with Suh's Blue Collar attitude around.

These are the qualities that saw Johnny Damon want to play the entire season for the Tigers because he loved playing in Detroit. Damon loved the loyalty of the fan base.

Detroit appreciated the Pistons "Bad Boys" era with that toughness. Now the city can embrace the latest "Bad Boy" who is probably too small to drive a Ford Focus.

But you can rest assure, that Suh will continue to focus on anybody that gets in his way. I can just imagine if he does the same thing to St. Louis Rams Quarterback Sam Bradford, the No. 1 pick in this years draft ahead of him, how much that fine would be.

Yet, knowing the Ford's, they'll smile and love every minute of it. They'll find a way to pay that fine.

I'm sure when Delhomme went to the sidelines and saw former Texas Longhorns signal caller Colt McCoy, he had to ask the rookie that when he faced Suh in college was this guy that much of an animal and impact player? There had to be a big smile and a definitive yes.

So beware defenders, the Lions have ferocious defensive side that the NFL will see plenty of in the future.

Meanwhile, Ndamukong if you continue the aggressive behavior, that will earn you trips to the Pro Bowl, plenty of local endorsements and the Ford's might even use your to promote their tough trucks.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at scottsports33@aol.com and his blog can be seen at www.scottsports33.com.

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My Super Passion: In 40-years in the Sports Media Business, I’ve been fortunate enough to experience some Great Moments with Championship People. I look forward to any feedback you readers have. I encourage you to look at the MOTOR CITY MAD MOUTH HALL OF FAME ON August 8, 2012 because these people have made the Journey in Sports Media as fun as it's been.

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