Monday, January 31, 2011

Pro Bowl, no mo ... PLEASE!

Let's make this short and sweet.

The Pro Bowl is like a race horse that is past its prime and it's time to put it out to pasture.

No shooting horses or NFL all-stars, please. Let's be critical, but civilized.

Folks, the Pro Bowl passed up "joke" status a long time ago, steamrolled past "trainwreck" and is now simply a black eye for the most popular professional sports league on the planet.

It's an embarrassment to a league that outside of diva receivers and defensive backs with Twitter accounts isn't used to being embarrassed.

There is nothing redeeming or entertaining about watching 70 millionaires - fresh off the beach in Hawaii - half-heartedly run up and down the field for 60 minutes and get $22,500 for LOSING. That's what the Pro Bowl has degenerated to.

The game doesn't include players from the two Super Bowl teams - makes sense not to have any of that talent on the field. The coaches wear ugly shirts and leis, which would be like coaches at the NBA all-star game in Dallas wearing cowboy hats and boots with spurs.

Be done with it, Commissioner Goodell. Nobody cares and nobody will miss it when it is gone.

Mercy! That's what your fans should be yelling having to watch this rubbish annually.

- Bill Tilton

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Talk show callers are not celebrities

Some of the biggest local sports media news this month involved the changes at WKNR with Tony Rizzo getting an extra hour for his show and the first hour of Jim Rome's nationally syndicated program going to WKNR's sister station KNR2, a daytime-only signal.

I won't dare get in the middle of that controversy with an opinion, because quite frankly I never listen to Rizzo (working second shift wipes out that potential) and Rome's show is an acquired taste that left me a long time ago - I can't listen for extended periods to that show now without getting annoyed.

That said, I did happen to be in the car last week when frequent Rome caller "John in C-Town" called to voice his displeasure with WKNR owner Craig Karmazin's decision. Apparently from what little I picked up before getting annoyed, John lives in New Hampshire now but was flying into Cleveland for family reasons and along the way planned to meet with Karmazin and order him to reverse course.

I don't know Karmazin at all, but common sense tells me - if he even entertained the idea of meeting with this guy - this one guy's opinion based on the fact he's "John from C-Town" is not going to sway Karmazin into changing his mind.

I respect the fact he's an adamant Rome fan and like many who fit that bill are unhappy with the programming move, especially given how much loyalty Rome has in this market. Again, it's an acquired taste, and I respect it if people continue to enjoy his program while I don't anymore.

We've said this before, but let's emphasize again, shall we?

Just because you call a local or national sports talk radio show frequently does NOT, under any circumstance on the face of the earth, make you a celebrity.

Case in point: In 2007 at my wedding reception, the bartender happened to be a frequent local sports talk radio show caller. When he began to engage in a conversation with News-Herald sports editor Mark Podolski and Podolski told him what he did for a living, the bartender/noted caller responded, "Well, you should know who I am."

We should?!?!

If you think you're a celebrity based on your air time on a sports talk show, please do the world a favor and reign in your ego.

It shouldn't get you free drinks at the local bar or a meeting with Craig Karmazin over WKNR programming.

If you want to express an opinion, fine. But don't get silly.

- Chris Lillstrung

Saturday, January 29, 2011

National signing day isn't for everyone

On Wednesday, countless high school seniors across the country will hold news conferences and proclaim where they will play college football.

I have a better idea. In this era of social networking, why not just Tweet the decision or post it on Facebook?

It's no wonder so many blue-chip recruits feel a sense of entitlement before they ever step on a college campus. The attention that's shown to them is a tad overblown, to say the least.

I've never been one to buy into the hype of where a can't-miss recruit is heading because no one is a sure thing. I would rather wait, and let a player actually see action in a college game before saying he's the real deal.

My favorite examples are Ohio State's Troy Smith and A.J. Hawk. Fans would be mistaken if they guessed each were "can't-miss recruits" before landing in Columbus.

In case you forgot, the QB recruit to get all the attention in the early 2000s was Justin Zwick. The defensive player to get all the attention in Hawk's recruiting class was Mike D'Andrea.

Hawk was a three-star recruit (out of five), while Smith was brought in by the OSU coaches as an athlete. Hawk became an All-American linebacker. Smith won the 2006 Heisman.

What does this mean? Wednesday is nothing more than hype created by experts and their best guesses as to which players and recruiting classes will pan out.

Let's wait until these guys play a few downs of college football.

- Mark Podolski

Friday, January 28, 2011

What happened to your Cavs gear?

A stunning aspect of the Cavaliers' steep fall is how their merchandise has vanished in public.

The reason for No. 23 jerseys disappearing is a given. Where did the rest of it go? It's as if all those otherwise perfectly good shirts became tainted and no one wants to touch them. Or take the new colors for this year. How often do you see someone in a new Cavs sweatshirt?

With a team playing as poorly as the Cavs are this year, there isn't much reason to pick up the new gear. But not that long ago, Cavs merchandise couldn't have been hotter. They've fallen that hard that fast.

The die-hard fans must know what losing presidential candidates feel like. They've gone from being this close to being on top of the NBA world to afterthought. Instead of one day, it happened over the summer and into winter. But it feels just as bad. The only city that could be feeling worse is Seattle, after the Super Sonics were Mayflowered to Oklahoma City.

In the NBA, the A-list teams - no matter how they're assembled - are promoted and squeezed for every dime and TV ratings point the league can get out of them. The other franchises are just filler to provide opposition. It's still stunning how quickly the Cavs have switched sides of the scoreboard.

- Howard Primer

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Senior Bowl: One day you're up, one day you're down

In recent years, the Senior Bowl, it seems, has become the most important primer for the NFL draft.

Draft stocks are boosted or busted during the all-important week in Mobile, Ala. Of course, the Combine in Indianapolis in February is important as well, but down south there are controlled practices, then a game.

At the Combine, it's more about drills, interviews, and workouts. At the Senior Bowl, it's game week, and it's all about the preparation. With that preparation comes perception.

Enter Ricky Stanzi, the Iowa quarterback from Lake Catholic. He's one of six QBs at the Senior Bowl and perhaps the biggest mystery. Two seasons ago, he threw 15 interceptions, but rebounded in a big way as a senior, throwing just four picks and 25 touchdowns.

How is he doing this week? Depending on the online report, it's a toss up. The Sporting News reported on Monday Stanzi bombed on his first day of practice. Later in the week on the National Football Post's Web site, Stanzi was reportedly one of the QBs who has shined during practice.

Welcome to the wonderful world of the NFL draft, where every player has a flaw. The good news for Stanzi: All it takes is one team to show an interest and pull the trigger on draft day.

The day I'm most interested in is Saturday, the day of the Senior Bowl game. I never understood why so many say the week of practice is more important than the game, but what do I know?

A few years ago, Philip Rivers of North Carolina State was lights out in the Senior Bowl and that performance buoyed him in becoming a first-round pick, so there's proof bringing it on game day has value.

Whether or not Stanzi has performed well in practice this week in Mobile, Ala., is debatable. The good news for the QB is he help can himself and his draft stock on Saturday when the ball is kicked off.

- Mark Podolski

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What's the meaning behind "no comment?"

I think I've figured out the meaning behind "no comment."
It means, "yeah, I realize you came here to cover my game, but I'm not going to say anything about it even though you drove 30 miles to get here in the snow."
It can also mean, "yeah, I know I complained because you haven't covered our team a lot this year and now I'm going to get back at you for it."
Or it can also mean, "sorry, I don't know how to say anything unprofessional so I'm not going to say anything at all."
There are times I'm sure when "no comment" is warranted. But most of the time it's just a simple excuse that gets a coach off the hook.
Why not own up to a loss and say, "my kids just weren't ready to play tonight and it was my fault."
Say something. Just please don't say "no comment."
Why do I feel that way?
"No comment."

-Theresa Neuhoff Audia


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Yanks GM Cashman setting self up for big fall

I’m not sure how strong that limb is that Brian Cashman is shimmying out on, but apparently, the general manager of the New York Yankees feels it’s pretty strong.
As in tree-trunk strong.
In a matter of 10 days, Cashman has come off as big-for-his-britches three times.
First, Cashman got everyone’s attention when he said he as overruled by upper management — i.e. the guys who sign his paycheck — on the signing of reliever Rafael Soriano.
Forget the fact that Soriano is an absolute hammer at the back end of the bullpen, going 3-2 with 45 saves and a 1.73 ERA last year as the closer for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
The issue here is Cashman didn’t want Soriano, an all-star closer who will be stellar as the set-up man for iconic Mariano Rivera. And had to be told by upper management that this was going to happen.
Then on Tuesday, Cashman followed things up with a pair of doozies.
He started off by suggesting Derek Jeter, arguably the most popular Yankee of the era, could soon be moving to the outfield. This comes on the heels of a contract confrontation between Cashman and Jeter this offseason, which ended with Jeter signing a contract for lots of money, but maybe less than he wanted.
I’d love to be a fly on the wall in Cashman’s office when Jeter opens the door, smirks and says, “Outfield, huh?
Not only is late beloved owner George Steinbrenner rolling over in his grave, “The Boss” probably wants to reach out from the afterworld, grab Cashman by the throat and growl, “easy there, big fella.”
But perhaps the biggest set of words that came out of Cashman’s mouth were when he was asked at a fan breakfast who is better right now, the Red Sox or Yankees.
Cashman went with Beantown.
I’m sure all members of the Yankees’ brass loved that.
Especially since Cashman is the man responsible for building the best team in baseball.
Cashman better hope he is wrong. By calling out the management on the Soriano signing, but challenging Jeter with a contract issue and then by suggesting he’s headed to the outfield before his current contract is out, and by saying the Red Sox are a better team right now, Cashman has tightened the noose around his own neck.
If the Yankees don’t win this year, rest assured there will be plenty of fans lined up to kick the chair out from under him.
— John Kampf

Monday, January 24, 2011

Cutler's doctors prevent a riot

My opinion on the Jay Cutler situation from the NFC Championship Game is not important. To be brutally honest, neither is yours.

You think he quit on his teammates when he came out of Chicago's loss to Green Bay with a knee injury, that's fine. I think he could have been tougher and tried to play, especially if had enough energy to ride a stationary bike, but that is the competitor in me whose athletic prowess is restricted to Texas hold 'em and Putt Putt. What do I know about the pain threshold of NFL players? And again, what do all these non-player experts on radio and TV know either?

I would tend to give more credibility to past and present players who question Cutler's heart and demeanor after coming out of the biggest game of his career.

On Monday, it was confirmed through an MRI that Cutler sprained his MCL.

Of course he did.

I'm not trying to question the integrity of the Bears medical staff, but let me just forward this theory. No matter how that MRI came out, it was going to be reported that Cutler was injured. Seriously injured. Could you imagine if ESPN had announced this on the bottom scroll: BREAKING NEWS ... Cutler's knee is fine. No damage. Could have played. Further X-rays showed lack of other organs.

I have never sprained an MCL, but I'll bet there are fans who wish he had tore something. Anything. If he was going to allow Todd Collins and some guy named Hanie play in his absence, darn it, rip something in half!

All I know is that the doctors in this case prevented some crazy reaction in the Windy City. If it ever gets leaked that Cutler did quit and could have played, there will be more than jerseys being burned in Chicago.

That toddlin' town would go Cutler Crazy, and rightfully so.

Kudos to the MCL sprain. A QB has never needed that kind of medical report more in the history of the NFL than Chicago's signal caller did in the wake of a true mess.

- Bill Tilton

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Get on the Monsters' bandwagon

With all the general ugliness we've had to put up with as Cleveland sports fans this year, there is a team in town that is doing something worth keeping an eye on.

They play at The Q, and they're in a playoff chase.

No it's not the Cavs after 25 of their losses were given back by forfeit.

It's the Monsters.

Lake Erie had its five-game winning streak come to an end Saturday with a 2-1 loss to visiting Houston. Nevertheless, the Monsters are in a playoff chase. Going into Sunday, they were sitting in fourth in the AHL's North Division just five points off second-place Manitoba.

If you're a fan of local hockey, I encourage you to give the Monsters a chance. It's a mix of young guys and vets putting together a solid on-ice product while trying to make their mark and impress the Avalanche, the Monsters' parent club. It's a solid game presentation and, without sounding like a bad local commercial, fun for the whole family.

I covered the Monsters' game this past Thursday against Rochester, and it was a lot of fun. The Monsters came from behind for a 2-1 win in overtime. Now while admittedly if it was my call I would reconsider the idea of mixing dollar beer night and college ID night, the actual game made for a fun evening for those who were in attendance.

I would liken it to going and watching the Captains. You never know when you may tune into a pro game a few years down the line, see someone make a difference and say, "Oh yeah, I remember him." Minor-league fans take pride in that in a sense because it's players they had a chance to watch develop on a daily basis, if only for a while.

So if you get a chance in the next few months, pack up the family and head down to The Q to see the Monsters. It's a fun experience and unlike the other occupant of the building, they have a fighting chance at the playoffs. What a concept.

- Chris Lillstrung

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Get ready for the ride, OSU fans

Saturday was huge for the Ohio State men's basketball team.

Huge because, well, the Buckeyes' first 19 games of this season weren't exactly a murderer's row of opponents, with more teams with hyphens then a ranking before it.

Saturday changed a lot of that. OSU's win at Illinois legitimizes the Buckeyes' No. 1 ranking and has this corner believing they might just win it all.

It's far from over though. OSU's rugged stretch has just begun, but winning at Assembly Hall is no small feat when the Illini are a good team.

Up next is perhaps the Big Ten game of the year to this point, a Tuesday night home game against Purdue. After that, it's a road game at Northwestern, then home to Michigan. Then, the fun really begins.

Consecutive road games at Minnesota and Wisconsin precedes a home contest with Michigan State, and then a Feb. 20 game at Purdue.

At 20-0, the Buckeyes are the real deal, but don't expect that record to remain perfect. That's not important in the grand scheme. What's important, and Saturday's win at Illinois proved it, is that OSU is now battled-tested and ready for the long haul.

- Mark Podolski

Friday, January 21, 2011

'Gotcha' police nab Padraig Harrington

Padraig Harrington said all the right things after he was disqualified from the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship because a television viewer phoned in a rules violation.

He didn't have much of a choice, really. Anyone who watches a European Tour event must be a valued customer. I see these people who call in as wannabe referees playing "gotcha."

This happens a few times a season. Before teeing off for the day, it's announced that a player has been disqualified because of a rules violation during the previous round. Why can't an additional penalty be added while allowing the player to continue? For example, enforce a two-stroke penalty, then add two or three more strokes for missing it when it happened and move on. In Harrington's case, his ball moved a fraction of an inch while he was replacing it on the green. Technically, he was DQ'd for signing an incorrect scorecard because it didn't include the penalty. But does that violation sound like something that should warrant being removed from the tournament?

It wasn't Harrington's first brush with a delayed DQ, and the other is just as frivolous. In 2000, he led a tournament by five strokes after three rounds, but was DQ'd because he failed to sign his scorecard from the first round. How about this: If a player forgets to sign his or her scorecard, call the player back to the trailer and have him or her sign it. Would it really be that bad? On all the big tours, scorers follow each group. The players shouldn't even need to keep their own scores, let alone get DQ'd because they missed a signature during the post-round paper work.

At least Harrington didn't suffer the indignity having a TV viewer call in during the scorecard issue back in 2000. But that's probably only because they don't have TV cameras in the scoring trailer.

- Howard Primer

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Daboll in South Beach ... have fun Dolphins fans

Reportedly, Dolphins fans are not enamored with the hiring of former Browns offensive coordinator Brian Daboll for the same position in South Beach.

Maybe those fans subscribe to the theory of the Dolphins' former boss, Bill Parcells, who once said, "You're only as good as your record."

If that's the case, it's easy to understand why the Miami faithful weren't chanting, "Daboll! Daboll! Daboll!" this week. The Browns were one of two teams that scored less points than the Dolphins last season.

Another bad omen: Under Daboll, the Browns ranked 29th and 32nd in the NFL in total offense the last two seasons, respectively.

Pro Football Weekly reported Daboll was hired to improve Miami's QB position, to which Daboll said about starter Chad Henne during his introductory news conference: "Well, yeah, Chad is on our roster."

Interesting, to say the least.

- Mark Podolski

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What do high school polls really mean?

Why do high school polls exist?
Is it really necessary?
Do the sportwriters voting in the polls really know every team they are voting for in the state of Ohio?
I doubt it.
I vote in the weekly Associated Press girls high school poll and I do a lot of research on Sunday night so I can pick the right teams. It's frustrating at times because I haven't seen a lot of the teams I'm voting for.
At the same time, I'm trying to vote for local teams that deserve it, but often those teams are not being voted on by other reporters in Ohio.
Therefore, I don't believe the teams that truly deserve to be ranked are being properly ranked.
What do polls do?
Nothing much.
It may give a team bragging rights, but will it help them win games?
We'll see how many teams that are ranked in the top 10 actually make it to state this season. I bet there will be a few surprises sprinkled in there that just happen to end up the best in the state.
In fact, I guarantee it.

-Theresa Neuhoff Audia


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Meche did the right thing by retiring

So, you think all professional athletes are greedy prima donnas?
The actions of Gil Meche beg to differ.
Meche retired on Tuesday, walking away from $12 he would have earned had he stayed with the Kansas City Royals this year.
At the age of 32, Meche stepped away from the game rather than face shoulder surgery.
And he didn’t have to, that’s the best part.
Meche could have gone through rehabilitation, sat on his kiester all year and just pocketed the $12 million he was due as the final installment of the 5-year, $55 million contract he signed back in 2006.
He could have had surgery on the Royals’ dime and sat in a LazyBoy recliner for the next 12 months and earned a million per to do little more than flip through the stations on the widescreen television he BETTER own as a well-payed baseball player.
Instead, he said, “no thanks.”
What a refreshing deviation from the norm.
This is part of what Meche said in stepping away:
“As a competitor my entire life this is the hardest decision that I’ve ever faced, but it’s not fair to me, my family or the Kansas City Royals that I attempt to pitch anymore. I came into this game as a starting pitcher and unfortunately my health, more accurately, my shoulder, has deteriorated to the point where surgery would be the only option and at this stage of my life I would prefer to call it a career rather than to attempt to pitch in relief for the final year of my contract.”
Kudos to him for re-establishing at least a small shred of decency that so many professional athletes seem to lack.
Gil Meche probably won’t get the credit he deserves for his actions because he’s not a marquee name.
Maybe those with marquee names should pay attention to Meche’s actions, because it’s clear he respects the game to the point where he can walk away from $12 million he didn’t feel he could earn.
It’s $12 million he could still have pocketed, but he chose not to.
For that, he deserves a tip of the cap and more credit than he likely is willing to accept.
Pro sports needs more Gil Meches.

-John Kampf

Monday, January 17, 2011

Shurmur comparisons don't make sense

I have no idea whether or not newly hired Browns coach Pat Shurmur is going to be a raging success or colossal failure. What I do know is that saying Mike Holmgren's decision to hand the franchise over to an unproven, first-time coach and former Rams offensive coordinator is no different than the Steelers hiring Mike Tomlin or the Ravens hiring John Harbaugh is silly.

Here's the big difference between coordinators like Tomlin and Harbaugh taking jobs in the AFC North and Shurmur moving to the offices at 76 Lou Groza Boulevard - talent.

Don't you think there was a better chance of Tomlin or Harbaugh - or any coach for that matter - succeeding with Pittsburgh and Baltimore, respectively, than in Cleveland? That's not a knock on the Browns organization, that is simply a commentary on the talent the Steelers and Ravens had when the new coaches were hired is considerably better than what is currently on the Browns roster.

I just don't think it is fair to say, "Well nobody heard of Tomlin or Harbaugh when they were hired." Shurmur supporters, rejoice. You got your guy, plucked right from The Walrus' tree. But if you are expecting Tomlin or Harbaugh kind of success with Shurmur, the team better go out and get Steelers and Ravens kind of talent.

- Bill Tilton

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Special1TV is back

One of my favorite shows is back, and I couldn't be happier.

Actually, it's not available on any U.S. channel so I have to watch it on YouTube. But nonetheless and thankfully, someone at the BBC had the foresight to allow the return of "Special1 TV".

For those who haven't seen me write about it before, "Special1 TV" is a British import parody soccer show hosted by puppet likenesses of Real Madrid and former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, former England and current Leicester City manager Sven-Goran Eriksson and England and Manchester United star (although I use that term loosely considering his form this year) striker Wayne Rooney.

They basically poke fun at what's going on in the soccer world, and for those who are up to speed it's a good laugh.

This week, for example, they parodied Kenny Dalglish's return to manage Liverpool after Roy Hodgson's disastrous run that saw the longtime English power mid-table. Seriously, you've never seen anything quite like the reaction of a club like this languishing outside the top six.

Unfortunately, the show was in limbo after the demise of its original home, Setanta Sports, a UK cable channel that went out of business.

But it's back, and I'm glad to see it. You can check out the latest episode here.

- Chris Lillstrung

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Ten in the Morning: A look ahead to college football 2011

Mark Podolski

It's mid-January so you know what's next. Predictions for the 2011 college football season, of course.

Here's one man's preseason top 10 for next season:

1. Stanford: The best player in college football is Andrew Luck, now that Cam Newton is off to the NFL. Coach Jim Harbaugh is gone to the 49ers, but the promotion of offensive coordinator David Shaw means not much will change for the Cardinal in 2011.

2. Oregon: The Ducks will take a hit on defense, but with QB Derron Thomas and RB LaMichael James returning, the offense should be as potent as ever.

3. LSU: The Tigers return 10 starters on offense and eight on defense. LSU will need all of them when it plays Oregon in early September in Arlington, Texas.

4. Alabama: It should be a great race in the SEC West between the Crimson Tide and LSU.

5. Boise State: It all starts with QB Kellen Moore, so expect another outstanding season from the Broncos, who open the season against Georgia in Atlanta.

6. Ohio State: It's impossible to predict how the Buckeyes will react to the five-game suspensions of QB Terrelle Pryor and others. With them, OSU is easily a top 5 team.

7. South Carolina: RB Marcus Lattimore and WR Alshon Jeffrey are the real deal, so expect the Gamecocks to be the class of the SEC East again in 2011.

8. Oklahoma State: The Cowboys quietly won 11 games in 2010 and got a huge boost when QB Brandon Weeden and stud WR Justin Blackmon decided to return.

9. Oklahoma: QB Landry Jones is back, as is WR Ryan Broyles, but a trip to Oklahoma State could mean trouble.

10. Notre Dame: WR Michael Floyd returning is huge for the Fighting Irish, and the defense played well in the latter half of the season.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Browns coaches and their catch phrases

For every coach the Browns have had since they returned in 1999, you can associate a saying that sums up his tenure.
- Chris Palmer: "Runaway Train," referring to how things spiraled out of control.
- Butch Davis: "Gut Feeling," about picking Kelly Holcomb over Tim Couch.
- Romeo Crennel: "It is what it is." Almost every Bill Belichick disciple uses this, but ... it is what it is.
- Eric Mangini: "Opportunity Period" because it sounds cooler than "Bus Ride to Connecticut."

For Pat Shurmur, it will take a while to see how it plays out. First, we have figure out who he is.

- Howard Primer

Thursday, January 13, 2011

New OHSAA bylaw isn't perfect, but it's a start

Mark Podolski

The Ohio High School Athletic Association's heart is in the right place.

It's newest bylaw, on recommendation from the OHSAA Competitive Balance Committee, could drastically shake up the future of Ohio high school state playoffs in a lot of sports. If passed, schools will no longer be assigned to state tournaments based on enrollment.

Unfortunately, it could be serving the interests of the lower divisions (IV, V and VI) and doing no favors to the big schools (I, II and III). It's not a perfect solution, but it's a start and the schools in the lower divisions are the ones who need a break the most when it comes to "competitive balance."

Three factors will comprise the "athletic count" of OHSAA member schools. The bylaw needs to be passed in May, so all of this could be moot without the support of schools statewide.

A quick review of the three-part formula: 1. School boundary factor. In other words, private schools that can recruit from unlimited boundaries and public schools with open enrollment could be forced to move divisions; 2. Socioeconomic factors. In other words, schools, for example, which have no problems with levies passing and ones from, shall we say, financially secure parts could be penalized; 3. Tradition factor. In other words, the more state tournaments a school participates in or wins, the chances it could be bumped from, say, Division III to Division II improve greatly.

The OHSAA needs to clarify this formula if it expects the bylaw to pass. What exactly would a school need to accomplish in the tradition factor to be bumped a division or possibly two?

Schools will be judged on the tradition factor during a four-year period. How many state titles won justifies a move? Four? Two? One? Do four state title games appearances, but no wins, outweigh a team that make one appearance, but wins it during that four-year period? What about a team that wins a state title, but the next year, the coach is no longer at the school? Or what about a team that makes four straight regional finals, but can't get over the hump to a state tournament?

Specific guidelines need to be constructed and followed without wiggle room, or this formula will be flawed from the start.

As for who's a winner and who's a loser if this bylaw passes? As stated previously, the little guys. Without naming schools (high school fans know them), this bylaw will help restore competitive balance, most notably in the Divisions V and VI, so kudos to the OHSAA.

The losers are the Division I schools, who will likely find the going even tougher come the postseason. Considering the resources the large schools already enjoy, it's difficult feeling sorry for them, but it ups the challenge. It could get interesting in the middle divisions, namely the Division III and IV schools. The difference in dropping from III to II and IV to III is big (ask any coach or athletic director), so the guess is the biggest resistance will be among those schools.

Another factor is the fine line between Division II and I. Ever wonder how the Lake Catholic football team would fare in the Division I state playoffs? Under this formula, it will likely happen. Don't expect a ton of Division I schools to be leading the bandwagon on the passing of the bylaw, either.

If it were me, I would propose separate state playoffs for private and public schools, but the open enrollment factor for some public schools would need to be fixed before going down that road. This three-factor formula is the next best thing for those who advocate change.

I say give it a chance, but the specifics need to be iron-clad to avoid controversy, complaints and confusion. Let's see if it happens.

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No. 1 vs. No. 2: Best of the best

We've had a few days to let the Auburn's 22-19 win over Oregon sink in.

Now it's time to look over the 45 games in college football history that pitted the Associated Press' top two teams against each and rank the best of the best.

It's a great list of games, so here's another Ten in the Morning:

(Note: Games listed are ones this blogger watched live, in person or on TV, or on replay.)

1. Jan. 2, 1987, Fiesta Bowl, No. 2 Penn State 14, No. 1 Miami (Fla.) 10: Enough subplots, controversy and drama to last an entire season. If you’ve never seen the re-broadcast on ESPN Classic, don’t miss it the next time it’s on.

2. Jan. 3, 2003, Fiesta Bowl, No. 2 Ohio State 31, No. 1 Miami (Fla.) 24 (2OT): Soon, it will be the 10-year anniversary of this huge upset. It's been that long?

3. Jan. 4, 2006, Rose Bowl, No. 2 Texas 41, No. 1 USC 38: Matt Leinart vs. Vince Young. The Rose Bowl. It doesn’t get much better.

4. Nov. 18, 2006, regular season, No. 1 Ohio State 41, No. 2 Michigan 39: A perfect example of the game actually exceeding the hype.

5. Nov. 13, 1993, regular season, No. 2 Notre Dame 31, No. 1 Florida State 24: A fan of Dr. Lou? This game was Lou Holtz’s last great moment as Notre Dame football coach.

6. Jan. 1, 1994, Orange Bowl, No. 1 Florida State 18, No. 2 Nebraska 16: Bobby Bowden had to sweat out his first national championship as the Cornhuskers’ last-second field-goal attempt went wide left.

7. Sept. 16, 1989, regular season, No. 1 Notre Dame 24, No. 2 Michigan 19: Raghib “The Rocket” Ismail’s finest moment at Notre Dame with two kickoff returns for touchdowns against the Wolverines.

8. Sept. 27, 1986, regular season, No. 2 Miami (Fla.) 28, No. 1 Oklahoma 16: If you’re old enough to remember Brian “The Boz” Bosworth of the Sooners, then you’re old enough to remember fans in the Orange Bowl serenading The Boz with, “Bye, bye Boz!”

9. Jan. 10, 2011, BCS national championship, No. 1 Auburn 22, No. 2 Oregon 19: For the Ducks, it will always be a game of 'what if?' For the Tigers, war eagle!

10. Oct. 19, 1985, regular season, No. 1 Iowa 12, No. 2 Michigan 10: The first ever Big Ten conference game featuring the nation’s top two teams didn’t disappoint as a last-second field won it for the Hawkeyes.

- Mark Podolski

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

BCS has one extra letter in it

Once again, the genius money grubbers at the NCAA and universities around this great nation had pie slammed in their face.

The 2010 college football season came to an end Monday night in Arizona, and the undisputed, clear-cut national champion is ... We aren't sure.

The polls and the crystal football and all the confetti will tell you Auburn is the champ after beating Oregon, 22-19. But nobody seems to want to discuss TCU, who is also unbeaten and took care of a supposedly superior opponent in the Rose Bowl by knocking off Wisconsin.

So the season is over and we have two unbeaten Division I teams and zero Division I playoff system.

For an organization that let five suspended Ohio State players participate in the Sugar Bowl to save TV ratings and money for the sponsor, nothing should surprise me. BUt every year, there is this debate and every year, nothing happens. So for a good old-fashioned football tournament, I have to go back to the OHSAA tournament, which I consider to be one of the best postseason systems around.

Too bad the college guys can't take a free lesson from us little high school guys once in a while and get this thing right.

- Bill Tilton

Friday, January 7, 2011

Where next for the NHL's Winter Classic?

Trying to predict where the NHL's Winter Classic outdoor hockey game will be played the following season is almost as fun as watching the game.

The past four years, it's been played in the Buffalo Bills' Ralph Wilson Stadium, Wrigley Field in Chicago, Fenway Park in Boston and Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.

Where next? The logistics are as big an issue as anything.


It's usually played on New Year's Day. In 2012, Jan. 1 is a Sunday. There is no way the NHL is going head-to-head with the NFL. Plus, it wouldn't have the option of playing at night because NBC, which televises the Classic, will be showing the last game of the NFL regular season. Jan. 2 is the holiday observed for New Year's, so that's when it will most likely face off.


- Yankee Stadium: It hosted the Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 30. The college football game would have to be played a week earlier or a week later to allow time to set up the rink.

- Michigan Stadium, Beaver Stadium, Ohio Stadium, etc.: The problem with Big Ten stadiums is that the conference is tied into five New Year's Day bowl games, which cuts into the potential audience. Even if 100,00-plus hockey die-hards show up, you would need staff to work the game. That would be a tough sell. The other problem in Columbus is that it needs a good team that people would want to see on TV. The Blue Jackets aren't cutting it.

- NFL stadiums: As long as the football team doesn't mind playing on the road in Week 17, as the Steelers did this year.

- Canadian teams: No way. NBC wants American teams in big markets or with big stars.

- Rose Bowl: It was actually tossed out as a rumored site on the Internet. I believe the stadium is booked that day. I had to include it for a laugh.

So where does it go? FedEx Field in Landover, Md., for another Sidney Crosby-Alex Ovechkin sounds like a winner. Perhaps New Meadowlands Stadium for the Devils and Rangers? Or maybe Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia for the Flyers against the Penguins or Capitals? Or Invesco Field in Denver for the Avalanche and ... somebody?

- Howard Primer

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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Kirtland vs. Berkshire game on Friday should be a showdown

If you have no plans on Friday night, consider going to the Kirtland at Berkshire girls basketball game.
It's going to be a showdown.
Both teams are unbeaten going into the game.
Kirtland is 8-0 following a 52-50 victory over Perry on Tuesday. Berkshire is 7-0 after a 57-22 win over Richmond Heights on Tuesday.
Both teams are primed to win this game. It should come down to who makes the most plays in the final minutes.
Kirtland is vying for its seventh consecutive Chagrin Valley Conference, Valley Division title. The Hornets have had the Badgers number for six straight years.
Once again this year, the Hornets have talent, but they are young with just two seniors on the team.
This may be Berkshire's year to snap the streak led by senior Meghan Wright. After playing a passionless game over the Christmas break, the Badgers are back on track and will test the Hornets.
I'll be covering the game so I'll see you there.

-Theresa Neuhoff Audia


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Augusta National goes digital

By Mark Podolski

Golf and video games fans, the wait is finally over.

Can't make it to the Masters in April? No problem. Bring Augusta National to your living room.

On Tuesday, EA Sports announced its next installment of its popular Tiger Woods video game will finally feature Augusta National and the Masters.

"Tiger Woods PGA 12: The Masters" will be released March 29 for the Wii, Xbox 360 and PlayStation3.

The game will feature the voice of Jim Nantz, and according to EA Sports, "every detail, from green undulations to azaleas," of the famous golf course.

Like most golf fans, I can't wait for this one. Until then, check out the trailer for the video game.