I thought about making a list of predictions for 2016. Then I thought it might be a little more enjoyable to make a list of things I'd LIKE to happen this year.
I'll avoid the "I want to see the local teams all win Championships and MVPs and the blah blah blah.." stuff.
In no particular order because I'm just going to start typing and see what ends up on this page..
1. I know he's having a hard time walking right now..but I'd like to see Tiger Woods 2 shots back with 9 to play on Sunday at a Major.
2. Michael Phelps take his best shot..faults and greatness all rolled up..at becoming as good or better than ANYONE at doing something in the history of sport.
3. The Cubs in the World Series. Truth be told..I'd like to see the Cubs WIN the World Series.
4. Learn what a "Catch" is in the NFL.
5. Fewer stories of jagoff adults screwing up kids or their sporting events because of their own frustrations.
6. Serena gets to the U.S Open with 3 Majors in her back pocket and takes a shot at that thing that goes just a step beyond greatness.
7. Boxing matters again. Or at least let 7 people in America know who the/a Heavyweight Champ is.
8. My daughters take a great interest in Katie Ledecky at the 2016 Summer Olympics. Not to falsely have them believe greatness is "easy"..but just the opposite.
9. Sylvester Stallone wins the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. (Told you this was stream of consciousness)
10. Part of me..just part..wants to see Roger Goodell have to hand the Lombardi Trophy to Robert Kraft. With Bill and Tom right there on the stage. (After this vomit taste gets out of my mouth I'm going to pretend I never typed that)
11. Really I'd like to see the Super Bowl MVP Trophy handed to Thomas Davis. Or Larry Fitzgerald. (I should say Peyton here as well..but my fingers aren't typing that)
12. Roger Federer wins at LEAST one more Major. If its only one..I want it to be the U.S. Open.
13. The NCAA goes an entire year without doing something so fundamentally stupid when it comes to handling a simple "right or wrong" issue that I have to say the NCAA went an entire year without doing something so fundamentally stupid when it comes to handling a simple "right or wrong" issue
14. We get the following announcements
14A. The Final Heisman vote will not take place until EVERY game is played..including the National Championship Game.
14B. Floyd Mayweather will fight Genaddy Golovkin to try to take his record to 50-0. It would break every pay per view record..and win or lose..Floyd will be able to say he went out like you're supposed to after claiming to be the "Best Ever"
14C. Steve Perry and Journey will go round one more time together
14D. The idiocy of two versions of baseball in the Majors comes to an end. Just have the DH. Or don't. I don't care. I DO care that there is nothing as ridiculous as this in any sport.
14E. They let a fan..a real fan..onto the CFB Playoff selection Committee. My Lord..have you seen this list of 13? Two words come to mind. Un. Inspiring. At the very least..if they don't want yours or mine unwashed mass in the room..put a camera in there and prove to us you're doing more than what WE do on the air or in a bar with a few buddies. (They don't btw)
15. I get that interview with Sandy Koufax.
So Kirby Smart is the new Head Coach at the University of Georgia. And before it even became official, the discussion..debate..almost comes to blows fight of how he will actually DO on the job began.
Good hire. Bad hire.
Pick your side. Because there is no 3rd option when it comes to this stuff.
"Lets wait and see"?
That's funny. I don't know ANYONE who drops a "Lets wait and see" these days.
So lets just take a step back before we take 942 forward.
There are SO many things that determine whether a coach will be successful at any given time at any given job. And it starts with what your individual definition of "Successful" is.
Here's mine. And I'm talking to and about the world of College Football from here on out.
At first I thought it was "Just make the team better than your direct predecessor." Find an extra win or 2. Go to a better Bowl Game. Kick recruiting (as arbitrary as that is) up a notch. Fill the seats. Have the boosters cut bigger checks. All tangible..this side of the recruiting thing.
Then I realized that for most schools..best guess in my world 108 schools..that would be fine. Maybe even "Great".
But I have this nagging feeling that for the other 20..that's not the proper definition of "Successful".
For the 20 best programs..give or take 2 or 5..you know and I know who they are. And I don't mean delusional fan base talk. I mean the programs that have at their best a chance to win Titles. Championships.
I'll get banged by some for putting UGA in that group of 20. When a program has 2 (or 3..or 4..or whatever. You argue the number..I can't and don't choose to) you're not Alabama. Or Notre Dame. Or Ohio State.
What you ARE is in the POSITION to be a National Champion.
SO here is MY definition as it pertains to Kirby Smart and his brand new day as UGA Head Coach.
You do as well as anyone has ever done in the job. And I'll concede that mine might not even be fair. Because times change. Programs go up. They go down. And there are things you can control and things you can't. Oh. And everyone around you is trying to get better too.
But it's not as if you are competing against ghosts. Good Coaches. Hall of Fame coaches. Yes. And Yes.
Go be the guy who gets Georgia into the Final Four. Or the Final Eight in 2 or 3 years. And win one.
Pressure? Nope. It's the job you've been hired to do.
Easy? Nope. Winning Titles hasn't been and isn't supposed to be.
Time to take those 942 steps.
I wish you luck Kirby.
Now go do it.
To call what happened at the University of Missouri "eye opening" would be akin to calling a Toledo vs Ball State football game on a Tuesday night (that is an actual Tuesday night game btw..because they are playing College Football on Tuesday nights these days) THE Super Bowl.
Eye opening? It was panic attack inducing. Grown men clutching their hearts. Needing to sit down. Asking for a glass of water.
Taking a fancy handkerchief..normally used for showing..not blowing..out of their breast pocket to wipe the newly formed puddle of of their forehead.
It was urine down the leg inducing. Grown men..many who wear very nice slacks..wetting themselves. And frantically calling other fancy slacks wearing men on speaker phones to find out if their demise was imminent. If the world had figured out that their once lofty..sometimes deserved..sometimes not..position and cocktail party allowance was about to be taken away.
I'm not interested here to write about the politics of any of this. Or the social good..or as some of you have pointed out the slippery slope ramifications of any and all of this. I have my feelings..some of them very strong..on the many layers of this story and outcome. And what might come out and of it.
But not here. Not today.
I'm just here to say I misread the tea leaves. I am happy to say I knew there WERE tea leaves..
I'll go with this analogy. You're asked to write a book about a future event. You take what you think..what you guess and what you know and you remember in its most basic form..you need a beginning/a middle/and an end.
You of course must start with a subject. Mine is/was "The Shift of Power on College Campuses"
Got the beginning. "Once upon a time...".
Got the end. "And nobody lived happily ever after"
It was the middle I got wrong. Really wrong.
I thought the meat of this whole thing was going to be about money. Not $50 handshake money.
THIS kind of money. (These are actual headlines and numbers)
NCAA Agrees to $10.8-Billion Deal to Broadcast Its Men's Basketball Tournament
In a move expected to shore up the long-term financial health of college sports, the NCAA announced on Thursday that it had signed a 14-year, $10.8-billion contract with CBS and Turner Broadcastingto televise its men's basketball tournament. The deal will funnel at least $740-million annually to NCAA member collegesand will very likely include an expansion of the tournament field to 68 teams.
ESPN Strikes Deal for College Football Playoff
A person familiar with the negotiations said it is worth about $470 million annually or $5.64 billion for the duration of the contract.
That my friends adds up to roughly 16.5 BILLION dollars.
So everything from sentence 2 to sentence next to last I swung and missed.
I knew my friends in the fancy slacks with fancy friends and fancy titles and fancy top floors in fancy buildings were going to be suffering from the fate I wrote of above.
I just thought it was going to be because of the MONEY. Actually..the not SHARING of money. Oh..they were always going to share it amongst each other. (Not equally mind you. There is a "class system" in College every bit as much as in the "real" world. Another story for another day).
They had to share. All of that fancy does come with a price. It wasn't going to pay for itself.
No. I thought the fact that the trickle down economics in play would leave the athletes with half filled dixie cups while the suits got drunk and fat and happy on goblets was going to cause change. Forced change.
The "We're not playing" change.
Well..at Missouri..a college football team finally said it. And change happened.
Of course there is a money aspect to what happened on that campus. But a team..collectively enough to voice a public "All of Us"..said their stand was based upon a social issue. A PEOPLE issue.
Didn't see that one coming.
Again..I'm not here to get into any passing of judgments of right and wrong. Missouri will be playing football because the threat of not playing was perceived as more than a threat.
And if College & University Presidents (the ones I was told would NEVER allow a College Football Playoff on their watch..they signed that notion if not their souls away with simple strokes of pens and the direct deposits that followed for the almighty dollar) know two things its this.
Their at one time absolute power is not absolute anymore.
Their once private parties have been crashed.
We are not in Kansas (or Michigan. Or Alabama. Or Florida. Or...) anymore.
So its August and NFL Football is back.
It's the preseason version..but this year here in Atlanta..I'll be watching and caring about what i see and DON'T see as
much as ever.
Dan Quinn and his staff have something going for them that all new staffs need to take advantage of. An "I
don't know you/you don't know me" relationship with 90 men in Falcons training camp.
I'm not saying you wouldn't want to be one of those teams that are 3 years in with the same message and continuity
on an upward tick. A January team that added a few pieces to get you over the top with a true belief that this is the year
that the Super Bowl is possible. A team that has learned what to do and what not to do in the regular season to get to January
and now has as good as chance an ANYONE to be World Champs.
That would be a great place to sit. When you are one of those teams you watch the Draft a little differently. You're not
picking early..but you've built a fan to organization trust that who you do take over the course of 4 days will fill holes that you
Free agency feels different. In likelihood..your team has made a couple of good choices. Didn't overpay and got production
from the guys you've signed to get you into January. Or into the next round of the playoffs.
People are saying and writing things about you that let you know you are in that "Elite" mix of teams..that with a break here..
bounce there..a Parade is not a ridiculous concept.
Well..that's not our reality. Most "people" (you know who "they" are) are talking about what the Falcons don't have. What they don't do well. What's not fixable this year. Hell..YOU'RE probably saying it. I am too.
But..we do get to finish with
"Well..the division is pretty lousy. And someone has to win it"
And for today I'll take that. Someone is going to the Playoffs from the NFC South. And I KNOW you can't guarantee me who it is. So you can't guarantee me who it isn't (although many of you have told me it's not Tampa Bay. And some of you have told me it's not New Orleans. And others have told me it's not the Falcons. And some have (fewest # by the way) said it's not Carolina.
So lets take this all the way back to the top.
What teams SHOULD you wish you were?
Seattle. New England. Green Bay. I know I'm throwing in Indianapolis. Pittsburgh? Baltimore? Okay. I'll put Arizona in there.
But here's what i know. Or KNOW. Some of last years playoffs teams are not going back this year. The NFL just doesn't work that way. Hasn't in years. Sh*t happens. To everyone. Even the best teams. Some will not get through it unscathed.
Now look at the rest. New coach over there. And over there. New QBs..or a few that are in make or break years.
Buffalo. The 49ers (trying to bounce back..but boy are there are a bunch of messes over there). St Louis? Kind of a Chic pick.
Along with Minnesota. And maybe Houston.
No way 3 Chic picks all have it work in the same year
Cincinnati. Dallas. Detroit. All have had shortcomings that can't be explained other than to say.."They don't win when it matters"
I'm not here to pronounce the Falcons as anything other than what I see them to be. A team that I think will be better. Because they got the coach and staff right. I'll couple that with a mindset of making things that need to be simpler simpler. React. Play football. Find the guy with the ball and hit him. Hell. Hit him on the OTHER side of the line of scrimmage. Maybe he drops the it.
Maybe Down & Distance (the WORST thing about this team for the last couple of years) gets better because of that stuff.
That's what we have before 4 preseason games are played. It's not much. But it's ours.
Lets finish with the ultimate effort in futility. Your 2015-16 NFL playoff teams :
You might not have liked :
1. The Coverage
2. The Course
3. The Train
4. The Guys (rooting interest is huge. Sometimes your boy not in it makes it a little "less")
4. The West Coast thing (that would make you crazy - Majors other than Augusta in Prime Time - Oh Yeeeaaahh)
5. The Coverage (needed to do this one twice)
Lets start with the basics.
I love The Masters. And the U.S. Open. And The Open Championship. And...the PGA Championship (sometimes known as "You know..the 4th one")
I don't much care for regular PGA Tour events.
Makes me a Majors snob.
Don't respect the talent any less. Just don't really much care who is leading after Thursday. Or Friday. Or made or missed cuts.
54 Hole leader? Nope. Eventual winner? A hearty congratulations. But on to the John Deere or Jamie Farr Classic the next week
doesn't do it for me.
Get me to Augusta. I'm in for ALL of it. Practice rounds included. Hell. The Par 3 is more fun than most weekends on the PGA Tour. Wood Paneling and a Green Jacket only works in one place. Here.
The U.S. Open? - National Pride and an ability to qualify from beyond the left field wall as Joe Regular Golfer? - Hell yes. That's "'Murica". I..ME..you..YOU..could qualify for this thing next year. It's OURS.
The Open Championship? - The home of the original rounds of golf played for a Title? And probably originally a crown and sceptor? And a treasure chest of gold and Knighthood? It ain't ours..but it's big. BIG big. Jug that you get to take with you wherever you go for a year. It's Golfs Stanley Cup. And that creates some of the greatest photo ops ever.
PGA Championship? Lifetime exemption. All the years winners. Last chance to REALLY change your life in golfs calendar year and an ability to call yourself a Majors Champion. Good courses. Historical courses. Yes sir.
So..what did we see at this years U.S. Open?
Everything. Not most things. EVERYTHING.
Meet me here later this week and I will give you :
20 THINGS THAT MADE THE U.S OPEN BAT SH*T CRAZY (working title)
"LEGACY" IS THE HOTTEST WORD IN SPORTS TALK RADIO
It has become increasingly apparent that we no longer have the want or need to "let the body get cold".
Why have someone actually hang them up..let alone allow time and distance to be a factor..when we can just declare
day to day/month to month/season to season at MOST what the final not yet final word on an athletes career and beyond (legacy)
is..was..and forever shall be.
Oh I'm guilty. Guilty as charged.
With one exception.
I do and will account for the fluidity of the situation. Because today's "No doubt about it" is short lived and fragile. Especially when there is another game to be won or lost tomorrow.
The real phenomenon behind this is our want and need for tidy little packages. Neat. Clean. Names with #'s to their right. One on top of the other.
I'll make a list. I'll read a list. Truth be told..I'm a sucker for a list. It's the basis for the sports talk format. Head to Head. Which leads to a ranking of "Him" over "Him". Throw in a 3rd (we always do) and you start to get away from just who's "better" but comparisons with a little substance.
Top 3's are good.
Top 5's are better.
A good type 5 question (all lists and debates are not created equally) can elicit some common ground. Even begrudging praise on a point well made. Give and take and a few less "You're Crazy"'s as you expand the number and in turn your mind.
It also eliminates a little of the "You're just hating" thing. Or the dreaded "Your Boy"..that known to everyone but you factor that will not let you see beyond some deep rooted subconscious attachment that comes with a Man Crush.
I'll fight for a guy I like over a guy I don't if you just give me 2 choices. Damn the numbers and empirical evidence. I got an emotional Dog in the ring.
The other problem with 2 person lists..there's always a winner. Every time. There is not a question that you can ask about movies..music..teams..athletes..tv shows that if given only 2 to choose from a winner can not and will not declared. We might have a DIFFERENT winner..but that's just because YOU'RE wrong.
Make more choices available..or have to fill out something that looks like this
and it's kid in the candy store for any and all of us who started these debates before sports talk radio was an itch in the pants of WFAN in New York.
I spent a lot of time in study hall..the precursor to a bar..with my buddies trying to figure some of these things out. And it's not going to change.
The names..Tom..Lebron..Tiger..Kobe..Pop..Phil..endless fun to put them in their (perceived) proper place.
Just remember..deflated footballs.."The Decision/The Homecoming"/Thanksgiving night "spats with golf clubs"/Winning 5 Titles but nobody wants to play with you/It's more difficult to win titles today than when Red coached/Go to the Knicks for 12 Million and stink up the joint moments are always lurking.
What separates us from the animals? We rank stuff. Animals don't care.