Posts Tagged ‘Football’

Barclays-Premier-League1

Watch Premiere League Soccer

Written by Jarren Bird on . Posted in Sports

You like soccer right? Well what if, by some crazy means, soccer were actually called football? I know it seems odd to call a game where you ONLY use your feet “football” when there is a perfectly good game where you hardly ever use your feet called “football,” but such is the case in England. Our homeland. The place we come from. We call New York New York because in the UK there is an older place called York. We have New Hampshire because our former country has an older place called Hampshire. Those nutsos are crazy over there and they’re super crazy about football (soccer).

In England there is a league of football called the English Premier League, or EPL. There are 20 teams, most of which are in London (not really, but six teams are located in London which is a fair amount).

fantasy-sports

How to Win at Fantasy Football

Written by Jarren Bird on . Posted in Sports

Welcome sports fans to the wonderful world of Fantasy Football! Now don’t be scared. There is absolutely nothing to be afraid of. If you are worried about being able to pwn your fellow fantasy cohorts whilst being a “n00b” then look no further. Just for you, I have compiled a step-by-step process on “How to Win at Fantasy Football,” and you can trust me because I’m like a doctor in a lot ways.

Step 1) Make sure you get the guy who will score the most points.

You only have one chance to get the guy who scores the most points. Here’s how you can do it…random luck. If you get the first pick in the draft (if the draft is a regular draft and not an auction draft) then you have a great opportunity to choose the player who will score the most points. If you are participating in an auction draft, then pay the most money to get the best player. If you are in a room with all the other guys in the league who will also be drafting, then you can research ways to blackmail all of them. You can then blackmail the guy who is given the first pick. What he will then do, because he is being blackmailed, is graciously and unsuspiciously turn the first pick over to you and you will then have a great opportunity to pick up the player who will score the most points.

But wait, you are in the middle of saying to me, “What if I have no way of knowing who will score the most points?”

What We Learned From Saturday's NFL Games

Written by Ben Wagner on . Posted in Sports

“Yo, I got this”

Historically the first two weekends of the NFL playoffs are two of my favorite weekends of the year (topped by wild card Saturday — is there a reason this isn’t a national holiday yet?). This year didn’t break that trend as last weekend saw the Jets, Seahawks, Packers and Ravens all win, arguably all upsets except maybe the Ravens. Part of what makes the NFL so exciting is the parity, and at no time is this more apparent than during the playoffs.

In a season that has been all about parity (even the Patriots, the league’s undisputed best team, got beat by the lowly Browns) most experts came into this week’s games with no clue as to what was going to happen. The Ravens and Steelers were meeting for the third time this season and the wild card Packers seemed to be suddenly gaining popularity against the number one-seeded Falcons. At the beginning of the day, NFL fans had lots of questions — and by the end of the day, we had answers. Here’s the top things we learned from today’s games:

The ghost of Matt Millen still haunts the GMs of the NFL

It’s astounding to me that NFL GMs have yet to figure out the wide receiver position. The Ravens came into the season with three top receivers — check that, three former top wide receivers. Derrick Mason, Anquan Boldin and T.J Houshmandzadeh were all number one receivers at some point in their careers — Mason with the Titans, Boldin with the Cardinals, and T.J. (no way I’m typing that name again) with the Bengals and later the Seahawks. All three were the top receivers on their teams, but for various reasons their former teams cut ties with them and they all landed in Baltimore.

When teams decide to go their separate ways with a wider receiver, it has historically been a bad sign. These same situations seem to happen every year, and yet GMs continue to throw money at these players. Look at Roy Williams in Dallas, Randy Moss in Minnesota or Terrell Owens on every team he’s ever been on (which at this points seems to be approximately half the teams in the NFL).

Today in their game against the Steelers, the Ravens’ receiving core repeatedly dropped passes, costing them scoring opportunities. This was typified by the Ravens’ last offensive play when, trying to drive and tie the game, Joe Flacco threw an almost perfect pass on 4th and 19 to Houshmandzadeh, who had run a deep curl route. Houshmandzadeh was past the first down line when the ball hit him right in the numbers, and then promptly fell through his hands and hit the ground.

Maybe now Ravens’ GM Ozzie Newsome can see why Seattle (who, by the way, isn’t exactly fielding the ’01 Rams receiving core out there) chose to cut him, knowing they would still have to pay him $7 million, rather then have him on their team. Think about that — they paid him 7 million dollars to go away. Sound like a guy you want on your team? Apparently Ozzie Newsome thought it sounded awesome, and for that reason he’ll be watching the AFC championship game on his couch.

Ben Roethlisberger is always a threat to score

Look, I know Big Ben has had his off-field issues — a motorcycle crash, repeated drunkenness, an appearance on Shaq Vs. and the fact that he’s a complete pervert have all greatly hurt his public image. In all that, we may have lost the fact the guy has won two Super Bowls, and is one of the most clutch quarterbacks we’ve seen — maybe ever.

The guy just wins. He’s got that last-minute greatness DNA that Peyton would kill the third Manning brother for. Today, with the game tied and just over two minutes remaining, the Steelers were looking at 3rd and 19 and, if they failed to convert, they would be giving the ball back to the Ravens with enough time remaining to put together a drive and win the game with a field goal.

In this situation most quarterbacks are looking for that pass that just gets them the first down, because the defense is trying to prevent a 20-yard play. Oftentimes quarterbacks will check down to someone on a short route, hoping they can break some tackles and fight for a first down. Not Big Ben. He set himself up in the shotgun, received the ball, took five steps back, calmly looked at his options, and then flung the ball 55 yards down the right sideline. The ball was perfectly on target to a streaking Antonio Brown who caught the ball and stepped out of bounds setting the Steelers up close to the goal for a game-winning touchdown.

If you go back and watch that play again, Roethlisberger throws the ball long before Brown is past the defense — in fact, to anyone else watching it doesn’t even seem clear that Brown will be open. The fact that Roethlisberger was able to anticipate where his receiver would be in that situation, and then throw the ball with such precision 55 yards downfield, is absolutely incredible.

If you haven’t seen the play again, go back and watch it from all the angles. In that situation, I’m not sure there’s another quarterback who makes that throw. The fact is, despite his obvious character flaws, Roethlisberger is a born winner — and if I was a coach I would want him on my team.

Aaron Rodgers has made Green Bay forget about the quarterbacks from the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, ’90s and ’00s — or, in other words, Brett Favre

I’ve been on the Aaron Rodgers bandwagon for awhile. I had him on my fantasy team last year and was really impressed by the numbers he put up week in and week out. This year I’ve been impressed with his toughness, fighting back from two concussions.

What he did against the Falcons tonight was an absolute clinic. He diced up their secondary with amazing precision, he escaped their rushers with surprising speed and agility, and he led the Packers with all the intangibles you want to see from your starting quarterback. His mechanics, accuracy, arm strength, mobility, reads, leadership and guts were all of the highest caliber.

Let’s put it this way: Of all the NFL games I’ve seen this year, if I had to pick one game to show a young quarterback to say, “This is the way you play the position,” I think it would be this game against the Falcons.

In his post-season career, Rodgers now has a 10:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He beat the Eagles (many experts’ pick to win the NFC) on the road last week, and he beat the number one-seeded Falcons this week. After what we’ve seen the last two seasons and (in particular) this post-season, I think it’s time we officially move him into the “Top Three QBs In The League” discussion. Considering the truly lackluster efforts of Manning, Brees and Vick this post-season, can we say Aaron Rodgers might be the best quarterback not named Tom Brady or Ben Roethlisberger? Right now, if I had one game to win, I would pick Brady, then Rothelisberger, but after that I’m pretty sure I would take Aaron Rodgers. He’s that good, and a seemingly decent guy to boot.

Rodgers spent three years patiently waiting in the wings for Brett Favre to take his texting talents elsewhere, and then the next three years flying under the radar in Green Bay. Hey Aaron, you’re on everyone’s radar now — pretty soon you may even have Rachel Nichols camping out on your lawn.

It Might Sound Crazy, But It Ain't No Lie, Robert, Bye, Bye, Bye

Written by Preston Johnson on . Posted in Uncategorized

The news is in. Not only was the entire offensive staff for the BYU football team released this afternoon by head coach Bronco Mendenhall and encouraged to search for job opportunities elsewhere, but my fellow colleagues here at Rhombus Magazine are starting a boy band. We plan to dedicate our first cover of the ground-breaking hit “Bye Bye Bye” from none other than ‘N Sync to BYU’s very own Robert Anae.

The news broke about 3:00 p.m. today from the Deseret News. Funny enough however, at 5:41 p.m. when I went to check the article before writing my thoughts here, the page that broke the news officially can “no longer be found” or “may not exist.”

Really? Is this going to be a major let-down to BYU football faithful everywhere? Let’s face it — Robert Anae has been a suspect (to say the least) play-caller for years. Thanks to a few questionable games he called this season without veteran quarterback Max Hall or running back Harvey Unga there to bail him out, Anae’s ineptitude was on full display and, thankfully for us, Bronco realized this… or so we thought.

I was on cloud nine for the last two hours. Robert Anae, finally gone. This is what BYU needed. I have been saying it for the last two years repeatedly. Not only was he asked to leave, but the entire offensive coaching staff was asked to seek employment elsewhere while Bronco evaluated each member. In my opinion, this could not have come at a better time for the Cougars.

We have a promising future on the offensive side of the ball with quarterback Jake Heaps, wide receivers McKay Jacobson and Cody Hoffman, and the entire running back core returning for at least one more season. Why not put the best possible coaching staff together now when the team looks to be making big steps onto the national scene going independent next season? Reassessing things on the offensive side of the ball is exactly what Bronco needs to do.

Many believe that quarterback coach and former BYU quarterback Brandon Doman would be the perfect man for the job. He has a brilliant young mind, is liked by the players, and is said to be BYU’s best recruiter as well. The story that broke the news this afternoon also mentioned that each coach is encouraged to reapply, hinting that Doman could be hired back on to the staff to be the Cougars new offensive coordinator.

Before we determine anything else, we need to clarify if the report that “is no longer” is valid.  For our sake and the sake of the BYU football program, let’s hope that it is (otherwise our future smash cover of “Bye Bye Bye” may have to wait.) We will keep you posted as we receive updates, but until then, I want to know your thoughts:

1) Good or bad move to get rid of Robert Anae?

2) Who would you like to see take over the play calling for the Cougars?

3) Or more importantly, how do you think BYU will fare next season with the new independent schedule in 2011-2012?

———————

UPDATE: 8:24 P.M.

BYU has issued a statement through football sports information director Brett Pyne regarding reports in The Salt Lake Tribune, Deseret News and elsewhere that coach Bronco Mendenhall met with members of his offensive staff this morning and advised them to pursue other employment opportunities outside BYU.

Here is the statement issued by BYU:

Any reports that BYU football coaches have been released from the staff are inaccurate. BYU head football coach Bronco Mendenhall has begun the evaluation process of the recently completed season. As part of the process, Mendenhall met with offensive coaches and indicated a restructuring of the offensive staff is being evaluated. Mendenhall told the coaches this includes possible changes in assignments and personnel. The review will continue after the holidays and has no specific timetable.

soccer

SPORTS: How Soccer Haters Will Convert

Written by Randal Serr on . Posted in Sports

Just a couple days into the 2010 World Cup, soccer fans around the world are now enjoying for the biggest sporting event in the world. The United States is probably somewhere in the middle as far as popularity of the sport is concerned. “The beautiful game” is subject to much criticism here, typically for a few of the same claims.

One of the most-heard complaints is that soccer is low-scoring and that there is not enough action. There are, of course, arguments to refute that since you could say the same about baseball and hockey, except baseball is much longer and (in my opinion) much slower. An argument could be made that even American football is a slow-paced game considering all the breaks, play-calling, and television timeouts. So the notion about not liking soccer because it is low-scoring and slow is pretty weak.

Since the other arguments hardly have a foot to stand on, there is one remaining argument that explains some of the distaste for the sport: Americans want to be the best. It is part of the culture and it is embedded in our DNA. Looking at the history of the sport in this country, the U.S. has had a few bright moments but it has yet to prove it is one of the elite countries at soccer.

I have heard more than a few times from fans and haters alike that soccer here is just not as good as it is in Europe, and for that reason they cannot or do not support it. Their thought is that if you are not the best at something, then what is the point? And not being as good at something as Europe leaves an especially bad taste in some people’s mouths. Europe attracts some of the best players in the world with much higher salaries than the players are paid here because of how well established the game is there and how much the game is embedded in the culture. Soccer is life for a lot of them and, until the U.S. can compete salary-wise, Europe will continue to be a very attractive alternative.

Nonetheless, soccer is growing quickly in the United States. Take a look at the Seattle Sounders and their passionate fans, which were recently named the “2010 Best Sports Team of the Year” by SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily. They are selling an amazing amount of season tickets and games are bringing enormous crowds, over 36,000 for every home game. That is nearly double the attendance that Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers draw. (Of course, venue capacity should be taken into account.)

Locally, Real Salt Lake is averaging well over 15,000 per game, which is a huge amount for their market. They pull about the same amount as teams in larger markets like New York or Columbus. Overall MLS attendance is already up 11 percent on average from last year.

The league is also following the mold of the other international leagues by implementing developmental academies under each club, allowing for the identification and development of homegrown talent for the MLS. Take, for example, that of the four MLS players that made the US Men’s National Team, one of them is from Real Salt Lake in Robbie Findley. That is quite an accomplishment. Not only that, but 13 of the 23 players on the World Cup roster have previously played in the MLS.

Another measuring stick for the popularity of soccer is the broadcasting of games. Not only is there an MLS “match of the week” on ESPN2, but for the first time in the United States, all of the 2010 World Cup matches will be broadcast on either ESPN, ESPN2 or ABC. You will also be able to watch most games live online at ESPN3.com. That type of exposure will definitely draw more attention to the games and soccer will progress.

The bottom line is that Americans do not like being second best at anything, and in order for soccer to gain real respect and attention both at home and around the world, the U.S. has to have a very successful run on the world’s biggest stage.