| | Advanced Search

 

Brown Football Opens Camp With Many Holes To Fill—Bears report to training camp on Thursday

Tax Breaks for Developers - See the Special Deals—See the special deals and millions in tax…

Hodgson Names Gobeil as Campaign Manager—Republican candidate for Attorney General Dawson Hodgson has…

Block Calls on Fung to Explain His Role in Cranston Police Scandals—Republican candidate for Governor Ken Block has called…

Progressive Democrats Of Rhode Island Endorse Clay Pell for Governor—The Rhode Island Progressive Democrats of America (RIPDA)have…

Rhode Island’s 5 Best Cooking Classes—Most parents we know consider this -- back…

Patriots Roster Projections 2.0—Who makes the cut? Who gets cut? Find…

Ric Santurri: Solomon – Do As I Say, Not As I Do—As the Democratic primary for Mayor of Providence…

LISTEN: 72% of 2014 Gubernatorial Campaign Expenditures Spent Out of State—While each candidate for Governor talks about creating…

Gary Sasse: Are Gubernational Candidates Being Realistic and Focused?—As Rhode Island enters the homestretch of the…

 
 

John Rooke - Thinking Out Loud

Saturday, January 11, 2014

 

Thinking out loud…and wondering whatever happened to Frank Reich?

• No problem with the Baseball Hall decisions this week. Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux and Frank Thomas are all deserving, and so is Craig Biggio. Wonder if his move to second base cost him at all? The problem I had was with ESPN’s Dan LeBatard, who made a mockery of the process by turning his vote over to the website Deadspin. He was kicked out of the Baseball Writers Association of America for a year, and barred from future HOF votes. Now, his premise I agree with – a potential double-standard over steroid players being left out. But was the 15 minutes of fame worth it, Dan? You just lost your most powerful weapon in your argument for inclusion of all players – your voice and your vote. Stupid is as stupid does

• Can I say that I called it? Charlie Strong’s selection by Texas to replace Mack Brown as head football coach and resident King of the State is a savvy decision. Having spoken to Coach Strong several times in interview situations, he’s certainly intelligent, thoughtful and at times, insightful…which is rare for a coach. Coaches don’t tend to give away free info much of the time. Strong has the football background Texas is looking for, minus the CEO/PR sense that the top job at the school requires. It will be interesting to see how he – and the University – handles that part of his job…which may be the most important part of all…

• That…and winning a minimum of 10 games per season. Minimum. Just sayin’

URI’s win at LSU last weekend was notable, to be sure. Gil Biruta finally showed what he’s capable of doing since arriving from Rutgers, and added a bit of an outside touch with a couple of threes. If he can keep providing that kind of a presence in the middle, the Rams will win their share…

Michigan Stadium (hookedonhockey.com)

• At the risk of being a bit sacrilegious here…I’m just not into the whole “outdoors” hockey thing. Maybe that’s because I didn’t grow up in the culture of pond hockey as a kid. It was cool – literally – when the NHL first decided to do a Winter Classic. Now? Even though this year’s game was a good one…having to clean the ice and stretch a 3-hour game into 4+ hours was tough to sit through. But most of the 105K in attendance seemed to…so to them I say “you guys are nuts…”

• The Frozen Fenway idea seemed kind of fun, at first…and I’m sure it was for those who had the chance to take part…like PC. But I don’t know…some of the Fenway Park mystique was lost on me looking out onto the field covered white with snow, as opposed to seeing the usual Emerald green. A 1-1 overtime tie with Merrimack couldn’t have set too well with Nate Leaman, either. Taking a cue from regular outdoor sports, weather is a great equalizer, you know. But the throwback uni’s were sharp

• Is something like this special enough to keep it going? Most of the time, our marketing geniuses beat things into the ground until we want to puke. I fear this will be the case here. Whatever happened to good things in moderation?

Facebook shares data with the National Security Administration? Whoa. And if you didn’t know that could be a possibility, then you need to wake up and enter the 21st century. Here’s the thing…be prepared to have whatever you write electronically – whether it actually gets posted somewhere or not – come back to haunt you someday…

• I remember this every time I sit long enough to write this column. And yet, I still write. The definition of insanity, right?

• In Facebook’s defense, this week they said they are not collecting unpublished posts from users. Unpublished? They can do that? Double whoa

Headline of the week…and it only took an almost-record-setting comeback for this kind of creativity in Kansas City. Short, but effective…and it tells the story from one perspective…

• The story of Mike Munchak’s firing in Tennessee last week is interesting, showing a side rarely seen in sports (or anything else these days) – loyalty. Munchak was offered an extension to remain coach of the Titans, but only on the condition that he makes changes in his coaching staff…which he refused to do. He wanted to keep his guys. So…he was out. Maybe he’s a bit daft for his refusal to allow assistants to fall on the sword, but I think it shows character. It shows integrity. And it won’t show him the unemployment line…he’s a good coach who knows he can get another job. Bravo

• Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch decided he didn’t want to talk to the media this season (until last week in a brief session with local reporters), saying he’d rather focus on the “team thing?” What a cop-out. So the NFL, ever-mindful of the media and fans needing their stars to speak, stepped in and fined Lynch $50K. What’s that saying about “talk being cheap?” Not talking certainly isn’t…

• Keep this in mind prior to kick-off in Foxboro…as has been mentioned several times this past week in print and on the radio…the Patriots have a fair amount of playoff INexperience on their roster, with 18 players never having participated in the post-season. Quite the transformation from one of the oldest rosters in the league to one of the youngest, in about two years’ time…

• One other factor to keep in mind with your beloved silver and blue…the defense may have been one of the worst in the NFL in 3rd down conversions – allowing teams to convert 44% of the time – but they were also one of the best in the NFL in 4th down conversions. In fact, THE best…allowing a 19% success rate…

• I’m not sure I understand Patriots’ fans angst over Deion Branch signing with the Colts this week. What could Branch really say to the Colts that their staff doesn’t already know? Plus, things have changed since he suited up for your heroes last season. Is it really a question of loyalty where Branch is concerned? Of course not. The NFL is a business. Branch has been out of football all season long, and if the Patriots wanted him – remember, they’ve had injuries in the receiving corps too – they would have signed him. Branch has a job where he didn’t have one last week…

• Maybe Deion will be a double-agent, scope out the Colts and report back to his buddy, TB12? Hah! I will say this, though. The Colts are looking for any little edge they can get here. Maybe it will work, maybe it won’t. But the Patriots had best be prepared…

• Surprising that LB Brandon Spikes was placed on the injured reserve list this week. Yes, he’s had his struggles in coverage, for sure. But he’s not a coverage linebacker. Spikes and Dont’a Hightower have been asked to do things they don’t do well, because of all of the injuries. If he really has a knee injury, so be it. But he’s also played in six post-season games for New England, and for a team that could use some playoff experience from its players on the field…this move doesn’t bode well for his future. I get the impression this is an indictment on ‘Spikes the player,’ rather than ‘Spikes the injured linebacker’…

Tweet of the Week I – from former Patriot LB Gary Guyton (@GaryGuyton59): “Pats need a few linebackers. Want to go homie? @rcolvin3…”

Lindsey Vonn won’t compete at the Sochi Olympics in skiing because her knee is too unstable. She was trying to come back in time for the Olympics after tearing her right ACL and MCL in February of 2013 at the world championships in Austria. Pity. She’s exciting to watch. Tiger Woods probably thinks so, too…

• Oh my. The World is soon coming to an end. Duke was left out of the college basketball Top 10 polls this week for the first time since 2007…

Providence’s game at Villanova was as flat as I’ve seen a Friar team in some time. But let’s also consider the emotional upheaval the players and coaches have been through, on and off of the court. Two emotionally tough OT games prior? That’s one reason. It hasn’t been easy for anyone. They’re human. It’s tough to do your job, and do it well, when you know despite your best efforts there are obstacles in the way you simply cannot navigate…

• The problems facing the Friars are simple, really. They have a very short bench. They have little depth. They need ALL of their players to contribute, every game, in order to contend. Bryce Cotton does, LaDontae Henton does. They can’t afford off-nights from anyone. Who else does? And that’s the problem. The Georgetown game this week proves it. Kadeem Batts had his best game in weeks, and Josh Fortune might have played his best game as a collegian, on top of Cotton and Henton’s play. The result was an 18-point win over the Hoyas. This team is still good enough, provided at least three of them play up to their abilities, to beat anyone they have left…

• And while Cotton leads the Big East in assists, a little depth never hurts…maybe the Friars should go after Patrick Maher. What? You don’t know the kid? He plays at DIII Grinnell College in Iowa – he’s a teammate of Jack “shoot it if ya’ got it” Taylor – and he broke the NCAA record for assists in a game with 37 last Monday night. And Taylor didn’t even play in the game…

Florida State’s scintillating comeback win over Auburn for the BCS National Championship was definitely one to remember. In a year that had many last-second, believe-it-if-you-see-it moments and plays, the game was a fitting end not just to a great year of college football, but to the 16-year run of the entire BCS system. Yep, they’ll move to a four-team “playoff” next year that will undoubtedly be the center of scorn and controversy when someone worthy is left out – just like we have had happen in the BCS from time to time. But didn’t the BCS finally seem to work the last few years? Great match-ups, and some pretty good games…like Texas-USC in ’05, too. Just when we seem to get it right, we kick it out in the street…

• Two big-time players that helped their future careers in that game…Auburn running back Tre Mason, and FSU receiver Kelvin Benjamin. Mason proved his Heisman-worthiness by rushing for 195 yards and breaking Bo Jackson’s single-season rushing record…and Benjamin? He caught the winning TD from Jameis Winston. He’s a load to handle, as Auburn found out…and at 6-5 he looks like the second-coming of Larry Fitzgerald for someone…

• Don’t know if they’ll be in a position for either player, but even with the emergence of LeGarrette Blount to go along with Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen, I wouldn’t be sad to see the Patriots make a move for either Mason, or BC’s Andre Williams come draft time…

• Is it just me, or does anyone else think it will be interesting to see how Jameis Winston handles his off-season? Johnny “Football” Manziel had his problems after winning the Heisman last year as a freshman, didn’t he? Consider Winston’s year – win the Heisman, go undefeated, win the national title…and yes, there was that little off-field matter in which he was “excused.” Could be a good story line to follow…

Tweet of the Week II – from @ESPNStatsInfo: “Jameis Winston: 3rd QB since 1950 to go undefeated w/ natl title & Heisman Trophy all in same season (Cam Newton, 2010, Matt Leinart, 2004)…”

Get a grip…it may be hard for many around here to understand, but college football is still king in just about the rest of this country. Take Towson, for instance. Towson? You mean, where former URI and PC assistant Pat Skerry is the head men’s basketball coach? Yup, one in the same. Their football team just got whacked by North Dakota State in the FCS national title game…but school athletic director Tim Leonard reports “From the West Coast to the East Coast we've had all types of media reports from people wanting to know about Towson. The numbers hitting our websites have been record numbers and the exposure has just been incredible…"

• In case you’re wondering – and I’m sure some are – Towson is located in Maryland

• Former PC assistant athletic director Blake James – now the AD at the “U” – had a close call this past week as his football coach, Al Golden, decided to remain at Miami rather than become a candidate at his alma mater Penn State. Golden, who also coached the linebackers at Boston College in his past, was a prime name mentioned early in the search for Bill O’Brien’s replacement…

• Speaking of ex-Patriot O’Brien, while it’s known he has long had a desire to become a head coach in the NFL – which he now is at Houston – another reason for his departure from Penn State apparently had to do with the “Joe Paterno loyalists” continually scrutinizing his every move in not-so-Happy Valley, PA…

• I am pulling for former Brown coach Mark Whipple’s return to the coaching ranks, as he remains prominent in the discussions surrounding the UMass opening. Great guy, exciting coaching style…the game is better with him in it. Yes, he would be returning to the scene of his 1998 1-AA national championship…which does have former players and alumni excited already. But it is rare for a coach to “return home” and have the same kind of success as before. He didn’t coach this past year, after being a part of a purged staff with the Cleveland Browns. Other names mentioned at UMass include former Brown coach Don Brown (defensive coordinator at BC) and ex-BC assistant Bob Shoop, now the DC at Vanderbilt…

• It’s the crazy season for TV ads, and as the Super Bowl nears, did you get a peek at the latest commercial to generate some buzz? It’s also generating some creepy thoughts and feelings out there as well, which is precisely what the Old Spice marketing team wants. Or not…

• Said about as well as it can be said…found this blog from a sportscaster in Iowa, living the dream of small-town life and sports. His day is not unlike mine in many ways…and for that, I am thankful. But he’ll remain a small-town sportscaster unless he puts in a little extra study and prep time. Don’t have the time? If you want to succeed at this, make it…

Mike DeCourcy wrote an interesting article this week in The Sporting News about how the “old” Big East could win three different conferences this year, based on the current standings. He’s right. But in his piece, he touches on just WHY the old Big East broke up – fear and greed. And why this isn’t focused on more by the national media confounds me…because it is the absolute truth. The “old” ACC was dying, and they used the power of football to re-create a once-storied basketball league. Enter Syracuse, Pitt, ND and next year – Louisville. The “new” ACC is the best basketball league in the land? Hardly. The “old Big East” is – hands down…

• As for the “new” Big East…it needs time to mature. Villanova’s rise to the top is a bit of a surprise, but their big win over Providence was more a result of PC’s poor play than the Wildcats being overpowering. Creighton can be a force, and may still be before their inaugural year is completed. Butler might end up with the best home court advantage in the league – Hinkle Fieldhouse. There’s still an opportunity for new kings to be crowned, but I surely wonder if those presented with the chance are capable of taking advantage of it…

• My buddy “Big E” says he still needs time to mature, too. All of the plants in his house are still alive, and he can’t smoke any of them…

• It still boggles the mind. Two years ago, Butler was playing Wisconsin-Green Bay and Youngstown State. Today, St. John’s and Georgetown. As The Jefferson’s always sang back in the ‘70’s, “we’re movin' on up…to that de-luxe apartment in the sky…”

• As I mentioned last week, Dennis Rodman’s “gift” to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un of a basketball game with former NBA players is not only misguided, it’s just plain ridiculous. And now, Charles Smith is expressing some regret for the “game” turning into a political circus? Please. Every one of those players should have known anything associated with Rodman would turn into a circus, because he’s the #1 clown, and he always has been. You know, if these guys really were hoping to do some good, their altruistic ideals might have been better served first helping the poor and unfortunate in this country…rather than traveling into a part of the world where children are routinely starved, dissenters are executed and nuclear weapons are worshipped. But sadly, that’s not the case…primarily because some of these sad sacks need the notoriety. Or the cash…

• NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said this week the owners are seriously considering the addition of two wild card teams to the playoffs. That’s not a terrible idea, but if the league doesn’t expand to 33 or 34 teams (Los Angeles and London are mentioned most prominently), it waters down the product. Why mess with what’s working well? Ah, but that’s what owners do. Change isn’t always for the better…

Tweet of the Week III – from Kerry Byrne of Cold Hard Football Facts (@footballfacts): “The #Broncos 13-3 this year; 1-3 vs. remaining #AFC playoff field…”

(saabsunited.com)

• In the spirit of the NFL playoffs, I wondered about the QB who engineered the greatest post-season comeback EVER…Frank Reich, subbing for an injured Jim Kelly in Buffalo, led the Bills on a 38-3 2nd half scoring spree to come from behind and beat the Houston Oilers on January 3rd, 1993. The 35-point comeback is still the greatest margin to bounce back from in post-season history, with last week’s Indy comeback over KC coming close (28 points down in the second half). Reich moved on in the expansion draft to Carolina in ’95, played with the Jets and Lions and finally retired after the ’98 season. He’s been in coaching since, currently with the San Diego Chargers as their QB coach…

• From the mailbag this week – Brian from Port Jefferson, NY via Facebook, on former Patriot Deion Branch joining the “enemy”: “I have been reading a lot about people being upset because he will give away our secrets and offense to the Colts! But, Deion has not been here since we reworked our offense. So how much of a factor will this be?” Brian: Probably little to none, as I mentioned above in this column. Deion worked out for them earlier this season, and since he lives in Indiana, this makes sense for the Colts. They need a player, he was available. He gets another football paycheck and a chance at a ring if they win. Don’t blame him at all…but I’d be surprised if he played…

• Interested in having your questions on local RI sports (including the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics) answered in a somewhat timely fashion? Send ‘em to me! It’s your chance to “think out loud,” so send your questions and comments to [email protected]. We’ll share mailbag comments/Facebook posts/Tweets right here! Follow me on Twitter, @JRbroadcaster…and on Facebook, www.facebook.com/john.rooke ...

• Don’t forget to join us for GoLocal Sports on 103.7 FM, every Saturday from 7:00-9:00 am! Call in (401) 737-1287, or text us at 37937…and send email to the show - [email protected] .

 

Related Articles

 

Enjoy this post? Share it with others.

Comments:

With 3 scholarships remaining for next year PC could fill them with 3 guards and maybe should. Hope they have a shot at DeVonte Grahm if he is released from his commitment to Appalachian St and the 6-5 Jared Lyle. Those would be great additions. But for now GO PATRIOTS!

Comment #1 by Wally M on 2014 01 11

Looks like it's another barren year for RI D1 basketball teams, i.e. no NCAAs. For PC, make it a decade while URI on the other hand is moving quickly towards 20 years and no dancing. I guess all we can hope for is a signature win along the way. RI's more than likely will be LSU but after seeing the Tigers get destroyed by Tennessee it looks like they more than likely will end up the bottom feeder SEC program they were projected to be in the first place so maybe all the hoopla is unwarranted in the first place.

Comment #2 by joe adamowicz on 2014 01 11

Great collection of comments JR!

I don't get the Spikes note - my inference is that you - who are at least a half step closer to insider status on the Pats - think that the decision to shut him down for the year was not 100% aligned to winning 3 more football games. I'll accept that BB may at this point think that Spikes in his current condition was not among the best 53 on the roster and that he wasn't going to get better - but if you're saying that they thought Spikes could help but decided that because he's a short timer here they might as well move on NOW that is really "stupid is as stupid does"

Also - not sacrilegious to not be a dyed in the wool hockey guy - and thank u for not straying into cheap shots to those who are and for whom all of this Frozen stuff remains good fun. As to when it will run its course - as soon as the profit margin sinks.

Vis a Vis BCS - agreed that there were compelling games this year across the board including the title game - but I really think you have a contingent up in Lansing disagreeing that they finally got it right! Next year the gripes will be about access to the final 4 not the final 2. I guess that's progress.....

Comment #3 by Marty C on 2014 01 11

Marty - thanks. I've thought for awhile now that Spikes wasn't a "favorite," and that internally the organization has decided to move in a different direction. They haven't had the luxury before this, but you're right...if he's not still among the best 53 on this team, what does that really say about his future?

Love hockey. Really liked the novelty of the outdoor games. Tired that they've driven it into the ground. Once a year is fine...as long as they keep changing the venue. As for Fenway, meh.

I really don't think Michigan State has a "pit to hiss in," so to speak. FSU was clearly the better team. Just a shame that commercialism and the ever-present need for an "ultimate" champ has driven the BCS out when it finally seems to be working as it was intended. But, looking forward to the excitement - and controversy - the CFP will bring. And if my Longhorns can get back in the mix.

10 wins minimum, Charlie. 10 wins.

Comment #4 by John Rooke on 2014 01 11

Well unfortunately, it's looking more and more like that LSU win was no big shakes. Dan Hurley's Ram tough Rams are getting absolutely hammered at halftime by nothing special GW squad.

Comment #5 by joe adamowicz on 2014 01 11

Doesn't say much about your Friars if GW is "nothing special" but has an RPI of #38 (PC is at #66). Has it ever dawned on you that you have no idea what you are talking about?

Comment #6 by R Hertz on 2014 01 11

Does anybody know if the "13" points scored by URI at the half against GW is a record? I can't imagine a lower number....

Comment #7 by joe adamowicz on 2014 01 11

Wouldn't have been for PC, Joe: They scored 11 against UCON in 2002. You aren't the brighest bulb, are you?

Comment #8 by R Hertz on 2014 01 12




Write your comment...

You must be logged in to post comments.