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John Rooke - Thinking Out Loud

Saturday, November 24, 2012

 

Thinking out loud…and wondering what I’m truly thankful for this year…

I’m thankful for the opportunity to speak my mind in this space each week, and thankful for the ability to be able to put words “down on paper” that sometimes make sense, and sometimes make me senseless…

• Now that we’ve had a few days to consider Rutgers’ move to the Big 10 – it seems sillier than ever. Really, what in the name of Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler brought this on? Do the Big 10 schools really believe Rutgers delivers the New York market? Or does Rutgers just deliver a guaranteed “W” on the schedule? Stupid is as stupid does

• You really have to wonder about a league that clearly can’t even count to 10. The “Big 10” Conference will have 14 members…

• Sure, I get that a school – any school – would be foolish to turn down the kind of money waved in Rutgers’ face this week…especially if payout projections climbing to as much as $46 million per year to EACH Big 10 school by 2017 come to fruition. But what happens when the money runs out? Do these schools really think this is an endless cash cow?

Jim Boeheim, please shut your pumpkin pie hole. With all due respect, of course. He’s speaking out NOW about Rutgers’ move and all of the fuss over realignment? Your time to speak out, coach, was when your school squarely stabbed the Big East in its collective backside about a year ago…

• Frankly, if Boeheim had just kept his mouth shut, it probably would have said volumes about his true feelings on realignment…

• Although, I did like this quote from Boeheim: "Like I said, if these guys (the conference commissioners) were running the United States in colonial times, Brazil and Argentina would be states because they have something we need. It's a great country." He misses the real point – that school presidents are the ones to really blame here – but I don’t expect him to dress down his boss…

• And a final thought on Rutgers – after school president Robert Barchi said “the Big Ten is really where Rutgers belongs.” No sir, that’s not where your school belongs. You were rescued from the oblivion of the Atlantic 10 more than 20 years ago, and invited to join with like-minded eastern schools. The Big East put up with your largely unsuccessful athletic program during this time…because of WHERE you reside, not WHO you are…and allowed you the ability to improve. You know – the “rising tide fills all boats” deal? You then turn your back on these very same schools and programs who kept you afloat. Please remember this, Mr. President - those who make mistakes are doomed to repeat them…

• I have an idea. Let’s not call these schools “colleges” any longer. There’s nothing collegial at all about this process. Those that choose to take the money and run, they should probably be referred to as “banks.” They’re in the business to make a profit, and they don’t give out loans easily (if at all)…

I’m thankful for the health of my boys, the love of a great woman, and friends who have never let me down…

• I’m thankful for a Patriots franchise that decided almost 20 years ago to quit being the laughing stock of the NFL, and transform itself into one of the top pro sports organizations in the world. And thankful the Kraft Family followed their dreams to one day own the team…

• When asked about the Patriots’ offense this week, Jets coach Rex Ryan came up with a gem – “It’s like man, I don’t know.” What the heck is that? Turning senile on us, Rex? Or just tired of Tom Brady laying a whuppin’ on your butt?

• Looks like the Patriots are following their script from the past couple of years. Since the 2010 season, the Patriots are now a combined 19-0 in the second half of the regular season…

• And the offense is certainly in gear, Gronk or no Gronk. 108 points in back-to-back weeks is a franchise record…which is saying something for this team. But the real question is, can the defense catch up to the offense’s level of execution?

Alfonzo Dennard looks like a keeper, as he continues to improve in his ability to hang with receivers in man coverage. Sure, he gets beat every once in a while, but then again…so does everybody else. Still, whether it’s Dennard, Aqib Talib, Kyle Arrington or Devin McCourty back there, big plays – big stops – still need to be made before teams stop throwing over the top…

• Love the blitzing the past two weeks from the linebackers. Talib’s presence in the secondary is already paying dividends here…

• And Bill Belichick joins the ranks of NFL coaching elite with his 200th career victory (now 8th all time)…made all that much sweeter (I’m certain) with a grounding of the Jets. He ties Dan Reeves for 7th with the next one, and could move past Marty Schottenheimer into 6th before years’ end…

• Need dessert to go with your turkey stuffing? Our boy Russell Baxter (profootballguru.com) tells us this was the first Thanksgiving Day of NFL games since the expanded schedule (three games instead of two) began in 2006 that all three road teams won. It was also the highest scoring Turkey Day, too…

• Nah – here’s the dessert after a thorough cleaning and dressing of the turkey that is the NYJ team… 

• Time to scoreboard watch. The AFC East race is over. Now, the Patriots need to set their sights on a first-round playoff bye. That one-point loss to Baltimore looms large…either the Ravens need to lose twice more, or the Houston Texans need to lose twice (once to NE on Dec. 10 in Foxboro) to make it happen…

• I’m thankful for the passion of Red Sox nation, even if I’m not entirely thankful for the current state of the Sox on the field…

Jonny Gomes? The Red Sox decided to follow Billy Bean’s “Moneyball” ways, and now, they’re after Oakland’s players, too?

• I’m thankful for Dr. James Naismith, who created a sport that makes the winter around here go that much faster…so spring seems to arrive earlier…

• Why so much fuss about Grinnell College’s Jack Taylor scoring 138 points in a single game this week? Grinnell has used the “Paul Westhead” offense for years, getting off a shot just about every seven seconds or so. Games like he had Tuesday night just “happen.” Taylor gets his 15 minutes in the spotlight…let him enjoy it…

• I understand how basketball purists might not appreciate his effort, or the supposed lack of teamwork, but think about this: Had you ever heard of Grinnell College before this week? Uh huh. Now, you have…and that’s precisely the point…

• Injury woes are mounting for Marquette…not only did the Golden Eagles get clipped on a buzzer-beater by Butler in Maui, now guard Vander Blue is out for an indefinite period of time with a knee injury…

• Celtic opponents score 100, Celtics lose…

• I understand what they’re trying to accomplish, but the NCAA is simply way out of line. Telling former Miami football players that they will be considered guilty unless they cooperate with an investigation into the program smacks of the Red Scare of the 1950’s…unless you came out against communism, the government would consider you a communist! What happened to “certain inalienable rights” in our country?

• And of course, the NCAA is responsible for much of the current conference realignment mess that’s going on anyway. When they decided to let leagues hold championship football games…conferences with a minimum of 12 schools participating…that opened the door to the mega-leagues we are heading toward. The NCAA nitwits don’t realize it, but once these gargantuan leagues begin to assert themselves on our collegiate world, they’ll take over – and bolt from the same NCAA that gave them power…self-governance!  It’s the American way…

• Think about it…the NCAA is saying players have no rights before, during or after their careers, yet they have obligations? Sounds kinda communistic to me…

• Godspeed, Hector “Macho” Camacho. One of the greatest small boxers to have ever worn the gloves, you might not have liked his flamboyant, cocky nature…but you had to respect his ability to punch. He had his share of personal problems over the years, but he also won world titles in three different weight classes in the ‘80’s, and even ended Sugar Ray Leonard’s comeback in 1997. Camacho was shot Tuesday night in Puerto Rico and declared brain dead by doctors…

Not for nuthin’…but what could Lindsay Stone have possibly been thinking when she posed for a photo at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Washington? If you haven’t seen the picture, or heard about the story…it’s a “wow…”

• Buy anything interesting on Black Friday? I’ve never understood the phenomenon of getting in line early to save $50 on a wide screen TV…that’s going to go back on sale again closer to Christmas. Or actually camping out to secure a place in line? But hey, if it works for you…

• My buddy Statbeast sez he’s thankful for all the help he got when shopping for Thanksgiving dinner. He couldn’t find the right sized turkey for his family, and asked the butcher “do these turkeys get any bigger?” Perhaps sensing an opportunity, the butcher replied “No sir, they’re dead…”

• Two future Big East schools did reaffirm their decisions to join the league this week, in the wake of Rutgers jilting the conference. San Diego State and Boise State both acknowledged the hit, but both also said they’re committed to the eastward expansion for their football programs. Wonder if this is anything like coaches getting the dreaded “vote of confidence” from their owners/athletic directors? Just sayin’

• You know, I’m still waiting for some athletic director or school president – anyone will do – to stand up and say this realignment mess doesn’t work for them. The money might be good, but it isn’t right…for our students, athletes or fans. Or, it’s just plain stupid. What say you, UConn and Louisville? Let’s see if integrity and collegiality still exist in college sports…’cuz that invite might be in the mail…

The Journal’s Kevin McNamara wrote this week that the Big East “basketball only” schools might be nearing a voting majority position with another defection from the league…and if they hold the cards, they could vote to dissolve the current league – perhaps to come back as a hoops-centric conference with other national “basketball only” powers. It would have to happen before next July, when the newcomers gain voting rights. It sounds logical, sure…but the only way it should even be considered is if the current TV negotiations fall flat and don’t deliver solid returns. For schools like PC, Georgetown and St. John’s to talk about doing anything else before a media-rights deal is struck would be foolish…

• I’m hearing the peacock network is ready to make a lot of the angst in the East go away…

Bryce Cotton’s performance in Puerto Rico was certainly impressive, as he continues to run the point guard slot with the confidence of a 10-year pro. And in light of the fact he hurt an ankle against UMass, missed Penn State and then played 40 minutes against Asheville, it shows he’s got some guts, too…

• Not to be outdone, however, was the play of junior forward Kadeem Batts…who scored a couple of double-doubles for the Friars. Detractors could say there wasn’t anyone else to play – which is why he scored and rebounded as he did. But he is clearly more aggressive in the post, and willing to put the team on his shoulders near the basket. That’s an improvement, and a welcome sight…

• With a full complement of healthy and eligible players, Providence was right there with NC State and eventual PR champ Oklahoma State. Tournament organizers realized that, too. They love Ed Cooley and said they’re ready to invite PC again, perhaps as soon as 2017…

• Kudos to Bryant for their first-ever win over Brown. It doesn’t make Mike Martin’s job any easier, but it does validate what Tim O’Shea has been telling us for a couple of years…the Bulldogs are ready to play with the big boys…

• I love Christmas music as much as anyone. But at the stroke of midnight Friday night? Non-stop until New Years? What in the name of Andy Williams is going on here?

• I’m thankful for the pumpkin. Pie, coffee and beer. Ever tried a pumpkin beer, with sugar and cinnamon around the rim of a glass? Hey now. Oh my. Hoo-rah…

• Our mailbag question/comment this week comes from Darel in American Fork, UT via Facebook: On Rob Gronkowski's broken arm (vs. Indy) coming from his play on special teams (which I believe was a stupid oversight by the Pats' sideline): "This was a low risk play at the end of the game. If you want to pull your starters in meaningless plays, which linemen do you put in on the kick teams? Who goes in on a kneeldown that gets blown up? Why not pull your kicking specialists on late-game plays and have your third string QB kick it (wait...we don't have one...)? So, as sorry as I am that he's going to be out for an extended period, my only nit to pick where this situation is concerned is with those who want to coach the game in hindsight."  Darel:  Understood.  But my point is the team is prepared for every eventuality...and they missed here.  They would have had to replace Gronk earlier in the game if he had been hurt earlier in the game...so why not make the move for a meaningless extra point later?  They didn't - and it cost them.  Bottom line, Gronk is out when he didn't have to be...

• 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, @jrooke0722…and on Facebook, www.facebook.com/john.rooke ...

• You’re up early anyway…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 37937…and send email to the show - [email protected] .

• Looking for your midweek football fix? Jump into the “Patriots Playbook” on Patriots.com Radio, every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 2:00-4:00 pm ET. We’re live with commentary, interviews and your calls and questions on the Patriots and the NFL via social media. It’s a great way to break up the day at work! But if you can’t make it for the live webcast, never fear…the podcast will be near…

• I’m thankful for the chance to let history be remembered…through the recently released “Rhode Island Radio,” from Arcadia Publishing. The book tells the story of the 90-year history of radio in our state through photographs, clippings and memories from many of the personalities who have graced our airwaves. If you’re in search of that holiday gift that says “Rhode Island,” you can find it in local bookstores, or find it online right here… 
 

 

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