Tagged with "A"
2014 College Football Preseason Top 25
Category: NCAA

I meant to post this here on Wednesday.  Sorry about that. 

The AP and coaches poll each put 5 SEC teams in the top 13 (Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, South Carolina, and LSU). I don’t happen to think teams with 11 starters or fewer (such as Stanford, Michigan St., or Baylor) belong ahead of any of the five, so I’m putting all 5 in the top 10. I’d expect one or two of them not to finish in the top 10, maybe not even the top 25, but it won’t be because of a big difference in talent.

I should probably mention a couple other things. If I expect a team to have a significant drop-off, I ranked them accordingly. I didn’t decide not to rank Wisconsin because I think LSU will beat them easily (I don’t… I didn’t expect LSU to beat Ole Miss easily last year even though Ole Miss wasn’t ranked before the game, for instance). But I didn’t have Wisconsin ranked after last season, and it’s hard to improve when less than half of your team comes back. It’s not hard for a team like LSU to lose to a team that might be 30th or 40th if they have a bad game though. Even Florida St. could very well lose such a game.

I consider Missouri to be in about the same category as Florida last season (which I didn’t drop nearly far enough, although I did get criticized by many for ranking them third in the East) or Cincinnati a few years ago after the Bearcats finished in the top 5. I just don’t see the makings of a ranked team coming back. The other teams that fell out weren’t near the top and don’t seem to have a lot coming back. Fresno St. is an exception, but they have a lot coming back on a porous defensive unit, so I’m not too confident in them doing particularly well. I suppose they may be a candidate in the Mountain West though.

When in doubt, I kept teams in. I find it interesting that teams like Texas, Michigan, and Florida will soar in the rankings if they win a couple of games, but people don’t want to rank them preseason. I will show the previous rankings below. I have some other comments about things that I’ve read and discussed in the last week, but I will post those on Thursday or Friday.

1. Florida St. – I don’t think the Seminoles are likely to repeat, to be honest; but they are the defending champions, and there is no other strong candidate for preseason #1.

2. Auburn—similar logic here. I did mention that the Tigers of the plains have a difficult schedule in my SEC West preview (they will have to play all four of the other highly-ranked SEC teams), but that doesn’t mean they’re not among the best teams.

3. Oregon—The Ducks have one more returning starter than Auburn has, which gives them among the highest numbers of returning starters among teams that finished ranked last season. We’ve gotten used to the Ducks being a top 5 team, so I would expect better than another mid-top-25 season.

4. Alabama—This is another team that we’ve gotten used to competing for the top spot no matter what you say about returning starters, so that’s why even with 12 returning starters, the Tide still have a place in the conversation. We don’t know how the quarterback and defense will come along, but it’s safe to say a Saban defense will be more than adequate in most games.

5. Oklahoma—I hate picking Oklahoma to be in the top 5 because that never seems to be what happens (at least not since 2008), but again, it’s hard to pick someone else here. The Sooners do return 14 starters, most of them on defense.

6. Georgia—The Bulldogs were rather mercurial last season, scoring wins over LSU and South Carolina, then coming so close to beating Auburn. Two mid-season losses in a row in the division were devastating though. By the standards of this season, 15 returning starters is a lot, and although the quarterback is not a returning season starter, he seems ready to go based on his play last year.

7. UCLA—The Bruins have a ton of returning starters, but they haven’t been quite able to turn the corner into being a nationally competitive team. Could this finally be the year? They could even be this year’s Florida St., although I remember Florida St. winning national championships before.

8. South Carolina—It could be interesting outside of the division for the Gamecocks as they will face Auburn and Clemson, but Georgia will have to do the same, so with 14 starters, this is a team with a respectable chance to win the SEC. They may have to do it with a loss or two though.

9. Ohio St.—The Buckeyes should still be hanging around with another strong chance to win the conference. It wasn’t long ago that they won 24 games in a row, so 12 returning starters still seems formidable.

10. LSU—As I said in the SEC West preview, I do think the winner of the LSU/Alabama game is the most likely SEC West champion. I expect Alabama to be favored of course, but like with South Carolina, that still leaves a reasonable chance for the Bayou Bengals.

11. USC—I don’t think the Trojans have lagged all that far behind the major teams in recent years. They’ve just had some difficulty in striving for consistency at times. Maybe a stable head coaching position and 14 returning starters will provide just that.

12. Clemson—The other ACC team and the other South Carolina team is tempting to overlook, but these Tigers did beat every team they played apart from the Gamecocks and Seminoles on their way to an Orange Bowl win, their second appearance in a BCS bowl in three seasons.

13. Michigan St.—Sticking with BCS bowl winners from last season, Michigan St. should compete for a spot in the Big Ten title game again; but it might be just a bit more challenging with 11 returning starters, only four of whom will be on defense, the Spartans’ strong suit. The Spartans will now be in the same division as the Buckeyes, by the way, so I’d say the chances of making the Big Ten title game are reduced.

14. Central Florida—I’ll throw in one more to make it three in a row. It’s difficult to be the best mid-major/“Group of Five” team two years in a row, but the Knights appear to be in good shape coming off the Fiesta Bowl win last season. In fact, they’re the only team from my top 10 last season to return 15 starters or more. The Knights have only lost three games since September 2012, very close ones at that.

15. Stanford—The Cardinal have earned a top-10 spot four seasons in a row, but I think that may come to an end this season. USC and UCLA both seem to be getting stronger, and it will be difficult to get past Oregon in the Pac-12 North. Eleven returning starters may not be enough.

16. Ole Miss—Going back to the SEC, the Rebels may actually play a role in the SEC West this season. They’re most likely to try to be spoilers, but if LSU, Auburn, and Alabama all beat each other (or maybe if Auburn loses to Ole Miss and wins the rest in the division), that may provide an opening. Fifteen starters return from last season, which saw the Rebels in the top 25 before losses to eventual SEC East champion Missouri and rival Mississippi St. (in overtime) to end the regular season.

17. Washington—The Huskies are an improving team with 12 returning starters. They may not win the Pac-12 North, but a strong second would not be a surprising result. The Huskies should be in good hands with former Boise St. head coach Chris Petersen. Like Georgia and a couple of other teams, there is an experienced quarterback, just not last season’s starter, “off-the-field issues” notwithstanding.

18. Arizona St.—Staying in the Pac-12, the Sun Devils won 10 games against a very tough schedule last season but return only 10 starters in what should be a challenging Pac-12 season. The offense should be strong, but the defense will remain a question mark until conference play begins.

19. Texas—The Longhorns return 13 starters, not even including David Ash, who played well in two out of three games last year before injury and very respectably in 2012. I just don’t see Texas staying down and out for long. The Horns may not challenge Oklahoma, but they did beat the Sooners last season. I’ll mention Baylor, but I don’t see another strong competitor in conference.

20. Michigan—I’m surprised the Wolverines haven’t shown up in more top 25s. I see them similar to how I saw their rivals from East Lansing going into last season. They had a high loss total last season, but upon closer inspection, most were very “good” losses. One point to Ohio St., three points to Iowa, four points to Nebraska, and three points (in four overtimes) to Penn St. They didn’t really show up to the bowl game, but the only other loss that wasn’t close was to that Spartan team I mentioned. The increase in experience (15 returning starters) may help turn many close losses into wins.

21. Louisville—The Cardinals’ main problem is being put into the same division as Florida St. and Clemson, but they should still have another solid season. They won all but one game last year (a three-point contest against Central Florida) and will have 13 returning starters.

22. Baylor—You may wonder why they’re so low (at least before I explained above), but with 9 returning starters, I debated taking the Bears out entirely. At least they have a returning starter at quarterback and the other returning starters are evenly distributed on both sides of the ball. Still, the Bears haven’t been big enough players on the national scene of late for one to expect an abundance of talent just waiting to move into key positions.

23. Florida—I thought at least one more SEC team might be appropriate. Florida appeared out of nowhere two seasons ago to compete for a national championship, although they ultimately fell short of even making the SEC championship game. But then the Gators disappeared just as fast last season. It might be another quick turnaround with 14 returning starters though. I’m not picking them for the top 5, but I think top 25 is a good bet.

24. Duke—Another team with 14 returning starters (I guess that’s down to 13 now) that used to be led by a certain be-visored ball coach. Duke had an outstanding year by its standards last year though. I had them in my final top 25, so I’m not seeing a strong reason to keep them out of the preseason top 25.

25. Northern Illinois—Two teams that would fall outside of the original BCS contract in the top 25 (Louisville is in the ACC now) seems like a realistic expectation, and as I said, a lot of the big programs seem a little thin, so I thought, “why not”? Of course the Huskies won the MAC a couple of years ago, followed up by winning the first 12 games of last season; and they return just about everyone but the quarterback on offense and approximately half of their defense.

I will show all the top 25 relative to the previous one below. I put symbols for the teams that were previously unranked. I tried to make them similar sizes to one another.

1 Florida St. 1
2 Auburn 2
3 Oregon 13
4 Alabama 11
5 Oklahoma 8
6 Georgia –
7 UCLA 16
8 S Carolina 7
9 Ohio St. 9
10 LSU 17
11 USC 19
12 Clemson 12
13 Mich. St. 3
14 UCF 5
15 Stanford 6
ole miss
16 Ole Miss –
17 Washington 24
18 Arizona St. 15
19 Texas –
20 Michigan –
21 Louisville 14
22 Baylor 10
23 Florida –
24 Duke 25
25 N. Illinois 20

Out of rankings: (4) Missouri, (18) Okie St., (21) Fresno St., (22) TX A&M, (23) Notre Dame

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Sports Friday with Hal: NFL NOTES
Category: FEATURED
Tags: NFL Football Free agency draft news notes

Happy Friday!


Busy night with yet another fantasy football draft (trying to limit the number of fantasy football leagues this year to single-digits) and then the Patriots-Giants preseason game to watch and note (and get all Twitter-chatting about the game as well) while flipping between the college football action. I do not know where the SEC Channel came from on my cable package, but I love it.


The NFL updated their domestic violence policy after their wrist-slap on Ravens running back Ray Rice. With a second offense leading to banishment, it is a harsh penalty. Hitting a woman is wrong, especially when it is a professional athlete who spends hours in the gym getting ready to deliver bone-rattling hits on other freaks of nature with extreme speed, strength, and athleticism. Nice to the see the NFL did something right.


Loved seeing that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is “very upset” about the Logan Mankins trade. He needs a chip on his shoulder. Mankins is gone because he did not want to renegotiate his contract. That’s fine, it’s his right as a player. But the Patriots are not paying a 32-year-old guard a contract costing over $20 million combined in 2014 & 2015 as he has clearly declined since 2011. Getting a move tight end (Tim Wright) and a 4th round pick is a steal for clearing cap space. Second-year guard Josh Kline should be ready to step in unless the Patriots go with veterans Dan Connolly and/or Ryan Wendell at a guard spot. Better a year early with Mankins than a year late!


Cleveland All-World wide receiver Josh Gordon is out for the year with his suspension. I really expected that he would be able get his sentence reduced, but he apparently went for all or nothing and paid the price. He indicated interest in playing in the CFL this year, but the Browns nixed that opportunity. Gordon did not hit a woman. He did not drink and drive (well, he wasn’t suspended for that!) and put innocent lives in danger, nor did he take drugs designed to give him an unfair advantage over his opponents. Nope, just smoked some weed (or, as he contested, inhaled second-hand smoke) and got busted on a drug test.


Denver wide receiver Wes Welker has yet to be cleared to play, but with 3 concussions in his last 10 games for Denver he has to be careful. Yes, he has the right to earn a living, but his health is too important to put in jeopardy. Concussions are not a joke. Welker is in the last year of his contract and is likely wanting to look good for potential suitors, but rushing back from a concussion is a bad idea.


Finally, ESPN reached a new low as “reporter” Josina Anderson wrote an article on openly gay St Louis Rams player Michael Sam and his showering habits in the locker room and if other teammates are uncomfortable. I refuse to click on the article or anything talking about it. The man is a football player. His sexual orientation should not be the story, but rather his play on the field. Leave the kid alone and see if he makes the team before getting into any other crap that floats around the league.


OK, all. Have a great Labor Day weekend!

Talking Sports
Category: Daily Blog 2.0
Tags: NFL and more nFL

First of all I would like to thank IHM for filling in last week and he doing his usual great job. We had a great vacation last week with a couple of other families from our town. We all had a great time up on the coast of Maine. I walked 4.5 miles every morning with my friend George . an hour and half with just good adult conversation. Before we started our days with the wives and kids.

The final all important third preseason game is over and done with. We still don’t have a clue sure we know Wes Welker won’t be playing anytime soon or shouldn’t be playing anytime soon. Three concussions in 10 months it’s time to walk away. As a matter of fact how many more has he had that haven’t been reported or that he has played with? Welker has had a noble career as a Dolphin, Patriot, and Bronco. It’s time to leave the game no questions asked no failure just time to save yourself for later life.

Sam Bradford is out for the season as well. After going down against the Browns last week. Again that all important preseason game. Michael Sam is still a Ram and the poor reporting from ESPN was just horrible. Sending a female reporter that violated Rams media protocol and then reports that a player told her that Sam waits to take a shower is just hard hitting reporting. This is the biggest non story there is Sam made the 75 man roster and ESPN was ready if he got cut. We didn’t need to no any more. I think people haven’t even thought about Sam other than the media especially ESPN keeping that story alive. Then again now that Johnny Football is number2 in Cleveland there really isn’t much to keep in the headlines.

The Seahawks were fined about 300k and100k of that was tacked on to Pete Carrol for violating the NFL’s contact policy in mini camp. This is the second time in two years. The Seahawks will lose a couple of days of OTA’s

The Patriots have traded Logan Mankins a typical Belichick move. He has down this with Lawyer Malloy and Richard Seymour. Mankins was a high paid offensive guard 6.5 million.and the spin is he doesn’t block as well as he once did. In return the Patriots get Tight End Tim Wright which gives Brady another weapon if he stays upright. According to Jason Cole of the Bleacher report Brady is upset. Mankins was a Teddy Bruschi, Troy Brown type Patriots. That guy that was what the Patriots stood for the guy that kept things in the locker room. The guy the young guys went to for advice , the guy who also told the misfits to keep it in check. He will become Tampa’s top O lineman but leaves a void with the Patriots.

How about that moron kid from USC who jumped off a balcony and said he was saving his nephew from the bottom of an apartment building pool. He already has admitted that he made that up. USC had suspended him from the football team. Eventually, we will find out what he really was doing and I’m guessing it wasn’t anything good.

It’s almost back, Lil Lanz will be back with his Pee wee  Hockey team. First practice next Wednesday and first game next , We picked up his game jersey and socks the other night. The league went to a lighter jersey and moved back to our towns traditional colors of Red and Gray. The boys will be wearing Red Jersey’s with their names on their backs Black Hockey Pants and Gray Socks with Red and white stripes not sure how the new ensemble will look but the kids seem to be excited about it.

That’s all I have spending afew more days in the North Country this week,.


O H Thursday
Category: FEATURED
Tags: NFL hit's and concussions

Hello Gabbers and welcome back to Thursday.

This week we are going to dissect Thursday…the 5th day of the week, the 4th day of the work week, the day after hump day and the day before TGIF. Ok that’s out of the way.

The NFL enters into irrelevant week of the pre season aka as preseason game 4.

Yes there are cuts to be made and the have nots are waiting like vultures for the haves to make the cut they need.

One teams garbage is another teams playmaker as the saying goes.

As we witness the final battles for roster spots some veterans get the axe and some camp surprises get a legit shot at their dreams to play in the NFL.

Injuries during camp are always going to happen; Sam Bradford, Wes Welker, Cam Newton


and suspensions are a large part of what shapes a roster going into the season. Bill Belichick has two guys with 4 game suspensions, WR Tyms and DB Browner, both will start on suspension and pics therefore not take one of the precious 53 but will be able to be activated on week 5.

BB gets to see how it goes for 4 weeks before choices need to be made on these guys and who they would replace on the roster…these things usually play themselves out with injuries or poor performances.

Sorry NFL, BB has out smarted you again.

It is sad to see Wes Welker go down with his 3rd concussion in 10 months, this is one tough guy but he bravely takes those hits and gets right up. Rumor has it that he suffered at least one concussion in NE but managed to avoid getting diagnosed and stayed on the field. I saw the hit and subsequent Peyton tantrum, very entertaining but I think the hit was clean. Swearinger led with his shoulder and what else could he do. But Swearinger is a punk like suspended Brandon Merryweather so I guess I’d be in his face too.

Sam “bad luck” Bradford creates another dilemma for the Rams. Here they are in what is probably the best division in the NFL. They have high hopes and have had a ton of 1st round picks to use the past few years. They thought QB wasn’t a need so they went other directions…now here they are looking at a season of Shaun Hill under center or…or they could trade for the likes of Mark Sanchez or perhaps Ryan Mallett to try to compete.  

Hill at 34 has had a varied road to being named the starter.

Undrafted in ’02 he signed with the Vikings.

He spent ’03 playing QB for the Amsterdam Admirals and then back to the Vikings thru ’05 but never saw the field, From ’06-’09 he hung his cleats with the 49ers and actually completed his first NFL pass in ’07.

He signed with the Lions in 2010 and left at the end of the 2013 season signing on with the Rams.

How many wins? or another early pick? but either way another year of frustration for Rams fans

The earthquake out South  BOB land Cali was one of those eye openers. I have no idea what that’s like. In the NE we get an occasional fast moving hurricane and some blizzard type snow but earthquakes, volcanoes, wildfires, major floods and big tornadoes (we get an F-1 twister in MA every once in a while) those things don’t usually occupy much of our thoughts. Our thoughts and prayers are with those injured and those that sufferd loss of home and business.

Looking forward to another Gab fantasy football season, relax it's for fun and pick well. 

And most important... have a nice Labor Day weekend and again I say relax.these two antique lounge chairs were collected by my wife and refinished by oldharry himself. Both made in the 1940's they are sturdy and comfortable. The cushions were on sale at Lowes last weekend. I will be relaxing!

Deep Thoughts 8-27-14
Category: FEATURED
Tags: Goodbye Summer...Josh Shaw...hero? Friday Night Lights


Hello and welcome to another Wednesday of deep thoughts. We have all heard the expression, “the dog days of summer”…for some this probably has something to do with the weather. For others, I suspect that that familiar phrase has a different meaning.  As I sat trying to figure out what to write about this week, I realized the dog days for me begin with the realization that summer is almost over. For many baseball fans, the dog days begin when they realize that their team is done for this year. Whatever your definition, we are without a doubt, currently enveloped by the dog days of summer. Earlier this summer, I expressed surprise and delight that our weather had been mild and wetter than normal. That is no longer the case. It is freaking hot in Austin now…I mean 104 degree hot. I spend a bit of time each afternoon spraying water around trying to keep my yard and trees alive. But, I will not whine. I know that BOB and others in the southwest have had weather like this for many weeks. Also, I realize that these “dog days”, won’t last all that long. To be honest, they never last long enough for me. Although it is hot, I selfishly clutch onto each vanishing day that remains my favorite time of year. Despite my firm grasp, time slips away toward another Labor Day. That last hoorah to celebrate the last breath of summer. But hey…there is always the possibility of an Indian summer!






Yeah, I take my summer seriously. I can’t explain why, it just has always been so for me. As the days grow shorter and the nights begin to cool, there is only one thing to replace that dive into the pool: the lights of Friday Night. Yes folks, while you enjoy your Labor Day…don’t forget that football is just around the corner. Soon each day of the week will offer football…Monday is 7th grade, Tuesday is 8th grade, 9th grade and JV on Thursday, Friday is varsity football, with Saturday being reserved for the college gridiron. Of course, Sunday brings us NFL, with a bit of dessert on Monday. The boys of fall…arrive once again. Although I no longer have a boy of fall in the household, the pull is still there. We renewed our season tickets and will be in the stand under those lights. It is a special time of year, and I have to admit that it is a close second to summer.

I am adding this later in the day. I got a message from a buddy that his god son woud be playing his first 9th grade game on Wednesday evening....so I left work a tad early and headed to the Austin football shrine known as House Park to watch the Anderson Trojans 9th grade team do battle. Kyle and his boys had their hands full against the McCallum Knights, but I know that from previous years...they will finish strong. I also ran into an old coaching buddy (Rusty) who's son is the starting QB for the Trojan JV. For $4, I got to watch two games...what a deal! Rusty and I go way back as he was Balkes first pee wee football coach so many years ago. Rusty's son, Jacob...tore up the JV Knights. He sort of reminds me of another HS QB that I had the pleasure to watch a few years ago...So...now I have a reason to check out high school football. Next week, the Trojans head north to take on the Westwood Warriors. That will be a tough game for me, given my recent rooting history. That will be a game I go and don't do much outward rooting. This is a great time of year. Go check out some sub varsity games...you can't beat the price and the kids will appreciate you coming to watch them play!



There is a very strange story being reported out of USC.  I first read that Trojan CB Josh Shaw leaped from a balcony to save his 7 year old nephew from drowning. Shaw was quoted as saying he had no hesitation in making the leap to save his nephew and that he would have jumped to save any kid. As I read these comments, I am thinking…damn what a great guy. But as Lee Corso would say…not so fast my friend. Apparently, there may be more to this story. Emergency officials are curious why no emergency was reported. For them, a near drowning is a big deal. Although Coach Sarkisian is standing by his player, the team is investigating the incident. There are evidently other witnesses that have come forward with at different story that brings Shaw’s version into question. Personally, I hope that Shaw’s story is the truth. It is much more fun hearing about saving a life than some other version.






I happened to catch a bit of the Angels playing this week. Harold Reynolds was raving about the team play that the Angels were displaying. Almost to a man, they are hitting the other way, taking the extra base…in general, doing the things that winning teams do. He showed replays showing Pujols hitting with runners on 1st and 3rd with one out. Rather than looking for a 3 run bomb, Pujols hit a routine ball to the second baseman…that is, where the second baseman normally plays. The defense had the shift on and as a result, that routine ground ball was an RBI single. The base runner at 1B was able to go first to third and scored when the next hitter lifted a sac fly to left field. Pujols advanced to 2B when the throw home was not cut off.  The Angels scored 5 runs in that inning by playing the game the right way. I did not think that the Angels had the pitching to go the distance, but with the way these guys are playing…who knows.


I hope everyone has a great Labor Day holiday! Travel safely...


That is all I have this week, but I will leave you with a bit of Jack Handey…


"Don't ever get your speedometer confused with your clock, like I did once, because the faster you go the later you think you are."

It makes me mad when people say I turned and ran like a scared rabbit. Maybe it was like an angry rabbit, who was going to fight in another fight, away from the first fight.



Thanks for stopping by and feel free to leave a few deep thoughts of your own…




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