Tar Heel Fan

Friday, August 25, 2006

Tar Heel Fan Has Moved!!!!

I grew weary of Blogger's lack of features and general reliability topped off by the fact I could not post to my blog for a day because I made the mistake of attempting to upgrade to the beta version.

So I moved and imported most of the material to a new blogging host:

http://tarheelfan.wordpress.com

Please note the new address and update your bookmarks and blogrolls accordingly.

Thanks for your patience and sorry for the inconvenience.

Tar Heel Fan

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Media Roundup

  • The WSJ(Winston Salem Journal not Wall Street Journal) casts the spotlight onto UNC defensive tackle Shelton Bynum. [Winston Salem Journal]
  • I actually missed this on Monday but the N&O's Ned Barnett considers the state of the UNC football program under John Bunting. [News and Observer]
  • Mark Schlabach is back with "5 Predictions for the Big East Season" in which he asserts the Big East will "flex its growing muscles" against the ACC (if you consider beating Wake, UVa, and Maryland "flexing your muscles.") Rutgers upsetting UNC in Chapel Hill? We'll see. [ESPN]
  • According to the Washington Post, Maryland has inked a naming rights deal for Byrd Stadium which is now going to be called Chevy Chase Bank Field at Byrd Stadium. I agree with J.P. Giglio, let's just call it Byrd Stadium. [ACC Now]
  • And there is much ado about a new NCAA rule which allows players who have finished their degree to transfer immediately to a new school. Needless to say the coaches are unhappy. [Charlotte Observer]

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Welcome Deadspin Readers!

Nice. Of course it also happened on a day I decided to take a day off from work for a family outing. I was unaware I had been linked on a national blog. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the site and a big thanks to the guys at Deadspin for showing me a little love.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Welcome!

Joe Ovies, blogger-in-chief at the 850 the Buzz/620 the Bull blog was kind enough to add me to the blogroll over there and I did not even have to ask. Thanks to Joe for extending me that courtesy and welcome to any readers who bounce this way from there.

Five Predictions Proving ESPN is Clueless

UPDATE: Welcome Deadspin.com readers!!! Or at least this guy named, Mark Schlabach, is clueless. He wrote an article for ESPN.com called 5 predictions for the ACC season. Let's enjoy it together shall we?

1. Florida State will win the ACC for the 13th time in the 15 seasons it has played in the league. FSU will win at Miami on Sept. 4 and won't lose before its Nov. 25 regular season finale against rival Florida. In the Atlantic Division, the Seminoles will finish at least two games ahead of Clemson, which will get out of the gates slowly again this season. Miami and Virginia Tech will play for the Coastal Division title at the Orange Bowl on Nov. 4. Then the Seminoles will beat the Hurricanes again in the ACC championship game in Jacksonville, Fla.

I am not real sure where all of the FSU love is coming from. I would agree FSU is in a better position than most teams based on the QB issue alone. FSU also has an easy conference schedule in this era of unbalances schedules. They have games with Duke, Wake Forest, Maryland, and Virginia. However I think it is utterly foolish to count the NC State game a win considering the history there. They get Miami to open and then play Clemson in Tallahasse after beating the ever living daylights out of Troy(State). Seeing that FSU ranked only at #11 I would think the games against Miami and Clemson are toss ups. And beating Miami a second time to win the championship game? Not a small task. I also do not understand why he thinks Clemson will get off to a slow start. FSU is the only quality team the Tigers play until hosting Georgia Tech and visiting Virginia Tech in late October. If Clemson pulls it out against FSU they could be undefeated heading to Blacksburg. I like Clemson and think they deserve more play than they are getting right now in the Florida-centric football media.

2. For the third season in a row, an ACC coach won't be fired after the football season. Clemson will win 10 games to secure Tommy Bowden's job. North Carolina will win at least seven to take the pressure off John Bunting. Maryland will play better, but won't be bowl eligible because of its tough schedule. So Ralph Friedgen will enter the 2007 season on the hot seat, along with Virginia's Al Groh and NC State's Chuck Amato.
Since I am in the process of calling this guy clueless what does that say about me since we both predicted a seven win season in Chapel Hill? That simply proves I am wrong about my Heels. For some reason he puts Chuck Amato on the hot seat without one time addressing how the Wolfpack will perform this season. That is generally referred to as an "unsubstantiated claim" in which he makes a fairly naked implication but never offers in reasoning why. You get this a lot from ESPN. Al Groh is mentioned as being a hot seat candidate but then again everyone knows Groh is overpaid and not well like in the state of Virginia.
3. The most dangerous offensive weapon in the ACC won't be Georgia Tech's Calvin Johnson. It will be FSU quarterback Drew Weatherford, who will blossom in his second season as a starter. With receivers De' Cody Fagg, Chris Davis and Greg Carr, the Seminoles will become feared again on offense. With another intimidating defense, FSU will be among the last undefeated teams in college football and in contention for the BCS title game.
My rule is that if you mention a team in high praise once then you are simply high on them. If you do it twice in the same column when you are performing a "journalistic back-rub." Yes, FSU will be good, we got that, but not only will FSU be good but they will have the most dangerous offensive weapon the ACC. And not only is FSU going to completely dominate the ACC with their feared offense and incredible but they will be undefeated near season's end and contend for the BCS title! Please stop you are drooling on my keyboard now. The problem with this prediction is it borders on something the FSU Sports Information office would publish. The first issue is asserting that Calvin Johnson will not be the mosr dangerous offensive weapon in the ACC rather that designation goes to FSU QB Drew Weatherford...and his three receivers as well as the whole FSU offense in general. Wait a minute I thought this was about the single most dangerous offensive weapon(singular noun) in the ACC? If you are going to single out GT's Calvin Johnson and demote him to second best offensive weapon then your assertion that Drew Weatherford is better should make zero mention of any other players on the offensive side. Why? Because the comparison is about individuals players and not multiple players. Basically the assertion is made that Drew Weatherford is a better offensive weapon because he has three great receivers and the offense will be feared again. Well if Drew Weatherford is judged based on his receiving corps shouldn't Calvin Johnson be evaluated based on his QB Reggie Ball who is a great pocket scrambler? Secondly, if you read the first prediction which crowned FSU ACC Champion and not likely to lose a game except for the Florida matchup late in the season then you can glean the following: That FSU will go undefeated or suffer one loss(at Florida) and since we are pretty much up to speed on how this how BCS system works we understand that a zero/one loss FSU team will be in position to contend for the BCS title. Then why, for the love of everything Carolina blue, are you telling us the exact same thing again?!?! As though I did not reach the point of nausea after the first prediction. There is such a thing as overreaching and this guy is doing it in spades with his love for FSU.

4. Duke won't go winless. The Blue Devils will lose to Division I-AA Richmond in their Sept. 2 opener, but Duke will win one game to avoid a 12-loss season. After losing quarterback Zack Asack, who was suspended for the season as punishment for plagiarism, the Blue Devils might not be favored in any of their games this season. Give Duke credit: Its out-of-conference schedule is tougher than most teams in the ACC. In addition to playing the Spiders, Duke plays at Alabama and at home against Vanderbilt and Navy.

Excuse me? What we have here is another one of those "unsubstantiated claims." He is bodly claiming that Duke, who may not have a real QB at the position, will actually lose the first game vs Richmond but like a blind hog, they will locate an acorn somewhere else along the way. Against who and in what reality do you think Duke will manage a win if it is not against the I-AA Spiders? Here is Duke's schedule: Richmond at Wake Forest at Virginia Tech Virginia at Alabama Florida State Miami(FL) Vanderbilt Navy at Boston College at Georgia Tech North Carolina

OK, go ahead and tell me which one of these teams Duke will beat if they do not beat Richmond. Wake Forest is a possibility but that game is on the road. Vanderbilt was 5-6 last season in the SEC no less which means they will be good enough to take care of the Blue Devils. Navy is having a good run right now. I actually fear what will transpire when Alabama, FSU, Miami, VT, BC, GT and UNC are on the other side of the ball. And let's not pretend home games are worth anything seeing that no one comes to Wallace Wade to watch the team play! The more comical part of the prediction was how much time he spent patting Duke on the back for scheduling tough which is exactly the wrong thing to do when you have been a perpetual loser. If you are Duke football which is more important: a nice fat SOS number on the RPI or wins on your record? Duke should trade schedules with VT, so Duke can have a fighting chance and VT can actually play someone decent out-of-conference.

5. Georgia Tech will provide the ACC its biggest out-of-conference victory of the season -- but it won't come against Notre Dame. The Yellow Jackets will give the Fighting Irish everything they have, but Notre Dame will still pull out a close victory on Sept. 2. Georgia Tech will rebound well and finish third in the Coastal Division and salvage its season by upsetting rival Georgia on the road.

This prediction mystifies me a bit. First of all he goes through the trouble of telling us GT will come up short to Notre Dame in the opener, then tells us GT will be no better than third in the Coastal Division(behind Miami and VT)[Correction I had FSU in the Coastal as a commenter pointed out that was incorrect.] only to tell us that the ACC's biggest out-of-conference win will come against Georgia at season's end. Now I honestly think this guy was desperate for a fifth prediction because "Four predictions about the ACC" did not sound right. The other problem is there is not much to go on here. Basically when he says "biggest out of conference win" what he really means is "biggest out-of-conference upset win" If you examine the 12 ACC teams' out-of-conference opponents they are, shall we say, a fairly anemic group. The top teams have more cupcakes than a Hostess truck and the rest of the league is only slightly better by virtue of being the prey rather than the predator. In my estimation "the biggest out-of-conference win for the ACC" is defined as a win over the highest ranked out-of-conference opponent by lower ranked ACC team. If that is the case than based on the current polls that boils down to only a handful of teams. Georgia Tech plays #2 Notre Dame in the opener and #15 Georgia in the regular season finale. UNC plays #2 Notre Dame in November, Maryland will match #5 West Virgnia in September, and Miami will play #13 Louisville. So assuming the rankings stay where they are, the assertion is made that the biggest OOC win for the ACC will come when GT takes down the #15 team in the country. Yeah, that sounds like a huge win. In reality the three chances the ACC has for a "big" OOC win are GT vs. Notre Dame, Maryland vs. West Virginia, and UNC vs. Notre Dame. I agree GT has a shot to make it close with ND but the other two are fairly certain to be losers. Miami will be ranked better or near Lousiville when they play so that one would not count as a big win. Basically this is not really a shocking prediction at all since you only had about five games to choose from and excuse me if I do not find GT beating rival Georgia a big deal considering both teams may very well be ranked when it actually happens. ESPN: Cutting Edge Anlaysis for Over 25 Years.

Monday, August 21, 2006

UNC Football Preview

I was rummaging through some old computer games I had when I came across a CD-ROM for EA Sports NCAA Football 1998. Since these titles are released based on the data from the previous season it included the 1997 version of the North Carolina Tar Heels. Oh what a sweet team that was. The 1997 Heels went 11-1 losing only to Florida State and trouncing Virginia Tech 42-10 in a New Year's Day Gator Bowl appearance. Of course the Gator Bowl victory was under the direction of Carl Torbush since Mack Brown had accepted the job at Texas and long since departed Chapel Hill. Unfortunately that first day of 1998 was the high point of UNC football in the last 20 years. Carl Torbush became head coach by default and the decline was prominent. In 1998 the Heels were 7-5 and won the Las Vegas Bowl but by 1999 they finished 3-8. 2000 was better at 6-5 but not enough to save Carl Torbush who was shown the door. Frank Beamer danced with UNC but only to get a better deal at VT. The result was a hire from "inside the family" in former UNC lineback John Bunting who had been coaching in the NFL without the benefit of college coaching experience. Since I was 900 miles removed from North Carolina at the time I missed all of the local coverage and anlaysis. I remembered thinking what a bad hire this was and John Bunting did not seem like a coach I could get excited over. The program felt stalled at the .500/sub .500 level sentenced to spend the upcoming season wallowing in the middle to lower half of the ACC and maybe sweating out a bowl appearance every so often. Now as we begin the 2006 season we have had five seasons of Bunting ball, only one winning record in 2001 which included a bowl win. A second bowl appearance came in 2004 following an upset of Miami at Chapel Hill(turns out Miami was not as good as they were ranked at the time), then came a loss to future ACC school Boston College in the "Hey Let's Make Use of This NFL Stadium in Charlotte" Continental Tire Bowl. In between those two seasons were two losing records and just this past season UNC went 5-6 against a stiff out-of-conference schedule, beating NC State, but missing the bowl. Five years and aside from a bowl win in 2001, an upset of Miami, and a 3-2 mark against NC State, UNC football has been about as exciting as a chess tournament. At this point is is difficult to muster any kind of passion because I suffer from the naggin sensation that when it is all said and done in December UNC will be 6-6 or 5-7 and if the former is true heading to a bowl game which no one really cares about. Essentially I have little optimism. Then again hope does spring eternal and since I am not ready to pen the "Fire John Bunting" post....yet, let me offer this fan's prediction on the upcoming season: Offense UNC is breaking in a new starting QB and has a new offensive coordinator in Frank Cignetti. The candidates for the QB position are redshirt freshman Cameron Sexton and Joe Dailey, a transfer from a non-Tom Osbourne coached Nebraska. According to the News and Observer, the question of running a two QB system has come to light. UNC has done this in the past and because each of these guys bring something different to the table it may be a solution, at least until one emerges over the other:

In 2001, Bunting's only season over .500, the Tar Heels went 8-5 with the two-quarterback system. In 1997, the Heels went 11-1 with a rotation at quarterback. Bunting insists that it will work again with Dailey, a 6-foot-1, 205-pound junior transfer from Nebraska, and Sexton, a 6-1, 191-pound redshirt freshman. "We're not afraid to do it," Bunting said. "Would we rather have one? Sure. But they both have attributes to help you win football games." Sexton, considered more of a pocket passer, has impressed the coaches with his arm strength. Dailey, considered more of runner, has impressed with his mobility. Dailey compared the situation to having two running backs -- a power back and a third-down back.

So in other words it all comes down to how the offensive line performs. If the offensive line is decent and protects the pocket with a fair amount of consistency then you will probably rely on Sexton and Dailey both or just Sexton alone if he is hitting the receiver. If it turns out the OL is not up to the task then Dailey becomes a better option because he can probably do a better job escaping pressure. Then it could also come down to how the opponent's defense is responding. A weak defense upfront with a great seconday may force Bunting to rely on Dailey and the running game or if the reverse is true then Sexton's passing could be a plus. The down side to this arrangement is it has to be sorted out during live action and I still have little trust in Bunting's skill as a coach to do that effectively. One plus for on offense is the return of three rushing backs: Ronnie McGill, Barrington Edwards and Cooter Arnold. So in one respect the QB position may be less crucial to offense since the Heels will look to run the ball most of the time. It also puts the question of OL effectiveness back in the spotlight since backs need holes to run through and if there is a defender waiting for you when the QB gives you the ball your yard totals are going to be low to say the least. Defense This should be the strength of this team and we all hope we do not see a repeat of the Louisville game this year. Lineback Larry Edwards looks to be the centerpiece of the defense. UNC also returns starters in the secondary. In other words the defense should be solid and needs to provide the offense with some cushion when you consider that running the ball really shortens the game, makes those games lower scoring, and puts pressure of the defense to not give up as many points. The offense is not high octane and with good depth upfront as well as experience at lineback and in the secondary, the defense should be able to keep the offense within striking distance. Special Teams Connor Barth returns as the kicker. He struck me as inconsistent last season but he also can hit some long field goals. I probably have more confidence in him than I do most any other kicker in college football(except for that kid at Colorado). As for the coverage teams, they have one job, and that is to not allow the other team to get crazy good field position or score. If the defense is doing it's job to keep the other team from scoring then the last thing you want is to give up one on special teams. Schedule Outlook Not as difficult as last year in many respects but the OOC does include three bowl teams from 2005. He is a brief summary of how Tar Heel Fan thinks it will happens. September 2nd, Rutgers, Chapel Hill, NC 3:30 PM on ABC I honestly know very little about the Scarlet Knights other than the name of their mascot. They lost to Arizona St. in the Insight.com Bowl 45-40 to finish 7-5 overall. They are capable of putting up lots of yards and points on offense but also are capable of giving up the same amount meaning their game against Lousiville last season(56-5 loss) was very similar to the one UNC played. It would seem that UNC and Rutgers have opposite strengths which could lead to a tug of war. I think the Heels can pull this one out at home 24-21. September 9th, Virginia Tech, Chapel Hill, NC, 12:00 PM on ESPN I would not say UNC is without hope here. VT has their own problems and they are also breaking in a new felony-free QB. However, the Hokies just have too much talent, depth, and whatever else you have to be a winner not to mention a great coach. VT wins going away 31-10. September 16th, Furman, Chapel Hill, NC, 7:00 PM on ESPNU(which no one has) I do not care for playing against Division I-AA schools(and yes I hate the new designations which for I-A and I-AA and refuse to even Google them to find out exactly what they are so I can use them in this post) because it looks weak. Granted Furman is a good team but when it is all said and done your 6-6 mark is really 5-6 because you played a division down to get a win. Of course Furman fans will be all over me, assuming they know this blog exists, should UNC lose which I am not predicting. UNC wins 35-10. September 23rd, Clemson, Clemson, SC, TBA Clemson is actually the closet pick to win the ACC so there is no way UNC goes to Death Valley and walks away with anything resembling a win. Tigers roll 38-7. October 7th, Miami(FL), Coral Gables, FL, TBA At least UNC has a week to heal up from getting beaten by Clemson so they can go to Miami and get beaten again. And, no, I do not think UNC can beat Miami on a semi-regular basis like NC State can beat FSU unless we fire Bunting and get a Miami assistant to be the head coach. Miami wins 31-14. October 14th, South Florida, Chapel Hill, NC, TBA I know very little about South Florida other than they failed to score on NC State which was comical because even UNC scored 31 points on the Wolfpack at Carter-Finley no less. UNC should step up and get the job done because (1) They are at home (2) I think they match up to South Florida and (3) Any hope and I mean any hope of a bowl game rides on winning three of the four OOC games because there is no way in blue heaven you are winning at Notre Dame. UNC wins 21-13. October 19th, Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, 7:30 PM on ESPN Two strikes against UNC already. First, this is a Thursday game and while I do not have a history of Thursday games involving UNC I am going on instinct that it is not a good mark. Secondly, UNC never wins at Virginia or so it seems. I mean Virginia could send out the Virginia AAAA state title team and UNC would find a way to lose at UVa. Of course this is an interesting position on my part since UNC actually leads the series by six wins. I guess I am still hung up on that 20-17 loss in 1996 in which UNC gave the game away in the final minutes. UNC did beat UVa on a pair of home runs by Matt Baker last year 7-5. I like their chances but I am still thinking Thursday night in Charlottesville is a bad combo. I call it UVa 23-20 in overtime. October 28th, Wake Forest, Chapel Hill, NC, TBA I am not spending anytime writing about this one. Wake is not a good team. UNC wins 37-14. November 4th, Notre Dame, South Bend, IN, 2:30 PM on NBC What were they thinking when they scheduled this one? I am all for a tough OOC schedule but playing the Irish in South Bend is a little like going to the dentist. You have an idea what is going to happen, you are sure you are not going to enjoy it, the only question is how bad will it be? I actually see some inkling of a chance. Notre Dame did not have a good defense last season which means the offense will not be totally handcuffed. UNC has a decent defense which might be enough to slow down the offensive juggernaut which is Notre Dame. Of course Charlie Weis, at least in the eyes of the media, is the full embodiment of all football knowledge which makes him and Mel Kiper the only two humans on the face of the planet who understand everything about the game of football so that alone is worth two touchdowns for Notre Dame. I probably should make it three given the gap between the two coaches here but I am feeling generous. Notre Dame wins 45-23. November 11th, Georgia Tech, Chapel Hill, NC, TBA GT has a great receiver in Calvin Johnson and a good QB in Reggie Ball. The Yellow Jackets will press the UNC defense, UNC should be able to get some kind of offense going. The Heels' best bet is to grind the clock, keep Johnson and Ball off the field which means the UNC defense will be rested and Homecoming will end swimmingly. UNC squeaks it out 20-17. So at this point UNC would be 5-5 and hosting.... November 18th, NC State, Chapel Hill, NC, TBA This could be a :"Losing Coach Gets Fired" game. For some reason no one thinks Bunting and NC State coach Chuck Amato are in trouble. If Amato falls to 3-4 versus UNC and 2-4 versus Bunting I happen to think the natives in southwest Raleigh will be restless indeed. If they make a bowl he will likely keeps his job but the hot seat will be warming for next season. In reality Bunting probably does not feel any heat from this game, even if he loses. Such is the apathy in Chapel Hill about football. However if this loss drops UNC to 3-8 then he might not make it to the Duke game. As for the much anticipated renewal of hostilities between State and Carolina strap yourself in for a penalty fest full of bad officiating, nasty turnovers...oh wait that was last year's game. Well since nothing much has changed and each team is still coached by the same two guys I have no reason to believe the same game is not played out again. UNC wins 31-24. November 25th, Duke, Durham, NC, TBA Duke sucks. And let me be clear I do not say that as a part of standard UNC fan usage Duke really does have a horrible football team. They lost their started QB to some academic cheating scandal and now they may have a converted wide receiver under center. They could be 0 for the season come Nov. 25 at Wallace Wade unless they are able to be Richmond in the opener because let's be honest. Duke. Will. Not. Beat. Anyone. Else. UNC romps 41-10. So there I am calling it a 7-5 season which will get UNC into some bowl played well before New Year's which will keep John Bunting in Chapel Hill at least two more seasons and the apathy rolls on. In terms of how badly could this season go I would look at the games with GT and NCSU as possible losses. South Florida and Rutgers might be a surprise. 5-7 is a real possibility and if all four of these games go the wrong way UNC ends up 3-9 which you would think would lead to some serious questions about John Bunting and the direction of the program. I will reserve judgment on that until after the Rutgers game which I believe to be a must win if the season is to go well. There is no room for error on this schedule. Notre Dame, Clemson, Miami, VT are certain losses. Rutgers, South Florida, and Furman are must wins coupled with the Duke win which makess Virginia, GT, and NC State the three crucial games which separate UNC from a bowl year and another weak 4-5 win season.

Tiger. Woods.

Having watched Michael Jordan play basketball I had convinced myself I had seen the greatest athlete of my generation play. Correction, he was the second greatest athlete because Tiger Woods is by far the best. Tiger won his 12th major yesterday by five strokes as the rest of the field floundered somewhere behind him, Woods opened up a five stroke lead. It was the 12th time Woods had a part or all of the lead going into Sunday and for the 12th time he won. This essentially means that when Tiger is in position to win he does not choke it away. In other words if he is at the top of the leaderboard history says the tournament is over and everyone else is playing for second. Now I happen to think that any debate on his greatness versus Jack Nicklaus cannot begin in earnest until he passes Nicklaus as holding more major championships. I do think it is entirely fair to debate the issue on the basis of the body of work so far in comparison to how Nicklaus had performed. Tiger is 30 years and 9 months old and he already has 12 major championships to his credit. He accomplished this feat in 40 major starts which means Woods is averaging better than one win in every fourth major played. Nicklaus by his 40th major only had nine titles. As for age Nicklaus did not win his 12th major until the 1973 PGA Championship about seven months after his 33rd birthday. So not only has Woods won three more majors in he same number of major tournaments BUT he has three more majors three years earlier. This is to say that Tiger would have to go 0 for his next 12 majors to have the same number of majors at the same age as Nicklaus was at this point in his career. Woods also won his 51st PGA event and is only 31 behind Sam Snead for the most in the category. The question we have to ask now is how many will he win? Assuming he stays healthy and his game continues to be head and shoulders above the rest of the field the question is not if he passes Nicklaus but when and by how much? Nicklaus career provides a glimpse of what kind of time table we may be looking at. Nicklaus won his 16th and 17th majors in 1980 when he was 40 years old and then surprised the field at Augusta in 1986 to win his 18th and last. In ten years Woods will be 40 which includes another 40 major starts assuming he is healthy. Woods just went 12 for 40 during the first 10 years of his career. I am going to handicap him to account for the beginning some level of decline as he approaches 40 and say he only wins 10 of the next 40. That would put him at 22. I would also think that he is more durable than Nicklaus was and will be more competitive through his mid to late 40s so count on about four more major titles after age 40. That would give him a surely insurmountable total of 26 major titles. If you also factor in the possibility that he may be on the verge of ripping off a streak of dominance which has him winning multiple majors a year then he could very be at 20 by age 35 and still could win 8 to 10 more after than to get him close to 30 major titles. I just do not see any limit to what he can do on the golf course. Woods said in the press conference yesterday that he was playing as well as he did when he won four straight majors at the turn of the century and now he had seven years more experience. That means the first time around he won more on his physical talent and did not have the experience level. Now, not only does Woods have the physical talent but he has the experience of winning 12 majors and 39 other tournaments. This is evident in the strategies he used to win the British and the PGA where Woods looked for controlled drives even if it meant sacrificing distance because his approach shots are so good it does not matter if he is 50 yards behind his playing partner Woods is still probably hitting the same club or higher. And if his putting is on then as long as he gets in on the green he will drop more in for birdie than not. This may sound like gushing on my part but I am awed by his performance on the golf course, his intensity and focus as well as the manner in which he handles the media. He is the total package and playing on a level no one has seen since Nicklaus and I suspect before it is all done even Nicklaus will be considered second best to Woods. And there will be no debate.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Ground Rules

During my vacation from blogging I spent some time considering the direction this blog would take and the content it would cover. A history tells us I started this blog focusing primarily on North Carolina basketball which has been a passion of mine since childhood. I have since expanded it to include any number of sports stories, opinions, and when necessary the occassional bashing of Duke basketball. I have reached a point where I am having difficult keeping up with it all. I also feel the need to redefine the kind of content I post. This leads me to some new rules for blog. 1. More Narrowly Focused This means I will save the heaviest blogging for UNC related news and especially basketball season. I will delve into other sports if the news is big enough but for the most part I will stick to what I know and love the most and that is UNC sports and most particularly basketball. As a part of that focus I will offer opinions on college sports in general and give some attention to happenings at Duke and NC State as well as other ACC schools. 2. Hating Your Rivals with Civility Part of being a UNC fan is possessing a certain degree of animosity for NC State and a high degree of disgust for Duke. That is the territory. That being said there are two routes you can with that. You can be civil, offer legitimate criticism, and bring some humorous quips to the forefront at the expense of your rivals or you can attack them at every turn and go for the cheap shot out of entertainment value. It is my personal opinion that my blog has been characterized by much of the former but sadly enough good chunks of the latter. It is easy, very easy, when you have your own personal soapbox on the internet and really no accountability to take a anything goes attitude of sorts as long as you can make people hit your site. It is easy to bludgeon your rival to a pulp in hopes that people will hit your site because you launch great zingers. In other words it is real easy to be Gregg Doyel at CBSSportsline(and if you do not know Doyel, he is a "columnist" on the CBS Sports website who does nothing but inflame people just to stir the pot without offering any real substance). One example of how this played out here was in my treatment of JJ Redick. Some UNC fans will tell you I was tame concerning Redick but I thought I was out of line with my treatment of him for DUI arrest especially considering the history of such arrests in UNC basketball. However I did not think my treatment of Duke or Redick in reference to the loss to UNC at Cameron in March or their upset loss to LSU was completely in context of the game and the rivalry. Basically what I am saying is anything on the court or within the context of the season is fair game was long as I am tasteful and using relevant data to back up my criticisms. Ridiculing Redick for his DUI was out of line on my part and does not reflect my belief that all people are fallen in one way or another which calls us to show grace. 3. Thoughtful Analysis Backed Up With Substantive Data This should not really be a change. Among the things I dislike are people who use personal attacks in an argument and people who make arguments which are all emotions and noise but no real facts. I will do my level best to make sure that does not happen here. This may mean that I am a day late chiming in on something because I need enough time to research and make sure what I write is grounded in reality. 4. Comments and Email Welcome But.... I enjoy comments from readers and emails are fine too. I do reserve the right to do with those whatvever I want to on my blog. I will also not tolerate egregious personal attacks or profanity of any sort. If you do not like something I said then please do me and everyone else who reads this blog(because we know they are coming by the droves) the courtesy of making a decent argument which does not question my lineage or invite me to acts against my own body which are physically impossible to perform. I will delete comments I think are inappropriate or if I get a rash of them like I did when I allegedly insulted UCLA during the Final Four in April I will address them directly and make my best effort to expose any idiocy I find for what it is. 5. I Will Post What I Can, When I Can I hope to keep this going regularly and in basketball season daily. And let me also express my gratitude to those who wander my way from other sites or at random. I hope you enjoy the postings here and feel free to offer up any suggestions for how I can make it better.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Back from Vacation/Break

Yes, I was on vacation and taking a general break from blogging altogether in an effort to organize myself ahead of the coming college football season. Well, actually as a true UNC fan I am far more interested in the beginning of the basketball season but football is a nice distraction/outlet for frustration. All of this means I hope to have some sort of UNC football preview forthcoming, assuming I can find the time. In the meantime, the NBA released rookie portraits and they are interesting to say the least. First, let us all behold the glory of the Orlando Magic's first round pick J.J. Redick who used his rookie portrait as an opportunity to reinforce the perception most people already have about him: From NBA.com I mean, he looks like a Rockette for crying out loud. On the other hand NC State's Cedric Simmons has the right look for his photo though I honestly thought it was Jerry Stackhouse at first glance: From NBA.com Then again there is something about the visual here that makes Shelden Williams' head look weird: From NBA.com

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Change of Heart

Well sort of. I actually started mulling this Floyd Landis controversy a little more and found a whole new litany of questions. 1. Why only one positive results out of hundreds he has had? Landis like every other world class cyclist is tested numerous times over the course of his career. Bobby Julich wrote that the testing is so rigorous that cyclists are forced to inform the US Anti-Doping Agency and the UCI of there wheareabouts and are subject to random tests at their home even if they are not racing. So given this level of scrutiny why was Landis only caught this one time? The scenario that is playing out is that Landis was so devasted by his Stage 16 failure where he fell eight minutes behind the yellow jersey that he used some sort of synthetic testosterone that night to enable a quicker recovery which led to his amazing comeback in Stage 17. However, there is some debate over whether anything Landis could have taken or any patch he could have used would have provided enough effect to enable him to pull of the comeback he managed that day in France. It is also been made clear that for him to try anything of this nature would have been exceptionally stupid since there is no way to mask it. So what we have here is a set of conditions which must be proven true: (1) The testosterone had to be effective (2) Landis had to act in a manner out of character for him and turn to some kind of perfomance enhancer to ausuage the pain of losing the yellow jersey by such a wide margin and (3) Landis would have to be inherently stupid to think he would not get caught on the post-stage test. I think the media would be well served to ask these questions and address the issues as part of the debate. 2. Swift Justice No one really wasted one moment(myself included) in pronouncing Landis guilty as charged. I saw very little in the way of actually anlysis or postulating some kind of reasonable explanation for the postive result. Sure there were the "kitchen sink" theories which lawyers for Landis threw out in the first days following the leaked results of the "A" sample but no one in the media actually engaged in any objective reasoning. And on Saturday when the "B" sample result was made know the headline at ESPN.com read something like: "A+B=C'Ya" In my opinion that is neither professional or objective but a sensationalized headline. It also should be noted that the level of interest in the Tour de France was minimal until this happened and now the media seems to care so much because we live in such a rubberneck culture where the misery of others is entertainment to us. If anything the media has been totally complicit with process to convict Landis which is far removed from there role. As for the speed of the condemnations, it seems a little odd that everyone is tossing Landis under a bus so quick when Tyler Hamilton was accused of blood doping two years ago and has yet to be fired from his team(Phonak the same team that dismissed Landis ten seconds after the results came out) nor widely condemned by the media in general. And while this is not unusual for the people to hang you before the trial, the move to dismiss Landis has a air that someone might be hiding something. Speaking of which... 3. Conspiracy Theory Landis said yesterday that the UCI and WADA have an agenda. He blasted them for failing to follow their own procedure in leaking his "A" sample results and lamented the fact he was condemned in the media before being properly informed so he could mount a resonable defense(which he says led to the wild theories coming from his camp). Now I think conspiracy theories are often times wrong because it requires too much complicity among too many people to get it all right and keep it a secret. In other words someone in the conspiratorial chain of individuals is going to slip up or talk about it. That being said, let's take Landis' theory at face value and ask what agenda the UCI, WADA, and the Tour de France could have. First there is a longstanding feud between WADA president Dick Pound and Lance Armstrong. Basically everyone at the UCI, Tour de France, and WADA believe Armstrong cheated and was blood doping at some point in his string of seven wins at the Tour. The problem is no one has been able to prove it and it has led to some nasty back and forth between the parties. The question is would the WADA, UCI, and Tour de France be so petty as to switch the samples on Landis in an effort to discredit him and his Tour win as a veiled shot at Armstrong and United States? Would these parties be so petty as to frame Landis out of spite because another American won the Tour? Did they decide to make an example of someone in light of banning the top contenders prior to the Tour? Granted these all seem a little silly or not very plausible but that is not the real issue. The real issue is we are ready to believe Landis is a cheater without pausing to ask whether the WADA, UCI, and Tour de France are capable of unehtical behavior. If it is so easy to believe that Landis, who had one positive test out of the hundreds he has taken, is capable of committing such a horrendus act of cheating on one occasion then does it not stand to reason that we can also believe that members of the WADA, Tour, and UCI who have made numerous accusatory statements against Lance Armstrong are also capable of engaging in a fraud to frame Landis. The point is you cannot(easily) declare Landis to be unethical without also considering the possibility of something shady going on with these governing bodies who have repeatedly shown a penchant for anti-American seniment where Armstrong was concerned. I do not think it is that much a stretch of logic to believe they would flog Landis as an example to others, as a cheap shot at the U.S. or just out of anti-American spite in general. Now I will grant Occam's razor and the general complexity of conspiracies puts a serious damper on this thinking but I also see nothing in the past behavior of people like Dick Pound or the director of the Tour de France which makes me comfortable granting them absolute moral authority in this issue. 4. Maintaining Innocenence I brought this up yesterday and it deserves a little more thought. If the evidence is so damining what reason would Landis have for maintaining his innocence? I said there were two possibilities: The first is he is mounting the Pete Rose defense which is to deny everything in hopes you can be exonorated on a technicality or you deny because you are trapped into it by the PR machine. The second possibility for maintaining your innocence regardless of the evidence is because...well...you are innocent. After having considered the issues I am beginning to lean towards the possibility that Landis may actually be innocent because the Pete Rose defense is such an idiotic defense to mount I am not sure why anyone would undertake it. Landis denied wrongdoing from Day 1 which is usually a good PR move but to maintain the denial even after the evidence is in means you are unwilling to come out of the corner you painted yourself in by initial denial or you actually believe you are innocent. Based on what I have seen and heard from Landis, he seem to believe he is innocent. Could he be a great liar playing the PR game with deft skill? Sure, he wouldn't be the first and certainly not the last. However, the issues above cast a long shadow of doubt on his guilt. Granted it is not nearly the shadow his innocence is under but the postive result not withstanding I still see the final verdict on this in doubt. Final Thoughts I am not familiar with how the testing is done but the first thing I would do, if I were Landis, is demand a DNA test on the samples in question to make sure they were my samples that were tested. There may not be a reason for this. There may be enough evidence in the chain of custody to perclude this test but I would want to make sure the samples they tested were mine. I would also ask for a release of all my test results from the Tour de France. I would be interested to know what his test after Stage 18 showed. Of course synthetic testosterone probably clears the system in the time frame between stages but I think providing overwhelming evidence of clean tests with one tainted test could be a powerful PR tool. Of course given the swift justice he has endured Landis needs to come up with incontrovertible evidence that he did not use a performance enhancer or that someone at the UCI, WADA, or Tour de France framed him for the crime. Absent that he will be considered guilty and the governing bodies will ban him with the evidence in hand.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Roundup!

And this was the weekend that was: Floyd Landis on Plan C So Landis' "B" sample was tested and the results were announced which showed the same thing the first one showed and that was he had too much testosterone in his body and that some of it was synthetic in nature. (pause post) Now, having been a NCAA student-athlete I endured the specter of the random urinalysis drug test once a season except it was not as random as one might think since you had 24 hours notice. This always led to the comical sight of the soccer players showing up, entering the bathroom with their cups and emerging with it full of completely clear urine. In other words they spend that last 24 hours drink six gallons of water in an attempt to flush their system of whatever they may have ingested, smoked, or drank which may or may not produce a postive result. In my world the two greatest dilemmas I face was (1) Whether or not I could fill the cup up to the line since they tested us after we ran 8 miles in ninety degree weather and (2) whether or not the poppyseed muffin I ate the week before would show up as an opiate on the test. I also am humored by the fact that all these world class athletes have vials of the urine or blood stored in labs all over the world which can be taken out and tested days, months, and years later to see if they were juiced or not. (resume post) Anyway, Landis is not in full spin control as he conducted interviews this morning in which he distanced himself from the more ridiculous excuses he offered last week such as drinking beer caused his levels to go up. He is also maintaining total innocence which is an interesting position to take in the face of such damning evidence. A man who stands firm like this when everything we know says otherwise is either (1) Clinging to a wing and a prayer or (2) Actually innocent. I honestly do not know how the second could be true unless you buy into Landis' theory that the UCI and World Anti-Doping Agency has an agenda. This is somewhat plausible in light of the accusations leveled against Lance Armstrong but as with all conspiracy theories it also requires too many people to know what is happening to make it happen. I mean this isn't a soap opera where someone can sneak into the lab and switch the labels on the DNA test to make little Nicky believe that Paul is his father and not Ned. I assume there are significant controls in place. Landis is basically in Pete Rose territory now where if the samples are correct he is only hurting himself in the long run by sticking with a defense that is totally debunked by the evidence and no one outside of his family and hometown actually believe. Landis also has to prove how synthetic testosterone made it into his sample if he did not use a patch. That excuse should be interesting to say the least. Tiger Wins Buick Open Tiger Woods gave the rest of the PGA Tour something to think about as we head towards the final major of the season by shooting four consecutive 66s and winning by three strokes over Jim Furyk. And yes Tiger hit driver in this tournament, only hit 2/3 of the fairways and still won by three. I did not see but on shot of this tournament and it was Tiger driving the ball left of the green on a par 4 from the tee and then angrily swinging the club again. Woods then walked down to his ball alone with driver in hand which I presume he was ready to break against a tree somewhere. As much as is made about Woods' drives and the erratic nature of his accuracy it should be noted that if his second shots are dead on and his putting is good then the drives really do not matter. Woods hits his second shots, even from the rough, well enought to overcome his failure to drive the ball as accurately as everyone else. The PGA Championship is in two weeks and it will be Tiger Woods' tournament to lose.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Chase Chasing Dimaggio

Yeah, that's a bad headline. The Philladelphia Phillies Chase Utley extended his hitting streak to 35 games last night the 10th longest streak in MLB history. As most everyone who has been drawing breath and watching any amount of baseball knows the record is 56 games held by Yankee great Joe Dimaggio. Second on the list is banned all time hits leader Pete Rose at 44 games. What that means is we are about five games away from this being a media frenzy which may crush the life out of poor Mr. Utley. I also think 56 is as Gene Hackman said in Hoosiers "beyond your wildest dreams so let's keept it right there." Pete Rose's 44 games in a row is probably considered the de facto modern mark. I think if Utley can pass Rose that is a significant accomplishment in itself especially if you consider the Rose is banned and anyone knocking him down a rung should be congratulated. Of course if Utley gets to 45 then the logic goes that 11 more games is most certainly doable. Can Utley do it? He has a lot in his favor, this untimely post notwithstanding. He has great speed as he illustrated Wednesday night when he beat out a comebacker to the pitcher(who took a moment to check the runner) which was initially ruled a fielder's choice but changed on review. It was also made moot by the fact he singled in 9th inning. His speed means that he can beat out infield rollers or even lay down a bunt if necessary to keep the streak alive. He is also batting .330 for the season which tells me he is a good hitter and not some mediocre hitter who just got hot like his teammate Jimmy Rollins who went for 38 straight at the end of last season into this one. As for whose next on the schedule. The Phillies are at New York and then Atlanta. It will be interesting to see how this streak proceeds against decent pitching. Road games also mean Utley's Phllies will come to bat during all nine innings as opposed to home games where they would lose the bottom of the ninth if ahead. A week from now it will either be over or he will be at 41 straight with Cincinnati coming to town for the weekend.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Signs of Intelligence

I heard the following statement from one of the ESPN announcers during the five minutes I was watching the World Series of Poker: "He is a graduate of the University of Maryland which is the southernmost member of the Ivy League" That's right, Maryland is now a member of the Ivy League which I am sure I just missed with of all the conference realignments which happened last year. For the record Maryland is in the Atlantic Coast Conference and the southernmost member of the Ivy League would be the University of Pennsylvania.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Where in the World?

Busy and recovering from a rare bout of flu in the summer. On top of that the sports world has not held my attention during the past week. Here is a short summary of what has been happening. Doping So Floyd Landis was getting a little help on that day he came back from eight minutes behind to gt back into contention to win the Tour de France. Well, that is the story we are getting now. Despite Landis' deft working of the media and his denials the New York Times is saying that a source close to the testing process indicates there was some synthetic testosterone in Landis sample. The "B" sample currently being tested will likely confirm this result and if that is the case expect two things to happen: (1) Landis will be stripped of his Tour de France title and banned for two years and (2) Americans in general will conclude they really have better things to do than watch cycling since whatever result you witness can be overturned a week later. Landis is not alone in his dilemma as Justin Gatlin who shares the world record in the 100 meters has also tested postitive for banned substances and is on the chopping block for a lifetime ban. He is also up for the "Most Creative Excuse" award by blaming a masseuse who vindicatively rubbed steroid cream on Gatlin's legs prior to the Kansas relays which resulted in a positive test. This might be plausible if Gatlin was not associated with Trevor Graham who has been linked to so many tainted atheletes I am surprised he has a job in track and field. MLB The Braves are done. They hosted New York for three games and got swept, fell 15 back of first place and sealed their own fate which is missing the playoffs for the first time since 1990. The trade deadline passed and for reasons that pass understanding the Washington Nationals held onto Alfonso Soriano instead of trading him and getting something in return. Well at least they got to keep Soriano whereas the Philladelphia Phillies trade Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle to the Yankess and got pretty much nothing in return except some minor league players who are nowhere near big league ready. No wonder Philly fans are the way they are. The Cubs traded Greg Maddux to the Dodgers and I agree with Deadspin.com on this. It is strange to see Maddux traded. ACC Football I will hopefully get into this more in depth in the near future. The writers made their picks last week and the four ACC schools in the great state of North Carolina are bringing up the rear in the Atlantic and Coastal divisions. UNC and NC State are fifth in their respective divisions followed by Duke and Wake Forest. Miami and Florida State are the (boring)picks to win each division and battled in the second ACC title game. There has been a lot of talk about Clemson being the cool pick to win the division but when the chips are down the writers go with what they know which is more of the same. Then again, I am not sure if there is any value to picks made before fall practice opens. A lot of these schools have QB issues which will go a long way towards determining how well they play. I would think seeing two weeks of practice might shed some light on who will really be bringing it come September. The ACC also tightend up the rules on how far down the standings a bowl can go to take a particular team. Last season Boston College(5-3 in theACC) got shipped to Boise for a bowl game while closer more lucrative bowls took 3-5 teams from the ACC. The rule is that a bowl cannot go more than one game down in the standings. So this year if BC is 5-3 they get sent to Boise in favor of someone who is 4-4. I am sure that will make them feel so much better. BTW, the ACC has 8 bowl bids and 850's Adam Gold said yesterday he is waiting for a team with a 2-6 league mark to make a bowl game. I agree that would be pathetic and funny all at the same time(even if it is UNC.)