Who am I?

I'm from Houston, a graduate of the University of Texas, a fan of the Houston Astros and Houston Texans. But this blog will be about the "greater sports", whatever that means.

Follow me on Twitter: @lhd_on_sports

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

10 Things to watch for this College Football Season

For those of you familiar with me or that read my second post on this blog, you'll know I'm a huge college football fan. Although I list six sports as top tier, College Football is clearly the #1. I'll watch Ball State play Eastern Michigan on a Tuesday night if ESPNU has it on. I think there should be 50 bowl games, just so I can see more. I thought I'd offer a random assortment of thoughts and predictions in no particular order, just numbered 1 - 20.

1) Conference champion predictions:
ACC: Virginia Tech (d. FSU in title game)
Big 12: Texas (d. Nebraska)
Big East: Pittsburgh
Big 10: Iowa
Conference USA: Houston (d. East Carolina)
Mid-American: Ohio (d. CMU)
Mountain West: TCU
Pac 10: Stanford
SEC: Florida (d. Alabama)
Sun Belt: Middle Tennessee
WAC: Boise State



2) Sleeper per conference (teams well outside Top 25 that could crash BCS):
ACC: NC State
Big 12: Texas A&M
Big East: UConn
Big 10: Michigan State
Conference USA: SMU
Mid-American: Western Michigan
Mountain West: Wyoming
Pac 10: UCLA
SEC: Auburn
Sun Belt: North Texas
WAC: Louisiana Tech

Calling Auburn a sleeper is kinda weak, but so many SEC teams are ranked and I don't like the ones who aren't. Obviously the non-AQ conference teams won't really crash the BCS, but they might win their conference instead of the above.

3) Most overrated team per BCS-AQ conference (AP Rank in parens)
ACC: Georgia Tech (16)
Big 12: Nebraska (8)
Big East: Cincinnati (26)
Big 10: Ohio State (2)
Pac 10: USC (14)
SEC: LSU (21)

It's hard to call "overrated" teams from the non-AQ conferences, only reason I omitted them. Nebraska's going to miss Suh more than they think (still have a very suspect offense) and Ohio State has a very tough schedule and I'm not convinced Pryor can play as consistent as people think. Same was said about Vince Young his Jr. year, so I may be eating crow.

4) Top 10 of the non-AQ conferences
1) Houston
2) Boise State
3) TCU
4) BYU
5) Notre Dame
6) Utah
7) Navy
8) SMU
9) Wyoming
10) Air Force

5) Top 5 players
1) Ryan Williams - Virginia Tech
2) Ryan Mallett - Arkansas
3) Mark Ingram - Alabama
4) John Clay - Wisconsin
5) Jake Locker - Washington

Note, this is not a Heisman list, the best player and Heisman winner literally have nothing to do with each other in today's media environment.

Take a look at Ryan Williams vs. Mark Ingram vs. John Clay 2009 stats:
Name Rushes,Yards,Avg,TD,Fumbles
Williams 293-1655-5.6-21-0
Ingram 271-1658-6.1-17-0 (also 3 receiving TD's and 300 more yards)
Clay 287-1517-5.3-18-0

Comparable, other things to consider, Ingram had more talent around him, but also left games earlier and faced tougher defenses while having Richardson take some of the series to keep him rested (hurting stats). Ingram had 6 games over 120 yards to Clay's and Williams' 7.

6) Conference Ranks
1) SEC
2) Big East
3) ACC
4) Pac 10
5) Big 10
6) Big 12
7) MWC
8) CUSA
9) WAC
10) Sun Belt
11) MAC

This year more than previous, the SEC is stronger relative to other conferences. The Big 12 and Big 10 have three or four great teams, then 7 or so really really soft teams. The ACC and Pac 10 are very deep, but lack star quality. I put the Big East at #2 behind the SEC, being shallow there are no really soft teams besides Syracuse and maybe Louisville and the top 6 are all dangerous. It's quality over quantity. The MWC might push the Big 10 and Big 12, but lack the quality 1-3 that those conferences have.

7) Top 5 games in terms of implications
1) Texas vs. Oklahoma (Dallas) - October 2
2) Boise State vs. Virginia Tech (Fed Ex) - September 6
3) Ohio State at Iowa - November 20
4) Alabama at Arkansas - September 25
5) Virginia Tech at Miami - November 20

8) Top 5 games in terms of intrigue/strength of matchup
1) Florida at Alabama - October 2
2) Texas vs. Oklahoma (Dallas) - October 2
3) Texas at Nebraska - October 16
4) Florida State at Miami - October 9
5) Miami at Ohio State - September 11

9) Random predictions
Notre Dame goes about .500, LSU may finish under .500 (Les Miles gets canned), so does Oklahoma State (Gundy gets sacked, then they hire Miles back), this really is Joe Paterno's last season, same with Spurrier, same with Friedgen, Michigan goes about 8-4, Off year for the non-AQ conferences, none crack the BCS, Alabama loses more than 2 games, UCLA d. USC, BC LB Mark Herzlich gets invited to the Heisman ceremony, Baylor and Duke go to bowl games (hey, why not).

10) BCS Bowl Matchups
BCS Title Game: Pittsburgh d. Iowa. These two teams have the best balance of talent, no conference title game, all tough games at home. Except intriguing OOC games, where Pitt goes to Utah (as underdogs day one of the season) and Iowa goes to Arizona.

Sugar Bowl: Florida vs. Oklahoma
Fiesta Bowl: Texas vs. Miami
Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. Georgia
Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. Stanford

Monday, August 16, 2010

The 10 commandments of watching a game in person

At least according to me. There are certain habits that no matter what event you're at, are just common courtesy and common decency.

I will say that all have the counter-argument "I paid my money, I have a right". That is true. But being a fan is more than just exercising your rights. It's about sports, enjoying sports, and having a good time, and when you violate my 10 commandments, you infringe upon others' rights to do the same.

1) Avoid using profanity. I know it's tempting to call that overpaid SOB a s##tbag and tell him that you're not fond of his mother (or insinuate you had relations with her), particularly when he strikes out with the bases loaded or misses a tackle or misses an open jumper. Refrain. If he's one of your guys, he's one of your guys. Heckling the other guys can be part of it, but be clean and creative (think Duke fans). There are kids and families around. He can't hear you anyway, you're just venting frustration and you're better than that.

2) Only take or leave your seat during breaks in action. This is championed in hockey with the ushers and the hand-held "stop" sign, but it's not that hard to stand behind your seat in the concourse, or in case of a long aisle, squat in the aisle until it is between football plays, between batters, or a free throw. Hockey is the hardest, action can go for minutes. But it's a small price to pay, and you'll get more respect from your fellow fans rather than making them stand and missing a long pass or big 3 pointer.

3) When in Rome, do as the Romans do...when standing. Don't be the person who is the only one standing when everyone else is sitting. Don't be the person who is sitting and asking others to sit when all are standing. I know you paid for a seat and the right to sit and watch, but in college football for instance, you're not going to get everyone to sit, just go along. And if you're the only one standing, you're probably drunk.

4) If you're smack dab in the middle of a row and have to exit, choose one way out, and the other way back in. That way you don't inconvenience the fans in the row behind you twice (the standing folks can see the action while standing both times)

5) Bring cash for the concessions. That commercial where everyone swipes the card and the line moves faster is BS. I've been in a beer line with 4 people and each credit transaction takes 90 seconds costing me a half inning. Same line with people with $10's gets done in 90 seconds total. True story, I was at a game in which Bonds was going for HR 714, I left with 5 batters before he was due, they rallied and he was on deck as the guy in front of me was trying to pay, but the cashier couldn't get his card to work. I just about threw two 20's at her and ran, I'm sitting there for BS while almost missing history.

6) Mind the spillage. Keep that tall drink in your hands at all times (both hands). If you spill, instantly warn the fans in front of you to remove their personal effects from the floor. Get napkins if necessary. It sucks to have someone's drink flow over your purse or bag.

7) If you're a road fan, don't flaunt it. It's okay to cheer for your team, but turning and taunting or trying to prove some point by cheering every smallest thing is bush league. If I'm watching my team on the road and they score a TD. I stand, I clap, I make no eye contact with other fans. I DON'T say "Oh yeah, baby, that's right. D-money-jonesey, you the man, we got this baby, that's right, rah rah team". Stand, clap, high 5, sit down.

8) In step with Commandment #7, it never hurts to befriend nearby fans of the other team. Just talk X's and O's. Don't say "We're going to kick your a$$". Say "this is going to be a good game, I think we have a good team, you're team should be ready to play" or "I like your RB, I can't wait to see if he is able to run on our defense". "I heard this pitcher is good, will be a tough matchup for our hitters". I had a great experience at the BCS title game with some Alabama fans just by talking sensibly and respectfully and it made it better for everyone. In return I got "wow, Texas fans are nice, nothing like LSU or Tennessee fans". I guarantee you Texas fans can be the worst, but I just put forward our best face.

9) When you lose, you lose. Speak softly and walk away. It's just a game. Insulting the other teams star player for his paternity suit, or the other team's university for it's locale is bush league. Hey, they won, you lost. That's why you play. Silence is golden.

10) Have fun. Seems easy, but I think we've all been to a game where someone just seemed to complain about everything (it's too hot, I can't see, the concessions are too expensive, that SOB sucks, our team sucks, I can't believe tickets cost this much). Hey, you chose to be there, enjoy the game.

I'm not perfect, I've used profanity and insulted a dad and kid (Sirron remembers), I've spilled my mixed drink on the ground (okay, kid next to me kicked it) and didn't warn the people in front of me before her purse was drenched in Beamy Coke. I've been with a group who hurled insults so heavy, a nice lady in front of us tore out of the row near tears. I've been at games that by the end the whole experience was miserable, I've insulted College Station after a tough loss.

Following the above 10 isn't easy, but worth it in the end.