Fantasy Football has completely changed my sunday allegiances by matthudson14
September 24, 2010, 4:45 pm
Filed under: Matt Hudson, NFL | Tags:

By Matt Hudson

Last summer, when I was interning at ESPN Radio, the topic of fantasy football was broached while on the air.  I didn’t have very strong feelings about it, having never played it, and not really knowing anyone that was too serious about it.  Yet from observing from afar, it kind of felt like Guitar Hero originally felt to me – something for wannabes to do to make them feel like they were a part of something greater.  

When we talked about it on the air, one of our producers made the mistake of saying that fantasy football was for losers.  The dozens of people who called in soon thereafter could not have disagreed more.  Yet their passion for “Dungeons and Dragons for jocks” was still not enough to get me interested. 

This year, I still had reservations about it, because I wasn’t sure I would want to take any time setting up, and then following a team.  Then came the draft, complete with rookies, sleepers, and Ben Roethlisberger in the later rounds, and I actually started to care.  Now, I’m addicted.  And the strange part about it all is that it has completely altered the way I watch football on Sundays.  Normally, I watch the entire Colts game, bits and pieces of others, and highlights on NFL Network or ESPN. 

Now, every game that a player of mine is involved in, I’m watching as intently as a virgin watches his computer screen on a Saturday night.  Michael Vick may have been exciting before, but try watching him when your fantasy livelihood is on the line.  And even though fantasy football has increased my interest in NFL games I would normally be indifferent to, part of it bothers me – the part that has me rooting for players on San Diego and New England.  

I tried my best to avoid picking players on teams that I hate, but could I really pass up Ryan Mathews in the 5th round?  Looking back, I wish I had.  But in fantasy football, you have to be objective, not only picking players for teams that you like, but also teams that you despise. 

The good news is, I didn’t draft anyone on the Jets, so I can continue hating them.  It really is awkward though.  Like last weekend, I picked up New England’s defense because I figured after week one, Mark Sanchez was good for at least three interceptions.  So in a game in which I would normally be rooting for a tie, I was rooting my ass off for New England, a team that I’ve hated without reservation for a decade.  And not only did New England not win, but their defense got me one freakin’ point.  I should have known never to root for the Patriots. 

And as much as I’ve hated the Chargers, Jets, Steelers, and New England over the course of the years, I have found myself hating Jahvid Best, C.J. Spiller, and the Falcons’ medical staff more than any of those teams in the past couple weeks.

As much as it bothers me rooting for teams that I don’t like, the added advantage of fantasy football is that if your favorite football team loses that week, your fantasy team can still be your saving grace.  I couldn’t have been more pissed off about how the Colts game went in week one, yet, my fantasy team won, so my weekend wasn’t a total loss.  Is that bad? 

Is it bad that I want to see a convicted felon put up better numbers than Peyton Manning?  Is it bad that I was a little bit happy to see Hakeem Nicks score at the end of the Colts game?  Is it bad that I’d rather hang out with Matthew Berry than Halle Berry?  6 weeks ago, I would have said yes to all of those.  But now, I have a league to win. 

Maybe my observations are five years late.  Maybe everyone already knew everything I just said.  Maybe you already hate Jahvid Best as much as I do.  But ultimately, it’s just a game, and at the end of the day, we still go back to rooting for our favorite team over our fantasy team.  Right?


Bob Knight Gives Speech in Indy on Same Night as Tom Crean’s in Bloomington by kentsterling

by Kent Sterling

Former Indiana basketball coach Bob Knight gave a speech benefitting a charity last night in Indianapolis.  Tom Crean addressed Hoosier fans at the IU Auditorium last night.  Coincidence?

My guess is that it is.  As arrogant and bitter as Knight can be, I doubt he asked the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Central Indiana to make sure the event featuring his presence was held on the same night Crean spoke.

It’s unlikely that Crean decided it would help his attendance and hurt Knight’s if both presentations were held simultaneously.

The media coverage for the events gave a clear edge to the old man, who hasn’t deposited a check as an employee of Indiana University in over a decade.  TV news stations covered Knight in their newscasts last night and this morning.  The Indianapolis Star put Knight on the front page, and the top item on the online sports page.  Crean?  I’m still looking in the Star for any mention.  Would it have killed the Star’s IU beat writer Terry Hutchens to attend the Crean speech and get quotes from fans afterward if nothing else?

The reason for the edge to Knight is obvious.  Of the two, who is likely to say something newsworthy?  I’ve neverread an inflammatory quote from Crean.  I’ve never heard Knight speak when he didn’t say something brutally honest, angry, intolerant, and/or crazy.  He’s also incredibly entertaining.  Crean?  He has the discretion Knight continues to lack.

At the Knight events I attended as a student, there was always an air of drama.  No one knew who he would bludgeon, or what hopeless dumbass would ask him the wrong question and prompt the typical hilarious scorn of the beast.  Poking the bear in the red sweater was always a losing play.

I can’t imagine Crean attacking anyone.

Crean’s speech featured a lot of rah-rah stuff about how the Hoosiers are improving, and will be tougher.  Knight blasted the NCAA and Notre Dame.

Going to a Crean speech is like attending a Journey concert.  He is going to play the hits in a very predictable way.  Knight is like Judy Garland back in the 1960s.  Is going to show up at all, and if so will she be trashed?  If present and sober, she might be magical.  Knight is as thoroughly unpredictable as any performer since Garland.  People might not know who he’s going to blast, but it’s likely to be some agency or person who bloviates with regard only to hear himself speak.

Last night, Knight busted the NCAA and Notre Dame, according to Jeff Rabjohn’s account in the Star.  Knight chided the NCAA for allowing one-and-done kids to pass six hours in the first semester and never attend a class in the second semester, yet play a full season and win a national championship.  The NCAA tries to penalize schools who might engage in that kind of work without reward scenario for kids with the Academic Progress Rate scores and penalties attached for poor performance, but as long as the APR penalties attach to the schools and not the coach, what the hell does he care?

The Notre Dame shots were earned by not joining the Big Ten, which Knight strongly advocates.  He said there are some dumb “Catholic boys up there”, who don’t understand how their recruiting would change if they affiliated.

Crean spoke about the Hoosiers being more fit and tougher.

That Knight wins that battle for the media spotlight isn’t hard to understand.  Crean joins a list of speakers a mile long who don’t rival Knight for creating drama and tension.  The list of men more interesting and entertaining for sports fans to listen to for 90 minutes is very short.

NCAA Investigator in Tennessee Deserves Bonus by kentsterling

by Kent Sterling

The NCAA D-1 Committee on Infractions released findings of major violations against Chattanooga for impermissible texts and phone calls to recruits.  On one hand, who really cares what Chattanooga does?  They’re not exactly tearing up the college athletic world.  On the other, this is the second piece of big news from the NCAA in a week originating from eastern Tennessee.

Knoxville and Chattanooga are separated by 112 of I-75 interstate highway, and if the NCAA investigators work regions, the guy traveling that part of the country is earning his money and then some.

Tennessee is in deep trouble for all kinds of impermissible, but in particular for photographs showing two big time recruits being photographed at Bruce Pearl’s home during unofficial visits – a big violation because there is no wiggle room for Pearl to claim ignorance or scatterbrainedness.  There is no doubt that every coach knows what is supposed to happen during unofficial visits, and Pearl willfully violated them by inviting kids to his house.

Chattanooga is different as they have been trying to get their compliance department up and running effectively for four years, and they self-reported for too many calls and texts.

I’m not sure whether NCAA investigators roll on to college campuses dressed like the Hoover Boys in the south as racial motivated murders were investigated in the early 1960s – like Gene Hackman and Willem Defoe in “Mississippi Burning”, but with Mark Emmert taking the reins of the NCAA as the replacement for Myles Brand, I would be on the lookout for a bulked up and aggressive investigative staff on college campuses.

At worst, the NCAA is going to make a very public example of someone.  The best we can hope for is an NCAA that dig deep and at least puts a scare into the renegade schools that ignore rules in an effort to feather their own nest.

The person doing the work on I-75 between Knoxville and Chattanooga is kicking ass and taking names.  Corruption in college athletics has been around as long as college athletic themselves, but maybe the tide is turning.

Indiana Basketball Recruit Austin Etherington on Why He Chose Indiana by kentsterling

by Kent Sterling

It doesn’t take long after meeting Hamilton Heights senior Austin Etherington to figure out this 6’6″ kid from Cicero, Indiana, is honest and smart.  It takes about as long watching him play basketball to see that he is very competitive and loves the game.

There is something very likable about this kid from the small town part of Hamilton County.  Austin tells the truth, looks a man in the eye when he speaks, and is pretty damn smart.

After I stopped videotaping our talk, I lectured him on using the media to build his brand.  So many athletes have no idea what an opportunity there is for them to craft an image in the minds of the public – many of whom are hiring managers.  I told him, “Every microphone and camera is a portal to thousands of ears, and to sit in a corner avoiding that opportunity is wasteful and lazy.”  He looked at me through the entire speech, and in the end I thought, you just wasted five minutes telling that kid something he already knew.

Not that he tried to spin things to make himself look like a saint, genius, or role model.  He just answered questions and revealed part of who he is, which is exactly the right way to build an image.  It must reflect reality, or the image seems forced and phony.  Etherington is not phony.  He knows it, and was polite enough to listen to stuff he already knows.

Indiana basketball fans are going to love this kid.  He loves challenges, knows and attacks adversity, and believes brotherhood is important in building a team.  Tom Crean has been criticized a little bit for offering Etherington as early as he did, which is nonsense.  After watching him play several times and talking to him, I think anyone who didn’t offer is crazy.  He’s 6’6″, can jump, defends hard enough to frustrate Rivals #2 ranked player L’Bryan Nash into punching him in the back of the head during a tournament last summer, and can flat shoot it.  And more than just being the sum of his parts, he’s a basketball player.

There are a lot of kids who play basketball, but not that many basketball players.  I’m not sure this makes any sense to anyone but me, but Etherington moves and plays inside the game.

This is a kid who’s home burned to the ground a year ago, is proud to be an example to younger teammates and his two younger brothers, and has a burning desire for Hamilton Heights to win their first sectional in nearly a decade.

Here’s what Etherington has to say about choosing Indiana:

Here’s a video with some highlights from Etherington and his team at the Adidas tournament played at North Central High School in July, 2010:

Harry’s Daily Apology – Friday, September 24, 2010 by kentsterling
September 24, 2010, 8:28 am
Filed under: Harry on Sports

Today Kent, still in for the ailing Harry, apologizes to actor and Chicago native Andre Braugher, with whom he had a brief elevator encounter last year.  Click on the arrow to listen –

Sports Digest – Friday, September 24, 2010 by kentsterling
September 24, 2010, 8:27 am
Filed under: Sports Digest

Worst day of Big Ten football of the year tomorrow.  No one wants to be challenged the week before the Big Ten openers.  The Cubs get hammered, and the Colts get ready – biut difference between 2-1 and 1-2.  Why is it still a story when Bob Knight comes back to Indiana?

Kravitz – Long Snapper Is a Great Way to Make a Living – Indy Star (Kravitz)

Knight – Red Hammer Swings at NCAA and Notre Dame – Star (Rabjohns)

Pacers – Hansbrough Cleared to Play – Star (Wells)

Colts – Peter King Pisses Off Dwight Freeney – Star (Wilson)

Colts – Saturday Has Had “A Blessed Career” – Star (Chappell)

Hoosiers – Crean Optimistic About IU’s Future – IDS (Hart)

Hoosiers – Crean Wants Toughness from Hoosiers – IDS (Winn)

Bears – Martz Adjustments Make Believers of Bears – Chicago Sun-Times (Morrissey)

Purdue – Marve Looks for Toledo’s Pressure – Lafayette C&P (Carmin)

Cubs – Solution for Both Cubs and Sox; Make Ozzie the Cubs’ Skipper – Chicago Tribune (McNeil)

Cubs – Drilled 13-0, Cubs Look to Rebound Against Cards – Sun-Times (Wittenmyer)

Cubs – Maddux to Return Next Season – Sun-Times

UFC 119 – Fight of the Night Up for Grabs – Star (Wilson)

Kentucky – Cal Believes Kanter Will Play – ESPN/AP

Injury Riddled Purdue is Recovering by jimjohnsonpbm

by Jim Johnson

It’s not like Purdue is going to be able to walk into Ross-Ade Stadium on Saturday and blast past the Rockets.

Purdue doesn’t have much of an advantage over Toledo when looking at the history of the two teams’ meetings.

The Boilermakers are 3-2 in its series with the Rockets. Purdue’s longest winning streak against Toledo is two games – which is the last two meetings, including a 52-31 win a year ago.

Not to mention, Purdue is injury riddled, but improving.

Quarterback Robert Marve came out of the game late in the third quarter, but it was late in the second half that he injured his right knee on a quarterback sneak play on 4-and-1.

I’ve said it before, Marve plays so hard, he gets hurt or he’s really going to hurt himself – just like Bob Sanders of the Colts.

Marve said on the run he was in a position where he couldn’t move and a helmet caught him in the knee. According to the transcript of Purdue coach Danny Hope’s Tuesday press conference, it was a deep bruise and he is expected to play.

If he doesn’t play? Well, Rob Henry will step in again at the quarterback spot. Henry had 65 yards rushing on 10 carries last week and became the first quarterback to lead the tam in rushing since Joey Elliott in 2009.

But why is it so important that Marve does play? The Big Ten part of the schedule is nearing and Marve is going to be key if Purdue is going to have any sort of success.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Marve doesn’t play though. I wasn’t able to capture the tone or the mood from reading the transcripts of Hope’s press conference, but he certainly didn’t elaborate. It was almost like he shut it down.

Not to mention that after the game on Saturday, Marve downplayed the injury to his knee. It’s the same knee he surgery on in 2009 to repair a torn ACL, which appeared to be wrapped still after the game.

RB Dan Dierking was also injured with bruised ribs and had limited playing time last week and didn’t even practice in preparation for the Ball State game.

Hope said he expects Dierking to play against Toledo.

This team, even if Keith Smith is out for the season, has potential to be really good and do some really good things. Health is obviously important and the top two significant keys for Purdue at this point is getting healthy and learning how to thrown the long ball.

The running game has been impressive to me with everyone Purdue has to mix into the running game. But those long pass plays are needed from time to time. Marve can throw the ball. It just seems, to me anyway, its a matter of having a guy there to catch it.

While health is on the mind of Purdue right now, Hope said he sent a message to Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio who suffered a heart attack last week.

Hope told the media on Tuesday that the job of a head football coach is rather stressful and talked about the stress of the job and about how much time the occupation takes.

“You guys can be nicer and make it a lot easier,” Hope said laughing. “But it’s very stressful. The hours, it’s total life consuming. During the season if it was an 80-hour week, a short week, and you usually dip into the 100-hour week. Those aren’t exaggerations, those are legit, and it goes on for hundreds of days in a row. The bigger it gets, the bigger it gets and the more there is. So it is total life consuming, and it is fast-paced, and it’s a stressful occupation in a lot of ways.”

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