HALF WAY THROUGH FOOTBALL SEASON

fb moneyHALF WAY THROUGH FOOTBALL SEASON

Most of us were surprised to hear the NFL Red Zone commentator announce that we had just passed the half way point in the 2019-2020 NFL pro football season.  Especially where the climate is still warm in places like Florida and California, it surely doesn’t seem like we should be half way through with the NFL already; it’s not even cold yet!

As more people than ever are wagering on sporting events one way or the other, good old American football, both college and pro, remains as the bookies ‘high season’, year after year. Now with the pending legalization of wagering on sports in various states nearing passage, availability to wagering options abound at casinos and racetracks across the country.

But, lots of bettors do not want to go out to a casino and stand in line to place a wager and then stand in line to collect their winnings then stop by and have a chat with the guy from the IRS at a nearby desk.

So, savvy bettors are doing what they have always done, place their wagers with a dependable local guy and enjoy the games at home or at their neighborhood sports bar. No sending money offshore. No reports to fill out.

Several things about the NFL season were predictable. Tom Brady and New England would come out as consummate professionals and once again dominate the competition.  The Patriots went 8-0 until running into the Ravens at Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium as 3 point favorites.  The Baltimore squad took over in the second half putting up 20 of their 37 points and holding the mighty Pats to just 20 points all game.

The Kansas City Chiefs, with second year QB sensation Patrick Mahomes, were given favored status for much of the off season and have pretty much lived up to the hype. However, after Mahomes went down with a knee injury and Matt Moore had to come in and pick up the slack, the Chiefs went from favorites to dogs last week and were listed as +5.5 underdogs for their match-up with the Minnesota Vikings at home at Arrowhead Stadium.

But stand-in QB Matt Moore proved to be more than adequate for the task and finished the game with 275 yards with one touchdown and zero picks!   The Viking’s Kirk Cousins threw for three touchdowns in the losing effort.

In yet another NFL ‘fantastic finish’, the game was finally decided on a last second 44 yard field goal by kicker Harrison Butker, which broke the tie and won the contest for the Chiefs, even without Patrick Mahomes at the helm.

Back-up quarterbacks were much in evidence last Sunday as Gardner Minshew started for the Jaguars in London against the Texans and the venerable Ryan Fitzpatrick led the hapless Miami Dolphins to their first victory of the season.

The Colts and Steelers game featured two back-up quarterbacks as well as Brian Hoyer started for Indianapolis and Mason Rudolph was under center for Pittsburgh replacing the injured Ben Roethlisberger.  Once again the game came down to a last minute field goal attempt but this time the kick went wide left by veteran Adam Vinatieri for the Colts, leaving the final score of 26-24, Steelers win.

In a barn burner out on the west coast, it took Russell Wilson throwing 5 touchdown passes and an all out effort by the Seattle Seahawks to defeat the stubborn Tampa Bay Buccaneers in overtime and putting up a total of 74 points in all; exceeding the over and under prediction by 23 points.

But the big surprise of the day was the 3-5 Los Angeles Chargers holding Aaron Rodgers and the 7-1 Green Bay Packers scoreless in the first half and eventually winning the game, for which they were tagged as 4 point dogs, by 15 points and defeating the Packers 26-11 in Carson, California.

Football season can also become a taxing time of the year for the local bookie who is still trying to do it all himself, or, has contracted with a second rate pay per head service to represent their business to their clients. If you feel that an upgrade is advisable, check out the established PPH companies first.

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THE NCAA FINALLY MOVES INTO THE 21ST CENTURY

ncaa sportsTHE NCAA FINALLY MOVES INTO THE 21ST CENTURY

In spite of the best efforts of NCAA president Mark Emmert to keep university athletes playing for NCAA schools strictly away from any form of compensation for participating in university sports and representing the institution both on and off the playing field, some progress in finally being made.

For decades college athletes have been expected to live in the dorm, eat in the cafeteria and work their butts off for the glory of the school and in return receiving only a scholarship that usually only covers the cost of tuition and books, and perhaps room and board.

But a little spending money on the side, that was taboo in the eyes of the NCAA and in those of most universities.  Of course some spending money was handed out to some of the more gifted athletes.  It was just done under the table and off of anyone’s books.

Everyone knew that it was done on a regular basis, but no one really cared much.  After all, we want to keep that All American point guard happy, right?  It was easy to justify in the eyes of many both in and out of sports.

Then it just got way out of hand.  Would be agents making blatant offers of large sums of money to the families of star athletes to persuade them to attend, and play for, this or that university over another.

The offers were for so much money and the ‘secret’ was not very well kept, so investigations began.  First by the NCAA itself and then working all the way up to the FBI where federal wire fraud charges were thrown about gathering public attention for really the first time ever.

The situation became more complicated still when shoe companies and video game manufacturers began to use the images of college athletes in their advertising and promotions.  Fine.  But then some of the athletes began asking why they were not being compensated for the use of their names or likeness, then they began to demand that compensation even to the point of taking the case to court.

The biggest stumbling block to student athletes receiving compensation of any sort has been the NCAA itself, which is supposed to be in charge of protecting the welfare of university students at all levels.  The chief spokesman for the status quo has been NCAA president Mark Emmert who has gone so far as to declare any form of payment to a student athlete as ‘an existential threat’.

Now however the NCAA Board of Governors has overruled Mr. Emmert, at last, and passed a resolution directing all three major divisions to immediately consider ‘updates to relevant bylaws and policies for the 21st century’.  Notice that they didn’t actually come out and say that now student athletes can receive compensation, but, that’s what it all boils down to.

The chairman of the board of governors Michael Drake declared, “We must embrace change to provide the best possible experience for college athletes”.

Considering the amount of money that these college athletes bring into the university each year, that sounds like the very least that they could be doing.

Of course all of this is very much up in the air at the present time and will require a lot of hard work and negotiations before any details can be ironed out and a unified system is put into place. The board did establish the following guidelines to work with:

  • Athletes must be treated similarly as non-athletes ‘unless a compelling reason exists to differentiate’.
  • Any changes must ‘ensure fair and balanced competition’.
  • There must be differentiation between collegiate and professional opportunities.
  • A reaffirmation that athletes are students first and not university employees.
  • Any change must ‘protect the recruiting environment’.

While these declarations are well meaning, they are still somewhat vague and will require time to be put into positive action.  After several states have already began discussing or even enacting legislation allowing student athletes to receive compensation in that particular state, the NCAA is now on the hot seat to take over and lead athletes and universities, and the shoe companies and sports video gamers to a peaceful solution to this national embarrassment in fairness to all.

 

 

 

 

COACH ‘O’, JOE BURREAUX & THE #1 RANKED TIGERS

LSU_Tigers_Helmet_Logo_-_NCAA_Division_ICOACH ‘O’, JOE BURREAUX & THE #1 RANKED TIGERS

No one saw this one coming.  Sportscasters first started noticing the LSU football team after they beat the favored Texas Longhorns in the first game of the season.  OK, that was a bit of a surprise, but the Tigers usually put up good football teams.

But those who watched carefully began to see a different type of LSU team than we were all used to.  The first thing that stood out was just how fast the offense was moving after the ball was snapped.  Boom, boom and the play was over with a nice gain recorded.  Then, before you knew it, they line up and do it again! Wow!  This is not the LSU Tiger football team that we have grown accustomed to seeing over the past 20 years or so.  Not at all.

Everyone in Baton Rouge loved Les Miles. ‘The Hat’ won hearts and minds all round ‘Cajunland’.  What he didn’t win was enough football games to suit the avid fans in South Louisiana using an outdated offensive scheme that should have been shelved years ago.

You will notice that Coach Miles is no longer stuck in that old rut now that he is the head coach of the Kansas Jayhawks.  It may take a couple of years, but watch out for the Jayhawks under Les Miles in the future.

Along comes Coach Ed Orgeron, a genuine Cajun from South Louisiana, who convinced the powers that be at LSU to give him a shot at the head coaching spot, something which Orgeron had coveted all his life; and the rest is history, with the story still unfolding. In just his second full season as head coach, LSU just got named the number one team in the nation on the Associated Press poll, the first time the Tigers have been in that position since LSU won the national championship way back in 2007.

Ed Orgeron was savvy enough to surround himself with some of the smartest assistant coaching talent in the NCAA, anywhere.  He brought in offensive innovator Joe Brady from the New Orleans Saints to aid OC Steve Ensminger with the passing game and he kept defensive guru Dave Aranda on the other side of the ball.

Then Coach ‘O’ got very lucky. Way up in Ohio a young man named Joe Burrow realized that he was never going to get a chance to play football on the level he desired if he stayed at Ohio State, so, he decided to transfer and in 2018 ended up in Baton Rouge as starting quarterback for the LSU Tigers, who in 2019 are suddenly contenders for the FBS National Championship and Joe Burrow is one of the leading candidates for the Heisman Trophy.

LSU remains undefeated so far this season along with Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson and Penn State.  Of course the biggest game of the year will occur on November 9th when Nick Saban and his Alabama Crimson Tide will host the LSU Tigers and Coach ‘O’ in Bryant Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa on what we hope will be a balmy clear afternoon for the much anticipated contest.

Alabama has dominated LSU for the past several years and the inability to beat the Crimson Tide is said to be one of the main factors that led to the dismissal of Les Miles.  Needless to say, if Coach ‘O’ manages to beat Saban and the Tide in 2019, he will probably secure his position at LSU for at least the next decade.

Both teams have a bye week before the big confrontation so that the drama will have a chance to reach the boiling point by kickoff time on Saturday. Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is nursing a high ankle sprain he suffered during the Tennessee game for which he has had a minor ‘tightrope’ surgery and remains questionable for the LSU game.

Backup Tide quarterback Mac Jones started in place of Tua for the Arkansas game and completed 18 of 22 passes for 235 yards in the air and 3 touchdowns, all with no picks.  Not too shabby for a backup!  If Tua can’t go, the Tide will still be in good hands for the contest.

Joe Burrow will be ready.  He has learned the playbook as well as how to eat Gumbo, Jambalaya and Etouffee, and is even rumored to be considering changing his last name to Burreaux!

This November 9th is shaping up to be one of the great SEC games of all time!

TIP OFF TIME FOR THE NBA

opening-day-2019TIP OFF TIME FOR THE NBA

The new NBA season gets underway on Tuesday evening with a bang when the Los Angeles Clippers host the Los Angeles Lakers at 7:30 pm PST at the Staples Center, which is currently the home of both LA franchises for the time being.

Both teams have undergone some significant changes during the off season and the ‘City of Angles’ is ripe with anticipation for the games to begin.  Most famously the Lakers traded away some valuable future pieces to get big man Anthony Davis away from the New Orleans Pelicans to team up with LeBron James in hopes that the Lakers will at last achieve the necessary quality of chemistry to return the team and the franchise back to its glory days of old.

The Clippers, on the other hand, went out and recruited NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard from the Toronto Raptors as well as All Star journeyman forward Paul George to make up another dynamic duo to take on the mighty Lakers with James and Davis waiting at center court.

But the intercity big boy basketball battle began with the preseason during which the Clippers played only 3 games; and they lost all three of those games scoring only an average of 91.3 points per game, which is surely not what Head Coach Doc Rivers or owner Steve Ballmer had in mind to kick off the season.

The Lakers managed to get in 6 games during the preseason and split then 3-3 averaging 107.3 points per game, which is not bad, but which falls a bit short of the 125.6 points per game put up by the NBA leading New Orleans Pelicans, who played 5 preseason games and went undefeated, 5-0.

Tragically for the Pelicans and for basketball fans everywhere, Zion Williamson, the first round draft pick that has given the New Orleans NBA franchise such hope for the future, sat out the final game of the preseason with what he thought was just a sore knee, but ultimately the injury was a torn right lateral meniscus which has already been surgically repaired.

The very popular young Zion is expected to miss 6 to 8 weeks of the regular season but hopes to be back on the court for the Christmas NBA games.  Las Vegas oddsmakers will have fun figuring out how to adjust the lines this season.

While Paul George will be out of action for the Clippers until November with a shoulder injury, Doc Roberts still sports a formidable roster with guards Patrick Beverly and Lou Williams as well as Landry Shamet and the big center Montrezl Harrell returning.  They also have 7’7” ‘Mostar Man’ Ivica Zubac from Mostar, Bosnia to contend with who is a handful for any defender on any team anywhere.

The addition of six time NBA All Star forward/center Anthony Davis is expected to infuse new life into the sagging Lakers franchise and give the uber-talented LaBron James somebody to play with on somewhat the same level.  It should be fun for Lakers fans to watch this duo develop and surely a blast for James, who was clearly frustrated out on the court last season.

LeBron told reporters, “Opening night is great.  For me, it’s like the first day of school.”  All around the NBA there are similar sentiments going around locker rooms everywhere as professional basketball players, young and not so young, get ready to tip off yet another exciting season of blistering NBA action.

Tip Off is Tuesday evening at 5pm PST when the Raptors host the Pelicans, listed at -7, in Toronto and then at 7:30 PST with the Clippers hosting the Lakers as 3 point underdogs at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

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