Archive for March, 2010

Lions look toward Pacman

March 30, 2010 7 comments

By some accounts the Detroit Lions are on the verge of signing free agent Adam “Pacman” Jones, which can only be described as a brilliant stratagem for a team that has gone 2-30 over the past two seasons.

[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=Pacman+Jones&iid=353013″ src=”0349/f46593f8-2131-4da8-8cc5-63026f77cb5c.jpg?adImageId=11885205&imageId=353013″ width=”234″ height=”351″ /]Who else to lead a team devoid of talent and leadership than a wise old veteran brimming with poise and know-how?

This is the kind of bold move the Lions were hoping for from team president Matt Millen. What’s that? He’s not the team president anymore? Oh. So who’s getting the credit for this Polian-esque move? Why, it’s former Titans defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, who became the Lions coach last season and promptly led them to two whole victories.

If anyone knows Jones, it’s Schwartz. The two were together here in Nashville when the Titans drafted the West Virginia cornerback/return specialist, and Schwartz coached him for the two seasons in which he was eligible to play. If you’re a little confused as to why he was eligible for only two seasons, wellll … he sort of got kicked out of the league for a year by Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Goodell sent a letter to Pac and his peeps in April 2007 that read, in part: “Your conduct has brought embarrassment and ridicule upon yourself, your club, and the NFL, and has damaged the reputation of players throughout the league. You have put in jeopardy an otherwise promising NFL career, and have risked both your own safety and the safety of others through your off-field actions. In each of these respects, you have engaged in conduct detrimental to the NFL and failed to live up to the standards expected of NFL players. Taken as a whole, this conduct warrants significant sanction.”

See? That’s a leader right there. Not even anyone at the Cincinnati Halfway House, otherwise known as the Bengals’ practice facility, has managed to conduct himself so badly that he got tossed for an entire season.

As the story goes Jones, who already had a criminal record from his collegiate days, was arrested six different times between being drafted in April 2005 and being booted two years later. See? That shows his speed right there. The guy works fast.

Here is a list of his arrests and other assorted transgressions from And that’s not even a complete list.

It’s painfully obvious this is a guy you want in your locker room, nay, need in your locker room. He’s a visionary. He’s done more for the weather than Al Roker because of his ability to “make it rain.”

The guy is fearless, too. The night before he met with Goodell for the first time he was spotted at a New York strip club. You’re called to powwow with the commish about your spotty conduct and mere hours beforehand you’re partying with NY’s finest? Bring on the Vikings and Packers!

Do they have strip clubs in Detroit? More good Pacman can do. Given the right contract he could singlehandedly resuscitate the Motor City’s flagging economy.

Schwartz has a franchise to turn around. With moves like this he can continue in the tradition established by Millen, whose teams never finished higher than third in the division and went 31-81 in seven completely forgettable seasons.

For Titans fans, anywhere is better than here.

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NFL’s new OT rules miss the mark

The NFL blew it with the new overtime rules. Worse than a shanked punt.

[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=Jeff+Fisher&iid=7329412″ src=”0/0/5/3/Tennessee_Titans_v_5662.jpg?adImageId=11615128&imageId=7329412″ width=”280″ height=”253″ /]Titans coach Jeff Fisher, co-chairman of the competition committee, was on board with the charge to change the rule from sudden death to allow the team that loses the overtime coin toss a chance to get the ball. The team that loses the toss now would get a possession, too, but only if the team that wins the toss kicks a field goal on its first possession. If it scores a touchdown, the game is over. If the teams trade field goals then the rules would revert to sudden death.

The rule was passed by a 28-4 vote of the NFL’s teams at the owners’ meetings in Orlando on Tuesday and will be implemented for the 2010 playoffs. Butit could be adopted in time for the 2010 regular season when the owners meet again in Dallas in May.

The notion that overtime had to be changed became de rigueur in the past few seasons when statistical analysis revealed that the team that won the toss was winning nearly 60 percent of the time. Coaches were coming out and saying things like, “It’s a shame this game had to be decided by a coin toss.”

No game has ever been decided by a coin toss. What no coach is willing to admit is that if he’d had more brass in his boxers he wouldn’t have kicked that 20-yard field goal with 4 seconds to play to tie the game. Hey, Nancy, punch it in the end zone or leave your fate up to the flip. And by the way, even if you lose the toss you’re still gonna send your defense onto the field, right? Maybe the statistical analysis should have read differently: 60 percent of teams that lost the coin toss had defenses that didn’t answer the bell.

And does anyone else think that if this is implemented in the regular season it’s gonna lead to more ties? Think about it. Say the team that wins the toss takes 5-6 minutes off the clock and gets its field goal. Now the team that loses the toss gets its possession. Whatever it does, it’s gonna want to run as much time off the clock as possible, because if it winds up settling for a field goal it doesn’t want to give the ball back with too much time remaining.

Now suddenly we’re expecting a coach who played for the tie at the end of regulation to do something different in the final 2 minutes of overtime?

If I wanted longer games I’d watch major-league baseball. If I wanted ties I’d watch soccer. I don’t care if it’s just for the playoffs. Put the premium on coaches’ decisions at the end of regulation.

Sorry, NFL, but you got this one wrong.

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UK assistant could be in mix at UCF

Kentucky assistant coach Orlando Antigua could emerge as a candidate for the head coaching job at the University of Central Florida.

[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=Orlando+Antigua&iid=8243165″ src=”a/e/7/2/Kentucky_News_a558.jpg?adImageId=11362943&imageId=8243165″ width=”234″ height=”178″ /]After firing 17-year head man Kirk Speraw, Knights Athletic Director Keith Tribble told the Orlando Sentinel what he wanted in his new coach.

“I would say No. 1 a relentless recruiter, No. 2 a relentless recruiter and No. 3 a relentless recruiter,” Tribble told the newspaper. “I think recruiting is the lifeblood of determining how well your program can be. I think it gives you chance to be successful. I think without that, you will struggle. So I think recruiting is going to be key. Does that individual have to be a sitting head coach, a current head coach? That would be preferable, but it’s not an absolute.”

Antigua has been with Wildcats head coach John Calipari for two seasons – his final season at Memphis and this year at UK. Prior to joining Calipari’s staff he spent five years on the Pittsburgh staff under coach Jamie Dixon. Antigua played for the Panthers from 1991-95.

Judging by the freshman classes at UK and Memphis the past two seasons Antigua certainly seems to pass the eye test as a top-notch recruiter. Each school had the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class according to In the photo above Antigua has his arm around Wildcats point guard John Wall, the nation’s top recruit, during the SEC tournament in Nashville.

Antigua also has ties to several fertile recruiting grounds. He grew up in the Bronx, not to mention his time at Pittsburgh and Memphis.

Antigua also would play well in South Florida. He’s a native of the Dominican Republic born to a Dominican father and a Puerto Rican mother. And he has a year’s worth of experience in Conference USA.

Kentucky, a No. 1 seed, begins play in the NCAA tournament on Thursday against East Tennessee State.

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Titans motor toward drafting a DE

With the signing of free-agent linebacker Will Witherspoon you can just about bet the Titans have zeroed in on a defensive end for their first-round pick.

I’m scratching Florida’s Carlos Dunlap off the list right from the start. The Titans have been down the road of drafting players with troubled pasts (read: Pacman Jones), and they won’t be wasting any more first-rounders on guys with “character issues.” If there was a silver lining to Jones, that’s about as good as it gets.

Most mock drafts at this point have South Florida’s Jason Pierre-Paul off the board by the time the Titans pick at No. 16, and it’s possible that Georgia Tech’s Derrick Morgan will be gone by then as well.

[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=Brandon+Graham&iid=6337683″ src=”f/7/6/4/Western_Michigan_v_e0fe.jpg?adImageId=11178394&imageId=6337683″ width=”234″ height=”175″ /]To me that leaves two viable candidates at the position, Michigan’s Brandon Graham and USC’s Everson Griffen, who should be available. Both are sort of tweener size, Griffen at 6-3, 280 and Graham at 6-2, 263. Griffen ran one of the four fastest times (4.66 second) in the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine and tied for first in bench-press reps (225 pounds 32 times). Graham ran the 40 in 4.72 seconds and had only one less rep on the bench than Griffen.

Both were productive college players. The disparity between them is what’s under the hood, according to draft expert Mike Detillier of the M&D Draft Report.

“The big difference is motor,” Detillier told Sportsinthe615. “Graham’s motor is always running red hot. Griffen runs hot and cold.”

The Titans just let go of a V8 defensive end, Kyle Vanden Bosch, who signed as a free agent with the Detroit Lions. For that reason alone Graham has to be intriguing. Here’s another good reason: The player currently in the NFL to whom Detillier most likens Graham.

“I see a lot of the same characteristics as (Indianapolis Colts DE) Dwight Freeney,” Detillier said. “He’s not quite as fast or quick, but he really comes off the edge strong. He has closing speed, and he has good arms and hands to free himself up.

“He’s a relentless guy. He gives you everything he’s got. He was super productive in the college ranks. He’s a guy that didn’t play on the greatest defense at Michigan this past year, but when you watched him you had to be impressed.”

Griffen had some monster games for the Trojans. He also had some games where you couldn’t find him in the stats afterward.

“No question he’s a great athlete, fast, and fluid in his movement,” Detillier said. “But there are questions about his motor. He has flashed big-time potential, but there are games where he disappeared.”

Freeney had a sack in each of the Colts games against the Titans last season. He had a three-sack game against the Titans on Dec. 5, 2004, and a two-sack game against them on Dec. 4, 2005.

Can Titans fans imagine having their own Freeney? It’s sure a nice thought.

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Outcry over SEC Thurs-Sat schedule off the mark

March 3, 2010 1 comment

When second-ranked Kentucky lost 74-65 at Tennessee on Saturday, fans of the Big Blue immediately began to look for reasons for their beloved team’s loss other than the fact Bruce Pearl’s team showed more heart and desire.

[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=Patrick+Patterson&iid=8123494″ src=”4/3/f/1/Kentucky_News_4fef.jpg?adImageId=10926571&imageId=8123494″ width=”234″ height=”316″ /]They decided the culprit was the SEC schedule, which forced the ’Cats to play a late game Thursday night (a blowout home win over South Carolina) and come back to play the Vols on the road at noon on a Saturday.

And make no mistake: John Calipari’s team played the first 27 minutes as though someone hit the snooze button. The Wildcats shot a season-low 35 percent, including an abysmal 2 of 22 from 3-point range. They trailed by as many as 19 points before tying the game at 65 with a little more than 2 minutes to go. The Vols then scored the final nine points and UK left Knoxville with just its second loss of the season.

So does the argument about Thursday-Saturday wash? Actually, it does not. Not even close. On that same weekend Vanderbilt won Thursday night at home against Georgia then played an early game Saturday at Arkansas, where the Commodores hadn’t won during Kevin Stallings’ tenure (0-5). But Vandy ripped the Hogs 89-72.

In fact, teams that have gone through the Thursday-Saturday spin cycle have a surprising record of 13-8. It’s hard to claim any deleterious effect when the winning percentage sits at .619.

Thursday-Saturday teams notably have struggled from the 3-point line, which makes sense. The legs just don’t seem to be there. The teams that have played Thursday then Saturday have shot .333 (143-329) from 3 on Thursdays and just .279 (116-416) from 3 on Saturdays. That’s a  huge statistical difference.

Yet, for the most part it hasn’t kept those teams from winning. So the folks crying foul about the scheduling probably should check the replay.

Here is the breakdown of SEC teams that have played Thursday-Saturday games:

Thursday, Jan. 14

Arkansas at Mississippi State. Bulldogs win 82-80. Hogs shoot .408 (31-76), .444 from 3 (8-18). Bulldogs shoot .474 (27-57), .471 from 3 (8-17).

Auburn at Tennessee. Vols win 81-55. Tigers shoot .304 (17-56), .314 from 3 (11-35). Vols shoot .608 (31-51), .389 from 3 (7-18).

Saturday, Jan. 16

Alabama at Arkansas. Hogs win 71-59 and shoot .456 (26-57), .263 from 3 (5-19).

Ole Miss at Tennessee. Vols win 71-69 and shoot .354 (23-65), .261 from 3 (6-23).

Georgia at Mississippi State. MSU wins 72-69 and shoots .414 (24-58), .258 from 3 (8-31).

Kentucky at Auburn. Wildcats win 72-67. Tigers shoot .417 (25-60), .375 from 3 (9-24).

Net: 3-point shooting on Thursday 34-88 (.386); 3-point shooting on Saturday 28-97 (.289).

Record: Thursday teams went 3-1. All four played at home.

Thursday, Jan. 21

Florida at Arkansas. Gators win 71-66. Gators shoot .355 (22-62), .353 from 3 (6-17). Hogs shoot .442 (23-52), .381 from 3 (8-21).

Saturday, Jan. 23

Arkansas at Kentucky. Wildcats win 101-70. Hogs shoot .306 (22-72), .188 from 3 (3-16).

South Carolina at Florida. Gators win 58-56 and shoot .415 (22-53). .267 from 3 (4-15).

Net: 3-point shooting on Thursday 14-38 (.368); 3-point shooting on Saturday 7-31 (.226).

Record: Thursday teams went 1-1.

Thursday, Jan. 28

Ole Miss at Auburn. Rebels win 84-74 and shoot .567 (34-60), .412 from 3 (7-17). Tigers shoot .365 (27-74), .306 from 3 (11-36).

Mississippi State at Arkansas. Hogs win 67-62 and shoot .365 (19-52), .333 (7-21). Bulldogs shoot .313 (21-67), .192 from 3 (5-26).

Saturday, Jan. 30*

Alabama at Auburn. Tigers win 58-57 and shoot .426 (20-47), .188 from 3 (3-16).

*Arkansas at Ole Miss. The Hogs and Rebels were to have played on Saturday but inclement weather postponed the game till 6 p.m. Sunday. Thus, it is not included for the purpose of this research.

LSU at Mississippi State. Bulldogs win 67-51 and shoot.420 (21-50), .318 from 3 (7-22).

Net: 3-point shooting on Thursday for teams that also played Saturday 16-62 (.258); 3-point shooting on Saturday 10-38 (.263).

Record: 2-0.

Thursday, Feb. 4

Florida at Alabama. Gators win 66-65 and shoot .500 (27-54), .389 from 3 (7-18). Tide shoots .449 (22-49), .429 from 3 (9-21).

Tennessee at LSU. Vols win 59-54 and shoot .400 (22-55), .278 from 3 (5-18). Tigers shoot .305 (18-59), .217 (5-23).

Saturday, Feb. 6

Mississippi State at Florida. Gators win 69-62 and shoot .403 (25-62), .176 from 3 (3-17).

Kentucky at LSU. Wildcats win 81-55. Tigers shoot .318 (21-66), .182 from 3 (4-18).

Alabama at Ole Miss. Rebels win 74-67. Tide shoots .500 (24-48), .462 (6-13).

South Carolina at Tennessee. Vols win 79-53 and shoot .458 (27-59), .353 from 3 (6-17).

Net: 3-point shooting on Thursday 26-80 (.325); 3-point shooting on Saturday 19-65 (.292).

Record: 2-2.

Thursday, Feb. 11

Ole Miss at Mississippi State. Bulldogs win 71-63 and shoot .490 (24-49), .333 from 3 (8-24).

Saturday, Feb. 13*

Auburn at Mississippi State. Bulldogs win 85-75 and shoot .414 (29-70), .324 from 3 (11-34).

*Ole Miss didn’t play again till Feb. 18.

Net: 3-point shooting on Thursday 8-24 (.333); 3-point shooting on Saturday 11-34 (.324).

Record: 1-0.

Thursday, Feb. 18

Vanderbilt at Ole Miss. Commodores win 82-78 and shoot .473 (26-55), .308 from 3 (4-13). Rebels shoot .484 (30-62), .444 from 3 (8-18).

Auburn at Florida. Gators win 78-70 and shoot .440 (22-50), and .200 from 3 (2-10). Tigers shoot .434 (23-53), .241 from 3 (7-29).

Saturday, Feb. 20

Florida at Ole Miss. Gators win 64-61 and shoot .365 (19-52), .077 from 3 (1-13). Rebels shoot .418 (23-55), .300 from 3 (6-20).

Kentucky at Vanderbilt. Wildcats win 58-56. Commodores shoot .321 (18-56), .100 from 3 (2-20).

Arkansas at Auburn. Tigers win 92-83 and shoot .609 (28-46), .579 from 3 (11-19).

Net: 3-point shooting on Thursday 21-70 (.300); 3-point shooting on Saturday 20-72 (.278).

Record: 2-2.

Thursday, Feb. 25

South Carolina at Kentucky. Wildcats win 82-61 and shoot .500 (32-64), .273 from 3 (3-11). Gamecocks shoot .388 (26-67), .200 from 3 (4-20).

Georgia at Vanderbilt. Commodores win 96-94 in overtime and shoot .450 (27-60), .467 from 3 (7-15). Bulldogs shoot .465 (33-71), .476 from 3 (10-21).

Saturday, Feb. 27

Kentucky at Tennessee. Vols win 74-67. Wildcats shoot .350 (21-60), .091 from 3 (2-22).

Vanderbilt at Arkansas. Commodores win 89-72 and shoot .533 (32-60), .313 from 3 (5-16).

Mississippi State at South Carolina. Bulldogs win 76-63. Gamecocks shoot .433 (26-60), .250 from 3 (7-28).

Florida at Georgia. Bulldogs win 78-76 and shoot .574 (31-54), .538 from 3 (7-13).

Net: 3-point shooting on Thursday 24-67 (.358); 3-point shooting on Saturday 21-79 (.266).

Record: 2-2.

Overall 3-point shooting drop-off from Thursday (143-429, .333) to Saturday (116-416, .279).

Overall record: 13-8

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