Archive for December, 2008

NFL Coaching Trade

December 31st, 2008 by Travis Edwards (Bankroll Sports Contributor) | Posted in NFL Football   1 Comment »

As soon as week 17 concludes every year you can almost bet the following Monday morning will headline with NFL Coaches being fired after disappointing season. As the postseason is set to start this weekend, the rest of the NFL teams have already started planning ways to change. A number of coaches have been fired in the opening week following the season after failing to meet expectations. We take a look at the teams who are looking for a change for the 2009 season. Which coaches will be packing up their things and where will they be moving them to ring in the New Year?

The most obvious change that was bound to happen comes from the Detroit Lions main office. Lions coach Rod Marinelli was fired after the first 0-16 season in NFL history. The Detroit Lions had also lost the last 7 out of 8 games dating back to the 2007 season meaning they were a dismal 1-23 in their last 24 games. Marinelli was quoted to saying “You can’t go 0-16 and expect to keep your job.” The Lions made the change official Monday morning releasing Marinelli after 3 seasons in Detroit where he had an overall record of 10-38. The outlook for Detroit certainly must be better than before; I mean they can not get any worse literally. The Lions will get the first pick in the NFL draft and a few more selections from the Dallas trade with Roy Williams. Brian Billick looks to be a target for the Lions staff. Billick was the head coach of the Baltimore Ravens from 1999-2007 and winner of the 2000 Super Bowl over the New York Giants. While nothing is official, Billick is rumored to be the main focus for Detroit. Another popular name that has emerged is Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett. Garrett received a lot of criticism from Dallas offensive stars Tony Romo and Terrell Owens and a ticket out of town may be the best bet.

Another NFL coach to receive a pink slip Monday morning was Romeo Crennel of the Cleveland Browns. The Browns had a disappointing 4-12 season and losers of their last 6 games. Cleveland was an embarrassing 24-40 under Crennel in four seasons of play. The Browns also had lost at least 10 games in 3 of their 4 seasons under Crennel. Crennel had received a contract extension and the Browns seemed to be heading in the right direction after a 10-6 season. However, things got a lot worse this year and the Browns are now in search of a new man in charge. Cleveland has reported showing interest in a few promising names including New York Jets former coach Eric Mangini. Mangini was among the 3 coaches fired on what many are calling “Black Monday” for NFL head coaches. Mangini is reported to show interest in the position and the Browns will be scheduling an interview this week. Another prospect for the Cleveland owner Randy Lerner is the notable name of New England Patriots Vice-President Scott Pioli. Pioli might be the more sought after man considering owner Randy Lerner will be trying to go after what he calls “a huge change” in Cleveland. The Browns are moving fast with their coaching process and I expect something to be official in the next week.

New York Jets coach Eric Mangini was probably the least expect firing Monday. The Jets were on a very promising mid-season run where they looked like one of the best teams in the AFC. However, the wheels fell off for the Jets momentum and they would lose 4 of their last 5 games. QB Brett Farve publicly announced his dislike for some of Mangini’s actions this season and the disappointing downfall of events was enough to remove Mangini from office. The New York Jets along with the other 3 teams in search of coaches were said to have contacted former Steelers Super Bowl Champions Coach Bill Cowher. Cowher had denied both the Browns and Lions offers to talk, but will has accepted the invitation to at least talk it over with the Jets. Cowher would offer a huge improvement in the management department if the Jets were to manage to land him. New York is continuing its search with some names like Steve Spagnuolo and Marty Schottenheimer that are being thrown into the discussion.

Tuesday Morning Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan was fired becoming the 4th coach to be let go this week. Shanahan had an impressive 14 year tenure with the Denver Broncos including Back-to-Back Super Bowl Champions in 1997 and 1998. The decision came after the Broncos became the first ever team to lose a 3 game lead in a division in the final 3 weeks of the season highlighting a very disappointing season. However, Shanahan will very likely be a well sought after coach for teams around the NFL. There has already been rumors that Shanahan could end up in Dallas, but Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has stood firm behind his statement claiming Wade Phillips will be the coach next season. The Broncos have not claimed any favorable targets to fill Shanahan’s shoes at this time, but I’m sure we will understand a lot more in the coming days as the NFL coaching saga continues.

Many people expected Dallas Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips to be thrown into the fire as well, but the Cowboys have stood by Phillips claiming he will be their coach next season. Phillips and the Cowboys completely fell apart down the stretch, a trend that has plagued the Cowboys for the last decade. Buffalo Bills coach Dick Jauron was another coach on the hot seat, but the Bills report that Jauron will return as the coach next season. Jauron has led the Bills to 3 straight 9-7 seasons and many of the fans have been unhappy. Other names that left their respective offices this season included the San Francisco 49ers that fired offensive coordinator Mike Martz. Martz was the former offensive coach that led the explosive Rams offense to the 2002 Super Bowl. The Houston Texans fired nearly the entire defensive coaching management including defensive coordinator Richard Smith. The teams that make the playoffs you would expect to be in safe terms considering job security, but NFL owners have let coaches go before he have not performed well in the postseason. While I do not expect any of this year’s playoff class to be in jeopardy, the playoffs could provide some other unexpected changes in office.

NFL Playoff Picture Set

December 29th, 2008 by Travis Edwards (Bankroll Sports Contributor) | Posted in NFL Football   1 Comment »

The NFL Playoff scenario is set in stone after a season of teams battling to earn their right to play in the postseason. Many teams had already clinched going into week 17 this Sunday, but many others had fight their way in during the last week of the season. The San Diego Chargers blasted the Denver Broncos 52-21 to win the pitiful AFC West. The Chargers have the worse record amongst any playoff opponents at (8-8) and benefit from a weak division. Other teams that had to earn their way in this past weekend include the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles blew out the struggling Cowboys 44-6 to pick up the final wildcard spot in the NFC. The Eagles really come on strong winning 4 of their last 5 games to edge into the playoffs. The Miami Dolphins and the Baltimore Ravens both clinched playoff berths in the AFC with wins this week improving to 11-5. The Dolphins won the division with a 24-17 win over the Jets while the Ravens earned a wildcard spot knocking off the Jaguars 27-7. The Atlanta Falcons also were another team that earned their way in the postseason with a close win over the Rams 31-27.

There were a number of promising teams that were left out of the playoffs this season and highlighting that group are the New England Patriots. The Patriots were perfect in the regular season a year ago, but were plagued with key injuries this season. The Patriots needed a Miami loss along with their win over the Bills this Sunday, but things were not meant to be. Brett Farve possible final season in the NFL ended on a sour note as the Jets failed to beat the Dolphins. The Jets started the year really strong and at one point this season seemed like the class of the AFC. However, the Jets lost 4 of their last 5 games on a terrible month of football. The Dallas Cowboys have had the most consistent troubles closing out seasons in the last decade. The Cowboys have been known for under achieving late in the season and they were blown out in a game that would have put them in the playoffs in week 17 against the Eagles. Dallas still has not won a playoff games since the 1996 season. Tampa Bay lost every game in December dropping 4 in a row to miss the playoffs. The Buccaneers were a promising NFC team going into that stretch, but simply could not close out the season. Despite the teams that are in and out, the playoff picture is set. The next few weeks of football promise to be exciting and fun to watch. Here is a breakdown of how the playoff bracket looks and a preview of next week’s games.

As you can see the New York Giants are the #1 seed in the NFC meaning they will have home field advantage throughout the playoffs while Tennessee Titans have the #1 seed in the AFC. Both # 1 and # 2 seeds will have first round byes and the #1 seeds will play the lowest seeded team to advance from the wildcard round. The Carolina Panthers and the Pittsburgh Steelers will both get first round byes as #2 seeds as well this week.

Miami vs. Baltimore

The Dolphins really come on strong towards the end of the season winners of their last 5 games this year. The Dolphins pulled off possibly the best turnaround in NFL history. A year after only winning one game they ended the season 11-5 and winners of the AFC East. Miami will have a tough task to keep the streak going against the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens as usual are led by strong and talented defense. Defensively, the Ravens can play with anyone in the NFL. However, it will be interesting to see how rookie QB Joe Flacco performs in the postseason with no prior experience. I don’t know how the betting public will favor on this game, but the Ravens look primed to end the Dolphins winning streak in this match-up.

Indianapolis vs. San Diego

Before week 17 the majority of people around the nation would have thought the Colts would be a lock in this game. On the other hand, the Chargers demolished the Denver racking up 52 points in the process. All of a sudden San Diego has won 4 straight and are possibly one of the hottest teams heading into the playoffs. Indianapolis has been even hotter winning 9 straight games behind QB Peyton Manning. The Colts have some key players who have been in this position before and that experience always helps. This game looks to be an exciting battle between two streaky teams. Expect some points to be scored in this game as well.

Arizona vs. Atlanta

Arizona really looked good until the last month of the regular season. The Cardinals dropped 4 of their last 6 games with their only two victories in that stretch coming over rather weak opponents. Atlanta on the other hand has been improving all season behind rookie sensation QB Matt Ryan. Ryan looks like a superstar in the making, but heading into this game he lacks any playoff experience. Keep your eye on the passing game for the Cardinals. QB Kurt Warner and the offense were putting up big numbers most of the season before mellowing out down the stretch. Arizona will need a big offense performance against a talented Falcons team.

Philadelphia vs. Minnesota

The Eagles surprised the nation in how easily they handled Dallas in week 17. Philadelphia closed out the season very strong winning 4 of their last 5 games against quality opponents. QB Donovan Mcnabb has overcome mid-season controversy surrounding his performance and is playing well in recent weeks. The Vikings sport the best ground game in the NFL behind the amazing ability of running back Adrian Peterson. Peterson’s play will be the difference in this game. If Philadelphia can keep Peterson from making a number of big plays, they will have a good chance in this game if they continue their stellar play.

The first week of the NFL Playoffs looks to be very exciting. While I am sure they will probably be a surprise or two, it is almost impossible to predict who is playing the best football right now. Unlike previous years where you had clear favorites, anyone this season has a legitimate shot to make the Super Bowl. These set of teams making up the 2009 playoffs are perhaps the most evenly match from top to bottom to ever make the playoffs in quite some time. Keep an eye on how these teams play this coming weekend and how the playoffs will unwind down the stretch.

Bowl Games Exciting Start

December 27th, 2008 by Travis Edwards (Bankroll Sports Contributor) | Posted in College Football   Comments Off on Bowl Games Exciting Start

The College Football version of the postseason is underway and teams they would normally never play each other are squared off to battle in front of the nation. The College Football Bowl season is always exciting for a number of reasons. One reason is that fans get to see their favorite teams play one last game. Often times these teams get to play schools from another conference which promises for exciting football. Ever year the Bowl Season has some great games and its share of one-sided affairs. However, this season the majority of the Bowl Games have been really intriguing. Nearly every game has been very close and this Bowl Season has been perhaps a lot more entertaining than in previous years.

So far there has been 8 Bowl Games played this season. While usually the Bowl Games that take place early in the postseason are not as entertaining, this season all the games have been impressive. The majority of College Football fans do not tune into the Bowl Games until New Year’s Day or afterwards when the top games are featured. The early games are often mismatches and bad football games. This season has not disappointed as almost every game has been close and fun to watch. In the 8 Bowls played, 6 of those games have been settled by 10 points or less. Christmas Eve’s Sheraton Hawaii Bowl was a one-sided affair, but many watched to see if the Notre Dame Fighting Irish could end the nation’s longest Bowl losing streak. The Fighting Irish snapped the 9 straight Bowl losses streak pounded on Hawaii 49-21. While the game was not as close as others, it was still highly rated for viewings and was fun to watch. The only other game that was one-sided was that of the Magicjack Bowl with the South Florida Bulls crushing the Memphis Tigers 41-14. For the rest of the Bowl Season, it has been nothing but great football.

Wake Forest and Navy started off the season with a great game in the EagleBank Bowl. Navy jumped out in front 13-0, but could not hold off the Demon Deacons. Wake Forest would rally in an exciting comeback to pull off the victory 29-19. The New Mexico Bowl was the next to take the stage and it would showcase two very talented offenses in a scoring shootout. Talk about exciting, Colorado State and Fresno State combined to score 75 points. Colorado State would hold on late for a 40-35 win over Fresno State in what was a fun game to watch for two schools you normally may not see on T.V. The Bowl Season is always full of upsets and surprises, but nobody really expected Arizona to be able to pull off a victory against #16 BYU. However, the Wildcats did just that when they took down Brigham Young 31-21. The game was a great battle for the nation to watch between the PAC-10 and the Mountain West Conferences.

Two of the best games so far this postseason came from the Poinsettia and New Orleans Bowl Games. The New Orleans Bowl showcased an instant classic between Southern Mississippi and Troy. The Trojans came into the game as the favorites and the two teams went back and forth trading the lead the entire game. Regulation time could not decide this exciting battle as the teams had to go to overtime. In College Football, both teams get the ball in overtime. Southern Miss scored on a field goal in their offensive possession. Troy was held on offensive and attempted a field goal of their own, however the Golden Eagle blocked the field goal to end the game highlighting one of the more exciting games in recent history. Another absolute wonderful football games came in the way of the Poinsettia Bowl. #11 TCU faced off with one of only two undefeated teams in College Football this season in #9 Boise State. The battle between nearly two top 10 teams would be anything but disappointing. The Broncos felt a little disappointment as they felt they should have received an at-large BCS Bowl berth due to their undefeated campaign. A win over TCU who sports the nation 2nd best overall defense would have made their statement even stronger. The Broncos jumped out to a 13-0 lead in the game and seemed to be rolling. However, the defense for TCU would rise to the challenge shutting down Boise State for the rest of the game. TCU captured a late game winning in exciting fashion 17-16 ending Boise State’s undefeated season. The win marked the 4th straight Bowl victory for TCU which equaled a school-record.

Last night’s Bowl match-up was another that did not disappoint football fans. Florida Atlantic and Central Michigan held up a strong battle featuring two inferior programs. The Owls of Florida Atlantic held on by a field goal 24-21 to capture the win in the Motor City Bowl. The game capped off a series of great games in the last week over the Christmas Holidays. From here on out, the Bowl Games will pick up in numbers. Today there will be 3 exciting Bowl Games to take place and many will follow featuring highly notable teams. If the start of this Bowl Season is any indication of how the next two weeks will play out, then we are in for some very exciting football.

3 Other games that will be worth to keep an eye on besides the game everybody will be watching in the BCS Championship is:

Capitol One Bowl: Georgia vs. Michigan State

Two teams with identical records (9-3) square off in a classic battle between the SEC and the Big 10. Georgia brings the speed of the SEC and the Spartans bring a powerful running game to the table. This should be a great game highlighting the play of two conferences that take great pride in beating each other

Rose Bowl: USC vs. Penn State

This particular match-up features two of football’s elite powerhouses. The Trojans are hosting in their 4th straight Rose Bowl. The game should be rather low-scoring compared to the way many would expect. USC has one of the best defenses in recent memory and Penn State has a great defensive themselves along with a good running game. These two teams were both predicted at times to contend for a National Title this season and it will be interesting to see who can conquer who in a clash of titans.

Cotton Bowl: Ole Miss vs. Texas Tech

The Red Raiders were ranked as high as #2 this season before getting blasted by Oklahoma. Ole Miss is among one of the most improved teams in the nation. Texas Tech has one of the very best offenses in College Football, but it will be interesting to see how they stack up against an SEC defense. The SEC has made their name known for defense in recent years and they will get the chance again in a game that many think Ole Miss has no chance to win.

Celtics March Towards Greatness

December 23rd, 2008 by Travis Edwards (Bankroll Sports Contributor) | Posted in NBA Basketball   Comments Off on Celtics March Towards Greatness

The Boston Celtics are off to one of the best starts in NBA history at a record of 27-2. While it is still very early in the season, the Celtics can see a glimpse of history in the making. The Celtics are on pace to challenge the 1996 Chicago Bulls for the best record ever in a season. The 1996 Bulls finished their brilliant campaign with a final record of 72-10 and capped it off with an NBA Championship as well. Boston is off to a mind blowing pace through the early half of the season. The Celtics have 53 games remaining this season and the competition will likely pick up. However, if Boston could keep up similar pace they could quite possibly achieve the best season ever in the history of the NBA.

Boston is one of the most historical franchises in NBA history. The Celtics have an amazing 17 NBA Championships that is by far more than any other franchise in NBA history. Boston has established the best start in NBA history at a mark of 27-2. Only two other teams can compare to that kind of start. Both the 1966-67 Philadelphia 76ers and 1969-70 New York Knicks started their seasons 26-2. They also both went on to win NBA Championships. With last nights 110-91 victory over the 76ers, the Celtics have now won 19 straight games which equals a team record. Boston is making their claim as one of the best teams to ever take the floor in professional basketball.

Celtics’ coach Doc Rivers has done a fabulous job getting his guys to play premier defense. Despite all the offensive weapons, the Boston defensive schemes have been major reason for their success. This season the Celtics are only allowing 91.4 points per game which ranks them as the 2nd best scoring defense in the NBA. Boston also ranks first in the NBA in defensive field goal percentage. The Celtics are only allowing opposing teams to shoot 41% from the floor on average which is by far the best in the league. The Celtics have only allowed teams to score over 100 points 7 times this season in the 30 games played. That statistic alone is pretty remarkable considering how high scoring the entire NBA has become. However, Boston has stayed with an old school type of basketball that focuses on defense first and it has paid off big time.

Offensively the Celtics are as talented as any team in the league. Unlike the Los Angeles Lakers or Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston seldom has one player stand out game in and game out. Unlike other top teams that are led by star players such as Kobe Bryant and Lebron James, the Celtics can have any of their starting five post a big night. Other teams have the stress of worrying how their start performer will play every night. When those players are off a lot of times the entire team struggles. The Celtics do not have those worries because they have a number of players who can pick up the slack on any given night. Boston is led by a trio of stars in Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett. The Celtics average 50 points per game just between those 3 standouts. Boston benefits from having this type of talent considering when one player is off his game others will pick it up. Many teams can not afford there star players to struggle. However, Boston can play at a top level every night despite individual performances. This reason alone is why they are the most consistent team in the NBA.

Boston is on their way to accomplishing probably one of the most prestigious records a team could capture in the regular season. Boston remaining schedule will most certainly wear down the players and they are likely to lose this blistering early season pace. However, if the Celtics do stay on path they could legitimately challenge the 76’ Bulls for the best record of all-time. Boston has a huge match-up with the Los Angeles Lakers on the horizon to take place on Christmas Day. The game will mark a battle between powerhouses in effort to gain NBA supremacy. Each team will be trying to prove they are the best in the NBA and a win will go along way for each team’s confidence about where they stand in the league. If the Celtics could escape Los Angeles with a victory, the momentum could definitely last the rest of the season.

The Celtics simply have to keep similar pace in tact. Even if Boston were to lose twice as many games in their next 29 games, they would still be on pace to end the season with around 9 losses. This means that every game could be one loss or one win away from breaking the record at season’s end. So far this season Boston has faired well against the best competition in the NBA. Orlando, Cleveland, and Los Angeles have the best records in the NBA behind Boston by 5 games or more. Boston is 2-0 against these teams this season with convincing wins in both games against Orlando and Cleveland. The Celtics will get the Lakers next up the Thursday night and will try to stay perfect against the elite teams in the NBA. The Celtics appear to be headed for a probable chance at history. Unless some drastic things change, Boston will get their chance to stake claim as the best team in the history of professional basketball. Record or no record, for now sit back and watch one of the best teams to ever take the floor and applaud their strive at greatness.

Dallas Cowboys December Woes

December 22nd, 2008 by Travis Edwards (Bankroll Sports Contributor) | Posted in NFL Football   1 Comment »

The Big D in Dallas may stand for many things in the month of December. Drama, downfall, doom, deterioration, and others come to mind. The Cowboys have been anything but stellar in the closing months of the football season in the last decade and their troubles continued this week with a loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Dallas needed another big win in the month of December and failed for the 2nd time in 3 weeks. Luckily for the Cowboys the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles lost paving the way to a week 17 showdown with the Eagles that could still land Dallas in the playoffs. However with the trend of late season success the Cowboys have taken, one must ask has “America’s” team lost their star status?

The Dallas Cowboys are the most popular franchise in professional football. With the spotlight, come big anticipations for the team loved by so many. The Cowboys were perhaps the best team of the 90s winning 3 Super Bowls that tied them for the most Super Bowl victories in NFL history. However, since 1996 the Cowboys have not posted one postseason victory. Dallas has performed well at times, but like recent years has fallen apart at the end of seasons. Since 2002, Dallas has won 11 times in 28 games in the month of December equaling a 39% winning percentage. Outside the month of December since 2002, the Cowboys are 50-35 equaling a 70% winning percentage. That is a huge difference at a time when you need to be playing your best football. Perhaps now you may understand why the Cowboys have not won a playoff game in over a decade. The reasons for the Cowboys constant late season downfalls may not be known, but here a few possible reasons.

Especially over the last few years Dallas entire team has been based around the performance of the offense. Many times the defense simply showed up hoping that the offense would score more than they would allow. Last year, the Cowboys averaged 33 points per game heading into the month of December. However in the month of December, Dallas only averaged 15 points per game. The reason may be that when you have a high power offense a lot of times they fade off towards the end of the season. The defenses get better, teams have seen the films more, and the offensive players wear out down the stretch. Even the New England Patriots of last season who were perfect during the regular season slowed down a little on scoring in the latter part of the year. Dallas best years of scoring in the months of December have been based around teams that performed well defensively as opposed to offensively. However, if this was the sole reason owner Jerry Jones would be stacking up the defensive side of the ball rather than signing star after star players on offense.

Another reason that the Cowboys may have late season trouble is the weather. Despite many people beliefs, the weather plays an important factor in the closing months of the season. Face it, Dallas is almost as good as a Desert town when it comes to warm temperatures. Could the guys in blue simply not play as well in the cold? Perhaps that reason can not be proven, but it must be considered. Coaching has been discussed as a problem for the Cowboys late in the season as well. Good coaches are known for changing up schemes and designs so teams will not be able to plan for their game style. Dallas plays in the NFC East meaning they get to play the Redskins, Giants, and Eagles twice every season. In the month of December since 2002, the Cowboys are 2-10 against these opponents in their 2nd match-up of the season. That number may surprise even those who despise the Cowboys. Can part of the blame be on the coaching staffs of the past few years? I mean after all you should be able to have a better winning percentage when facing teams for the 2nd time around. Before their victory over the Giants two weeks ago, Dallas had not won a NFC East game in December since 2004 against the Redskins. The Cowboys simply have to be better than that in their own division so late in the year to have any kind of success.

Big D could possibly stand for the biggest disappointment year in and year out for the most popular team in football. However, Dallas still has a chance this season to right the ship. The Cowboys will clinch a playoff spot next weekend if they can pull off the win against NFC East nemesis the Philadelphia Eagles. If the Boys can pull off the victory, they will get another shot to grab their first postseason victory in 12 years. However, America’s team will get a #1 or #2 seeded NFC team in the playoffs. Meaning the Dallas would likely play New York or Carolina. While Dallas may have beat New York two weeks ago, I imagine the Giants would be the favorites this time around and Carolina would be big favorites with their superior running game. Dallas may very well have to wait another year to attempt to end the disappointment streak. Still the Cowboys will get their chance to prove their league’s status. Will the Cowboys finally overcome the troubles of December and January, or will the Big Disappointment continue?

NBA Coaching – A Tough Road

December 20th, 2008 by Travis Edwards (Bankroll Sports Contributor) | Posted in NBA Basketball   Comments Off on NBA Coaching – A Tough Road

The NBA basketball season is in full swing and we can start to expect which teams will be strong and which teams will struggle this season. Highlighting the new NBA season are some very familiar face a top the standings. The reigning NBA Champions the Boston Celtics own the best record in the NBA at 25-2 making them look again like the team to beat this year. Other teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers and the L.A Lakers are both off to 21-4 starts and staging themselves to be postseason factors despite how early we are in the season. On the other hand, there are also some familiar faces on the bottom side of success. Teams that have been failing to succeed have found their coaches feeling the pressure of job security and a total of 6 coaches have already lost their job in the NBA this season.

The previous record for NBA firing before the Christmas holidays was three. However, franchises desire to win are at an all-time high and they are not willing to wait for success. The 6 NBA coaches result in 20% of the NBA coaches being fired. Did they all really expect to be World Champions? The majority of these coaches were from teams that had absolutely no chance at competing anyway, but yet the decisions have still been made and change amongst the coaching ranks seems to have been the only option. Oklahoma City started off the trend back in late mid November firing coach P.J. Carlesimo. The Oklahoma City Thunder had gotten off to a league worse 1-12 start and was failing to compete with anyone. Assistant coach Scott Brooks was named interim coach with the intentions to finish the season. However, since the coaching change the Thunder are only 2-13 in their last 15 games and seem to be the exact same team no matter who is in charge thus raising the question is the problem coaching or talent?

Next in the firing line was the man leading the Washington Wizards. Head Coach Eddie Jordan was fired within 3 days of Carlesimo’s announcement after the Wizards started the season 1-10. Stepping up to the challenge was the former Director of Player Development Ed Tapscott. Jordan had led the Wizards to 4 straight playoff appearances and was 3rd on the all-time Washington win list with 197 wins. After Jordan’s departure, there were similar results behind the new man in charge. Since the coaching change, the Wizards are 3-10 and have lost 5 straight games. Again is the coaching really the problem?

The Toronto Raptors stepped up next to deliver the disappointing news to another NBA coach. On December 3rd, the Toronto Raptors became the 3rd NBA team to fire their head coach when they released Sam Mitchell. Mitchell led the Raptors to an 8-9 start. Despite having made the playoffs the past two seasons and also winning the NBA Coach of the Year for the 2006-2007 season, Mitchell ran out of time to improve the team’s performance. Mitchell was perhaps the most surprising firing considering Toronto was still in position to save their season barring the need of a few wins in a row. Mitchell and the Raptor suffered a huge loss to the Denver Nuggets in the night prior to the firing where they were defeated 132-93 and that loss was the Mitchell’s last opportunity. Jay Triano took over the reigns in Toronto becoming the first ever Canadian coach in the NBA. Triano and the Raptors are now 2-7 since the change and yet another example of a change that has not worked out.

Five days later the Minnesota Timberwolves fired Coach Randy Wittman becoming the 4th coach to be fired in two weeks. Wittman and the Timberwolves were off to an embarrassing 4-15 start and they team had lost 5 games in a row by an average of 15 points. Kevin Mchale the former Vice President of basketball operations stepped in to try to turn the young team around. Again the coaching change has done nothing for yet another franchise. The Timberwolves have lost 6 straight games since the coaching change and the troubles have gotten way worse. Again was there any change necessary?

Nearly a week later the Philadelphia 76ers would jump into the coaching trend. The 76ers fired Coach Maurice Cheeks after a sluggish 9-14 start. The firing placed Cheeks as the 5th coach that had been fired in the first few weeks of the season. Cheeks was another coach that had made the playoffs last season and still had time to turn his team in the right direction except he would not get the chance. Assistant general manager Tony DiLeo was appointed coach for rest of the season. DiLeo. Philadelphia may be the only team to have truly benefited from the coaching change. DiLeo has led the 76ers to 3 straight wins. While it may be early in DiLeo’s coaching debut, he definitely seems to have Philadelphia on the right path and hopefully this coaching change will be one that pays off.

A mere two days later Sacramento Kings’ Coach Reggie Theus would be the final coach thrown into the fire. Theus had led the Kings to a 6-18 start and dropped 10 of his last 11 games. At the time of Theus’s firing, the Kings had not won a game in nearly a month of basketball and a coaching seemed like the only logical explanation. After all, everyone else in the NBA is doing it. Assistant Coach Kenny Natt took over the head coaching position after the Theus departure. Since that final coaching change Natt is 1-2 in three games with the Kings. Natt does not to seem to be on the start that would suggest the Kings made the right decision, but it is very early in the change. The NBA has just not faired well this season with coaching changes.

Theus was officially the 6th coach to lose their job in the NBA this season which is twice as many ever fired before Christmas in NBA history. Despite the lack of success of coaching changes there is still a good possibility a few more coaches may be released in the upcoming weeks. Memphis Grizzlies Coach Marc Iavaroni has reportedly been on the hot seat for a few weeks and could be the next coach to be fired in the NBA. The Grizzlies are off to a 9-17 start and do not appear to be heading in the right direction. Another possibility is Mike Dunleavy of the L.A. Clippers. The Clippers are underachieving at an 8-18 record on the season and Dunleavy is taking much of the blame. The chances of some other teams losing coaches by the end of the year are certain. The real question is when these coaches will be let go. However, only one of the six teams that have fired coaches this season has seen a benefit from their change. Still the fact remains that in the NBA many times you can be one loss away from losing your job.

2009 College Football Recruiting Update

December 17th, 2008 by Travis Edwards (Bankroll Sports Contributor) | Posted in College Football   2 Comments »

The College Football regular season is over and coaches are hard at work on the recruiting trail pitching their best efforts in trying to per sway the best talent to come to their schools. National signing day is vastly approaching and teams are trying to pull out all stops to sign some big players. Recruiting is very important as year after the year the top schools in recruiting shine through in August when their talent steps on the field.

According to which keeps up with recruiting year round, the LSU Tigers currently have the best class in the nation with a month to go before signing day. The Tigers have signed the #1 rated quarterback coming out of high school in Russell Shepard. Shepard could come in and be an immediate impact for LSU. The Florida Gators have had a top 3 recruiting class the last 3 years and that has shown to carry onto the field considering the Gators will be making their 2nd National Championship appearance in 3 years. However, the Gators surprisingly only rank 15th in recruiting and have some work to do to close out the year. The Southern California Trojans are currently 2nd with only 16 signees. The Trojans will more than likely jump to the top spot after a few more signatures before signing day. USC has an amazing 8 players in the top 100 players coming out of high school nearly twice as many as any other team.

The Ohio State Buckeyes nearly have a full roster of 25 players to commit and they rank 3rd out of all Division I teams. Two teams that barely missed National Championship appearances in Texas and Alabama make up the 4th and 5th place teams in recruiting. Both schools have 19 commitments and a lot of time to improve their overall class. Alabama signed one of the most elusive backs of the 2009 class in Pensacola, Florida native Trent Richardson. Richardson rushed for 1,340 yards and 14 touchdowns as a junior and promises to be one of the most elusive backs in America. Texas signed a stud in defensive end Alex Okafor. Okafor has a rare combination of size and speed that has a future Sunday ticket written all over his resume. The North Carolina Tarheels have perhaps been the biggest surprise in the 2009 recruiting class. Head Coach Butch Davis is doing an awesome job down in Raleigh turning the basketball school into a football force. The Tarheels rank 6th right now in the nation and are one commitment shy of a full class.

There are a number of surprises and disappointments involving the recruiting front. The South Carolina Gamecocks are ranked 8th in the nation with a few top 100 prospects on their list. The Ole Ball Coach seems to still be bringing in a lot of talent and perhaps one day he will do the unthinkable and win a SEC Championship at South Carolina a task Spurrier has claimed he will achieve. Former ACC powerhouses Florida State and Miami have both quietly climbed the rankings in attempt to return to their former dominance. The Seminoles rank 9th while Miami ranks 11th. Both schools only have 17 commitments and still have a lot of room to climber even higher in the recruiting polls. Another mild surprise in the recruiting trail is the success reached by Rich Rodriguez of Michigan. Rodriguez was the mastermind behind that explosive offense at West Virginia and was brought to Michigan to turn the program around. Rodriguez has the Wolverines listed right now to bring in the 7th most talented class of 2009 and that would definitely help get Michigan pointed in the right direction.

A few disappointments in the recruiting department hold the names of two of the most prestigious programs in college football. Penn State is currently ranked 21st for the class of 2009 with nearly a full class of commitments and not much room for improvement. The Nittany Lions have got the guys they want, but has the talent ranked lower than the majority of teams with that commits. Another team that has not lived up to their high expectations is that of the Oklahoma Sooners. The Sooners had a breakout year on the field and are scheduled to meet Florida in the National Championship game. Usually that kind of exposure, leads to the most elite recruiting classes. However, Oklahoma is slightly further down the rankings than many would expect at #12. While the #12 ranking is nothing to be ashamed of, many thought Oklahoma would have assembled a most definite top 5 recruiting class. Interesting enough there were also a number of notable teams that did not even make the top 25 at this point in the recruiting process. Virginia Tech, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Clemson, and West Virginia all still have a lot of work to go in the final month of recruiting.

There are a number of reasons to keep your eye on the recruiting process in college football. Will the former ACC powerhouses Florida State and Miami make a return as one of the nations most elite programs as they were for so many years? Will South or North Carolina provide some program turn arounds that lead to the entering the National spotlight? Or will something happen like one of the current college football powerhouses like Penn State start to dwindle away. One thing recruiting has proven year in and year out is that recruiting success is parallel to wins. Keep your eye on the recruiting news as we enter the final month before every high school player signs their letter of intent to their school of choice on National Signing Day.