I saw a friend’s Facebook status that read:
“Parity exists in college athletics. VCU and Butler are living proof!”
I thought this was a very interesting comment because it is true that there is parity in the 2011 NCAA Basketball Tournament with VCU (11 seed) and Butler (8 seed) fighting their way to the Final Four. Not to mention that these two teams will play each other, which guarantees a mid-major will be punching their ticket to the championship game. The path these teams have taken to the Final Four and the ensuing end result has caused some people to become disinterested. I have chosen to take the contrarian view and as a result have found this scenario refreshing due to the sports world being dominated over the last several years by the same few teams. I do not mean the same teams win championships every year, but that there are teams who are “automatic contenders” every year. Think Yankees, Red Sox, Patriots, Lakers…..you get the idea.
This is where I think my friend’s comment becomes really interesting. The triumphant run by an underdog like VCU is something unique to the Big Dance. You will not see this underdog scenario playing out on this scale in NCAA football because the BCS system crushes the possibility from ever happening. I find it shocking that the executives at the NCAA can watch the last two NCAA basketball tournaments and not consider how this system might transfer to football. Imagine Boise State actually getting a shot at Auburn. But I think the reality is, fans like to see the “usual suspects” in contention every year and thus the NCAA does not want to risk losing ratings with a mid-major in the championship game for both of its marquee sports. If anything, VCU and Butler are confirming their decision to keep the BCS in place and we only have ourselves to blame.
I was reading an article in the Pioneer Press (http://www.twincities.com/sports/ci_17654305?nclick_check=1) about how Justin Morneau has been wearing a S100 Rawlings’ helmet after his concussion on July 7, 2010 made him sit out the rest of the season. S100 means the helmet can withstand speeds of 100 mph, which should protect batters from most pitches in MLB. The current helmet used by the majority of MLB players and the one Morneau was wearing when he sustained his concussion can only protect against speeds up to 70 mph. Morneau says in the article that he thinks most players would be surprised to find out their helmet is rated for Little League baseball games.
Concussions are a major problem in professional sports. Players do not want to be seen as weak or humans, so they continue to be resistant to change to equipment that will keep them on the field longer, which is why choosing to not wear the S100 does not make sense to me. I will admit it is not the most fashionable thing, but if it keeps you on the field longer then players, fans, and management should all be in favor of requiring players to wear it. Hopefully Morneau will champion a new trend towards wearing the S100.
Get your fantasy draft boards ready. Tiki Barber is coming back.
Yes, you read that right. Tiki Barber has officially filed papers with the NFL to come out of retirement. The decision comes four years after Tiki retired from the Giants, heavily criticizing Tom Coughlin and the Giants organization in the process, and three years after the Giants won the Super Bowl without him. Now, the Giants’ all-time leading rusher can only hope that his comeback attempt fares better than his broadcasting career–Barber’s time with NBC fizzled out fast, as he quickly went from in-studio analyst to sideline correspondent to…unemployed.
So, after criticizing Coughlin and QB Eli Manning so much following his tenure with the Giants, it’s only logical to say that Tiki will certainly not be back in the Meadowlands. But what options does that leave him? I’d say the leading candidate at this point is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where CB Ronde Barber (Tiki’s brother) is a mainstay, and the RB corps is in need of a veteran presence–Earnest Graham is more of a fullback, and LaGarrette Blount could benefit from learning under an experienced rusher. The other possible destination? Miami. It’s pretty much a given that the Dolphins are hoping RB Mark Ingram will fall to them at No. 15 in this year’s NFL Draft, but no one is quite sure what will happen to Ronnie Brown or Ricky Williams. Tiki could act as a stopgap for the Dolphins if they choose to draft Ingram and let Brown and “Sticky Icky” Ricky Williams go.
We can only look forward to ESPN’s presentation of “The Decision: Tiki Barber Edition” later this year.