Open Thread - Thursday Week 16

Enjoy the game, everyone! Mike Tanier and Matt Bowen break down the matchup.

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Barkley going back to Cali

Merry Christmas, USC: You’re getting one more year of Matt Barkley

For starters, he’ll open next season as the runaway favorite for the Heisman Trophy, with every USC passing record in his sights after a blistering finish to the 2011 campaign. He’ll succeed Luck as the undisputed No. 1 prospect in the 2013 draft, and enjoy the fruits of being the 21-year-old Face of College Football in Los Angeles.

I take no position on this.  As Tim Tebow would say, "I don't know what's in his heart."

Money? The NFL?  A Barkley craves not these things.

Jim L. Mora, just chillax, buddy

Mora: So-called tradition stops here

Jim L. Mora found out about the first one at UCLA - where seniors “go over the wall” to skip a day of practice - and he’s not happy about it. In fact, he made it very clear it’s one tradition that will stop the day he starts.  “It’s completely unacceptable and it will not be part of the program going forward,” he said. “It’s a privilege, not a right to play football for the UCLA Bruins. With the commitment you make when you sign on to play here, comes a commit to do what’s asked of you by your coaches on a daily basis. I can just tell you, in no uncertain terms, that that tradition will no longer be a part of tradition going forward.”

Now I know why Rahim Moore has been experiencing problems.  It's all because of this insidious "over the wall" thing!

Why so serious, Jim?  I realize Senior Skip Day is a slippery slope--skip a day of practice here, and eventually, we'll find you in an alley with a needle sticking out of your arm--but isn't it enough to simply end the tradition and move on?  Is there really the need for the over-the-top rhetoric? It's not like we're talking about a whole team of Maurice Claretts.  Just end it and it's done.  There are bigger fish to fry.  Pete Carroll didn't make USC into a powerhouse by getting all hardcore.  He did it by violating NCAA rules building strong relationships with his players.

I predict Mora is gone in three years.  He's proven before that he knows how to misapply the tough-guy shtick.  I'm just glad he didn't accept John Fox's offer to become defensive coordinator of the Broncos.

Broncos: No comment on ‘It Gets Better’ campaign

Denver Broncos Respond To Petition For Team To Produce 'It Gets Better' Video

“The Denver Broncos are committed to tolerance, acceptance and respect for all in the community,” said Smyth. “The National Football League is currently working with USA Network on its ‘Characters Unite’ campaign combating prejudice and intolerance, and our organization is in full support of that movement to help raise awareness for this very important cause.” Smyth declined to provide a specific comment on It Gets Better.

Although it's disappointing that the NFL and the Broncos won't support or even comment on It Gets Better, it's great to hear the league is working with USA Network's campaign to promote tolerance and fight discrimination in all forms. I hope it's not an empty promise from Smyth and the Broncos/NFL, because Characters Unite doesn't appear to have the sharpest of teeth to it - they've only put out two press releases in all of 2011, there are zero corporate entities on their list of official partners, and they haven't updated their Facts & Statistics page in over a year.

As our fellow Broncos fan Deborah Braconnier details in her fine column on the matter, the Red Sox and Cubs have already put together It Gets Better videos.

Packers are America’s team, but Tebow is America’s QB

Packers are the real America's team

22% of voters say the Packers are their favorite team in the NFL to 11% for the Cowboys, 8% for the Bears, Giants, and Steelers, 7% for the Saints, 6% for the Patriots, 4% for the Redskins, and 2% for the Jets. 24% say someone else is their favorite team or that they don’t have a favorite.  Tim Tebow, as expected, edged out Eli Manning (12 percent) and his brother Peyton (10 percent) for the title of America’s most popular quarterback. Tom Brady, Drew Brees and MVP favorite Aaron Rodgers finished next, with 6 percent of the vote.

I'm filing this under "Another reason John Elway should give Tebow more time." Put aside wins and losses (I know it's hard) and put aside what you think might happen at quarterback.  Simply imagine you are Joe Ellis. Imagine you're concerned about the short-term (3-5 years) monetary situation of the Denver Broncos. Imagine your market research tells you that you've got the most popular quarterback in America--so popular in fact, the entire state of Florida liked you on Facebook, DJs on Air 1 Radio (yeah, I listen, I'll admit it) are converting thousands each day to the orange and predominantly blue, and even Randall Cunningham is--as we speak--telling everyone in the Greater Las Vegas area to pray for Tebow. What are you going to do?

Wins? Losses? Tebow's the guy with the gun audience. He's a 240-pound mint. I'd be inclined to have a sitdown with John Elway and give him some lessons in the time value of money.  

I guess students from Boise State are really, really dumb then?

Study Links Winning Football and Declining Grades

When a college football team is successful, students put down their books and pick up some beers.  In examining the grade-point averages of the Oregon student body and the performance of the Ducks’ football team, the researchers found a relationship between declining grades and success on the field.  “Our results support the concern that big-time sports are a threat to American higher education,” the paper’s authors — Jason M. Lindo, Isaac D. Swensen and Glen R. Waddell — wrote. They said their work was among the first to take a look at the “nonmonetary costs” of college sports.  Male students were more likely than female students to increase their alcohol consumption and celebrating and decrease studying when a team fared well, resulting in lower grade-point averages, according to the study.

When you see studies like this, you should always be skeptical.  It sounds logical to conclude that when a school's football team is doing well, students are probably having a little more fun and spending less time on their studies.  And it may be true.  In fact, I'd be surprised if it's not, to be honest.  However, after reading the quote from the authors, I'm struck by their sheer conviction.  Academics aren't above jumping to conclusions based on one set of data--in this case, the University of Oregon's football team from 1997 to 2007. Further, they're not above taking on a topic in which they can make a name for themselves.  Imagine if their data didn't prove their conclusion.  It wouldn't make news; it wouldn't get their name into the press; it might not be worth a paper at all. 

In order to support the claim that big-time sports are a threat to education, I'd like to see more data from more schools and see it benchmarked.  Everything is relative, as they say.  

Jamal Lewis, Dorsey Levens sue NFL over handling of head injuries

Ex-players sue NFL over concussions

Jamal Lewis, Dorsey Levens and two other former NFL players say in a federal lawsuit that brain injuries have left them struggling with medical problems years after their playing days ended…The players maintain the NFL knew as early as the 1920s of the potential for concussions to harm its players.

“The NFL has done everything in its power to hide the issue and mislead players concerning the risks associated with concussions,” the players argue in the lawsuit…“While athletes in other professional sports who had suffered concussions were being effectively ‘shut down’ for long periods of time or full seasons, NFL protocol was to return players who had suffered concussions to the very game in which the injury occurred,” the lawsuit states.

The Daily Lard 12-22-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Interesting post yesterday from Brian Burke on the silly reliance upon gross rushing yards to measure a running back's effectiveness. Funny thing is, he's not just talking about fans here - Burke is studying salaries and how players are valued by the NFL. Running backs apparently get paid for their rushing yards rather than their total contributions to their teams, which is how guys like DeAngelo Williams get $21M in guarantees to comprise just one half of a RB tandem. Burke's best line is his clincher:

"Football people" want to tell you that they ignore stats and just look at the game. They want us to believe they have a near mystical sense of how to recognize good play. The fact is they do rely on stats, just the wrong ones.

Remember this next time you hear/read someone say how much they hate stats and then later cite some as proof of a player's worth. "I hate stats" usually translates to "I hate advanced (or rate) stats that I haven't taken the time to understand, and instead I prefer the traditional ones I've heard about my whole life."

Continue reading "The Daily Lard 12-22-11"

Fans want Miller, Tebow, and Dumervil in Pro Bowl

Broncos Tebow, Dumervil, Miller get strong fan support for Pro Bowl

— If the fans have their way, the Broncos will be well-represented in this season’s Pro Bowl game in Honolulu.  Quarterback Tim Tebow, defensive end Elvis Dumervil and outside linebacker Von Miller would all be heading to Hawaii to play for the AFC in the Pro Bowl game that will be played Jan. 29….Fans constitute one-third of the Pro Bowl voting. The players have one-third and the coaches make up the other one-third. Bronco coaches voted Tuesday night with Bronco players filling out their Pro Bowl ballots today…The Pro Bowl squads will be announced at 5 p.m. MST Tuesday on the NFL Network.

In the final fans voting, Tebow was third among AFC quarterbacks, behind New England’s Tom Brady and Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger. The top three quarterbacks are named to the AFC team.

Cool Cat Award - Braylon Edwards

Braylon Edwards gave 79 students $10,000 for college

As a Cleveland Browns rookie in 2005, Edwards announced he’d give $10,000 in scholarships to 100 area eighth-graders if they could graduate high school with over a 2.5 GPA and 15 hours community service. Of the 100 who were afforded the opportunity, 79 met the criteria and have begun their first year of college. Many are attending Ohio universities, but the schools represented spread across the country and include Harvard, Cornell and Johns Hopkins…Edwards hasn’t played for the Browns in two years. He’s a member of the San Francisco 49ers this season and is earning a $1 million base salary for the year, just about what he’ll pay those 79 students he promised to help years ago.

As I read this, I began thinking of how I might apply this to my own life.  If you know of 79 students who need a $1 Jumbo Eraser at Dollar Tree, send them along.  I'm a big spender.

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