TSC Top 25: Did I Miss Something?

There were no shocking upsets or losses tagged to top five teams … finally! College football managed to maintain the status quo for one week, at least as far as this season has gone, it was ridiculously tame.

A number of top 25 teams were beaten but mostly by ranked opponents. Virginia Tech to unbeaten BC, Florida to rival Georgia, South Florida to UConn, USC to Oregon, Penn State to Ohio State, Rutgers to West Virginia and Cal to unbeaten Arizona State.

A week where I have nothing to complain about is a week with little to write about.

  1. Ohio State– This is a scary team. The offense is actually winning ball games. Wisconsin is the toughest test to date but it’s in Columbus. The Big 10 still comes down to OSU-Michigan.
  2. Oregon– Big win vs. USC last week propels them into the national title hunt. Letdown vs. Arizona State this week puts them in the stockade. Is this the Oregon team that finally takes care of its business?
  3. LSU – Alabama this week could disrupt plans for a national title. After the trip to Tuscaloosa it’s home free with three games they’ll be favoured by 20 points in.
  4. Boston College– I had hoped for a Virginia Tech victory on Thursday night and Matt Ryan spoiled the fun. Florida State is a team in turmoil. The final four games are all potential pitfalls but each team (FSU, Maryland, Clemson and Miami) has been inconsistent throughout the season. Boston College may be a lock for the national title game if none of those teams steps up.
  5. Oklahoma– The Big 12 can’t challenge OU. It will be interesting to see where they’re sent in bowl season and if they can slide back into the national title picture with teams losing ahead of them.
  6. West Virginia– Like OU, West Virginia won’t be challenged in its remaining games and will need help to make a run at the crystal ball.
  7. Missouri– Second best team in the Big 12 and Big 12 north champions sounds nice for head coach Gary Pinkel and company. Next year could bring national recognition if Chase Daniel sticks around.
  8. Arizona State– I still can’t buy in. Largely because I haven’t seen a single game they’ve played (my cable package sucks). This week I’ll be able to catch the ASU – Oregon game and get a better read on this team.
  9. Georgia– Running back Knowshon Moreno is a horse and Mark Richt will ride that horse right to the SEC title game.
  10. Texas – All Mack Brown does is win 10 games every year. Who knows, it might just get him fired. How long does it usually take for national championships to wear off on fans these days? 3, 4 years?
  11. USC– Trouble in Trojan town? maybe. But Carroll has enough talent at his disposal to right the ship. Losing another game is entirely possible with both ASU and Cal left to go. That would make USC the best 3-loss team in history.
  12. Michigan– How did you get here? I can’t wait for November 10th vs. Wisconsin and 17th vs. OSU. The Big 10 sure knows how to back-load a schedule.
  13. Kansas– Last week’s win vs. Texas A&M was impressive but we can’t know anything about the Jayhawks until they meet Missouri. The Big 12 is simply too weak.
  14. Alabama– Can Saban beat LSU? Fans will think he really is Bear Bryant.
  15. Hawaii – They keep moving up. It angers me. Note to voters, don’t move up teams for beating lesser opponents.
  16. UConn – That fake fair catch two weeks ago is still phasing me.
  17. Virginia Tech– They were two minutes away from keeping their top 10 ranking and knocking off BC. Now they’re just another two-loss team. They have to travel to Georgia Tech this week for another Thursday nighter.
  18. Florida– Tebow-mania has calmed for the time being (thank god). Only two weeks until Meyer vs. Spurrior III.
  19. South Florida– They had a BCS spot with their name on it until those fair catch fakers over at UConn took it away. Cincinnati this week should be a difficult matchup.
  20. Clemson– How can you not love James Davis and CJ Spiller? Here’s hoping they can spoil the BC party in three weeks.
  21. Tennessee– Fulmer’s still got them ranked, but not high enough, he’s getting canned very soon. Losing to Kentucky in the regular season finale won’t be good for business.
  22. Penn State – Can you fault them for losing to #1? I can. At least until they start using Derrick Williams effectively.
  23. Auburn – SEC teams are impossible to rank.
  24. South Carolina – SEC teams are impossible to rank.
  25. Wisconsin – There’s still an outside shot of the Badgers winning the Big 10 if they win out and get some help from Illinois and Michigan State.

26th vote for Kentucky and the great things Rich Brooks is doing in Lexington. Hopefully life after Andre Woodson be prosperous for the Wildcats.

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Humming the Wrong Tune in Toronto

ToskalaIt was two years before the Toronto Maple Leafs won their last Stanley cup when the Mamas and the Papas released their hit song California Dreamin’ in 1965. Little did they know, that song would be about those Leafs for the next forty years.

The first lyric in the song relates to the fall in Toronto, metaphorically and literally. “All the leaves are brown, and the sky is grey.”

Yes, those Leafs are experiencing some grey skys and are watching a middle-aged team grow old, just as leaves go brown in the fall.

Leafs fans were rejoicing in the summer. They finally had a starting goaltender in Vesa Toskala. Nothing could go wrong there. If Toskala were to fail, former Calder winner Andrew Raycroft was waiting on the bench to create a goaltending controversy.

The only problem is that goaltending controversy has arrived in the worst way possible.

Instead of Paul Maurice choosing the goalie that will give him the best chance to win, he has to put in the goalie that will give him the least chance to lose. It sounds the same, it probably is the same, but it’s not the right mindset.

This controversy in goal is overshadowing the lone bright spot in the Leafs’ organization this year, is that Mats Sundin is finally living up to and surpassing expectations with 19 points amounted already.

That’s all fine and dandy, until Toskala starts a game and lets in four goals, gets pulled, and Raycroft lets in three leading to a 7-1 thrashing by the hands of the mediocre-at-best Washington Capitals.

John FergusonThe problems don’t end on the ice, though. General Manager John Ferguson Jr. knows that Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment isn’t going to offer him an extension. So what kind of a reason does that give to improve the team?

Although he was basically a lame duck GM in the off season anyways.

So this brings the question of whether the Leafs should keep trying to be mediocre and make the playoffs or rebuild?

They can make the playoffs, where they will have an early exit because it’s obvious this isn’t a championship calibre team, or they can miss the playoffs by a few points and try and get better in the summer.

But what the Pittsburgh Penguins proved to be the perfect plan on a few occasions, is that if you’re going to miss the playoffs, miss them in last place. Unload at the deadline, pick up draft picks, keep your own high draft pick, and build your team through young players.

Either that or they keep California Dreamin’ every April when the playoffs come around, and watch the real contenders from their hammocks.

Best of the Best: Part VI – Top Young Quarterbacks

Manning Brady

Those of you who watched ESPN’s Monday Night Football broadcast last week (Colts-Jags) are certainly sick of hearing about Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. Even Tony Kornheiser fans like myself were disgusted with how much he talked about the topic Monday night. Was that all he prepared? Without a doubt it was his low point in the broadcast booth to date.

Blah blah blah “this is Peyton Manning saying ‘here I am, I’m still here, I’m still great’ this is his chance to get people to start talking about him again” blah blah blah. I’m sorry Tony, but I haven’t forgotten about Manning, nor did I forget that he won the Super Bowl last season, nor did I forget that he’s still the most talented quarterback in the NFL.

This display was so sickening I decided it’s time to stop talking about the two mega-stars. The upcoming onslaught of Colts-Pats analysis is just going to be too much to bare.

Maybe there actually are other quarterbacks in this league … What a novel thought. Indeed there are other quarterbacks. In fact there is quite the youth movement happening at the quarterback position as we speak.

Without further ado, here are my rankings of the top young quarterbacks in football today. I set the age restriction at those born in 1981 or later making the players 26 or younger:

  1. Eli Manning(’81) – He gets far too much criticism for what he’s accomplished. Now in his third year as the starter he is making plays and showing he isn’t just Peyton’s brother. In 2005 he threw for 3700 yards and 24 td’s the next year he threw the same amount of td’s but the yardage dipped to 3200. This year he’s on pace for 26 td’s and over 3000 yards. Still a young man, he has a lot to improve on but he’s going to be a great player.
  2. Ben Roethlisberger(’82) – Winning the Super Bowl may have been too much too soon for him as the criticism piled up last season despite having to throw nearly 500 passes. Remember, it was just his third season in the league. This year he has cut down on interceptions and has the Steelers back in contention in the AFC. Once Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are done demolishing the record book he will be battling for MVP trophies.
  3. Phillip Rivers(’81) – Rivers was born into wealth. A quarterback’s best friend is a running game and he happens to have a man behind him who is the best at just that. Tomlinson made Rivers’ transition to starter much easier. He’s in his second year as the man now and his stats may not reflect an improvement across the board but thusfar he is completing 65 percent of his passes as opposed to 61 last season. He is efficient if anything and that side armed release didn’t keep him from throwing for 3300 yards last season.
  4. Jason Campbell(’81) – he’s really in his first year as the starter though he started seven games last year. With a talented receiving core and a hall of fame coach there’s plenty of upside to this former high school all-american.
  5. Jay Cutler(’83) – he evokes the toughness you love in a QB after being battered around while leading the downtrodden Vanderbilt program to several upset wins in his career there. He took over for the Broncos midway through last year. Like Campbell, he started a few games last year but really took the reigns this year. His mobility is perfect for Mike Shanahan’s offense and he already has the bootleg aspect of it down. Once he becomes a more polished pocket passer he’ll start looking a lot more like Elway.
  6. Matt Schaub(’81) – For a few seasons he was the Falcons little toy, trade bait in the purest sense. Now he’s the man in Houston and teams with Andre Johnson to form a potentially lethal combination in the years to come. Thanks to Atlanta holding their cards until the worst possible moment we don’t really know much about Schaub other than that he’s the prototypical NFL quarterback at 6’5 240. He’s completing a high percentage of his passes right now but so did David Carr.
  7. Vince Young (’83) – He’s a winner and he’ll win again. Vince won’t put up gaudy numbers early in his career but he can will his team to victories like few other NFL quarterbacks before him. He will bring Jeff Fisher a Super Bowl before too long.
  8. Alex Smith(’84) – Small hands was showing signs of improvement before he got injured this season. Darrell Jackson and Vernon Davis are essential in his development. He must continue to improve but there isn’t much reason to believe he can be a top flight quarterback in the league.
  9. Matt Leinart(’83) – The left-hander was given an unlimited amount of talented teammates in college and his adjustment to the NFL hasn’t been smooth. He’s shown he is a leader and with all the talent around him he’s bound to be a great pickup in fantasy football leagues for the next five years.
  10. JP Losman(’81) – The Tulane product put together a nice season last year, completing 62 percent of his passes for 3000 yards and 19 touchdowns. Many predicted a breakout season for Losman in 2007 but so far it hasn’t happened. Injuries and promising young backup Trent Edwards have kept Losman on the sidelines for much of five consecutive games now. He has retained his starting position for now after leading the team to a victory against the Jets. This week vs. Cincinnati will be important for his future as the starter in Buffalo.

Too old:

Tony Romo (’80), Byron Leftwich (’80), Carson Palmer (’79), Drew Brees (’79)

Too young:

JaMarcus Russell (’85), Brady Quinn (’84), Drew Stanton (’84), Aaron Rodgers (’83), Tavarris Jackson (’83)

The next wave – draft eligible college QB’s:

  1. Brian Brohm – Louisville : Brohm is catching a lot of flak for Louisville’s down season. He’s only having his best statistical season of his career. In just nine games he’s already thrown for 3200 yards (career high), 26 touchdowns (career high) and has completed 68 percent of his passes (matches career high). He’s already thrown 368 passes, a career high and 50 more than last season. Brohm has the size at 6’4 230 and his old college coach (Bobby Petrino – now Atlanta Falcons HC) will have a high enough pick to select him in the upcoming draft.
  2. Andre Woodson – Kentucky : Woodson has been at the epicentre of Kentucky’s recent rise from mediocrity in the SEC. In last year’s landmark season he threw for 3500 yards, 31 td’s, completed 63 percent of his passes and threw just 7 interceptions in the rugged southeastern conference.
  3. Chase Daniel (Jr.) – Missouri : Standing at just 6’0 tall he doesn’t have size scouts will drool over but his mobility makes up for some of that. Daniel is still a junior and will probably remain at Missouri for his senior year. When he comes out I can’t see him being any worse than an early second round pick and for someone with his efficiency (69.9 % completions this year), that’s a steal.
  4. Matt Ryan – Boston College : Ryan is a popular pick among some analysts. He reminds some of Tom Brady but I don’t see it. My feeling with Ryan is he will be drafted in the first round and an NFL team will pin all its hopes on him only to be disgusted with the outcome. He looks like a bust but it’s hard to ignore the attention he’s getting.
  5. Colt Brennan – Hawaii : Another popular pick because of the numbers he puts up in Hawaii’s fun’n’gun offense. He possesses great mobility and may have been a first round pick last year. The stats are relatively useless but for just to show you the incredulous numbers on his resume, why not. 4300 yards as a sophomore, 5500 yards as a junior. 35 td’s as as soph, 58 as a jr. This year the numbers haven’t been quite as ridiculous (just two 500 yard games? please, my grandmother could do that), but still insane nevertheless. His Heisman consideration has lost some support with a few multi-interception games but he will still sneak in the back end of the first round of the NFL draft.
  6. Dennis Dixon – Oregon
  7. Chase Holbrook (Jr.) – New Mexico State
  8. Erik Ainge – Tennessee
  9. John David Booty – USC
  10. Chad Henne – Michigan
  11. Curtis Painter (Jr.) – Purdue
  12. Nate Longshore (Jr.) – California
  13. Anthony Morrelli – Penn State
  14. Sam Keller – Nebraska
  15. John Parker Wilson (Jr.) – Alabama

Diaper Dandies (god bless Dickie V):

  1. Matt Stafford(So.) – Georgia : No truth to the rumour doctors actually surgically replaced his arm with a shotgun. He’s improving (1500 yards and 13 td’s through 8 games) but hasn’t really progressed as a passer yet.
  2. Tim Tebow (So.) – Florida : The superman comparisons are legitimate, people questioned his ability to throw the football but forgot how many yards he threw for in high school. By the time he’s up for the NFL how many hits will he have taken? How will Alex Smith’s development affect the way scouts look at him?
  3. Ryan Perrilloux (So.) – LSU
  4. Josh Freeman (So.) – Kansas State
  5. Dan Lefevour (So.) – Central Michigan
  6. Mark Sanchez (So.) – USC
  7. Matt Grothe (So.) – South Florida
  8. Jake Locker (rFr.) – Washington
  9. Ryan Mallett (Fr.) – Michigan
  10. Tyrod Taylor (Fr.) – Virginia Tech

Best of the Best: Part V – Sports, Where Would We Be Without You?

I signed on to this website today to begin my usual rant on what’s wrong in the world of sports when I watched the video Hosea posted yesterday.

Then it occurred to me. Could you imagine a world without sports?

It seems trivial and silly, but honestly, could you imagine a world without sports? God forbid the day should actually come when sports no longer exists.

When I watched this video, I began to think about how sports defines who we are as people. Sure, most of us were not gifted with the same skill set that pro athletes are, but I thought of how sports affects our lives.

Remembering 9/11

After the attacks of 9/11, it was baseball that took America on its shoulders and provided an uplifting emotion, passion and simplicity back into life. We all saw the images on television of players, coaches and spectators that were seen crying in those first few days when baseball came back following the attacks and we could understand that in the face of a life-altering event, this game of baseball was there to offer a release.

Every fan of the game could connect with every player in the game because of the tragedy of 9/11, but we could all connect with the emotion and the raw passion of a home-run, a great play in the outfield or a bottom-of-the-ninth strikeout to save a victory when the game was close and so much was at stake. With every fist pump, with every controversial call and with every hot-dog consumed in the crowd, the game of baseball lifted people from this tragedy and brought North America back.

If sports, and in this case, baseball didn’t exist, could the people of North America have found anymore common ground other than grief to rally from? Probably not.

Take the Boston Red Sox’s two World Series victories in the last four years. People have been quoted as saying that they wish their family members could have lived to see the Red Sox win a championship, something that seemed impossible until 2004 when ‘The Curse of the Bambino’ was officially lifted.

Canada celebrate hockey

For most Canadians, we take hockey as our national sport. After all, this country has produced majority of the NHL players in the game, both past and present, and we pride ourselves on being the best. Our pride as a hockey nation is always at stake when we play in international competitions.

When Team Canada won at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, city streets were aligned with the Canadian colours and young and old and people of all different ethnic backgrounds and cultures were seen celebrating together because they were all brought together by Canada being the best at what it is the best at.

Chants of “Go Canada Go” echoed everywhere and it was an inspiring sight to see just how this game and all the emotion that comes from it just sweeps people up. When Canada wins, or the Canucks or even the Leafs, people that have that team or country in common come together to celebrate. If hockey didn’t exist, what would Canada be? What would Canada be without the rivalry of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens? A cold, snow-covered land with barely any common ground.

Then we have the athletes themselves. Doesn’t matter what level of sport, be it a pro athlete, a junior hockey player, a peewee football player, it doesn’t matter.

Sports is a way of life that has so much passion, no matter what the sport. We feed off the emotions, the talent, the desire to win and the attitude.

Tiger Woods Fans

Tiger Woods is a great example of this. The man is the best athlete in the world and every tournament he goes to, thousands and thousands of fans will follow and will get just as excited as he does when he makes a big shot on his way to victory at a major championship. We will sigh and curse and get frustrated just like he does when he fails.

As humans, we are emotional, but when we see people we idolize, we feel their emotions and sports is great for that. When someone gives a fist pump or hangs their head in defeat, thousands more of us do so as well.

We cherish these athletes and we marvel at the trophies, medals and awards because they represent being the masters of courage, passion, talent, years of failure and dedication to one day shed that failure.

After all the years of failure, defeat, tragedy, blood, sweat, tears and every other form of adversity, we could hold that belt, that trophy or that medal high above our heads and have that moment of extreme jubilation, that moment in time that we cannot honestly describe how good it feels to be the best because we cannot comprehend that feeling yet. The true feeling of a champion.

Whether we compete in the sport or we watch it or analyze it, we all want that one moment where we can say we overcame every obstacle to be the best. That is what sports does.

It has that power, like love, to envoke all these emotions from the good to the bad because we all live for that moment of greatness.

It doesn’t matter what sport or what athlete it is. From Babe Ruth to Muhammad Ali to Mario Andretti to Maurice ‘Rocket’ Richard to Tiger Woods to Hayley Wickenheiser, the list can go on and on, it is these people and the world of sport that bring us together from all walks of life for those moments of greatness.

And that is what sports is all about.

I would hate to live in a world without sports.

The Vigneault of Old

Alain VigneaultAlain Vigneault ripped into four of his top players yesterday, telling the wonder twins that they need to produce more offensively, and defencemen Willie Mitchell and Kevin Bieksa need to tighten it up at the back end.

This was all over Sportsnet last night and the headlines in the Sun and the Province this morning, especially since Mitchell answered back in the press saying that AV should keep that kind of stuff in the dressing.

What I’m guessing that he has forgotten, is that about a year ago, Vigneault pulled the exact same thing in a post-game press conference and questioned the work ethic of the team.

They responded, and won a bunch of games.

This was also evident when Vigneault benched Matt Cooke for the first time since his rookie year, and Cooke has been playing his best hockey in a while since then.

AV is the type of coach the players want to impress because they know when they play well, they get rewarded with more ice time, powerplay time; and if they’re lucky they get put on a line with the Sedins.

This is exactly what this team needs to start playing Alain Vigneault hockey, and the kind of hockey that won them a Northwest division title last year.

Greatest Sports Moments of All Time

Brought to you by ESPN, this is one of my favourite clips as it compiles some of sport’s greatest moments.

There are sections with greatest calls from broadcastors, to flashes of greatest coaches, to greatest sports pictures, it’s a complete collection. It also plays to the tune of Dream On by Aerosmith.

It’s a must watch for sports fans. See how many plays and incidents you recognize.

Enjoy. 

What’s Wrong With New York?

Drury GomezIf Vancouver fans think their team is not playing to par, just take a look at the New York Rangers.

This is a team that The Sports Corner chose to reach the Stanley Cup finals prior to the season and our pick was pretty justified. How so? During the offseason, the Rags made a major splash in the free agent pool by signing Scott Gomez and Chris Drury to large, inflated contracts.

These two highly-touted offensive players complements an already threatening attack in New York that already features superstars Jaromir Jagr and Martin Straka, along with veteran Brendan Shanahan. Not to mention youngsters Nigel Dawes, Petr Prucha and Marcel Hossa. On paper, this team’s offensive power is scary.

Taking a look at the standings today, the Rangers are LAST in goals-for with just 19 in eleven games. They sit twelve in the Eastern Conference with 4 wins, 6 losses and 1 OTL. Hate to say it, but these stats are very unacceptable for a team that made such huge headlines during the offseason.

And how has Drury and Gomez done so far this season? The former has recorded eight points with only one goal and seven helpers, while the latter only has two goals and one assist, totalling to a whopping three points. They are definitely not earning their paychecks and it shows with where the Rangers are sitting in the NHL standings.

It seems as if New York has returned to its old form that fans witnessed a few years back.

Remember the days when they signed high priced players only to see them falter in the scoring ranks. Take Bobby Holik for instance, to say he underachieved is an understatement as his scoring ability dropped faster then A-Rod’s stats in the playoffs.

Jaromir JagrIs this the case with this year’s New York Rangers? Are they reverting back to their high-paid-roster-fail-to-make-playoffs team?

Maybe Jagr is really missing last season’s linemate Michael Nylander. It just might explain his stunning lack of contribution early this season, which has only begun to pick up.

Maybe it has to do with chemistry. Maybe it’s going to take a few more games before this team gets familiar with each other, fully click and put more pucks into the opposing net.

Whatever the case, the forwards need to step up. Right now, the Rangers are heading towards the direction of becoming the laughing stock of the league, a title that belongs to the Toronto Maple Laughs.

The Rags need scoring, period.

And we’re hoping that New York turns it around, so we at TSC won’t be completely embarrassed with our prediction.