Friday, 2/9 Quick Hitters: UofA / ASU Recruiting, Ranking the Pac-12 HCs, Trades Galore, and more!

-Let’s start with the elephant in the room from college football’s National Signing Day…according to 247Sports’ team rankings…ASU is 36th and UofA sits at #58. Am I worried? Not in the least. Last I checked Herm Edwards was hired in early-December which gave him and his staff nearly two months to improve upon Todd Graham’s class. For Kevin Sumlin, it was closer to 2.5 weeks. And in three days, Sumlin signed Arizona’s highest rated recruit, QB Kevin Doyle from Washington D.C.

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-Props to Herm for finishing with a solid class…but if you’d like to bet me that next year Sumlin’s Arizona class will rank significantly above Edwards’ ASU signees, message me on Twitter @eacohen83. In fact I’ll take it a step further, if Sumlin’s 2019 class isn’t in the top-30, I’ll be prepared to eat some MAJOR crow.

-Georgia is going to be really, really, really good these next few years. What Kirby Smart has done in only 2+ short years…almost a National Championship + elite recruiting classes = brilliance. The Bulldogs will be the new Alabama in terms of success for years to come.

-I don’t want to say a lot about Arizona basketball after their garbage performance at home against UCLA on Thursday night. I’m still REALLY upset about it. But the fact is, if you think this team is a Final Four contender (as I previously had), you’re in for some major disappointment. As it stands right now, I’d be more surprised if they made the Final Four than if they lost in the first round…

-For those who have asked, here are my personal rankings of the Pac-12 coaches from worst to first:
12. Jonathan Smith (Oregon State)
11. Mario Cristobal (Oregon)
10. Herm Edwards (ASU)
9. Mike McIntyre (Colorado)
8. Justin Wilcox (Cal)
7. Clay Helton (USC)
6. Mike Leach (Washington State)
5. Kevin Sumlin (Arizona)
4. Kyle Whittingham (Utah)
3. Chris Peterson (Washington)
2. Chip Kelly (UCLA)
1. David Shaw (Stanford)

Wondering where I would’ve ranked Rich Rodriguez? Likely 8th on this list…

-At first I absolutely hated what the Cavaliers did on Thursday before the NBA’s Trade Deadline. By dealing Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye, and a 2018 first round pick to the Lakers for Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance, it didn’t at first glance appears that the Cavs made their team better. But a subsequent 3-way trade netting them PG George Hill (from Sacramento) and SG Rodney Hood (from Utah) gave Cleveland the firepower and defensive ability they recently have been lacking. Mind you that LeBron’s club is far from a lock to represent the East in the NBA Finals for the fourth straight year (and his eighth straight year dating back to his days with the Heat) but these moves definitely help. Many props to Cleveland GM Koby Altman who wasn’t afraid to press the reset button right before the All-Star Break. Thomas was a disaster next to LBJ and he needed to go. For the Lakers, they were also the biggest winners on deadline day as they’ve freed up enough money to sign two max contract free agents in the coming offseason(s).

-Don’t underestimate the Suns late trade on Thursday afternoon…having acquired Orlando PG and former 10th overall pick Elfrid Payton. While he’s known more for his crazy hair than his game on the court, Phoenix desperately needed a competent ball distributor and Payton brings them just that. While I still strive to see the Suns lose games in bunches to achieve a higher draft pick, the Payton experiment is certainly worth watching as the team plays out the string in 2018.

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-Let’s put it this way about the Suns, it’s hard to be much worse than they were on Wednesday night…3 of 32 from three point range has to be among the most pathetic statistics by any team this season.

-Five years, $137 million for Jimmy Garoppolo, a QB who has started what, eight games in his career? Ridiculous. I understand he’s never lost as a starting QB but it’s a SMALL sample size to say the least. Next week I’ll write a breakdown of NFL starting QBs…but there’s no way I’d have Garoppolo higher than 15th. Some players are about to get P-A-I-D!

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-Like many fans, players, agents, and observers, I’m disgusted by the pathetic lack of movement lately among baseball teams when it comes to marquee free agents. Pitchers and catchers report in a week or so and as of now, Houston is the CLEAR CUT best team in the league. Do something people! If players like Yu Darvish, J.D. Martinez, Eric Hosmer, and Alex Cobb are still unsigned one week from today, something is CLEARLY wrong with the system.

-I really could care less about the Winter Olympics especially considering my favorite sport in the games, hockey, is being played without NHL players. Just looking at the U.S. roster…considering I haven’t heard of 90% of the players, it’s hard to expect them to be medal contenders.

-Starting a new weekly feature here – I’ll name the teams that I think will be in the finals of the six most popular major sports (including college). Based on injuries, transactions, etc… I’ll revise weekly as necessary:
NBA: Golden State vs. Boston
College Basketball: Villanova vs. Michigan State
NHL: Boston vs. Dallas
MLB: Houston vs. Washington
NFL (2019): Pittsburgh vs. New Orleans
College Football (2019): Alabama vs. Michigan

-Finally – I failed to mention in previous blogs that nearly a month ago, one of my favorite sports broadcasters of all-time, Keith Jackson, passed away at the age of 89. To me and many others, Keith was the voice of college football during our childhoods. His smooth yet elegant style of broadcasting with a flair for the dramatic was what set him apart from the run-of-the mill announcers.

And if this video doesn’t give you chills…I don’t know what will…

Rest in peace to one of the all-time greats.

 

Friday, 12/29 Quick Hitters: Reacting to Arizona’s bowl loss, Picking every CFB game this weekend + Best Bets

As discussed in last Friday’s column, I honestly believe that Wednesday night’s Foster Farms Bowl is quite a setback for Arizona’s football program. The reaction in Tucson towards Rich Rodriguez’s team is one of apathy as is…fans have proven that they aren’t going to pay to watch star QB Khalil Tate nor an underachieving program. I feel as though most people in Tucson wait for the bottom to drop out when watching Arizona football…and it did so once again with under two minutes to play on Wednesday night in a 38-35 loss to Purdue.

So what can be done to rectify the problem? In my opinion there are only two realistic solutions:

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Continue reading “Friday, 12/29 Quick Hitters: Reacting to Arizona’s bowl loss, Picking every CFB game this weekend + Best Bets”

Friday, 12/22 Quick Hitters: Looking ahead to the next week of bowl games – what does a win mean for UofA & Rich Rodriguez?

Late Thursday night it was announced that legendary sports broadcaster Dick Enberg passed away at the age of 82. His career was one all sports broadcasters dream of: the voice of 8 Super Bowls, the Olympics, March Madness, tennis championships, Major League Baseball, college football, golf, horse racing and so much more. Unfortunately I also remember him as the play-by-play voice of two of my least favorite sports games of all-time…Super Bowl XXXII (Broncos over Packers) and the Arizona-Illinois Elite 8 matchup in 2005. Truly an elite talent who provided a soundtrack to many memorable moments in so many different sports. Rest in peace to one of the all-time greats…”OH MY” what a loss.

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Continue reading “Friday, 12/22 Quick Hitters: Looking ahead to the next week of bowl games – what does a win mean for UofA & Rich Rodriguez?”

Monday Musings – December 11th: Are the Eagles toast without Wentz? And is ASU basketball top-5 worthy?

Well folks, the answer to both questions to lead off this column is unfortunately yes.

-If Eagles QB Carson Wentz sustained a torn-ACL as feared late-Sunday, Philadelphia’s chances at winning the NFC are all but over. Sorry Eagles fans, while I’m somewhat of a Nick Foles believer (considering he’s a fellow Arizona Wildcat), he’s not going to be able to win your team a big game in January. Sorry, just not happening. The Eagles defense, as we saw on Sunday vs. the Rams is good, but far from elite. To win the NFC, the Eagles will have to rely on running the ball 65% of the time. Good luck if and when they get behind.

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Continue reading “Monday Musings – December 11th: Are the Eagles toast without Wentz? And is ASU basketball top-5 worthy?”

Friday, 12/8 Quick Hitters: More Herm Edwards reaction, the CFB coaching carousel, & Best Bets

Keeping it football-only once again today…but unfortunately there is only one game to predict:

-The best tradition in sports as I see it is the singing of the alma maters after the annual Army-Navy game.

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The winners get to sing second and as you’ll see in the video below, the scene looks amazing as both teams always pay respect to one another. To be at this game is definitely on my sports bucket list:

Army won for the first time since 2001 last season but they won’t make it two years in-a-row. Navy 23, Army 20 in the last regular season CFB game of the season.

Continue reading “Friday, 12/8 Quick Hitters: More Herm Edwards reaction, the CFB coaching carousel, & Best Bets”

Week 14 NFL Picks + CFB Regular Season Picks Wrapup

Without a doubt this is my least favorite football weekend of the season. With the exception of Army-Navy, there’s no college football this weekend and it’s painful. Fortunately the bowl games start back up next Saturday and allow us to watch some fun football which the NFL has rarely provided this season.

One player who has been constantly fun to watch in the league this year is Saints rookie RB Alvin Kamara. Now a shoe-in for Rookie of the Year, the former Tennessee Volunteers running back looks to be already one of the league’s elite playmakers and most definitely a fantasy football star. Could he help lead the Saints deep in the postseason? I wouldn’t bet against it.

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Friday, 12/1 Quick Hitters: Tennessee or ASU, Championship Weekend Preview, Best Bets, and more!

Question of the day: which is the better college football job, Tennessee or ASU?

Usually a college football fan would say the Volunteers due to being in the better conference, having a more celebrated tradition, and higher profile exposure. The problem is…coaches keep turning that job down like the place is on fire after the fanbase’s reaction to Greg Schiano’s near-hire last Sunday.

So the answer to my question above is ASU. Yet I’m still not convinced that AD Ray Anderson is making a good move by reportedly hiring his good friend and former client, Herm Edwards as the Sun Devils’ next head man.

The truth is…the right guy for both jobs is the same…former Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin. Once the hottest name in the college ranks to NFL personnel, Sumlin holds a combined 86-43 record at Houston and A&M. While he may not be a home run hire so-to-speak, Sumlin is a safe bet to produce winning season after winning season with the occasional super successful one.

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Continue reading “Friday, 12/1 Quick Hitters: Tennessee or ASU, Championship Weekend Preview, Best Bets, and more!”