Archive for January, 2012

Why did Ovechkin voluntarily miss NHL All-Star Game?


BY JOHN SCOTT, Couchsideshow.com contributor

Washington Capitals left winger Alexander Ovechkin voluntarily sat out of the NHL All-Star game Sunday. Photo by: Capitalpowerplay / Flickr

Last year, Sidney Crosby said he was going to miss the NHL All-Star game to protest the league’s player safety policy. As time elapsed, it was his concussion problems that kept him out of the All-Star game.

Now, the other famous hockey star, Alexander Ovechkin, decided he would not participate in the most thrilling game of the NHL season. On Jan. 23, Brendan Shanahan (Senior Vice President Player Safety and Hockey Operations) announced that Ovechkin would be suspended three games after his hit on Pittsburg Penguins defenseman Zbynek Michalek. Shanahan said Ovechkin “launched” himself at Michalek, leaving his feet and made unnecessary head contact.

“The moment Ovechkin launches himself into the air prior to the hit he becomes responsible for any contact to the head,” was Shanahan’s explanation for suspending arguably the league’s most interesting player. Incidentally, the NHL’s All-Star game fell right between Ovechkin’s suspended games.

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Athletes should learn from Posada


New York Yankees catcher Jorge Posada retired last week after 17 seasons with the Yankees. Photo by: Jay / Flickr

BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor

Athletes like major league catcher Jorge Posada are truly a thing of the past.

The 40-year-old backstop hung up his cleats last week, officially retiring from baseball and the New York Yankees, a team he spent all 17 years of his professional career with. Like many of the Yankee greats before him, Posada stuck out every single minute of his major league tenure in one uniform. It doesn’t happen often, but ball players who wear the Yankee pinstripes seem to know a thing or two about being faithful.

In the completely unusual instance that the Yanks actually bring up a minor leaguer from their own farm system, it seems that player will stay in the Big Apple until they’re ready to call it quits. It must be the nostalgia of the pinstripes or just the history behind the team. Whatever it is, players who come up through New York’s system are some of the most faithful athletes to one team than literally any other sport I can think of. It’s somewhat hard to believe considering the Yanks are regarded by most fans as the Sith Lords of baseball with their high-dollar spending. But the proof is out there for anyone to validate my claim.

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Couch Side Super Bowl preview: The Logistics/Prediction.


BY CHUCK CONSTANTINO & TREVOR GOULD, Couchsideshow.com

The 2011 Super Bowl will feature a rematch of 2008’s classic Giants-Patriots showdown. The Giants are coming in hot, but the Patriots are the favorite to hoist the Lombardi Trophy. Couch Side Show bloggers Chuck Constantino and Trevor Gould weigh in on the matchup in part three of their Super Bowl preview.

Coaching

TCG (Trevor Courtland Gould): Bill Belichick, the most emotionless man on the planet, is a genius. His offensive and defensive schemes and strategies are unrivaled, and you would be kidding yourself to think he hasn’t forgotten about the 2008 Super Bowl loss.  There is no better coach in football.

CC (Chuck Constantino): Belichick. The man’s a genius; his adjustments and complex defensive schemes will be the difference. Plus, he is definitely still ticked about that ’08 loss.

Intangibles

 TCG: While the Giants are on fire, the Patriots are a well-run and well-oiled machine lead by easily the most brilliant man in professional football. Plus, they are out for blood after their 2008 loss.

CC: The Giants are hot and are the wildcard. Every year a wildcard team stuns the experts, and makes it to the Super bowl.  On the other hand, there is no David Tyree to make a circus catch. This one is close, but I pick the Pats, they’re too hard to game plan for.

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Bulls shouldn’t sweat loss to Heat


BY STAYSON ISOBE, Couchsideshow.com writer

Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose missed two clutch free throws down the stretch in Chicago's loss to the Miami Heat on Sunday. Photo by: Derrick Story / Flickr

The Big Three versus the MVP. That was the showdown in South Beach on Sunday. The Miami Heat and the Chicago Bulls, the clear top-two teams in the East and quite possibly the entire league, squared off for the first time since their Eastern Conference Finals encounter in May. Unfortunately for the Bulls though, they came up short in the end just as they did a mere eight months ago.

Derrick Rose, the youngest player ever to win the NBA’s MVP, has openly shouldered the blame for the Bulls’ failure in the ECF. The five-game series loss ate at him alive and motivated him throughout the extended lockout-induced offseason. Even as he downplayed Sunday’s matchup against the Heatles, it was very apparent that he wanted this game bad.

In fact, up until the final 22.7 seconds of the game, D-Rose appeared to be on a mission to will his team to victory, to make amends for his “shortcomings” back in May. Rose could not be kept out of the paint, crossing his defender up and repeatedly twisting, spinning and weaving his way to the basket for layups. Then just as he had all game, he got to the free-throw line with a chance to give the Bulls their first lead of the game with 22.7 seconds left to play in the game. Yet despite a perfect 29-29 mark this season in the fourth quarter, Rose missed not only his first free throw, but his second as well, and the Bulls dropped a heartbreaker 97-93.

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Couch Side Super Bowl Preview: Defense


BY CHUCK CONSTANTINO & TREVOR GOULD, Couchsideshow.com

The 2011 Super Bowl will feature a rematch of 2008’s classic Giants-Patriots showdown. The Giants are coming in hot, but the Patriots are the favorite to hoist the Lombardi Trophy. Couch Side Show bloggers Chuck Constantino and Trevor Gould weigh in on the matchup.

Defensive Line

New York Giants Defensive End Justin Tuck. Photo by: Chris Pusateri / Flickr

Trevor Courtland Gould (TCG): The Giants possess a defensive line that makes offensive lineman quake in their shoes. They are athletic, relentless, and have a mean streak to them. When Justin Tuck isn’t repping Subway sandwiches, he is wrecking havoc against opposing offenses. Linval Joseph and Chris Canty are solid tackles, and Jason Pierre-Paul has established himself as one of the premier athletic freaks in the NFL. And when one of them is tired, in comes veteran Osi Umenyiora, who is probably extra angry due to being relegated to back-up duty. This defensive line is scary.

Chuck Constantino (CC): This isn’t even close; the Giants hands down own the scariest defensive line in football. The speed and relentlessness of the front four cannot be simulated during practice leading up to the big game. These big uglies will hit Tom Brady all night.

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Couch Side Super Bowl Preview: Offense


BY CHUCK CONSTANTINO & TREVOR GOULD, Couchsideshow.com

The 2011 Super Bowl will feature a rematch of 2008’s classic Giants-Patriots showdown. The Giants are coming in hot, but the Patriots are the favorite to hoist the Lombardi Trophy. Couch Side Show bloggers Chuck Constantino and Trevor Gould weigh in on the matchup.

 Quarterbacks

Tom Brady. Photo by Jeffrey Beall / Flickr

TCG (Trevor Courtland Gould):  Tom Brady, the one and only. He is too good, too clutch, and too fearless to be denied his fourth Super Bowl championship. He has established an unshakable rapport with his receivers and tight ends, and at the end of the day is one of the greatest players to ever set foot on a football field.

CC (Chuck Constantino): Tom Brady. His drive and determination are second to none. Brady holds total control of his offense and will simply play chess with the giants secondary. While Eli Manning is on fire right now, his receivers are constantly bailing him out on questionable throws. For every dime Manning throws, there’s sure to be a few more ducks.

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Federer, Nadal not slowing down any time soon


BY TREVOR GOULD, Couchsideshow.com writer

Professional men's tennis players Roger Federer, left, and Rafael Nadal have won 76 percent of major tournaments during the course of their careers. Photo by: Nick Step / Flickr

Domination is a popular and common term often applied to sporting performance. If anything, it is tremendously overused, and therefore its meaning has been diluted by the majority of sporting publications. The online Merriam-Webster dictionary defines domination as “supremacy or preeminence over another” and “exercise of mastery or ruling power.” Despite your initial thoughts, the premier example of nonstop and unrelenting domination in a professional sport isn’t found on the gridiron, hardwood court, or baseball diamond. It is found on the tennis court, in the form of Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, two world class athletes who continue to consistently and unshakably demolish the rest of the field.

To put Nadal and Federer’s unbridled success into perspective, they have combined to win 26 of the last 34 Grand Slam titles ( Grand Slams constitute the U.S. Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and Australian Open). Since taking home his first win at the U.S Open in 2003, Federer has gone on to earn 15 other Slams, and finish as runner-up seven times. The current #3 ranked player in the world possesses a tremendous 810-186 singles record and has won 70 career singles tournaments and 8 doubles tournaments. So far, Nadal has 10 Grand Slam victories under his belt, cementing himself as the King of Clay by winning six titles at the French Open. The 25-year old Spaniard is currently ranked #2 in the world and boasts 46 career singles titles and a 544- 117 singles record.

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Is Ryan Braun innocent?


BY STAYSON ISOBE, Couchsideshow.com writer

Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun won the 2011 NL MVP, but soon after he failed a test for performance enhancing drugs. Photo by: Steve Paluch / Flickr

Three months ago, Ryan Braun tested positive for elevated amounts of testosterone. Two months ago, Ryan Braun was named the NL MVP. Last month, Ryan Braun’s positive test was brought to the attention of the entire nation. And last Saturday, Ryan Braun accepted his Most Valuable Player award in front of hundreds of people amid the scandal.

“The best thing he (Alex Rodriguez) can do is come out, admit to everything and be completely honest. The situation will die a lot faster if he tells the whole truth.” That was Ryan Braun’s response when asked about A-Rod’s link to performance enhancing drugs in 2009.

“Sometimes in life, we all deal with challenges we never expected to endure. We have an opportunity to look at those challenges and view them either as obstacles or opportunities. I’ve chosen to view every challenge I’ve ever faced as an opportunity, and this will be no different.”

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Tigers roar with Fielder deal


BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor

Free agent first baseman Prince Fielder finally landed with the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday afternoon. Photo by: (♥♥!$#@♥9~KkjeNn~9♥@#$!♥♥) / Flickr

Looks like I’ll have to eat my own words that Prince Fielder was going to be a Washington Nationals. I was so far off, I didn’t even guess the right league as the Detroit Tigers swooped in — completely out of left field — to sign the free agent first baseman to a nine-year, $24 million contract Tuesday afternoon.

Fielder and the Tigers shocked the baseball world by coming to terms to the fourth largest contract in MLB history. The historic deal also proved that Fielder won’t be settling after teams like the Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals persuaded him heavily, but didn’t dish out the dough quite like Detroit. It seemed and was reported that Washington was the front runner, offering the 27-year-old a deal a little less lucrative than the one he landed. But instead, the former Milwaukee Brewer will be in the motor city — where his father shined for seven year — until he is 36. Here is how this blockbuster move could upstage Albert Pujols‘ deal and how it makes the Tigers quite possibly the best team in the American League.

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Grow up Penn State


BY BRANDON J. SMITH, Couchsideshow.com contributor

It’s been written about, bandied about, and talked to death probably a million times by now, but the behavior of the Penn State student body continues to amaze even the most even keel of sports fans.

And yes, we know it’s only a few that ruin it for the majority by tipping over media vehicles, and claiming that the Penn State faculty board “killed” their beloved Joe Pa, but any semblance of dignity or integrity seems to have been lost on the current incarnation of “We are PENN STATE.”

That’s the funny thing, too; everyone who lauded the late Paterno spoke highly of the integrity, class, and humility that he brought to the program, turn around and do the exact opposite. This is not an indictment of Paterno, or the mistakes he made at the end of his career, but the legacy that is left behind seems to have been lost on those more interested in stirring the pot, rather than taking the high road.

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Cundiff costs Ravens Super Bowl bid


BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor

You can call him the master of the miss, the sultan of shank or a klutz in the clutch.

Call him what you will, but if you were the New England Patriots on Sunday, you had better show Baltimore Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff some mad respect. The nine-year, undrafted kicker completely shanked a 32-yard field goal with 11 seconds remaining in the AFC Championship game Sunday in Foxboro, Mass. The botched chip shop would have forced overtime between the Patriots and Ravens, but instead it sent New England to its seventh Super Bowl appearance in franchise history. The Patriots won the game 23-20 and will now face the New York Giants on Feb. 5 for Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis.

The kick will undoubtedly go down in history as what could have been for the Baltimore Ravens. If Cundiff would have been able to make a kick that most kickers can nail in their sleep, Baltimore would’ve at least had a shot at upsetting one of the greatest teams football has ever seen. But as we all know by now, Cundiff missed, eliminating his team from the 2011-2012 NFL Playoffs.

Now I have heard of Billy Cundiff since he entered the league in 2002 with the Dallas Cowboys. But the former pro bowler’s missed kick made me want to learn more about him. Obvious questions prompted me to do some research. As I started to stare at Cundiff’s statistics, the first one I had to look at is how accurate the guy is between the 30- and 40-yard line. To my surprise, he’s 76 percent for his carreer. Not the best, but also, not the worst. But he has been at his best from that distance in the past two season. During that span, he was well over 80 percent and a top 10 kicker from that distance. Actually, Cundiff has been one of the league’s best for the past two years and earned a pro bowl nod last season for his kicking abilities.

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Paterno shouldn’t be remembered for scandal


BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor

College football lost one of its best in Joe Paterno on Sunday.

A statue of Joe Paterno outside of the Penn State's football field should remind people how dedicated he was to the university. Photo by: seng1011 / Flickr

The famed Penn State coach died just 65 days after being diagnosed with lung cancer and about three months after coaching his beloved Nittany Lions for the final time. He will forever be remembered as Penn State’s Joe Pa, a loyal leader and friendly face to his players and the student body. Unfortunately, some people outside of Penn State may only remember Paterno for the scandal involving his former replacement, Jerry Sandusky.

Critics from everywhere surfaced when Paterno was sadly forced to leave Penn State, slinging mud at the man headlines are calling “a flawed hero.” Yes, he made some questionable mistakes by not whistle blowing on his assistant coach. However, how are we to know how much Paterno actually knew about Sandusky’s inexcusable action? And from my understanding, Sandusky’s wrong doings were reported all the way to the top, which in turn did nothing.

It is former Penn State president Graham Spanier and former athletics director Tim Curley who should be remembered as the behind-the-scenes transgressors of the Sandusky scandal. Alas, Paterno’s name will be forever linked — closer than any of his colleagues — to Sandusky’s sins. It caused him a great deal of stress in his final months and the heartache from the entire affair more or less killed the poor man.

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Wyoming College Hoops Rant (1/8 – 1/20)


BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor

A lot of squads from Wyoming found early success in the first half of the 2011-2012 junior college men’s basketball season.

Teams like Sheridan College, Northwest College and Western Wyoming College either made (or are still in) the NJCAA’s top 25 poll or at least are getting votes for the list. There’s no question that junior college ball in the Cowboy State is extremely competitive right now. But things are about to get even more interesting. The first half of the season was dedicated to mostly playing out-of-state teams for Wyoming’s eight junior college squads. Now, that part of the season is over. Players have returned from the holiday break to a new level of intensity on the junior college hardwood. And it’s coming from within their own state.

Four teams from Wyoming found at least some sort of glory in the polls during the first half of the season. But now that those same squads are playing other teams in Wyoming, the almost perfect records are starting to become more blemished. In the NJCAA’s Jan. 10 poll, Northwest and Sheridan received votes to be in the top 20 while Western sat high and mighty in the No. 9 spot with an impressive 14-1 record. However, just eight days later, voters for the NJCAA’s top 20 frowned upon the Mustangs, ranking them No. 20 after the team suffered losses to Sheridan and Gillette College. Meanwhile, Northwest has also felt the strength of Wyoming’s teams after experiencing an early-season run. The Trappers didn’t receive any votes to be in the top 20 poll, losing their past two to Casper College (preseason top-20 team) and Montana’s Miles Community College of Miles City, Mont.

Yes, this part of the season is the best in Wyoming junior college hoops. There’s already starting to be some parody at the top and it seems like it could come down to the Region IX tournament before we actually find out who’s the best in the Cowboy State.

Now, here’s a look at the top five teams in Wyoming:

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Couch Side Episode 5: NFL playoff preview — Conference championships


BY Couchsideshow.com staff

In this week’s episode, Couch Side welcomes special guest Andy Paul, a knowledgeable football fan, to discuss the NFL playoffs, the NBA’s shortened season, a new location for the Winter Classic, Jim Cadwell’s firing, Jeff Fisher’s hiring and Chael Sonnin vs. Michael Bisbing. Click below to listen to Couch Side!

Listen to Couch Side


Colts put screws to coach Caldwell


BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor

The Indianapolis Colt fired head coach Jim Caldwell on Tuesday. Photo by OldOnliner / Flickr

When NFL teams are forced to rebuild their franchises from the ground up, some do it subtly over the course of a few seasons, leaving fans in the dark while their reason for waking up Sunday mornings receives a facelift. Some fans aren’t that lucky, though. They might watch their favorite football squad attempt to completely start over in one offseason. It appears the Indianapolis Colts are headed down that scary, unpredictable road.

It shouldn’t be a complete shock to Colts faithful, but sudden change can be a dangerous thing.

Indianapolis started its reformation by firing its lead decision makers, vice chairman Bill Polian and his son, Chris, who served as the team’s general manager. And if you thought it would end there like I did, you were dead wrong. In what I thought to be a surprising move, the Colts fired head coach Jim Caldwell after three seasons. Indy will now join the Dolphins, Raiders and Buccaneers in the search for new coaching blood, but the Colts might be entering the race too late.

Indianapolis is a sexy destination for any NFL head coach. The management is gone and probably would be one of the perks offered to a new coach if they are experienced. An opportunity to truly run the team is exactly what held up Jeff Fisher’s decision to join the Rams or the Dolphins. St. Louis offered Fisher almost total control while the Dolphins wanted him just for coaching duties. And unsurprisingly,  Fisher joined the Rams this week. Who could blame him?

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Rookie Rubio adjusting quickly to NBA


BY TREVOR GOULD, Couchsideshow.com writer

So much for  Ricky Rubio being unable to adapt to life in the NBA.

The 6-foot-4, 180-pound point guard from Barcelona has shown he is right at home amongst the fast-paced play and formidable competition of the NBA. Plus, it’s just been too much fun watching SportsCenter highlights of Rubio’s precise and lighting quick passes.

Ricky Rubio of Barcelona is off to a fast start in his first season in the NBA with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Photo by: darthpedrius / Flickr

So far this season, Rubio has demonstrated impressive court vision and pinpoint passing accuracy. His unselfish team play and desire to make everyone look good has allowed him to divvy up a bevy of impressive bounce passes, lobs, and alley-oops which have translated into points. While he’ll never put up huge scoring numbers, Rubio is currently averaging 11 points per game and shooting 46 percent from the field.

Immense basketball IQ aside, what really makes Rubio special is how his passes don’t simply make it into the hands of his intended targets; they help create shots. He uses his passing prowess to put his teammates in a better position to score. He is currently averaging 8.3 assists per game, along with 2 steals and 3.8 boards. Rubio recently posted his first double-double in a game against the Miami Heat.

For the longest time, sports pundits and analysts questioned Rubio’s ability to effectively make the transition from European basketball to the faster paced and more athletic NBA. He has shown that not only can he adapt, he can potentially excel. The increased physical skills of his teammates allow him to deliver faster passes on the break and give him the opportunity to dazzle audiences with alley-oop lobs that bring crowds to their feet. His job is also made easier due to the fact he is playing with double-double machine Kevin Love, athletic rookie specimen  Derrick Williams, and aspiring second year shooting guard  Wes Johnson.

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Braves bring back Jack


BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor

Put a mark on the wall.

The Atlanta Braves agreed to a one-year, $1 million contract with free agent shortstop Jack Wilson. Photo by: Matt McGee, Flickr

The Atlanta Braves finally made a move this offseason, signing free agent shortstop Jack Wilson to a one-year deal Friday. The move brings Wilson back to the Braves after Atlanta acquired the 10-year veteran late in the season. Inking Wilson to his $1 million deal is just the third major league transaction Braves General Manager Frank Wren has made this winter and it was more like a resigning than a true free agent deal because Wilson actually started in Atlanta’s 162nd game last season.

So once again, Atlanta’s inactivity has left fans yawning at best. However, some are happy with the deal because it was a cheap solution to one of the Braves’ glaring holes. Signing Wilson is safe. He is durable and plays good defense, hence his .977 lifetime fielding percentage. It’s just hard to get excited about a guy who knocked in just 11 runs in 214 bats last season.

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Defense guides 49ers, Giants to NFC championship


BY STAYSON ISOBE, couchsideshow.com writer

The old adage is defense wins championships.

Finally after a regular season that was dominated by explosive offenses and record-breaking performances, the two teams headed to the NFC Championship proved that a defense that will smack you in the mouth still prevails in this league. Both the 49ers and the Giants seemed to face an uphill battle coming into the weekend, faced with the task of attempting to slow down two of the NFL’s most unstoppable offensive attacks. The Packers and Saints, led by the league’s top two MVP candidates in Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees, were the two highest scoring teams during the regular season and two of the top three in total offense with the other being the Patriots.

Patrick Willis and the San Francisco 49ers defense stepped up against the New Orleans Saints in the NFC divisional round of the NFL playoffs. Photo by: Rajiv Patel

Brees was the orchestrator of New Orleans’ attack, breaking Dan Marino’s 27-year single season passing yards mark this season, and was coming off a postseason record in regulation of 466 yards last week against the Lions. Rodgers on the other hand, showed pinpoint accuracy throughout the season as evidenced in his 45-6 touchdown to interception ratio, leading the Packers to the top seed in the NFC with a 15-1 record.

But on this weekend, neither would advance to the NFC title game. Instead, the 49ers and the Giants ramped up their defense and slowed down these two offensive assaults enough to make a statement. The two teams combined to force nine turnovers and produced seven total sacks of Rodgers and Brees.

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Constant Jets news grows annoying


BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor

New York Jets coach Rex Ryan and his team are making the news a lot lately even during the NFL playoffs. Photo by: cool13902008 / Flickr

If the New York Jets didn’t give you enough to handle during the regular season, the team is already stealing even more headlines days before the divisional round of the NFL playoffs.

During wildcard week, two national stories surfaced about the Jets. And just yesterday two more hit the homepages of our favorite websites and the front pages of our sports sections. Now there’s no question that New York gets its fair share of ink. After all, the Jets are a historic franchise that demands success. But I can’t remember reading about New York almost everyday when Chad Pennington was at the helm, throwing passes to Santana Moss.

That’s because New York is the new Hollywood of the NFL and the Jets — not the Giants — are the team under the spotlight. And if you’re a common NFL fan, who doesn’t particularly care for the Jets, tough luck because you’re going to here about them. It does get tiring and news about the green and white is usually blown way out of proportion. So here’s the latest Jets headlines and translations of what they actually mean:

THE LATEST: JETS NAME SPARANO OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR

• The skinny: The headline says it all. The Jets hired former Miami Dolphins coach Tony Sparano, who couldn’t finish out the season without being fired, as their new offensive coordinator. Sparano replaces Brian Shottenheimer and takes over a dismal offense that failed to make it to the playoffs.

• Translation: Shottenheimer actually had two years left on his contract and because he couldn’t put up with all the egos within the team, I think he chose to leave. A lot of people blamed him for New York’s offense being 25th in the league and for Mark Sanchez not being developed as much as he should be in his third NFL season. So the Jets go with Sparano. He used to get a lot of attention during his coaching days in Dallas and for sort of turning around the Jets, so he should fit right in. A perfect fit.

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Whatever happened to Bismack Biyombo?


BY TREVOR GOULD, Couchsideshow.com writer

Despite consisting of relatively weak collegiate basketball talent, the 2011 NBA Draft class still had its share of skill and potential.

The Charlotte Bobcats spent the seventh overall pick of the 2011 NBA draft on Bismack Biyombo of the Congo. The power forward hasn't made an immediate impact though, averaging a little more than two points and rebounds per game. Photo by: nattydreaddd / Flickr

There was Kyrie Irving, the 19-year-old freshman point guard from Duke who only played 11 games but still managed a stellar stat line of 17.5 points per game, 53% field goal percentage, and 3.4 rebounds while averaging  27.5 minutes per game. There was the highlight reel small forward Derrick Williams, who powered the University of Arizona to the Elite Eight with his strength, effective inside game, and versatile shooting abilities. There was the shooting maestro  Jimmer Fredette, BYU’s virtually unstoppable guard who averaged a miraculous 28.9 points per game and who was named the 2011 national player of the year by the majority of the influential sporting publications.

As sports fans, we have been constantly hearing about how these collegiate stars have been performing on the professional level. Irving got off to a slow start but is beginning to steady himself; Ricky Rubio to Derrick Williams is becoming a potent offensive combination; Markieff Morris is providing some toughness and defense to the offensive minded Phoenix Suns, etc etc. Yet whatever happened to Bismack Biyombo, the polarizing Congolese power forward whose defensive abilities were being hailed as top-notch?

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MLB needs Selig to retire


BY DEREK BARSNESS, Couchsideshow.com writer

A wise man once said “This Bud’s for you.”  While I do enjoy a Bud(weiser) every now and then, this Bud (Selig) isn’t for me.  And I hope MLB fans agree.

Rumors are out that Selig will be offered a new contract extension as MLB commissioner.  As a devout fan of the game, I cringe at the thought of this.  Many could argue that Selig has been great for baseball.  After an amazing finish to September and perhaps one of the best post seasons we have had in decades, baseball is growing its fan base and gaining popularity in younger generations.  But I would argue that Selig has little to do with where baseball currently stands.

Selig was named commissioner in 1992, making him the second longest commissioner in the history of the game.  But it’s time for a change.  Many of the decisions he has made have been controversial, such as calling the 2002 All-Star game a tie after 11 innings or granting home field advantage in the World Series to the division that won the All-Star game.  But he has also been a key player in improving the game as well.  Adding the wild card in 1994 and interleague play in 1997 have undoubtedly improved the game and helped gain popularity.

So while Selig has improved baseball in many ways, the game still needs fixed and Bub’s not the man for the job.  We just saw the current NL MVP Ryan Braun test positive for performance enhancing drugs which earns him a 50 game suspension.  That’s it?  50 games? That sounds like a lot, but it’s obviously not enough.  Braun knew what the penalty would be if he was caught and yet he still chose to break the rules and use steroids.  Ultimately this falls on the shoulders of the commissioner.  Selig has been an advocate for stricter PED use penalties, but when the stars of the game are getting busted, Bud needs to step up.  Sure he would encounter a lot of obstacles (owners, the players union, etc.), but he needs to show the fans that he is absolutely serious about this.  After the Braun incident, it would have been nice to see Selig discussing stricter penalties (perhaps a suspension of 80+ games for first time offenders) and more rigorous drug testing.

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N.L. West doesn’t need Albert or Prince


BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor

With the departure of Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder from the National League Central, fans are probably wondering who will be the team to emerge for the pennant next year.

The St. Louis Cardinals aren’t automatic favorites anymore with Pujols not in the picture. And the magic will have probably left Milwaukee — along with Fielder — when the final months of the 2012 season unfold. There’s no doubt the N.L. West will never be the same. But don’t be discouraged. The largest division in baseball should still create some late-season drama. The Cards and the Brew Crew did lose some big bats, but have bright stars in the waiting. And don’t count out the Chicago Cubs or the Cincinnati Reds, either. As usual, those four teams should be in a dead heat toward the end of the season for the division crown. Each club definitely has a shot and the division should be as competitive as ever.

Here’s Couch Side’s early preview of the N.L. Central and the top four clubs could finish out 2012:

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Couch Side Episode 3: NFL playoff preview (divisional round)


BY Couchsideshow.com staff

In this week’s episode, the gang recaps the NFL Wildcard round playoff game and looks ahead to the divisional games. The hosts also discuss the BCS national championship. Also, in quick snippets, Craig and Wade chat about Hue Jackson, Paul Westphal, the Washington Wizzards, Prince Fielder and Peyton Manning. Click below to listen to the Couch Side Podcast

Listen to Couch Side


Alabama takes title in ‘snooze fest’


University of Alabama head coach Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide won their second national championship in three years last night. Photo by: David Reber's Hammer Photography

BY STAYSON ISOBE, Couchsideshow.com contributor

It is what it is. The BCS seems to be here to stay, regardless of what the general public wants, and whether you believe that Alabama deserved or didn’t deserve to play for the championship game last night, there’s no denying that they are the best team in the country now.

Now count me as one that full heartedly believed that Oklahoma State deserved the chance to duke it out with LSU last night at the Superdome. For one, it’s hard for me to fathom the fact that a team that doesn’t win its own conference, much less even play for their conference title, can compete for the national championship in the case of Alabama, while teams like Oklahoma State or even Oregon won their respective conferences.

In addition, Oklahoma State had a much more impressive resume when compared to the Crimson Tide. The guys from Stillwater had more wins against ranked teams and teams with winning records than the guys from Tuscaloosa, and oh yeah I did mention that they won the Big 12, the second best conference in the nation this season in my opinion, right?

Oklahoma State aside, a lot of the displeasure about this title game was that it was a rematch of a regular season game. Not only a rematch, but a rematch of a 9-6 game that was dubbed “the game of the century” going into the first meeting. Sure these two teams from the SEC have the two best defenses in the country, but really nobody could put the ball in the endzone? The fact that we’d already seen these two teams play once, and an ugly game at that, gave us even more reason to hope for an LSU-Oklahoma State matchup. Who wouldn’t have wanted to see Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon take a shot at this vaunted Tiger defense. I know for a fact that we wouldn’t have needed to wait until 4:36 remaining in the game for the first touchdown of the night.

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