Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Ready for the Rose Bowl

Despite Bret Bielema leaving Wisconsin to take the head coaching position at the University of Arkansas, I’m confident that the Badgers can still win the Rose Bowl. Wisconsin Athletic Director, Barry Alvarez will step in as the interim head football coach for the bowl game. Alvarez was the head coach for the Badgers from 1990-2005. During his 16 seasons as head coach, Alvarez set the record for the most wins in Wisconsin Badgers football history. The Badgers won 8 of their 11 bowl game appearances under Alvarez which is why I think Wisconsin will be just fine against Stanford.

Last year I was lucky and got to attend the Rose Bowl game! Even though Wisconsin lost, it was still a great experience! Since I’m not able to go to Pasadena this year, I bought myself some Wisconsin Badgers apparel to wear at the bar while I’m watching the game with some friends. Check out what I got!  

I ordered this retro Wisconsin t-shirt

I thought it would be good to have a Wisconsin fleece so I bought this one:

And to cover up my balding head, I got this Wisconsin hat:

Monday, October 29, 2012

Is fishing a sport? Really?

LAKE ORION, MI - JULY 12: Corey Pavin watches ...
(Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
I like getting out in my boat and hitting the lake. In fact, it's one of my favorite things to do in the summer (or any time for that matter - I love my Evinrude and my boat!). I've never been an avid fisherman, either, but I do enjoy tossing in a line and seeing what I can manage to retrieve from the depths...

That said, I've been having all kinds of conversations recently with a couple of good friends of mine, who also happen to be rabid sports fans. We got to discussing the difference between activities and sports. At least, that was my argument. For me, when I think of a sport I think of some truly amazing physical attributes to be excellent at it.

Things that I immediately think of when I think of real sports:

1. Football
2. Basketball
3. Combat sports (boxing, MMA)
4. Hockey
5. Baseball

My friends are of the persuasion that these following endeavors also qualify as sports:

2. Golf
3. Fishing
4. Bowling
5. Darts

I get pretty animated in this discussion because I truly can't equate one list with the other. While I don't disregard the skill it takes to be good at the second list (which I refer to as "activities"), they simply don't require the athleticism to be a sport in my mind. With the possible exception of baseball, you need to be an amazing athlete with incredible physical talents in terms of agility, strength and hand eye coordination to even have a chance to be elite at any of the items on the first list. Think about that, there are physical requirements just to have a chance to be good.

While there certainly are benefits to being able to hit a golf ball farther by being strong and flexible, you can also be a player like Tom Kite or Corey Pavin who can just play consistent golf by perfecting what they can do with a limited physical skill set. There are no slow, weak linebackers in the NFL who just practiced football to the point of being a world class elite player.

To put it another way, what are the chances you could have athletes from each list swap their training for a year to play in a sport from the opposite side. If you had to bet all of your money on an NBA player being able to compete in a NASCAR race after a year of training or a NASCAR driver trying to compete in an NBA game after a year of training? Seriously? Compare any combination on that list and tell me what you think. Again, there's the common perception that baseball may be the weakest sport, but do you think a professional bowler will suddenly be able to hit an 87mph slider or would you be able to teach CC Sabathia to throw a bowling strike consistently?

There are games of skill...or activities, and there are sports. I think there's a huge difference. I'm not an athlete, but I'll be out fishing again next year.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Most Memorable College Mascots

When it comes to sports, especially football, a lot of teams would not feel complete without their mascots. Not only are mascots important in getting the crowd excited, but they also serve as a symbol to the college as a whole.

Some mascots are more recognizable than others, and we have chosen some of the more popular ones to showcase. How many do you recognize?

1. Bucky the Badger – University of Wisconsin

Bucky Badger has been Wisconsin’s mascot since 1949 and his full name is Buckingham U. Badger. He wears a red and white striped sweater with a W in the middle. Bucky can be seen at all major sporting events throughout the year.

2. Brutus Buckeye – Ohio State University

Although Brutus Buckeye is, in fact, an Ohio Buckeye nut, he still has been a recognizable mascot since his appearance in 1965. Brutus is a member of the Ohio State cheerleading team and attends many university events.

3. Goldy the Gopher – University of Minnesota

Goldy was first seen in 1940 and currently makes more than 1,000 appearances during the school year. He attends all home games and usually dons Minnesota apparel. Although the marching band was originally in charge of Goldy, in 1992 the athletic department gained control.

4. Puddles the Duck – Oregon

The Oregon Duck, Puddles, is a version of Disney’s Donald Duck and was first seen in 1940. Oregon reached an agreement with Disney to be able to use Donald as a mascot. Puddles is known to do pushups after Oregon teams score.

5. Uga – University of Georgia

Uga is a real English bulldog, and the bulldog was first named as the Georgia mascot in 1956. Currently, Uga makes an appearance at every home football game and other sporting events. His attire is typically a red jersey, complete with a varsity letter.

6. Mike the Bengal tiger – Louisiana State University

Traditionally, Mike the Tiger always has been a real, Bengal tiger. The first Mike, Mike I, made his appearance in 1936. Because the real Mike must stay in his designated habitat, a costumed Mike attends sporting events.

7. Sparty – Michigan State University

Sparty hasn’t always been the muscular, memorable icon of Michigan State University. In fact, their team name was the Aggies until 1925. Sparty appears in a number of forms from the statue to the copyrighted cartoon, but perhaps the most popular is the Sparty that appears in costume at sporting events.

8. Bevo – University of Texas

Bevo is another real mascot, a longhorn steer. Bevo has been the mascot since 1916, and there have been 14 Bevos counting the current one. In 2006, a journalist for the Los Angeles Times called Bevo the toughest-looking animal mascot in sports.

9. Ralphie the Buffalo – University of Colorado

Despite the seemingly-male name, Ralphie actually is a real female buffalo, and the mascot always has been female. Female bison are chosen because they are smaller and less aggressive than males –  Ralphie currently needs five handlers.

If you’re looking to support the mascot of your favorite college, whether it is Alabama or Ohio State, be sure to pick up some Alabama apparel or Ohio State merchandise right away.

Image Credits: All found on their respective Wikipedia pages except Uga, which was courtesy of Diamondduste.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Does Anyone Care About The NBA Anymore?

It's the NBA Finals. Yay?

My last experience at an NBA game was 2011 when I saw uber-exciting rookie Blake Griffin and the then lackluster Clippers steamroll the Detroit Pistons at the Palace. It had been some time since I visited the Palace, but the sparse crowd and apathy was shocking. Had you told the childhood me that this was an NBA crowd I would have laughed.

I recall watching the Pistons just prior to their glory days with the Bad Boys playing a not quite there yet Trailblazers team with about 30,000 screaming fans at the Silver Dome in a game that didn't really mean that much. Kiki Vandeweghe went off for 40+ points and Vinnie Johnson had a big game off the bench and despite my crappy seats, the game was riveting the entire time.

Now? The mere mention of the NBA Finals brings responses like, "I don't care who wins, as long as it's not Miami". Interestingly, despite the Van Gundy and other NBA mouthpiece claims that LeBron has been unfairly targeted, it seems like this is the only asset the NBA has outside of hardcore fans right now - the villains in Miami.

So while apathy over the product seems to grow, the opportunity here seems very old school WWF to me. Embrace being the bad guy. Whether the Heat wins a championship this year or ever, with the nucleus they have they'll be in the hunt for titles for the foreseeable future, and one way to bring back some popularity would be to go all Iron Sheik and just own being the bad guys. Local fans would become more devout, road fans would completely lose their minds when Miami came to town and the whole league would likely unify against a common enemy.

If I'm David Stern, my offseason meetings would include weekly film sessions with LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh going over classic NWO clips on YouTube. Yes, NBA, it's come to this, you need to steal marketing ideas from a fake sport. Or perhaps Vince McMahon can start up the XBA and bring back Laimbeer and Mahorn...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Best Mascot Battle Videos

Fights happen in all sports, although hockey seems to be most notorious for them. Although seeing two people duke it out can be wildly entertaining, there’s nothing quite like watching two mascots in the midst of battle.

We’ve chosen some of our favorite mascot fight videos, and they include both dance battles and physical altercations. Who will prevail? Take a look.

Between Mascots
This one starts as an epic dance battle, but soon gravitates to something more.

This one is a short dance battle, but still funny.

A fight between a duck and a cougar, who will win?

Ohio University vs. OSU.

Eyes and noses come off in this one…

Mascots and People
Because sometimes fans and audience members get annoyed, too.

Man vs. mascot. Who wins?

Cheerleader vs. mascot. He shouldn’t have stolen that flag…

And, we saved the best for last. Not a real event, but a clip from a classic movie.

This post supplied by My Team Planet, a distributor of Texas A&M apparel and Texas A&M ladies apparel..

Thursday, May 31, 2012

English: Greg Davis talking to Colt McCoy befo...
English: Greg Davis talking to Colt McCoy before the 2010 BCS National Championship Game. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As the SEC and other Southern and West coast teams have been dominating the rankings more and more, one wonders just how the balance of football power has shifted so drastically...or has it?

At one point last year the SEC had the three top ranked teams in the BCS standings with Arkansas, LSU and Alabama. The national championship game featured two SEC teams and national champion Alabama was the eighth SEC team to win the national championship out of the 14 BCS games that have been played. In BCS National Championship games the SEC has only lost once, and that was last year, so in reality the SEC has never lost to another conference in a national championship game. In fact, the only national championship winning team that hasn't come from a warmer climate has been Ohio State, who won way back in 2002.

With that evidence to work with, how could one possibly argue that the warm weather teams, and the SEC in particular, aren't head and shoulders above conferences like the Big Ten? To some extent, it has to do with the weather.

The weather? Yes, the weather. For years teams in the Big Ten have been constructing teams designed to win in the home stretch of the Big Ten schedule. That means your team better be able to line up on a 29 degree November afternoon in whipping wind and snow and be able to move the ball. This means your team's emphasis has to be on owning the trenches. Wisconsin has moved into a perennial contender by bullying Big Ten teams with their insanely huge offensive line and power running game. They recruit to this and it gets them to elite bowl games nearly every year. What happens at those bowl games, often times, is a different story, though. Take last year for example, as Wisconsin played against Oregon, a team built to contend with SEC teams (narrowly losing to Auburn in the 2011 BCS title game). The weather was warm and for three quarters the teams traded touchdowns. Wisconsin largely lined up and ran right over the smaller Oregon defense, while Oregon routinely got the corner and made huge gains against the slower Wisconsin defense.

One can only wonder how this game would have played out on a blustery snowy day in Madison, where ball control was essential and good footing was hard to come by. Surely Oregon would have still broken some big plays, but over the course of four quarters, Wisconsin's 350 pound lineman would have likely made a larger impact in a straight ahead, smash mouth game.

To be fair, teams like USC, Alabama, LSU, Texas and Oklahoma have certainly put together stacked teams with strong offenses and defenses that would also thrive in cold climates. But the point remains, to get to big games, teams from colder climates need to build teams and have a style of play that can work in their environment. Therefore, teams like Wisconsin, Ohio State and Michigan State need to have power running games to score points. There's a reason these teams don't run fancy pro style passing attacks or the spread option, it's too risky if you play three or four games in terrible weather. It will be interesting to see how Rich Rodriguez is able to fair with his spread option in the warmer confines of Arizona. Given a few years of controlled climate football and we may see Rich-Rod playing in meaningful bowl games again.

It's easy to give the cold weather conferences a hard time for their failures on a national level, but the truth is, these teams continue to produce NFL players at as good of a clip as the other major conferences ( For disparity, people like to point out Ohio State's failures in recent BCS games where they have been routed by SEC teams. Some have argued that Jim Tressel's coaching against the likes of Urban Meyer were largely to blame as opposed to the talent disparity.

Likewise, Michigan's Lloyd Carr gave a shining example in the 2008 Capital One Bowl of what happens when a talented Big 10 team breaks the mold and plays warm weather football. That Michigan team had a tremendously disappointing year leading up to the bowl game including a loss to Division 1AA Appalachian State. But with an offense that included overall number one draft pick Jake Long on the offensive line, and fellow draft picks Chad Henne, Shawn Crable, Mario Manningham, Mike Hart and Adrian Arrington. With five NFL draft picks on offense, in Lloyd Carr's final game of his career, he unleashed a shotgun spread offense that he hadn't used the entire season, finally leveraging the skills of Henne and his two NFL-worthy wideouts.

Despite four turnovers (possibly related to the new offensive system in place) the Wolverines moved the ball at will against the favored Tim Tebow-led Gators and torched the Florida defense for 524 yards, including 373 through the air. One wonders what that offense could have produced the entire season had Carr expanded the playbook to fit his talent rather than driving a square peg into a round hole all year long.

While the SEC, Big XII and Pac 12 continue dominating the rankings, it is worth considering how much a team's environment accounts for how they play and who they spend time recruiting. Further, it will be interesting to see how new coaching blood at traditionally strong recruiting outposts like Ohio State change their fortunes on the national scene. Urban Meyer won in the Mountain West and then in the much tougher SEC. Should Ohio State win a title in the next few years at Ohio State, with predominantly midwestern players, perhaps this argument can be put to bed. Otherwise, fans of schools like Wisconsin should probably begin clamoring for a home and home for the Rose Bowl.

This blog supplied by a contributor for My Team Planet, who provides Alabama merchandise, Ohio State merchandise, Texas Longhorns merchandise and Oklahoma Sooners gear.