Tuesday, April 7, 2009

One Shining Moment - 2009

Honestly, they could have just played this at halftime last night and everyone could have gone to bed a little earlier.....

Friday, April 3, 2009

How Much Better is Jay Cutler than Kyle Orton???

After the huge trade yesterday between the Broncos (received Kyle Orton, a 2009 first round draft pick, a 2009 third round draft pick, and a 2010 first round draft pick) and the Bears (received Jay Cutler and a 2009 fifth round draft pick), everyone has been debating who got the better deal.

In an ESPN poll receiving over 300,000 votes, 54% said that the Broncos made out better. In the state of Colorado, 57% said the trade was better for Denver, where as in the state of Illinois, an enormous 76% went the other way, making the case that the trade was better for Chicago.

This trade was not about the Broncos. It was completely about the Bears and their lack of consistent performance at the quarterback position. They've used 22 different starting quarterbacks in the past 19 years and their starter last year (Orton) led them to a 9-7 record. I'm hearing a lot about how much the Bears players liked and respected Orton and how it will be very difficult for Cutler to come in and quickly prove himself (especially after having received a reputation as a cry-baby...and justly so).

That the Bears were looking to upgrade their QB is not a surprise. Many feel that it is this sole position on the field has kept them from being a perennial Super Bowl contender over the past six years. And that the Bears did upgrade that position by nabbing Cutler is not likely to be argued by anyone who has watched the two QBs over their careers.

So the question is not whether Cutler is better than Orton...it is how much better? Is he so much better that the Bears should be giving away TWO first rounders and a third rounder? On the surface, the answer would seem to be no. Although Cutler is younger and appears to have all the skills necessary to become one of the elite QBs in the game, he is not Tom Brady or Peyton Manning; and Orton is a decent starter. Plus, two first round picks can really help your team...enough to compensate for keeping your average starting QB, right?

Well - the answer to that question completely depends on what you do with your draft picks. Remember, these picks do not represent existing Pro Bowl players...they purely represent talent on paper. This talent may take years to realize, or may never come to fruition at all. Additionally, in today's era, having a first round draft pick means paying an enormous contract and bonus to some yet-to-be-proven talent.

What the Bears have done is upgrade their current QB without changing a single other thing about their current roster. The only other thing they have done is given up the opportunity to draft two players, but have kept a lot of money to do so. So, I can certainly understand what the Bears fans are so thrilled about. However, if their defense starts getting old and they don't have enough offensive weapons for Cutler to get the ball to....they will soon start wishing they had those draft picks back!

As for the Broncos, they should be thrilled as well. They unloaded a complete distraction who was not happy with his situation. Yes - Cutler had talent - but he was never going to live up to the expectations that John Elway left behind, no matter how well he performed. Orton doesn't exactly embody new hope for the franchise, but they can gain some young talent with their newly acquired draft picks (if they draft wisely) and give new head coach Josh McDaniels something to be hopeful about.

So, who got the better end of the trade? This is a question that gets tossed around after every major trade takes place. In this case - as is true of 95% of trades - both teams got what they wanted. They traded for equal value.

Please comment if you have any questions for Academics on Athletics

Monday, March 30, 2009

What Could Have Been - March Madness 2009 Edition

If you're a college hoops junkie (like we at Academics at Athletics are), there probably has been a time during this year's N.C.2.A. (I had to say that, just because Doug Gottlieb INSISTS in saying that every dang time anyone else just says "N.C.Double.A.") when you've wondered to yourself..."How would the tournament look if no guys ever left to go pro early out of college or high school?"

The thought is enticing. It's like..."Man, what team would KG be on?" And then you realize he's about as old as Jaime Moyer. "Oh, snap! Where would Kobe have gone to college?" Uh...he's won like 13 titles and would have played college ball in the 80's. "Wasn't LeBron supposed to go to Ohio State?" He's played six years in the pros. Not even close.

Aside from the fact that this exercise reminds us how fast we have aged, we at Academics on Athletics have done a bit of research to create the "What Could Have Been Elite 8" of March Madness 2009. We welcome any miscues to be pointed out by our readers. Our research methodology is based on including every current legitimate NBA player and the remaining players are filled out by either points per game or obvious starter/star if adding up the figures omits an obvious guy. Our research concluded there were a pretty solid nine teams before the parody drops off, so we've included an extra "elite" team. While Louisville or Pitt may have been able to compete with these teams, none of them had a guy that would have made their team any better this year.

So, here we go, ladies and gentlemen: Your 2009 What-Could-Have-Been March Madness Elite Nine, in random order.

G Derrick Rose
G Tyreke Evans
F Chris Douglas-Roberts
F Shawne Williams
F Robert Dozier
TEAM NOTE: Interesting squad...3 guys from the team that choked the championship, plus arguably the best frosh this year plus the only frosh that truly went in the '06 draft. Really hard to detect their winning potential. Undoubtedly, ridiculous talent pool.

G Mike Conley, Jr.
G Daequan Cook
F Evan Turner
F Kosta Koufos
C Greg Oden
TEAM NOTE: This is a scary team. If Greg Oden is healthy and rocking, a hard-to-argue vote for National Champions.

G AJ Price
G Jerome Dyson/Kemba Walker
F Jeff Adrien/Stanley Robinson
F Andrew Bynum
C Hasheem Thabeet
TEAM NOTE: This team is scary just because Bynum is arguably one of the best centers in the NBA, and to put him between Thabeet's heighth and Adrien's linebacker body? I would not want to take a step in that lane. When you really sit down and think about it, this goes down as one of the best college basketball teams ever. Ever.

G Sherron Collins
G Mario Chalmers
G Brandon Rush
F Julian Wright
C Cole Aldrich
TEAM NOTE: Last year's title team with additional talent. Dangerous if you could get these 5 guys to play together.

G Brandon Jennings
G Marcus Williams
G Jerryd Bayless
F Chase Budinger
F Jordan Hill
TEAM NOTE: Ties Memphis with most guys who have left to pro early (3), they must be included. But which one of these guys has done ANYTHING? Even worse is trying to imagine them playing together. We love you Chase and will go to any volleyball game you play in.

G Jon Scheyer
G Gerald Henderson
F Kyle Singler
F Josh McRoberts
G Nolan Smith/Greg Paulus
TEAM NOTE: We know, we know. You hate Duke. We do too (especially after limping around against Nova). But Seth Curry is transferring to Duke, and our loyalty is back. Really, you throw in McRoberts and his thunder-jams to this team, and anyone would realize he just shoulda stayed in school. This would have made a very interesting team.

G Ty Lawson
G Wayne Ellington
F Tyler Hansbrough
F Brandan Wright
F Deion Thompson
TEAM NOTE: With Ty Lawson at the point, it don't matter who yo momma is, you are a national contender. Kid is ridiculous. The Brandan Wright thing would be interesting. Would that put Ed Davis on JV? Depth GALORE and hard to argue they wouldn't take home the cake.

G Russell Westbrook
G Darren Collison
F Josh Shipp
F Alfred Aboya/Luc Richard Mbah a Moute
C Kevin Love
TEAM NOTE: Sounds sexy at first glance, but there is substance too...and a lot of Final Four experience.

G DJ Augustin
G AJ Abrams
F Kevin Durant
F Damion James
C Dexter Pittman
TEAM NOTE: One of the top 5 players in the NBA over the next decade, plus a truly competent backcourt (the secret ingredient for any NCAA champ), and you can't not include them. Pittman could clean up after everyone, too.

To cap this segment off, we at Academic on Athletics have made our prediction for the "What Could Have Been 2009 National Champions". While Ohio State looks really tempting, we can't ignore UNC's off-the-charts-depth and UCONN's -- and you can repeat this -- PERFECT TEAM. A dynamite backcourt (Price and Dyson), a diaper dandy on the bench ready to go off at any point, and a front court of....let's just put it this way...would YOU want to enter a lane comprised of Jeff Adrien, Andrew Bynum, and Hasheem Thabeet all about to eat your lunch? Well...maybe Scottie Reynolds would be up to that challenge...

Posted by The Sideline Sidekick

Please comment if you have any questions or comments for Academics on Athletics

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Tiger Is Back

In his second tournament back after having knee surgery nine months ago, Tiger Woods captured the Arnold Palmer Invitation at Bay Hill. He overcame a five stroke deficit to Sean O'Heir at the start of the day to serve notice that he is fully back from his injury. This firmly places him as the favorite at the upcoming Masters, where he hopes to claim his 15th major victory.

Please comment if you have any questions for Academics on Athletics


Four teams will be heading to Detroit next weekend in hope of claiming the 2009 NCAA Championship. We have to apologize to second seeded Michigan St for putting them at the bottom of our list in our last post. They dominated play against Louisville and now stand a chance to cut down the nets in their home state next Monday. Their talent may still be inferior to that of the other three teams remaining, but they could get a boost from the crowd if Michigan St fans can get their hands on enough tickets.

Joining them are number one seeds Connecticut and North Carolina, who took care of business throughout their regions, and third seeded Villanova, who advanced by knocking off Pittsburgh in the game of the tournament thus far.

At this stage in March Madness, each team has a great chance to win it all (it only takes putting two quality games together). Having said that, it would be a little surprising to see either Villanova or Michigan St win, considering the pedigree of the UConn and UNC rosters.

Vote in the Academics on Athletics poll on the right hand side to let us know who you think will come away with the title.

Please comment if you have any questions or suggestions for Academics on Athletics

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Ranking The Elite

Here's how Academics on Athletics ranks the remaining eight teams in the tournament, in terms of their chances to win the title:

  1. Connecticut
  2. North Carolina
  3. Louisville
  4. Pittsburgh
  5. Oklahoma
  6. Villanova
  7. Missouri
  8. Michigan St

Check back after this weekend's games for our poll of who will win the championship.

Please comment if you have any questions or suggestions for Academics on Athletics

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Japan Wins World Baseball Classic

Last night's WBC Championship game is being labeled as one of the best played and most intense baseball games in recent memory. While it was a great game, whether you think its excitement was on par with the World Series depends on your perspective. Personally, I feel that the World Series is the biggest baseball event, but I can certainly understand how important this game was for the countries that contested it.

In case you missed it, in front of nearly 55,000 screaming fans in Dodger Stadium, Japan defeated South Korea 5-3 in 10 innings. How great it was also to see all the passionate fans packed into stadiums in Seoul and Tokyo to watch the game. Achieving something that the US players wouldn't be able to do by winning, the Japanese players - led by Ichiro Suzuki (4-4 with the game winning hit) - became national heroes by defeating their Pacific Rim rivals and claiming their second WBC title.

This competition represented everything that sports should be about, even if the American fans don't show an interest in it.

Please comment if you have any questions or comments for Academics on Athletics

Power Rankings - Sweet Sixteen

Here's a look at how we rank the remaining teams in the NCAA tournament, in order of their chances to reach the Final Four:

  1. Louisville
  2. Connecticut
  3. North Carolina
  4. Pittsburgh
  5. Memphis
  6. Villanova
  7. Syracuse
  8. Oklahoma
  9. Missouri
  10. Duke
  11. Kansas
  12. Michigan St
  13. Purdue
  14. Gonzaga
  15. Arizona
  16. Xavier
Most of these rankings are based on the difficulty of the regions. The Midwest Region (Louisville) appears to be the easiest, while the East (Pittsburgh) and South (North Carolina) look to be very difficult.

Please comment if you have any questions or suggestions for Academics on Athletics

Monday, March 23, 2009

Japan Advances to WBC Final

Japan defeated USA 9-4 in semifinal play in the World Baseball Classic, setting up a final game showdown with South Korea. After giving up a leadoff homerun to Brian Roberts, Daisuke Matzusaka was able to shut down the US bats and send the squad that most had tabbed as favorites back to Spring Training for their respective MLB teams. Plagued by errors in the field and inconsistent pitching, Team USA - playing in Los Angeles - once again failed to reach the finals of the WBC.

Japan moves on to face South Korea at 9:30pm ET on ESPN and will attempt to win its second WBC Championship.

Please comment if you have any questions or suggestions for Academics on Athletics