Countdown to College Football: LSU Preseason #1? Child Please Neux Way, Neux How!!

The college football season is nearly six weeks away and the money that I traditionally waste on preseason college football magazines have already began to collect dust in my office and has gotten lost amongst the pile of more recent sports material that I have accumulated in my bathroom.

Before you laugh or roll your eyes I am sure that I am not alone in this traditional wasteful accumulation of sport magazines that were once a must have for avid sports fans who were in need of a fix to make it before college football finally graces us with its presence.

Each summer so-called experts boldly tout Heisman locks and their pre-season favorites to hoist the crystal ball at season’s end. But each year so many of their predictions are wrong and their alleged locks for gridiron dominance end the season unranked and playing in third-tier bowls. As the countdown to the college football season begins stay tuned as I inform you why several pre-season favorites will NOT hold up the Sears National Championship Trophy at the end of the season.

Lets start with several prominent experts Preseason Favorite the #1 LSU Tigers:

This past season the LSU Tigers survived a brutal schedule unblemished surviving the toughest schedule in the country defeating nearly nine top twenty-five teams as they ended the regular season undefeated. Despite their success and occasional show of dominance the LSU Tigers was shut out in their own backyard suffering painful loss to their rival the Alabama Crimson Tide in the National Championship.

Despite the loss from last season It appears that many people have conveniently forgotten about the butt whopping that Les Miles received at the hands of Nick Saban who thoroughly out-coached him in every facet of the game, amnesia is the only reason some have mistakenly selected the Bengal Tigers to win it all.

The LSU Tigers are loaded with five-star recruits at nearly every position that may only be rivaled by one or two other programs in the entire nation (Alabama & USC). Although the Tigers only return 12 starters due to their depth several second and third string players gained invaluable experience on the field due to a steady rotation and opportunities on special teams.

Although no one will contest the talent level at LSU, their performance in the National Championship revealed the LSU Tigers LACKED essential element that is needed to win a championship, and that my friend is coaching. Before Bengal Tiger fans jump to the defense of Les Miles I remind you that it was only a two years ago that he was on the hot seat and nearly lost his job due to his inability to meet the high standard set by his predecessor, Nick Saban.

Les Miles hit a home run with the hiring of John Chavis as his Defensive Coordinator but his inability to hire an offensive mastermind to coral the speed and talent in LSU’s backfield continues to be an ongoing problem. During his seven-year tenure at LSU, five-star talent on the offensive side of the ball has come and gone with very few reaching the immense high school hype that followed them to Death Valley.

As many pundits mistakenly hail Zach Mettenberger to be the savior of the LSU offensive air show I remind everyone that despite his promise and potential that he was third on the depth chart last year. Although he was praised for his strong-arm and accuracy last season he was a non factor despite the two quarterbacks ahead of him being an interception machine (Jarrett Lee) and an option quarterback who could not throw accurate if he tried (Jordan Jefferson).

The Tigers will rely on their defense and smash mouth running game yet again but an inexperienced offensive line and tremendously undersized secondary will struggle against teams with a high-powered offenses, if the Tigers fall behind early they could be in serious trouble.

Will the Honey Badger become a leader and lead his team to the promise land? Will Zach finally fulfill his promise? I certainly do not believe so, I predict a two loss season and Chavis returning to UT as head coach next season. Stay tuned… I know I will  – A. Denmark (@eatdrnkslpsprtz)

Jeremy Lin and New York Knicks No Match Made in Heaven: Lin signs with Rockets

Like a shooting star Jeremy Lin landed into the laps of the New York Knicks bringing excitement back to Madison Square Garden. The Lin-sanity phenomenon took the entire country by storm and everyone from the avid sports fan to the unaware stay at home mom knew the story of the Harvard graduate who slept on his brother’s couch in the day and hit  game winners against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers at night.

However, just like a shooting star the Lin-sanity phenomenon quietly faded into the abyss, due to an injury to his knee Jeremy Lin sat out the rest of the season and missed the playoffs entirely. Despite his game winners and jaw dropping performances that can be viewed on no New York Knicks fan will forget his decision not to suit up in the first round of the playoffs against the Miami Heat, after publicly admitting being at 85%. Although Lin’s decision to not play was a good business decision, I believe it was one of the main reasons why the New York Knicks declined to match the Houston Rockets $25 Million Offer Sheet.

Several pundits will say that the Knicks did not match the offer sheet because of the money, but when your billionaire owner, Jim Dolan gives you a blank check its then necessary to consider another reason. In order to play in the NBA it requires a certain amount of toughness, to play through pain, ignore injuries, and ultimately sacrifice your body for the sake of your team.

As the NBA regular season comes to a close there are no players at 100% but despite their ailments they continued to press onward, delaying surgery and recovery dates until their season has ended either in the regular season or after the playoffs. For example, Dwayne Wade was clearly operating at less than capacity but never reported the obvious choosing to wait until after he won his second NBA Championship with the Miami Heat.

In order to have SUSTAINED success in the NBA toughness is required, and Lin’s decision to not play during the playoffs clearly did not sit well with his former Knicks teammates who initially rallied around the Lin. Carmelo Anthony called Lin’s $25 million offer sheet ridiculous and JR Smith said that Lin’s contract would cause division in the locker room. These do not appear to be ringing endorsements but appear to the voices of angry and frustrated teammates, who played through their own ailments and injuries without excuse, unlike Lin who chose to wear a suit when his teammates could have used him on the floor.

At the end of the day the New York Knicks honored Jeremy Lin’s business decision with a decision of their own. Although a promising future as the Houston Rockets premier player awaits him I believe the Knicks got him Lin at his peak.With his tendencies now known and his toughness questioned everyone will be intrigued to see if Lin-sanity returns in Houston or disappears like a fading star into the dark night. Stay tuned… I know I will – A. Denmark (@eatdrnkslpsprtz)

Lakernation: No Excuses No Apologies, Championship or Bust

The same Los Angeles Laker franchise that have collected their fair share of NBA Championships and Hall-of-Fame players was exposed this season. Another early exit in the second round of the NBA Playoffs revealed that this was franchise in decline and the days of championship glory appeared to be distant memories.

At season’s end it was clear that changes needed to be made in order to field a team that was worthy of wearing the same Laker jersey that was worn by some of the greatest basketball players to EVER play the game. Weighed down by big contracts by their two aging stars Kobe Bryant and Paul Gasol the odds of the front office being able to make any considerable offseason moves appeared to be very slim.

But like a lion waiting to pounce on his gazelle, the Lakers added 2-time MVP Steve Nash into the fold, which immediately made the Lakers a favorite to contend for yet another NBA Championship. Although the Lakers added another aging star (Steve Nash is 37) to the fold his addition will improve the Lakers offensive production by leaps and bounds.

Nash will be able to spread the floor which would make life much easier for Kobe Bryant. He will also open up the paint for the two 7 footers down low (Bynum/Howard and Gasol). Thanks to Mitch Kupchak and the Laker front office the future appears to be bright, and this sudden change in fortune was made possible by the $8.9 million dollar trade exception they received when the traded Lamar Odom for “nothing” to the Dallas Mavericks. Although the front office was heavily scrutinized by Kobe Bryant and pundits around the league for the Odom “giveaway” it is now evident that they had a plan in place all along.

The front office is officially off the hook and the focus now turn to Coach Mike Brown he has very little room for error. Although no one questions Mike Brown’s basketball IQ his inability to make in-game adjustment was exposed in the regular season. Andrew Bynum’s abysmal attempt to shoot a three and frequently playing outside of the offense indicate that Coach Brown is not respected by his own team and has lost control of the locker room.

Coach Mike Brown, you have officially been put on notice, due to the recent off-season moves if the Lakers fail to meet Lakers Showtime expectations he risk being fired before the All-Star break. Their will be several talented coaches like Mike D’Antoni salivating on the sideline waiting to step in and lead the Lakers to the promise land.

Expectations are high and anything less than a championship will simply not do. How will Coach Brown and the Los Angeles Lakers Respond? Stay tuned… I know I will – A. Denmark (follow me on twitter @eatdrnkslpsprtz)

Brooklyn Nets: Buyers Beware, Be Careful What You Ask For #dwightwatch2012

For over a year the Brooklyn Nets have made endless overtures to the Orlando Magics try to acquire Dwight Howard, the most dominant big man in the NBA. In only five short seasons in the league Dwight Howard has won back-2-back defensive MVP awards, an Olympic Gold Medal, and gained world-wide infamy when he won the dunk contest wearing a superman costume and cape. Pundits and scouts around league consider Dwight Howard to be one of the top five players in the entire league due to his offensive production, his elite rebounding on the glass, and ability to change the game on the defensive end of the court.

Despite the endless accolades, awards, and jaw dropping highlight reels I believe that the Brooklyn Nets are making huge mistake. During the NBA shortened season fans and pundits alike bared witness to an indecisive superstar who quit on his team, demonstrated several instances of immaturity and worst of all exhibited no leadership qualities at all frequently pouting on the court and not sitting away from his teammate in team huddles.

His behavior this past season was deplorable and the Nets should consider how Dwight will respond if he became a third option on a loaded Nets squad with Deron William, Joe Johnson, and Gerald Wallace. How will Dwight respond if he is not the primary option? Will throw his coach or teammates under the bus like he did in Orlando? Will he join the huddle if the play is not called for him?

The Nets will be taking a huge risk in gutting their current roster and future draft picks (rumor says 10 players and 4 teams are involved in trade) for Dwight Howard because he has yet to display the maturity to match his Superman-like physique and play on the court. The Nets risk tying up nearly $100 million to sign Dwight in addition to the franchise having to pay $172 million luxury tax for being over the cap.

Although Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov is a billionaire please believe he accrued his wealth by making wise investments and avoid fools gold despite its illustrious shine and glimmer. If Dwight is traded to the Nets his addition will certainly be very profitable. But in the beginning isn’t everyone happy? I am sure the Nets owner will know when to buy and when to sell. Another day, another rumor,stay tuned… I know I will – A. Denmark (@eatdrnkslpsprtz)

Euro Cup 2012: Spain Wins, Mario Balotelli of Italy world icon in losing effort #italianchosenone

With the NBA season over and the NFL and college football still months away I presumed that I would spend my Sunday watching Season 1 & Season 2 of Breaking Bad. But after reading the New York Times piece about Mario Balotelli, the talented but enigmatic striker for Italy’s National Team I found myself scrolling through highlights to find out about the EURO 2012 soccer tournament that was being watched in every home and pub around the world.

While Americans were anxiously awaiting the MLB All-Star Selection Show (yawn!!!) or start of NBA free agency (Dwight Blackmail), the rest of the world was glued to the television to see one of the most athletically gifted footballer in the world attempt to unseat a Spanish National Team that is being hailed as one of the greatest teams of all times. Their dominance on the national stage is equivalent to the Dream Team with MJ and Magic whose average margin of victory was nearly 60 points per game in the Olympic.

Millions tuned in to watch Mario Balotelli, either to witness his antics or to see an amazing highlight only a few footballers in the world could replicate. Although Balotelli was the reason I gave my Breaking Bad disc set a rest after twenty minutes I completely forgot that he was on the field.

All my attention and focus immediately went to the unselfish play of the Spanish National Team. Their precision passing was truly a thing of beauty, each pass was so crisp and there was never a wasted motion. It became evident that this team was operating as one mind, everyone was aware of where they needed to be and there was never any sense of panic or concern. The Spanish goalie could have taken a nap because the ball rarely made it pass midfield minus the few lobs of desperation that was brief and non threatening.

Although Balotelli got all the headlines leading up to the EURO Cup Final once the final whistle sounded it was the Spanish team that was the victor after a dominant performance over the undermanned Italian team, 4-0. Once the game concluded I realized I had watched the greatest soccer team in the modern era who dominance can neither be questioned or contested.

In addition, I also learned about the great Mario Balotelli, who appears destined for greatness, the ‘Italian Chosen One’, so much pressure for a young only 21-years old. Stay tuned… I know I will. – A. Denmark (@eatdrnkslpsprtz)

Do I Stay or Do I Go?: Lessons Learned from NBA Draft Night 2012 #highrisklowreward

In gyms and basketball courts all over the world young boys envision themselves as their favorite NBA player nailing a buzzer beater and winning a NBA Championship. Last night there were 30 young men whose dreams finally became a reality when they heard their names called in the first round and had the opportunity to shake the hand of NBA Commissioner, David Stern. For many of these young men the opportunity of playing in the NBA was their ticket out of low-income housing and into a life of luxury fulfilling the promise of early retirement for their mothers. And also providing their families with cars and homes as a show of their appreciation for the many sacrifices that was made for them.

After the Kentucky Wildcats were crowned as the 2012 National Champion, 49 underclassmen forfeited their college eligibility to declare for the NBA Draft.This list of underclassmen consisted of those destined for stardom, upperclassmen who may have waited one year too many, as well as a few head scratchers who had little chance of being drafted at all.

Although these 49 underclassmen will probably never attend a college class again, each of them was taught a few hard life lessons on Thursday night:

  • Lesson 1: The more you play the further you drop

Each year the top players in college basketball are faced with the tough decision to either play another year or go pro, those who decide to stay another year are praised by their coaches for their unselfishness and team first mentality. However, last night several of these rising sophomores lost millions of dollars after being selected later in the NBA Draft than they were projected the previous year. For example Harrison Barnes was projected to be a top two pick in last years draft but was not selected until the seventh pick by the Golden State Warriors. Although general onlooker would not consider this to be much of a drop off, financially it was a difference of nearly seven million dollars. Harrison Barnes was still fortunate to be selected in the first round because there were a few players projected to be top fifteen picks last year who fell out of the first round entirely.

  • Lesson 2: Get a physical before you declare, avoid red flags like you avoid fouls

Last night several young men dropped in the draft due to their failure to address injury issues before the NBA Draft Combine. Unfortunately, the agents for these young men failed them miserably, the flags discovered by team physicians could have been avoided completely. Jared Sullinger and Perry Jones III were both top ten talents that could have opted for surgery to address their ailments which may have prevented their free fall from the lottery to the back-end of the first round.

Royce White and his agent handled this situation remarkably, by using the 4 months before the draft combine to address his anxiety disorder and his fear of flying. They were rewarded for being proactive, this talented forward from Iowa State was selected in lottery by the Houston Rocket, way to go Royce White!

In closing, to all the young men aspiring of playing in the NBA I encourage you to trust no one: not your coaches, not your friends, and definitely not your agent. Each one is driven by their own ambitions of either getting another coaching extension or maximizing their profit margins.

Too the thousands of young boys striving to relief their family of the hardships of working double and triple shifts I remind you that shaking David Stern’s hand and being selected in the NBA Draft does not determine quality of life, you do. Less than 2% percent of the boys with this dream will achieve it, for the other 98% they will be tortured by the unknown, never forgetting the many opportunities lost in their quest to fulfill their dream of guarding Kobe Bryant or taking a charge from Dwight Howard. Stay tuned… I know I will. – A. Denmark (@eatdrnkslpsprtz)