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NIU, Wisconsin and the BCS

ESPN set social media on fire last night when Kirk Herbstreit and others discussed the Northern Illinois BCS Bowl Bid.

For those that don’t know, I’ll recap it breifly:
According to BCS rules, a non-AQ conference champion will receive an automatic bid to a BCS bowl game if: a) they are ranked in the top 16, b) ranked ahead of a BCS conference champion.

Check and check. NIU did what they had to do.

Was Kirk and company wrong in what they said? No. At least, not in my opinion. I also feel that many people misinterpreted what they were saying. Did they say NIU was an awful team? I didn’t hear that. What I heard was them saying NIU being in a BCS game was a joke BECAUSE of that asinine rule.

Could they have went after Louisville? Sure. But they’ve talked about the automatic bids for BCS conferences in years past and it is pretty much accepted at this point. The reason much more time was focused on NIU is because it’s the first time that rule has put an undeserving team into the BCS.

And no matter which way you slice it… NIU does not belong in the Orange Bowl. Sorry NIU fans, but that’s just reality.

Now, let me move on to the other side of the argument.

NIU supporters are yelling: “It’s just as stupid that Louisville and Wisconsin are in!”

I’ll give you Louisville. But leave Wisconsin out of this. They belong. Why?

Because it is the Rose Bowl. The annual, long-standing, Pac-12 vs. Big 10 Bowl. The Rose Bowl’s rule pre-BCS and post-BCS is that the champions of those two conferences will meet (unless one or both are going for a national championship). Hence, Wisconsin winning the Big Ten Championship moves them to that historic bowl.

You can sit back and argue all you want that those BCS Bowls deserve to have the top teams in them, but when the BCS was implemented what did we hear from those same people? That the bowl tie-ins needed to stay because we love the traditional match-ups. Big Ten/Pac-12 Rose Bowl, ACC to the Orange, SEC to the Sugar, and so on. In no uncertain terms did fans around the nation make it clear that they did not want their bowl to be messed with. And the bowl committees agreed, as they wanted it to be the same as well (sans national championship of course).

Therefore, any argument that X non-AQ school getting in to those bowl games OR any of the tie-in winners not going to those are just silly. Put in NIU over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl and see what kind of reaction you get.

Somewhere along the line the BCS became the goat. The BCS “system” is only designed to rank teams to find out who will play for the national championship. The bowl committees and conferences are responsible for the other rules concerning bowls.

Do not beat your anti-BCS drum over this. It is not its fault. Furthermore, nothing has really changed historically. Abolish the BCS and the Rose Bowl is still going to take Big Ten vs. Pac-12 champion. And furthermore again, without the BCS rules NIU isn’t going to the Orange Bowl as they would not select them. You can’t have it both ways.

The Big East has remained grandfathered in because of the rules. You have to remember that when the BCS “Six” first started the Big East was a very good football conference that had Miami and/or Virginia Tech always in the top five. Look at the first years of the BCS and they made it to the title game often. Conference re-alignment destroyed the conference.

NIU should get in ahead of Louisville, because the Big East does not have a bowl tie-in. However, neither deserve it. And the reason NIU, as I repeat myself, is getting the backlash moreso than Louisville is that the “talking heads” and fans have already complained about low ranked or unranked conference champions in years past — this was something new and fresh that hadn’t really happened before.

I completely agree that Oklahoma deserves a bid over both. Hell, if it were up to me there would be no tie-ins and the top 12 teams would play in BCS Bowls regardless of conference. That’s a pipe dream, and bowls are about interesting match-ups anyway.

As I wind down the post let me also say this: The BCS “Six” were going to get their BCS money regardless of who went. So does it matter that Wisconsin is in over Nebraska? No. And that’s to put history and the love of the Rose Bowl aside.

Kirk and others are not made because the “little guy” got in. These are the same people who were championing TCU, Boise State, and others for years. They are simply making the point that NIU’s ranking and spot in the BCS is not deserved. They are arguing that this “rule” is silly. And they are right.

As I mentioned above, bowl season is about interesting match-ups anyway. NIU vs. Florida State is fine by me. NIU vs. Arkansas State would have been just as much fun for me. NIU did nothing wrong and took advantage of a dumb rule. That’s all.

Fact remains, they do not belong in the game. But it is very much winnable.

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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In a Perfect (UFC) World

I originally planned this as an article for Bleacher Report, but failed to produce something quality. So instead, I’ll post it here in a rather quick fashion.

After UFC 148 I mentioned to several of my friends that I felt it was time for Anderson Silva to vacate the 185-pound crown and take superfights.

He cleaned out the division (well, mostly, now Chris Weidman has emerged as a potential contender) and is 37-years-old. When, or rather if, Anderson loses in the UFC the majority of fans will instantly say, “He’s old.” So, I would much rather the 37-year-old take the big money fights to close out his career.

If he fights until he is 40, that could give him five opponents if he keeps his current two fights a year schedule. Rashad Evans, Shogun Rua, Georges St. Pierre, Nick Diaz and many others line the list of potential money opponents for him.

Not only that, but it opens up the 185-pound division. If Anderson took a superfight without dropping the title it would hold it up. This does not do that.

Then when Lyoto Machida weighed-in at 201 speculation turned to a potential drop to 185, and that opened the door in my eyes for what I thought SHOULD happen to ACTUALLY happen.

Then, following his victory over Ryan Bader, Machida said he may go to 185. Confirmation he could do it. And being granted the #1 Contendership could be easily transferred to Middleweight if Anderson vacates.

Anderson vs. Superfight Opponent
Machida vs. Weidman
And, just to fill that role of 205-contender, Shogun could slip back in there since he defeated Vera.

I think this works best for all. But, if Anderson chooses to stay at 185, Lyoto at 205 and none of this happens… I don’t mind. It’s a pleasure to watch these athletes compete and enjoy the remarkable show the UFC puts on.

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Writing for BleacherReport.com

This past week I was brought on board at BleacherReport.com as a contributor. Even though I’m not posting new stuff every day, or even every week, here I want to update any of you who visit on where you can catch my stuff. I’ll also be posting links here in case. I’ll also try to write different things here if I don’t get the opportunity over there.

My first article was on UFC Welterweight Rory MacDonald.
And my first slideshow is a power ranking of the USWNT roster.

I do hope you read, comment, like or whatever.

-Nathan

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2012 in Personal, Sports

 

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The Top Ten “The Office” Moments

Before I embarked on this mission I had to give myself some kind of guideline to follow. This would help narrow down what I already knew would be a difficult choice. The most significant guideline I gave myself was that it had to be in one continuous scene. There are a lot of moments that are divided up or are collective throughout the show and those are automatically eliminated. Also, as one would expect, this only covers seasons 1-7 as the eighth season is airing. However, next time around I may be thinking of putting the “cold open” featuring Jim’s prank in Florida on the list.

Let’s begin:

10: Pam Tells Jim What Her Father Said (Season Five, Episode 13: Stress Relief)
This moment is from what is probably the greatest single episode of “The Office”. Pam’s parents are going through marital problems and they are housing her father. Pam tells Jim to talk to him and Pam later gets word that they are getting a divorce. Pam even wonders what Jim could have possibly said to her father that would make him want a divorce. This scene is after Pam meets with her father and finds out why he’s leaving and what Jim said.

9: Dwight on the phone with Bill Buttlicker (Season Five, Episode 6: Customer Survey)
Michael receives the customer surveys to judge the performance of his sales staff. Dwight & Jim are the only two that receive poor reviews and to work on their people skills Michael decides to have a mock sales call for them. What ensues made me burst out laughing. It’s classic Dwight & Jim.

8: Michael Burns His Foot (Season Two, Episode 12: The Injury)
One of the show’s funniest cold opens. Michael calls in to work looking for a ride because he burned his foot. How? That’s why it’s funny.

7: Pam Tours Jim’s Bedroom (Season Two, Episode 9: E-Mail Surveillance)
OK, I couldn’t find a YouTube clip of this scene. However, early on we know that Jim has a crush on Pam and we think there is a connection despite her engagement to Roy. Jim has a barbecue at his home and gives fellow office workers a tour of his home. On this tour Pam detours into Jim’s room. It’s one of my favorite scenes between the two.

6: Seasons of Michael (Season Seven, Episode 21: Michael’s Last Dundies)
Michael Scott had proposed to Holly Flax and told the office that he was leaving. One of the final things he did before his departure was have a final awards show introduced in the first season of “The Office”, The Dundies. After they were booted from the restaurant they went back to the office to finish where the office surprised him with a rendition of the hit song “Seasons of Love” from Rent. It was such an emotional scene for viewers of the show and really put a stamp on the Michael Scott character. There were many Michael Scott moments I could have listed, but this is my highest ranking one because of the emotion it evoked.

5: The Kiss (Season Two, Episode 22: Casino Night)
Once again, couldn’t find a YouTube clip of the scene. It’s simple. The culmination, or so we initially think, of the Jim & Pam relationship… their first kiss. It was very well done and got everyone excited that it finally happened. Loved it.

4: Jim Shows Pam The House (Season Five, Episode 8: Frame Toby)
Yeah, no clip. Jim purchased his parents’ house without the knowledge of his fiance and it was time to surprise her. I read on the internet forums after the show and some fans disliked the moment because everything with Jim & Pam is perfect, but to me that’s what is great about them. From the first season we know they are “perfect” for one another, and with their friendship and love they have a connection that many of us envy. Some may say it’s not realistic, but with how the characters are written it made sense. Besides, just take it for what it is, a great season that encapsulates their relationship. Also, Pam’s pronunciation of the word house at the end of it makes me grin. Very cute.

3: The Perfect Crime (Season Five, Episode 8: Frame Toby)
The very same episode as the previous moment. This came at the very end of the episode and is Dwight describing what his perfect crime would be. I rolled laughing. Just watch the clip.

2: Jim Asks Pam Out (Season Three, Episode 23: The Job)
After three seasons of waiting out other relationships and bad timing it finally happens. It’s a very quick scene during Pam’s talking head interview, but it’s her reaction afterwards (which the clip does not fully get) that makes it so beautiful.

1: Cold Open (Season Five, Episode 13: Stress Relief)
We started with “Stress Relief” and we end with it as well. Sadly, I could not locate a full length clip of this cold open. This is the breakdown: Dwight conducts a fire drill that send the office in a panic. Hilarity ensues. One of the very few times I was on the brink of tears from laughing. My stomach and cheeks hurt from laughing so hard at this scene. It’s perfect.

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2012 in Television

 

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Alternative Matchmaking for Strikeforce’s Women Bantamweights

On Monday, Miesha Tate appeared on The MMA Hour hosted by Ariel Helwani at MMAFighting.com. During their conversation Helwani posed the question of who is next for Tate. She responded that Alexis Davis made sense, and he concurred. I’ve heard this suggestion numerous times but do not agree.

It’s easy to make this jump. They both lost at Strikeforce: Tate vs. Rousey and are at the top of the Strikeforce Bantamweight division. However, it’s not the right fight to make for the long-term health of the division. Women and Men should be booked differently right now because the depth of their divisions are not equal.

With a deep talent pool you must pit the best versus the best and see who the top contender is, but that’s not where the women’s bantamweight division is. A long-term approach should be taken.

The current way Strikeforce has been booking their champions they defend their titles maybe twice a year, but let’s say that three is a possibility. Booking Tate vs. Davis eliminates one of those women from title contention for a lengthy period of time in the eyes of the viewer.

Miesha Tate and Alexis Davis should fight other women who are coming off of wins on smaller shows, like Invicta. Both should come out on top. And once Tate wins she is already primed for another shot at either Sarah Kaufman or, current champion, Ronda Rousey. That’s a fight that Strikeforce could promote in the Winter.

Meanwhile, Alexis Davis will be primed for a second fight in the Winter where if she wins she will earn a potential title shot. And the loser of Rousey-Kaufman will then be one fight away from a re-match as well.

Now, this is tenative as there could be an upset, but that just puts another qualified contender “in the mix”.

Essentially, the reason the booking should be done in this manner is to allow more time for other women to develop their games.

There are plenty of talented athletic women just entering the game, and as I previously alluded to we may see Olympic athletes make the transition after the Summer. Booking by this method allows them to get some training and fights at lower levels before making the jump to the elite levels. Also, by booking Tate vs. Davis now you eliminate having another title fight lined up for the champion making the division stall.

Given 12-24 months we can see a new crop of bantamweights join the ranks and begin to see a complete division take shape in front of our eyes. They just need time to develop, and using the current method of matchmaking may prevent this from happening organically.

 
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Posted by on March 13, 2012 in Sports

 

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Women’s MMA Episode II: A New Hope

When Gina Carano brought women’s mixed martial arts to the forefront less than five years ago it was due to her sex appeal. She never came across as charismatic or supremely talented. But she was paired up in favorable fights to continue winning and use her looks to become a star.

When she finally fought someone in her weight class she was dispatched from MMA in a rude way. Cyborg Santos ushered her out with brute force. Cyborg had a little buzz around her due to her violent style, but it never matched Carano’s appeal to the casual fanbase.

Fast forward two and a half years later and the next women’s MMA superstar has arrived. Not because of her looks, but because of her talent and charisma. Ronda Rousey is the complete package.

Most will probably argue that her looks do a play a part, and I may concede a small portion to that. It happens across all women’s sports. However, unlike with Carano, even the casual fans did not take notice of Rousey until this title match where she did numerous interviews that captivated the audience because of what she had to say, not because of how she looked while saying it. Coupled with the promotion of her numerous armbars, trash talk and, yes, her beauty the world of MMA became intrigued with the fight versus Miesha Tate.

The major difference between these two stars is that the audience is putting aside her looks and focusing on her performance. And that is what is exciting for the future of women’s mixed martial arts.

When Carano would fight all I would hear from fans at bars and private parties would be talk of her looks. There was no talk of her striking or victories or other women. It was sex appeal.

Prior to Saturday the talk among casual fans in Columbus was about Ronda’s brutal armbars and her trash talk. She has a charismatic personality that transcends. Fans were excited to see her talent on display inside the cage, not her physique.

When fight night came fans filed in to Nationwide Arena waiting for the main event. The other fights simply did not excite the crowd… except Sarah Kaufman vs. Alexis Davis.

Without the promotion leading in to the fight many in attendance had no idea of who they were, but once they traded leather it did not matter. They were in to it.

The Columbus crowd gave that fight numerous standing ovations and applause throughout its duration. And after the fight, even though they booed the decision, cheered Kaufman and her victorious performance.

When the main event came around there was a buzz inside the arena that I had only felt a handful of times in my time of attending live MMA events. The pre-fight anticipation of the crowd may have been only matched by Fedor and Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen. It was that electric.

Once the fight started fans were jumping out of their seat with the fast-paced action that ended with another brutal armbar from Rousey. The crowd erupted. And when she got on the mic the crowd responded to her near heel-like interview.

This is what women’s MMA needed. A superstar who is not just style and not just substance but a combination of both. It will not turn women’s MMA into an overnight success much like Carano’s work did not. But it will grab the attention of other high level female athletes who will look at MMA as a possibility now.

Don’t believe me? 2012 Olympic judoka hopeful Hannah Martin has already stated her interest in MMA.

That will be just one of many. And the post-Olympic fallout of athletes looking to compete at a high level will be an indicator of just how far we have come in the development of women’s MMA.

Sure, the case can be made that like Carano, Rousey will be the lone star and not assist the development of women’s MMA. But I don’t find that to be the case. Simply from how differently the fan’s respond to her I sense that fans are genuinely beginning to change their tune on women’s MMA. It’s no longer two women fighting, it’s two athletes.

Ronda Rousey has elevated the game. Not by looks but with skill and charisma. The new Strikeforce 135-pound champion can lead women’s MMA to new heights as the newest superstar of the sport.

 
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Posted by on March 6, 2012 in Sports

 

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The Other Contender: Alexis Davis

I penned an article for http://www.womentalksports.com today, check it out:

Alexis Davis, Photo Credit: Sherdog.com

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2012 in Sports

 

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