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Features & Blogs
"Life in the UK"
• Sideline: Yes, Non–Conference Games DO Count
• NCAA Preview 2009
• Sideline: Time For The Talking To Stop
• Sideline: In Memory of Air McNair
• Sideline: Will Goodell Hand Out Hard Time?
• Sideline: Marshall's Not Joshing
• NFL Draft: No Rush To Judgment
• NFL Draft Analysis 2009 (Part 2)
• Sideline: NFL Draft Thoughts (Part 2)
• Sideline: NFL Draft Thoughts
• Sideline: Will Play For Food
• Sideline: Wonderlic Scores
• Sideline: Manning and Sanchez
• Sideline: 2010 Leagues Sci–fi, or Fantasy? / March Madness
• Sideline: Break Out The Brackets
• Sideline: LaDainian Tomlinson On The Record
• Sideline: The Incredible Sulk Continues
• Sideline: Guildford Heat Fired Up
• Sideline: Super Bowl thoughts from the Valley of the Sun
• Sideline: I know I came in here for something
• Sideline: College Football National Signing Day
• Sideline: 27 Points — 27 Super Bowl thoughts
• Sideline: An Epic QB Matchup?
• Sideline: Appreciating Arizona for What They Were
• Sideline: NFL Divisional Weekend Preview
• Sideline: Bowl Season Hangover
• Sideline: Six weeks Later
• Sideline: Wildcard Weekend Preview
• Sideline: Santa's Sackings
• Sideline: A Weis Decision ...for Now
• Sideline: Eye on the Ticker
• Sideline: Lions — An Anagram of Losin
• Sideline: Ready for the Turkey
• Sideline: Making it to the Big Dance
• Sideline: Brighter Days Ahead for Chargers?
• Sideline: Unnecessary Hits To The Pocket / Upset: BYU
• Sideline: Romo's Pause / Seattle Seahawks
• Sideline: Weekend Prep: Red River and More
• Sideline: College Football's 'Crossroads' Weekend
• Sideline: Gramatical Error
• Sideline: Turning The Page
• Sideline: So Cal 'Quizzed
• Sideline: 3rd Tuesday Panic / Forté Yard Dash
• Sideline: Two and Oh; Oh and Two
• Sideline: No More NCAAffeine
• Sideline: Week 1 College Football
• Sideline: How To Spell Heisman / Chad Ocho Cinco
• Sideline: A Second Slice
• Sideline: The Favre story STILL won't go away
• Sideline: Olympic Notes / Ricky's Still Relevant
• Sideline: Committee Meetings
• Sideline: Let the QB Battles Begin
• Sideline: Slinging The Slinger — More Favre
• Interview: Clint Dempsey
• Sideline: Welcome to the 2008 season
• Sideline: Plus One
• 2008 NFL Draft Review
• Sideline: Draft: The Morning After
• Sideline: Draft: Thinking the Unthinkable
• Sideline: Draft: Ready For The Long Haul
• Sideline: Sofa–bound Sport
• Sideline: Post–Winter Wonderland
• Sideline: Six Impossible Things
• Sideline: Brady's Misdirection Play
• Sideline: Colorful Language
• Sideline: Let the Romo–bashing begin
• Sideline: Bowl Bites: The Wrap
• Sideline: All About The Coaches
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 3
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 2
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 1
• Sideline: Coach Situations Vacant
• Sideline: For Some, The Playoffs Are Now
• Sideline: A Certain Lack Of Welcome
• Sideline: Unrelated Notes
• Sideline: Two Thanksgiving thoughts
• Sideline: Halftime: NFC
• Sideline: Halftime: AFC
• Sideline: London / A Tale of Two Chads / Intimidation
• Sideline: Damp Squib / Other London Notes
• Sideline: Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em / Dolphins – The Aftermath
• Sideline: The Dolphins Did What?
• Sideline: Notes on the Defenses
• Sideline: Habits to be Broken
• Sideline: Overtime
• Sideline: This Week's Starters
• Sideline: USF: Covering The Spread / Fantastic Football
• Sideline: Grossman: The Final Act? / McNabb, the Epilogue
• Sideline: Eagles QB in Slight Controversy
• Sideline: Leftwich's Parting Gift / Boos cruise
• Sideline: Notre Dame M.I.A.
• Sideline: Looking Beyond NFL Wk. 1
• Sideline: Best Hope For Heisman
• Sideline: Coaching Hot Seats / AP Poll Feeling ’Appy
• Sideline: The NFL’s Prime Cuts
• Sideline: Michigan Falls to Killer Apps
• Sideline: Look Out Couch / The Taint's On You, Bud
Observations, Opinion & Occasional Silliness by Richard L Gale
Unnecessary Hits To The Pocket
Everywhere I look at the moment, players seem to be getting penalized for pointless things — 'late hits' you have to watch in slo–mo to perceive as late, end zone celebrations after having the egotistical audacity to have scored and given the ticket–buyers what they want. That sort of numptyism decreed by pencil–necks in suits I've come to expect, but now it seems that nearly every instance is being coupled with a monetary fine.
"It's starting to cost too much money to come to work for these guys" commented Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, after receiver Hines Ward was fined $15k for the second straight week for 'unnecessary roughness'. Well, I reckon Hines probably still earns enough to come to work, but Ward wasn't even flagged on those plays at the time.
Yesterday, Joey Porter of the Miami Dolphins was fined $10k for second–guessing referee Ed Hochuli after the game (holy cow, sports columnists and Chargers fans must owe enough to bail out the banks by now). I can only guess this stuff all goes towards some Christmas bonus for NFL staff. Financial crisis? Not when you can generate this sort of cash.
What I want to know is, if NFL players and coaches aren't allowed to second–guess the referees, why are faceless NFL bureaucrats allowed to do it? Because surely that's what they're doing when a referee doesn't throw a flag on a play, but the paperwork posse decide they can demand $15k a pop for a play that passed for legal at the time.
And this is on a wide receiver? Not some crazed linebacker, not a defensive end, not some assassin–like safety, but a receiver! Just how soft do the NFL want football played?
And it isn't just football. This past week I watched (okay, mostly fast–forwarded) another Formula One motor race to witness drive–through penalties for contact incidents some of which wouldn't have raised an eyebrow in the days of Ayrton Senna or Michael Schumacher, but which today seem to require intervention with metronomic regularity. And as usual, after the race, there was an enquiry. Yawn.
Really, who IS running these sports? Presumably people who've never suited up.
To those people, I offer this message:
We, the fans want YOU to back off. Not the players, not the drivers — YOU. We watch football because it makes us go 'ooh' when somebody gets hit, 'aah' when somebody lights up his opponent, and laugh when they do the rumba in the endzone. We like seeing somebody knocked silly, we enjoy watching million–dollar cars smashed to smithereens against a tire wall. We still want the drivers to step out of the car, and the football players to bounce back up like nothing happened, and yes, that might not be realistic of us. But don't dolly down contact sports, or preach about 'safety' like it's the biggest concern in a sport where people drive at 180 miles an hour. And don't pick the pockets of our heroes for more in a month than some fans earn in a year.
That's not sport, that's tax.
Upset: BYU (...and sports writers)
I admit it, I was rooting for an opportunity to really bash the BCS. Brigham Young wouldn't have been just another smaller–conference team cruelly snubbed despite an unbeaten record, they would have been a former National Champion proving that they no longer had the opportunity to compete for such an honor. It would have been the latest damning indictment that the BCS is elite to the point of subdividing the Bowl Subdivision into two tiers — those that are genuinely allowed to compete for the National Championship, and those that are merely given lip service.
Etc, etc, wah wah wah.
Well, TCU blew up that opportunity. The Horned Frogs jumped up Thursday night and slapped No.9 BYU silly, defeating their conference foes to the tune of 32–7. That proves the strength of the Mountain West Conference overall — a case that has been made throughout this season — but blunted the weapon BCS haters were hoping would slay the beast.
Not that the upset was that unlikely. TCU are a ranked team themselves in one poll, with just one loss (to Oklahoma), and the game was played on Thursday night, the time when all ranked teams should quake in their boots. Now BYU can join West Virginia and USC as big–name mid–week victims. Well, they were 'big–name' just for a moment there. At No.9, but not that many votes from No.4, they had been in position to make a run at the national title. So much for that.
Now, with USC already bounced back to No.4 even with one loss, 5–1 Oklahoma ranked four spots ahead of an unbeaten Oklahoma State team that's still unranked, and four Big 12 teams ranked in the top 12, is there any way that the likes of No.13 Utah or No.16 Boise State can get into those two top spots?
It's just not enough now to be wowed by the appearance of a non–'Big 6' team in a BCS bowl game. We've seen that. We've even seen the mid–major conferences beat the big boys once they've been allowed to play on the same field as them. Utah shellacked Pittsburgh 35–7 in the 2005 Fiesta Bowl and Boise State topped Oklahoma 43–42 in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. But those weren't National Championship games, and when Utah and Boise State finished those seasons 12–0, they didn't get any national title.
With seven one–loss teams still ranked ahead of them at the mid–way mark, and with BYU unlikely to be a rung on the ladder of respect once they fall below Utah, it's hard to see the Utes being more than a BCS–bruiser. I guess I could hope for that, and build myself up for a pro–playoff rant when they're snubbed in favor of a 1–loss team.
Then again, they've got a Thursday night game against TCU down the road. At this rate, I could end up leaning on Penn State as my 'cruelly snubbed' unbeaten. At least Penn State don't play any games on Thursdays.