Mississippi Schools Could Give The Tide Headaches This Year

By Clay It is one of the most storied programs in all of college football and once again in 2014 the Alabama Crimson Tide will enter the season as one of the favorites to win another national title. The Tide has won three national championships in the past five seasons under head coach Nick Saban. Since 2008, […] Read More on The Houndztooth Blog

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Pick Your Poison

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Bèisbol, “America’s Pastime”, Hardball …

All words to describe the illustrious game of baseball. The game that brings warmth to a person’s heart after their desired team makes punches their postseason ticket, the sport we all complain about that has overpriced snacks and beverages, but still purchase, and don’t forget it’s the sport where we all go and try catch some history in either our hands, food combo trays, or off our body via a foul ball.

In baseball you have outfielders, infielders, catchers, designated hitters, pinch runners, utility players; however, the pitcher is the most important asset on the team.

You see, without a pitcher there is no ball thrown. Without the throwing of a baseball, no runs can be produced. Lack of run production leads to long inning ball games and let’s face it, we all know that when the game get’s into extra innings, unless it’s a postseason match-up or we are either watching from the comfort of our couches, we get bored. Period. The pitcher is just one of most important aspects of a team that brings excitement to the game!

Now,  with all of this being said, I have a simple scenario for you:  If you were given a chance to win a million dollars by having the power  to choose any current MLB pitcher to throw a complete game shutout for your favorite team, who would your pick be?  Now, I could let you off easy but that’s not what I’m here for.

A little bit of research has to be done. Some stats on pitch count, strikeouts per 9 innings,  hits per 9 innings and even walks. Whether the pitcher is on a hot streak or in a poor performance slump doesn’t really matter; most importantly, I just want you to choose an ace you would have pitch for your  chance to win a million bucks and provide some proof.

So… Who would it be?

Personally, I’m a hugeTampa Bay Rays fan. However, without a doubt in mind, I would choose Chicago’s own:

sale

Chris Sale.

This 6’7, 180lb lefty can flat out bring it! Throwing from almost a complete sidearm arm slot, the lefty can reach anywhere from 91-99 on his fastball. Not only is coming at high velocity, but it has some impeccable “running” movement away from right-handed batters. There’s no need to even mention this guy’s off-speed pitches. In just his last start against the Royals, Sales stats are as follows: Screen Shot 2014-07-26 at 9.58.19 PM

 

On July 26, Sale recorded a solid win against the Kansas City Royals with 7 strong innings of work. Only allowing 1 earned run from 7 hits is pretty darn good. Of course Sale’s walk rate is kept to a minimum with the exception to the start on the 28th of last month; five walks were given up in a win against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Sale is a strong choice based on his stats so far this season. In order to get a complete game shutout the pitcher has to complete 9 innings of work. As you can see, each game complete game Sale has thrown resulted in a win this season. Not only does longevity play a role in a complete game shutout, but your choice has to also not give up a single run in 9 innings of work. According to his season stats, in Sale’s two complete game starts this season he has only given up 3 runs- 1 in the first and 2 in the second.

Sale is a strong candidate and I’m confident that if I was given a choice to pick any pitcher in the league to throw a complete game shutout for a chance to win $1 million,  he would be my choice without a doubt.

So who’s your ace?

The Once Glorious Tennessee Football Program Will Never Return To Prominence

It is one of the top 10 winningest college football programs in the history of the game but recently the University of Tennessee football program has been nothing but ordinary. Ordinary might even be a stretch compared to the rest of the Southeastern Conference in which it plays. With 804 total wins, the Volunteers program ranks with the nation’s best – Alabama, USC, Michigan, and more. Over the past five seasons, though, the program has won just 28 games and is slowly becoming mediocre, even a doormat in the SEC. The once-prominent Vols college football power will never be again.

Tennessee football has experienced several periods of glory throughout the years dating back to the days of legendary head coach Robert Neyland, who won 173 games during his stints at the university. Bowden Wyatt and Doug Dickey enjoyed success during the 1950s and ‘60s and Johnny Majors added 116 wins to the books between 1977 and 1992.

It was Majors’ offensive coordinator Philip Fulmer who took over the reins of the successful Volunteers program in 1992. Fulmer would go on to coach the likes of QB Peyton Manning and then win a national championship in 1998. Fulmer won 75 percent of his games (152-52), but after a 5-7 mark in 2008, one of only two losing seasons in 17 years, Fulmer was promptly fired. It was the beginning of the end for Tennessee.

Since Fulmer’s exit, the Vols have experienced just one winning season. It happened to be the year after Fulmer’s departure under his replacement Lane Kiffin. Tennessee went 7-6 under Kiffin, an improvement from the previous season, but the Vols suffered losses to perennial rivals Alabama and Florida and were blown out in the Chick-fil-A Bowl by Virginia Tech. Kiffin was a one-hit wonder and took his game to USC the following year.

Derek Dooley, son of the former Georgia legend Vince Dooley, took over for Kiffin and suffered through three losing seasons. At 6-6 in his first season in Knoxville, Dooley took Tennessee to the Music City Bowl where they were beaten by a 7-5 North Carolina squad. While Dooley recruited fairly well, he just did not draw the type of talent necessary to compete for an SEC title. And face it, teams that compete for SEC titles, compete for national titles. Tennessee, unfortunately, is a long way from competing for any title as its program is now headed in an entirely different direction.

Tennessee football has now experienced four consecutive losing seasons and hasn’t won more than seven games since 2007. The third Saturday in October was normally a measuring stick for the Vols’ national status. It is the Saturday that Tennessee faces SEC West division foe Alabama in a traditional rivalry game. Since 2003, that game has been nothing more than an easy win for the Crimson Tide. Alabama has won eight of the last ten in the series and don’t expect that to change any time soon.

In the program’s other rivalry game against Florida, the Vols haven’t experienced a win since 2004 and they have lost the last seven straight by double digits. Last season, the Gators had a rare losing season but still defeated Tennessee, 31-17. As if losing to Alabama and Florida wasn’t bad enough, the Vols haven’t even been able to beat in-state rival Vanderbilt. Tennessee has lost to the Commodores the past two seasons.

The rest of the SEC is passing the Volunteers by. Last season as Florida State broke the SEC’s dominance on the national championship, the rest of the favorites, including runner-up Auburn, were from the conference. As the 2014 season approaches, once again there are six teams from the SEC that are considered national championship contenders. Tennessee is not among them. Alabama, which has won three national titles in the last five seasons, Auburn, last year’s runner-up, South Carolina, Georgia, Missouri, and LSU, which won national championships in 2003 and 2007, are all among the favorites to compete in the first-ever College Football Playoff.

Second-year head coach Butch Jones led Tennessee to a 5-7 record last year. He will have to replace the bulk of both his offensive and defensive lines and does not have a marquee quarterback in the program. The 2014 schedule is brutal with a non-conference game at Oklahoma and SEC games at Georgia and at South Carolina. Another 5-7 season might be the best the Vols can muster in 2014. If it is, remember this. The longer the Tennessee football slide continues; the more that program history ceases to matter. This is happening to Tennessee football right now and is the big reason why the program will never return to national prominence.

Poll: Is the Charlie Strong Way The Right Way?

This off-season in the SEC has been plagued with citations, altercations, and arrests. More than we have ever witnessed in the Southeastern Conference.

In my opinion this is a mixture of upbringing, the coaches, and the expectations of the fans. We are all born into a situation we cannot control. Some of us are blessed enough to born into a family that is caring, hardworking, and has enough income to put food on the table and allow us to enjoy the little things in life. However there are also those kids who have a mom and dad that are never home. Their parents are out working 3-4 jobs and barely scraping by to get their kids the food and clothes they need to be just comfortable enough not to be miserable. We have heard countless athletes point this out later in their careers and thank their moms and dads for all the work they did to help them, the athlete, become successful not only on the field or court by in life. Finally there are the children who grow up in a home where the parents aren’t there for reasons much worse. The parents may have a drug problem, they could constantly surrounded by domestic violence, and things I cannot even imagine.

The last two situations do have something in common: the kids are not used to having extra money and focus on them. Money to spend on things like bikes, cars, or even extra food as simple as candy.  So what happens when these children grow up to be young men and women and receive scholarships from major schools like those in the SEC? It’s a whole new world. They receive benefits one in their position could never have dreamed of, and some of them do not understand how to handle it. I am not going into details on how these young people are not handling themselves because anyone who has been following this off season definitely has witnessed what some of these athletes have been doing.

The law is the law. Respecting others is something that we should all be taught, and following the rules and regulations of the NCAA and the college should also be high on the minds of these athletes. However, not every growing child is taught to respect authority. It’s not always the fault of the parent working 18 hour days, but it is the truth.

We have seen how Nick Saban, Gus Malzhan, and Mark Richt handle their off the field issues. There is some leniency – not to every offense – but to some. At SEC Media Days Nick Saban told the media and the rest of the country watching that if the discipline does not help the young man improve his attitude then it is useless. Over the last week we have seen Charlie Strong at the University of Texas take totally different approach. He is kicking players off the team for any major offense. Now, in his defense he said when he came on he would have a zero tolerance policy and I say bravo to him for actually sticking by his word. Something not every coach will do and risk the upcoming season.

So my question to you is do you believe coaches should have a Charlie Strong zero tolerance policy or do things like most other coaches and give their players, excluding extreme cases, a second or third chance?

[polldaddy poll=8208756]

Gus Malzahn Innovates College Football Recruiting

By Chris H Coach Gus Malzahn is known as an innovator of college football offense but most don’t know that he is also an innovator in coming up with new recruiting tactics to discover new talent. Since his arrival on The Plains, it has been rumored that Malzahn added a staff member to specifically scout the police scanners […] Read More on The Houndztooth Blog

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