Get Your Lemonade Here…

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. When the sports world gives me a mishmash of items, I write a disjointed rant with lots of unconnected stuff.

The NBA season started on Tuesday night. The wild acclaim that you heard on a nationwide basis to accompany this momentous event was easily equivalent to the sound of a bird’s chirp at a distance of 2 miles. The beginning of the NBA regular season juxtaposed with the upcoming debate and voting on health care reform leads me to ask a fundamental question here:

    If I get sick because I have watched too much of an early season NBA game, am I going to be covered?

Speaking of the start of the NBA season, the league and the union representing its referees finally reached an agreement on a new contract. Dwight Perry summed up the situation regarding the officiating of NBA games quite nicely in the Seattle Times:

“How hard could it be for the NBA to find 60 replacement refs?

“Easy, said syndicated columnist Norman Chad: ‘You just need 59 guys who make calls that favor the biggest stars, and one guy who bets on games and provides gamblers with inside information.’ “

Having mentioned health care reform above, that reminds me that then-candidate for President Obama came out foursquare in favor of a college football playoff system and said he would “throw his weight around” once in office to see what he could do about it. As with far too many issues, it is far easier to talk about this one on the campaign trail and in the afterglow that lingers during a transition time than it is to actually do something constructive about it. The President has not thrown his weight around; nothing significant has changed here. Paraphrasing an important question asked during the Jewish Passover Seder ceremony:

    Why should this issue be different from all other issues?

However, I am a patriotic American and I want to help my President and my government to do the right thing; therefore, I offer this plan to move away from the current BCS system to a collegiate football playoff system for Division 1-A schools:

    President Obama send letters to the NCAA and the BCS mavens informing them of some upcoming legislation that will be sent to the Congress on Feb 1 2010. That legislation will tax all profits made by athletic programs at colleges and universities in the US and a special section of the IRS will be directed to audit every athletic program in the US with revenues more than $10M every other year. With rising deficits, this is a “government revenue enhancer”.

    Schools can get a tax credit on these profits dollar for dollar when they cut the salaries paid to head coaches in the “revenue sports”. Any coach whose contract is in excess of $1M per year – including all imputed income by the standard IRS definitions – will cost the athletic program an equivalent amount as a special luxury tax.

    In addition to that legislation, the President should tell the NCAA and the BCS that he is directing the DoJ to see how the laws that apply to monopolies, cartels and trusts apply to the NCAA itself and to the BCS entities that put on that series of bowl games. That direction to DoJ will also be delivered on Feb 1, 2010.

    There would be two ways for the NCAA and the BCS to avoid such action/scrutiny. First would be to implement an 8-team playoff system that did not exclude what are now referred to as “non-BCS conferences”. Absent such a solution, the second would be for the BCS to implement a new rule and demonstrate that it is being enforced. That rule would forbid any school from playing in a BCS bowl game or championship game unless it can show that a minimum of 67% of the football players who were issued scholarships 5 years prior to the bowl game had graduated from that university with a real bachelor’s degree. No fancy counting rules for kids who transferred or turned pro are allowed; just count the kids who got scholarships and the kids who got degrees. Then do the math…

I think those kinds of suggestions might stir some discussion on the topic – – and if the President would make good on another promise he made about openness in his administration’s governance, he could have the discussions with the NCAA reps and the BCS mavens shown live on C-SPAN. It would probably be the highest rated C-SPAN program ever…

In Buffalo, there is an interesting thing going on. Through 7 games, Terrell Owens has caught a total of 18 passes for 242 yards and 1 TD. Granted, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Trent Edwards have been the QBs throwing the ball in Buffalo; nonetheless, those are meager totals to be sure. Those numbers project to 41 receptions for 553 yards and 2 TDs for the entire season. To call that a mediocre season would be generous; considering that Terrell Owens costs the Bills something in the $6M range, that is a pathetic season. So here is the question that makes this interesting:

    Are those numbers a reflection of the mediocrity of the QBs in Buffalo? Or…

    Has Terrell Owens’ career gone round the bend very quickly this season?

I personally think it is both of those things in a combination of 70/30 with the majority portion being that Owens’ career is quickly coming to an end.

Despite the fact that Michael Crabtree missed all of training camp and the first five weeks of the NFL season, he played last weekend and caught 5 passes for 56 yards. Those are not eye-popping stats, but some folks here in the DC area have rationalized the lack of on-field productivity for young WRs as being due to the immense learning curve required of players at that position. Compare Michael Crabtree in his first game with:

    Malcolm Kelly in his second season has 7 catches for 73 yards in 7 games.

    Devin Thomas in his second season has 7 catches for 71 yards (and 1 TD) in 7 games.

    Hmmm…

The Bills have three QBs on the roster. Edwards went to Stanford; Fitzpatrick went to Harvard; Hamdan went to Indiana. What Buffalo needs is an amendment to the NFL scoring rules allowing added points based on the combined SAT scores for the QBs on a team’s roster…

Brad Rock had this item in the Deseret Morning News:

“Reports say Mark McGwire will soon be returning to the Cardinals as a hitting coach.

“Imagine what tips a former single-season home run king could give young players.

“On the other hand, he did say he’s not here to talk about the past.”

McGwire will be in the presence of baseball scribes from mid February through at least the first week of October next year. The scribes still have a lot of unanswered questions; McGwire wants to avoid talking about any of that “stuff”. Honk if you think that is going to work out real well…

Finally, a word from Greg Cote in the Miami Herald regarding ads during football games:

“New survey suggests a disproportionate amount of ads airing during NFL games are for alcohol or erectile dysfunction. Maybe if those guys wouldn’t drink so much beer they wouldn’t need those pills.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…

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