Tuesday, May 8, 2018

College Football by 2030

College Football will yet undergo some changes.  These may are may not have the same impact that the realignment craze of 10 years ago had, but they will be significant.  Here are some things that I see happening.

NFL Minor League and Farm System--Most other sports offer an alternative to college for entry at the top professional level, the NFL still does not.  The NBA will soon have a stronger G-League and there will be a real alternative path to the NBA, the NFL will only remain a hold out for so long.  The main barrier is the expense of such a system.  But there is a lot of talent that can't get to the NFL because so many kids can't make it in college.  Gradually, the NFL will implement a farm program and kids who want to play in the NFL will have another path to get there.

The difference between the top college programs and the bottom college programs will begin to disappear.  Eventually, the youth of America will realize that being a starting quarterback anywhere is better than being a 3rd string quarterback at Alabama.  Kids who can't play will transfer.  Kids who don't believe that they will play will never sign.

The money will even out.  ESPN and other top sports outlets are not seeing the viewership that they used to.  Network and cable TV are gradually being replaced with streaming.  If you are a fan of McNeese State living in Seattle, you will be able to see your Cowboys play live.  Those options are not available today, but they soon will be.  This will take away the financial advantage that the Power 5 conferences have.  This may not completely happen by 2030, but it will be well underway.

Youth academies are springing up all over the United States for Soccer.  Other sports will soon follow the model.  Eventually, it will catch on with football.  The consequences of this will be the most reaching of all changes.  This will allow high schools to spend less on sports and in some cities, many high schools will not have sports programs at all.  The academy kids will become the most sought after college recruits.

As there are more options for us to do with our time, there will be fewer attending games in person.  College stadiums will be smaller, but offer more amenities and focus on improving the student, booster and general fan experience.

Finally, there will be rule changes for the safety of the athletes.  This could include the elimination of kickoffs, punts and the 3-point stance, which are known to increase the likelihood of concussion.  There will also be improved equipment.  Injuries will always be a part of the sport.  However, many steps will be taken to make the game safer.

These are some of the changes I have been reading about from other sources.  What are some changes you see coming?

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

My Proposal to End Tanking in the NBA

I have figured it out...how to end tanking in the NBA.  Tanking is where teams loose all the games they can in order to increase the chances of getting the best pick in the draft.  I have four words that will fix this.  Everyone makes the playoffs.

Now hear me out.  This isn't what you think it is.  This isn't the obvious answer...which is you add one more round to the playoffs, and with 30 teams, each conference leader gets a first round bye.  This is where the bottom 9 teams have a mini play-in tourney.  The winners of this mini tournament will be guaranteed to have draft picks 1-4 the next season.  Involving teams 7 & 8 in the conference standings will have teams that can, vie to be in the top 6 and have the first week of the playoffs to rest.

Here is how it will work.

We have 15 teams in each conference.  We will add 3 additional rounds to the playoffs, each win or go home.  This will take 5 days.

Day 1, there will be 3 games in each conference

#15 will visit #10
#14 will visit #11
#13 will visit #12

Day 2, travel day

Day 3, there will be 2 games in each conference

The lowest remaining seed from Day 1 will will visit #9
The second lowest remaining seed from Day 1 will visit the highest remaining seed

Day 4, travel day

Day 5

The lowest remaining seed from Day 3 will visit #7
The highest remaining seed from Day 3 will visit #8

For the next round of the playoffs

The lowest remaining seed from Day 5 in each conference will face conference seed #1
The highest remaining reed from Day 5 in each conference will face conference seed #2
The rest of the playoffs will be as expected.  #6 faces #3 and #5 faces #4.

The Winners of Day 5 will be guaranteed draft picks 1, 2, 3 and 4, determined by lottery.  These picks are not trade-able before the championship is decided.  If you have traded a first round pick for that season, the team that you traded the pick to will get pick #5 (or 6 or 7 or 8).  The next picks, in a non-trade scenario, would be #5, #6, #7 and #8 will go to the #5 and #6 teams of the conferences determined by lottery.  After this, the remaining teams will draft according to record.

What is the motivation if every team gets into the playoffs, especially to become the #5 and #6 teams.  First of all, teams #5 and #6 will get an extra 5 days to rest before the playoffs begin.  Second, they are guaranteed to extend their seasons by at least 4 games.  They are guaranteed two more home games.  Every team from team #7 to team #12 is only guaranteed one extra home.  The others are not guaranteed any.  Six teams in each conference will have to win three games to get into the lottery.  You want the easier path to the best draft picks.  Right now, the easiest path is to lose.  That is what needs to change.  This is just one idea.

Friday, January 12, 2018

The Truth about Immigration is Probably Offensive to All

After Donald Trump's tirade on immigration where he said that he did not want people coming into the United State from "shit-hole" countries is offensive even if you take out the profanity.  The only thing that I can say in Trump's defense is that the countries he spoke of are not exactly the garden spot of the world.

If you go back to the 1600s and 1700s, England, Scotland and Wales were the, as Donald Trump says, the 'shit hole' countries of the world.  That is why people left to come to North American.  When the immigrants arrived in the New World, they brought with them diseases like plague, small pox and many others, killing much of the population that was here without even loading a musket.

However, there is a reason people wanted to come here there, and there is a reason people want to come here now.

Donald Trump is a sorry excuse of a man, but that is not what I wish to talk about at this time.  It is about immigration.  And hold you pants on, because I am about to say something very offensive.

The United States does not have an immigration problem.

At least it is nothing like the Native Tribes had to deal with in the 1600s and 1700s.  That was an uncontrollable immigration problem.

What we have today is a perception problem.  We make it worse than it really is. 

According to Census estimates, about 13% of the total population of the country is foreign born.  This is the highest it has been in the past 100 years.  In 1910, about 15% were foreign born.  Toady, nearly 1/4 of our foreign-born residents are from Mexico.  Less than 1% are from the countries that Donald Trump mentioned as "shit hole" countries. 

Studies show that immigrants are beneficial to our country, don't increase crime and don't add to the welfare burden.  The only real problem is that the federal government decides who gets to come into the country.  But the burden for educating them, and the burden if they need welfare, falls upon the states.  As immigration has gone from about 4% in the 1970 to 13% today, the states are feeling an increased burden.  The US states also get no compensation from the government for the immigrants that live in any particular state.

The problem is like working at the complaint desk at your local Mercedes Benz dealer.  All you hear about, if you work at the complaint desk, are the problems, and you probably think that the Mercedes is the worst car in the world.  Often, this is what we get from the media.  It's our complaint desk.  "If it bleeds, it leads."

That being said, if you loose 100,000 of your citizens to a neighboring country, something is wrong.  But it's not here.  This is the place where people are coming to.  If the US is such a terrible place, why do they come?

Monday, January 1, 2018

Swagger's 18 Predictions for 2018

18.  Big Sky Conference adds Dixie State College of Utah as 12th school.  (14th for Football)  DSU will transition from DII to FCS in 2019-2020 and officially join in 2021-22.

17.  Las Vegas is awarded Super Bowl LVII

16.  PAC-12 will change conference football schedule to play 8 conference games instead of 9 leaving each school to add an extra non-conference game for 2019 going forward.  Oregon adds BYU for a 2020-2021 home and home.  Utah and Utah State will play annually again.

15.  No teams from Utah make the men's NCAA basketball championship field in 2018.  BYU and Utah play in NIT.  Weber State plays in Vegas 16.

14.  Alabama wins 2017 college national championship.

13.  Royals make NWSL playoffs in first season, but lose to Portland Thorns.

12.  BYU beats Nevada in New Mexico Bowl, finishes 10-3, earns first top 25 ranking since 2011.  (Losses to Wisconsin, Washington and Northern Illinois.)

11.  Utah State beats Toledo in the Idaho Famous Potato Bowl, finishes 8-5.  (Losses to Michigan State, BYU, Boise State, Colorado State and Wyoming)

10.  Utah beats Fresno State in the Las Vegas Bowl, finishes 8-5.  (Losses to Washington, Washington State, Stanford, UCLA and BYU)

9.  Rio Tinto Stadium is awarded the 2021 Women's College Cup

8.  Weber State loses to North Dakota State in the 2018 NCAA FCS Championship game finishes 13-2.  (Losses to Utah and North Dakota State)

7.  Washington, Ohio State, Alabama and Miami (Florida) are the 2018 football semi-finalists.  NCAA announces expansion playoffs to 16 teams beginning in 2022.

6.  Celtics win NBA championship.  Gordon Hayward does not return during the season.

5.  Jazz miss NBA playoffs. Draft Miles Bridges, SF Michigan State.

4.  Michigan State wins NCAA men's basketball championship.

3.  Tony Finau wins US Open.

2.  RSL makes MLS playoffs, but loses to Seattle in conference finals.  RSL finishes season unbeaten at home.

1.  BYU finally beats Utah in football.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Did Ty Detmer Deserve to Get Fired

BYU fans a split on this.  Did the BYU legend deserve to get fired.  Let's look at the arguments on both sides of the coin.

He should have stayed:

1.  Injuries.  BYU played 4 quarterbacks in 2018.  They had injuries at every single offensive position.  Nobody wins under those circumstances.

2.  His Recruits: The players he had to use were not guys he recruited for his system, but Bronco Mendenhall leftovers

3.  Schedule:  It was brutal.

4.  He's a legend:  You just don't fire a legend.

Counter Arguments to he should have stayed:

1.  Injuries are a part of football.  BYU has been through this before and still found a way to win.  The 1992 Aloha Bowl season is a prime example of this, where Tom Young, who started the season 4th on the depth chart at the start of the season, started the bowl game and BYU lost because of two missed field goals.  The guys down the depth chart need to be ready to start.

2.  Once you accept the job, the guys on the team are "your guys".  In college football, if you don't have the guys you want, hit the junior college ranks and get the guys that fit your system.  You don't have to wait for them to return from missions.

3.  Yes, the schedule WAS brutal when you looked at it from the beginning of the season.  You can argue that Mississippi State and Wisconsin were probably unwinnable games for the Cougars.  However, Utah barely became bowl eligible.  Boise State is having a down year.  LSU lost games that they should have won.  This was a long-shot, but a winnable game.

4.  There is a long list of 'legends' who have not successfully made the transition to coaching.  Micheal Jordan, Magic Johnson, Bart Starr, Larry Bird and many others.  Ty Detmer is not alone.  In fact, this field is crowded with names.

Here is the real case against Detmer:

1.  Performance.  BYU's offense was simply dismal.  Seven of BYU's 13 opponents had their best defensive game against BYU in 2017

Portland State--Held BYU to 20 points.  Their next best defensive outing was against Montana State, who scored 30.  The Vikings were winless in 2017.

LSU--BYU was the only team the 8-4 Tigers shut out.

Utah--Held BYU to 13 points, the same point total the Colorado Buffaloes where held to.

Wisconsin--BYU was the only team the Badgers kept out of the end zone.

Boise State--BYU scored 7.  They held both Utah State and San Diego State to 14, their next best defensive games.

East Carolina--Had their best defensive game against BYU.  Their next best outing was the 20 points against Cincinnati

UMass--Had their best defensive game against BYU.  Two teams, Tennessee and Old Dominion scored 17 against the Minutemen.

Other teams that had better than average defensive outings against BYU

Utah State--Scored 2 defensive touchdowns against the Cougars

Hawaii--The 30 points the Warriors allowed were one of their better defensive games.  Only the Wyoming Cowboys and the FCS Western Carolina Catamounts had worse offensive outings.

UNLV--had a better than average defensive performance against BYU

San Jose State--Gave up 41 points to the Cougars.  This was their 4th best defensive game of the season.

Fresno State and Mississippi State had average defensive outings against the Cougars.

But in no game of the 2017 football season did BYU's offense do better than average against anyone's defense.  Not one.  The tally.  BYU played 13 games.  7 teams had their best defensive game of the season.  4 other teams had a better than average defensive performance.  2 teams had an average defensive performance.

2.  Tanner Mangum's career.

Tanner's 2017 was by far worse than the 2015 season where he filled in for Taysom Hill after he left in the Nebraska game.  His raw QBR in 2017 is half of what is was in 2015, under Bronco Mendenhall and Robert Anae.  Half.

Arguably, Tanner Mangum's 2017 season was a career killer.  I would not blame him if he transferred and played somewhere else in 2018.

3.  It's not just the quarterback.  The entire offense was dismal.  The offensive line play was bad.  Receivers couldn't catch the ball, even well thrown balls.  The running game was absent except against UNLV and Hawaii.  The only good passing game of the season was against San Jose State.

5.  Stats do not lie.  BYU was near the bottom in the NCAA in nearly every single offensive category:

Completion %--104 out of 129 (Some of those that are lower are teams like Army, that do not throw the ball very often.)

First Downs--105

Fumbles Lost--70

Interceptions--Tied for 125 with 3 other schools.  Only San Jose State threw more interceptions.

Passing Offense--91

Passing Yards Per Completion--110

Red Zone Offense--119

Sacks Allowed--Tied for 65 with 8 other schools

Scoring Offense--123

Tackles for Loss Allowed--5 (The bright spot on the BYU offense.  Likely indicates, when compared with the other stats that the play calling was ultra conservative.)

Time of Possession--108

Total Offense--118

Turnover Margin--118

4.  It can not be argued that the entire team was as bad.  The defense could have been better in some games.  BYU was 48th in total defense.  With a better performance from the offense, the defense gets more rest, more time to talk about strategy, and gets a better performance.  With an average NCAA offense, which scored 27 points in 2017.  BYU gets 5 more wins assuming their opponents score the same number of points.  They also give LSU a game.  BYU's losses would have been to LSU and Wisconsin and Mississippi State.  East Carolina and Utah State score fewer points because there are fewer opportunities for them to score.

BYU also was near the top of the NCAA in fewest penalties per game.

How about special teams.  It was a mixed bag.  BYU was 22 in Kickoff Return Defense.  In net punting, BYU was 12.  BYU was 122 in kickoff returns.  But there are a lot of touchbacks in Provo.

5.  BYU becomes irrelevant if they string together seasons like this.  Wisconsin scheduled BYU to improve their strength of schedule.  BYU did not hold up their end of the bargain.  Wisconsin went undefeated in the Big 10 and should be number 1.  How can anyone get through the Big 10 schedule undefeated and not be number 1?  One of the reasons they are not.  SOS.  A 9 win BYU team, and Wisconsin has a better shot at the national championship provided they beat Ohio State.  They definately would get a few more #1 votes.

Teams have schedule BYU not because they are a pushover, but because they improve their rankings.  If BYU becomes a pushover, their independence experiment is a failure.  If the MWC does not take them back (and why should they), where do they go?  Conference USA? Sun Belt?  Big Sky?

6.  Attendance.  BYU's attendance was below 50,000 for the last two games of the season.  They need to give fans a reason to show up.  This year's BYU team did not.

Not relevant arguments:

Ty Detmer won the Heisman Trophy, he deserves a shot.  Having been on the short end of a few such arguments with my boss, this is completely irrelevant to the argument.  No one can rest on past accomplishments and expect to maintain their employment.  In fact, this is probably why he lasted until the end of the season.  If it had been someone else, he would have been gone after the Utah State game.

BYU doesn't pay enough and can't get anyone better.  The truth is that there are coaching staffs in the NCAA who don't make as much as BYU's coaching staff and are doing much better.  We do not know how well Ty Detmer was paid.  According to some estimates, BYU and UCF pay about the same.  UCF is 11-1 this year.  10-2 Toledo, less than half.  Better performance at BYU means that coaches look to Provo as a stepping stone and will come.

They don't have to win the National Championship every season.  However, 6 wins is not an unrealistic expectation.  That is all that had to happen this year.  It did not.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

It's Not the End of The World

Who was BYU's head football coach the last time the team was 1-5?

Yes, it was LaVell Edwards.  It was his 2nd season.

Going into a home game against New Mexico on November 3, 1973, BYU was 1-5 before Gary Sheide and the new pass-happy offense rolled up 56 points against the Lobos.  There were two big differences between BYU football then and BYU football today.  First, the expectations were much lower.  Edwards believed he would only get a few seasons at BYU before getting fired.  He could build up his resume before going on to be a coordinator at Utah State or somewhere else.  His passing scheme just wasn't clicking before this game.  Their defense couldn't stop anyone.  Future Dallas Cowboy, Danny White, passed for 303 yards 3 touchdowns no sacks and no interceptions as the Sundevils crush BYU 52-12.  However, that is what was expected.  No one was leaving the bandwagon back in those days because no one was on it.  Arizona State of 1973 was much like Boise State of today.

The other difference between BYU of then and BYU of today is the schedule.  Of those 6 opponents in 1973, 3 were what we now consider Power-5 programs, and yes, I would put Arizona State of 1973 into that category, as the Frank Cush-led Sun Devils were among the nation's elite back then.  But those program were not elite programs like BYU faced this year.  The other two power programs were Iowa State and Oregon State.  The Cyclones and the Beavers, even then, like today, were in power conferences but not the elite programs of their respective conferences.  The other losses in 1973 came to Colorado State, Utah State and Wyoming.  These football programs then, were like these football programs are today, were good but not elite.  Today LSU, Utah and Wisconsin are arguably the creme de la creme.  Mississippi State, who has BYU next, is also one of those elite programs.  The 1973 schedule was a spanking machine.  The 2017 schedule is like running though a sting a guillotines.

BYU would finish 1973 with a 5-6 record with their last loss of that season coming to Arizona in Provo.  Their other wins were against Weber State, Utah and UTEP where BYU would score 45, 46 and 63 points, respectively.  At that time, the 63-0 victory against the Miners was the most lopsided victory in school history.  Those scores showed the potential of the offense that scored 7 against Utah State, 12 against Arizona State, 13 against Colorado State and 10 against Arizona.

In 1974, BYU would start the season 0-3-1 before reeling off 7 straits wins and earning a bid to the Fiesta Bowl.  One of those 7 wins would be against the same elite Arizona State program.  In 1974, in spite of breaking in a new quarterback, the Sun Devils were still the WAC favorites.  ASU left Provo empty-handed at the short end of a 21-18 Cougar Victory.

In 2018, BYU starts the season against Arizona, California, Wisconsin and Washington with McNeese State mixed in and they conclude the season at Utah.  Reeling off 7 victories in a row against these schools would indeed be impressive, beating all of these schools as well as beating the teams they would be expected to beat would earn them a shot a big bowl game and make Tanner Mangum a high NFL draft pick.  One similarity between 1974 and 2018 is that as 1974 was no easier than 1973, 2018 will be no easier than 2017. 

Back then, BYU got better.  LaVell Edwards and his assistants got better.  No need to rehash what Edwards did in his career after 1973.  Edwards is now a legend for what he did afterwards.  1973 wasn't the end of the world, but a new beginning.  In 2017, BYU can get better.  Kalani Sitake can be better.  Ty Detmer and the other assistants can be better.  They do not have to set their sights on being legends, just getting better.  At the end of the 1973 season, no one expected LaVell Edwards would go on to win 257 games and 19 conference championships.  Back then, they only focused on improving.

Even the most elite programs in college football, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Texas, USC and others have a bad season now and then.  BYU can learn from them as well.  Like 1973, Rock Bottom can be the foundation for greater things to come.  Sometimes it is good for history to repeat.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Taking a Knee

I have not been blogging about College Football this year.  I, like some other, have been losing my interest in American Football.  I have found other things to occupy me on Saturday.  There are many reasons for this.  Mostly, I do not enjoy seeing the same teams win year after year.  Like many other sports, however, I feel that Football forgets to put the fans first.

I believe in the first amendment and free speech, and I celebrate it.  However, my love of the game diminished when I saw Colin Kaepernick take a knee during the national anthem last year, and see many players in all sorts of sport events all over sport follow suit.

Every single month, I pay $90 to Direct TV.  My apartment complex "offers" a media package.  They offer it as in, "you take it or you can find somewhere else to live."  Most places around town do this.  Until I can take out a mortgage and find a place of my own, I have to live with this.  A little over 1/3 of that fee, I am not entirely certain of the exact amount because Direct TV does not break it down for me, goes toward my internet connection.  Behind that, the second largest part of the package is ESPN, at least that is according to my research.

Even though I live 500 miles from Denver and 600 miles from Phoenix, I can't watch the Rockies or the Diamondbacks on TV.  MLB blacks out those games in my area so that the local stations who cover those teams can broadcast those games without competition from ESPN.  But for my $90, I do not get the cable stations that cover the closest MLB teams to my home, because there is not enough interest in those teams to warrant including it in the base package.

How do I get repaid for the $90 extra dollars?  I get politics shoved down my throat.

Sports is entertainment.  It is supposed to give me a release from the pressures of the real world.  It is supposed to give me pride in my community.  The National Anthem at the beginning of the game honors those who made this all possible...at least it should.

But it is not really the ingratitude for the country that makes me upset.  It's the ingratitude for the fans.  Where does your paycheck come from?

Collin Kaepernick's salary was 11.9 million in 2016.  The San Francisco 49er's probably did not make enough money from selling tickets to pay their players.  The average ticket price at Levi's stadium is reported to be $117.  The stadium has a capacity of 68,000 seats.  This means that the 49ers make just under 8 million per game from ticket sales.  This is 63 million for the entire season if the team does not make the playoffs.  Kaepernick is not the only millionaire on the team.  The typical NFL team makes much more money from sponsorship, TV revenue, licensing and other activities.

Two years ago, the biggest NFL sponsor was Gatorade.  This would not be possible if Gatorade didn't sell so well at your local Piggly Wiggly.  The reason why Gatorade sells so well?  Sports and athletes at all levels.  Sports drinks are even beginning to catch soda in their popularity.

The second largest NFL sponsor, and probably the largest sponsor of sports in the entire world is in your wallet.  It's not Capital One, it's Visa.

The other big sponsors of the NFL and of sports in general are names that you and I use every day.  FedEx, Frito Lay, Mars snacks and Pepsi are all big sponsors.

The point is, no matter where you turn, the money that funds sports ultimately comes from people like you and me.  All of us are helping to pay for an NFL team even if we are hundreds of miles from the nearest NFL stadium and never watch a single game on TV.  Even if we are not subscribers to ESPN or any cable TV package that includes it.  Chances are, no matter how hard you try, you can't avoid paying for sports in this country unless you live on a self-sustaining farm in a county that is too small to sponsor a high school sports team, don't have any media in your home and never drive into town.  Where in America can you do that?

If you live in a sports town, you pay dearly for your team.  Tax money is diverted from roads, schools, other infrastructure, police, fire and other essential services to pay for stadiums and arenas.  If you don't pay, your team moves.

A strike against sports will not work because it is impossible to boycott every dollar that flows into the National Football League, or any other sports league.

How do we get repaid for our sponsorship of sports?  We see our athletes take a knee at a time when they should show respect.

Do things need to change in this country?  Absolutely they do.

Are racism, sexism, homophobia and ethnic discrimination still big problems in the United States?  Certainly.

Do we need to call attention to solving the problem?  Yes.

Is kneeling for the National Anthem fixing the problem?  No.  It is fanning the flames.  It is deepening the divide instead of healing it.

There are better ways to deal with these problems.  Yes, there are.

Does kneeling for the flag call attention to you the player, or to the problem you want to solve.  For Collin Kaepernick, one is the same as the other.  That is really the problem that I have with it all.  These issue are bigger than any one person.  It is killing my enthusiasm for sports in general and I am not alone.  I don't need this in my life.  I live in Utah, and I am a tank full of gas away from the most scenic places in the world.  I can get my sports fix by doing things I enjoy, and perhaps should have done when I was younger.

But there is a problem and how do we solve the problem?  Education.

Instead of taking a knee before the anthem, do what Major League Soccer does.  Run a stadium ad before every game.  Run the add on TV before you show the national anthem.  How about this statement before every game:

"Hello, this is NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.  In the NFL we welcome those from all races.  We don't pay our employees less because they are female.  We don't turn away anyone who is gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or transgender.  We don't discriminate against anyone who was born in a different country.  We respect people from all religions, including those who don't believe in a supreme being at all.  We encourage all of America to follow our example.  Please rise and remove your hats as Boy George sings our National Anthem."