Welcome to the 10th installment of Experts and Clowns, where four AC sportswriters tackle today’s hot sports issues. In honor of our pal Zac, the only male alive who enjoys Christmas in July, today’s introductions have a holiday theme.
Jake Emen is our Frosty the Snowman. He’s the one who put the magic hat on this idea and made it come to life. And every morning when he wakes up, Jake says, “Happy Birthday!” to the first person he meets.
Zac Wassink shares one trait with the Grinch – neither wears pants when they go out in the snow. But Zac is so much more in tune with the Whos in Whoville. In fact, he got fired from his last job for singing, “Fah who for-aze! Dah who dor-aze!” which made his boss think he was a terrorist.
Nick Meyer was rescued by us from the island of misfit toys. He was sent there for not looting after the Pistons won the NBA Title in 2004. He now lives in fear of a knock on his door from Hermey, who he once promised to go into the dentistry business with if he ever got off the island.
And you all know me, “I’m Mister Green Christmas; I’m Mister Sun; I’m Mister Heat Blister; I’m Mister Hundred and One; They call me Heat Miser, What ever I touch; Starts to melt in my clutch; I’m too much!”
Does it really matter for the NBA if the Knicks are good?
Zac – The Knicks haven’t been good in quite awhile and the NBA seems to be doing alright. With that said, MSG is undoubtedly the Mecca of basketball. There isn’t a fan of the NBA that could honestly tell me that he would not be intrigued by a talented team in New York. With that said, I in no way believe that the NBA should step in to “aid” the Knicks. The problems that this would cause far outweigh any good that could come from the result.
Brian – It’s a New York City hating world out there but it does no sports league any good to have a giant vortex of suck in its largest markets. The Association would love nothing better than to have three of the final four playoff teams be the Knicks, Celtics and Lakers. The Bulls were fine when they had Jordan, but is anyone excited about the Luol Deng era? The Association enjoyed its high point in popularity when Bird and Magic met in the Finals in seemingly every year in the 80s and when Jordan and the Knicks staged epic battles in the playoffs in the 90s.
Since Jordan’s final retirement, the best player in the game is Tim Duncan, who is also one of the 10 greatest basketball players of all time. His Spurs teams have won four championships, including last year’s. That’s more than Bird’s Celtics and only one less than Magic and Kareem’s Lakers, yet the collective reaction of the sporting world has been one giant yawn. That’s because they play in the backwater known as San Antonio. Forget a candy bar, if Duncan had been on the Knicks they would have named a skyscraper after him. And that’s why it matters to the Association if the Knicks are good.
Nick – Absolutely it does. The Western Conference’s dominance in the past five-plus years has taken away a lot of the buzz surrounding the game for fans on the east coast in basketball havens like Boston and especially New York. That whole Northeast area is huge on hoops and there hasn’t been a good team around there for a long time. And no I’m not counting the Paul Pierce/Antoine Walker Celtics or those flash-in-the-pan 1999 Knicks.
Jake – No, it doesn’t matter at all, and that’s from a Knicks fan. When the Knicks were good, in the mid 90’s, we got awful 80 point games every year in the playoffs, that wasn’t any fun. Being bad is fine, it’s being absurdly stupid in management and being all over the legal headlines that’s bad for the team, and for the league. The NBA needs to get more Western Conference teams on TV, not everybody is up and ready to watch December basketball at 11 pm on TNT.
Now that Les Miles has shunned Michigan at the last second, who should UM contact next to be their head coach?
Nick – Anybody but Kirk Ferentz, whose Iowa squad lost to Western Michigan at home on Senior Day and against Iowa State yet again. If Ferentz is 3-6 against Iowa State, how would he do against Ohio State? How come he can beat teams like LSU and Florida and yet he can’t beat lowly Iowa State every year? That tells me he doesn’t take his biggest rival seriously enough and doesn’t prepare for them enough.
Michigan is rumored to be pursuing Ferentz as a backup plan but he’s the last guy they need. Iowa’s offense was worse than everybody but Notre Dame’s this past year and Michigan has needed some new ideas on offense for about a decade now.
I’d go after Cincinnati’s Brian Kelly but word is Lloyd Carr doesn’t quite trust him due to some small past indiscretions. So if not him then give Boise State’s Chris Petersen a call, he is an innovative offensive mind.
Zac – How about Brian Kelly? Sure, he’s only been at Cincinnati one season but I can see him at a large university. He’s a great recruiter and can be an exciting coach. He also has that particular swagger that Michigan has been severely lacking.
Jake – Well, to be honest — Nick — I don’t care. Michigan is coming off a season in which they performed a first, and we all know what that was, and it wasn’t good. Their senior players that were supposed to spearhead a championship charge largely struggled, and now, in a pure Scott Boras and A-Rod move, they are trying to dominate headlines while the BCS games are announced and the conference championship games just played. The only reason Les Miles should want to go to Michigan is so he can avoid the SEC maelstrom and have a better shot at surviving the BCS disaster ala Ohio State. It’s 2007, and Michigan is inferior. So I guess Steve Marriuci would work.
Brian – I thoroughly enjoyed Jake’s answer and can’t possibly write anything to top it.
Which city most deserves a championship in one of the big four sports and why?
Brian – The obvious answer is Philadelphia but any city that boos Santa Claus gets what it deserves. My choice is Seattle. Its baseball team once won 116 games during the regular season and didn’t even make the World Series. In fact, the Mariners have never made the World Series, much less won one. The Seahawks did make the championship game, but lost, 21-10, thanks in part to being on the wrong end of one of the worst officiated Super Bowls of all time. Seattle has never hoisted a Stanley Cup, either, but that’s because they don’t even have a hockey team despite being further north than most of the cities with franchises in the U.S.
And the SuperSonics haven’t won a title since 1979. They finished 20 games under .500 last season but that dismal showing earned them future star Kevin Durant in the NBA Draft. Is there hope for the Sonics to turn things around in the future? Perhaps, but the team’s owner has made no secret of his plans to move the franchise at the first available opportunity.
Jake – I’m going to say Atlanta, who has 3 teams amongst their 4 that have never won a championship. That includes some downright awful teams. The Michael Vick saga has really hurt their ego and collective concsious, as he was an icon in the city. Just don’t let it be the Braves. If Cleveland had all four teams, i’d say them.
Zac – Brian, you know better than to ask me this question. The answer is without question the city of Cleveland. Cleveland hasn’t won a championship since the 60’s. How bad is the drought in Cleveland? I moved to New Jersey.
Nick – I would say Philadelphia because they’ve been starved for one for so long and they have some loyal fans. Maybe not the classiest fans but certainly some of the most loyal. Cleveland is the same way but I don’t think they deserve one as much as Philly even though it’s been a longer drought because they don’t seem to be as passionate.
Do these BCS matchups prove the system works or once again leave people with a bad taste?
Jake – It proves the system works, because it put the number 1 and the number 2 teams against each other, but it still leaves me with a bad taste, because I don’t want to see these teams play. Ohio State laid down a clunker in the BCS championship last year and didn’t beat anybody of note this season. They played in an awful Big 10, and scheduled no tough out of conference opponents. Reward the team with the easiest route eh BCS? LSU was the last man standing in the toughest conference in the country (and as i’ve said all year, that’s still the SEC, not the Pac-10, please!) but has 2 losses. How did Oklahoma not end up in the championship game after beating the number 1 team in the final week, and losing only one game– without their starting quarterback? How did Missouri, with 2 losses, both to Oklahoma, not get any BCS game while Illinois and Kansas, two of their wins, did? BCS, I hate you.
Nick – Nope, it’s a proven fact that the BCS does not and cannot work. Simple logic should determine that teams that play completely different schedules in completely different locations cannot be compared. You just can’t do it. You have to play it out on the field to determine a true champion because there are too many variables that go into determining the best two teams.
And one of the worst parts about it is the fact that coaches are sneaky in the way they manipulate the polls going into the final weekend to give their teams the edge. For instance, Bob Stoops voted Oklahoma number one this week even though the Sooners were just dismantled by Texas Tech a few weeks ago.
Zac – Yes, the system works. It works in creating a great playoff system. However, as the system is right now it is a joke. I sure can’t wait for that USC versus Illinois game. I always enjoy seeing an undefeated team not playing for a national championship. Anybody who wants to read my feelings regarding this year’s BCS can check my profile in about a week or two.
Brian – My guess is more cyber space is spent on some variation of “What’s wrong with the BCS?” than any other sports topic. My advice is to stop worrying and love the bomb. I was going to use the Bob Knight quote on rape, but I thought that might be in poor taste. Anyway, by my count there are 32 bowl games this season. That means 32 teams get to finish the season with a win. Is that such a horrible thing?
If you need a playoff system and a “true” number one, there are no shortage of sporting events to follow instead of college football. Hey, you can even still follow college football. The FCS is down to its Final Four. Two-time defending winner (and Michigan beater) Appalachian State and Richmond square off this Friday while Delaware and Southern Illinois battle on Saturday. The Worldwide Leader is broadcasting both games`. So tune in, turn on and drop out of the BCS universe.
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