The beginning of what I hope to be a long running column for the Big Podcast...
Matt Stowell has just gotten home from a mission. In a conversation at my friend Peter's bachelor party, he approached me with an idea for a running column for the blog. Every week he will come up with ten questions. Matt’s questions could include sports, women, politics, or pretty much anything. I will then answer the question no matter what it may be. I guess you could compare it to the Budweiser hot seat on Sportscenter without the hot seat, the cheesy music, or the beer promotion...so yeah just like it. Here is the first batch: (numbering Letterman Top Ten List style.)
10) With Lebron and Kobe thinking about going to play in Europe and MLS getting bigger with Beckham coming over, could you see in the next few years the Euro league becoming the power basketball league and the soccer power switching over to the MLS?
No chance. One thing is known for sure about Americans, we will never love soccer. If Pele couldn't make Americans fall in love with the sports, then no man on the planet will be able to bring it to America. David Beckham is a global icon, but Pele is soccer's king. The Beckham move is nothing more than a stunt. He is at the end of his career, and LA offered him a ton of money. This is like Michael Jordan playing for the Wizards. Yes, it was still Michael Jordan...but it wasn't the MJ that played in Chicago. More people in the United States have seen Beckham's wife (whatever) Spice perform, than Beckham play soccer. Soccer will always be a second or even third tier sport in the United States. There is also far too much money in Europe to even think about trying to get a top player to come over and play in the MLS. Will major NBA players go to Europe to play? Yes, but they will go as part of expansion from the NBA. The game is growing so fast in Europe that the NBA will have to put a division there in the future. When the NBA expands, the NBA as it stands right now will be a relic. Will basketball ever become the game of choice in Europe? No. The NBA will always be number two to football in the states, and number two to futibal around the world.
9) When do you think we could see a move for BYU to a new conference?
This is a very good question, and in my opinion there is a short answer and a long answer. I have written on this in the past, in what I went back to find was a very poorly written two part article. Part 1: http://thebigpodcast.blogspot.com/2007/10/byu-and-utah-need-out-of-mwc.html , and Part 2: http://thebigpodcast.blogspot.com/2007/10/byu-and-utah-need-out-of-mwc-part-2.html. (As I said it is poorly written, but the ideas are generally good.) Here is the short answer. BYU isn't going anywhere. BYU brings too much baggage to BCS conferences, and the BCS conferences don't want to split the BCS money with another team. Right now BYU is in the best non-BCS conference. Yet, as my Dad would say, "that is like saying you took the prettiest fat girl to the dance." BYU is in a dog conference, and there is little chance that dog is going to get any better, which leaves the solution of going independent in football. This idea got bounced around last season, and I still think it is the best non-Mountain West Conference solution. The WAC has already stated that they would be more than happy to get all of BYU sports in the conference minus football. (If this ever happened that would be a great move by the WAC, because if the indie thing fell through for BYU they would enter the WAC to play football. The WAC is instantly improved.) BYU would have enough of a name to negotiate their own contract with ESPN, and create a quality schedule each year of opponents. I think Bronco likes the idea of conference play too much to let that happen though. Conference play is college football’s equivalent of a security blanket. If you lose a game early in non-conference play as a coach you can rally your troops, and set your goal to win the conference. Even if your program starts terrible you can still win your conference and your fans will be happy. No conference, no security blanket. BYU isn't going anywhere for a while.
8. With ESPN saying that the BYU, Utah game is a rivalry to watch this year. What are your top 5 rivalries to watch this year in all of sports?
I like that the BYU-Utah game is getting so much hype this year. This rivalry is one of the best in all of sports. I would like to break down this question into three categories. Here is my list:
All-time rivalries: (Ones I loved watching that aren't around anymore or aren't as good)
5 - Utah Jazz/Houston Rockets - During the 90's this was great. It was always a battle, and the teams didn't like each other at all. This rivalry is getting good again with the Jazz and Rockets playing each other in the first round of the playoffs the last two year; however, T-Mac doesn't have the heart to make this into a great rivalry. With Ron Artest that could change in an instant.
4 - BYU/Hawaii - Hawaii didn't like BYU, and BYU returned the hatred. Things got nasty in a hurry in these games. Yet, when BYU left Hawaii in the WAC the rivalry died down. Plus, BYU said they wouldn't play Hawaii again until they got a new field to play on.
3 - Colorado Avalanche/Detroit Red Wings - I am a casual hockey fan. I watched the Stanley Cup for the first time last year for quite a while, mainly because my team (The Pittsburgh Penguins) were in it. I felt guilty though, because I hadn't followed them very closely for a while. I would check the standings every once in a while to see how they were doing, but beyond that I wasn't too involved. Yet, whenever the Avs and Red Wings were playing in the past I would watch, because both teams were going to strap on and go to war. Awesome to watch!
2 - WCW/NWO - I know this wasn't real, but it was so interesting that you had to watch it. The evil Hulk, the Macho Man trying to save the WCW, and never knowing what side Sting was on. This was the beginning of modern wrestling becoming a global form of entertainment in my mind. I'll watch wrestling from time to time. (This is a guilty admission. I only watch it in short segments, and my wife humiliates me every time I do.) They try to follow the rivalry formula, but it just isn't as good.
1 - Sampras/Agassi - Anytime these two got together it was a classic.
Top Five Overrated/Overhyped rivalries:
5 - Duke/North Carolina - I get it they are close. They always play each other tough in basketball. Do you hear about this rivalry in other sports though? Nope. That is something that makes BYU/Utah so great. They have a contest to see who can buy more ice cream, and people take it personally. (I wouldn't be caught dead eating the U of U flavor...although it is exactly the same flavor as the BYU kind) Basketball season comes around every year and ESPN shoves this rivalry down our throats. Overrated.
4 - Shaq/Kobe - This had the makings of being a good rivalry. They stopped publicly feeding for the most part. (Shaq's rap was a shot across Kobe's bow) The rivalry is kept alive though only through the media. This rivalry can go away.
3 - Notre Dame/Anybody - Everybody thinks they have a rivalry with Notre Dame. Guess what if you are a rival with everybody, then you are really a rival with nobody.
2 - Homer Simpson/Ned Flanders - This one used to be great. There were always Classic lines and pure hatred from Homer. Now the writers have softened the rivalry while still saying it is there. Overhyped, they need to return to more of the classic rivalry back to get off this list.
1 - Ohio St/Michigan - Yep, I said it. There have been good games in the past, and the hatred is there in this rivalry; however, we are beat to death with commentators (normally from Ohio St or Michigan) that tell us why everyone needs to live and die according to the outcome of this game. The product on the field doesn't meet the hype.
5 - Yankees/Red Sox - I almost put this rivalry in the other two lists. It has been better in the past, and it gets played up too much by ESPN. This is the classic America rivalry. It is hard not to at least pay attention to what it going in with this rivalry. Plus, it is usually great to watch. (If you have five hours to give to a game...yikes!) Speed it up, and it is right back to the top portion of the list.
4 - USA/France - Lance Armstrong really re-sparked an already heated rivalry, by dominating the Tour de France, the sporting event that defines France. Anytime the US competes national pride is on the line, but when the US is competing against the French it takes the contest to another level. We hate them, they hate us, and we're allies. A grin still comes to my faces every time I think of the 4 x 100 men's relay. You aren't an American if you watched that race and weren't pulling with all your might for the US team.
3 - Army/Air Force/Navy - The Commander in Chief's Trophy/rivalry is great. I will watch these games every year.
2 - Michael/Toby - Is Toby really gone from, "The Office?" If so it was a fitting end to a classic rivalry, but Michael hatred continues forever.
1 - BYU/Utah - I thought I might not be a homer and pick another rivalry, but I am already pumped up for another season of hating the Utes. (Although, I hope they come into this year’s game with a perfect record. BYU 11-0 vs Utah 11-0 would be the best thing for the rivalry.)
7. With Utah State being the new pipeline for BYU football with Poppinga and Riley Nelson transferring over, what do you think would happen for BYU football if UVU picked up a football program?
I think it would be a very bad thing for BYU. It would put another fish in the water when it came to recruiting. It would start to split the fan base in Utah County. It would also offer a school that BYU players could leave and attend if they weren't happy with the honor code/football program. As for the Aggies, don't sleep on Utah State this year. I predict they will be right around six wins this season. Coach Guy is making too many correct moves way up north for that program to stay down.
6. What would the final score be if the “Dream team” played the “Redeem team?"
I have been very happy with the "Redeem team" and their play so far in the Olympics. Let’s not fool ourselves though; the "Dream team" would beat the "Redeem team" by double digits. Considering that Laettner being on the 1992 team is a fluke and shouldn't be taken into account, the "Dream team" from top to bottom is a better basketball team. Kobe is the only player that could maybe make the 1992 squad. The 1992 squad is stacked. They played defense, they shared the ball, and they could all score. A zone defense is giving the current team problems, the 1992 team would shred any zone thrown at them. Plus the "Dream team" has too much inside power for the "Redeem team" to handle. Malone, Robinson, Barkley, and Ewing would eat up the interior players on the "Redeem team." I am still worried about the "Redeem team" playing some of the European teams in the tournament, but if the 1992 squad showed up there would be no fear that the US would dominate every game. Final score "Dream team" 132 - "Redeem team" 111
5. Who are you most excited to see play this upcoming season for BYU football?
Harvey Unga. I wanted to say Hall, Pitta, Collie, Reed, Chambers, or Ashworth. Also, I was thinking about saying the secondary, because BYU's season really depends on them and the defense. Unga though is the player I am most anxious to see play. I want to see if he added to his game in the off season. I want to see how he handles defenses scheming for him. Unga was great last season, but when they played better teams his rushing numbers really fell. I am curious to see if he has another gear to take his game. That would make him more than a great BYU running back, but a great all-around running back. If he has another gear in his game...Heisman.
4. Side note question…. So I was up Provo canyon a few days ago watching the meteor shower at about 2 in the morning and the temperature dropped to about 25 degrees and just returning home from Texas I was pretty cold and began to shiver a bit. There were about 8 of us there all laying on a big blanket and I was next to a girl I found pretty attractive. So my pick up line was “can I use you to keep me warm.” Obviously I’ve been out of the game for two years, so what would Mark’s top 3 pickup lines be in that situation?
Well...in bachelorhood going on a mission is like being put on the disabled list in sports. You still know how to do all the moves; you just aren't supposed to do them while you are injured. Marriage is retirement from bachelorhood. You still have moves and could be in the game; however, you are relying more on past glory. You have the moves that got you into the hall of fame with your wife, and you stick with those moves in your relationship. The problem with that is just like sports, bachelorhood evolves and progresses. Making your moves outdated, like John Stockton's short shorts. People using the old moves look as foolish as Derrick Fisher wearing the short shorts last season. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q90DHtoNAvc) With that in mind these are the three moves I would have pulled:
A - Instead of focusing on yourself by saying, "Can I use you to keep me warm?" You should have focused on the girl. Said something like, "You look a little chilly, let me take care of that for you." Then I would have taken a blanket and wrapped it around us. That tells the girl you were focusing on her, and her needs. You would have been displaying yourself as confident by taking control of the situation. Yet, you wouldn't appear cocky.
B - "You know the best way to look at the stars is out the side of your eyes." (which is actually true.) Then I would have put my arm around the girl and pulled her into me.
C - Keep it simple. So many times during bachelorhood you over think things. Just say to her, "Let’s watch this thing right." Then pull her in. If it doesn't work you are so used to rejection that it doesn't even faze you.
Simplicity and confidence those are the keys to bachelorhood.
3. A few nights ago at Outback I asked you what your favorite lineup is to have on the floor for team USA and you said you would keep Dwayne Wade out, now that you’ve seen a few more games would you stand by that?
I was dead wrong. I freely admit that. I thought that Dwayne Wade was just going through a hot streak, and would cool over time. I also thought that when his shooting cooled he would be a liability on the court. Just as Wade was last year for the Miami Heat. Wrong! He is the best player on the court on both sides of the ball for the "Redeem team." His defense is the thing that has really surprised me. He has put on some serious muscle in the off season. He is back to the quickness he had when he entered the league. I still think there are other players on paper who are better suited for international play. (Kobe, Melo, and D-Will) As long as Dwayne Wade stays hungry and unselfish, he needs to be on the court for the US. Why he isn't starting over Melo is as baffling to me as why Kidd plays at all for the team. If you were to ask the same question to me today, about my favorite line up, it would be:
I like this lineup because it plays to the strengths of the US team. It allows them to use pressure defense that doesn't allow the ball into the post. Two ball handlers on the court at the same time that no other team in the world can match. Both Kobe and Wade's hustle creates easy scoring opportunities for the team. Also, having Bosh on the court is when the US is playing its best basketball. He is hustling and attacking the glass. Bosh is also too quick for any international player to guard. LeBron is hard to keep off the court this year, but he seems to hold the ball too much and slow the offense. He also is a lazy defender. (Although Boozer makes Lebron look like the greatest shut down defender in NBA history.)
2. With Ben Olson out for 6 to 8 weeks, Ben’s career has been quite the disappointment. As I heard the news my thoughts went to “what could have been.” So where do you think Ben Olson would be if he stayed at BYU and where would BYU be if he had stayed, and who would you take if both were healthy, Ben Olson or Max Hall?
I really think that Ben Olson was a turning point for the BYU football program. I do not fault Ben Olson at all for leaving BYU. Look at it from his point of view. "I definitely wasn't concerned about football while I was serving a mission. I came home and things were kind of in an upheaval at BYU," said Olson, who hails from Thousand Oaks, Calif. "Coach Crowton had just gotten fired. I determined that the best thing for me at the time was to pursue other options. I decided that UCLA would be that place for me" (http://deseretnews.com/article/1,5143,695207282,00.html?pg=2). He made the best decision he could for the circumstances he was in. Nobody knew what was going to happen at BYU, or the direction the program was going to go.
The turning point for the BYU football program was the 2002 BYU/Utah St. game. I have a lot of respect for Gary Crowton. He was a man of his word. He wasn't a good head coach at BYU, but he was a man of his word. If he allows Ben Olson to play in the Utah St. game everything at BYU changes. Olson was by far the best quarterback on the team in 2002. According to reports he was killing the first team defense with the scout team. Gary Crowton was planning on letting him play in the 2002 Utah State game, until he got a frantic phone call from Olson's mother. She begged him not play him, and let him red-shirt the season. The mother knows that if Olson plays he will keep playing for the next three years, and won't go on a mission.
Think about that decision by Crowton. If he plays Olson, he saves his job. BYU was 3-2 after the Utah State game, and with Olson at quarterback he would have lead them to at least three victories in their remaining games. That means they go to a bowl game, and there is no reason to fire Crowton. Bronco goes to another school, and becomes a dominate coach; there would be no John Beck, or Max Hall at BYU. Ben Olson would have been a better quarterback than he is now. The mission really took a lot out of him. Crowton took a gamble, and decided to follow his mother's wishes. Crowton red-shirting Olson allowed the chain of events to take place that lead to BYU as it is today. Olson made the choice to go on a mission, which I thought was the right choice for him to make. I like the program better now in success, compared to the success BYU had under Crowton. It is more stable, and the players seem more motivated. I also think that the ideals that made BYU football great have been put back by Bronco. I think everyone did what they needed to do.
As for the second part of your question: If both Max Hall and Ben Olson were healthy who would I take? I would take Olson, if he didn't go on a mission. Hall as they are right now with both being healthy. Olson before his mission was a machine. He had a great vision for the field, he was mobile in the pocket, and had a cannon for a throwing arm. There was a reason he was the top recruit from high school. Quarterback is a position that is hard to play after a mission. Many players benefit from missions. They are more developed and have more strength. Quarterback isn't one of those positions though. Hall, also a return missionary, has recovered far better from the mission than Olson.
1. As fall is approaching and the year is coming to an end, in the sports world it is all just beginning. Out of all the major sports that are beginning, NBA, NFL, College Football, I want you to look forward and tell me what will be the big story of the year?
Biggest potential story; BYU and Utah are both 11-0 going into their meeting in November, and both end up playing in a BCS game. If two non-BCS teams made it into the BCS, that would be the biggest story of the year. This could take place if Utah beats Michigan to start the season, then loses to BYU in their last game. If Michigan wins the Big Ten it will be hard to make the argument against keeping the Utes out of the BCS. They still will keep one or the other out, but there is always hope.
Actual headline: "The NBA Western Conference is the Most Difficult Conference of All-Time." The West this year will make last year look like a walk in the park. Lakers, Hornets, Jazz, Spurs, Trailblazers, Clippers, Warroirs, Mavericks, Nuggets, Suns, and Rockets all have a shot of making the playoffs. The other three teams aren't pushovers. The Oklahoma City (whatevers) and the Kings are up and coming. The Grizzles are down, but can put it together to give teams problems. The NBA Western Conference will be the biggest news story of the upcoming sports year.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
The beginning of what I hope to be a long running column for the Big Podcast...