Not So Deep Thoughts: NCAA, Big Ben and more

Lots of things going on in the sports world these days so instead of
picking one single topic and writing an expanded column on it, I’ll
just throw in my two cents on several of them.

NCAA Tournament Expansion:
This debate is a simple one. As it is right now with 65 teams in the
mix to start the tourney, I’d say about 20 actually have a chance to
win the title and it’s likely closer to about 8-10 that have a good
chance of winning. If the field is then opened up to 96 teams, those
numbers don’t change. The list of contenders would remain exactly the
same while the list of pretenders would grow. What would the point of
adding 31 more teams, all of which, have little-to-no chance of seeing
the championship game other than on TV like you and me. I’m a huge fan
of the excitement that accompanies the Madness but sometimes less is
actual more. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Nothing in the world
captures the hearts of sports fans and non-sports fans like the Madness
of March. Any sport that can get Betty from Accounting filling out
three brackets and screaming her lungs out for a late break-away foul
call is doing just fine. 

Ben Roethlisberger: By now, everybody and their brother has
heard about Big Ben’s latest troubles involving a college girl and
alleged sexual assault. Being a life-long Steelers fan, my first
reaction was: here we go again. Another gold digger looking to cash in.
But while the first woman who claimed Roethlisberger assaulted her had
no evidence to help support her claim and the case was quickly thrown
out without any criminal charges being pressed, this case seems to be
different and not in a sweep-it-under-the-rug kind of way.

Because Big Ben felt the need to hire one of the best defense lawyers
money can buy leads me to believe there is actual evidence supporting
the woman’s claims. As it stands now, no criminal charges have been
charged, and despite the media painting a very dark picture regarding
Ben’s poor judgement of being in that type of situation in the first
place, Roethlisberger has yet to be charged of anything.

Unfortunately this isn’t the first time we as sports fans have gone
through an athlete being accused of similar activities and the history
of such cases has proven that no news is not good news for the person
being accused. This appears to be the calm before the storm, as the
police look to gather evidence against Roethlisberger and actually file
charges. Just a gut feeling and I hope that I’m wrong, but this case
sure seems to be heading toward a trial and quite possible the
beginning of the end of a great NFL career.

NFL Offseason Moves

NFL Free Agency is always an exciting time, as fans’ dreams of Pro
Bowlers joining their squads dance through their heads. Typically the
pick-ups made are nothing more than desperate teams overpaying for guys
based on their past performances only to get little moving forward. And
this year will likely have some of that as well but I did like the
moves that some teams made.

Without a draft pick inthe first two rounds (thanks Jay Cutler), the
Bears made several unexpected splashes by spending mega-millions to
land Julius Peppers, Chester Taylor and Brandon Manumalamula. If
Chicago can now land a pick for disgruntled TE Greg Olson, this could
go down as one of the best offseasons in the team’s history. Peppers
will help the defensive line get pressure on the QB and ultimately help
a suspect secondary, Taylor will team with (and push) Matt Forte to
forma potent backfield tandem and Manumalamula will give the Bears an
added blocker familiar with Mike Martz’s offense who can help keep
Cutler off his back and give him more time to find his own receivers
instead of opposing d-backs.

Other Free Agency winners appear to be the Jets and quite possibly the
Bengals if they can convince Terrell Owens to join Ocho Cinco’s party.
The two receivers could be the perfect combination of skill,
showmanship and each would likely push the other to become better.
Carson Palmer says he can handle the two personalities and I believe
each receiver has enough in the tank to make this a marriage worth
taking a shot on.

History Worth Recognition

While most sports fans don’t follow women’s basketball closely enough
to understand to fully appreciate the magnitude and the difficulty of
the UConn women’s basketball team’s incomprehensible 72-game winning
streak, that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be recognized and applauded.
Winning 72 games of checkers in a row is pretty amazing but notching
six dozen victories in a major college conference is downright sick.
When you consider that every one of those wins was by double digits
makes it just that much more incredible. My hat is off to the Lady
Huskies and yours should be, too.

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