Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Sports Opinions Podcast: Episode 3 with guest Robert Planter



Click the link above to listen to the third installment of the Sports Opinions Podcast where I, Alex Cuesta, talk with guest Robert Planter about a wide range of topics in sports!

Rock(y) Bottom: The Coaching Search that Changed The Hiring Process Forever

The Battle Captain is back

Editor's note: Since this post has been written, Tennessee has decided to hire Alabama and former Georgia and Florida State defensive coordinater Jeremy Pruitt. I was unable to edit the article before the hiring, therefore, some of the info may seem out of date. It is not, my apologies for not being more timely. Enjoy the post!

Social media has been a major catalyst ever since its inception all the way back to the AOL online chat. Most famously, it was through the Arab Spring where social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter helped overthrow leaders in countries such as Egypt and Libya.

Although it is not as serious, social media has made its first major impact on college athletics as seen with the dumpster fire that is the Tennessee Volunteer football head coach search.

To those who have not followed the SEC and Tennessee football as of late, the Volunteers are coming off their worst season in not only recent history, but almost their entire history. They went 4-8, with an astounding 0-8 record in the SEC.

This is the first time Tennessee has ever went winless in the SEC, a program that was a charter member of the historic conference all the way back to 1932. The reason for all of this failure: head coach Butch Jones.

Butch Jones was hired by the University of Tennessee back in November of 2012, after Derek Dooley failed as the Vols coach from 2009-2012. Jones came from the University of Cincinnati, then in the Big East, and did not make much noise, going only 23-14 and winning 10 games only once in three seasons with the Bearcats.

Nevertheless, Butch became the guy pegged to save Vols football and it looked to come to fruition in 2016. Tennessee started the season 5-0, with wins over major rivals Florida and Georgia. However, it all came crumbling down with losses to Texas A&M, a 49-10 blowout from Alabama, and a defeating loss South Carolina.

Then news came out that Butch Jones was losing the locker room. Players like Jalen Hurd began to quit the team and looked to transfer elsewhere. This all lead to a shocking loss to Vanderbilt on the road in Nashville. The season was a failure and Vols' fans were irritated, but hopeful for 2017, obviously it did not go their way. Thus leading to #FireButch and #EmptyNeyland


Enter John Currie. Hired back in February of this year, Currie has been controversial since day one. Currie was hired from Kansas State, where fans were critical of him during his tenure there. He's credited with setting back the basketball program a decade by letting Frank Martin walk and take a job at the University of  South Carolina, who recently made the Final Four, while the Wildcats missed out on two of the last three NCAA tournaments.

Although Currie created goodwill with the recently mistreated Lady Vols program, compliments of previous Athletic Director Dave Hart, most fans on Rocky Top didn't approve of the job done by their new AD.

This stems mainly from his handling of Butch Jones' firing, or lack of firing. Week after week, the Vols suffered embarrassing loss after embarrassing loss, with the call for Butch Jones' firing getting louder and louder.

Major media members like Barrett Sallee of CBS Sports and Paul Finebaum of the SEC Network were baffled on why Jones had a job when everyone knew Butch Jones was not getting it done.

Eventually, on November 12th, Butch Jones was fired, but not after the damage was done to Currie's reputation, which only got worse. On November 26th, news broke that Greg Schiano was going to be the next head football coach for the legendary Volunteer football program. What happened next would change the course of how the hiring process would work nationally from here on out.

Volunteer fans protested the Schiano hire on the basis of his involvement with the Penn State child molestation case involving Jerry Sandusky and Joe Paterno. The protesting got so loud that Currie backed down and decided not to hire Schiano. This almost certainly spelled the end his time as the Athletic Director of the University of Tennessee.

Following the Schiano fiasco, Currie failed to hire any coach he targeted, including huge names like Jeff Brohm and Mike Gundy. Even medium-tier coaches in David Cutcliffe and Dave Doeren  snubbed the legendary program. Ultimately, Currie was fired by Tennessee, his reputation tarnished, with him now known as someone who could not handle the Tennessee football program.

Until more news that came out later.

It turned out that Phil Fulmer, now the Interim Athletic Director, helped sabotage Currie. He leaked the news of Schiano to the public and eventually sabotaged the hiring of Mike Leach who was set on taking the job. The power struggle was evident as the Athletic Director's office was not getting along with the powers that be in Phil Fulmer, the boosters, and even the administration.

So these are all of the basic points and knowledge of the situation that you all may or may not have known already, but what is the big deal? Why has this process potentially changed college athletics as we know it?

Well, it comes down to two things that have been exposed, the power of the fans and more importantly, the power struggles of Power five programs around the nation.

Power to the People


Fight the Power! (WVLT)

When it comes to the normal coaching search in college football, it comes down to the Athletic Director, the administration, and to some point, the boosters of the program. The fan outcry on Rocky Top towards the hiring of Greg Schiano as head coach changed all of that.

Fans were tired of hires like Derek Dooley and Butch Jones and this time around made their voice heard. Schiano has serious baggage, he left the Buccaneers on bad terms and left Rutgers without ever winning a Big East title. For better or worse, #VolsTwitter hijacked the coaching search, which ultimately lead to a changing of the guard in the athletic director's seat.

Tennessee fans have opened the flood gates.

Fans would normally have their voices heard in the process of potentially firing a coach via simply not showing up to Neyland Stadium or any other home field on Saturdays . This causes a drop in revenue and drops in revenue means change is necessary.

Now after this debacle, fans have a say in who a team hires in the first place. After rumors of Dave Doeren being hired swirled, numerous fans showed up at Neyland to get refunds on season tickets. Showing the power of the fan.

Tennessee is not the only program out there that expects national championships every season. What if Georgia is not satisfied with a hire? Or Ohio State? Or Florida? Or even less successful programs like North Carolina and Virginia?

Fans having control over the market have the potential to negatively effect the hiring process. Especially if schools like Tennessee have their eyes set on a coach like Jon Gruden and Jon Gruden only.

Through their effect on the hiring process, entitlement has the potential to rise in fanbases and most of all delusion. An Athletic Director can make a good hire that has the potential to have a positive impact on the program, yet fans may not like him and become very vocal about it, VERY VOCAL.

Head coaches would not be interested in that job, as seen with Tennessee. They will be put through unfair ridicule for a team they have coached 0 games for. And most coaches, not just top tier, would not subject themselves to coaching in that type of environment.

This is not going away anytime soon, as the already entitled fanbases of college football have seized the opportunity to control the job market and strangle it until they get who they want. It is a double-edged sword with the potential to do a lot of harm instead of good.

With coaches potentially becoming more content to stay at their lower level jobs simply because the environment is less hostile. Fans are not always smart, and giving them a large voice in the hiring process can hurt the program they think they are helping.

The Powers That Be Against The Powers That Be


The Saga of the Board vs. Tom Jurich Was a Tense One (C-J FILE)

Throughout this debacle of a hiring search, came the revelation of how deep the power struggle was at the University of Tennessee. Athletic Director John Currie appeared to be fighting as a lone wolf against many others that wanted the University of Tennessee athletic department to go in a different direction.

Power struggles are never a good thing, an example; politics with Democrats and Republicans looking to do anything to fill their agendas.

These boosters and high officials fighting the person that is making the ultimate decisions at the school is a scary situation. The scariest part, Tennessee just exposed this as a commonplace occurrence in Division 1 athletics. An example of this is from the University of Louisville throughout the months of September and October, and even going back further than that.

In April 2017, news came out of major Louisville booster, ULAA (University of Louisville Athletic Association) member, and Papa John's CEO John Schnatter got into to odds with then Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich.

The squabble was over the expansion of the football stadium with his company's namesake on it, Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. Papa John himself accused the notorious Athletic Director of misusing funds and running a shady athletic department.

Come September, with the revelations of the Adidas scandal involving Rick Pitino and the UofL men's basketball team, Jurich was placed on administrative leave and eventually voted out by a board including Papa John. So what does this have to do with Tennessee and their athletic department? Well it is actually the same exact thing, yet only known on the local Louisville scale.

At UT, many different groups were exposed for being involved in the power struggle of the program and even hindering Currie's ability to finish hirings. At the University of Louisville, the powers that be fought Tom Jurich and also won out, as they all were hungry  for power. These power struggles seen are now exposed to the rest of the world and any fans of big time programs should be worried.

What if at Florida State, the Athletic Director and administration did not get along? What about at Florida, or Ohio State, or USC? Eventually, nothing good will come out of that program as everyone would only what their views and opinions of how the program should be run to be put into place.

What is happening at Tennessee is likely something that could be going behind the scenes at many major programs. The result of the Volunteers debacle should scare these programs into avoiding power struggles and putting their own egos at the doors.

The future of Tennessee football is uncertain, but we know for a fact that this process has changed college football as we know it. We as fans need to make sure we do not overstep our boundaries and let the professionals do their job to their fullest.

Also, schools need to make sure that power struggles become non-existent for the best of their universities. We laugh at Tennessee now, but this could happen at any of our favorite programs without checks and boundaries.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

2017 NFL Week 13 Results & Week 14 Power Rankings and Predictions

NYJ WRs Jermaine Kearse and Robby Anderson vs Chiefs

Week 13

My Prediction
Games
Final
27-16 WAS
Washington Redskins (5-7) vs Dallas Cowboys (6-6)
38-14 DAL
33-29 MIN
Minnesota Vikings (10-2) vs Atlanta Falcons (7-5)
14-9 MIN
24-21 TEN
Houston Texans (4-8) vs Tennessee Titans (8-4)
24-13 TEN
30-21 NYJ
Kansas City Chiefs (6-6) vs New York Jets (5-7)
38-31 NYJ
13-9 DEN
Denver Broncos (3-9) vs Miami Dolphins (5-7)
35-9 MIA
28-25 JAX
Indianapolis Colts (3-9) vs Jacksonville Jaguars (8-4)
30-10 JAX
32-30 GB
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-8) vs Green Bay Packers (6-6)
26-20 GB
28-27 DET
Detroit Lions (6-6) vs Baltimore Ravens (7-5)
44-20 BAL
24-18 NE
New England Patriots (10-2) vs Buffalo Bills (6-6)
23-3 NE
33-14 SF
San Francisco 49ers (2-10) vs Chicago Bears (3-9)
15-14 SF
26-20 LAC
Cleveland Browns (0-12) vs Los Angeles Chargers (6-6)
19-10 LAC
17-15 OAK
New York Giants (2-10) vs Oakland Raiders (6-6)
24-17 OAK
38-33 NO
Carolina Panthers (8-4) vs New Orleans Saints (9-3)
31-21 NO
29-24 LAR
Los Angeles Rams (9-3) vs Arizona Cardinals (5-7)
32-16 LAR
23-21 PHI
Philadelphia Eagles (10-2) vs Seattle Seahawks (8-4)
24-10 SEA
39-17 PIT
Pittsburgh Steelers (10-2) vs Cincinnati Bengals (5-7)
23-20 PIT

Week 13 Record: 12-4
Overall Record: 59-27

Recap:

I keep on rolling with my predictions, having another really positive week. I got a late start this season, but being 32 games over .500 seems pretty good to me. Onto the games, NEWS FLASH: THE JETS DON'T STINK! The Jets played well yet again and got a hard fought victory against the reeling Chiefs, finally playing well in the fourth quarter. The Eagles showed that they are not unbeatable by losing to the Seahawks handily on Sunday Night. The Cowboys and Saints got back on track while the Vikings and Patriots kept rolling.

Side Note: Sports Opinions wants to send our thoughts and prayers with Steelers' linebacker Ryan Shazier. He suffered a back injury while attempting to make a tackle during the Monday Night Football game. He had to be carted off the field and transported to the hospital via ambulance. Everyone feared the worst as he seemed to lose motion in the lower half of his body and laid on the field for a long while. Early reports is that he is not paralyzed and is hopefully on the road to recovery. Football is a violent sport and these types of scary moments do happen. We here at Sports Opinions hope that he recovers quickly and gets back to full strength soon, so he can get back on the field and do what he loves. #Shalieve

Week 14 Power Rankings

1.       New England Patriots (10-2) +1 Rise
2.       Minnesota Vikings (10-2) +1 Rise
3.       Philadelphia Eagles (10-2) -2 Fall
4.       Pittsburgh Steelers (10-2) +/- No Change
5.       New Orleans Saints (9-3) +2 Rise
6.       Los Angeles Rams (9-3) +/- No Change
7.       Seattle Seahawks (8-4) +1 Rise
8.       Carolina Panthers (8-4) -3 Fall
9.       Tennessee Titans (8-4) +/- No Change
10.   Jacksonville Jaguars (8-4) +/- No Change
11.   Atlanta Falcons (7-5) +/- No Change
12.   Los Angeles Chargers (6-6) +2 Rise
13.   Baltimore Ravens (6-6) +4 Rise
14.   Dallas Cowboys (6-6) +4 Rise
15.   Detroit Lions (6-6) -3 Fall
16.   Washington Redskins (5-7) -3 Fall
17.   New York Jets (5-7) +2 Rise
18.   Buffalo Bills (6-6) -2 Fall
19.   Kansas City Chiefs (6-6) -4 Fall
20.   Oakland Raiders (6-6) +/- No Change
21.   Green Bay Packers (6-6) +/- No Change
22.   Cincinnati Bengals (5-7) +2 Rise
23.   Arizona Cardinals (5-7) +/- No Change
24.   Houston Texans (4-8) -2 Fall
25.   Miami Dolphins (5-7) +3 Rise
26.   Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-8) +/- No Change
27.   San Francisco 49ers (2-10) +4 Rise
28.   Indianapolis Colts (3-9) -3 Fall -3 Fall
29.   Chicago Bears (3-9) -2 Fall
30.   Denver Broncos (3-9) -1 Fall
31.   New York Giants (2-10) -1 Fall
32.   Cleveland Browns (0-12) +/- No Change

Biggest Winners: Baltimore Ravens (6-6) +4 Rise, Dallas Cowboys (6-6) +4 Rise, San Francisco 49ers (2-10) +4 Rise
Biggest Loser: Kansas City Chiefs (6-6) -4 Fall

Week 14 Predictions

New Orleans Saints (9-3) vs Atlanta Falcons (7-5) – 37-23 NO

Indianapolis Colts (3-9) vs Buffalo Bills (6-6) – 14-13 IND

Dallas Cowboys (6-6) vs New York Giants (2-10) – 24-16 DAL

Detroit Lions (6-6) vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-8) – 21-18 TB

Oakland Raiders (6-6) vs Kansas City Chiefs (6-6) – 30-22 KC

San Francisco 49ers (2-10) vs Houston Texans (4-8) – 19-13 SF

Green Bay Packers (6-6) vs Cleveland Browns (0-12) – 24-22 GB

Chicago Bears (3-9) vs Cincinnati Bengals (5-7) – 28-21 CIN

Minnesota Vikings (10-2) vs Carolina Panthers (8-4) – 27-10 MIN

Washington Redskins (5-7) vs Los Angeles Chargers (6-6) – 37-35 LAC

New York Jets (5-7) vs Denver Broncos (3-9) – 30-24 NYJ

Tennessee Titans (8-4) vs Arizona Cardinals (5-7) – 25-21 TEN

Philadelphia Eagles (10-2) vs Los Angeles Rams (9-3) – 44-42 LAR

Seattle Seahawks (8-4) vs Jacksonville Jaguars (8-4) – 28-24 JAX

Baltimore Ravens (7-5) vs Pittsburgh Steelers (10-2) – 30-27 PIT

New England Patriots (10-2) vs Miami Dolphins (5-7) – 45-27 NE

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Kristaps Porzingis Can Make the Garden ‘The Mecca’ Again

Knicks Forward Kristaps Porzingis

When you think of traditional New York Knicks’ teams, certain players come to mind. Patrick Ewing. Bernard King. Walt “Clyde” Frazier. These players personify what it is to be a Knick. Tough, talented and successful in the hardest place to play in the world.

It’s been a while since the Knicks have had a player that could hold a candle to those players. Carmelo Anthony did his best, but the hometown iso specialist never really came close to bringing back true, New York basketball.

And then a light of hope came to The Big Apple in the form of a Latvian Unicorn. In the 2015 NBA Draft, the Knicks selected Kristaps Porzingis, a 7’3, 19-year-old Latvian center who received more boos than cheers at the Barclay’s Center that night.

In his first two seasons in NY, Porzingis had promise, but was never able to show his true talent because he often played second fiddle to Anthony. He did not touch the ball much and showed his skill on defense and offensive put-backs.

But there was always something about Porzingis that gave fans hope. He played with attitude and didn’t back down from anyone. Even as a rookie, he wasn’t afraid to show some emotion or walk with swagger after a block or a driving dunk over a defender.

With Anthony leaving via trade this offseason, it opened the door for Porzingis to take the reins and make the Knicks his team. And he did just that.

The Knicks got off to a slow start this season, going 0-3 in their first three games, but Porzingis didn’t. He scored 31, 33 and 12 points respectively and hasn’t slowed down since. He is averaging 25.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg and 2.1 bpg, close to MVP like numbers.

He is leading the team and they are playing a brand of basketball that we haven’t seen the team play in a long time. They are gritty, tough and are never out of a game regardless of how many points they may be down.

It is too early to crown him the next great on the long list of Knicks’ greats, but he is certainly what the Knicks need right now. He seems to have firmly taken control of the team and the players around him look to him when it is crunch time.

Sitting at 11-11 early in the season, the Knicks are primed to compete for an 8th seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. With a superstar like Porzingis on the roster, they have a chance to complete the upset against any team they play.


The excitement about New York basketball is back and it centers around Kristaps Porzingis. The fans love the team, the arena is packed every game and the product on the court is entertaining. The Garden is “The Mecca” once again.

Alex Cuesta
Founder, Sports Opinions
Contributor, NothinButNets.com
Twitter: @ACuestaNBN

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

2017 NFL Week 12 Results & Week 13 Power Rankings and Predictions

Eli Manning in his final game as the NY Giants starting QB this past Sunday

Week 12

My Prediction
Games
Final
33-27 MIN
Minnesota Vikings (9-2) vs Detroit Lions (6-5)
30-23 MIN
22-20 DAL
Los Angeles Chargers (5-6) vs Dallas Cowboys (5-6)
28-6 LAC
26-17 WAS
New York Giants (2-9) vs Washington Redskins (5-6)
20-10 WAS
27-20 TEN
Tennessee Titans (7-4) vs Indianapolis Colts (3-8)
20-16 TEN
44-20 PHI
Chicago Bears (3-8) vs Philadelphia Eagles (10-1)
31-3 PHI
23-20 CAR
Carolina Panthers (8-3) vs New York Jets (4-7)
35-27 CAR
31-16 NE
Miami Dolphins (4-7) vs New England Patriots (9-2)
35-17 NE
31-24 ATL
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-7) vs Atlanta Falcons (7-4)
34-20 ATL
19-14 CIN
Cleveland Browns (0-11) vs Cincinnati Bengals (5-6)
30-16 CIN
27-21 BUF
Buffalo Bills (6-5) vs Kansas City Chiefs (6-5)
16-10 BUF
23-17 SEA
Seattle Seahawks (7-4) vs San Francisco 49ers (1-10)
24-13 SEA
38-35 NO
New Orleans Saints (8-3) vs Los Angeles Rams (8-3)
26-20 LAR
28-23 JAX
Jacksonville Jaguars (7-4) vs Arizona Cardinals (5-6)
27-24 ARI
15-10 OAK
Denver Broncos (3-8) vs Oakland Raiders (5-6)
21-14 OAK
33-20 PIT
Green Bay Packers (5-6) vs Pittsburgh Steelers (9-2)
31-28 PIT
23-14 BAL
Houston Texans (4-7) vs Baltimore Ravens (6-5)
23-16 BAL


Week 12 Results: 13-3
Overall Record: 47-23

Recap:

The NFL news this week surrounds the New York Giants and the benching of Eli Manning in favor of starting Geno Smith. Eli has given the Giants over a decade of solid football and two Super Bowl championships. He was offered to start each of the final five games, but would be benched at some point in each game to get a look at the other two quarterbacks on the roster. This is probably the worst way the Giants could have handled this situation. It's terrible the way they have mistreated a player who lead their franchise with class throughout his whole career.

Onto the actual games. The Thanksgiving Day slate of games were nothing to write home about. The Cowboys continued their downward spiral, feeling the loss of Zeke all over their roster. The only game worth watching was the Vikings vs Lions game, which came down to a field goal block and a penalty that overturned a touchdown which ended the game in favor of Minnesota. On Sunday, the Rams were able to get back on track with a win against the Saints that snapped New Orleans' win streak. The Eagles continued their dominance over the league as the Patriots and Steelers did their best to keep pace with wins themselves. Next up, Week 13 Power Rankings. 

Week 13 Power Rankings

1.       Philadelphia Eagles (10-1) +/- No Change
2.       New England Patriots (9-2) +/- No Change
3.       Minnesota Vikings (9-2) +2 Rise
4.       Pittsburgh Steelers (9-2) +/- No Change
5.       Carolina Panthers (8-3) +1 Rise
6.       Los Angeles Rams (8-3) +1 Rise
7.       New Orleans Saints (8-3) -4 Fall
8.       Seattle Seahawks (7-4) +2 Rise
9.       Tennessee Titans (7-4) +4 Rise
10.   Jacksonville Jaguars (7-4) -1 Fall
11.   Atlanta Falcons (7-4) +3 Rise
12.   Detroit Lions (6-5) -1 Fall
13.   Washington Redskins (5-6) +2 Rise
14.   Los Angeles Chargers (5-6) +2 Rise
15.   Kansas City Chiefs (6-5) -7 Fall
16.   Buffalo Bills (6-5) +7 Rise
17.   Baltimore Ravens (5-6) +1 Rise
18.   Dallas Cowboys (5-6) -6 Fall
19.   New York Jets (4-7) -2 Fall
20.   Oakland Raiders (5-6) +1 Rise
21.   Green Bay Packers (5-6) -1 Fall
22.   Houston Texans (4-7) -3 Fall
23.   Arizona Cardinals (5-6) +2 Rise
24.   Cincinnati Bengals (5-6) +/- No Change
25.   Indianapolis Colts (3-8) -3 Fall
26.   Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-6) +/- No Change
27.   Chicago Bears (3-8) +/- No Change
28.   Miami Dolphins (4-6) +/- No Change
29.   Denver Broncos (3-8) +/- No Change
30.   New York Giants (2-9) +/- No Change
31.   San Francisco 49ers (1-9) +/- No Change
32.   Cleveland Browns (0-11) +/- No Change

Biggest Winner: Buffalo Bills (6-5) +7 Rise
Biggest Loser: Kansas City Chiefs (6-5) -7 Fall

Week 13 Predictions

Washington Redskins (5-6) vs Dallas Cowboys (5-6) – 27-16 WAS

Minnesota Vikings (9-2) vs Atlanta Falcons (7-4) – 33-29 MIN

Houston Texans (4-7) vs Tennessee Titans (7-4) – 24-21 TEN

Kansas City Chiefs (6-5) vs New York Jets (4-7) – 30-21 NYJ

Denver Broncos (3-8) vs Miami Dolphins (4-7) – 13-9 DEN

Indianapolis Colts (3-8) vs Jacksonville Jaguars (7-4) – 28-25 JAX

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-7) vs Green Bay Packers (5-6) – 32-30 GB

Detroit Lions (6-5) vs Baltimore Ravens (6-5) – 28-27 DET

New England Patriots (9-2) vs Buffalo Bills (6-5) –24-18 NE

San Francisco 49ers (1-10) vs Chicago Bears (3-8) – 33-14 SF

Cleveland Browns (0-11) vs Los Angeles Chargers (5-6) – 26-20 LAC

New York Giants (2-9) vs Oakland Raiders (5-6) – 17-15 OAK

Carolina Panthers (8-3) vs New Orleans Saints (8-3) – 38-33 NO

Los Angeles Rams (8-3) vs Arizona Cardinals (5-6) – 29-24 LAR

Philadelphia Eagles (10-1) vs Seattle Seahawks (7-4) – 23-21 PHI

Pittsburgh Steelers (9-2) vs Cincinnati Bengals (5-6) – 39-17 PIT