Saturday, October 31, 2009

Walker-Sports College Football Pick'em Week 9



It's hard to believe that we are already at week 9 of the college football season, but here we are. There are a slew of big time games this week and there's plenty to be excited about. That being said, let's get right to the point and pick some games.

Georgia Bulldogs vs. Florida Gators: I don't care what the mayor of Jacksonville wants to call this game, it will always be the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party to me. There's a lot on the line with this game as well. The Gators have not played well at all this season. Many times it appears that the Florida players are more content to watch Tim Teabow work his magic and hope that he can pull out a miracle. This makes them primed for an upset. Georgia is in the midst of a terrible year, but knocking off Florida in this boarder war would change the fortunes of the season.

The spread is a massive 14 1/2 points favoring Florida. I have to jump all over this one. Florida has been shaky and they have been unable to truly dominate anyone. Georgia most likely won't win this game but they can cover.

Here's another nugget for you as well, the team entering the Cocktail Party coming off a bye week has won outright 13 out of the last 14 times.
Winner Georgia:

Texas Longhorns vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys: The Longhorns are on a mission, the end goal is the BCS Championship game. I also warned everyone a few weeks back that the Oklahoma State Cowboys could rebuild their season and they have done that. The true shame of this game is that Oklahoma State wide out Dez Bryant is being forced to miss this game thanks to a horrible NCAA ruling.

The spread favors Texas by 9 1/2 points. Oklahoma State is better than what most people give them credit for. That being said, they have routinely struggled in the big games. That trend will continue. Texas wins the game and covers the spread.

Winner: Texas

USC Trojans vs. Oregon Ducks: Remember when the Oregon Ducks blew the season opener to Boise State and people were jumping off the Ducks bandwagon as fast as they could. Now it appears the Ducks have righted the ship and they find themselves ranked tenth in the country. Unfortunately for Oregon, they have to play the USC Trojans. I don't belive the Trojans are a powerhouse team but they are a very good one. More importantly USC has gotten their blown game out of the way for the season.

The spread on this game is amazingly close with USC being favored by just 3 points. I love this spread. Take USC to pick up the win and cover the spread with ease. Oregon just is not ready to play at that level.

Winner: USC



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Friday, October 30, 2009

15-a-side rugby duties affect USA 7s team

After a brief break, we are happy to to welcome back into the fold our good friends from UR7's.com. This week we are talking about responsibility and players splitting time between clubs and obligations.

For many rugby playing countries their focus is on the 2011 Rugby 15-a-side World Cup. Some 14 countries have already qualified for this prestigious event: Argentina, Australia, England, Fiji, France, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Scotland, South Africa, Tonga, Wales, Canada and Samoa.

This means that several other countries will still be challenging for the remaining six places. Namibia and Tunisia are competing to represent the final African side, while Asia and Europe still have some playoff qualifiers. In North America, Canada beat the USA in July of this year to ensure their place at the RWC, which leaves the United States facing Uruguay in November.

I spoke with USA 7s head coach Al Caravelli last week – and it is clear that the most important immediate goal for USA Rugby is to qualify for this upcoming RWC. This will also ensure that vital financial contribution is received from the IRB, used for USA Rugby’s high performance academy.

The qualifier will take the form of a home and away series, with the USA Eagles travelling to Montevideo to play Uruguay on November 14th. The return match will take place in Lauderhill Florida on November 21st with coach Eddie O’Sullivan set to name his squad by the end of this month.

The USA 7s side will therefore have to assemble without some of their star players – most likely captain Kevin Swiryn and playmaker Nese Malifa. I would expect a couple others to make O’Sullivan’s squad which means that they will not have the luxury of training with their 7s teammates for an extended period of time.

Pre-season tour?

In the past the USA 7s side has travelled to Asia on a pre-season tour and played in the famous Singapore 7s tournament. I missed the 2007 tour, but in 2006 we played in the Bangkok 7s beating Samurai (players mainly from England) in a great final, and then a week later played in the highly competitive Singapore 7s. The Springbok 7s side fielded a strong team, and has won the event a few times.

It is noted that the 12 core IRB 7s teams cannot attend non-IRB tournaments as their national team hence the reason South Africa goes to Singapore as the Vipers.

This restriction is between the dates of November 1st to June 30th. If a core 7s country wants to play in a warm-up tournament they have to change their team name and playing gear.

In 2006 we played as the USA Eagles in Asia ahead of the IRB Dubai Sevens tournament but that was because we weren’t part of the 12 core teams. This ruling makes sense from an advertising perspective, knowing that as a sponsor of an IRB 7s team, you are guaranteed to get eight tournaments around the globe with measured audience and marketing exposure

The 12 'core' teams competing in all eight events on the World Series are: Argentina, Australia, England, Fiji, France, Kenya, New Zealand, Samoa, Scotland, South Africa, USA, and Wales. Portugal had a very successful season last year and has been invited to both Dubai and George Sevens.

Caravelli would have liked to go to a tournament before Dubai but due to the USA’s priorities that wasn’t possible this year. There is a tournament in Sri Lanka but it was to close to the timing of the Dubai event and there is not enough preparation time to select the team to Dubai Sevens.

Instead the USA will arrive a few days earlier in the United Arab Emirates.

This is exactly what successful South African 7s coach Paul Treu has done in previous years. In today’s era any competitive advantage is important, with Treu’s team getting a few extra days to acclimatise and rest before the tournament begins. Having played on the circuit I am well aware of the short space of time between landing at the airport and playing in the tournament, especially the second leg of any tour.

Acclimatising with the best

Caravelli and Treu have remained in close contact and share the same passion for the Sevens Series. In fact Caravelli has organised with Treu that the USA 7s team will be staying at the same hotel as the Springboks, training for two days together, before all the teams move into the tournament hotel. This is a fantastic opportunity for the American players to test themselves against the world’s best, as well as learn value on and off field lessons.

From experience the USA has not faired well in Dubai over the past 3 seasons. The main reason is that as players we felt very tired on our feet, due to the travel time and not enough days to acclimate to the 10 hour time difference, in addition to an intense week of training before at camp. Caravelli knows this and will ensure the training week allows for plenty of recovery, as well as reducing the two a day sessions in Dubai.

Exciting times

The selection training camp should see some 20 players invited to the Dubai/George assembly, bearing in mind that some of them may be at the 15s World Cup qualifier. It is a difficult task getting the new players on the same page as the veterans, and then playing in the best 7s tournament in the world a week later. While there are many challenges facing the players, this is an unbelievable experience and a moment that defines oneself.

The question on everyone’s lips about whether or not there will be professional contracts this season. Plans are in place and it is still to be decided on. That is all I can reveal…

The goal of the 08/09 season was to finish in the Top 10, as well as reach as many quarterfinals as possible. The USA almost managed this, but slipped to 11th place during the final two tournaments of the year. They did reach the quarter-finals in George South Africa and Wellington New Zealand, with a scintillating semi-final spot in San Diego USA.

The 2009/2010 IRB World Sevens Series Calendar: Dubai - 4-5 Dec, South Africa - 11-12 Dec, New Zealand - 5-6 Feb, USA - 13-14 Feb, Australia - 19-21 Mar, Hong Kong - 26-28 Mar, England - 22-23 May , Scotland - 29-30 May

Read more from Dallen:

How the Olympics changes USA Rugby

Inside the latest USA Sevens camp

Victorious with Belmont at Nationals!


UR7s.com is the most comprehensive source of news, video, discussion and information for every level of rugby sevens around the world. UR7s.com includes a calendar of rugby sevens tournaments from around the globe, tournament micro-sites, team profiles, photos, featured articles and social networking. Over 100 tournaments and teams from the USA have already made their presence felt on UR7s.com – the online home for 'everything 7s'.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Junior Team Arrested for Nude Hockey

You can't make this stuff up, I swear. Courtesy of the AP this story comes from Boise Idaho, and it is one that will make you laugh.

An Idaho junior hockey team was banished temporarily from a city ice rink after players engaged in a game of "strip hockey" — shedding a piece of uniform every time a practice shot missed its mark.

As redress for last Wednesday's incident, Boise forbid the Idaho Junior Steelheads team from using Idaho Ice World for four days; one 17-year-old player who shed his underwear briefly was suspended until next week. In addition, police are investigating, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.

An adult whose young daughter was on an adjacent rink saw the 17- to 20-year-old Steelheads skating in their skivvies and complained to a city hotline.

Only in Boise could you have the cops called on you for nude skating and only get a week long ban from the rink.


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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

John Riggins Video Breakdown of the Washington Redskins

I've always believed being based out of Washington D.C. allows us to have a special view of the sporting world. Those words have never rung truer this football season with the collapse of the Washington Redskins. Seemingly everyone around the Beltway have an opinion on the Redskins. That is why it should come as no surprise that Hall of Famer John Riggins has taken to videocast on Youtube to give his state of the Redskins each week.

Check out this week's edition from Riggo.





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U.S. Rugby Chat Episode 21: Coming of Age


It's a celebration, that's right U.S. Rugby Chat is finally all grown up, 21 episodes nothing wrong with that. As usual Jeremy from Heavensgame and myself are here to chat it up, and celebrate. This week we discuss the lack of lack of Autumn test matches for The Eagles and the good news that is more American’s playing in the pro European leagues.

Take a Listen and enjoy.


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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Walker Sports College Football Poll: The MidMajors are Legit


The air is getting crisp, and fall is most definitely in the air. The changing of the season also means the college football season is heating up. The BCS is putting out their weekly rankings, but I can assure you that Walker-Sports is the only place that has the nations true top 25 poll.

1)Florida Gators: Saturday the Gators still have not looked like the nations number one team. That's good for Gatornation, bad for the rest of the rest of the country. They will get it together soon.

2)Texas Longhorns:
I'm not quite sure why this team simply does not get the respect it deserves in the AP and the BCS but they are the second best team in the country right now.

3)Boise State Broncos: A trip to Hawaii, and another crushing victory.

4)Alabama Crimson Tide:Bama has done everything right, but it's tough to leapfrog a team in the Walker-Sports top 25 poll.

5)TCU Horn Frogs:Big Big win over BYU this weekend. The Horn Frogs may actually be legit.

6)USC Trojans:Some how the Trojans continue to be the team that just won't die.

7)Cincinnati Bearcats:I love the Bearcats, I just hope Tony Pike is completely healthy.

8)LSU Tigers: Sticking around and keeping the SEC interesting. You got to love that.

9)Iowa Hawkeyes:Man talk about getting by on the skin of your teeth. I'm not ready to jump on the Iowa bandwagon just yet, but I will hold on to their bumper for a while.

10)Oklahoma State Cowboys:
I told you this team would weasel their way back into things.

11)Penn State Nitnay Lions:
Only time keeping them out of the true spotlight are those pesky Hawkeyes.

12)Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets:
Blowing out the University of Virginia is like beating a high school team.

13)Virginia Tech Hokies:An idol week is what the Hokies need the ACC is going to be one wild ride.

14)Ohio State Buckeyes:Who honestly saw this team finishing up as the third best program in the Big 10? Kind of funny isn't it.

15)Houston Cougars:With Boise and TCU going mainstream it looks like the Cougars are the new mid-major story.

16)West Virginia Moutaineers:
Someone has to make a run at Cincinnati in the Big East.

17)
Pitssburgh Panthers:This is one surprising team, is it possible that old Davey finally put it all together?

18):Utah Utes:
It's funny how the Utes actually got left behind in the whole Mountains West Conference.

19)Missouri Tigers:
I always though the Tigers would come back to earth, but that certainly has not been the case.

20)South Carolina Gamecocks:

21)South Florida Bulls:

22)Oklahoma Sooners:

23)Kansas Jayhawks:

24)Arizona Wildcats:

25)Mississippi Rebels:



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Saturday, October 24, 2009

U.S. Rugby Chat Episode 20: Hazing & The Man of The Match


Welcome back everybody, my apologies about the delay between post but after a few technical delays we are back in action. In this week's edition of U.S. Rugby Chat we are talking about some serious issues. Hazing is the topic of discussion. How do college programs handle it, is it part of the game? A second topic on today's show is an impressive man of the match performance by an American who found his way over seas.

As always I am joined by my good friend Jeremy from Heavensgame.com.

Listen and enjoy.


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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Walker Sports College Football Poll:


As we continue our trip through the college football season, we are beginning to to weed out the haves from the have nots. Is Florida the real deal? That's a big maybe, but I'm not willing to say Alabama is the real deal. The BCS is nice but Walker-Sports College Football Poll is the real deal.

1)Florida Gators: They are not as good as they used to be, but for now they are still the top ranked team in the land.

2)Texas Longhorns:
It was not Colt McCoy's best showing against Oklahoma, but they got a win against a ranked team, that counts for something.

3)Boise State Broncos: The Broncos deserve to be here. Believe it.

4)Alabama Crimson Tide:As this season matures I am beginning to believe that Bama can compete with the Gators.

5)TCU Horn Frogs:So sick of watching this team work their way into the top 5. But here they are again.

6)USC Trojans:

7)Cincinnati Bearcats:

8)LSU Tigers:

9)Oklahoma State Cowboys:

10)Iowa Hawkeyes:


11)Penn State Nitnay Lions:


12)Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets:


13)BYU Cougars:

14)Miami Hurricanes:

15)Ohio State Buckeyes:

16)Virginia Tech Hokies:


17)
Houston Cougars:

18):


19)West Virginia Mountaineers:


20)Utah Utes:

21)Missouri Tigers:

22)South Carolina:

23)South Florida Bulls:

24)Oklahoma Sooners:

25)Kansas Jayhawks:


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Monday, October 19, 2009

A Balloon Causes a Liverpool Upset

The United States has been captivated with the story of balloon boy for the past few days. Over in Europe, they have their own balloon boy. The difference is the European version led to one of the great upsets of the soccer season. I'm sure plenty of Liverpool fans are not happy about this one.


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Dante Wesley Huge Hit on the Bucs

The Carolina Panthers and the Tampa Bay Bucs are in the midst of disappointing seasons, especially the Panthers. Sunday when the two division rivals took the field against each other things got ugly. Carolina safety lays one of the hardest and most unnecessary hits I have ever seen. This is a huge hit, too bad it was illegal.




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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

U.S. Rugby Chat 19:Bye Bye Belmont State... Hello Rio


In this week's U.S. Rugby Chat Jeremy, of Heavensgame.com, and myself are running solo. But have no fear there was plenty to talk about and keep up entertained. On this week's show we discuss Rugby 7's making it into the 2016 Olympics. That was a no brainer for topics. However, there was a pleasant surprise that came up over the weekend with Belmont Shore opting to drop out of the Rugby Super League in favor of the Division 1 season.

Jeremy and I cover these topics in this week's U.S. Rugby Chat


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Monday, October 12, 2009

Walker Sports College Football Poll: Gators Still Chomping


Week 6 is done, and it looks like the college football landscape is actually becoming cloudier if that is possible. The top teams are still there, but some of them seem a bit more shaky than advertised. Let's see what's going on in this week's edition of the Walker Sports College Football Poll.

1)Florida Gators: Great win against a very good LSU team. Tim Teabow has struggled but the Gators defense is amazing.

2)Texas Longhorns:
The Red River Shootout is Saturday. That means the Longhorns will get their first test of the season. I like what Colt McCoy is doing this year. If he keeps it going against Oklahoma he will solidify his spot at the top of the Heisman race.

3)Boise State Broncos: The Broncos deserve to be here. Believe it.
4)Alabama Crimson Tide:Nick Saban is workingon something special over there in Alabama. Just because LSU couldn't get the job done against Florida doesn't mean the Tide won't be able to.
5)Ohio State Buckeyes:So sick of watching this team work their way into the top 5. But here they are again.

6)Virginia Tech Hokies:Are the Hokies teh best 1 lost team in teh country? It's possible. Tyrod Taylor is leaving his mark on the ACC. Passing, running and Hokie ball on defense, that's a dangerous combination.

7)TCU Horn Frogs:This is a talented team. Their BCS game is is gonna be great to watch when they trip up Florida.

8)USC Trojans: Matt Barkley is settling in as the starting quarterback of a big time program. Rumor has it, that the Trojan coaches are opening up the playbook for Barkley. This could be interesting against the Domers on Saturday.

9)Cincinnati Bearcats:The Bearcats are my favorite team in college football right now. Brian Kelly is the coach of the future. It is going to be great when they take out South Florida on Thursday and cruise into a Big East championship.

10)LSU Tigers:
Tough lost last weekend again Florida. The Tigers are still in the hunt for the SEC championship.

11)Oklahoma State Cowboys:
This Dez Robinson stuff is a mess. That being said the Cowboys have flown under the radar since their early season losses. That could be a good thing.

12)Iowa Hawkeyes:
They win ugly but they win. I'm not sold that Iowa is the cream of the crop in the Big 10, but every now and then they have been known to break through.

13)Penn State Nitnay Lions: A win against Ohio State and they are right back in the thick of things.

14)Kansas Jayhawks:They aren't the best team in the Big 12 North, but the Jayhawks have what it takes to make things interesting.

15)BYU Cougars:The Mountain West is getting stout again. TCU is leading the way, but BYU is just behind them.

16)Oklahoma Sooners:
The Red River Shootout can change this programs fortunes. Sam Bradford is back in the mix and he got plenty of reps in last week against Baylor. Too bad Texas is a lot better.

17)Miami Hurricanes:
I still think the Canes are the best team in teh ACC. Too bad even if they win out they still won't be able to pass Virginia Tech in the rankings.

18)Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets:
That was a great win last Saturday on the road. Georgia Tech is bouncing around the ACC but it's difficult to believe they will be able to make any real noise against the Virginia Tech's and Miami's of the world.

19)Nebraska Cornhuskers:
The Black Shirts are back. Nebraska is quickly coming on as the best team in the Big 12 North. Winning the Big 12 North will be impressive, pulling an upset in the Big 12 championship game would be amazing.

20)South Florida Bulls:Their whole summer could come down to Thursday night. Knockinf off the Bearcats will put the Bulls on the inside track for the Big East Championship.

21)Missouri Tigers:All of a sudden teh Big 12 North doesn't look so shabby does it?

22)Houston Cougars:Doing just enough to hang around and stick in the top 25. What does it mean in the grandscheme of things? Absolutely nothing.

23)Utah Utes:The third team from the Mountain West in the top 25. This is a great conference, and bringing in Boise State in a few season will make them a dominate conference.

24)Notre Dame:A win on Saturday and Notre Dame is in teh spotlight for good. Now can the Golden Domers knock off USC at home? That is a big question.

25)Auburn Tigers:Horrible outting last weekend. The Tigers are barely hanging on here, it's doubtful you will see them in the top 25 next week.


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College Football Pick'em Week 6 Results


Week 6 is in the books, and the more I think I know about the 2009 college football season, the more I realize I have no clue. Seriously Arkansas over Auburn? Wasn''t I just singing their praises a week ago? Guess the Walker-Sports kiss of death is still in full effect. That being said, let's see how I did this week in the latest edition of Walker Sports College Football Pick'em

Georgia Tech 49 def. Florida State 44: There are a ton of distractions swirling around the Florida State program. Despite all of that, I thought Bobby Bowden could get the Seminoles back on track, for one week at least. The most disappointing part of this game, is Florida State gave it all they had. They played a good game, and it was still not enough. Georgia Tech was simply too good. The spread favored Georgia Tech by 3 points. I thought the Noles could make this one interesting and come up with the upset. Sadly that was not the case.

Alabama 22 def. Mississippi 3: I'ts official everyone is off the Ole Miss and Jevan Snead bandwagon. Last one out turn off the lights. There was a time Mississippi was expected to contend for the SEC title, now they are hoping to remain bowl eligable. On the other side of the field, Bama is looking good. They look far better than I thought. Alabama, LSU and Florida make the SEC the best conference in the country once again. By the way the spread favored Alabama by 5 points and they easily covered that and got the win.

Iowa 30 def. Michigan 28: As fast as people are jumping off the Ole Miss bandwagon, the Iowa Hawkeye football team is gaining fans in bunches. However, I'm not completely sold on that program. Yes Iowa is a good team, but I am not sure that they are a great team. Saturday's game is my case and point. This was an 8 point spread taht favored the Hawkeyes, and they had to do everything in their power to outpace Michigan. Give credit to Rich Rod and the Wolverines for making this one interesting. That being said, I still see Iowa as another Big 10 pretender that fails to stack up to the true powerhouse teams in college football.

Florida 13 def. 3 LSU: Tim Teabow made his tretun to the field on Saturday and he put together a solid effort. One this is for sure, Teabow was not 100% and he did not play like it. 11/16 for 134 yards, not exciting stats at all. What Florida does have is a great defense. In all likelyhood the Gators have the best defense in the country and that is why they are able to hold onto their number one spot. There was no spread on this game so we just had fun with it.

Walker-Sports College Football Pick'em
Straight Up 13-6

Against the Spread 14-4


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Thursday, October 08, 2009

College Football Pick'em Week 6


Week 6 is under way for the 2009 College Football season, and Walker-Sports College Football Pick'em is in full swing. For those of you who play along, you know that I have been on a tear this season with my picks, and well I don't plan on that changing anytime soon. That being said, lets get right to the latest edition of Walker Sports College Football Pick'em


Florida vs. LSU: This is the big game of the week. There is a good chance that the number one ranking in the country is on the line. Florida was exposed slightly when Lane Kiffen and Tennessee pushed them to the limit. To make matters worst, the Chosen One Tim Teabow is... well it's hard to say. Urban Myers claims Teabow was able to practice on Thursday and is a game time decision. In all honesty the reports on Tim Teabow change depending on who you ask. He took a nasty hit and that concussion is rocking him pretty bad. If this was Kentucky, they wold sit him, but it's not it's LSU and a lot is on the line.

LSU put together some quiet success this season. It is like the back doored their way into the top five. Les Miles has a heck of a great squad down in the Death Valley. He is looking for a quarterback and possibly found one in Jefferson. As usual the Tigers defense is aggressive and know how to dominate a game. If Teabow plays and he is the slightest bit shaky the LSU defense will sniff it out, and attack.

Due to Tim Teabow's injury, this game has been pulled from the board. However, that does not stop me from picking a winner. I like LSU to gut this one out. Yes it was Florida's year, but without their leader at 100% things can be difficult. If Florida was in the Swamp I'd feel differently, but on the road in Death Valley it's just not a spot for the Gators. Myers has struggled against LSU and the struggles will continue on Saturday.

Alabama vs. Mississippi:Any Rebel fan will tell you that this season has not gone according to plan for Mississippi. Javid Snead was pegged as the greatest thing in college football. Ever since that South Carolina game he has been exposed, and just putting the program back on track will prove to be a hero's task.

Alabama has gotten mixed reviews all year. It was unclear if they had lost too much talent during the off season. From the looks of things, Nick Saban knows exactly what he is doing. The Bama defense is as strong as ever. On offense, they have some great down the field threats which is something they lacked last year.

The spread favors Bama by five points, and I am all over this one. Roll Tide Roll, Alabama will get after the Rebels and make Snead's life a nightmare.

Winner:Alabama covers the spread and wins outright.

Georgia Tech vs. Florida State
:Paul Johnson has his triple option attack rolling, and the entire ACC is his target. Many people thought that the Yellow Jackets would be the team to beat in the ACC, and in many ways they still are. Currently they are lost in the shuffle behind the Miami Hurricanes and the Va. Tech Hokies. Somehow, I think Paul Johnson is okay with that, and enjoys riding a little under the radar.

This may be the worse week in Bobby Bowden's career at Florida State. Trustee's are calling for his head, 20 year old punks are harassing him with ignorant questions after practice. Things have not gone well for the Noles. What's truly unfortunate for Florida State is what was once a promising season, appears to be falling apart, and there isn't a single person who can stop this from happening.

Despite all the distractions, and the media circus surrounding speculation of Bowden's retirement, the 'Noles are favored by three points. This has more to do with history than anything, Georgia Tech has not found the confines of Doak Campbell Stadium friendly to them. I like Flordia to right the ship for this week at least. That means they cover the three point spread, and win the game.

Winner:Florida State covers the 3 points and wins outright.

Michigan vs. Iowa:
Rich Rod is having one up and down season. That being said Tate Forcier is quickly becoming the next great Michigan quarterback. He won't be a Brian Griese or your typical Wolverine but he is damn good. His athletic ability keeps Michigan in games, and it can also take them out of games.

The Iowa Hawkeyes are my surprise team emerging in the Big 10. I'll be the first to admit, I did not think much of the Hawkeyes. I'm not even completely sold on them right now. In a lot of ways they remind me of the Denver Broncos. Somehow they find a win, but I'm just not sure how they pull it off. Iowa is a tough team that plays bend don't break defense. I love their mental toughness and their ability to play within the moment. There are plenty of intangibles, that make them a special team.

The spread on this game favors Iowa by 8 points. That's a hefty spread in my opinion. That's why I am going out on a limb here. I'm taking Michigan to cover the the 8 point spread. As far as a straight up winner goes, that is a bit tougher, but I am sticking wtih Iowa to win the game.

Winner:Michigan covers the 8 points, Iowa wins the game.




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How The Olympics Change USA Sevens Rugby

Welcome back everybody, as many of you may know the IOC is prepared to make a major vote that will determine the fate of Rugby Sevens, and the possibility of sevens becoming an Olympic sports. While this vote is huge for rugby, it holds an even bigger importance for the sport of rugby in the United States. Today we are happy to invite in Dallen Stanford along with our good friends from UR7S.com to discuss what Olympic rugby means for the United States and US Rugby.

Dallen Stanford explores the possibilities and opportunities for the USA 7s team with Olympic inclusion. He looks at the side going professional, entering more tournaments, and applying training software used by the NBA and NFL…

Can you believe the biggest ever decision in rugby history is only a few days away?

It has been a long and exciting journey for the sport we love, and inclusion into the Olympics would be unbelievable.

Rugby Sevens is played in more than 100 countries around the world, but is not a major sport in many of them. Getting rugby into the Olympics would change the face and the profile of the game forever.

I know that passionate fans of sports like Soccer, Rugby League, Aussie Rules and others are now very jealous of the rebel William Webb Ellis.

Rugby Sevens – previously not taken particularly seriously by fans and rugby enthusiasts until a few years ago – has put the sport back on the map.

What does this mean for developing rugby nations like America?

A career back home

The fact is this Olympic decision will do more for these countries than the traditional playing ones. Countries that compete in major rugby competitions like the Tri Nations and Six Nations will now have a massive pool of players who will be available for the Olympic Games. Many traditional 15 a-side players will be knocking on the selection doors, which will increase the level of play in the IRB Series.

But the above-mentioned countries already have full time contracted rugby players. Hence the biggest step in the development of the game will take place in minor rugby nations like America, Russia and the continent of Asia.

These are extremely exciting times – particularly for the USA - with many of the country’s best players applying their trade overseas. While this is great for the player’s development experiencing different cultures and playing styles, there is no potential rugby career at home. Until now that is.

I have been part of the USA Sevens setup since 2006, and there has been plenty of talk and speculation about USA Rugby contracting full time Sevens players. When I first played on the IRB 7s circuit in 2006/2007, the USA was invited to Wellington, San Diego and Hong Kong. The squad spent one week together at a training camp before each tour, as well as travelling to Singapore and Bangkok ahead of the season.

This small amount of preparation together worked very well, as the USA knocked off some big teams earning an invite to 6 IRB tournaments in 2007/2008!

The tournaments that were added were Dubai, George (SA) and Adelaide. Not only did this mean getting more experience at that level by playing in double the amount of tournaments, but double the amount of training time as well.

This led to the IRB making the USA a core team in 2008/2009 – playing in all 8 tournaments. However the recession has played it’s part in delaying the contracting of a group of USA 7s players. But after Friday’s hopeful positive outcome, things will be back on track.

Contracts

USA Rugby’s goal is to contract 7s and 15s players, but this will take time and finances. I would think that due to the success of the 7s side and the Olympic decision that it’s almost 100% certain that a group of 7s players will become full time rugby professionals this year.

That group could be anything from 15 to 18 full time players, with plenty of others trying out at each selection camp. USA Sevens coach Al Caravelli will have access to many of the USA overseas players (some of them will ensure that their club contract includes a clause releasing them for a few months during the 7s season). Some of them may even return to the USA and join that group of 15-18 players sooner than later.

I would guess that this will probably happen in 2012 and closer to the 2016 Olympics. The next goal right now for the 15s players would be the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand so star players like Chris Wyles, Todd Clever and Taku Ngwenya will be focusing on that.

The Sevens contracted players will probably move to San Diego California, home of the Olympic Training Center. This facility has been the venue for most of the USA 7s training camps over the past few years, and even has decent housing facilities onsite.

The tough decision for Caravelli will be which group of 15-18 to contract. The players that do not make this cut will still be heavily involved, and based on form, could make the travelling squad. There will of course have to be different compensation packages for those players.

With the increased funding from the IRB and new corporate sponsors Caravelli will then be able to enter many of the other warm up international 7s tournaments. There are fantastic high-level tournaments all over the globe, and this will give the USA 7s team the tune up required before the Series.

Pushing boundaries

I also remember Caravelli having access to a state of the art high performance training facility, but due to the lack of funding we never attended it.

One of the major advantages of having hugely professional American sports like Football, Baseball and Basketball at our fingertips is that we can take the best training techniques, both on and off the field and use them in rugby.

Caravelli is well aware of this and started using a basketball computer application that helped with player’s decision-making. Advanced technology is readily available here in the USA, hence sports coaches from all over the globe travel to America in the attempt to gain that competitive advantage for their team/county. It’s what I call the American dream…

Dallen Stanford played 54 matches for the USA 7s team throughout his career spanning from 2006 to 2009, including 13 IRB 7s tournament appearances. He was part of the Belmont Shore side that recently won the USA National Sevens competition.

www.pakiscorner.com

UR7s.com is the most comprehensive source of news, video, discussion and information for every level of rugby sevens around the world. UR7s.com includes a calendar of rugby sevens tournaments from around the globe, tournament micro-sites, team profiles, photos, featured articles and social networking. Over 100 tournaments and teams from the USA have already made their presence felt on UR7s.com – the online home for 'everything 7s'.


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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

College Football Chat: Cal and UNC to the Loser Bracket

In this week's edition of Walker Sports College Football Chat we are talking about the losers in college football. These are the teams that are watching their season slip away from them. Oklahoma, UNC, Cal all of them are in grave danger of losing a promising season.

Check out the latest College Football Chat.




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video

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

U.S. Rugby Chat 18:Nate Ellis Talks Playing Prop


In the latest edition of U.S. Rugby Chat, Jeremy from Heavensgame.com and myself had the honor of sitting down with Nate Ellis of the Chicago Lions. Nate plays front row for the RSL team, and is a guy who I have a personal history playing against. We had an enjoyable conversation, and Nate has a great story to tell.

Take a listen and enjoy.


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Monday, October 05, 2009

Daily Erin Andrews:Mark Sanchez Has a New Girlfriend


He may only be a rookie, but Mark Sanchez has adapted to the New York lifestyle and appears to be well on his way to becoming the next Broadway Joe, off the field at least. Once again, it appears that Sanchez and his dating habits are making the front page. This time he is hanging with Jennifer Mueller, a USC track star. Check out the new couple.




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