SPORTS – The Jock 3/4/10

by Tom Weppel
NCAA BASKETBALL
With the long regular season essentially complete, we now go into the various Conference tournaments, all of which will crown a champion to play in the NCAA Tournament. Most of the smaller conferences have already started their tourneys, while the more powerful conferences will start theirs up next week.
After that, there will be a number of at-large slots that will be filled by the tournament selection committee. As you know, there has been considerable debate, as there always is, as to who should get in and who should not. It seems this season has been a little different than in years past, with some of the ‘name’ schools not having great seasons. That means they probably will not be in the tournament this year. Those schools include UNC, UCLA, Arizona, Michigan, and Connecticut.
And that might possibly open the door for some smaller schools to get in, when in previous years that has not been the case. Sure, we have seen teams from smaller schools play, but it was only because they won their conference tournaments. This year, they might actually receive an at-large bid or two.
In the meantime, these conference culminations to seasons can be entertaining. An upset here and there is certain to come about, and there will be competitive, entertaining games, all in a do-or-die situation.

NHL
Coming off the Olympics Games, the NHL is wondering if they can pick up the interest and TV viewership that was generated off the Final between the USA and Canada. Almost all the players on each squad play currently in the NHL, and so its entirely possible sports fans will want to keep up with certain players, namely, Canadian Sidney Crosby, who is with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

On the other side, however, NHL interest has certainly not been there, and it might’ve taken a hit, since the League has been shut down for a few weeks.
So, it will be interesting to see how things evolve for the NHL for the rest of the season, heading into the playoffs. They just hit their trade deadline, and a number of teams did indeed get certain players to fortify their rosters.
It will be interesting to see how fans of teams react when their star players come out…namely, guys like Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals. Here’s a guy who was on the Russian team, and now he’s back here playing in D.C., where he has been outstanding. It makes for an odd feeling, cheering a guy you might’ve been rooting against for a few weeks, then having him back.

PGA TOUR
The PGA Tour will now shift to Florida, after spending time on the West Coast for the first part of the season. Of course, most of the talk has been about Eldrick Woods, as opposed to any particular winner of the tournaments.
What a lot of people, especially in the Media are NOT emphasizing, is that there is no real major personality on the Tour right now to go up against Woods! If there was, then perhaps a lot of people wouldn’t be giving Woods a second thought. Instead, he continues to be the main topic of conversation.
Instead, we hear how this guy or that guy won whatever tournament, then totally forget who it was within the next week or so. Guys on the Tour certainly are not establishing themselves to any degree or extent. There is no real draw, other than Tiger and Phil Mickelson. After that, its nothing but a bunch of other guys playing golf!
If one or two individuals were to break out and start to make a name for themselves, it could, and would, change the landscape of the Tour considerably.
I will say this…if John Daly had stayed fairly cool and clean throughout his career, and perhaps won even a coupe more tournaments, he would’ve been a star…EASILY! Instead, he turned into a lame idiot who allowed his fame and money to get the best of him. Now, he is trying to comeback and get into the fold, but it doesn’t look like its gonna happen.
In the meantime, we will get updates as to all of Tiger’s moves. And when he does indeed come back on to the Tour, it will be a madhouse of attention, without question.

NFL
With no collective bargaining agreement in place now, it seems the battle lines are drawn between the NFL owners and the Players Union. With the free agency period underway, it will be very interesting to see which teams will decide to possibly throw some money out to get the high-profile guys, and who will go the other way, in dropping players with large contracts. No matter the case, all teams will have in mind the fact that there is no salary cap to work within.
It all makes me wonder if guys like Jerry Jones are going to become the Steinbrenners of the NFL! Will there be that much disparity in salaries paid between the Cowboys and maybe the Redskins, versus the smaller market teams, such as the Raiders and Bengals?
The other consideration stems from whether there will be any big-money contracts offered to ANYBODY! Guys like Julius Peppers are out there looking for a team and are commanding a pretty high figure to come in and play. Many team, however are not even close to thinking about offering large contracts, simply from fear of the unknown, as far as a cap is concerned.
And so these next few weeks will prove even more interesting, to see who will do what…and who won’t.

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