SPORTS w/The Jock 12-8-11

by Tom Weppel
With four games left in the regular season, this is the time of the year when things start to get that much more interesting, especially with the NFL this close to the postseason.
In the AFC, we’ve got four teams with a record of 9-3, including the Steelers, Patriots, Ravens, and Texans. Those four teams all look solid to get in and qualify for the playoffs. I would consider those locks.
After that, we see five teams with a record of 7-5 (Jets, Titans, Bengals, Raiders, and Broncos). Look for a certain battle amongst those squads, as not all of them can make it into the playoffs. Either the Broncos or Raiders will most likely take the AFC West.
In the NFC, the Packers and Niners are locks to get into the playoffs. The Saints (9-3) also look good for the postseason.
Then you can look at the Cowboys, Bears, Lions, and Falcons, all with 7-5 records. Dallas has a key match up Sunday night, when they host the Giants. The Bears are at Denver, the Lions host Minnesota, and the Falcons go to Carolina. The outcomes of those four contests should give us some shakeout as to who is looking good…and who may not get in.
There’s no question that teams that are now still in the running for a playoff slot are better off and play with a stronger degree of determination. It certainly can make a difference in the attitude of the team, especially during these last few weeks. It will be interesting to see how the various clubs perform, and under what conditions. There are still certainly some loose ends that need to be tied!

Chris Petersen is the Head Coach at Boise State. He has done a great job getting that program together, bringing in good talent, and then being able to do some good things during the past few seasons, in spite of the fact they play their home games on a blue football field!
Earlier this week, Petersen had finally had enough of the way in which things were handled when it came down to deciding which teams would go to which bowl games. After playing out to an 11-1 season, Boise State is being relegated to playing on December 22d in Las Vegas against Arizona State!
Petersen feels as if more major schools and programs got the benefit of the doubt in determining the matchups for the New Years Day games and beyond…games in which Boise State probably gotten in to. A perfect example would be Virginia Tech being chosen to play January 3d in the Sugar Bowl against Michigan. Obviously, Virginia Tech will most likely bring a larger crowd to New Orleans than Boise State would have.
I don’t think there is any question the way in which the post season is handled in college football is not the best! The selection process is maybe a little better than it used to be in all years past. But it still comes down to a political battle sometimes, with some schools having an inside track in being able to play or go to a particular Bowl games, not only because of their decent record for the season, but also because they have a good fan base and following that will come along wherever they go.
That is not necessarily true with all schools, mind you…and that is unfortunate, to say the least. While I believe it would be great to have an eight-team playoff to determine the National Champion, it seems a lot would have to happen in order for that to work.
And it isn’t going to happen anytime soon!
And so if Chris Petersen continues doing his job there in Idaho at Boise State, he mind as well face up to the fact that his school is simply going to be looked down on, even as they do choose to join the Big East football schools. The bottom line is that college football fans simply aren’t going to warm up to following Boise State football games!
And the NCAA isn’t going to change their ways or selection process in the near future.

This week you had executives meeting of both the NHL and MLB. The NHL got together out in California, discussing the possibility of realignment within the League. It sounded like they came to agreement on determining which teams will align with whom.
Then you had the MLB guys, doing their meetings in Dallas. The main headlines coming out of these meeting focused on some free agent signings, being done by the Marlins, the Angels, and a few others. When a guy gets a chance to sign a huge contract, like Albert Pujols (10 years, $254 million), it certainly grabs the attention of everyone within the industry, for all sorts of reasons. Other players want to know what hey is making so they can use it for their own contract dealings! Agents want to know so they can use the numbers when they do their negotiating down the road. And owners and GM’s want to know so they can have an idea what the ‘market’ is willing to throw out there.
And, on top of all of this, it will be interesting now to watch and see what Albert Pujols will do now that he so well-paid! If he puts up great numbers once again, then it will set certain standards on the market, as to what might have to be offered to potential free agents in the coming years.
On the other hand, if he flops, then teams will be able to point to him and measure free agents against his numbers down the road, all not in the best of terms.
So, we shall indeed see what will happen for the Angels this season, now with Albert Pujols on their roster.