SportsNet - September 2012
Seven years and counting is a long time for a top football club to go without a single trophy to their name. The 2005 F.A Cup trophy is the only honour Arsenal have managed to get for a very long time. Coming close to the Champions League in 2006 and the League Cup in 2007 and 2011 are the examples of how close yet how far the Gunners are to silverware.
With Manchester City able to purchase players for ludicrous amounts and Chelsea following suit, clubs such as Arsenal have to be able to generate the money first in order for them to spend. The sale of Robin Van Persie did seem inevitable but the club he has strengthened, Manchester United are direct title rivals. But they won’t be any more because Arsenal will struggle to keep pace at the top.
Last week, in a game that typically defined Arsenal’s determination and ability, they dominated most of the play away to Manchester City and deserved three points. However, poor defending at the back from a corner allowed Joleon Lescott to score the opener. But for a Laurent Koscielny equaliser in the last ten minutes of the game, Arsenal could have gone home empty-handed. And this isn’t the first time you could say that.
The old adage in the NFL is that you have to have a pro style pocket quarterback to win the Super Bowl. Ala Joe Montana, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Eli Manning, Kurt Warner, Phil Simms, Terry Bradshaw, etc , etc. There have been exceptions with some scrambling quarterbacks winning the Super Bowl such as Roger Staubach, Steve Young, Aaron Rodgers, and John Elway. But for the most part NFL owners, coaches, and general managers would always say that a running quarterback can't win a championship and that a prototype pocket passer is needed to win.But today that way of thinking is starting to change. Its not that teams want running quarterbacks now...its the fact that running quarterbacks have evolved over time into now being dual threat quarterbacks, a QB who can pass just as good as he can run, and thats what the NFL is starting to realize with QB’s like Cam Newton and Robert Griffin III leading the charge for the dual threat QB. In the past you had guys like Randall Cunningham and Michael Vick who came into the league wanting to run a majority of the time.
After four weeks of (mostly) getting beaten about the head and shoulders by the rest of the country, the Big Ten’s top teams breathe a sigh of relief and head into conference play this weekend. The race to the league title game in Indianapolis is complicated this year by the fact that two of the six teams in the Leaders division (including undefeated Ohio State) are ineligible to win it thanks to NCAA sanctions.
With that in mind, here are the teams whose chances of making it to Indy could swing the furthest, for better or worse, on Saturday:
1. Wisconsin Badgers
Even after an embarrassing loss to Oregon State dropped them from the Top 25, the Badgers are in the best position to win the Leaders division title. Of course, that will change in a hurry if they don’t look like the Badgers of old against No. 22 Nebraska in Lincoln.
With Stanford’s offensive disappearing act at Washington in Thursday night college football action, we can effectively scratch off both a national title contender and a Heisman Trophy contender in one shot.
Ranked eight going in, the previously unbeaten Cardinal were looking at having to leapfrog their way into the BCS fray regardless. But it was doable before; now, no. Same deal with Stepfan Taylor on the individual hardware – his chances suffered a killshot less than two weeks after singlehandedly carrying Stanford past Southern Cal to grab some much-deserved attention, as the senior RB was outshone by the Huskies’ Bishop Sankey.
Who? Exactly the point …
With the SEC stacking the deck on the field and in the rankings, we’re not likely to see championship acclaim reach outside of Tuscaloosa, Ala., Baton Rouge, La., or even, say, Columbia, S.C. But it’s nice for the rest of the country to believe it’s possible. Stanford was a great story, and has emerged as arguably the ultimate “collegiate” program, whereby brilliant minds blend with great athleticism often in the same individuals. It still is. It just isn’t going to have the fairytale ending.
For 3 painfully long weeks the entire National Football League and every fan therein suffered through what was quickly becoming a culture of bad officiating. The now infamous “replacement refs” came from all walks of professional officiating. The best examples were from Division III college circuits; games that are decidedly slower than even Division I, much less the NFL. The worst examples came from the high school level and, at the absolute worst, the NFL was using one referee that was identified by the commissioner of the Lingerie Football League, who said he had fired for “incompetence”. Then there was the guy who was outed as a New Orleans Saints fan and thus removed from officiating a Saints game. It makes you wonder if either of those end zone refs from last Monday’s debacle in Seattle were actually Seahawk fans.