Monday, February 4, 2013

Illegal Contact

From the NFL Rulebook:

Beyond the five-yard zone, if the player who receives the snap remains in the pocket with the ball, a defender may use his hands or arms only to defend or protect himself against impending contact caused by a receiver. If the receiver attempts to evade the defender, the defender cannot chuck him, or extend an arm(s) to cut off or hook him, causing contact that redirects, restricts, or impedes the receiver in any way.

I'm not a fan of this rule, for a variety of reasons. And I don't care for all the whining of Jim Harbaugh, Crabtree, et. al.

But I have no respect for officials that swallow their whistles late in games.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Big 12 and SEC Future Engagements

BleacherReport has an article (linked below) about the dilemma facing the ACC. The anointment of the Big 12 by the SEC via the new Champions Bowl has kicked off major discussions again about future conference expansion.

I don't believe the SEC and Big 12 set out to destabilize the ACC... but it seems to be a consequence, and the SEC probably isn't too sorry about that.

The article posits that whenever the Big 12 goes to 14 members, they might pick up Florida State, Clemson, Miami, and Georgia Tech. Presumably the Big 12 and SEC would then jump to 16, and I'll suggest two others for the B12 as Notre Dame and Louisville. The teetering ACC could then lose Virginia Tech and UNC to the SEC.

BleacherReport also wrote that this would create some great cross-conference rivalry possibilities. Here's the thought-provoking list I came up with:

  • Border War KU / MU
  • Lone Star Showdown Texas / Texas A&M
  • Sunshine Showdown FSU / Florida
  • Seminole War Canoe  Miami / Florida
  • Clean, Old Fashioned Hate  Georgia Tech / Georgia
  • Palmetto Bowl Clemson / South Carolina
  • Governor's Cup  Louisville / Kentucky
  • Black Diamond Trophy West Virginia / Virginia Tech
Set aside for a moment the hard feelings that KU and Texas have for Mizzou and the Aggies. Wouldn't an 'extra-conference' suite of games between the Big 12 and SEC be a valuable commodity as a supplemental (or even stand-alone) network TV package? And once the money becomes even bigger for the members and the newly constituted super-conferences, won't that be the face-saving excuse necessary to re-start those two valuable games?

The other SEC and Big 12 teams not involved in these rivalries could either try to create new permanent cross-conference rivalries, or could rotate games among themselves, or take a smaller revenue share - whatever. Here are the super-conference teams that don't have a rival dance partner. The SEC has one more because Florida has two rivals. (Florida on TV twice would not be a bad thing for television ratings. For the same reason, let Texas join both sides of this party too.)

SEC Big 12
Alabama Oklahoma
Vanderbilt TCU
Auburn Iowa State
Mississippi State Texas Tech
LSU Notre Dame
Arkansas Oklahoma State
Ole Miss K-State
North Carolina Baylor
Tennessee Texas

Because the new Plus One format seems a likely first playoff step, and because the Champions Bowl winner almost certainly will be invited to that National Title game, there is less risk for good teams to play difficult non-conference game. You can still win your conference, and still win the Champions Bowl, and make more money than ever.

Eight cross-conference 'rivalry' games. Perhaps eight more cross-conference 'challenge' games. Sound like fun?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Notre Dame to the Big 12?

Blair Kerkhoff of the KC Star described the attractiveness of adding Notre Dame and BYU to the Big 12 in this article. Lately folks have been talking Florida State and Clemson, perhaps as a package.

Should the Big 12 stick with 10 teams? Move to 12 again? Or jump all the way to 14 teams?

I wasn't convinced that Notre Dame would ever join a conference. But now that the Big 12 and SEC have announced their championship game, the landscape for college football has changed again. The BCS, best buddy of Notre Dame though they've been, has been staked through the heart.

It's as though a couple of conferences finally woke up and said, "Hey - we're the ones with content. Stadiums and networks come to us, we don't go begging to them."

About time.

Notre Dame can't get in the Rose Bowl. And they can't ever get in the championship game between the SEC and Big 12. Oh, they could probably join the Big 10 if they want... but the Irish think they're special. Would the Big 10 give them the face-saving special treatment that the Big 12 would offer? I don't think so.

I think Notre Dame has to be strongly considering the Big 12, especially if they can get some concessions regarding the remainder of their NBC television contract.

Florida State and Clemson are strong football programs in a rapidly diminishing football conference. As much or more than money, relevance is on on the line. If they choose to bolt the ACC together, the Big 12 really should take them both.

I say that because the SEC is probably a more natural fit for each of them, and where will that conference ultimately go to get to the super-size of 16 that seems the ultimate destination for four conferences? I don't think the SEC wants the 'Noles or Tigers right now, but when 16 becomes the magic number, I think the Big 12 will be happy to have those two southeastern schools locked up. The SEC would probably make a play for Virgina Tech when that next round comes, and that could work for them too.

Orangebloods thinks that the Big 12 could become the Big 12.5, with Clemson, FSU, and Notre Dame in everything but football until 2016. Could be - if Notre Dame were poised to be fully on board in 2016, the 14th member might come from anywhere - BYU, Louisville, Cincinatti, Virginia Tech... even Georgia Tech has been floated.

For the third summer in a row, our little youth football blog is considering the vagaries of college football and the Big 12. Feels MUCH better writing about it this year.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Ravens 2011

Congratulations to all four teams for a great season!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Two Crazy Calls

A couple of crazy calls from last night Chiefs-Chargers game are worth another mention.

The first call was Dexter McCluster's non-fumble. That interpretation defies explanation. It will be interesting to see what the league has to say about it. My guess is that the NFL will follow up with an admission of a blown call.

The other is a little sketchier, but I think equally incorrect. Matt Cassel's forward pass that was ruled a fumble was in fact, a forward pass.

To understand why, we first have a look at what the NFL considers a forward pass. The digest is here, but the rule and key terminology is this (my emphasis in bold):
  1. Section 22 Pass and Passer
  3. Article 1   A Pass is the movement of the ball caused by the runner who throws, shoves (shovel pass), or pushes (push pass) the ball (3-28-1).
  4. Note: The term is also used to designate the action of a player who causes a pass as in, “He will pass the ball.”
  6. Article 2  It is a Forward Pass if:
  7. (a)   the ball initially moves forward (to a point nearer the opponent’s goal line) after leaving the passer’s hands; or
  8. (b)   the ball first strikes the ground, a player, an official, or anything else at a point that is nearer the opponent’s goal line than the point at which the ball leaves the passer’s hand.
  9. Note 1: When a Team A player is holding the ball to pass it forward, any intentional movement forward of his hand starts a forward pass. If a Team B player contacts the passer or the ball after forward movement begins, and the ball leaves the passer’s hand, a forward pass is ruled, regardless of where the ball strikes the ground or a player.
  10. Note 2: When a Team A player is holding the ball to pass it forward, any intentional forward movement of his hand starts a forward pass, even if the player loses possession of the ball as he is attempting to tuck it back toward his body. Also, if the player has tucked the ball into his body and then loses possession, it is a fumble.
  11. Note 3: If the player loses possession of the ball while attempting to recock his arm, it is a fumble.
  12. Note 4: A fumble or muff going forward is disregarded as to its direction, unless the act is ruled intentional. In such cases, the fumble is a forward pass (8-1-1) and the muff is a bat (12-1-8).
Have a look at Cassel's throw here:

A passer throws a football using two useful forces. One is the rotation of the passer's shoulder to whip the arm forward, relative to his body. The other force involved is less obvious, yet still very important to the physics of the pass. That force is the forward movement of the passer's body as he steps into the throw.

Like a pitcher in baseball, a quarterback's pass typically in is enhanced by a stride in the direction of the throw, which in fact, also moves the ball forward. In the case of Cassel's pass, it is very obvious that he is striding or running forward and therefore moving his hand forward when the ball leaves his hand.

Note that the rule does NOT say the ball or hand must be moving forward relative to the player's body.

I heard the talking heads on TV making some point about refs looking for the 'empty hand coming forward' or some such nonsense. I have no idea how these refs are coached or taught to try to understand whether a play like that is a forward pass or not. But based on the way the rule is written, and the simple physics evident by both Cassel's forward movement and the direction of the ball, Cassel's hand HAD to be moving forward.

The pass rusher's arm is clearly moving backward and collides with Cassel's forearm. If that had been the only force - in other words, if Cassel's hand was NOT in fact moving forward - the ball would have gone either straight down or perhaps even backwards if Cassel had kept hold of it after the defender's force was applied.

Quick question for the NFL guys - how did the ball go forward, if Casell's hand wasn't moving forward?

If the NFL is trying to suggest that the arm or hand must be moving forward relative to the passer then they need to rewrite the rule and insert that phrase. Otherwise it was another blown call. The fact is the Chiefs had two fewer turnovers than the refs gave them, and the Chargers were fortunate to have a chance to win the game at the end.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Kansas 6A District 4

The playoff scenarios for our high school team's district are outlined here by Tod Palmer of the Star:

The standings in district play today are

Team                        Record  Point Differential
Free State Firebirds        2 - 0   +11
Olathe Northwest Ravens     1 - 1   + 7
Lawrence Chesty Lions       1 - 1   - 4
Olathe North Eagles         0 - 2   -14 

Just to give it an ONW perspective....

If ONW can win by a single point over Olathe North on Friday night, they would be 2-1 in district, moving to +8 on points.  Obviously North would be out of the playoffs at 0-3 and -15.

I wondered if there was any way that ONW would NOT make the playoffs if they won. I looked at several Lawrence-Wins-and-ONW-Wins-by-1 scenarios to answer the question, since those outcomes create three 2-1 teams at the top of the table.

  • If Lawrence beats Free State by 1 point, the Lions, Firebirds, and Ravens would all be 2-1. Free State would be the #1 seed (2-1, +10) and ONW would be the #2 (2-1, +8). Lawrence would be out at 2-1 because their point margin would only climb to -3.
  • If Lawrence scores a big victory against Free State (13 points or more being the max differential that is recorded in district play) then Lawrence could be the #1 seed at 2-1 +9. ONW with a 1 point win would be 2nd at 2-1 +8, and the Firebirds would be out, falling to 2-1 but all the way down to -2 on the all-important point differential.
  • If Lawrence scores a 12 point victory over Free State, and ONW can beat Olathe North by just that single point, then Lawrence and ONW would be tied in point differential at the top of the district table. To break that tie, the head to head would be used, and ONW would be the #1 seed. Lawrence would at that point win the marginal point tiebreaker (and the head to head) with Free State. (Lawrence's magic margin number is 8... they need to win by that much to have ANY shot to get in if ONW wins.)
There is NO scenario I can see that keeps ONW out of the playoffs if they win on Friday night. Win and they're in. So in the immortal words of Al Davis, Just Win Baby.

A few other scenarios worth the knowing going in:
  • Free State wins the district if they win over Lawrence.
  • Olathe North can't win the district. They are the only team that can't win the district at this point. 
  • The Eagles can be second and in the playoffs at the expense of ONW if they win by 11 or more and Free State wins by any margin. In that scenario, three teams are 1-2.  Lawrence's point differential would be no better than -5, while ONW and ON would be 1-2 and -4 on points. ON would win the head-to-head tie-breaker or point differential and become the #2 seed. Eagles fans have to root for Free State and hope their boys pound the Ravens.
  • Olathe Northwest can lose by 10 or less and back into the playoffs IF Free State prevails, creating three 1-2 teams that have all beaten each other.
  • If Lawrence wins and Olathe North wins, the two Lawrence teams are in the playoffs, and the Olathe teams stay home.
  • Mathematically speaking, there are 676 potential outcomes that matter in terms of pairs of winners and the two games point differentials (1 to 13+). There are 169 point differential combinations for each winning pair outcome, and there are four potential winning pairs of teams. Using that info, the statistical likelihood of each team making the playoffs:
    • Free State - 88.46%
    • Olathe Northwest - 69.23%
    • Lawrence - 36.54%
    • Olathe North - 5.77%
  • All that said - mathematics probably don't mean much. Without Strauss, Lawrence may not get to 8 points, much less beat Free State by 8. Olathe North has a serious chance to be the #2 seed in the district with a two touchdown win over the Ravens. 
So Olathe North fans will root for Free State. Lawrence fans will root for Olathe North. Free State will want to take care of business, think positively, and not care who wins the other game.

As a Raven fan, root for a 4 to 12 point Lawrence win if you're sure the Ravens will beat Olathe North. That will get us the #1 seed and a strong chance to win a playoff game for the first time in program history. Or if you're a glass-half-empty type, root for Free State and hope to trade touchdowns with Olathe North. Just stay within 10, and we're in the playoffs again.

Mostly though - Just Win Baby.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Final Sign Up for Ravens 2018

The fifth and final FCCJC sign up is today Saturday, July 25th, from 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m., out at the Heritage Football complex at 162nd and Pflumm. Last chance to sign up to play football before middle school ball starts next year!

We had eight more players register at the fourth registration, bringing us to 45 so far. The 4th grade teams are at 46 players to date, so the race is on. Four more of our new 6th grade players are brand new to tackle football!  I've sent out some e-mails to the various new and returning team members about dates, times, and equipment, so if you're planning to sign up but haven't, check with me to be brought up to speed. At the bottom of this post find a list of those that have signed up so far in FCCJC.

To get signed up for football, you need

  • Your son, for weigh-in and equipment fitting if renting
  • Proof of age and grade. This can be
    • His player card from a previous season, OR
    • A copy of his birth certificate and a copy of a grade card from this year
  • A credit card or check to pay the equipment rental fee ($60) at the sign up, if you will be renting equipment

You may optionally bring

  • Your own shoulder pads and helmet if you are not renting. They must be checked by FCCJC before you can practice wearing them.
  • An FCCJC Equipment Reimbursement Request form. If you are renting your equipment, and your family is suffering from financial hardship, you may be eligible for an equipment fee reimbursement. Turn in that filled out form with your rental check or credit card payment to apply for reimbursement.
  • Funds ($165) to pay the league fee (credit card or check) if you wish to pre-pay. You will still receive raffle tickets that you can sell to offset the league fee, but many parents prefer to pay at sign-up time. If you choose not to pay at this time, the league fee check must be turned in to your coach or team administrator by August 3rd.
  • Funds ($20) to pay for a physical examination at the sign up. You may also use your own doctor by getting them to fill out this physical form. The physical form is to be handed to the coach at or before the first practice.

Based on the other sign-ups, the lines really die down about 11:00 a.m. - you can pretty much get right through, very little waiting.

Signed Up 5/21

Trevor A
Thomas B
Jackson B
Peyton B
Colin B
Mitchell C
Tommy F
Will H
Hunter H
Grant H
Nile M
Jarid M
Parker M
Kawai P
Tyler R
Jared S
Ben W
Kyle W

Signed Up 6/11
Luke D
Alex D
Damon H
Michael N
Zach O

Signed Up 6/25
Eddie B
Alex B
Halen G
Brayden K
Jacob O
Hunter S

Signed Up 7/9
Ben H
Jake P
Jake E
Luke W

Signed Up 5/21
Jon B
Cody H
Logan I

Signed Up 6/11
Tyler F
Trevor J
Collin T

Signed Up 6/25
Logan B

Signed Up 7/9
Ben B
Noah G
Adonis K
Brandon Y