Week 2 B1G Ten Picks

September 10th, 2011 at 10:39 am by under Sports

After a pretty solid week one for me, it’s onto week two of the Big Ten football season.  My only two misses last week were Indiana, who lost to Ball State and Middle Tennessee, who lost to Purdue, in my upset special.  Middle Tennessee was leading Purdue by 14 points in the 4th quarter but could not hold on.  That’s alright, 10-2 is a pretty solid start.  Some interesting games on the docket this week including what will likely be a barn-burner at the Big House between Michigan and Notre Dame.  Ready for my picks?

Iowa vs. Iowa State
Florida Atlantic vs. (17) Michigan State
Oregon State vs. (8) Wisconsin
S. Dakota State vs. Illinois
E. Illinois vs. Northwestern
New Mexico State vs. Minnesota
(3) Alabama vs. (23) Penn State
Purdue vs. Rice
Virginia vs. Indiana
Fresno State vs. (10) Nebraska

Upset Special:
Notre Dame vs. Michigan

Blowout Game:
Toledo vs. (15) Ohio State

Season Record: 19-5

10 Questions Surrounding the NFC North

July 19th, 2011 at 8:27 pm by under Sports

Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy following the NFL Super Bowl XLV football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday, Feb. 6, 2011, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Hey, the NFL lockout appears to be on the verge of being over, so with that in mind, here’s a look at 10 questions concerning the NFC North Division, which last season was won by the Chicago Bears.

For the Bears to repeat in 2011, their quarterback, Jay Cutler, will need to change the opinions of many after last year’s NFC championship game. So with that in mind, Cutler kicks off the top 10 questions: 

  1. Will Jay Cutler rebound from last year’s NFC title game? The Bears QB left the game with an injured knee and looked disinterested on the bench as the Bears fell to the Packers. He needs to win many players and fans over this season, and if he doesn’t Cutler will become even a bigger target for criticism.
  2. Who will start at QB for the Vikings? Brett Favre? Unlikely. First-round pick Christian Ponder, without a regular offseason, has little chance to succeed this season, so the Vikings need to find a veteran for at least this season if they have any desire to compete for a playoff spot. Watch out for Donovan McNabb or Matt Hasselbeck landing here.
  3. Can Matthew Stafford stay healthy? The Lions QB has talent, but he’s been beat to a pulp his first two seasons, playing 13 of 32 total games. If he can stay healthy this season, he gives the Lions hope he is the QB for the future, but if he gets injured again, the Lions likely will need to upgrade the position in 2012, and that would be a setback for a team expected to make a run this season.
  4. Can the Packers avoid the Super Bowl hangover? That’s always the question for the defending champs. With so many injuries last season, it would seem the Packers will be ready for another run as they should be healthier, plus the leadership on this team is great. However, the Packers are the hunted now which puts these players in a spot they never have been in.
  5. Which first-round pick amongst the four teams has a chance to star with a short offseason? Nick Fairley, Detroit; Christian Ponder, Minnesota; Derek Sherrod, Green Bay; Gabe Carimi, Chicago. Quarterbacks almost always struggle as rookies, and with hardly an offseason, Ponder has little chance. Offensive linemen sometimes take time to develop because offenses in the NFL are more complex and the defensive linemen they face are bigger and faster then they saw in college, so Sherrod and Carimi should start slow. Defensive linemen, on the other hand, can sometimes just line up and go. Consider Fairley is a defensive tackle and plays alongside Ndamukong Suh. That makes his transition easier, plus it can be argued he was the best player in last year’s draft, based off what he did at Auburn. So it’s Fairley, who could make the Lions’ defensive line tough to deal with.
  6. If healthy, can anybody in the NFC North touch the Packers? The Vikings have QB issues, the Lions are a team coming but not quite there and the Bears have questions on offense, especially with Cutler. So, no, the Packers should unseat the Bears as division champs.
  7. What is the Vikings’ biggest concern for 20112? Keeping Adrian Peterson healthy, because if he gets banged up this offense will struggle to score points.
  8. What is the Lions’ biggest concern for 2011? Defense. Even with Stafford out last season the Lions scored, but their defense, especially the back seven, is questionable. The defense has to improve for the Lions to improve.
  9. What is the Bears’ biggest concern for 2011? Offense. Outside of Matt Forte, this offense lacks firepower. No, Devin Hester doesn’t count; he can’t run a pattern. For the Bears to remain a playoff team, their offense has to pick it up as the defense can’t win every game.
  10. What is the Packers’ biggest concern for 2011? Charles Woodson. At some point this cornerback will show his age, and if it’s this season his drop in play would hurt a defense that relies on its cornerbacks to cover while it blitzes quarterbacks.

Lunch break: Tuesday’s sports headlines

June 28th, 2011 at 11:24 am by under Sports

Welcome back to this Tuesday edition of the Lunch Break!  Here are the latest sports headlines from around the sports world.

(AP Photo/Jim R. Bounds)

Hopes are high in Madison
One day after the announcement that former N.C. State quarterback Russell Wilson would be transferring to Wisconsin, expectations have sky-rocketed.  With no QB on the current roster that had ever started a game, Wilson fills a hole that could make the Badgers the favorite in the Big Ten.  Badgers head coach Bret Bielema is expected to address the media today at noon.

World Cup run starts for the United States
The United States women’s soccer team began their quest in the World Cup today in Germany.  The Americans opened up with a 2-0 win over North Korea. In an earlier Group C match, Sweden topped Columbia 1-0.  The U.S. Is looking for their first World Cup title since 1999.

Women’s day at Wimbledon
Maria Sharapova has advanced in straight sets at Wimbledon after dominating Dominika Cibulkova, 6-1, 6-1, who upset world number one Caroline Wozniaki yesterday.  Sharapova advances to the semifinals.  The men are back in action tomorrow with quarterfinal play.

Labor talks likely in the NFL
According to the Associated Press, the negotiating teams for both the owners and the players are in Minneapolis today and are expected to get together for more labor talks.  The lockout is now in its fourth month, with most NFL training camps starting in about a month.  You can check out an interactive timeline of the labor talks here.

Brewers head to the Bronx
The Milwaukee Brewers look to extend their Central Division lead out East tonight as they travel to the Bronx for a three-game set against the Yankees.  New York holds the second-best record in the MLB at 45-31.  The Brewers have struggled on the road this season, only compiling 15 wins in 39 games.  Zack Grienke is on the hill for the Brewers and he will be opposed by Freddy Garcia.  Game time is 6:05pm.

College hoops legend passes away
The man who dunked home arguably the most historic shot in the history of college basketball, has died in a bus wreck in Raleigh, North Carolina.  Lorenzo Charles, who gave underdog N.C. State the national championship in 1983 was killed Monday when an empty bus he was driving crashed along the highway.  Charles was 47 years old.

Tonight on FOX 11:

  • We’ll hear from head coach Bret Bielema as the Badgers head coach talks about his newest QB.
  • We’ll have full highlights and reaction from the United States’ opening round match in the World Cup.
  • And we’ll have the latest from the NFL as labor talks continue just a month before training camps are set to open.
  • Join Drew Smith and the rest of the FOX 11 Sports Team at 5:00pm and 9:00pm!

Join us each day at Noon on for the “Lunch Break.”

Content from the Associated Press was used in this article

FOX 11 Grades the Packers Draft

May 1st, 2011 at 8:53 pm by under Sports

Kentucky wide receiver Randall Cobb walks on stage after being selected in the second round of the NFL football draft by the Green Bay Packers at Radio City Music Hall Friday, April 29, 2011, in New York. (AP Photo/Stephen Chernin)

With the 2011 NFL Draft now in the books, it’s time to hand out the grades.  We’ll start with the Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers!

Green Bay Packers:

Drew Smith: A-
I liked the drafting of a tackle in the first round, which shows excellent future vision from Ted Thompson.  The fact that he also most likely replaced the significant departing free agents (Brandon Jackson, James Jones and maybe Daryn Colledge) was a solid move, and he also addressed the biggest glaring weakness of his championship team: the return game.  I love the pick of Randall Cobb, who will get a shot to be a contributor on offense, but has a chance to be a star as a returner.  Did they need two tight ends?  Probably not, but with Derek Lee probably gone, and Finley’s health still a bit of a question mark, it never hurts to have some redundancy.  I will be shocked if all ten make the roster, however.  With this group and the talent on the team now, including injured players coming back, if half make the team that will be a successful draft, seven out of the ten would make it great.

Paige Pearson: B
The Packers put great emphasis on drafting big bodies in early rounds and they did that in selecting tackle Derek Sherrod. Addressing the aging tackles (Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher) was a must for the Packers. The Packers also addressed a need by drafting Randall Cobb. The wide receiver out of Kentucky says he has no problem returning kicks and punts. As for the latter part of the Packers draft, they treated it like free agency. We’ll see if it pays off down the road.

Justin Felder: B+
It’s tough to grade, since before the draft we all pegged the Packers needs as OLB and DE; but as Dom Capers told us after all was said and done, the team seems to be much more comfortable with the guys they have than we thought they were.  Love the first round OT selection and I think you should beat the bandwagon and get your Randall Cobb jersey early because he’ll be a fan-favorite, but I feel adding talent at the spot opposite Clay Matthews would’ve been more valuable than a third running back (assuming Brandon Jackson won’t be back).  Perhaps not drafting a defensive lineman early means the team will (attempt to) bring back Cullen Jenkins, but the Packers final pick, DT Lawrence Guy, could develop into a solid DE in Capers’ system.

Doug Ritchay: B
When the players haven’t even practiced, it’s hard to grade a draft class. However, Sherrod’s addition settles the tackle position for years, and Cobb and Williams could turn into good offensive weapons.

Josh Morgan: B+
Nothing flashy, as per usual for Ted Thompson and the Packers, but the quality and quantity was definitely apparent.  Derek Sherrod eases any concerns that people have with Chad Clifton, while Randall Cobb may end up being the best pick in this draft class.  With Donald Driver not getting any younger and the possibility of losing James Jones to free-agency, Cobb will likely be asked to produce in his first year.  Driver still has some catches in him, don’t get me wrong, but his most important role this year might be to get Cobb ready for the future.  Alex Green is as tough as they come and D.J. Williams might be that diamond in the rough that most teams look for later in the draft. Don’t be surprised if he gives Andrew Quarless a run for his money in camp.  As for the rest of the draft, the Packers definitely tried to stockpile with three sixth round picks and two in the seventh. With no free-agency for now, the Packers used the end of the draft to bring some extra players in. Overall, the Packers added solid talent, high character, and plenty of depth.

Arizona Cardinals: B+
Kind of feels like they took the “best-player-available approach.” Probably got the best player in the draft in Patrick Peterson, and Ryan Williams is going to be a star. Picking up LB’s Sam Acho and Quan Sturdivant later were great value picks.

Atlanta Falcons: B
Made the biggest draft splash by trading up to get Julio Jones, but didn’t really address their needs on defense. LB Akeem Dent will contribute, but won’t be a difference-maker. RB/ATH Jacquizz Rodgers is a dynamic player and dynamite talent. But will they stop anyone?

Baltimore Ravens: B
Of course the Ravens went defense in the first round, albeit after missing their slot. Jimmy Smith is a physical corner with a ton of upside. They also picked up a couple WR’s to bring some youth to an aging receiving corps.

Buffalo Bills: B+
The Bills just got a lot better on defense. DE Marcell Dareus will be an instant difference-maker along the Bills defensive line, while CB Aaron Williams is a first-round talent they were able to get in the second round.  The only reason this isn’t an A is because the Bills did nothing to help a mediocre offense.

Carolina Panthers: C-
Well, they got QB Cam Newton. But Newton’s still a project and the rest of the picks aren’t going to be household names any time soon.  The worst team in the NFL didn’t get much better…

Chicago Bears: B-
The Bears had to be happy getting a guy like OT Gabe Carimi to fall to them late in the first and Stephen Paea is a beast at DT, but with only five picks in the draft the Bears weren’t able to address any needs on offense.

Cincinnati Bengals: B+
You just gotta love the top two picks in WR A.J. Green and QB Andy Dalton. If nothing else, these two picks bring some excitement to a franchise that doesn’t have too much to be exited about.

Cleveland Browns: B
Browns got great value in this draft by making the early trade with the Falcons.  They were able to move back in the first round and still get great talent and a BIG body in DT Phil Taylor.  DE Jabaal Sheard will likely start for the Browns next season and WR Greg Little will be a threat for the lackluster Browns offense.

Dallas Cowboys: B-
Some nice variety for the Cowboys in the first three rounds with OT Tyron Smith, LB Bruce Carter and RB/ATH Demarco Murray.  Unfortunately, I’m not sure Demarco Murray fits this team very well and they failed to draft anyone of note in the secondary.

Denver Broncos: C+
LB Von Miller will be my preseason pick for Rookie of the Year, but John Elway appears to still be learning at this whole NFL Draft.  Then again, he didn’t handle it very well when he was drafted either…

Detroit Lions: A-
DT Nick Fairley was the steal of the draft at no. 13 and I can’t wait to see him next to Ndamukong Suh next season.  Titus Young is a dynamic receiver and RB Mikel Leshoure provides the “thunder” to go along with 2010 selection Jahvid Best’s “lightning.” Lions are still thin in their back seven though. Probably should have been addressed.

Houston Texans: A+
Bottom line, the Texans got three players with first-round talent. Adding DE’s J.J. Watt and Brooks Reed will provide quite a scare for opposing QB’s when teamed up with pro-bowler Mario Williams, while Brandon Harris very well might start at corner when the Texans open up the 2011 season.

Indianapolis Colts: C+
The Colts got a couple guys that will help protect Peyton Manning in OT Anthony Castanzo and OT Ben Ijalana, but defense is still a huge concern. I understand wanting to protect the franchise, but this Colts defense is nowhere near championship caliber.

Jacksonville Jaguars: B
The Jags got their quarterback of the future to fall to them at them at no. 10.  They then took the rest of the draft off…Okay, that might be a little harsh, but I don’t see any of these guys stepping in and making a difference this season. Gabbert alone, however, is enough to carry this draft class to a decent grade.

Kansas City Chiefs: C-
Apparently the Kansas City Chiefs can’t handle success. After a surprising 2010 season, the Chiefs followed it up with one of the worst draft classes in the league.  They reached for WR Jonathan Baldwin and they reached for C Rodney Hudson. Third-round pick, LB Justin Houston, who was thought to be a late-first, early-second round talent was a nice pick in the third.  Chiefs needed weapons on offense, not sure they got them.

Miami Dolphins: C+
The Dolphins went with the safe pick in the first round with C Mike Pouncey.  But then they went with a luxury pick in RB Daniel Thomas in the second round and questionable WR choice in Edmond Gates in the third. Miami has needs and they weren’t addressed, in my opinion.

Minnesota Vikings: C
After what was almost a comical year for the Vikes, they didn’t do much to stop that downward momentum.  QB Christian Ponder was a huge reach at No. 12 and while Kyle Rudolph is a great talent at tight end, last time I checked the Vikings had a pro-bowl caliber tight end in Visanthe Shiancoe.  DT Christian Ballard was a good value pick later on, but otherwise pretty ho-hum for the Vikes.

New England Patriots: C-
Why is everyone so excited about this Ryan Mallett pick? The Patriots have a back-up QB that they are very high on in Brian Hoyer.  I’m kind of getting sick of the Patriots antics in the draft and really not impressed with the talent they accumulated.  Nate Solder will be a good tackle, and that’s all I’ve got…

New Orleans Saints: B+
Despite picking near the end of the first round, the Saints made the most of it.  They started with the very talented DE Cameron Jordan from Cal and then traded up to get RB Mark Ingram.  If the Saints can find a way to work Reggie Bush into that offense it’s going to be tough to stop.  Greg Romeus was a great value pick in the 7th round.

New York Giants: B+
The Giants did some nice work in the early rounds with CB Prince Amukamara falling to them at no. 19 and then getting DT Marvin Austin in the second round.  And look out for WR Jerel Jernigan from Troy. With a solid WR corps in New York, look for Jernigan to be open quite a bit across the middle.

New York Jets: B
DT Muhammad Wilkerson was a nice get late in the first round while DT Kendrick Ellis will help solidfy the middle of that Jets defensive line. I also really liked the pick of Jeremy Kerley in the 5th round.  Watch out when that guy touches the ball.

Oakland Raiders: D
And the Raiders have once again proved why they are the Raiders. Oakland didn’t have a first round pick and they didn’t seem to pay much attention after that. Stefen Wisniewski will probably end up being a good center, but they could have got drafted him at least a round later.  CB DeMarcus Van Dyke is fast, but that’s about it.

Philadelphia Eagles: B-
Well, apparently the Eagles weren’t impressed with David Akers’ misses in the playoffs against the Packers.  They made a pretty loud statement by taking kicker Alex Henery in the 4th round.  Of course, they did have 11 picks so they had to pick someone there. But really, the 4th round?

Pittsburgh Steelers: B
DE Cameron Heyward will be a staple of the Steelers defense for years to come and Marcus Gilbert will eventually work his way into a starting role. Probably could’ve addressed some needs at the skill positions but they’re the Steelers, they’ll be fine.

St. Louis Rams: B+
Well, this grade is based off the big unknown that is DE Robert Quinn.  After being suspended for the entire 2010 season at UNC, Quinn will at least be fresh when he suit up for the Rams.  As for the rest of the draft, St. Louis made sure they got some weapons to put around last year’s top pick Sam Bradford with TE Lance Kendricks, and WR’s Austin Pettis and Greg Salas.

San Diego Chargers: B
Well, the Chargers couldn’t play defense last year, so they made sure they tried to fix that.  First three rounds went DE Corey Liuget, DB Marcus Gilchrist, and LB Jonas Mouton.

San Francisco: C+
Really like LB Aldon Smith…in a 4-3 defense. Unfortunately the Niners run a 3-4. He’s a good enough player to make the transition but it might take awhile. Not convinced Colin Kaepernick is the QB of the future in San Francisco either. Let’s wait and see on this one…

Seattle Seahawks: C
Don’t mid the Seahawks going offensive line with their first two picks except for the fact that 1st round pick James Carpenter should have been picked in the 2nd round at the earliest. And I guess they’re hoping that one of the three defensive backs they drafted can guard someone.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: B+
This could end up being the best draft class, or it could blow up in the Bucs face. Both DE Adrian Clayborn and DE Da’Quan Bowers have medical concerns but if they can find a way to stay healthy, both guys will start next season. Bowers could be a pro-bowler as a rookie. Also look for DB Ahmad Black to start in 2011.

Tennessee Titans: B-
Jake Locker over Blaine Gabbert? I don’t see how.  I guess they said he’s the anti-Vince Young…in that case, great pick. In any other case, that’s a reach. LB Akeem Ayers was a nice grab in the second round, but the quarterback will continue to be a problem in the Music City.

Washington Redskins: C-
How don’t you draft a quarterback? Donovan McNabb won’t be back and Rex Grossman has already proved he’s not the answer.  DE Ryan Kerrigan will be a stud on defense but defense isn’t the problem right now.

Badgers in the NFL Draft

April 20th, 2011 at 12:08 pm by under Sports

Wisconsin defensive tackle J.J. Watt (99) is seen before the first half of an NCAA college football game against Northwestern Saturday, Nov. 27, 2010, in Madison, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

After a banner year for the Wisconsin Badgers football team, which came oh so close to a win in the Rose Bowl, a number of players are now looking to the next level.  Six players, in my opinion, at least have a chance of getting drafted when then NFL Draft kicks off on April 28th.  Here’s a breakdown of where I think they might land.

J.J. Watt – Defensive End:

What a player.  There’s not a team in the NFL that wouldn’t want a player like J.J.  His motor is endless, yet he’s not just a motor guy.  He’s talented, he’s smart, and he has a nose for the football.  He just seems to be a part of every play.  Whether he’s knocking down a pass, sacking the quarterback, or even blocking a kick, Watt was one of the biggest impact defensive players in the country.

Projection: 1st Round, 18th overall, to the San Diego Chargers

Gabe Carimi – Offensive Lineman:

One of the best offensive linemen in the country.  The 2010 AP All-American and Outland Trophy winner (best offensive lineman in the country), was probably the best pass blocking lineman in the country.  He’s big, strong, and maybe most importantly, athletic.  And just like his defensive counterpart Watt, Carimi is incredibly smart both on the field and in the classroom.  He likely won’t be the first or second offensive lineman taken, but you can count on Carimi being a staple of any offensive line for the next 10 years.

Projection: 1st Round, 22nd overall, to the Indianapolis Colts

Lance Kendricks – Tight End:

One word.  SLEEPER! Comes from a long line of great Badgers tight ends over the last five years including Travis Beckum (Giants) and Garrett Graham (Texans). The 2nd -team All-American has had a number of injury problems but his talent is unquestionable.  Had the Badgers been more of a pass-friendly offense, Kendricks could’ve been the top tight end in the country.  Needs to become a little better blocker to be a good pro, but the guy can get open and has great hands.  He’ll probably drop further in the draft than he should, but whoever takes a chance on him won’t be sorry.

Projection: 3rd round, 80th overall, to the Jacksonville Jaguars

John Moffitt – Offensive Lineman:

Joined his offensive lineman counterpart Gabe Carimi on the 1st-team All-American list.  He’s not nearly as athletic as Carimi, but don’t sleep on how quick this 314-pound beast can be.  He started 42 of 45 games in a Badgers uniform and is poised to start for a very long time in the NFL.  The only thing that drops Moffitt in this draft is that athleticism.  Is he gonna be able to hang with the top-tier defensive linemen play after play in the NFL?  Probably not right now, but give him some time. Moffitt, like the rest of his Badgers teammates, is a very smart and coachable player.  Let’s see what a little time in the league can do for him.  I think he could be a steal in the fourth round.

Projection: 4th round, 131st overall, to the Green Bay Packers

Scott Tolzien – Quarterback:

Tolzien is a tough one.  You want to think there is potential for him in the NFL, and there very well may be.  But right now he’s nothing more than a backup.  Tolzien obviously played in a very run-oriented offense at Wisconsin, so it will be interesting to see how he responds in a more balanced attack.  Tolzien can play from under center as well as in the shotgun.  He’s a tough kid that’s willing to take a hit, unfortunately his courage is not always rewarded.  His mediocre arm-strength is definitely a cause for concern.  He just seemed to make too many unforced errors, even when things appeared to be rolling at times.  I do think he gets drafted though, and I strongly believe he can make a roster.  Let’s give him a few years, you never know with a guy like Scott, you just never know.

Projection: 6th round, 199th overall, to the Kansas City Chiefs

John Clay – Running Back:

Oh what could’ve been for John Clay.  It’s not how we all expected it to end for the bruising running back.  Arguably one of the best backs in program history, leaves the Badgers quietly after his junior season for the NFL.  If Clay is at any other school he probably returns for his senior season.  But with the emergence of Montee Ball and James White, the John Clay era in Madison rightfully came to and end.  He would share carries and probably have his draft stock fall even further than it has.  But, that’s not to say I’ve given up on Clay.  I still think there’s some potential and a fresh start in the right situation could be a game-changer.  He’s still a darn good back and has some size and athleticism to make defenders think.  But there are obviously some questions.  Can he stay healthy?  Can he stay committed?  I hope he can, because big John can still be a player, I have no doubts.

Projection: Undrafted free agent

Here’s a look at my 2011 NFL Mock Draft.

Here’s a look at a Badgers Photo Gallery.

2011 NFL Mock Draft

April 12th, 2011 at 2:44 pm by under Sports

Auburn's Cam Newton (2) carries the ball as Oregon's Kenny Rowe (58) falls to the turf during the second half of the BCS National Championship NCAA college football game Monday, Jan. 10, 2011, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

1. Carolina Panthers – Cam Newton, QB – Auburn

2. Denver Broncos – Marcell Dareus, DT – Alabama

3. Buffalo Bills – Von Miller, LB – Texas A&M

4. Cincinnati Bengals – A.J. Green, WR – Georgia

5. Arizona Cardinals – Blaine Gabbert, QB – Missouri

6. Cleveland Browns – Da’Quan Bowers, DE – Clemson

7. San Francisco 49ers – Patrick Peterson, CB – LSU

8. Tennessee Titans – Nick Fairley, DT – Auburn

9. Dallas Cowboys – Tyron Smith, OL – USC

10. Washington Redskins – Julio Jones, WR – Alabama

11. Houston Texans – Robert Quinn, DE – North Carolina

12. Minnesota Vikings – Aldon Smith, DE – Missouri

13. Detroit Lions – Prince Amukamara, CB – Nebraska

14. St. Louis Rams – Corey Liuget, DT – Illinois

15. Miami Dolphins – Mike Pouncey, OL – Florida

16. Jacksonville Jaguars - Ryan Kerrigan, DE – Purdue

17. New England Patriots – Cameron Jordan, DE – California

18. San Diego Chargers – J.J. Watt, DE – Wisconsin

19. New York Giants – Anthony Castonzo, OL – Boston College

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Adrian Clayborn, DT – Iowa

21. Kansas City Chiefs - Phil Taylor, NT – Baylor

22. Indianapolis Colts – Gabe Carimi, OL – Wisconsin

23. Philadelphia Eagles – Jimmy Smith, CB – Colorado

24. New Orleans Saints – Muhammad Wilkerson, DT – Temple

25. Seattle Seahawks – Ryan Mallett, QB – Arkansas

26. Baltimore Ravens – Cameron Heyward, DE – Ohio State

27. Atlanta Falcons - Justin Houston, LB – Georgia

28. New England Patriots – Mark Ingram, RB – Alabama

29. Chicago Bears – Nate Solder, OL – Colorado

30. New York Jets – Marvin Austin, DT – North Carolina

31. Pittsburgh Steelers – Akeem Ayers, LB – UCLA

32. Green Bay Packers – Brooks Reed, LB – Arizona

Final thoughts on Dallas

February 8th, 2011 at 1:29 pm by under Super Bowl XLV

I’ve had a bit of time to digest my thoughts on our Super Bowl XLV trip (and catch up on sleep – at least a bit).

The roads in the Dallas-Fort Worth area were covered in ice for much of the week

Overall, it was an amazing experience. It was a lot of work for everyone, and those who are here at the station today sound very tired. But we accomplished an incredible amount. It was great to read and hear the nice comments from viewers through e-mail, Facebook, Twitter and in person. It was a long week, but that was because we packed in an awful lot. And brought home a Packers victory!

Aside from the game, the biggest story was the weather. Tuesday’s ice storm was just the beginning of three and a half days of cold, ice and snow. Clearly, snowplows and road salt are in short supply in North Texas. The best they could do was put down sand on the roads. While that did give drivers a bit of traction, probably the bigger effect was to turn streets, sidewalks and people’s cars brown. It was cold, too. Wind chills were below zero one morning, and local newscasts said it was the coldest weather the area had seen since 1996. Some of the parties hosted by big-name celebrities were also canceled because of the weather. To be fair, the crews who arrived on Saturday said the weather was beautiful that day, so much so that they ate dinner outside. It was also nice the first Sunday and the following Friday, Saturday and Super Bowl Sunday morning. While the area received a lot of negative reaction to its handling of Super Bowl week, a historic winter storm really could not have been controlled.

Now that I’ve been to the area, I would like to check it out sometime when it’s warmer. Not too warm; we were told temperatures routinely top 100° in the summer. The Fort Worth Stockyards seemed especially interesting. I’m not much for “cowboy” stuff, but the western wear shop we visited Thursday morning was a lot of fun. So was the saloon across the street. Those two establishments have been in business for over 100 years, so there is some authentic history there. The rest of the stockyards also sounded interesting, with live cattle drives and other events like rodeos regularly scheduled there.

Dealey Plaza and The Sixth Floor Museum were also interesting. I won’t rehash my thoughts on that here; you can read my previous blog post for that.

Several of the FOX 11 crew work in the media center during Super Bowl week (courtesy Rachel Manek/Facebook)

Our home for the week was the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Dallas. It was the officially-designated hotel for media, so there were many features right there.

The biggest, of course, was Radio Row, where many sports talk radio shows set up camp for the week. It was also the destination for several celebrities and ex-players who came in to be interviewed. Off the top of my head, I can remember seeing Jerry Rice, Joe Montana, Hugh Jackman, Sugar Ray Leonard, Jerome Bettis, Archie Manning, Adam Sandler, Jamie Foxx and Herschel Walker. (Click here for a video tour of Radio Row)

Next to Radio Row was a media work room that was our second home for much of the week. Each station was set up with electricity and an Internet connection, so we were able to do all of our story writing, video editing and website updates right from there.

To actually do our reporting, we were on our own to get where we needed to go. The station rented seven cars for the 13 people on the crew, so we were able to be represented in a lot of different places at once. We had heard the Dallas-Fort Worth area is spread out, and that’s an understatement. Fort Worth is about 40 miles to the west of Dallas. Arlington, where Cowboys Stadium and Rangers Ballpark are, is about halfway between the two main cities. The airport is another 25 miles or so to the northwest of Dallas. And the metro area doesn’t feel like Milwaukee or Chicago, where you drive through several continuous suburbs when you’re going to or from the city. It seems like each community in the area is its own separate entity. I also found driving in downtown Dallas to be somewhat of a challenge (especially compared to Fort Worth, whose streets seem to follow a grid system much more closely). You can read more about that here.

The Packers are recognized as Super Bowl XLV champions on Cowboys Stadium's giant scoreboard

After all that, it can be hard to forget we were there for a football game. While I didn’t get to the see game in person (read more about that here), I was inside the stadium. I was also on the field for Media Day and part of the postgame show.

From what everyone said, the giant scoreboard makes it seem like you’re watching the game on your own TV, especially if you’re up high in the stadium. I didn’t get up to that area to see it for myself, but I believe it. Overall, the stadium still has a “new” feel to it, which isn’t surprising since it’s only two years old.

The scene outside the stadium before the game was also exciting. Both the Packers and Steelers have passionate fan bases and were well represented at the game. It was fun to see the back-and-forth cheering between the two sides.

All of our time cards for the week showed similar totals

So it was a fun, yet exhausting week. Most days were 12-16 hours of work. I was up before 5:30 a.m. every day, and some days didn’t get to bed until 11:00 or midnight. On game day, we left the hotel at 5:15 a.m. and didn’t get back until about 1 a.m. the next day. Many of the staff still had work to do after that, so we were all very bleary-eyed on the flight home the next day.

Still, it’s been a privilege to bring the Super Bowl to FOX 11′s viewers back home in Northeast Wisconsin. We hope we gave you a good sense of the experience and an idea of everything that was going on.

For me personally, it’s also been fun to keep you updated on this blog. I appreciate the comments I’ve received through Facebook, Twitter and e-mail. Thank you for following along, and if you have any comments to make, don’t hesitate to leave them below.

Now on to Super Bowl XLVI!

The 2010 Heisman Trophy goes to…

December 7th, 2010 at 12:46 pm by under Sports

Technically, the 2010 Heisman Trophy presentation isn’t until Saturday, but let me be the first to tell you there’s no need to tune into the incredibly boring ceremony on ESPN—unless of course you’re looking to see a variety of inspirational stories and interviews with the four Heisman finalists, their families and their coaches, that somehow span out over the course of two painful hours.

When Oregon’s LaMichael James, Stanford’s Andrew Luck, and Boise State’s Kellen Moore arrive at the Downtown Athletic Club in New York City, it will be first time this season those three players will walk into a situation where they have no chance of winning.

I’m sorry to ruin it for you, but this race has been over for weeks,

Auburn’s Cam Newton will be your Heisman Trophy winner and not even the egregious allegations that he has faced over the course of the season will derail this dream from becoming a reality…and here’s why:

Let’s start on the field.  Cam Newton has put up video game type stats this season for the Tigers while leading them to a perfect 13-0 record and a spot in the national title game against James and Oregon.

Try these numbers out for size:

Completion Percentage:                   67.1                Rushing Attempts:            242

Passing Yards:                               2,589               Rushing Yards:               1,409

Touchdowns:                                    28                   Rush Yards/Game:        108.4

Interceptions:                                   6                     Touchdowns:                     20

That’s a combined 3,998 yards and 48 touchdowns!  In fact, Cam never accounted for fewer than two touchdowns in any game this season, while saving his best for last when he accounted for six TDs (four passing, two rushing) in the SEC Championship game against South Carolina.  I’m sorry folks, but you just can’t deny those numbers.

Now let’s move off the field, where Newton has made just as many headlines as he did on it.  After a spectacular start to the season, numerous stories and allegations began to surface regarding Newton and how he ended up at Auburn.  The most serious of which regarding an alleged ‘pay-to-play’ scheme in which his father apparently ‘shopped’ his son to numerous schools in return for Newton’s services.

Newton was actually ruled ineligible by Auburn University the Monday before the SEC Championship game, but was quickly reinstated by the NCAA the following day because “[The NCAA does] not have sufficient evidence that Cam Newton or anyone from Auburn was aware of this activity…”

Of course, if any of these allegations are indeed true, I find it hard to believe Cam wasn’t at least aware of the activity regardless of how much involvement he may or may-not have had.

But guess what, the amount of involvement, if any, that Newton had is not what’s up for vote this Saturday.  The award for the best player in college football is.  Now, I understand that there is an obligation to maintain the integrity of the most prestigious award in college football, but there’s also an obligation to give this award to the best player…and that’s not even a question.