Posted on: December 4, 2008 11:39 am

MMA heading in the wrong direction

The sky is not falling, and this blog is not about how the MMA is full of prima donas, but in reading the latest interview with "The Muscle Shark" Sean Sherk, you have to wonder if MMA is starting to breed some of the me-first types pervasive in other sports.

Sherk has flatly stated he has no desire to fight "Big Daddy" Stevenson, and Stevenson is likely not on his level in MMA, but to borrow from Parcells and the revolving cliche-wheel, "that's why we play the game." The message boards are full of vitriol for Sherk's latest decision, and rightfully so. We are all free to do what we like in this world and Sherk can refuse anything he doesnt' believe in, but for those who have followed MMA for more than the past 2 years this is a slap in the face. Gone are the days of single-elimination same-day slugfests resulting in a single champion, and that's probably a good thing from an injury perspective. But instead of the pendelum stopping at the center and fighter's taking on all comers over time, it has swung to the opposite side where fighters can now state whether they fight someone or not. The last I heard this approach was in boxing, and we all know how that is working out with the three titles and declining interest from the fans.

The more disturbing part about this is two-fold.

One, up-and-comers (who Sherk won't fight) are what keeps MMA fresh. The list of champions and #1 contenders are full of up-and-comers and those who are only recently famous because they performed well as up-and-comers. Say what you want about our new Heavyweight champ, but he was a bushy-tailed newcomer until he won the biggest fight of his life. Whether he should of or deserved it is for another message board, but he played the game and won. Had Couture chosen not to fight him, we would not be blessed with this turnover at the top, which creates interest in the sport and prevents stagnation.

Two, who is to say Sean Sherk deserves to be at the top and only fight those at the top. Yes, he won the championship and defended it at UFC 73. But last I checked the title was stripped from him for performance-enhancing drug usage (whether you defend him or not, he was suspended - fact), and in his first return fight was defeated by BJ Penn. He beat Tyson Griffin in his latest fight, but if you look at Sherk's fight records he has not had a submission since 2005 to end a fight. His last 6 fights have been 4 wins by decision and 2 losses by TKO. Debating the merits of his opponents and his change in weight class can be done elsewhere, but he has yet to finish anyone before the bell and some of that may be due to age or other factors.

Sherk is not alone, however, in his decision to refuse fights for various reasons. Silva has stated he will not fight training partner and friend Filho, and Jon Koppenhaver was supposedly cut for a decision to refuse a fight. Unfortunately, due to the money and the fame now a part of MMA, we may be seeing a change of approach where fighters plan for the long haul and dont take fights they may lose. Koscheck may very well regret his recent decision to fight because it ended in a loss, but the point is he went out there to see who is best and that is all that matters in the end. Refusals to fight certain fighters can only spell trouble for an organization that prides itself on the last man standing approach, but fighters are clearly trying to ensure their names remain bright and the endorsement and fight money increases.

Dana White is clearly not one to lay down on issues where fighters stand in the way of what he wants to do, regardless of who they are (Couture, Fitch) and always is willing to lend a sound bite, so I wonder how long he will allow this charade to continue. Silva's decisions have yet to be tested, and really so have Sherk's. Silva is obviously a much more important cog in the UFC, and therefore you have to wonder if situations will be handled differently. Sherk, however, is a man trying to get back on top where he once was, but does not realize that the division he was king of has now become much more competitive. Prove yourself against Stevenson - lay him out like you have in the past against other fighters and demolish him in every way (striking, ground, defense) and then you can rightfully position yourself to take the title back from whoever's hands it is in. Until then, don't be too good for yourself and tarnish your reputation by looking like you are too good to fight someone who is not at your level.

Posted on: November 23, 2008 10:19 am

Week 12 NFL Picks - EARLY GAMES

New England at Miami

Pennington has been cooling off as of late, while Cassel has been getting better as the season progresses. The wildcat offense has been on display long enough now that most teams are planning around it, and Miami has had a hard time the past few weeks with Oakland and Seattle. New England

New York Giants at Arizona

The G-men are only 22nd against the pass, and Arizona's high-powered receiving game is sure to give them a rough time today. Arizona is equally bad against the run, and that will be the Giants' plan-of-attack. The game will come down to who does the other part better, and I believe the wild pass attack by the Cardinals will open up the running lanes while the Cardinals stuff the box against the G-men run game. Throw in the cross-country travel for the Giants and Cardinals should sneak this one out in a major upset.. Cardinals

Oakland at Denver

Oakland just cant put much together this year, and with their horrible showing against the pass, Denver should be up by 21 at halftime especially playing at home. Denver

Indianapolis at San Diego

San Diego suffered a demoralizing loss to PIttsburgh and is on the verge of watching their 2008 season go up in flames. Indianapolis is riding a wave of great play to put them back in contention for the playoffs. With the veterans on the Chargers having been through this type of season before and bouncing back, they face a must-win contest in their home stadium. Add in the fact that Indy's running game is still a mess and San Diego should be able to put pressure on Peyton with their 13th ranked pass-defense San Diego

New York Jets at Tennessee

The Jets face a tough test in stopping Johnson/White this week, while Jones should be able to run wild on Tennessee's 27th ranked rush defense. Look for Favre to be kept in check most of the day while Jones is allowed to run wild. The Jets have yet to face a decent rushing offense all year, so their ability to handle that should be the difference. Tennessee puts pressure on the inside/outside by switching up White/Johnson and squeeks by in this one, with their only remaining test coming their last two weeks of the season. Tennessee

Chicago at St. Louis

After an embarassing week last week for Chicago, they should come back strong against the woeful Rams. Unfortunately for the Rams who have been looking slightly better each week, they run into a freight train of ticked off Bears this week. Chicago

Buffalo at Kansas City

Two teams moving in opposite directions. Bills have been struggling as of late, and their games go the way Edwards goes this year. The Chiefs have turned Thigpen into a serviceable starter and have suffered some close loses the past few weeks. Look for KC to continue to fluster Edwards and for the Chiefs to protect Thigpen and allow him to play a safe game. Edwards under extreme stress to keep the Bills in the AFC East hunt and he should crumble under the weight this week. Kansas City

Minnesota at Jacksonville

Both teams have failed to meet expectations this year, but Jacksonville's solid passing game and decent rush defense should be able to slow down the Minnesota offense. Minnesota's poor overall defense should allow Jacksonville to walk away with this game at home. Jacksonville

Tampa Bay at Detroit

No reason to pick Detroit from here on out as they seem to be struggling all around, and Tampa Bay is playiing solid football this year. Tampa Bay

San Francisco at Dallas

Tony Romo's return sparked the Cowboys last week, and look for them to carry that high into this week against a weak San Francisco team. Dallas has an all-around strong offense with Romo back, and Barber has been a monster this year. Dallas

Houston at Cleveland

Brady Quinn was slightly exposed last week, but Rosenfels looks worse. In what should come down to whoever can defend the run and apply their run game better, look for Cleveland to open up more running options with a moderate short-passing game from Quinn. Screen passes and TE play should allow Cleveland to open up a running game to sneak a win out this week. Cleveland

Philadelphia at Baltimore

Baltimore has struggled against the better teams on its schedule this year (Pit, NYG, Indy), but Philadelphia could not dispatch the lowly Bengals last week. Philadelphia's defense has been strong this week, but Baltimore's is better, so look for the Ravens to control the clock with the run game and win a low-scoring game by pressuring McNabb into a few mistakes. Baltimore

Category: NFL
Tags: NFL, odds, picks, Week 12
Posted on: November 21, 2008 4:58 pm

NCAAF Bowl System

Depending your team's placement in the polls this time of year, you might be in favor of the BCS system or you prefer a playoff-type system. While many of us seem to post that we would like to rid ourselves of the BCS mess (unless you were USC and tOSU the past few years), we all know its not a likely scenario due to the money involved, and the claims that football season can not be extended any longer than it already is. But is there another solution?

Most teams in the Bowl Subdivision play 3-4 non-conference games per year, and many of these games are against cupcake teams to get their record up. Add in the fact that most conferences have 2-3 teams at the "rebuilding" stage, and a college team is likely to play about half of their season against easy opponents. What if, however, you removed the non-conference from the schedule, or at least limited it. If all teams began the season with one non-conference team, then proceeded to play their conference schedules, they would be at 8-9 games when the conference season was complete and they had competed in their conference championship game. Would that not leave a full month and 4 games on the schedule to be used in any manner possible?

If a 4-week playoff system was devised, it could accomodate 16 teams in each bracket. Therefore, you could take the 11 conference winners, and select 5 at-large teams (selected from the non-conference champions) to compete in a seeded double-elimination playoff system, starting in early December. When the final 2 teams were set through the bracket, they would become the championship game teams. For those knocked out in week 2 or 3 through double elimination, those teams could play bowl games at the lesser bowls. This could also work through all 6-win teams in D1, by having multiple brackets consisting of 16-teams. This would then create a "tournament" feel, while also allowing for competition amongst same-level teams in all 4 brackets.

This would also prevent the current bowl duds that result below the top 5 bowls. Due to numerous conference arrangements, and changes in conference dominance from year-to-year, projections for bowls this year consist of Top 30 teams competing against teams ranked 50-60 because of their conference guarantees (Air Force v. Rice, Ball St. v. Illinois, and Boise State v. BC - are you serious?). Leveling the playing field would provide more competitive bowls and rewarding those teams who performed during the year. Ultimately you would have 4 16-team playoffs ending on New Years, and the rest of the bowls could select from teams who have proven themselves through these tournaments. The bowls would have arrangements to these mini-tournaments (the Top 5 bowls would play the top 10 teams from the upper division tourney during the final week).

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or