Tuesday, April 1, 2014

2013 College Football Dread All-America

Not only in the house of dread do we honor the players with dreads who are great players, we also honor those who have great dreads. My last post was a list of (mostly) star players with dreads. This one is all about the dreads. My 6th annual Dread All-America team recognizes the sickest dreads on Saturdays in Division 1 for the 2013 season, no matter if the players actually contributed very much on the field or not. There will be a lot of familiar heads of dreads, as 37 of the 59 returning players from the 2012 team are repeat selections on this season's team.

You know, growing dreadlocks long enough to extend far outside your helmet takes a very long time. And I truly respect and appreciate those who patiently put in the time, waiting years to let their dreads grow on their own. But we do not discriminate against those who can't wait to look great. So as always, this year's dread all-Americans include many players who added extensions to make their own dreads longer.

2013 College Football Dread All-America (Part 2)


For the most part players on teams in the FCS section of Division 1 just aren't as good as those on FBS teams; but that's not true when it comes to dreads. The dreads in the FCS this season, as usual, did not take a back seat to those in the FBS. Here now are the 2013 FCS Dread All-Americans.

FCS

1st TEAM OFFENSE
  • OL Norman Booker - Hampton - SOPH
  • OL Vincent Harper - Hampton - SR
  • OL Randall Harris (1) - Towson - SR
  • OL Quevalas Murray - Western Carolina - SR
  • OL Billy Turner - North Dakota State - SR
  • TE Wesley Samuels - Tennessee State - SR
  • WR Tikeem Platt (1) - Hampton - SOPH
  • WR Frank Thomas - Bethune-Cookman - SOPH
  • RB Jacobi Green (2) - Richmond - SOPH
  • RB Darion Hall - Tennessee State - JR
  • QB Nico Flores - Norfolk State - SR
  • KR Tay Willis - Southern Illinois - JR
The top (and only?) NFL prospect on the 1st team is Billy Turner (photo above), a 4-year starter at left OT for North Dakota State, which won the FCS championship during his sophomore, junior, and senior seasons.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

2013 College Football All-America with dreads

"It's not at all out of the question that at least a dozen FBS running backs with dreads will top the 1,000-yard mark by the end of the season."

Well, as it turned out, all of the running backs with dreads on FBS teams couldn't quite live up to that lofty prediction I made in my Week 2 report back in September. Nevertheless it was an outstanding season for many of them, as there were 8 who rushed for more than 1,000 yards; and it would've been 9 if Todd Gurley hadn't lost his helmet against South Carolina in Week 2 (photo on right), forcing the play to be blown dead while he still had a chance to gain some more yards.

Of the 10 conferences in the FBS, three had a RB with dreads earn 1st team all-conference honors, and three others had RBs with dreads on their 2nd team all-conference list. In the FCS there were 5 running backs with dreads who made 1st team all-conference. In all of Division 1, there was at least one RB with dreads who earned all-league honors in 14 of the 22 conferences.

Of course, on my 6th annual All-America with dreads team, we recognize all of the outstanding players with dreads, not just the RBs. It's a list of who I thought were college football's best players with dreads during the recently completed 2013 season.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

NFL '13 Dread News - Week 22

We've all heard it hundreds of times before; but let's all say it again. Everybody ....

DEFENSE .... WINS .... CHAMPIONSHIPS.

Just ask the Denver Broncos. From the moment they took the field on opening night and routed the defending champ Baltimore Ravens 49-27, it seemed like the Broncos were destined to end the 2013 season raising the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Nobody could stop their prolific offense. Led by QB Peyton Manning's 55 TD passes (a new NFL record), the Broncos scored more points in the regular season this season than any team ever before - 606. (By comparison, the Chicago Bears were 2nd in scoring with 445 points.) Not once were they held under 20 points. Even in their 3 losses they scored 33, 31, and 20 points. Dominating the league's best defense in Super Bowl 48 was to be the crowning achievement for the Broncos' offense, leaving no doubt that they were the greatest offense of all time.

And then the game started ..... Wow. You know, I wasn't a bit surprised that the Seahawks won; but my goodness, you could have won a lot of money if you had bet me that they would hold the Broncos to one touchdown. That's right, with the championship on the line, the league's best offense ever scored one measly TD. The final score of 43-8 in favor of the Seahawks likely had viewers turning the game off well before it ended; everywhere except in Seattle, that is, where the Lombardi Trophy now resides and where the fans are celebrating the team's first ever championship.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

College BB '14 - First Look

College basketball does not have a comeback player of the year award; but if there was such an award, you'd find one of this year's leading contenders for it playing his senior season in the MAC - more specifically, in northeast Ohio. Through nobody's fault but his own, Quincy Diggs was suspended last season - not just from the team, but from school altogether - at Akron, a devastating blow to a player who is planning on playing pro basketball after finishing college. After sulking for a couple of weeks when his suspension went into effect in September 2012, Diggs, who had already transferred once (from New Orleans to Akron), decided his best course of action was to not transfer again and instead stay and try to get himself un-suspended.

But the road back would not be easy. No longer on scholarship, Diggs had to get a job; and on top of that he needed to take a bunch of classes online so that he would have enough credits to be eligible once his suspension ended. As a result, according to the story on Diggs from 6 weeks ago in the Akron Beacon Journal (link below) he ended up putting in some 22-hour days. But when you want to play as badly as he did, you have no other choice.

http://www.ohio.com/sports/zips/marla-ridenour-ua-s-quincy-diggs-rebounds-from-suspension-year-in-basketball-exile-1.455104


Sunday, February 2, 2014

NFL '13 Dread News - Week 21

Just to make one thing clear - I don't have anything against New York. It may have sounded that way in last week's report, but really I don't. The only reason I'm against the Super Bowl being played there is that I strongly believe the outcome of the NFL's championship game shouldn't be given the chance to be affected or determined by adverse weather. If MetLife Stadium had been built with a dome or retractable roof over it, the decision to have the Super Bowl in the NYC metro area would have been a no-brainer. But it wasn't; so the NFL has been holding its breath, hoping the game can be played on schedule and without any disruption by the weather.
It's no secret - bad weather changes the way football is played. While other outdoor sports run for cover when it gets too wet or too cold for play to continue, football plays on, having no problem whatsoever with the fact that bad weather changes everything, from game planning to the type of cleats you wear and everything in between.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

NFL '13 Dread News - Week 20

On January 30, 1994, the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Buffalo Bills 30-13 at the Georgia Dome in Super Bowl 28. "And just what does this have to do with dreads?" .... you ask. Nothing, of course. But I'm mentioning this because it was the last time a team played in the Super Bowl after having lost in the previous season's Super Bowl, as the Bills had also lost in Super Bowl 27, to Dallas 52-17. Ever since then, the team losing the Super Bowl seems to always be under some sort of jinx the following season. Coming into the 2013 season, of the last 19 teams to lose the Super Bowl, only one had so much as gotten to the conference championship game the next year. That was last year, when New England - losers to the N.Y. Giants in Super Bowl 46 - was denied a return trip to the Super Bowl by Baltimore. Before that, nine Super Bowl losers didn't even make the playoffs the following year, and the other nine lost in either the 1st or 2nd round of the playoffs.

Enter the 2013 San Francisco 49ers, losers of last year's Super Bowl to the Ravens in that 34-31 thriller. Having already won on the road at Green Bay and Carolina the last two weeks, the 49ers were poised to snap the streak of futility by Super Bowl losers as they took on the Seahawks last Sunday. But instead, they found out just how powerful this jinx is.
Beset by injuries to key players, several bad calls by the game officials, and ultimately too many mistakes of their own doing, the 49ers became the 20th straight Super Bowl loser to fail to get back the next year. Much to their dismay, it was Richard Sherman and the Seahawks raising the George Halas Trophy (photo above), claiming the NFC championship after dealing the 49ers a crushing and heartbreaking 23-17 defeat at Seattle.
.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

NFL '13 Dread News - Week 19

The NFL world is back to normal, once again spinning on its proper axis - at least for this season, anyway. The cream rose to the top last weekend as 3 of the 4 teams that earned byes for the 1st round of the playoffs won their 2nd round games at home to advance to the conference championship round. And the one team still alive that didn't have a 1st round bye - the 49ers - certainly would have gotten one if they weren't in the same division as the Seahawks. The four winners in the 2nd round are arguably (and it would be a pretty strong argument) the two best teams in each conference, so CBS and Fox no doubt are very happy, because New England at Denver for the AFC title and San Francisco at Seattle for the NFC crown figure to be highly competitive games that draw huge TV ratings.

6 of the 8 teams in action last weekend have at least one running back with dreads. The only two that don't met at Denver, where the Broncos held off the San Diego Chargers 24-17. There were plenty of chances for the Chargers to win this game, but they didn't take advantage of enough of them to pull off the upset. For example, after the Chargers punted on their opening drive, they had a chance to stop the Broncos' first drive. But on 1st down from the San Diego 29-yard line, CB Shareece Wright dropped what should have been an easy interception, keeping the drive alive. 6 plays later Denver led 7-0. The Chargers' D did get the turnover on the Broncos' second drive, recovering a fumble after S Jahleel Addae stripped the ball from TE Julius Thomas just before he hit the ground (photo below) at the SD 45-yard line. But again the Chargers failed to take advantage, missing a FG attempt on their ensuing possession. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

NFL '13 Dread News - Week 18


In only one of the four 1st round playoff games did the team playing at home have a better record than their opponent, so I guess it's not very surprising that only one home team won last weekend. Ever since New England won back-to-back Super Bowls after going 14-2 in both 2003 and 2004, 6 of the last 8 Super Bowl winners have been teams that did not get a 1st round bye. If that trend continues this season, that means either the Colts, Saints, Chargers, or 49ers will be raising the Vince Lombardi Trophy three weeks from now. Which one will it be? 

The Indianapolis Colts were the only home team to advance to round 2, and they had to come back from the dead  before barely defeating the Kansas City Chiefs 45-44. Despite finishing 11-5, the Chiefs didn't really beat any teams that were any good during the regular season. Only one of their 11 victories came against a team that finished with a winning record, and even that victory wasn't all that impressive because the Eagles weren't very good back in Week 3 when the Chiefs beat them. Whenever they played a good team, they lost, and that includes a 23-7 home loss to the Colts in Week 16. I thought the Chiefs were certainly very capable of beating a good team; but until they actually did it, it was hard to get very excited about all their success.
Well, the Chiefs are still looking for that victory over a quality team after incredibly blowing a four-touchdown lead in the 1-point loss at Indianapolis last Saturday. 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

NFL '13 Dread News - Week 17

I believe I have reached a new low. In each of the first four years of this blog I was able to do at least a couple of weekly reports on the NFL during the season. But this year? Nothing - until now, that is, with the whole regular season already finished. Yes, I'm very disappointed that I haven't done anything yet. Yes, I still very much enjoy doing this blog. But there are only 24 hours in every day; and as long as that remains true I'm not going to have enough time to do all the things I want to do in this blog. Since I have chosen to emphasize college football, the NFL has to take a back seat.

But that doesn't mean I haven't been paying attention. By now you probably know that I love watching the Falcons, Chiefs, Bears, and Jaguars every week. But there are so many commercial breaks during NFL telecasts that I'm able to switch channels often enough to usually catch at least a little action from every game. Coming into Week 17 the Kansas City Chiefs were the only team that knew its playoff fate. At 11-4, they had clinched 2nd place in the AFC West as well as the #1 AFC wild card spot. The four AFC division champions had already been crowned, but their records were so close that none of them knew how they would be seeded for the playoffs. The #2 AFC wild card spot was a free-for-all. Over in the NFC, only 3 of the 6 playoff spots had been clinched, and none of the four division champions had been determined.

It must have been exasperating being a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals as those two teams tried to earn a spot in the playoffs. Ultimately they both failed to make it, and how they failed to make it was nothing short of fascinating. The Cardinals, 9-5 after Week 15, needed to win their final 2 games AND have at least one of these three things to happen: either the Panthers lose to the Saints, the 49ers lose to the Falcons, or the Saints lose to the Buccaneers. Despite 2 interceptions by Seahawks CB Richard Sherman, the Cardinals kept hope alive with a 17-10 win at Seattle in Week 16, the Seahawks' 1st loss at home this season. But the help they needed elsewhere didn't materialize. It looked like the Panthers were going to lose to the Saints; but instead they scored a TD with 23 seconds to go to defeat the Saints. Then it looked like the 49ers, a 14-point favorite, were going to lose at home to the Falcons; but instead with the Falcons down by 3, QB Matt Ryan threw an interception (returned for a TD) on 2nd and 1 from the 49ers' 10-yard line with 1:10 remaining in the game. 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

College FB '13 Dread News - Week 15

Throughout the BCS era - which thankfully will come to an end less than 2 weeks from now (not that the next era will be any less aggravating) - life has not been fair for the teams in the smaller conferences. If you played in the Mountain West, Sun Belt, CUSA, MAC, or (prior to 2013) WAC, you were automatically deemed inferior to the teams in the 6 major conferences even before each season began, no matter how good your team was. And to have any chance of earning a trip to one of the big money BCS bowl games, you not only had to win your conference, you had to go undefeated as well. This year there were a couple of teams that threatened to be BCS busters. Fresno State made it to Week 14 before falling at San Jose State; and the other .....

Northern Illinois overcame the odds last season, earning a trip to the Orange Bowl; but the Huskies won't be appearing in a 2nd straight BCS bowl. Coming into the MAC championship game with a 12-0 record, NIU fell - hard - to Bowling Green 47-27. It was the first MAC title in 21 years for Bowling Green. At 9-3, the Falcons didn't have the sparkling record, or the Heisman candidate, or the hype that NIU had. But their 21-20 loss at Mississippi State in Week 7 proved they were no slouches. And they came into the game with a ton of momentum, having outscored their previous four opponents by a margin of 176-17 since suffering their only MAC loss 28-25 to Toledo in Week 9. Included in that run was an impressive 24-7 win on the road against Buffalo in a Week 14 showdown that clinched the MAC East Division title.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

College FB '13 Dread News - Week 14

     "They're going to try a field goal?" .......

...... asked CBS announcer Gary Danielson - incredulously - as Alabama lined up to attempt a 56-yard field goal on the last play of the game. If successful, the kick would give the Crimson Tide an SEC West-clinching 31-28 victory over Auburn. But since the Tide had already gone 0 for 3 on much shorter FG attempts earlier in the game, Danielson, yours truly, and likely thousands of others watching were wondering what on Earth had possessed Coach Saban into believing this attempt would end up any better than the previous three.

Well, as you probably have heard, this attempt didn't end up better than the previous three - it actually went even worse. Not only was it not long enough to be good, it in fact was so short that Auburn CB Chris Davis was able to catch the ball in the back of the end zone and proceeded to return it 108 yards all the way to the house at the other end of the field (photos on right) to give the Tigers the victory, 34-28, in one of the most amazing finishes to a game you'll ever see. In case you somehow haven't seen the play (or you just want to see it again) here it is on a video from the Auburn website:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GKmkD1pUG0