Things I learned from Friday Night Lights: Part 1


I recently finished watching Friday Night Lights with my girlfriend. We went through Season 1 in a week and I really feel like I grew with that team and town. The ups and downs, the bittersweet victories, and support and reversely unscrupulous demands that are placed on these children. Since I’ve read the Wikipedia page on the book and have been to two high school football games, I’m going to assume that I can pick out what’s accurate and what’s been exaggerated dramatic effect.

1) Being a high school football coach in a small town in Texas is the hardest job in the world.

Holy cow. I was seriously stressed out in the beginning of the series. They would not let Coach Taylor have a minute to himself. Coaching is a 24/7/365 job. Just like politics and women’s reproductive rights, everyone has an opinion whether or not they have the qualifications. And like politics, you have people your beholden to, doubters, enemies, friendemies, and everything in-between waiting for you to fail. But when he pulls something off, it is pure adrenaline and a part of me wishes I had paid more attention to the playbook in Techmo Super Bowl. Maybe I’d be a coach in Texas right now. (“NO” was the supportive girlfriend’s response. She must be concerned about my stress levels.)

2)  All Football players own baseball bats.

Football is everything in this town. They mentioned a basketball team once but we never see it. We never once hear about a baseball team or little league. So why does EVERY SINGLE player in town seem to own a BASEBALL BAT?

3) Timmy Riggins/Taylor Kitsch has heart.

“I can see why they keep putting this guy in movies” my girlfriend says as if reading my mind. An egg sandwich did not immediately get made so I assume her powers are still developing. Timmy/Taylor really has the ice cold bastard who’s heart of gold slowly develops as he fights his demons thing going on. That’s a great recipe for Gambit and space-tarzan if as ask me. Battleship doesn’t count because he and Landry basically reprising their roles in Football and Crucifictorius Didn’t Work Out (directed by Friday Nights show-runner Peter Berg). He just needed better scripts. And editors. And producers. Or maybe Agent.

4) These people have great metabolisms.

The amount of fast food these people consume is insane.

5) The kids are often times the adults.

As I mentioned before the amount of responsibility placed on these kids is ridiculous. Often driving them to make bad decisions. Football is their favorite and only real form of escapism. Consequentially It is the only glue holding together their community. Friday nights people can forget about their lives, their daily struggles and ailments.The rest of the week it’s power and influence is present through sports talk radio, chit chat with the corner store owner and even at business openings or church sermons.

As a result of this dependency the team’s success reflects how healthy the community is and how they even treat each other. The game is often more important to the adults, maybe sentimentally, or because they have a greater need for the escapism. So much so that sometimes the adults need to be reminded that it’s just a game and the children end up reminding them that there’s a lot more to this life than football (obviously they not as important as football but still of significant fractional importance that it may deserve some attention; like college, income, or christian speed metal).

In terms of fictitious High School Football teams, I’ve been a strong supporter of San Dimas High since 1988. SAN DIMAS HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL RULES! But I think there may be room in my heart for the Panthers, at least enough to start up Season 2. Game of Thrones doesn’t start for a couple of weeks.

By Hoa Nguyen. Whose knowledge of sports is mostly informed by video games.
Follow Hoa on Twitter at @hoabert
You can contact Hoa at



Quick Slant: For the Love of Sports, Trivia, and Alex Trebek

trebek 2

By Ryan Lack

Slant: ‘Jeopardy’ looking at Lauer as next host


I’ll take “Words That Sound Like ‘NO'” for 1,000, Alex.

You might be wondering what the hell we’re doing writing about Jeopardy and the devastating news of Alex Trebek’s impending retirement when this is supposed to be a sports site. Bear with me.

Ok, so it’s not so “impending.” We’re talking about 2016 here, but what’s troubling outside of the new of the legend’s eventual departure is what Sony Pictures Television, which owns the show, intends to do about replacing him.

If you watch the show you know it’s a pretty easy gig. As the host, you facilitate the game, reply condescendingly to stupid question responses to clues, and give off a general air of intellectual superiority. It’s not a hard job. But, it’s something that has become synonymous with Alex Trebek and, thus, synonymous with the show. The show IS Alex Trebek.

Trebek has been at the helm for nearly 30 years. You don’t just replace him. It’s not a decision you take lightly. Sure, the show will go on. It’ll be the same format, it will include the same nerdy and ridiculously intelligent contestants, and also their idiotic stories, but will it be the same?

History shows us that replacing a legendary gameshow host is no easy task. Just look at the laundry list of wannabes that Family Feud has trotted out to replace Ray Combs since his suicide in 1996: Louie Anderson? (what?), Richard Karn (who?), John O’Hurley (stick to Seinfeld, bro), and now Steve Harvey (GFY). It’s very, very difficult, if not impossible to replace someone that is so readily identifiable with the brand.

Here’s your sports angle: Just look at the Chicago Bulls. Sure, different business, different legend, but to this day and likely for all-time, the organization’s successes and struggles will be defined by one man: Jordan. The guy could go by “Michael” or “Jordan” and you know who is being talked about. His contributions to the team and the game of basketball are indisputable and even now the Bulls are still struggling to find their identity as an organization and brand that has largely remained overshadowed by Jordan.

So, what do we have against Matt Lauer. Oh, nothing, really. Only that he’s currently leading a failing program, The Today Show, or that he’s nowhere near the intellectual equal of Trebek. If Sony Pictures Television is targeting anyone to replace Trebek, let it be someone with some brain credibility, not some lame stand-in like Drew Carey on the The Price is Right.

My fear is that Jeopardy will become a shell of itself – a gameshow you can play at home with no backbone. Without Trebek, I see it failing miserably in the long-term. No one will be excited about Matt Lauer, except for maybe Katie Couric and we’ve seen how well she’s done since leaving The Today Show

You don’t just replace a legend. You don’t just move on. You don’t just replace Alex Trebek with Matt Lauer.

This … ISSSS … JEOPARDY! That sound you hear is the fizzling out of an era, or, as Sean Connory would say, “That’s the sound your mother made last night.”

By Ryan Lack
Follow Ryan on Twitter at @ryanlack
You can contact Ryan at

Quick Slant: Seahawks Continue to Improve

(Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas - USA TODAY Sports)

(Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas – USA TODAY Sports)

By Kevin York

Slant: Sources say Seahawks and Cliff Avril agree on deal


Yesterday I wrote about the first moves by the 49ers and Seahawks in the 2013 battle for the NFC West. I decided Seattle won round one with Percy Harvin being a more valuable addition for them than Anquan Boldin is for San Francisco.

Last night, news broke that Seattle did even more to improve its team, specifically an already potent defense. According to sources (you know, sources…) the Seahawks agreed to a deal to bring former stud Detroit defensive end Cliff Avril to the Pacific Northwest. Detroit franchised Avril once and we rarely see young defenders with high sack totals like him reach the open market. Avirl will join Bruce Irvin, Chris Clemons and Red Bryant, three very good defensive ends. An already scary defense just got scarier.

What have the Niners done to counter? Well, they’ve let defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga and tight end Delanie Walker walk away and sign with new teams – Philadelphia and Tennessee, respectively. That’s it. No new signings since Boldin.

Trent Baalke, Jim Harbaugh, as I said yesterday, we’re waiting for your move. And we’re still waiting…

So far, Seattle – 2, San Francisco – 0

By Kevin York
Follow Kevin on Twitter at @kevin_york
You can contact Kevin at

Quick Slant: Seattle Takes Round 1 in the 2013 Battle for the NFC West

By Kevin York

Photo Credit: (Andy King/AP)

Photo Credit: (Andy King/AP)

Slant: Seahawks trade for Percy Harvin & Ravens trade Anquan Boldin to 49ers


We knew the NFC West was going to be a slugfest this year between San Francisco and Seattle. In the last week both teams made moves to upgrade their receiving corps with Seattle trading for Vikings receiver Percy Harvin and then San Francisco quickly countering by trading for Baltimore receiver Anquan Boldin. I actually like both moves, but the Seahawks made the much stronger play.

Percy Harvin is not just a receiver, he’s an offense. He can line up in the slot, at running back, at the wing, even at tight end. Don’t forget he can also return punts and kicks. Oh yeah, and he’s only 24. Anquan Boldin is a solid receiver, but at 32, provides diminishing returns at this stage of his career. Don’t get me wrong, he’s certainly a step up over Randy “I’m the greatest wide receiver ever” Moss, but I question just how much impact he’ll have on this Niners team. He’s not a blazing deep threat (which they could use) and he’s not that Wes Welker-type slot guy (which they also could use). He reminds me of an older, slower Michael Crabtree.

I don’t want to get too deep into what each team gave up to get Harvin and Boldin, but I think the deals were fair. In this year’s draft, at the position they’re picking, I don’t see the Seahawks getting anything near the ability or impact of Percy Harvin in the first round. It was a deal worth making. And for San Francisco, a sixth round pick for Boldin? He’s worth more than that. Good value for them. Too often when ‘experts’ analyze deals like this they get too caught up on potential, especially for teams giving away draft picks. Look at the reality. The now. The 2013 draft is weak unless you need an offensive or defensive lineman or a linebacker.

In Harvin, the Seahawks now have a bona fide number one receiver to pair with a number of other offensive weapons – stud running back Marshawn Lynch, developing quarterback Russell Wilson, underrated receivers Golden Tate and Sydney Rice, and tight end Zach Miller. Combine that with what’s possibly the best defense in football (yes, better than San Francisco whose secondary let in down a lot toward the end of the season) and I have to say, they have a leg up on the Niners at this point. The battle for the NFC West will be fun to watch this year. Your move, San Francisco…

By Kevin York
Follow Kevin on Twitter at @kevin_york
You can contact Kevin at

More on the Warriors T-Shirt Jerseys

Warriors t-shirt jersey

We don’t feel self-conscious at all. source:

A few weeks ago Kevin let us know his feelings on the Golden State Warriors new t-shirt jerseys. I don’t know if it was just me but I sensed he wasn’t 100% on board with the change. I was ready to play devil’s advocate and give the shirts a chance. They were jarring at first but we can’t let our emotions or resistance to change stifle scientific progress and advancement of the sport. The league would still be dominated by white men in short-shorts if hadn’t been allowed to evolve. I had my rebuttal all worked out. And then I saw the game.

First Impressions

It was a little weird. I’m not going to lie to you. I respect you too much to do that. Even if it means agreeing with Kevin on that note. I don’t think the shirts quite match the pinstriped shorts. It reminds me of the guy in the gym that works out in his street clothes. They also did not start off with the increased explosive power that Rahul tells me his Under Armour t-shirt gives him when he’s skiing. However, where it really counts, the last few minutes of the 4th and in OT, is when the shirts came into play.

But before that I must fully disclose: I was out drinking meeting with our EIC/co-founders Kevin and Rahul and recorded the Spurs game. My DVR cut out at the end of regulation despite me adding 30min on. So the following in depth professional NBA analysis is based off of my cell phone updates while I was eating at Urban Curry. The Warriors had just gotten an energy surge to make a few crucial 3 pointers and free-throws to keep the game going. Their second wind had kicked in and they were ready to give everything they had to go out on top.

What I think Happened

(I imagine) the Spurs were slowing down and  drenched in sweat. Their muscles depleted of electolyte replenishing sports drinks. They had only brought enough for a regulation game. Hindsight is 20/20 as they say. Their muscles started to cramp and their shoulders grew sore and cold as the game went on. The Warriors, though tired, were still dry and warm thanks to moisture-wick™ technology. They surged and played loops around the Spurs like they were the Washington Generals. That’s probably what happened. I waited to see another game to see if my hypothesis held.

Second Impressions. Lets see Those Jersey’s in Action Again

The match-up against the Rockets was for the most part the same. Neither team demonstrated any explosive dominance though David Lee did play pretty well despite his knee injury. I can’t say the jersey had any impact on that. I was hoping to see a 2nd wind in the 4th and for a second it seemed like it was coming. But the momentum really slowed down and Rockets regained their lead and the game fizzled out.

Performance Enhancing? 

Get it? They look a little bit like Lance Armstrong’s Jerseys. Okay, back to my hard hitting analysis.


Goodell: There's money to be made with sleeveless QBs.

Goodell: There’s money to be made with sleeveless QBs.

ADIDAS knows how to make performance gear. I don’t think there’s a mobility or functionality issue but their color palette pattern designers leave a lot to be desired (see below). Sleeves aren’t restricting quarterbacks from launching the pigskin. Which, further-more, also, as well, leads me to the conclusion that Kevin just wishes to see NFL quarterbacks play sleeveless (see above). I cannot see that being a negative if it brings in more female (or male, I mean whatever, lets see all of Kaepernick’s tattoos) viewers.

Is this a Marketing Fad or the Future?

It just looks a little too weird right now to catch on. I can see different teams putting their touches on it. Maybe Oregon will have 200 different versions. We can call it a soft-launch. Loyal fans may pick up a few but Improvements must be made quickly or this will go the way of Crystal Pepsi. The true test is if Jay-Z decides he wants to get on board and launch a version for the Nets. That man has style and knows how to sell water to a guy-or-girl-who-already-has-water. Maybe they’ll up the ante and reveal a black-tie pin-stripe Athletic Performance Tuxedo™ that he and Timberlake can sport at their concerts.

Update: Kevin sent me this NCAA t-shirt press image. I don’t even know what to say…

New NCAA  T-shirt Jerseys

What the? –

Also Bonus Sleeveless Rodgers.


I had too much fun making Sleeveless Rodgers


By Hoa Nguyen. Whose knowledge of sports is mostly informed by video games.
Follow Hoa on Twitter at @hoabert
You can contact Hoa at


2013 Big XII Quarterback Rankings

By: Jeff Seiler

The Big XII has been a hot bed of quality starting quarterbacks for years now. The open, high-powered offenses have led to prolific quarterback play, All-Americans, Heisman winners, and first-round draft picks. Kliff Kingsbury, BJ Symons, Graham Harrell, Sam Bradford, and Landry Jones have all won the Sammy Baugh Trophy, awarded to the nation’s best passer. Michael Bishop, Eric Crouch, Jason White (twice), Vince Young, Bradford, Colt McCoy, and Robert Griffin III have all won the Davey O’Brien award as a top Quarterback. Crouch, White, Bradford, and Griffin also all won the Heisman. Finally, Young, Josh Freeman, Bradford, Blaine Gabbert, Ryan Tannehill, and Brandon Weeden were all first-round draft picks in the last 10 years. This year’s draft should see Geno Smith, Collin Klein, and Landry Jones all drafted high. Quarterbacks have ruled this league and led their respective teams to BCS games and National Championships.

But 2013 could be a different year for the Big XII starting quarterbacks. Many quarterbacks are beginning the season as their first time starting, and the experienced guys aren’t exactly a who’s who list of big time names. Texas Tech’s Seth Doege, Baylor’s Nick Florence, Iowa State’s Steele Jantz, and Kansas’ Dayne Crist join Landry, Klein, and Smith as alumni of their respective school’s now. Texas QB David Ash is the most experienced starter and he’s split time the last two years with Case McCoy. Oklahoma State ran a three quarterback rotation much of last year and TCU will have to decide between recovering QB Casey Paschall and last’s year’s starter Trevone Boykin. Paschall should be back as a member of the football program after entering drug rehab this fall.

Here is how I would rank Big XII quarterback’s based on how I think they will perform in 2013:

  1. Oklahoma State: Wes Lunt/JW Walsh/Clint Shelf – All have experience, each having thrown for more than 1,000 yards and starting three or more games in 2012. Mike Gundy’s offense suggests that it doesn’t matter who is back there, they are going to pile up big stats. Shelf has the most experience, Walsh is higher rated, and Lunt was named the starter going into last season. Look for Lunt to reclaim the position, but be on a short leash.
  2. Oklahoma: Blake Bell – The 6’5” 250lb junior-to-be saw lots of action last season, although it was in the role of “Belldozer,” ala Tim Tebow circa 2006. He’ll take over the reins and try to duplicate Tebow’s starting success. Bell has 24 rushing touchdowns in two seasons, but in 2013 we’ll see if he throw the ball, too. He was listed as one of the top pro style QB’s coming out of high school.
  3. Baylor: Bryce Petty – Petty saw spot duty under Florence last year. Coach Art Briles is betting on Petty to break records just like his predecessors, Griffin III and Florence.
  4. TCU: Casey Paschall/Trevone Boykin – This will be one of the big storylines to watch this summer. Both players have experience and success. Look for Paschall to complete his comeback and lead this team to a possible conference championship.
  5. Texas Tech: Michael Brewer – Brewer came out of Austin Lake Travis HS where he posted big numbers and beat Johnny Manziel twice. He has similar style, rankings, and stats as Manziel did. He not only has the Tech pedigree passing arm, but also adds the dimension of being able to take off and run with it.
  6. Texas: David Ash – Mack Brown has stated that he is the clear-cut starter, stop me if you’ve heard that one before. He was hit and miss in 2012, but a strong showing in the bowl game could help relieve tension in Austin.
  7. Kansas: Jake Heaps – Highly recruited player, sat out last season after transferring from BYU where he started for a season and a half.
  8. West Virginia: Paul Milliard – The junior out of Dallas should be the starter opening weekend. He’s seen spot duty behind the aforementioned Geno Smith the past two seasons.
  9. Iowa State: Sam Richardson – Jared Barnett is transferring, which opens the way for Richardson, who started the last three games of 2012.
  10. Kansas State: Daniel Sams – An athletic QB who sat behind Heisman finalist Klein last year, completing six passes, but should provide the athleticism we’ve seen from KState QBs in the past.

Say it Ain’t So, Rory

By Kevin York

Photo Credit: (Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Photo Credit: (Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

I’m a Rory McIlroy fan. He’s not my absolute favorite golfer, and I actually like his fellow countryman Graeme McDowell better, but I like Rory and respect what he’s doing for golf. A young, good, potentially dominant golfer with his head screwed on straight. The game means something to him and winning a tournament is still an emotional event for him. I thought he would be the answer to what Tiger Woods has given us the last ten years (ok, more like the ten years previous to the last two, when he’s been a shell of his former self) – cold, robotic dominance from a man that appears to have no emotions other than anger or self pity.

This morning that all may have changed. As ESPN reported, McIlroy walked off the course in the middle of his second round at the Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens in Florida.

Continue reading

Quick Slant: Sports are Most Definitely a Business

By Kevin York

Slant: Jermichael Finley won’t take pay cut & Tom Brady takes a pay cut


Remember when professional athletes played their game because they loved it? When money wasn’t at the forefront of their decisions, trumping everything else, including winning? You’re not alone in having a foggy memory about this; I’m having a tough time remembering those days too.

Most athletes these days care about their pay day, just making as much money as they can. It doesn’t matter who they play for. It doesn’t even matter if they win. They just want to be shown the money. Jermichael Finley isn’t a culprit as much as he is the norm, just the latest in a long line of athletes that are in it for themselves.

But who are we to criticize that? Isn’t that how we all approach our careers on a smaller, much less lucrative scale? To a certain degree, yes, although there are exceptions. I’m not in a day job where I’m making as much as I possibly can. To me, there are other things more important than money. I think many others fall into this category as well. Us normal people have a number of other things that we weigh with jobs, including insurance, benefits, work environment and co-workers. The comparison of us as normal people to a Jermichael Finley won’t work because too many normal people really are doing what they can to scrape by for their families. When a pro athlete makes a comment about needing to support his family it makes me want to gag. When you’re making millions you’re able to support your family. Unless you have no idea how to manage money (granted, some definitely do not…) those few extra million don’t make that much of a difference in the life you give your wife/girlfriend/baby mama and kids.

Tom Brady is a throwback. He took less money so that New England can continue to build a winning team around him. I applaud that. We need more professional athletes like him. However, I’m smart enough to see we won’t see many Brady’s in sports anymore. Sports have most definitely become a business. Athletes play to make money, not necessarily to win. Is there anything wrong wit that? Not entirely, it’s just the reality of sports today.

As a Packer fan, don’t let the door hit you on the way out, Jermichael. You’re far too expensive for the production you’ve given us the last few years.

By Kevin York
Follow Kevin on Twitter at @kevin_york
You can contact Kevin at

Quick Slant: Big 12 Men’s Basketball Officiating

By Ryan Lack

Slant: Big 12 acknowledges ‘errors’ by refs


Referees make mistakes? WHAT!? Even … don’t say it … mistakes that cost good teams great wins? No. Way. I never would have thought!

Remarkably, the broken record is still spinning on NCAA Men’s Basketball courts and football fields nationwide. We see it often. A great game plays out in front of us, often on national television, some controversial calls are made – some right, some wrong – and sometimes they’re flat out stupid.

This happened to Iowa State’s men’s basketball team recently when they took on #6 Kansas, a perennial favorite when they play most teams, especially Big 12 teams, but most certainly a favorite on this night. Iowa State competeted – hard – against a team they had no business keeping up with. And when it came down to the wire, the game’s momentum or whatever you want to call it was affected by the blatant ineptitude of the referees.

(Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports)

(Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports)

The officials did not call either a block or a charge when Jayhawks guard Elijah Johnson collided with Iowa State’s Georges Niang, who appeared to have his feet set, with five seconds remaining in regulation.

Instead, Niang was whistled for a holding foul after Johnson’s shot missed and the ball came loose on the floor. Johnson went to the free-throw line and made the two free throws, forcing overtime and helping Kansas rally for a 108-96 victory in Ames.

There’s no excuse for it really, but the Big 12 wants to make it up to Iowa State. No really, they do. How, you might be asking, will they make it up to them? No, not by overturning a win that for all intents and purposes was Iowa State’s to take home, but by “acknowledging errors were made.”

“The Big 12 Conference acknowledges that officiating errors were made at the end of regulation during last night’s Kansas at Iowa State men’s basketball game,” the conference said in a statement released Tuesday. “The plays have been reviewed and appropriate measures will be taken by the Coordinator of Men’s Basketball Officials to adjust the number of future assignments for the two officials involved in conjunction with Conference policies.”

Thanks, guys.

If I’m Iowa State I’m PISSED. That’s a marquee win and potential last four in or out deal-breaker for them as they are most definitely a bubble team with a 19-9 season record and a 9-6 conference record.

Let’s be real. Change needs to happen. They’ve instituted some replay options, which is great and all, but what I’d like to see is either:

1. Coaches get one challenge and one only. You lose it, the other team shoots two free throws.
2. A referee up in the booth that reviews and can overrule bad calls in the waning minutes of a game.

Sure this adds more process to an already complicated process that we don’t want to slow down further, but getting it right is more important, especially when it’s David vs. Goliath.

By Ryan Lack
Follow Ryan on Twitter at @ryanlack
You can contact Ryan at