Budget games Week 1

Possible new logo for the Sun Belt Conference this week

Possible new logo for the Sun Belt Conference this week

College football is back, and while some match-ups are enticing this weekend, others are a cakewalk. Here are some games where a powerhouse football program is paying a FBS mid-major in need of funds (typically around $1 million) to take a beating.

Arkansas State at No. 8 USC

The Red Wolves went 7-6 last season and played in its fourth straight GoDaddy Bowl. That’s an impressive achievement for the ASU program. Unfortunately, the University of Southern California doesn’t really care about that. The Trojans see a Sun Belt program that should go down easy.

Arkansas State might actually make USC nervous for tiny bit but the Trojans should be able to score at will in this one. Three of ASU’s top four tacklers are gone from a year ago and that’s big problem against USC. Trojans roll.

Louisiana-Monroe at No. 9 Georgia

The good news for Louisana-Monroe is that it defeated a power conference school last season. The bad news is that was Wake Forest. The Warhawks went 4-8 last year and was held to under 100 yards in it’s 31-0 loss at LSU. ULM also lost at Kentucky 48-14. So I doubt Georgia will have much fear here.

Throw in the fact Georgia has won 17 of its last 18 home openers and you have a very long day for ULM in Athens.

Texas State at No. 10 Florida State

Texas State has been bowl eligible the past two seasons (did not get selected) and has a great chance to finally get in. That might not be seen in its opener at Florida State. The Seminoles are 10-1 all-time against current Sun Belt teams.

Florida State is in transition with a new quarterback so maybe Texas State can hang around in this game for a quarter or two. Eventually though, the Bobcat defense with four of its five best tacklers gone from last season will collapse. It won’t be pretty when it does.

MACtion Fights Perceptions

Sticks and stones may break my bones but linebackers will never hurt me.

Sticks and stones may break my bones but linebackers will never hurt me.

Readers of my site know I have a soft spot for mid-major conferences and it goes double for the Mid-American Conference as I went to Ball State. So it’s pretty cool when the MAC tries to advertise itself or rebrand the schools in the league.

That’s pretty much the goal of the ad developed by 160over90. First, lets take a look at how the MAC tried to portray itself in the past. Most little commercials for the conference have tried to focus on sportsmanship pr unspecified traditions. Just like this ad for example.

Yep, nothing says #MACtion like a breakfast diner. Still, it’s a lot better than this throwback gem from 1998. Just hit it.

Now that you have a baseline you can see why the MAC could use some help here. Check out the finished result.

The ad taps into the Midwest angst and feeling of invisibility giving it an edge. MAC fans are used to being the underdog and that will probably never change.  We kind of like it that way. The site explains the perceptions a little further.

You can also create memes with school colors

if you want some trash talk with Big Ten fans.

While this campaign emphasizes the MAC does not need spotlight, it’s obvious some spotlight will help. MAC football has generally struggled in the attendance category, especially in November when schools play games during the week in frigid temperatures.  Fan passion varies from school to school as Northern Illinois and Western Michigan have passionate bases. Eastern Michigan not so much.

MACtion may speak louder than words but people have to see the MACtion first. Anything that can assist with being seen is a plus but the only success on the field will ultimately change perceptions. And we all know the latter is the hard part.

Cupcake eaters of the 2015 college football season

A look a North Carolina's schedule.

A look a North Carolina’s schedule.

Scheduling is not easy for college athletic directors, but Power 5 conferences have privileges the mid-majors and FCS schools do not. Money, attendance and prestige for starters, as the big schools can get anyone to play them and pick where they play.

So when I see a Power 5 school go light with their non-conference schedule I get annoyed. Sure, everyone is entitled to play a FCS school and a Sun Belt doormat, but when that’s all your team does outside of conference action it’s time to gCFB Preview 2015rab your pitchfork and charge the athletic office. Here is a look at some schools that could have done a little more in non-conference.

No. 7: Washington State
Washington State has a relatively small stadium for a Power 5 school and that’s a good thing with the weak home slate the Cougars have. It at least gives them hope of selling out when Portland State and Wyoming comes to town. They do travel to a Big Ten team in Rutgers but the PAC-12 schedule is one of the weakest in the conference with USC and Utah left off. Only Stanford and Arizona State will come into Pullman as teams that played in a bowl last year. By the time they do arrive the Cougars may be 2-5 so buy those season tickets today.

No. 6: Arkansas
Give credit to Arkansas for playing Texas Tech but it only has four true road games on the schedule. With seven home games and a neutral site contest with Texas A&M, Arkansas is determined to make Head Coach Bret Bielema look as good as possible in his third year. Poor UTEP, Toledo, and UT-Martin. Just let those cupcakes bake at 350 degrees and let them cool for five minutes.

No. 5: Florida
The Gators are just as guilty as the Razorbacks with only four road games. Florida though has to play Florida State as a rivalry so that doesn’t mean much in terms of scheduling credit. Especially in a year where Auburn and Alabama are not on the schedule making SEC play somewhat manageable. East Carolina is a tough Group of Five school but New Mexico State and Florida Atlantic are pure cupcakes.

No. 4: Penn State
Penn State does have stomach to play at Temple but that doesn’t mean much when you have won the last 31 meetings. Home games against Buffalo, San Diego State and Army West Point are added to a suspect Big Ten slate. The Nittany Lions dodge all the good teams of the West Division. Instead of dealing with Iowa and Wisconsin it’s Northwestern and Illinois. Maryland was supposed to be a road game but that it is a neutral site contest in Baltimore. The result is only three true road games in conference to go along with a four mid-majors. If Penn State is not 6-0 going into Ohio State on Oct. 17 than it should be considered a failure.

No. 3: Florida State
FSU has to outdo in-state rival Florida so it welcomes two FCS programs to Tallahassee in 2015. Again, you can’t give credit to the Seminoles for playing at the rival Gators. That game is an obligation. When you add South Florida, Texas State, and Chattanooga to an unappealing ACC menu it does not attract interest. At Clemson and at Georgia Tech are games of interest but the Noles will face the challenge of not looking ahead to those games. Miami and Louisville are at home minimizing the upset potential.

No. 2: Boston College
Boston College opens with two FCS schools in Maine and Howard. The Eagles are another school with only four road games. Yeah, it’s cool Boston College plays Notre Dame and a tough MAC school in Northern Illinois but the road schedule is Duke, Clemson, Louisville and Syracuse. Not exactly the gauntlet. Part of the problem is that there are not that many FBS programs in the northeast. I would like to see Boston College play Connecticut but maybe they fight over recruits too much.

No. 1: North Carolina
North Carolina doesn’t have the excuse Boston College has as there are plenty of good football programs in the South. UNC also plays two FCS schools and only has four road games. Heck, just two of those games take place before November. I like the Tar Heels playing the Gamecocks of South Carolina on a neutral field but that’s the only thing to like here. Illinois is at home and sandwiched between FCS North Carolina A&T and FCS Delaware. The big kicker though is Florida State and Clemson are not on the ACC schedule. Instead it draws C-listers Wake Forest and North Carolina State out of the Atlantic division. So not exactly must see games will be going down at Chapel Hill this year. You can’t blame UNC for the weaker ACC slate as the conference does that but the Tar Heels should have been more bold in non-conference to make up for it. Two FCS schools when you are in an area filled with CUSA and Sun Belt teams can’t be accepted. I guess this is what happens when you lose to East Carolina two straight seasons.

2014-15 College Sports Social Media Awards

All I do is win, win, win no matter what.

All I do is win, win, win no matter what.

I hope you enjoyed the appetizer of the ESPYS because it’s time to recognize the more important stuff. The social media masters in our NCAA bubble. Social Media award

Last year, my post was a big hit and I went all out this time. No I didn’t see everything on Twitter and Facebook and if I did I would be a synthetic on Humans. Trust me, I saw enough, but feel free to let me know if there was something you think I should have recognized. Now let’s take a look at these manufactured awards.

Best way to embarrass your players: Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt had a great spring sports season with baseball and tennis, so with all the excitement can you blame the track team for taking a nap to recharge? Apparently, their own teammate could not. Anchor down means staying on the internet forever.

Worst use of a statistic: UConn Football
I get it UConn football, you are constantly trying to get your team out of the shadows of the best basketball programs in the country. The countdowns though are coming across as desperate.

That’s right, we are counting down to play a FCS team! Not Rutgers, not Boston College, not even Temple but FCS Villanova. Get your tickets now!

Even worse was the punting statistic. In a 12-game season 66 punts is 5.5 punts a game. That’s a problem as UConn gave up the third highest points in American Athletic Conference play last season. Roughly 30 points per contest. Don’t brag about forcing punts when you are being scored on every other possession.

Best use of democracy: Georgia Tech
Who knew the Yellow Jackets would go to the public for fashion advice?

Best presentation of starting lineup: Missouri
There were plenty of great designs out there for starting lineups in basketball but I like what Missouri did here with the black and white contrast. Now that’s some good layering in the photo edit.

Best soccer starting lineup: East Tennessee State
While I liked what Missouri did for basketball I have to give ETSU credit for their soccer efforts. I gotta have more tactical lineups like these.

Most insecure: North Dakota State
I seriously don’t know what I did. I was a big fan of the Bison winning numerous FCS titles and getting on College Gameday too. This hurts NDSU.

No longer on the Christmas card list.

No longer on the Christmas card list.

Best prognostication: Georgia State
In what ended up being the most entertaining game of the NCAA Tournament, the Panthers knew that an upset was in order thanks to an official box score. Sorry Baylor.

Most shameless advertisement: FIU
FIU has always been in need of cash and well… let’s have a word from our sponsor.

Selfie of the year by mascot: Kentucky
Here is a school not in need of cash. Why every team should have a midnight madness like Kentucky.

Best at making announcements: Northern Illinois
NIU is developing a tradition of making a big deal about future football games. And I have to say #SchedulePalooza is pretty cool. The Huskies drop hints making fans work a digital scavenger hunt to determine the teams NIU will play in a few years.

Worst graphic: Arizona
The defensive player of the week has NO EYES! What an incredible performance by her!

Worst logo placement: Siena
You may accuse me of having my mind in the gutter but a woman’s waistline should never be used for branding. Or a man’s for that matter. Siena is a great follow but this post was not one of the best.

Best costume by a media member: Shae Peppler
Going back to a Miami school with Shae Peppler of Campus Insiders somehow pulling off an Al Golden for Halloween. Didn’t know his tie was so iconic.

Best female media personality to follow: Nicole Auerbach
Auerbach is one of the few who covers college basketball and football equally. She is also one of the few women to be on television as a college football expert for the Big Ten Network. Plus she retweeted me last year. So all the power to her.

Best male media personality to follow: Pat Forde
Until Seth Davis covers other sports besides basketball, Pat Forde is and will always be the man.

Most Harsh: UTEP
This about sums it up.
http://www.midmajormadness.com/2015/3/17/8240159/utep-miner-athletics-uses-twitter-to-put-down-their-own-player

Best food promotion: Iowa State
Now that is a social media promotion.

Best photo shoot: Tie between Pepperdine and Bowling Green State
Yeah I whiffed with a tie but how are you supposed to choose between these two?

Best social media rivalry: MAC vs. the Sun Belt
A great way to have the other bowl games be more impactful is to have the conferences duke it out Twitter. Well done MAC and Sun Belt. Well done.

Best tweet: Jacksonville State
Now this photo demonstrates what college sports should be all about. Playing for your school, having fun and getting that degree. You can stop advertising NCAA. We have found your marketing tool.

Best team selfies: Niagra Women’s Basketball
Have you ever been stuck on the interstate for 24 hours because of a snowstorm? No? Well here is what it looks like.

Best way to celebrate a milestone: New Hampshire
Reaching 700 wins in any sport is a big deal. You truly have to put your body into it.

Best to chat with: Southern Miss
Want to chat with your favorite Golden Eagle? You don’t even have to leave your laptop.

Best video series: American Athletic Conference
American Rising hosted by Hali Oughton became the most informative regular on my news feed this year. The AAC is still new and an odd mix of schools so this media effort helps get it organized for fans.

Best conference on Facebook: Mountain West
For Facebook, I want to see photo galleries. The Mountain West does a tremendous job of providing exactly that for most of its games. This Facebook banner is pretty good too. MWC 7 teams

Best conference to follow: Big West
The Big West celebrates every holiday, offers plenty of photos for every sport and how can you beat this?

Best video by a school: South Florida
A great way to promote a sport like volleyball. This promotion idea was cute and I hope that more videos like these will increase interest for the volleyball program at USF.

Best game show by a team: Florida State Sand Volleyball
On the other side of the state, FSU tried some video ideas of its own with a game show theme. I’m all for getting sand volleyball more attention even in cheesy ways like this, but I don’t think you need two parts here. Still, the effort is to be applauded.

Best school to follow on social media No. 5: Georgia Southern
Now to the top five schools to follow on Twitter. The Eagles made some nice info graphics for their teams this year. Here is a look at a soccer example.

Best school to follow on social media No. 4: Western Kentucky
WKU promoted their sports equally with photo shoots and other promotional graphics. The Hilltoppers had fun too with this color coordinated seating chart.

Best school to follow on social media No. 3: Oregon State
No school made better use of its color scheme on social media than the orange and black of Oregon State. Their posts were hard to miss.

Best school to follow on social media No. 2: Colorado State
Colorado State did an excellent job using photography. It always seemed to grab my attention with the bold colors the Rams would use.

Best school to follow on social media No. 1: Kansas State
The best combination of game updates, photography, promotions, statistics and design has to be Kansas State. The Wildcats were active promoting every game from every team and every result. I feel like I’m in the know about K-State despite living a few states away.

Plus how do compete with a promotion like this?

2015 NBA Draft Diary

Karl-Anthony Townsdraft logo
Do I like him as a player, absolutely? Do like him in Minnesota? Uuuuuh. Not really. He’ll have to post up against the best right away in the Western Conference.
This team belongs to Andrew Wiggins. Will Towns create enough space for him in the paint? Will the No. 1 pick like being a guy who is a second banana on the team?

D’Angelo Russell
The Lakers draft who they must feel is a replacement for Kobe Bryant. Why else would they make this move? How much better is he than other guards in the draft though, like Cameron Payne or R.J. Hunter. Seems high for the No. 2 pick and higher still for a guy ahead of Okafor.

Jahlil Okafor
The Sixers take Okafor and this has to be a trade. The Sixers have spent three straight lottery picks on big men now. And this is what Philadelphia has been tanking for? Yet none of the ESPN guys are ripping the Sixers.
Okafor does not look happy in his interview. Did not mention Philadelphia only a standard happy to be in the league quote. Get him on a better team ASAP.

Kristaps Porzingis
The Knicks take a big from Lativa. That’s all I know about him. That and Knicks fans hate the pick. Shocker.

Jay Bilas says he is a light rebounder and needs to put on weight. Not good.

Mario Hexonja
Magic take a shooter from Spain. Will take some shuffling in the Magic backcourt but could be a big help.

Willie Cauley-Stein
The Kings take a Kentucky buddy of DeMarcus Cousins as an attempt to make him happy I suppose. He is the best defender in the draft and that will give him minutes. Also give him a chance to make up for his offense. The Kings need help in other places but if this is what they need to do keep Boogie happy then it’s hard to trash the pick despite it being a reach.

Emmanuel Mudiay
Love the pick here for the Nuggets. Could end up being the best player in the draft and that’s awesome with the seventh pick. Fantasy owners will love him as he will get minutes right away. Especially if the Nuggets trade Ty Lawson. Mudiay was the top guard a year ago and fell because he played in China. When a player goes overseas to play ball there is no way he will take the NBA for granted and that means a lot for a player’s development.

Stanley Johnson
Over Justise Winslow? Really Detroit? The Pistons struggled to space the floor the past few years so they bring in a 3 who can’t shoot. Nice. He can defend, but where is the scoring going to come from the Pistons?

Frank Kaminsky III
Frank the Tank goes to Charlotte where they have bigs. Maybe this is a pick to replace Al Jefferson? Needs to improve his defense if he is going to see big minutes. Looking for this pick to get traded. Maybe to Boston.

Justise Winslow
Leave it to the Heat to grab a player at No. 10 everyone wanted. He can defend multiple positions and get to the rim. Shooting is a skill that can improve overtime but his defense and ability to draw fouls will make him a force. Darn you Pat Riley.

Myles Turner
As a Pacer fan I don’t like the pick. This seems like a move in case David West doesn’t come back. Turner has to prove he can defend and get big minutes. He only started seven games for Texas. Wish Indiana went Cameron Payne here.

Trey Lyles Utah takes Trey Lyles out of Kentucky. Yep. Utah has good players in the front court so this doesn’t make sense.

Devin Booker
Phoenix takes Booker, maybe the best shooter in the draft. This is a steal for Phoenix. Shooting is always easy to implement into a team and boy can he shoot.

Cameron Payne
I love mid major players and Payne is a great pick. A steal at 14. Could replace Reggie Jackson immediately for the Thunder. Murray State is here to save the day in OKC.

Kelly Oubre Jr.
Atlanta takes a wing in Oubre from Kansas. The Hawks needed some defense in that spot with Kyle Korver being a matador.
Whoops, he just got traded to the Wizards.

Terry Rozier
A team loaded with guards took Terry Rozier, a point guard. Trade bait.

Rashad Vaughn
Jalen Rose compared Vaughn to Dion Waiters. Not exciting. But any Mountain West player selected in the first round is a good pick in my book. Yea mid-majors. Wish Vaughn the best at Milwaukee.

Sam Dekker
Houston takes Dekker, a team that shoots 3s took a quality 3-point shooter. Reasonable.

Jerian Grant
Supposedly this pick is going to New York meaning Grant will be operating in a talent wasteland. Very few players could survive there but Grant is a fighter and we saw that in the tournament.

Delon Wright
The Raptors take a point guard to make up for how badly Kyle Lowery played in the playoffs. The odds of him starting there are small but that is what happens in this stage of the first round. Though other guys might have been more appealing here.

Justin Anderson
A guy who can defend most positions will give Dallas immediate help athletically. Love this pick for the Mavericks.

Bobby Portis
This a high value pick for the Bulls as Portis can help the team soon with his rebounding and effort. Wish he took Arkansas a little further in the tournament, but it is hard to complain about him right here.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
Portland grabs a defensive stalwart in Hollis-Jefferson. So what if he struggles from 3. That can improve. This is a good pick for Portland who already have the scoring punch from Damian Lillard.

Tyus Jones
Cavaliers take Tyus Jones but ship him to Minnesota for two second round picks. Going from playing with LeBron to playing in Minnesota has to be depressing.

Jarell Martin
Memphis needs offense and selected a guy who averaged 17 and 9. I’ll take that at pick No. 25.

Nikola Milutinov
Don’t know him but he was drafted by the Spurs so…

Larry Nance Jr.
Wyoming! Can’t remember a guy from that school going in the first round but it’s nice to see. He’ll have his work cut out for him in LA though. Turns out Theo Ratliff was drafted in the first round in 1995. Been awhile.

R.J. Hunter
A big steal in the draft. Boston continues to draft guards so I see some moves coming.

Chris McCullough
The Nets are happy to take anyone as Boston and Atlanta has all of their picks.

Kevon Looney
Going to the Warriors has to be a great feeling. Golden State needs some size and Looney can help in that regard.

2015 Women’s Basketball All-Superheroine Team

Heroine_hoopsThere are awards for All-American athletes and awards for All-Academic, but what about for both? That’s what the NC2A Nerd All-Superhero or in this case all Superheroine team is about. Here are the criteria.

1: Make the conference all-academic team.
2: Make the all-conference team.
3: Play on a team with at least a winning record with preference for conference champions and deep tourney runs.
4: No freshmen allowed with preference for seniors.
5: Only one player per team. This means UConn can’t have five on this list.
Here are my top 12 Superheorines of the 2014-15 women’s basketball season.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA1. UConn: Breanna Stewart
Easier to say what she has not accomplished at UConn. Stewart has won two straight Naismith Trophies and the same with AP Player of the Year. Making the American Athletic Conference’s Academic team is pretty easy as anyone with a 3.0 GPA gets in but she did it. Oh, I almost forgot, she has won three national titles in three years.

Elizabeth Williams2. Duke: Elizabeth Williams
Made the ACC Academic team with and earned a remarkable four straight selections to All-ACC team. Williams also won the Kay Vow Scholar Athlete of the year award and helped the Blue Devils to a Sweet 16 appearance.

Ruth Hamblin3. Oregon State: Ruth Hamblin
Making the PAC-12 Academic team is hard as the conference only recognizes 10. Enter Hamblin, who earned a 3.86 GPA in medical engineering while leading the Beavers. On the court, Hamblin earned PAC-12 player of the year with 13 points and 9 rebounds a game. She made it while also being on the All-PAC-12 squad.

4. Princeton: Blake Dietrick Princeton Blake Dietrick
Best player on an undefeated Ivy League team. What more can you say? Dietrick was the engine to the offense as she led the Tigers in points and assists.

SamanthaLogicIowa5. Iowa: Samantha Logic
Fought it out with teammate Ally Disterhoft for this spot but she got it with her first team All-Big Ten selection. Helped propel the Hawkeyes to the Sweet 16 and earned a spot on the Women’s Basketball coaches Association All-American team. Logic also made the Capital One Academic All-American team.

Now to the reserves…

6. Maryland: Lexie Brown Lexie Brown
Have Lexie Brown just edging out her teammate Brionna Jones. Brown led the Terps to a Final Four and made the All-Big 10 team with academic accolades to go on with it.

7. Pittsburgh: Brianna KieselBrianna Kiesel
Kiesel has made multiple ACC-Academic teams while at Pittsburgh and the senior guard made the All-ACC team thanks to 18.5 points per game.

Hoover, Andrea 2014-15 cropped8. Dayton: Andrea Hoover
Made the A-10 honor roll while helping her team to the Elite Eight. Hoover also competed well in the national 3-point contest as she shot a ridiculous 45 percent from beyond the arc.

Sunny Greinacher9. Gonzaga: Sunny Greinacher
Greinacher is a graduate student who earned a 3.52 GPA while pursuing her masters in counseling. She also led to the Zags on a Cinderella run to the Sweet 16 with 14 points per game. Greinacher just beat out teammate Elle Tinkle for this spot.

stafford_imani_201410. Texas: Imani McGee-Stafford
McGee-Stafford made the Big-12 Academic team majoring in accounting and made the All-Big 12 team despite missing games due to injury. She helped Texas to the Sweet 16 with a surprise upset of California in the round of 32 thanks to her double-double in that game.