Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Courtesy examiner.com

Tis the season sports fans to be making your Christmas lists.  Fill it with all the things that would make you jollier than Ole Saint Nick himself. 

I'm not any different than anyone else in the world in having a Christmas wish list.  The only real difference between me and you is I won't be sitting on Santa's lap to give him my ultimate Christmas sports wishes. 

My list isn't a long one but it can be seen as a very involved one. 

I don't rank them in any sort of order as they are all equally important and special to me as a sports fan.  I just know I want them really, really, really bad. 

Wish List Item #1.


This Saturday, December 22nd the Maui Invitational Champion Illinois Fighting Illini will be taking on their toughest opponent to date in the Missouri Tigers.  This match-up is pitting two ranked teams and will really test these newly charged Illini to show what they are made of.

There has been quite a bit of chatter back and forth regarding the Illini's current record and legitimacy of their status in the AP top ten.  They are currently sitting at #10.  I am realistic in having watched them this season to know what they are capable of but they still seem to need to prove it to everyone out there the Illini are for real.

They went out and won the Maui invitational, they went to one of the toughest places to get a "W" in Gonzaga's Kennel, and have played their way to 12-0 and sitting with an opportunity to make a real national statement with a win against a very good Missouri team.

The past three Christmases have been a little less cheery around my household as the Tigers have come away with victories in the annual contest.  I liked it a great deal better when Illinois was winning year in and year out.  9 straight times to be exact.  What memories!

If the Illini can continue this current attitude of proving nay sayer's wrong and keep the trifectas flowing like the Bush Beer fans will be pouring in the stands then I like Illinois chances. 

The game will most likely be close but hopefully Brandon Paul will use a little of Frosty's magic and get me and every other Illini fan a nice Christmas gift this year and Thumpity Thump Thump those Missouri Tigers!

Wish List Item #2


The start to this season couldn't have gone better for Illini coach John Groce.  His style of play is very appealing to potential recruits and it is paying off in the short term as he has landed players from not only the state of Illinois but on the East Coast as well.  He is showing his worth on the recruiting trail and looks good long term. 

He just recently added his first player from the class of 2014 in Champaign's own Michael Finke.  He is a great addition to the type of team Groce is trying to build.  He is a perfect example of  a player who is getting better as the years go on and it shows by the offers he was getting from other Big Ten Schools.

I am so glad he accepted the offer from Illinois as Wisconsin was looking at luring him to Madison.  He is the ideal type of player that Bo Ryan would have used to kill us every time out.  So kudos to the coaching staff on keeping an extremely talented local product home and seeing the value in his ability.  I also am glad to have him on board as he would have probably been another Brian Cardinal catastrophe and we probably wouldn't have beat him in 9 tries either.

The reason I added the recruiting to my wish list because there are some real heavy targets on the Illini radar who would look very good in Orange and Blue.  I realize the Illini lost out on Jabari Parker but that was without having Groce on campus for only a few short months. 

I like the strides he has made though in that amount of time.  I want to see him with a full court press of sorts and having his guys on campus and using full-time work in targeting a prospect and sealing the deal.

I would like to see him continue to recruit and build a quality relationship with Jahlil Okafor (22).  Groce has shown ability to recruit Chicago as he landed the Simeon duo of Kendrick Nunn and Jaylon Tate.  Jahlil has been quoted by ESPN as saying, "I love the new coach," he said. "I talk to Kendrick and Jaylon and they haven't said anything but positive things. I'm really looking at Illinois. I like them."

Hearing that gets your Orange Krush juices flowing.  He is on my Christmas List and John Groces as well as every other elite program out there.  He is 7 feet tall and 265 lbs of true athleticism. 

He also wants to play with his good friend and point guard Tyus Jones who just happens to be the #1 ranked player in the junior class.  Not to say it is possible but stranger things have happened. 

By the way, I would love to see their Reindeer games going up and down the court!  One can wish right?

Wish List Item #3


I have to switch gears a bit with my current list.  It still revolves around basketball but it goes up in competition level by wanting the best for my beloved Chicago Bulls.  They have arguably the leagues best coach (Coach Thibs) and arguably one of the best players in Derrick Rose.  When he was healthy.

This is what I want for my Derrick Rose stocking stuffer.  I want him to recover and have that same exact explosiveness and sheer killer instinct that made him the leagues youngest MVP.  He is a difference maker and single handily made the Bulls the leagues best team.  They had the pieces, with Derrick, to contend for leagues best record and make a run at the NBA Finals. 

They need a healthy Derrick in order for that to even be possible again.  I feel confident in the doctors and rehab professionals that he will regain his former form and dominate. 

The knee injuries of the past are just that ancient.  Players like the Chicago Bears Gale Sayers ended their careers with knee injuries and were never given another chance to shine.  If only the technology was there then who know what he could have done.  My point is that you see what players in all sports are able to do after suffering horrific knee injuries. 

Anyone watched a Minnesota Vikings football game this season.  Adrian Peterson destroyed his knee last season and now is running like the Bionic Man and flirting with setting an all-time rushing record for a season. 

This makes me very optimistic for Derrick to return and have his same ability.  Are you listening Santa?

Wish List Item #4


With the Christmas season also comes Christmas greed.  Not only do I want Derrick to come back 100% healthy but I want the Bulls to pull the trigger on a potential blockbuster trade.  They need to give the fans some Love.

And by Love, I mean, Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

He is a tremendous talent.  The All-Star forward recently was quoted by Yahoo Sports about his current situation and he didn't sound all that happy in Minnesota or with management.  He said, "I don't know who labels people stars, but even [T'wolves owner] Glen Taylor said: I don't think Kevin Love is a star, because he hasn't led us to the playoffs. I mean, it's not like I had much support out there." 

This logic is absurd to think this guy isn't a star.  That same philosophy on not leading a team the playoffs would have been similar to Kevin Garnett.  He led the team to the playoffs but  had to get out of the frigid North Pole too as he knew the road to success was cold and grey. 

The Bulls need to put together a scenario that would work financially under league contractual rules and let them grab this Great White Hope.

They could send Luol Deng as a significant piece or Joakim Noah as the main cog in the trade.  I really don't care just put something together and put Kevin Love under the United Centers Christmas Tree.  What ever you give up to get him will hurt initially but he and Derrick Rose are so young you can add pieces as the years go on and build a championship caliber team. 

This is what you have to do to win in the NBA these days.  You put teams together that have multiple stars and pray to the Christmas Star it works out.

Wish List Item #5


Last but certainly not least I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  I will be taking a break until after the holidays to celebrate Christmas with my wife and kids.  I am passionate about sports and the teams I root for.  But I am over the moon passionate and filled with love when it comes to my family. 

There have been some really tragic events happen this year, most recently the horrific occurrence in Newtown, CT. 

My heart goes out to all those who lost loved ones in this tragedy.  I wish you peace and love.   

So when you get up in the morning kiss your wife or husband and hug and squeeze your kids tight.  Then look in the mirror and ask yourself what can I do today make the world a better place for tomorrow.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!





Sunday, December 9, 2012

Johnny Football

courtesy bostonherald.com

The college football regular season has finally come to a close and it has been an interesting season with some very huge surprises. 

The number one team in the nation, right now, is Notre Dame.  12-0 and hearkening back memories of 1988 and showing everyone that defense ultimately wins championships.  Their success has been driven by pressure defense and no one represented this better than their team and emotional leader Manti Te'o.

What a season he and the Irish had.  On a usual year he would be the overwhelming story and could have been the first defensive player to win the Heisman Trophy.

This, though, has not been a typical season.

This season was highlighted by a redshirt freshman quarterback from Texas A&M named Johnny Manziel. 

A.K.A.  Johnny Football. 

The season's "best player" was crowned as the Heisman Trophy winner Saturday evening and became the first freshman to be named to such an honor.  This is the first of what could be a plethora of collegiate awards for this very talented young man.

During his speech he thanked all the right people and even cracked a few jokes to his grandparents.  He was very personable and seemed mature beyond his years.  The very qualities he used to out gain every other player in the SEC, arguably the countries toughest conference.

This was his first year starting as a quarterback in college.  This was Texas A&M's first go around in the murderer's row of the SEC.  This was the first season for Coach Sumlin in a new conference.

It was a season of questions.  And Johnny Football had all the answers.

He is not the biggest quarterback to grace a backfield.  He just over six feet tall and listed at 200 pounds.  He reminds me a lot of Doug Flutie, a fellow Heisman winner.   What he lacks in stature he makes up for in heart.  The firey kid never gives up.   

He came into this season with something to prove.  He had to prove to himself he could play at the highest level.  He had to prove to his teammates he was able to be a leader at such a young age.  He had to prove to the rest of the SEC that A&M football is going to be heard from right out of the gate.

He was able to do just that.

This season he gained over 4500 yards of total offense and broke, current Carolina Panther QB, Cam Newton's record for which he used as his basis for winning the Heisman trophy just two years ago.

His combination of a powerfully accurate arm and elusive legs made him treat defenses like children.  Even though he looks like a child himself.  The age and experience of this young man doesn't matter in today's game.  Players are taking the reigns of programs and having great success like never before.

You have seen this, obviously, with Johnny Football in college and also this season in the NFL.  Quarterbacks like Andrew Luck, RGIII, Russell Wilson, and Colin Kaepernick are poised, confident, and ready to take your heart and show it to your face.

They are the new breed.  The New World Order, if you will.

Johnny Football is only a freshman and was just awarded the most prestigious award in college football.  The scary thought is he has potentially three more years to show the world what he has to offer.

Only Ohio State's Archie Griffin, left, has won the Heisman Trophy twice.  Who knows if there is room on the mantle for another one or two or three for good ol' Johnny Football.  

If he can produce stats and wins similar to his signature moment this year against Alabama the possibilities are endless.  The consensus of college football experts felt Alabama was close to invincible and he slayed that dragon.  You better get used to this young man and his nickname because you are going to be hearing it alot for the next few years.

You thought people were enamored and or sick of hearing about Tim Tebow.  This kid could surpass him by leaps and bounds.

If he is able to continue Texas A&M's rise in the SEC and if he is able to produce a national championship for the Aggies he will become a Texas State Icon.

This kid from Kerrville, Texas is on a path to potentially be considered one of the greatest college football players of all time.  This is the road he is on after winning an award like the Heisman at such an early age.

Hopefully he remains grounded and keeps his head straight.  If he can keep his eye on the prize we could be witnessing a very special time in college athletics.  He may very well be on the verge of dominating the sport and adding to his legacy.


There is some High School kid out there reading all of Johnny Football's press clippings and is just dying to show the world what he can do. 

And that is the beauty of sports.  And the beauty of the age of sport we live in today.

Just when you think who have the best player out there on the field.  There is another player stepping up to the challenge.  

There is always someone coming up just itching for an opportunity to knock the king off the mountain.

Who knows?

It just might be you!