The Stack joins you on this Thursday and sadly enough, there are still people stuck on icy and snowy highways in Alabama and Georgia. Bad situation down there in the south. Schools and businesses closed. Gridlock galore. The Detroit Pistons-Atlanta Hawks game was postponed last night. Auburn-Alabama men's basketball was postponed last night. I think UNC-Georgia Tech men's basketball was supposed to be on ESPN2, but due to weather, it was forced to ESPN3. Yikes. Not a good situation all around. We have a few things to talk about today so let's get right to it and see what's in "the stack" for today, Thursday, January 30:
Northwestern football players attempt to join union
A couple of things I didn't get to yesterday. On Tuesday, a number of Northwestern football players (one of the schools that you could see doing this) signed and filed union cards with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). It's the first time in the history of college sports that athletes are trying to unionize, a move that likely will not succeed. However, the idea and the fact that a university like Northwestern is attempting to unionize should be enough to really worry the NCAA. This isn't Northwestern State or Mt. Union. This is Northwestern, a well-respected academic university. Northwestern is a member of one of the biggest athletic conferences in the NCAA, the Big Ten. If they can start this, what's to say that a school from the SEC, Pac 12 or ACC wouldn't try to do it? Athletes put a lot of time in to practice and maintaining good grades to keep them eligible. They make the university a lot of money. Sure most players will get a free ridde or get a good chunk of school paid for, but they make way more money for their respective school than what they are getting. It will be really interesting to see how this all plays out and whether or not we've just begun the long path towards schools disbanding from the NCAA and forming their own league. It started with re-alligning conferences. It could end with something much, much worse for the NCAA and college sports in general.
Marshawn Lynch speaks volumes with what he doesn't say
Super Bowl Media Day has come and gone. Hundreds of reporters come interview the two Super Bowl teams (in this case the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks). Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman and Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning were the centers of attention as they should be given their stature in the game. But it was one player who stole the show for what he didn't say. Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch spoke with the media for less than seven minutes before exiting the Prudential Center. He later came back and did an interview with Deion Sanders of the NFL Network, but it was evident that Lynch didn't want to be there. PFWA (Pro Football Writers of America) issued a statement expressing their disappointment that Lynch didn't speak for the full 60 minutes that most every other player did. Even today, Lynch didn't talk too much during the media portion at the Seahawks hotel. The NFL says Lynch is ok and won't be fined $100,000...yet. There is still another media session this week.
People are making a big deal about nothing. Lynch doesn't hate the media. He just is uncomfortable speaking to them. He isn't one to be in the spotlight. He doesn't want that. It's absolutely fine. It would be nice of him for this week during the Super Bowl to meet for the full time with the media. I don't think he is trying to be selfish and trying to be a distraction for the Seahawks. The media is making a mountain out of a molehill on this one. Let Lynch be. He is who he is. Nothing against the media, Lynch just doesn't want to talk. We'll see if he has anything more to say if the Seahawks win the Super Bowl.
Durant, Thunder top LeBron, Heat
OK...this Kevin Durant guy is pretty good. It would could very well be an NBA Finals preview, the Oklahoma City overcame an early deficit to blow out the Miami Heat in Miami 112-95. LeBron James did what he could, scoring 34 points for the Heat. He and Durant went back and forth, scoring 14 straight points at one point in the third quarter, but the Slim Reaper was just too much. Durant scored 33 points, his eighth straight game with at least 30 points. He has the MVP award on lockdown right now. Durant is just as much a lock for MVP as Creighton's Doug McDermott is for the Wooden Award in college basketball. The Heat are struggling a little bit right now while the Thunder are heating up. And KD is putting the team on his back. Right now, I don't think anyone wants to go up against him or the Thunder. Durant cannot be stopped. If they meet up in the NBA Finals, we are in for a real treat.
Upsets galore in college basketball
#1 Arizona avoided their first loss of the season, beating Stanford 60-57 on the road. That would have been quite the upset. #2 Syracuse also stayed undefeated with their 67-57 road conference win against Wake Forest.
Three other ranked teams weren't so lucky...especially the Big Ten. Both #14 Wisconsin and #24 Ohio State lost to unranked bottom of the league teams in the Big Ten. Northwestern beat Wisconsin 65-56 in Madison for the first time since 1996. Wisconsin started the year 16-0. They're 1-4 in their last five. That just doesn't happen, especially to Bo Ryan's team.
Things are getting bad in Columbus as well, where Ohio State lost to Penn State 71-70 at home thanks to a game-winning jumper by D.J. Newbill in overtime. Talk about clutch. Ohio State is now 3-5 in conference. Ouch. Maybe they aren't as good as we think they are. Or perhaps the Big Ten is proving just how difficult of a conference it is. The answer probably lies somewhere in the middle.
#21 UMass also was bitten by the injury bug, losing 78-65 on the road against the Bonnies of St. Bonaventure. It's tough to gauge just how good UMass is. They will make the tourney barring an epic collapse, but they could be a one and done, especially if they are a #5 seed. I smell a 12-5 upset there. I'm getting a head of myself though. At least UMass is ranked and losing to St. Bonaventure is considered an upset. That hasn't been the case in previous years.
Super Bowl storyline #5
The final storyline before the big Super Bowl preview post tomorrow deals with the biggest topic on everyone's minds leading up to the Super Bowl...the weather!! And the foreceast from weather.com (The Weather Channel) says that it will be cloudy with a high of 44 degrees (44 degrees!!) and a light NNW breeze under 10 MPH. The coldest it will get at night is 27 degrees and a north wind at 6 MPH. Temperature at kickoff will be mid 30s with light wind.
The NFL could be dodging a major bullet with this one. If it was windy, that would benefit the Seattle Seahawks, given that the Denver Broncos' are really good passing the football and the Seahawks rely more on running the ball. Any inclement weather such as rain or snow would benefit Seattle because of what they want to do with the football. Denver hasn't played great in inclement weather this year. Peyton Manning hasn't played great in inclement weather this year. Look at that windy game against New England in Foxboro back in November. Manning was not good. Football should be played on an even field such as in a dome stadium or warm weather where you aren't playing Russian Roulette with the weather. So it appears that the the playing field will be just fine and won't affect either team. As is common with the weather though, things can change quickly. Just ask Atlanta.
I personally want a major storm to hit the Super Bowl and for the weather to be nasty during the game. Then the NFL would realize how stupid they are for putting the Super Bowl in an open air northern city. They dangle the carrot on the end of the stick every time a city builds a new stadium. San Francisco and Minneapolis will be getting a Super Bowl here in the next few years. But this is ridiculous. You're just opening up Pandora's Box if the Super Bowl isn't affected by weather this year, because other open air stadium cities will try and bid for a Super Bowl. Green Bay, Philadelphia, Chicago, Denver, Seattle. They'll all try it which is just what the NFL wants. More money in their pockets. So fortunately for them, it looks like the Super Bowl will go off without a hitch. Unfortunately for the paying fan, which had to pay a couple thousand dollars per ticket, it isn't going to be the most pleasant experience. That's not what the Super Bowl should be about, but the NFL must not care.
Coming up Friday: Super Bowl XLVIII preview