Archive for November, 2009

Groh Set to Make National Headlines?

November 27, 2009

On Monday, CNBC Sports Business Reporter and former competitive watermelon-seed-spitter Darren Rovell discussed the potential $4+ million buyout package that may coming the way of Notre Dame HC Charlie Weis this season.  Rovell also too a “a look at some of the biggest buyouts reportedly paid out by schools to coaches:

-Denny Crum, Louisville, $7 million

-Phil Fulmer, Tennessee, $6 million

-Tommy Tuberville, Auburn, $5.1 million

-Dennis Franchione, Texas A&M, $4.4 million

-Tommy Bowden, Clemson, $3.5 million

-Bill Callahan, Nebraska, $3.1 million”

Al Groh appears a lock to join that list, as The Roanoke Times has reported that “it would cost Virginia more than $4 million to pay Groh for the two years that remain on the contract.”

Chris Petersen Keeps The Media Busy

November 27, 2009

On what is usually a slow news week, Charlottesville’s Daily Progress set off a minor-firestorm Thanksgiving with an article entitled “Petersen to coach Cavs?”  In said piece, columnist Jerry Ratcliffe and co-writer Jay Jenkins reported that:

  • it “appears that Boise State coach Chris Petersen is the leading candidate to become Virginia’s next head football coach”
  • Petersen “reportedly been frustrated the past couple of years with the salaries of his assistant coaches and has unsuccessfully campaigned his athletic director and the Western Athletic Conference office to improve those wages. ‘If Chris Petersen were to leave Boise State, that would be one of, if not the major reason for his exit,’ said one source in Boise on Wednesday.”
  • “Petersen earns a salary of $850,000 annually, a figure that would likely be doubled in order to lure him to Virginia.”
  • “Another factor working in UVa’s favor is associate senior athletic director Jon Oliver, a Boise State graduate, who was in Boise for the Broncos’ season-opening win over Oregon in early September. While Oliver played basketball at Boise State, he was in Boise for the football reunion weekend. According to sources, Oliver and Petersen have been good friends for years.”

Within hours, Idaho Statesman columnist Brian Murphy attempted to separate fact from fiction on his blog and pointed out that:

  • Petersen’s base salary for 2009 is actually $1.1 million, and he will earn between a 5-19% raise and up to $237k in bonuses based on performance
  • “Petersen’s buyout drops by $200,000 to $550,000 after the Broncos’ bowl game this year,” and “expires after the 2010 bowl game, which could push Boise State to re-negotiate this offseason.”
  • “Boise State’s assistants are the highest-paid among any team in a conference that does not have an automatic berth in the Bowl Championship Series.”
  • The assistants make more than some BCS schools, including Colorado, Cal, and yes, Virginia.  “Boise State’s total package for all assistants is $1.57 million. According to USA Today database of coaches’ salaries, Virginia’s assistants earn a total of $1.55 million.”
  • “Petersen spent one season as an assistant coach at Pittsburgh and has said the experience of being on the East Coast felt foreign. The rest of his coaching experience is in the West, mostly in the Northwest.”

Later in the day, Ratcliffe’s weekly ACC column scattershot the following “while noting that Boise-area media have already gone on the defensive”:

  • “It has been pointed out by Boise media that we had Petersen’s salary wrong. True.”
  • Virginia’s collective assistant coach salary total is “”skewed because special teams coordinator Ron Prince unselfishly took a much lower salary than he could have demanded” and “the Cavaliers are essentially paying for only one coordinator because Groh serves as defensive coordinator.”
  • “Perhaps the most important factor in the entire story was completely ignored: Jon Oliver, UVa’s executive associate director of athletics… we received some bad information that Oliver and Petersen were friends.”

As Oliver told noted media gadfly Jeff White of virginiasports.com: “Although I’m a huge fan of Boise State football, I’ve never met Chris Petersen.”

The ‘Doc’ Walker Drinking Game

November 19, 2009

In honor of the next-to-last Raycom broadcast of the 2009 ACC season, the creators of the Al Groh Drinking Game (recently revisited) bring you the Ric ‘Doc’ Walker Drinking Game.

When enjoying an ACC football telecast, episode of the John Thompson radio program, play-by-play radio broadcast of a Washington Redskins game, Comcast Redskins Post-Game Live, or other of the numerous media appearances by the former Bengal / Redskin, break out your favorite beverage and enjoy.  The rules are simple:

1. Take the following number of drinks each time ‘Doc’ refers to a player as a:

-“baller” – 1

-“beast” – 1

-“savage” – 1

-“cyborg” – 2

-“Brahma bull” – 2

-“caveman” – 2

-“Neanderthal” – 3

-“dog going after a bone” – 3

-“werewolf” – 3

-“natural born baller” or “natural born ballah” – 4

-“unicorn” – 4 

2. Take one drink anytime he references the good life:

-“ballin’

-“networking”

-“money

-“food, fun, music

-“MASN”

-“all the movers / shakers in DC

-“cigars” (see here as well)

 

3. Take two drinks anytime ‘Doc’ attempts to diagnose an injury or potential injury (“That’s broke! Um, that appears to be broken”) (“It wipes away the interception, but it doesn’t wipe away the brain damage to Verica”)

4. Take two drinks any time ‘Doc’ uses one of the following phrases to describe a hit or block:

-“bring the jackhammer” or “ran into the jackhammer”

-“function at the junction”

-“King Kong” and/or “Godzilla”

-“welcoming committee”

-“hand-to-hand-combat”

5. Take four drinks anytime ‘Doc’ uses his favorite phrase…  “manhood issue”

DeAngelo Hall, a Loser’s Winner

November 13, 2009

Earlier in the week, we documented some of DeAngelo Hall’s infamy, both recent and historical.  One interesting side note has been that Hall has been one of (if not the) the most outspoken and visible Redskin since joining the squad last season.  Despite just getting to town, having a checked past, and now generally regarded as overpaid, it’s often Hall who is critiquing the team’s effort, the front office’s personnel moves, and answering the big questions… all in his three piece suit (or vest sans jacket).

Following the loss to Detroit in September, Hall said “You either want it or you don’t. A lot of these guys don’t want it. They want the other stuff.” 

Just this week, Hall said “Guys just have to go out there and give it their all. They have to care about it. They have to care more than just picking up a paycheck or putting on a uniform. They have to really care….We need a win so bad, and I don’t feel like everybody feels the same way I feel. I feel like we need a win so bad that food doesn’t even taste the same. I can’t even come home and hug my kids the same, because something’s not there. I feel a little empty.”

Two things jump out from these comments.  First, Hall recently signed a big contact himself, his second in as many years, and again doesn’t appear to have been worth the money.  He’s also an athlete who has said on record:

 As Chris Carter said – after referring to some of Hall’s tackles this year as “two-hand touch”: “If you’re gonna take the money, get a mask!

Second, what kind of record does Hall have to stand on when he talks about winning?  On Hall’s own blog he said he can’t wait to “show everyone I’m still a winner” and “all I’m about is winning games and picking passes. That’s it.” 

Well, he might want to find a new profession it ‘that’s it.’  In games which he has played, Hall’s teams have a combined regular-season winning percentage of 0.388 (31-49).  Far from great, but better than 13 of the NFL’s 32 teams at present (Miami, Buffalo, Cleveland, Tennessee, Oakland, Kansas City, Washington, Detroit, Carolina, Tampa Bay, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis).

However, when comparing the 16 games prior to his arrival and the 16 games after his arrival the results are striking.  Atlanta posted a significantly better record without Hall, both before and after.  Even dreadful Oakland actually improved slightly in the 16 games following Hall’s departure.  Washington was 10-6 in the 16 games prior to Hall joining the team, and been 4-11 with Hall.  Hard to believe it will be worse once this loss is cut…

 

(click to enlarge)

But don’t cry for DeAngelo.  He has been a winner in other pursuits, including the “NFL’s Fastest Man” at the 2006 Pro Bowl and a bet with Chad Johnson resulting in the latter’s head-shaving.

Haynesworth impressed, taxed

November 13, 2009

Redskins DT Albert Haynesworth:

  • on Falcons RB Michael Turner, who ran for 166 yards and 2 TD on just 18 carries Sunday: “We didn’t wrap up. We knew he was a big, strong back. He has real strong legs and is real big below the waist. You really need to just gang-tackle him. If you give him a seam or try to butt him down, he keeps going.”
  • on his bigger (7 years, $100 million – $41million guarenteed) contract in Washington: “You know what, I feel like I made a lot of money last year. Here these damn taxes are killing me.”

Al Groh, Miami, and White Lines

November 12, 2009

A great deal has changed since November 10, 2007, when the Virginia embarrassed Miami 48-0 in their final home game at the Orange Bowl.  Two years later, Miami is the ranked team with only two losses after delivering the beat-down in south Florida.  Virginia was the team held to under 100 yards passing on a balmy day in early November.  Chris Long and Nate Lyles replaced Dwayne Johnson, Bernie Kosar, Andre Johnson, Gino Torretta, Michael Irvin as former players on the sidelines. 

One thing that hasn’t changed… the use of football clichés in comments made to the media by HC Al Groh and the men he has surrounded himself with.  Circumstantially speaking, at least.

After thrashing the Hurricanes in their Orange Bowl goodbye, Groh said “It was a very dynamic atmosphere, but we really didn’t pay it much heed.  We knew that the only thing that was going to determine the outcome was what happened in between the white lines.”

It’s a cliché those following Groh and his team have become accustomed to hearing.  Back in 2002, Groh stated “that other business is just conversation. What happens between the white lines is all that matters.”  That same season, DP columnist and noted Groh-apologist Jerry Ratcliffe wrote in a piece entitled “Groh Gets Award, and He Deserves It” that “the only thing that mattered, [Groh] said time and again, is what happens out there between the white lines. All the other stuff is the reason we have sportswriters.”

Back to the present, and this month we’ve heard the cliché from both Groh (“We have a saying… that it’s all between the white lines.  That’s all that really counts… It’s just whatever happens in between the white lines that determines the outcome of the game.”) and LB John-Kevin Dolce (“Our house is in the white lines. We play football inside the white lines. We don’t play for our fans necessarily in the aspect that we’re going out there. They don’t sweat with us, they don’t bleed with us and they don’t cry with us.”).

Just a year ago, QB Marc Verica dropped it twice in the month of October alone:

  • “What it comes down to is what’s going to happen between the white lines on Saturday. It’s a long streak, but [UNC is] a really good football team right now. I think we’re capable of being a really good team.”
  • “Our approach is really that we’re moving the white lines. We’re not thinking that we’re playing at Georgia Tech. It’s really what happens between the white lines that matters.”

In 2004, it was uttered by several players:

  • DE Chris Canty (July): “[Elton Brown] hits people with bad intentions, very bad intentions. He’s a great guy off the field. But all football players have that little switch that clicks on when you step across those white lines.”
  • TE Heath Miller (November): “I think it’s definitely harder to play on the road, but Coach Groh always tells us that what happens between the white lines is all that matters.”
  • QB Marques Hagans (November): “[Maryland] might have [bad feelings] against us, but none of that really matters. You still got to play a game within the white lines for 60 minutes.”

Recent years have not been immune:

  • CB Marcus Hamilton (October 2006): “It’s going to be a tough task. Our mentality is no matter where you play. It’s just football inside the white lines.”
  • LB Jon Copper (September 2007): “I’m not sure there’s a whole lot else you can do. Coach Groh has emphasized that wherever the white lines are, we need to be able to perform.”
  • QB Matt Schaub (September 2007): “You look at the great players and that’s one thing they all have in common, that when they step out between the white lines they become a kid and have a lot of fun.”
  • QB Peter Lalich (September 2007): “Our house is between the white lines.”
  • Copper (November 2007): “Ultimately, what matters is if we block the right guys, run our defenses correctly and execute on special teams. Ultimately, what matters is what goes on inside the white lines.”
  • TE John Phillips (August 2008): “Football is all about Saturday. Anything can happen between the white lines.”
  • Schaub (September 2008): “When we get between these white lines and in those meeting rooms, we just have to focus all we can on what it takes to be successful this week and in this game. And once we leave here, we can start thinking about those other things and what it takes to get our families and everything in order.”

Former LB Clint Sintim used the cliché publicly twice while at Virginia, and has already used it once since:

  • September 2008: “I guess we just have that attitude, ‘Our house is anywhere inside the white lines.’ It doesn’t really matter where you play. It is the same field everywhere you go.”
  • October 2008: “I think we have to come in with the mentality that our house is anywhere inside the white lines.”
  • February 2009: “You come out on the field, you’re a competitor, you step out there between the white lines, and you want to feel as though you’re the best player out there.”

It may have also become a verbal crutch for former DC and current Richmond HC DC Mike London:

  • September 2008: “It will be different, but whether it’s 10,000 or 60,000, if you’re concentrating on the task at hand, all that matters is what goes on between the white lines. We have a 100-yard field at UR Stadium. Elon had a 100-yard field. [Virginia] will have a 100-yard field.”
  • September 2008: “When we first started out we knew we were going to be ranked high. The guys understand what we do between the white lines is what matters.”
  • September 2008: “Our approach is going to be the same way it’s always been and let everything outside the white lines take care of itself.”
  • December 2008: “It is no different as any other game when we are preparing. We need to keep our emotions in check. We don’t want to get distracted with the atmosphere and we want to focus on what is happening between the white lines.”
  • August 2009: “What we talk about all the time is what happens between the white lines, so regardless of girlfriends, parents, noise, quiet, whatever it is, when it’s time to execute the plays on the field, that’s all that matters.”
  • Richmond LB Eric McBride (September 2009): “Like coach London says, ‘It’s what happens between the white lines.’ I think our whole team believes that, buys into that.”

And to bring it full circle, yesday’s Cavalier Daily even includes the cliché in its sports story on BC LB Mark Herzlich, whose fight against Ewing’s sarcoma “serves as a reminder that life extends far beyond a field’s white lines.”

Apologies go out to Grandmater Melle Mel, Duran Duran, and Shooter Jenings

DeAngelo Hall: It Could Be Worse, Right?

November 11, 2009

Washington Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall made national headlines last weekend when he said Falcons HC Mike Smith of “put his hands on [me] in a harmful way” during a sideline skirmish and began “talking [stuff] to me. Saying he’ll kick my [butt] and all this other [stuff]. I definitely stay in Atlanta in the offseason. So if Mike Smith wants to see me, he can find me.”  Hall went on to say “I can’t wait for guys to sit back and watch the replay. I can’t wait to watch the replay. I’m going to be giving Commissioner [Roger] Goodell a call myself because something needs to be done about that.”

After 16 games in burgundy & gold (or white & white), many Redskin fans have grown tired of Hall’s predicable act on and off the field, falling in line with public opinion of Hall already held in both Atlanta & Oakland.  Since joining Washington, Hall:

  • hasn’t yet been spit on by TO after surrendering (in his own words) “a couple of nice catches, and you expect that.” 
    • but has been torched by Randy Moss, saying afterwards that “guys get paid to throw the ball and catch it just like we get paid to stop them… I couldn’t get around Randy’s body to break it up. But guys get paid to catch balls.”  He went on say “We were going up against some of the best guys at what they do… So you take it for what it was, obviously you want to do better.”
  • hasn’t yet attempted to fight any teammates
    • but has said it was “definitely a little disheartening” that his teammates were not there to help on the Falcons’ sideline last Sunday.  He went on: “Disappointment is too big of a word that I’m prepared to throw out there. Some guys are just built different.”
  • hasn’t yet ripped his GM or criticized management for roster moves he thinks are “asinine” and “ridiculous,” signifying that “everyone from the top down is kind of turning it in” and willing to “sit around and watch this ship sink.” 
    • but has criticized his moves that have left the team in “a little bit of desperation” and “a couple steps from getting ready to panic,” saying he doesn’t “know if we’ve got the right personnel here to do it” and “heading into the offseason and preseason we said we needed to address the offensive line… you can always have proven guys out there backing other guys up that have played in this league, have had starts in this league. That’s something we’re lacking.”
  • hasn’t yet been disciplined by the league for any Michael Vick tributes, and its unknown whether his own pit bulls (which once “literally chewed though their fence to escape” and “viscously attacked a man” resulting in six citations for Hall’s brother) have followed him to the Nation’s Capital.
    • but is happy Vick “got a second chance to prove to everybody he can still play” but that he’s “kind of sick we’ve got to see him twice a year but it comes with the territory. I know if we didn’t see him twice a year somebody was going to have to see him twice a year so at least I guess I can say what’s up to him before the game.”
  • hasn’t yet had a three-penalty (for 67 yards) drive leading to a confrontation with his HC, like he did while trying to cover Steve Smith in 2007 (Hall, on a previous Smith TD: “I didn’t think he had much success against me… Obviously, he broke that one. Bad tackling. Fluke play. You do it 10 times, I make that play nine times. So besides that one fluke play, the guy didn’t have that much success against me.”)
    • but has said that the two “went from being good friends to [enemies who] don’t talk” before this year’s game against Smith & the Panthers, in which Carolina QB Jake Delhomme “who appeared to be stopped by Hall after a six-yard gain, dragged Hall for three more yards and a first down.”  Smith, for his part, said of Hall: “Some people are lower than others on the totem pole by age, performance and talk… when you’re the court jester and you’re talking to the king, you have to do stuff like that. But other than that, I’m not going to play games with little kids. There’s no reason to. When you talk you obviously are insecure about something and if you talk long enough, you will hang yourself. And obviously he pointed out things that are in his craw and in his collar… “This ain’t no relationship, sweetheart. I’ve only got two relationships – one with my Lord and savior and one with my wife.”
  • hasn’t yet had his game critiqued as sharply by ESPN talking heads as in the past, via Len Pasquarelli (“he has played steadily but not as spectacularly as he did a year ago, and it is obvious he presses too often to make the big play… Hall has tried to cover everyone’s position instead of simply concentrating on his own job.”) and John Clayton (Hall “struggled from the start of the season as he adjusted to the Raiders’ man-to-man defense.”), or by STATS, Inc. (“In his eight games in Oakland, Hall was beaten 40 times for 552 yards on 66 passes thrown his way… he gave up more yards than any defender this season and was tied for third worst in catches allowed.)
    • but has faced the brunt of fans and local media for his tackling – notably key plays on Giants’ WR Mario Manningham, the aforementioned Delhomme, and Falcons’ RB Michael Turner.  WP writer Jason Reid says “obviously, Hall is not among the NFL’s top tackling corners. That’s just the way it is.”  Even Hall himself said after Week 1 “I feel like the guy that just couldn’t make a play to save my life… I was actually beat on the play… I’ve got to go back to the drawing board and work on some things… we definitely need to tackle better, myself probably No. 1 on that list… I even made a stupid mistake on special teams, you know, got a block in the back. So all around, I just didn’t execute and play to my ability at all.”
    • and has seen a photo of him accompany a national AP story on poor tackling in the NFL, and a follow-up blog post on Shutdown Corner.  In the story, safeties coach Steve Jackson says “A lot of people don’t tackle now because of the salary cap” and drills that have players get in position to tackle but let up “train yourself to ‘just miss… and now [in a game] you have untrain yourself in a manner of split seconds.”  Secondary coach Jerry Gray told the WP in describing Hall, “It’s not a lot of premium [on] putting in a lot of tackling and things. You want to be able to get the guy down. But right now turnovers [are] big.”