• The attraction of being indy for BYU (and Navy and Notre Dame)

    Tue, August 31, 2010 by David Ramsey with 35 comments

    Here’s a prime attraction of the independent football route for BYU and Navy and Notre Dame:

    It’s easier.

    When Air Force is playing Navy, the Falcons are worrying about the Mountain West. The Falcons are scheming every day during the entire season to finish in the top two or three of a tough conference.

    Navy doesn’t have such worries. Navy cruises through the season without the burden of a conference schedule.

    It’s an easier path to victories.

    BYU seems intent on the indy route, too, and that’s fine. The Cougars have their eyes on TV money, and that’s understandable. Money is always a nice thing to sit around and count. Notre Dame has long been the best example of a school that produces a mountain of cash. Lately, the Irish have not been so adept at producing football victories.

    There’s no doubt the Cougars are seeking a less rugged path for their football program.

    Here’s an update from Salt Lake Tribune on BYU’s plans:

    http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/sports/50190862-77/conference-byu-wac-benson.html.csp

    And here’s my friend John Henderson’s kind, gentle examination of BYU’s plans. (This is from The Denver Post and this is guaranteed to produce at least a couple laughs, unless you’ happen to be a devout BYU fan.)

    http://www.denverpost.com/search/ci_15863070

  • Broncos: If you’re a Steelers fan, those first four games will be scary

    Sun, August 29, 2010 by David Ramsey with no comments

    The Pittsburgh Steelers are looking at serious trouble in their first four games. That’s how long quarterback Ben Roethlisberge’s suspension is expected to last.

    Dennis Dixon, Byron Leftwich and Charlie Batch resembled The Three Stooges in their performances Sunday against the Broncos.

    If you were going to pick the most valuable player for the Broncos cause, there’s no doubt about the winner.

    It was Dixon, who threw two interceptions. He did a nice imitation of a blind man on both throws. Lefwich was 0-of-4, and Batch threw a pick, too.

    Roethlisberger deserved his punishment, and more, for his mistakes.

    The Steelers could pay a massive price tag. They could be stumbling along with a 1-3 record when Big Ben returns.

  • An interesting look at why BYU might have trouble if it goes indy

    Fri, August 27, 2010 by David Ramsey with 3 comments

    Here’s an interesting look from The Arizona Republic at BYU’s scheduling problems. Other college teams are wary of playing a team jammed with 24-year-old and 25-year-old players.

    http://www.azcentral.com/members/Blog/PaolaBoivin/94377

  • More on Manitou Springs coach Justin Armour

    Fri, August 27, 2010 by David Ramsey with no comments

    A few notes and observations that I couldn’t fit into today’s story on Justin Armour, the former Manitou Springs football, basketball, track and academic star and the present-day football coach.

    At the end of practice Tuesday, Armour spoke to his players about their responsibility to each other. Armour has struggled with a problem that’s nothing new for coaches: Players have been missing practice.

    “You’re not allowed to take a day off in real life,” Armour told his players. “When you get married, you don’t get to take a day off. When you get a job, you’re never going to take a day off. And we’re not going to allow  it and the reason is because it’s not allowed anywhere else for the rest of your life.

    “This is the hardest sport in the world. It takes gumption and courage and guts to go out and play it. And that’s why it’s not OK to miss a day.

    “I hear people apologizing to me, but I don’t have to be on the field. I’d like to be, but I will not be on the field and I will not really be affected by your absence.

    “When you’re not here, you’re kicking your teammates in the shins and saying I don’t really care. If you care, get here.”

    On two plays, late in practice, Armour lined up at wide receiver. Remember, he ranks among Stanford’s all-time leading receivers and he played receiver five seasons in the NFL. On both plays, Manitou quarterback Sam Schultz declined to throw to Armour. Didn’t even look in his direction.

    Armour’s wife, Cara, is a big fan of Manitou Springs. If you don’t think that’s a nice compliment to Manitou, consider that Cara grew up in Hawaii.

    George Rykovich is Armour’s former coach and a close friend. When Armour asked Armour to join the Manitou staff, Rykovich immediately said yes. The answer remained yes even after Armour told Rykovich it was a vounteer position. That’s right. No pay. “I don’t need your money,” Rykovich told Armour.

  • Nuggets: J.R. Smith and the perils of never growing up

    Thu, August 26, 2010 by David Ramsey with no comments

    Most of us find a way to ditch the dumb habits of youth. Most of us wind our way, and for some it takes awhile, to sensible choices.

    Maturity, I think they call it.

    And then there’s Nuggets shooting guard J.R. Smith, who does not seem on his way to joining most of us.

    For years, Smith seemed on the brink of becoming a real basketball player.

    Here’s what I mean:

    A real basketball player cares as much about defense as offense. A real basketball player is as concerned with his teammates as he is with himself. A real basketball player ruthlessly chases victory instead of points.

    Late last season, I gave up on Smith.

    So, apparently, did his employers. Various reports have Smith being shopped by the Nuggets, who are weary of his me-first, shoot-first, knucklehead ways.

    Sure, he’s talented. When his shot is dropping, he can collect points as rapidly as anyone in the NBA, and that includes Kobe, LeBron, Carmelo and Durant.

    But when Smith’s shoot isn’t dropping, he’s basically worthless. He’s not much of a defender, or shooter.

    Or teammate.

    Various Nuggets sources have told me about Smith’s obsession with himself. The team can be up by 15, but Smith will still be pouting. He’s not playing  enough. He’s not scoring enough.

    It is, in his mind, all about J.R.

    Despite all  this, the Nuggets could get decent trade value for Smith. New Nuggets general manager Masai Ujiri  can sell other teams on Smith’s potential. There’s a lot to sell. Smith turns 25 Sept. 9, and he’s ridiculously gifted.

    Just think, Ujiri could suggest, what J.R. might do when he grows up.

    Of course, anyone who has watched the Nuggets closely knows this would be false advertising.

    J.R. will never grow up.

  • AFA football: Tim Jefferson embraces competition at quarterback

    Tue, August 24, 2010 by David Ramsey with no comments

    Air Force quarterback Tim Jefferson could be irritated, even angered, by coach Troy Calhoun’s continued refusal to offer a vote of confidence. Instead, Calhoun always raises the possibility that someone – right now it’s Connor Dietz – might take away Jefferson’s job as leader of AFA’s offense.

    Jefferson takes a different, better approach. He savors the benefits of this challenge from Calhoun and Dietz.

    For a long time, I believed Jefferson was just saying he welcomes competition.

    But he’s convinced me.

    “I don’t want to become lackadaisical,” Jefferson said Monday after practice. “If I know that if something is just given to me, I won’t work hard for it.

    “It started back in high school. Looking back on my high school days, I realize my potential could have been a little bit higher if I had been pushed a little bit harder. I never really had any competition at the quarterback position.

    “Ccompetition makes everybody better, and that’s definitely true in my case.”

    Competing with Dietz, Jefferson said, keeps him from merely “going through the motions.”

    Without competition, Jefferson said, “nobody is going to get better. And that includes the quarterback position.”

  • Remembering a pep talk from Matt Carpenter

    Mon, August 23, 2010 by David Ramsey with no comments

    In 2004, I was a former biking enthusiast.  After moving to the Springs from Syracuse, N.Y., elevation 390 feet, the altitude of my new homeland conquered me. My bike was in the shed, seldom touched, and this was after riding virtually every day it was possible to ride in ultra-snowy Syracuse.

    Then I met Matt Carpenter, the man who thinks nothing of running up and down Pikes Peak. Carpenter, for those of you who have been living in a cave, won his fifth straight and his 11th overall Pikes Peak Marathon on Sunday.

    We were talking one day at Carpenter’s home in Manitou Springs, and I mentioned my troubles with biking at 7,000 feet.

    He seized the subject and delivered a brief, intense pep talk.

    Take on the altitude, Carpenter said. Go out there every day for two weeks and you will defeat the altitude, he said. Soon, he said, altitude will  be your friend, and you won’t ever believe it once intimidated you.

    His eyes were afire. He wanted me to join the circle - and it’s a big circle - of Springs residents who exercise at what is a ridiculously high place for most people.

    The pep talk worked.

    I ride more now  than I ever rode in Syracuse.

    And, yes, I consider altitude my friend.

    I don’t enjoy the kind of relationship Carpenter does with altitude, but no doubt I’ve come a long way.

  • AFA football: Jon Davis talks about BYU QB Jake Heaps

    Fri, August 20, 2010 by David Ramsey with no comments

    You might say Jake Heaps enjoyed a strong high school career.

    He led Skyline High School to three consecutive Washington state titles while collecting 9,196 yards passing, 114 touchdown passes, 30 rushing touchdowns and a 40-2 record as a starter. He threw only 14 interceptions.

    He’s expected to start this season as a true freshman for Brigham Young.

    Air Force’s Sept. 11 clash with BYU is one of the most intriguing college games of the month. Air Force’s experienced, talented secondary will be battling BYU’s young, gifted quarterback.

    It’s a battle of strengths. This is Air Force’s best secondary of this century, and BYU, of course, is always powerful through the air. The Falcons learned that fact once again last season when Mad Max Hall, everyone’s favorite Mountain West player, shredded the AFA defense. MMH  also ranked among the oldest players in the MWC. 

    I recently talked with AFA safety Jon Davis about Heaps.

    Gazette: Have you seen footage of Heaps?

    Davis:  ”Yes, I’ve seen footage of Heaps.”

    G: And?

    D: “And he’s going to have to show me something. He’s a good player. He looks like he can step into their last quarterback’s shoes, but we have to see. He hasn’t played a game in college yet.”

    Good point. Heaps will be playing his second college game when he arrives at Falcon Stadium.

    Here’s a highlight film from Heaps 2009 high school season. You will quickly note Heaps has great touch on long passes:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aNhnj_wgVGo

    And here’s a fantasy football projection of Heaps’ freshman season:

    http://www.rotowire.com/cfootball/player.htm?ID=8142

  • MWC football: If BYU goes indy, the Cougars instantly tumble in prestige

    Thu, August 19, 2010 by David Ramsey with 14 comments

    Brigham Young University will earn more money if the football Cougars depart the Mountain West Conference. The Cougars will deliver a much bigger audience for BYU’s cable network.

    But those football Cougars will become less important the minute they bolt.

    BYU is not Notre Dame, and it’s not even close. BYU fans tend to see their football team as a national power. The rest of the country tends to look at the Cougars as a nice, little regional power.

    The indy Cougars will struggle to find 12 quality opponents. The indy Cougars will never again be in contention for the national title. The indy Cougars will trail – by  a wide margin – their in-state friends from the U. of Utah.

    More money awaits the indy Cougars.

    Along with a severe drop in national relevance.

    Next: AFA defensive back Jon Davis talks about BYU freshman QB sensation Jake Heaps.

  • More Carmelo: Why Anthony’s departure will be catastrophic for Nuggets

    Wed, August 18, 2010 by David Ramsey with 2 comments

    One player can change a basketball team.

    Here’s what I mean:

    For the past two seasons, the Cleveland Cavaliers have been a dominating (during the regular season) team.

    Next season, the Cavaliers will struggle to make the playoffs. The departure of one player instantly transformed the team from mighty to sorry.

    The Denver Nuggets are now staring at the same scenario. With Carmelo Anthony on board, the Nuggets will make the playoffs for the 8th straight season and should again grab at least 50 victories.

    Without him?

    The Nuggets will tumble out of the playoffs. They won’t fall all the way to the bottom of the Western Conference, but the bottom will be in full view.

    Anthony has long seemed on the edge of becoming Colorado’s basketball version of John Elway. For various reasons, he never quite grabbed the love of our state. He’s made a wide variety of mistakes during his seven-season career, including drunk driving, refusing to come out of a game, refusing to go into a game, making a cameo appearance in a video that encouraged violent retribution to police informants, sucker-punching one of the New York Knicks (the team he’s rumored to want to join) …

    You get the idea.

    But he’s a borderline great basketball player, and he has a chance to become flat-out great. He’s already one of the top eight or nine  players on the planet, and he could climb into the top three or four.

    Anthony gives the Nuggets the player required to build a champion. Anthony is too quick for power forwards and too powerful for small forwards. Anthony is a superb free-throw shooter. Anthony believes – and this is essential for greatness – in his greatness.

    I don’t understand Anthony’s infatuation with the Knicks. The franchise has long been a disaster, one of the most poorly run organizations in all of professional sports.

    But Anthony some credit: He can see the obvious. The Nuggets are in a state of disarray. There’s no leader at the top. George Karl is battling to return from cancer. J.R. Smith is J.R. Smith.

    Just wait.

    If Anthony rides out of Colorado, the Nuggets become a nightly disaster.

    In basketball, one player can change a team.

    Anthony changed the Nuggets from awful to respectable.

    And he could transport them right back to their former state.