Late week musings from the Sports Desk
Boneheads and Champs for the week of March 30
By BRANDON HURLEY
Guess who’s back, back again. I give Boneheads and Champs another crack and seem to be a little grumpier than last week.
Boneheads of the week: NFL rule changes, draft talk and the month of March
• The NFL has it wrong
The biggest NFL rule change that I really haven’t heard much on is the new “egregious” hit to the head emphasis, or what it’s known as in college football – “targeting.” While I do agree players should be encouraged to tackle safer and less violently, I do not feel comfortable with how it will be policed. The officials can eject a player for launching themselves into a ball-carrier’s head, but the penalty is NOT reviewable. How can that be? Can you really leave it up to an official’s judgement in the split second the play happens? From day one, I have never agreed with the college game’s decision to eject a player for a hit to the head (A 30-yard penalty, maybe, but not an ejection). Though they’ve always had the benefit of stopping the game and reviewing the play to see if, in fact, it qualified as targeting.
In the NFL, if I’m reading this correctly, the official’s initial “egregious hit” call is the final decision. This has potential to, excuse my language, blow up in their faces. I’ve also read reports where the NFL wants to focus on suspensions – seems a little drastic to me. I hope the NFL fixes this quickly and also removes the ejection aspect of it. Some hits to the head can’t be prevented.
Let the players play. I may be over simplifying it, but football is a violent game. Let’s clean it up, but don’t clean it up too much.
• The dreary month of March
Yes, I know I fawned over March Madness last week, but this is purely about the weather.
Man, this month has been horrendous, aren’t we glad it’s over Saturday? Rain, rain, wind, clouds and more rain. Bleh. Where are these spring temps and sunny days I’m always promised around this time? I want sunny and fairly warm track meets, soccer games and golf meets. I want to spend time outside, biking, shooting hoops and throwing the football around. Enough of this stuff keeping me cooped up inside. I’m sick of it, there are only so many kids movies a man can take. Bring me spring weather… you’re welcome.
• Enough with the infatuation
Whether it be the NFL or the NBA draft, monotonous discussions about an upcoming draft are boring as hell. It’s a bunch of nonsense about the potential of college players. Meaningless numbers, 40 times, shuttle times (what is the shuttle and what is its purpose?), the Wonderlic IQ test, and moral standing. Please, don’t waste anymore of mine or your time discussing something so lame. Yes, millions of people watch the NFL draft each year, but I am not one of them. There’s no excitement whatsoever hearing someone get their name called on national TV. It’s just as boring as an awards ceremony. I can find much better things to do with my time then analyze the what-ifs of a certain player. I’ll just catch up on Twitter a few hours later and call it good.
Champs of the week: The Final Four, track and Lin Manuel-Miranda
• A weird, unique and random Final Four
For three of the four NCAA basketball Final Four teams, it’s their first trip to the prestigious event in at least 75 years, with two in their first-ever trip (Gonzaga and South Carolina). If you don’t find that cool, then I don’t know if you’ll ever be happy – hundreds of years of mediocrity pushed to the wayside.
With one of the least star-studded final weekends in history, we can find comfort in knowing we will witness one of the most random Final Fours in history.
Who, in their right mind saw South Carolina even making it to the Sweet Sixteen? They had to pass the test of mighty Duke, first, as a seven seed. It’s one of the more unlikely Cinderella stories in recent years, and my man Frank Martin is leading the charge.
Oregon entered the tourney as a three-seed in search of it’s first Final Four since 1939. But they had to overcome the loss of one of the nation’s best shot blockers. And boy, did they ever. The Ducks have some real athletic guards.
To the average fan, a three seed in the Final Four isn’t too surprising, but if you look at the road they had to get here, you’d be impressed. Dominating a Kansas squad loaded with NBA talent? Color me impressed.
I’m happy for Dana Altman as well, the former Creighton coach looks to have made the right decision. He’s turned that program around incredibly fast, leading the Ducks to the Elite Eight last year and a Final Four this spring. Kudos, coach.
And finally, Gonzaga. The Cinderella of yesteryear. Long-time head coach Mark Few has his program in the Final Four for the first time in program history. He’s been building this for some time, starting out as a mid-major pulling off big upsets to producing NBA players, culminating with a dynasty. Now, he’s led the Zags to the promised land, checking off the one gap in his resume. Mark Few and the Zags, no longer an underdog, should be praised for what they’ve done.
Though this Final Four doesn’t exactly have the shine of years past, it sure does have its story lines. I’ll be watching, reveling in the unique history.
• Run, Forest, run
Track season is here, which means the Drake Relays aren’t too far off (April 26-29, to be exact). Drake Stadium is the marvel of spring sports, and it’s a spectacle you need to witness in person
Though regular season meets often drag on for hours and hours, it’s neat seeing who broke what record that night. And being a numbers guy, I love pouring through the statistics. It’s a wonderful time of year – championships are in the air as we build up for state and Drake Relays. Boy, do I love the Blue Oval, the Drake campus and the excitement of it all.
I’m not a “track guy” if you will, but when we get down to the meat of the schedule, I can really get into it. There’s something about breaking school records and seeing young athletes improve week-to-week. Plus, there’s nothing cooler than seeing a human run really fast.
• Moana is the movie of your childhood dreams
I’m a dad of a young wild dude, so of course we watch plenty of movies when the weather is bad.
I took in the animated film, Moana, with musical by my idol Lin Manuel-Miranda last night with my son, and now I’m addicted. It’s a great movie that took a bit to develop, but it’s worth the wait, and even gets a little trippy in the middle. The Rock’s (who is the voice of Maui), “You’re Welcome” song has been stuck in my head since and I doubt it leaves anytime soon. The wonderful little film blows Frozen out of the water, pun definitely intended.
What can I say? I’m just a regular Demi God.
Go see it, even you don’t have kids.
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As always, I can be reached for tips, complaints or virtual high-fives on Twitter: @BrandonJHurley or by email at sports@beeherald.