The Not-So-Changing NCAA Landscape

The other day, I, Michael Schwartz posted an article on what the possible move to the SEC would mean for Texas A&M, the Big XII and the NCAA. News has come out that the SEC is fine where it is, with just 12 teams, so Texas A&M will not be moving. My objective was to show the reader what it would mean for the teams, conferences and college football if Texas A&M were to move to the SEC. But the SEC commissioner has come out and said, thanks, but no thanks A&M. What happens now?

No realignment is what happens, thank goodness, and no giant power conference in the south. The Southeastern Conference wanted to gain Texas as part of their stomping grounds, but they stand content with 12 teams. University president’s said they did not believe A&M would receive enough votes to be added, so no invitation was extended. A&M would have been the thirteenth team, unbalanced, so adding a 14th would be difficult as well. Another sign that Florida State, Clemson and Missouri will not be on the move. In the future, Texas A&M will continue to flirt with the SEC, and the possibility of an offer is still out there.

We'll see how long the SEC drags them along

A&M has long wanted out of Texas’ shadow, and the money would have been right, if there was an offer, but nothing materialized. So they’re stuck. Good luck going back to the Big XII’s next meeting.

What does this mean for all involved?

TEXAS A&M: Back to the Big XII. They are still in the shadow of Texas and Oklahoma, and have angered them somewhat. UT coach Mack Brown said the conference would be fine without A&M, but now that the Aggies have come back with their tail between their legs, believe the big teams will want to lay a beat down on A&M. Despite the high rankings and hopes in College Station, they’re record hasn’t been great. But Mike Sherman finally has built the team he’s wanted. A&M has to walk the walk now. This is the second failure by A&M to move to the SEC, moving won’t get any easier. Thankfully for them the Big XII did want them to stay and showed a strong desire to make sure that happened. Hopefully A&M can benefit from the new Big XII conference network and earn some money, they have to find a way to compete consistently.

THE SEC: They have announced they are happy with 12 teams, they’ve been the dominant conference and who knows what the Aggies would bring. The conference remains stable, no shifting divisions around, or allocating more money. In the future they could always add more teams whenever they want, they are the SEC.They aren’t the biggest conference, but for the SEC it’s quality over quantity.

THE BIG XII: They remain at 10 programs, an even number, with no need to add another school to keep things balanced. A&M is their 2nd highest ranked team right now and the conference can only hope they succeed, bringing good press to the Big XII. It’s stability, after losing Colorado and Nebraska, a mini-victory to hold the strong conference together. The conference board wanted to retain A&M, and acknowledged their value to the conference. In the future they could add more teams and expand back to 12 (as they’re name suggests), or just fall apart as they almost have for the past two offseasons.

THE NCAA: No longer is there any real threat to a change in the college football picture. Radical conference changes could necessitate changes to the bowl system, the balance of top tier teams, and other collegiate sports.  It also is a sign of the Big XII’s strength, the conference once thought to be dissolving kept one of it’s best schools; they won’t be leaking programs for a while–unless Texas has a change of heart. Texas A&M was not offered a spot in the SEC, and the NCAA could use this example in the future in moderating the realignment of conferences.

So that big “if” for Texas A&M became a big no, marking another failed attempt to shift conferences. A&M has never ran with the Big XII pack, always overshadowed by the big dogs, and now they have to make peace again after some serious flirting with another conference. Texas A&M can only try to carry on its plans of internal growth and change in the Big XII, a conference with history and prestige of its own. College football isn’t ready for more realignment, and much to the pleasure of diehard fans, college football will only move at it’s own pace, further discussions pertaining only to the future (five to ten years from now).  Don’t be surprised if there is news in the future of A&M’s desire to leave the Big XII; be surprised if it actually happens.

Michael Schwartz is a staff writer for Home Field Advantage

The Ever-Changing Landscape of the NCAA

All signs point to Texas A&M leaving the Big XII for greener pastures. Last year conferences shifted as the Pac 10 grew to the Pac 12 (Colorado and Utah), the Big XII lost two (Colorado and Nebraska), the Big 10 gained one (Nebraska, making the Big 10 a twelve team conference–it had eleven before) and Texas A&M unsuccessfully tried to move. During the last offseason rumors floated that the Big XII would be swallowed by the Pac 10, but A&M wasn’t invited. That never happened, but now A&M is on the verge of moving to a more prestigious conference, the SEC.

The predicted crumbling of the Big XII is finally starting with the departure of the Aggies of Texas A&M. Texas is a blue blood in college football, however they went 5-7 in 2010. Mike Sherman is entering his third year at Texas A&M and has quietly built the best football team in Texas. The Longhorns have the prestige and flooded recruiting classes but on the field success has plummeted after QB Colt McCoy left for the NFL. Texas Tech gets press for their unorthodox ways and scandal, while SMU is a program reborn, looking to make the final push over the hump. Texas A&M finished 2010 ranked 19th in the AP poll, but lost  a close 24-21 battle royale with LSU. 2011 is almost a “contract” year for A&M as they begin the year ranked #9 in the nation, with a core group of established and talented athletes. Optimism and expectations are high in College Station, Texas; what does their move mean to the SEC and the NCAA?

For the past six seasons, a national champion of college football was crowned, and all six of them SEC programs. The Southeastern Conference is the toughest conference right now, with diverse style’s of play and exciting football. A move like this will bring wonderful results to the Aggies and the SEC, while potentially crushing the Big XII.

PROS FOR A&M: This is the SEC. No conference has been able to compete with the SEC on a consistent basis in quality of play. The schedule may be difficult, but A&M is ready for the challenge. Quality in the Big XII has fluctuated, something that is certain not to happen in the SEC. Recruiting could see a meteoric rise in interest from top prospects; A&M has always competed with its in-state rivals for commits. But now there is a new draw for high school athletes: come compete for a Texas school, against top programs in the SEC. The grandeur and luster of the SEC has provided the existing schools top talent for years; Texas A&M plays in one of the most fertile recruiting grounds in the world. The potential results for A&M and this move are astronomical, brand new opportunities for this strong program lean toward future fortunes in College Station.

CONS FOR A&M: Tough, tough, tough SEC schedule, different style of play from the spread offenses of the Big XII. If they can’t stay afloat, losses will be a regular happening for the Aggies. Also they would be competing not only with Texas schools for recruits, but now SEC schools. In 2010 period of realignment had rumors that Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State leaving for the Pac 10 while Texas A&M flirted with the SEC. That never happened then, but word was that the Texas schools would excommunicate A&M for leaving them and breaking rivalries, something that would hurt scheduling in the future.

PROS FOR THE SEC: Expansion in to Texas is huge. Texas, as mentioned before, is probably one of the best recruiting hotbeds next to Florida and California. The SEC has Florida, and soon Texas will be in the loop. A&M gives off an SEC-type vibe, pro-style offense with some wrinkles in it, powerful defense and athletes all around. A&M is currently ranked top 10; if they keep it up through next year, just one more top ranked program for the already dominant conference. Diversity in cultures, schools and stadiums grow, along with added power in the BCS. Rivalries are also reborn such as A&M-LSU and A&M-Arkansas, creating more competition. Plus, A&M’s baseball team is pretty good.

CONS FOR THE SEC: If A&M stumbles and falls off as they did in the early 2000s, this could be a bust move. There’s also the possibility that A&M couldn’t compete in the SEC, and sits in the cellar with Vanderbilt. But Texas is still added as a recruiting spot, so not much harm to be had.

PROS FOR THE BIG XII: Not many, as they lose one of their better teams. A little less in-conference recruiting competition at best, and more justification for the individual school’s new broadcast networks, like Texas’.

CONS FOR THE BIG XII: Losing one of the better teams hurts. Rivalries are also lost, including Texas A&M versus: Texas, Baylor and Texas Tech. The Big XII drops to an uneven nine teams, their conference name becomes an even bigger misnomer and money is lost.

PROS FOR THE NCAA: The NCAA’s power conference becomes even stronger, with more teams, more money, and more wins. A&M brings class to a shady conference (some say the SEC stands for Somebody Else is Cheating), as they are not under investigation and they have a strong military program, with great presence at football games. The SEC network brings in more money, more money for the NCAA and greater competition and quality in the the NCAA’s top conference. And finally, with updated conferences, it could be a step away from the BCS system, a possible change towards a playoff.

CONS FOR THE NCAA: Conferences as we know it may be crumbling, as the Big XII is falling apart, and reports say the SEC is about to swallow Missouri and some of the ACC, schools like Florida State and Clemson. If that happens, the SEC will have a monopoly on college football, and other top teams are left in decimated conferences. The Pac 12 has solidified itself, and the Big 10 was never touched, but the ACC is dying as well as the Big XII. Schools like Texas, Oklahoma, Miami and Virginia Tech are in rather unknown territory. If the realignment happens, it will be twice in two years conferences have shifted, changing the BCS, the competition and the entire landscape of the NCAA. Who’s to say they’re done? Next year could bring even more change.

Over time, changes do happen. Schools move up and down, conferences have evolved over time and every year, each school has a shot at a national championship (just don’t schedule the SEC). And with most change, evaluation can only be done properly after everything has been put into effect and analyzed down the road. Initially, this is great for Texas A&M and the SEC, not so good for the Big XII, and it’s up in the air for the NCAA. The move is almost imminent, but is still in the works at this point. If the move happens, look for a scrambling of other conferences to make up by adding more teams. The true evidence of the fallout will be seen in its entirety in 2014 most likely. Realignment is a tricky thing as moving forward, college football is forever changed in some way. As for the 2011 and 2012 seasons, best of luck to everyone. SEC school, see you in the title game. Now we play the waiting game, will the move be finalized, or will it fall through, leaving a very angry Texas A&M squad?

Michael Schwartz is a staff writer for Home Field Advantage

Rory v. Tiger

This past weekend, 22-year old phenom Rory McIlroy dominated the field to notch his first major championship at the U.S. Open at Congressional. McIlroy established a new record score of 16-under par and won by the second-largest margin in the tournaments long history.

Shortly after the victory, many experts, journalists and casual sports fans were quick to tab young Rory as “the next Tiger Woods” and a true threat to Tiger’s dominance over the last 15 years.

America, let’s slow down. As a society, we are always desperate to find the next big thing and to claim that this player is not just equal, but better. Examples include Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby as the next Wayne Gretzky, Washington Nationals prospect Stephen Strasburg as the next Nolan Ryan, and most notably, Miami Heat forward LeBron James as the next Michael Jordan.

Much of this hype is driven by the media, where extreme hyperbole is natural. In fact, Sports Illustrated used to run a series called “The Chosen Ones”, a list that included LeBron, New York Mets shortstop Jose Reyes, prep star basketball player Sebastian Telfair, and high school baseball wonder kid Bryce Harper. Each time, the magazine made these young players out to be the best players of all-time, before they played on professional game.

If we’ve learned anything about setting standards this high, we’re often incorrect in our initial assessments. Sidney Crosby, though a great player and a star in the NHL, is clearly no Wayne Gretzky, who’s nickname is “The Great One”. Strasburg, already sidelined with Tommy John Surgery, made a huge splash when he came into the league, but probably won’t throw seven no-hitters like Ryan or break the all-time strikeout king’s record. And LeBron James will never be compared to Michael Jordan again after his most recent playoff meltdown.

So, why must we be so quick to anoint Rory McIlroy as the next Tiger, who is easily a once-in-a-lifetime athlete? First, the reasons why Rory is even in the conversation:

-He has held a lead at one point in time in three of the last four major championships (exception of the 2010 PGA Championship)
-Of the two majors in 2011, he has been the leader at the conclusion of seven of the eight rounds played (exception of the final round at The Masters)
-Set a record for lowest score in a U.S. Open Championship while winning wire-to-wire

All of those are great reasons and show that McIlroy is on the cusp of stardom. However, he isn’t Tiger. Nowhere close to Tiger. And here’s why:

First, McIlroy’s U.S. Open performance isn’t the most dominating performance of all-time. He did set the record for lowest score in Open history, but he did it at a course that was full of red numbers. The most impressive U.S. Open performance is and will probably always will be Tiger’s 2000 victory at Pebble Beach. Remember, in 2000, Tiger won with a score of 12-under par, which was a record. Not only was his score a record, Tiger was the only player that year under par. He won by 15 strokes, still a U.S. Open record. Nobody will touch Tiger’s dominance in 2000 ever.

Second, while it is impressive that Rory has led at some point during three of the last four Majors, he has only captured one victory. Young Tiger, at the height of his dominance, would never had let those leads escape. In fact, Tiger has never lost when leading after 54-holes at a Major Championship. McIlroy not only didn’t win The Masters in April after holding the 54-hole lead, but he shot an 80.

Third, Rory’s win at the U.S. Open was only his third career win, and only his second on American soil. Tiger has won 71 PGA Tour events, including his 14 Major championships. He’s also won 38 times on the European Tour. Enough said. Not to mention, Tiger played this year’s Masters on a gimpy leg and almost came away the victor. At 35-years old, Tiger still has some productive years of golf ahead of him (Jack Nicklaus, widely considered the greatest golfer of all-time, won his 18th and final major at the age of 46).

So, let’s not jump the gun and call Rory McIlroy the next Tiger Woods. Instead, let’s enjoy McIlroy’s tantalizing game and the parity that is starting to form in golf.

Even better, let’s wait until a healthy Tiger has a chance to stare down McIlory in a final grouping at a major championship. Until then, Rory McIlroy will only be a talented, young golfer on the rise.

And you know what? There’s nothing wrong with that.

Greg Kaplan is a writer and co-founder of Home Field Advantage

Jim Tressel out as Ohio State Head Coach

Earlier today, Jim Tressel, head coach at Ohio State, tendered his resignation to the athletic director and school president (ESPN Link). Tressel had been previously suspended five games by the school in relation to player misconduct with a local tattoo parlor owner and a car dealership, and was under investigation by the NCAA for further violations.

In March, Tressel had issued an apology for not being forthcoming with all the evidence he had against some of his players, including the team’s starting quarterback Tyrelle Pryor. In 10 seasons as the Buckeyes head coach, Tressel posted a 106-22 record that included seven Big Ten championships, the 2002 National Championship and a 9-1 record against arch-rival Michigan. Prior to Ohio State, Tressel was a four-time Division 1-AA champion at Youngstown State.

The announcement this sudden was indeed a surprise, but the storms had been picking up in the direction of Tressel eventually getting fired. Tressel failed to report on any of his players misconducts and reportedly went as far to warn the handler for Pryor about a potential NCAA investigation and how to handle it. The five-game suspension for a head coach was enormous, especially considering the sanctions the NCAA had placed on another huge national program, University of Southern California, a year ago. But, it didn’t seem that the NCAA was going to stop with the sanctions there. They were prepared and, as we saw with USC, will probably continue to pile on the penalties regardless of who is the head coach next year.

For now, the head coaching duties will go to assistant coach Luke Fickell, who was going to coach Ohio State through the first five games this year anyway. As for who will be the long-term answer in Columbus, that is yet to be known. Regardless of the penalties that will be dulled out, Ohio State remains one of the premier coaching positions in the country. The long list of names is bound to include the likes of former NFL coach Jon Gruden and former Florida head coach Urban Meyer, among others.

However, as far as this year’s team goes, it’s going to be hard to predict. Ohio State is the six-time defending Big Ten regular season champion. Coming into this year, the conference has already added Nebraska to bring the total number of teams in the conference to 12, allowing them to host a championship game. With Pryor and five other starting players suspended for the first five games, another conference title seemed to be unlikely. Now with the coaching situation and the looming NCAA investigation hovering overhead like a dark, ominous cloud, it’s anyone’s guess to how well the Buckeyes will do this year.

Personally speaking, I figured Wisconsin to be the conference favorite entering the season. This news further backs up that assumption. Ohio State is in for a world of mess, a mess that I wouldn’t be surprised to be bigger than what transpired at USC. There, the school was given strict recruiting sanctions along with a two-year post-season ban. Ohio State, a school that appeared in eight BCS games in Jim Tressel’s 10 years as coach, is in a lot of trouble.

Unfortunately for them, this is only the beginning.

Greg Kaplan is a writer and co-founder of Home Field Advantage

Fred Wilpon was Right

Last Sunday, two things happened. The first involved me in a car for 15 consecutive hours with my sister driving from Newburgh, NY down to Savannah, GA. 900 miles in a car on a rainy, then cloudy, then sunny, then dusk day was something to be had.

The second: it was revealed to the public that Fred Wilpon had made some choice comments about the players on his New York Mets. In sum, he said the team was snake-bitten and rather, well, poopy in nature. Since then, there has been a lot of talk in the media saying that Wilpon’s comments either A) damaged the relationship between management and the players or B) devalued the players on the roster. As a Mets fan, I was told that I should take this comments personally and that I should rally the troops and boycott my team’s owner.

But you know what happened? I agreed with everything Fred Wilpon said. In my mind, there wasn’t one thing about his comments that I read as incorrect. And you know what else? My closest friends that are also huge Mets fans agreed with him, too. So, let’s examine the part of the story that the “media” has said damaged the team. Keep in mind, when Wilpon made this off-the-cuff comments, the Mets sat at 5-13 and had just dropped two out of three at home to the Houston Astros. Fred Wilpon wasn’t the only New Yorker saying the Mets stink.

The first, Wilpon stated Jose Reyes will not get Carl Crawford money on the open market. The media interpreted that as the Mets were going to offer Reyes a one-year contract worth 50 cents and that now they ABSOLUTELY had to trade Reyes to get any sort of value for him.

Uh, what? Anybody connected in baseball will be the first to tell you that Jose Reyes is not going to get Carl Crawford money (seven-years, $140 million). You know what Crawford did while he became a star in Tampa Bay? He stayed healthy, hit over .300 routinely, stole 50+ bases year in and year out and scored a mess load of runs. While Reyes is a few years younger and plays a premium position, his health concerns over the years (first the back, then the hamstrings and last year his oblique) will limit the opportunities to get a seven-year contract. When he is healthy, Reyes is an elite talent. But health is the number one reason he won’t get anything more than a five-year deal.

And the assumption the Mets can’t afford him or that Reyes won’t sign with the Mets because of this comment is ridiculous. Sure, Reyes may be less willing to take a home town discount because of them. But, as I mentioned in my Reyes break-up column a few weeks ago, the Mets weren’t going to sign Reyes to anything more than five years and $15 million annually. If Reyes wants more, than good luck to him. It doesn’t make sense for the Mets to offer him any more than that. These comments weren’t a death sentence like the media is telling us Mets fans were in regards to Reyes. Reyes’ fate may have been determined three months ago. So, stop telling me they are, ESPN.

Second, a lot of people apparently took offense over Wilpon’s assumption that David Wright is a very good player, but not a superstar. If Fred Wilpon made that statement after the 2008 season, I would’ve been the first person in line to slap him in the face and call him a liar. But, have you seen David Wright play since the Mets moved from Shea Stadium to Citi Field? This is a different guy. Now, 2009 was an aberration. He has decent power and will always hit between 22-28 home runs a year. However, from 2005-08, Wright was the most clutch hitter I had ever seen in person and maybe the best two-strike hitter in the Majors. It wasn’t an at-bat for David those years until he had two strikes on him. And when he did, you knew he was going to get a hit.

Since 2009, if the first pitch to Wright was a strike, I had a bad feeling he’d K. And he’s been K-ing a whole lot the last couple of seasons (140 in ’09, 161 in ’10 and 43 in 39 games this year). Even worse, Wright goes through predictable two-week stretches of scorching hot, RBI producing machine, then two weeks of ice cold, can’t hit his way out of a paper bag slump. You know what you call players that go through incredible highs and equally incredible lows?

Very good players. Not superstars, but very good. What’s so wrong with being very good anyway? Very good is good enough for a couple of All-Star games a decent contract. If most players are average, can you discredit a guy because he’s only above average and not great? No. Wright will always play solid defense, hit somewhere between .290 and .310, drive in around 100 runs and produce for you. But, he will go through streaks where you don’t hear from him at all and you wonder what is going on. He was on the cusp of stardom after 2008 (.302, 33HR 124RBI), but I don’t expect those numbers from David Wright anymore. Something’s changed. I still love him, but Wilpon is right: he’s not a star player right now.

Third, Wilpon stated that the Mets may have overpaid for Carlos Beltran after his monster 2004 playoffs in which he hit eight home runs for the Houston Astros and that he is probably 65-70% of the player he used to be. The media will tell you that those comments torpedoed Beltran’s value on the trade market and further damaged the relationship between Carlos and ownership that was already iffy.

Here’s my answer in two parts. The first, the relationship between Beltran and management tanked last year when Beltran decided on his own to get microfracture surgery without telling the Mets. That was a mess between Beltran, his agent Scott Boras and the Wilpon’s. They weren’t happy about it and I promise you they still aren’t happy about it. So throw that assumption out the window that NOW the relationship is messed up. It’s been messed up, get with it.

Second, you really think scouts needed Fred Wilpon to tell them Carlos Beltran isn’t the same player anymore? Maybe Beltran’s knees being such a problem that he couldn’t play center field regularly and that he had to move to right field to even play everyday wasn’t the first indicator to them? Or that Beltran doesn’t steal bases anymore? Or that he has limited power from the left side of the plate because of the same balky knee? You’re right, Buster Olney. It was Wilpon’s comments, NOT ANYTHING ELSE THAT IS GOING ON WITH CARLOS BELTRAN, that ruined his trade value to other teams. You’ve got to be kidding me.

Lastly, Wilpon made the assertion that quite honestly, his team isn’t very good. The media jumped all over this and said “what is he doing???? They’re having enough trouble bringing fans to the park already! Now he’s saying they suck? NOBODY WILL COME NOW!”

Earth to the media: Mets fans aren’t stupid. We stopped coming to the park because, you know, we realized this team isn’t that great before you did apparently. Look, with Wright, Ike Davis and Johan Santana out currently, Chris Young lost for the season and Jason Bay wishing he was back in Pittsburgh, it doesn’t take a Harvard graduate to tell me the Mets aren’t that great. They spent $5 million in free agency last year on players that were low-risk, high-reward. This was clearly going to be a rebuilding year. After tonight’s loss to the Phillies, the Mets sit at 23-27. That doesn’t eliminate them from playoff contention, but its also not exactly encouraging.

The starting rotation has been downright awful to start this season. Mike Pelfrey has seemingly regressed, Jon Niese hasn’t gotten it completely together yet either, R.A. Dickey is no longer fooling hitters with his knuckleball, Chris Young is out for the year, and Chris Capuano is, well, he’s Chris Capuano. Dillon Gee has been a nice addition from the Mets minor leagues (especially since he is the second coming of one of my favorite Mets pitchers, Rick Reed, even wears his #35). If you don’t have starting pitching, which the Mets don’t, you’re not going to win. Regardless of how good your line-up is or how deep your bullpen is. The Mets have a good line-up. Not great, but good. They have a deep bullpen. But, zero starting pitching.

At the end of the day, Fred Wilpon is a Mets fan like all of us. And, as one of the biggest Mets fans, let me tell you what I see from this team:

I see Carlos Beltran as a trade chip that will get something in return. I see Jason Bay as being two weeks away from leaving the doghouse and entering the Oliver Perez/Luis Castillo abandon highway ditch. I see winning pieces in Dillon Gee, Ike Davis and Justin Turner that will serve a purpose on this team for years to come. I see Jon Niese needing to develop his game a little further and the need for Mike Pelfrey to get out of his own head. I see a need for the Mets to re-sign Jose Reyes and to protect David Wright in the line-up. I also see a lot of talent coming up through the Mets minor leagues that people aren’t giving them credit for. And I also see a realistic owner who is finally on the same page as Mets fans, regardless of what the media says.

The late George Steinbrenner once called Dave Winfield, a HALL OF FAME outfielder, Mr. May because he felt that he wasn’t clutch down the stretch of the season. Fred Wilpon calls Carlos Beltran a good player that isn’t what he used to be and all of a sudden he’s the devil.

Oh, but he did say Ike Davis is a good hitter. So there’s that.

Back off my Mets, media. You’re starting to look like Phillies fans.

Greg Kaplan is a writer and co-founder of Home Field Advantage

LA Update: Frank McCourt Blasts Bud Selig over Dodgers Dispute

After a meeting in New York between estranged Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig, McCourt decided to go public with what he feels is an “un-American” action by Selig in regards to taking control of the franchise (ESPN News Link).

While the meeting was to be deemed private, MLB and their offices expressed disappointment when McCourt decided to take his emotions public. The executives in the MLB league office also said that McCourt’s claims were “untrue” and should not be taken as fact.

Well, in simple terms, this was a very stupid move by Frank McCourt if he wished to remain in control of the franchise. The very last thing you should do as an owner is disrespect the man that controls your fate as an owner in the league. Selig recently announced that former Texas Rangers team president Tom Schieffer will take over business control of the team to maintain daily operations.

I don’t see any way McCourt remains as the team owner. What this means for team general manager Ned Colletti or manager Don Mattingly is unforeseen. But, with respect the crux of the issue between Frank McCourt and the league office, the Dodgers owner who is in a nasty battle with his ex-wife Jamie McCourt in divorce court all but sealed his fate as an owner.

Sooner or later, Frank McCourt can go to a country club and tell all his friends that once upon a time, he owned the Los Angeles Dodgers. Because it sure isn’t looking like he’ll be the owner of the team for that much longer.

Cleveland Update: Peyton Hillis Named to Madden Cover

There are two things you can count on football related this week. First, there will be an NFL Draft starting tomorrow night at 8pm Eastern.

Second, Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis will man the cover of the new Madden 12 video game. It was announced today that Hillis beat out former Madden cover-boy and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick in a fan vote to dawn the cover of the popular NFL gaming series (ESPN News Link).

Now, being on the Madden cover has been known to jinx the player for the next year. Go no further than the last time Michael Vick was on the cover, the same year he broke his leg and missed the majority of the season for the Atlanta Falcons. Tennessee Titans running back Eddie George also suffered from a down year the same season he appeared on the cover of the Madden series video game.

On his way to the cover, Hillis beat the likes of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles and the favorite in the fan vote, Green Bay Packers Super Bowl MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Peyton Hillis will be the first Cleveland Browns player to appear on the Madden cover. So, all isn’t for not in Cleveland!!