Articles by Chris Morgan

A listing of all the articles written by Chris Morgan for the RotoWire Blog.

NBA Draft Live Blog

Greetings, friends! I’m here to kick off the live blog for the 2012 NBA Draft, but, perhaps, like Jack Nicholson in The Shining, I’ve always been here. That’s a thing from that movie right? I’m rather excited for this Draft. Sure, the number one pick has been clear for months, and the New Orleans Hornets will be taking Anthony Davis with much joy. After that, things get interesting.

While there could easily be a trade high in the Draft, with Charlotte in particular looking to trade out of the second pick, if there isn’t I think the picks will be: Charlotte – Thomas Robinson, Washington – Bradley Beal, Cleveland – Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Were I making those picks, I’d probably do the same thing for every team. From the fifth pick on, however, I have little to no clue what is going to happen. All I know is that I hope Andre Drummond falls to the Pistons.

I’ll be here from now until the bitter end of tonight’s Draft, so feel free to hang around. Bring your questions, comments, and concerns. It should be a fun night.

2011 College Football Predictions

The college football season is less than two weeks away. As such, I thought I’d throw my predictions for the upcoming season up here, and it would also provide a forum for other folks to add their own predictions.

ACC: I don’t see anybody other than Florida State or Virginia Tech winning their divisions, especially with the questions around Miami now. In the end, I think the Seminoles will win the conference largely due to the experience they have at quarterback.

Big East: I really don’t see anybody winning this conference other than West Virginia. I don’t think it will be close.

Big 12: Oklahoma State and Texas A&M have a good shot I think, but I’ll take Oklahoma to take the conference. I don’t think Texas is quite back yet, but they’ll make a bowl again.

Big 10: Leaders and Legends are still ridiculous division names, but I think Nebraska will take the Legends, with Michigan State an outside contender, and Wisconsin will win the Leaders. I’ll take the Cornhuskers to win the conference entire.

Pac-12: Stanford with Andrew Luck is a strong contender, but I’ll take Oregon in the North. In the South, I think USC will have the best record, but since they can’t go to the conference title game I think that honor will go to Arizona State. Oregon will take the conference.

SEC: The SEC is still super strong: I’ll take South Carolina in the SEC East and Alabama in the SEC West. I think Georgia and LSU are contenders for their respective divisions as well. I’ll take Alabama to win the SEC.

In other news, I think Notre Dame will win nine games. Here’s a quick rundown of the other conferences:

C-USA: UCF, MAC: Western Michigan, MWC: Boise State, Sunbelt: Florida International, WAC: Fresno State

In the national title game, I’ll take Oklahoma against Nebraska, with the Sooners winning. I’ll also take Andrew Luck to win the Heisman.

College Football Preseason Predictions

College football is right around the corner, with the season beginning beginning Thursday with exciting games such as Marshall v. Ohio State and FAU v. UAB (also Pittsburgh plays Utah in what is honestly kind of an interesting game). Then, things really get interesting starting Sunday. With that in mind, here’s some predictions heading into this season:

ACC: I’m taking Florida State in their division and Virginia Tech in theirs, with Va Tech to win the conference. I don’t know if North Carolina qualifies as a sleeper, but if they are, I think they could win the conference if everything break right.

Big East: Despite the loss of Brian Kelly, I still think Cincinnati wins the Big East, though West Virginia and Pittsburgh will definitely contend.

Big 10: The names everybody is bandying about are Ohio State, Iowa, and Wisconsin, and I think Terrelle Pryor will finally put it together for a full season and lead the Buckeyes to the conference title. Also, since it is a point of interest to many, I think Michigan wins eight games and Rich Rodriguez keeps his job.

Big 12: Nebraska seems like a lock to win the North, and I think Oklahoma will take the South and win the conference. Also, I like Texas A&M as a sleeper, though they certainly have gotten their fair share of press this offseason.

Pac 10: I’ll take Oregon, though I think despite all the hoopla surrounding them USC will be near the top of the division, though of course they can’t technically win the conference, or at least history won’t record it that way.

SEC: Maybe I’ll be wrong on this, but the SEC seems a bit down this year, at least on paper. I don’t see anybody winning their division except Florida and Alabama respectively. Maybe South Carolina will finally contend, but I don’t see it. Also, I think Alabama wins the SEC again.

As for the non-AQ teams, I really only see Boise State and TCU contending for anything. There was a bit of hype for Middle Tennessee State this offseason, but now with the Dwight Dasher imbroglio that doesn’t seem likely. I don’t think Houston or BYU or a team of that ilk is going to do much. Additionally, unless Boise state beats Virginia Tech, they are likely to struggle to make a BCS bowl game. Could be a year without a non-AQ team in a BCS bowl. Also, I think Notre Dame wins nine games this season.

In regards to the Heisman, no name really sticks out to me. Mark Ingram is banged up and has Trent Richardson behind him. Kellen Moore is at Boise State. I don’t hold that against him, but some will. Case Keenum will have the numbers, but in a very pass happy offense. Maybe a running back like Jacquizz Rodgers or Dion Lewis will step up. However, for now I’ll go with Pryor.

Let the games begin!

Once again, they’ve asked celebrities who will win the Super Bowl…

and once again, they lead off with Maya Angelou. There’s a bunch of other humorous names on there (Dog the Bounty Hunter, for example) but I’d also like to air a grievance with the list. They’ve included world class asshole Pat "Haiti Deserved an Earthquake" Robertson among their "celebrities." There’s never a good time to ask for that guy’s opinion on anything, but this was particularly poor work by the people who created this list.

The Bowl Season of the Mountain West?

Bowl season has been, to this point, less than spectacular. However, one interesting thing has emerged. Three of the five games thus far have featured Mountain West teams, and all three of those teams have won. Wyoming kicked off bowl season with a win over Fresno State in double overtime in the only great game to date. BYU handled Oregon State with ease in the oddly windy Las Vegas Bowl. Then, Utah beat Cal pretty solid as well.

The MWC has two more games left. Air Force plays Houston in the Armed Forces Bowl and, of course, TCU takes on Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl. If those two teams can pull off victories, it will be a great bowl season for the Mountain West to be sure. While they aren’t among the AQ conferences, most college football fans consider them just as good as, say, the ACC, if not better. This year, they might even be better than the likes of the Big East, Big Ten, and perhaps even the Big 12. Sure, they are a bit top heavy, but was any conference more top heavy than the Big 12 this year? Nobody is batting an eyelash there it seems.

Would a 5-0 bowl season do much for MWC? Probably not in concrete terms. They want to become an automatic qualifying conference, and while a successful bowl campaign wouldn’t hurt, I don’t know if it would expedite things at all. At the very least, it would likely convert most of those remaining non-believers who don’t think the Mountain West is, at the moment, as legitimate as some of the bigger name conferences.

Of course, there is no guarantee that Air Force or TCU will win. Then again, few people saw Wyoming beating Fresno State and yet it happened.

So, how do you feel about the Mountain West? Do you think they should get an automatic qualifier for the BCS bowl games? Do you put much stock into a conference’s bowl performance? It’s often used to deride the Big Ten, so maybe for once people could use it in a positive light.

Time to Get Those (Imaginary) Heisman Ballots in

With the college football regular season now over, and with the Heisman finalists already named, it is of course time for everybody to weigh in with their opinion. I have no problem whatsoever with the five finalists, who are Stanford RB Toby Gerhart, Alabama RB Mark Ingram, Texas QB Colt McCoy, Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh, and Florida QB/All Things to All People Tim Tebow. Additionally, had Clemson RB C.J. Spiller, Boise State QB Kellen Moore, or Oregon QB Jeremiah Masoli (plus a few others even) made the top five, I would have had no complaints. It was a deep talent pool this year.

However, while there may be a lot of really good candidates, there wasn’t one player that really stuck out. When I personally am looking to pick somebody for an MVP award (which is what this is) I never look at team performance, as that is irrelevant to a player’s personal performance. As such, the fact Alabama and Texas went undefeated while Stanford and Nebraska lost four games doesn’t factor into my choice at all. Additionally, I try to look at the season as a whole, rather than adding extra weight to the later games. Then, it really becomes a matter of weighing numbers versus opponent strength, which is a bigger issue in college sports than in the pros.

For me, it comes down to Gerhart and Ingram. Suh had a great year and deserved his top five finish (and I really hope to see him in a Lions jersey next season) but he wasn’t quite dominant enough on defense to get my vote. McCoy and Tebow were two of the early favorites, but neither really lived up to the hype this season, especially Tebow. McCoy probably cost himself the award with his Big 12 Championship performance with the voters, and certainly that didn’t sit well with me either. So, in the end, it comes down to two running backs.

Gerhart was the epitome of a workhorse this season. He led all of the FBS in carries, yards, and touchdowns. Additionally, the Pac-10 was probably the second best conference this season, so his competition was certainly plenty good. Ingram, meanwhile, had slightly less impressive numbers, but he was still very good. He finished fifth in rushing yards, but only had 15 rushing touchdowns, 11 less than Gerhart. However, he was a bigger contributor to the passing game, with 30 receptions and three receiving touchdowns. He also had a better YPC average than Gerhart. However, his biggest plus is the fact he played in the SEC, and also had Virginia Tech on his schedule.

Ingram had a few huge games this season, including against Va Tech, South Carolina, and Florida, who had one of the best defenses in the nation. However, he also has that Auburn game on his resume, in which he ran 16 times for 30 yards. Gerhart’s worst game, meanwhile, was 17 carries for 82 yards.

This is really close in my opinion, but in the end I’d give my vote to Gerhart. My hypothetical ballot would look like this:

1. Gerhart
2. Ingram
3. McCoy
4. Suh
5. Tebow

In actuality, I think Ingram ends up taking it. I’m sure plenty of voters factored Alabama’s undefeated record into the equation and were so enthralled with his great game against the Gators they forgot all about the Iron Bowl. He had a fine season, however, so I wouldn’t be too irked by it if it does happen.

Now, what does your imaginary Heisman ballot look like?

The Surprise Bowl Eligible Teams that may have Slipped Under your Radar

Earlier this season, it was looking like it might be a particularly crazy college football season, which is something I personally always root for. Now, suddenly the Heisman is down to Colt McCoy and Tim Tebow, Ohio State managed to win the Big 10 again, and barring a big upset the national championship game will be between Texas and Alabama or Florida. Still, this entire season hasn’t been without it’s pleasant surprises. Virginia Tech isn’t going to win the ACC and the Pac-10 has been wrested from USC’s grip. We’ve got an undefeated TCU to go along with the usual undefeated Boise State. However, those are just some of the surprises college football had for us this season. Quite a few teams had really good seasons for their schools that shouldn’t go without being mention. Here’s but a few of them.

Idaho has played the part of the weak sister to Boise State for a long time now. The most notable thing about them is that Oakland Raiders coach/face punching enthusiast Tom Cable used to coach there. While they couldn’t hold a candle to the Broncos this season, the Vandals put together a 7-5 campaign that has them bowl eligible for the first time since 1998. This can only mean one thing; Robb Akey will be the next coach of the Raiders. It only makes sense.

Temple is known for two things: Basketball and Bill Cosby, and these days neither the hoops team or Dr. Cosby are exactly firing on all cylinders. Temple hasn’t had a winning season since 1990, they haven’t been to a bowl since 1979, and even then it was held in New Jersey. However, the Owls stunningly pulled off a 9-3 record and almost won their division of the MAC. Unfortunately, they were bested by the Ohio Bobcats, who now get the honor of losing to Central Michigan in the MAC title game.

Once upon a time, SMU was a vaunted football university. They went to bowl games, won the old Southwest Conference on numerous occasions, all of that good stuff. Then, in 1987 they received the NCAA’s first and only "death penalty" which terminated the program briefly and decimated it. Since 1984, the Mustangs haven’t been to a bowl and they’ve only had two winning seasons since the death penalty. However, they were able to lure June Jones away from Hawaii to be their head coach last season, and in short order he has them returning to a bowl, fittingly the Hawaii Bowl, with a 7-5 record. Considering the fact every player on team wasn’t alive when SMU was pulling their hijinx, you certainly can’t hold the university’s prior transgressions against them. Good for June Jones and his players for restoring some face to the once proud team.

There are some other good stories, of course. Both Northwestern and Stanford had 8-4 seasons (I have a soft spot for the academic schools). Connecticut overcame the tragedy that befell their team to become bowl eligible. Wyoming is bowl eligible, which I always find amusing. So while it may be status quo at the top of college football (though we should still get an exciting title game) there are plenty of good stories further down the list. To me, that is what the best thing about college football is. Not watching the same old juggernauts racking up conference titles, but the teams that have good seasons by their standards out of nowhere. This year, it was team’s like Idaho, Temple, and SMU, who knows who it will be next year. Here’s a team I am tipping early: There is this little school in Indiana called "Notre Dame" that I’ve been hearing some buzz about. They might be in line for a good season, so keep an eye on them.