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Bobby Petrino

Bobby Petrino was an extremely successful football coach at Arkansas University.  He had won 21 games over the last two seasons, lead the Razorbacks to its first BCS bowl game, and was looking at a potential national championship run in 2012.  However, that was not enough to save him, as he was fired a few weeks ago with cause after a motorcycle accident led to revelations of an extramarital affair.  It had turned out that Petrino had hired his mistress, Jessica Dorrell, to a job in the football department, and had lied to  his boss following the accident, saying he had been by himself, when in fact, Dorrell was with him.  Petrino had a buyout clause in his contract for $18, but he will receive none of it, and will not fight it, due to his dishonesty.

From a PR perspective, I feel that Arkansas University has handled this situation about as well as they could.  They came out with all the facts as soon as they were known, and they justly fired Petrino, despite some resistance from the fan base.  I feel it was the right move.  I also feel they are making a right move by hiring an interim head coach for the 2012 season from within, giving them plenty of time to decide on a permanent head coach for the following season and beyond.

NHL Playoff Suspensions/Injuries

The 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs are still very young, but there have already been nine suspensions handed out by the league in the wake of a series of dangerous, illegal hits, and out of control brawls that have taken place.  The most severe of these was on April 17th, when Chicago Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa was hospitalized after leaving the ice on a stretcher from being hit by a headshot from Phoenix Coyotes winger Raffi Torres.  Torres, who left his feet to land a should into Hossa’s head, was suspended from the league indefinitely and faces a disciplinary hearing.

In my recent memory, I cannot remember the last time there were this many suspensions in the playoffs.  And with all of the suspensions handed out during the regular season by Brandon Shanahan, the league’s disciplinary director, it makes you think that either the players are that stupid, or hockey is just that rough.  Has this recent series of circumstances just been a coincidence, or is it something more?  It is hard to tell, but repeat offenders beware.  Raffi Torres is going to be made an example of, for those players that want to hit illegally, and harm other players.  I expect that next year, we will see a lot less of these types of hits, and if there are any, much more severe consequences handed out.

Peyton Manning

Peyton Manning is a future hall of fame quarterback, and one of the top 5 greatest quarterbacks of all time.  So it was a big shock to learn that the Colts were going to release him this Spring.

Manning was coming off of 4 neck surgeries and had missed the entire 2011 season.  He was due a $28 million dollar bonus at the end of March, which placed the Colts in an awkward situation.  In the end, they decided to get rid of him instead off pay him the money.

This lead to one of the greatest free agent stories in the history of the NFL.  Not since Reggie White had there been a free agent of this caliber.  Teams like the Broncos, Cardinals, Dolphins, Jets, Texans, and Titans were all in the pot.  However, despite Manning saying that he wanted to pick a new team as quickly as possible, it seemed to take him as long as possible before be finally decided on the Broncos.  Taking his time really put some teams in a bind, as it was either, sign a different quarterback before they are off the market, or wait for Manning to make his decision and hope he picks you.  It came off as Peyton being very selfish and inconsiderate, which was the opposite of how most people had seem him until this point.

After watching him hold teams hostage, it has definitely altered my opinion of one of the greatest QB’s of all time.

Conference Re-Alignment

This year in college athletics, there has been another shift in the re-alignment of conferences.  The biggest story to note, was West Virginia.  West Virginia belonged to the Big East Conference, however, they wanted to drop out and join the Big 12.  The commissioner of the Big East did not want them to leave.  The problem for West Virginia, is that the Big East has a policy that you must wait 2 years after the initial request, before you can change conferences.  West Virginia didn’t want to wait, so they ended up taking it to court.  In the end, West Virginia paid the Big East $20 million to be able to leave right away.  The Big East is also losing Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the ACC in two years.  So with this new $20 million, it made sense for them to go out and find suitable replacements.

Enter Temple, my Alma mater.  Temple has had a top 30 men’s basketball program over the last 5 years, and their football program is up and coming under new coach Steve Addazio.  They used to be part of the Big East, until they were kicked out for poor performance.  However, Temple’s two biggest programs might be better than ever right now, and this makes them a great choice for the Big East to add.  This will help Temple’s recruiting, and overall bottom line, and hopefully I will be able to see my Owls make it to a final four or BCS bowl game.

NFL Rookie Salary Cap

$50 million dollars.  That’s how much money Sam Bradford was guaranteed as the number one pick of the 2010 NFL draft by the St. Louis Rams.  How could anyone pay $50 million dollars to anyone without seeing them perform?  All of that money was given to him based on his potential in the NFL.  There are guys playing in the NFL for 10 years that will never make that much money, even though they are perennial pro bowlers, or future hall of fame candidates.  However, with the collective bargaining that happened last off season, the NFL passed a new rule with a rookie wage scale.  In contrast, last years first pick of the draft, Cam Newton, was guaranteed about $25 million, half of what Sam Bradford made a year before.

This has been a blessing for the NFL.  Before, the top picks in the draft were getting paid so much, no one wanted to have to draft those players and pay them such a ridiculous amount.  Therefore, there were no trades at the top half of the first round of the draft, making it boring to watch, and tough for teams to have to fork out millions.  However, after watching the draft this year, the first draft after the implementation of the rookie wage scale, the first round was a trade-fest.  Just in the top 10 picks alone, there were at least 3 or 4 trades.  This made the draft much more enjoyable to watch, and it went by in 3 hours.  In 2010, the first round took almost 6 hours.  What an improvement, and blessing in disguise for the NFL.

BCS Finally Gets It Right?

After years and years of complaints, the BCS competition committee seems to have finally gotten it right.  After a meeting of the 12 conference presidents, and the president of Notre Dame, the competition committee has approved a “final four” for college football.  This scenario will match up the number 1 team in the country against the number 4 team, and the number 2 team against the number 3 team.  Then the two winners will face each other for the national championship.

This is great news.  Now there will hopefully be no undefeated teams left out of the national championship game, like with Auburn in 2002.  However, it is not yet a done deal.  They have to wait for the school presidents to vote in favor of it.

Assuming this new format is adopted, a few new questions will be brought up.  Where will these games be played?  When?

My solution is two let the top two teams play the semifinal games at their home stadium.  For example, if Penn State is ranked number 1, and they play Florida who is ranked number 4, then the game will be played at Beaver Stadium at Penn State.  This will still allow for the importance of going undefeated in the regular season as playing at home would be a huge advantage.  As for when the games should be played, I think they should play them on New Years Day, and then have the Championship played exactly a week later.  The championship game can rotate bowls (Rose, Fiesta, Sugar, etc) every year so they all get their fill.

New Orleans Saints

The New Orleans Saints football team has managed to out-do Peyton Manning as the off season’s top story.  It all started with the breaking news of the bounty program, in which defensive coordinator Greg Williams, was encouraging players to injure opposing players by putting up a pot of money for the person who took their opponent out of the game.  This offense resulted in some heavy punishment for the Saints.  Greg Williams, who is now the defensive coordinator for the St. Louis Rams, is suspended indefinitely, Sean Peyton, head coach of the Saints, is suspended for one season, and the general manager, Mickey Loomis, is suspended for 8 games.

Then, on top of the bounty program, ESPN reported that GM Micky Loomis, from 2002-2004 had a wire tap in his personal box at the stadium, that allowed him to listen in on the conversations of the opposing team’s coaches.  This has not been proven true yet, but if it is, it is not only breaking and NFL rule, but it could be breaking federal laws as well.

Looking at these situations from a PR perspective, this could go either very good, or very bad.  Obviously, these situations could get the fans to turn on the team out of disappointment.  This would be a disaster for the Saints PR team.  It would be very hard to persuade fans to come back after what happened.  On the flip side, however, and the more likely outcome in my opinion, is that Saints fans will become even more loyal to the organization.  While the rest of the league, and other teams’ fans come down on the Saints, I believe that Saints fans will stand and defend their team.  I have no evidence or anything to make me think this will happen, but I just have a feeling that Saints fans will stick by their team, after all their team has done for them since the Katrina disaster.