On Bryce Harper Getting Ejected the Other Night

Bryce Harper and his streaking Nationals were at home on Wednesday night playing the Yankees.  The Nats have won five games in a row and surged to the top of the NL East over that stretch.  However, Wednesday night’s win would be overshadowed by an incident between Harper and home plate umpire Marvin Hudson.  Basically, the first pitch of the at bat was a strike that looked to be down in the zone or out of it altogether.  Supposedly, Harper then “refused” to get in the box, and Hudson ejected him.  Manager Matt Williams then cane out to argue on his behalf, for which he was ejected.  The ejection, in my eyes, was completely wrong.

First of all, players argue balls and strikes all the time.  If I had a dollar for every time a player was discontented with a ball-strike call, I could be really, really rich.  Harper was very unhappy however, and something that is important to note when considering the other side of the argument is that the pitch was only strike one.  Also, the at bat took place in the third inning, and there is still most of the game left at that point.  Think what you want about Bryce Harper, but he is an extreme competitor.  He wants everything to go his way, and sometimes if they go the other way, he becomes unhappy.  However, be clear of his intent; he just wants to win.

Second of all, if I pay the money to go to a Washington Nationals game, I would much rather watch Bryce Harper do what he does than watch Marvin Hudson do his job.  I have never heard of anyone that has gone to a baseball game and paid a real significant amount of attention to the umpires; they want to watch the players.  And without the best Nationals position player on the field, the game is simply not as exciting.  On a Wednesday night when people are most likely coming straight from work to see the game, depriving them of one of the most exciting players in baseball is simply not right.

Finally, along these lines, I am sick and tired of watching exhibitions that are not-so-affectionately known on social media as “#umpshows.”  Like I said in the first paragraph, I don’t watch baseball for the umpires.  It’s a great game, but the umpires are a blight upon it, no doubt about it.  Hudson did not exactly shy away from the arguments with Harper and Williams, either.  In the video above (which was shared by MLB’s YouTube account), not-so-nice words are blurred.  When Williams goes out to confront Hudson, he launches a bunch of these (examples of them rhyme with duck and spit).  However, Hudson did the exact same thing.  Don’t think of umpires as higher authority of better than the players, because they clearly don’t act it.

Finally, one of the reasons why Hudson wanted Harper to get back in the box (other than to create an #umpshow) is that he wanted to speed up the game.  This side of the anti-Harper argument is understandable.  However, the attempt backfired in Hudson’s face.  Not only was he embarrassed by Williams, Harper, and his own actions, the arguments took roughly two minutes, which doesn’t exactly speed up the game.  While this year’s pace-of-play rules have clearly worked, this was a miss.  An attempt to speed up the game by five or ten seconds wound up setting it back for two minutes, which does not look good for the game of baseball.

Any way you slice it, I think Harper should not have been ejected.

But, hey, let’s all get together to watch another great #umpshow sometime soon.

Analyzing What the NBA Draft Lottery Results Mean for the Draft

Last night, the NBA held its annual ping pong tournament Draft Lottery in New York.  While the 76ers had the possibility of acquiring three lottery picks, they will only be held to one because the Lakers held their top-five protected pick (moving up to #2) and the Heat held their top-10 protected pick (staying at #10).  The Sixers acquired the third pick, however, while the Knicks fell to #4 after having the second best chance at the first overall slot. Orlando rounds out the top five, which was expected because they had the fifth best chance for #1 to start off with. So what does this all mean?  Well…

The Timberwolves, sitting at the top of the draft, are in an unenviable position.  While they have a great problem in choosing between Kentucky’s Karl-Anthony Towns and Duke’s Jahlil Okafor, they have an interesting and difficult decision to make.  Do they draft the Power forward in Towns and leave the oft-injured and somewhat under-performing Nikola Pekovic in an center?  Or, do they draft the center in Okafor and potentially leave the aging and regressing Kevin Garnett to haul a heavy load playing in what will likely be his last season in the NBA?  Also, does the Big Ticket decide to come back?  If he doesn’t, and Okafor is the choice, who plays the four?  Again, it’s a good problem to have if you’re Minnesota, but it’s  problem nonetheless.

The Lakers are sitting at two, and while their choice seems like a no-brainer, it is actually more of a trick question than you think.  While it seems as if they would take whoever the T-Wolves don’t in front of them between Towns and Okafor, I think they could make it a surprise with this pick.  With no point guards on the roster headed into next season (no, I’m serious) except for Jordan Clarkson, they could, and I emphasize could, take either Emmanuel Mudiay, who originally would have played at SMU this season and turned them into a championship contender, or Ohio State’s D’Angelo Russell here.  It’s a stretch, but not a huge one.  A much bigger stretch would be fast-rising Latvian big man Kristaps Porzingis, who has made waves for his shot creating and three point shooting.  The Lakers need almost everything here, however, and Byron Scott has his own personal vendetta against 3-point shooting, so no Porzingis here.  After all, I don’t really think he fits the Lakers anyway, but on a team with Nick Young and Kobe Bryant taking all the shots, who does?

At three, look for the 76ers to go point guard.  The expected choice here and what seems to be the common sense one is Russell.  He is one of if not the most polished offensive player in this year’s draft, and could have a season like that of Michael Carter-Williams two years ago.  This works out perfectly for Philly, if Russell or Mudiay are available, and there’s no reason to think why at least one of them wouldn’t be there.  However, if Towns of Okafor are avaiable, they most likely would not be taken here, as the last thing the Sixers need is big men.  Again, this is a great position for Philly to be in here; with potentially no Towns or Okafor available here, they can still get their point guard of the future, whoever that may be.

This is just the first three picks.  The rest of the night is a litany of fun, trades, and booing that gives us plenty to salivate over until October.  Until then, we wait for the draft.  I hope to do a mock draft at some point, but the Playoffs will have to hold us over until then.

Chris Paul, Meet Alex Ovechkin?

The Clippers ended their glorious and horrendous self-destruction yesterday with a lifeless performance in game 7 against the Houston Rockets.  The Clippers were up 3-1 in the series but lost the last three (two on the road) to lose the series.  They had won game 1 in Houston and games 3 and 4 at home; they looked as if they were unbeatable and also had a real possibility of a conference final appearance or even an NBA title.  Most sad about these happenings, however, is that star PG Chris Paul failed to reach the conference finals for another year, as he has for the rest of his career.

Another player in another major sport had his team in his conference semifinals.  After a 7-game series in the first round (just like the Clippers had vs. the Spurs), his team won game 1 on the road and lost game 2.  They went back home for two games, winning both.  While this team and player did not look as unbeatable as the Clippers did after their game 4, they still looked as if they would win the series with ease.  Of course, the next three games happened, and the team lost in 7 games.  The other team I was just talking about was the Washington Capitals.  Their star player is Alex Ovechkin.

So, are CP3 and Ovie one in the same?  Well, not quite.  Statistically, Ovechkin’s numbers in the regular season are generally higher than those in the postseason.  For his career, he scores 0.63 goals per game in the regular season, but in the postseason, that number drops to 0.5 goals per game.  He averages 0.47 assists per game in the playoffs, but in the regular season he averages 0.55 assists per game.  Points per game suffer the most precipitous decline however, as his numbers in that category from the regular season to the playoffs go from 1.18 per game to 0.97 per game.  Is this all his fault?  Probably not.  Hockey is generally a more random game than basketball, more dependent on bounces of a puck and players that are on the ice at any particular time.  However, the numbers don’t lie; he’s not as good a postseason player as he is a regular season player.

Now we move on to CP3.  He was drafted the same year as Ovie (2006) and has played in the same number of second seasons as Ovechkin (seven).  However, his numbers actually increase across the board come playoff time.  His points per game are up about two from the regular season to the post, from 18.7 to 20.9.  His assists per game are somewhat down, from 9.9 to 9.5, but in the playoffs, rotations get shorter and star players need to do more offensively for their teams.  His regular season field goal % is 47%; his playoff field goal % is 48%.  He also shoots better from 3-point range in the playoffs, hovering around the 38-39% range.  All of these numbers have been accrued in about two more minutes per game, which is an advantage Ovechkin doesn’t have.  However, it’s clear: Paul is not a playoff choker, by any means.  If anything, he’s actually better in the playoffs.

What I’m trying to say is that there is much more at play here than just the performances of Chris Paul and Alex Ovechkin.  Their teammates and organizations have not exactly helped them out in terms of personnel moves and big performances.  However, one thing is clear: there’s a lot here.

They are much more similar than you would think.

The Clippers are done for this year, and everyone is now looking to Chris Paul for the answers.
The Clippers are done for this year, and everyone is now looking to Chris Paul for the answers.

Dear Bulls: Don’t Fire Tom Thibodeau

It seems like we talk about basketball teams irrationally firing (or potentially firing) their coaches in this space.  It’s going to become a ritual, I feel.  I could have written an article bemoaning the Monty Williams firing in New Orleans, but it was far less abominable than what is most likely about to happen in Chicago.  Tom Thibodeau, coach of the Bulls, cultivator of one of the league’s best defenses year after year for the last five years, and creator of an undeniable, tenacious, no-excuses culture that has grown in the Windy City and has been demonstrated the two seasons largely without former league MVP Derrick Rose, is about to be fired.

We all know what’s up here.  According to reports, the man they call “Thibs” and team management simply do not get along.  It isn’t even a dispute about money or contractual obligations, either: Thibodeau has 2 years and $9 million left on his contract.  Surely, the organization feels like it probably should have won an NBA championship by now, and while that can be easily said, it is constantly underrated by fans and executives just how difficult it is to win a championship in the NBA, and its no wonder why the Bulls haven’t; injuries.  It can also easily be said that Thibs’ rotation management and his minutes allotment has been, uh, not great (Luol Deng playing himself sick in the 2013 Playoffs to the point of having to receive a spinal tap, which briefly put his playing career and possibly his life in peril; keeping Derrick Rose in Game 1 of the 2012 Playoffs’ first round when the game was in hand, at the end of which Rose tore his ACL and would never be the same), he has constantly gotten the most effort and the best performance possible out of his team.

Over his five years with the Bulls, Thibs has accumulated a .647 winning percentage, making the playoffs every year in which he was there.  Also, he never finished lower than second in his division, and while that division has not exactly been hyper-competitive in Thibodeau’s tenure in Chicago, we have to give credit where credit is so obviously due.  The Bulls also won 50 or more games in three of those five years, and while that has been done in the inferior Western Conference, credit is also due there.  Also, he has helped bring along the defensive prowess of young players such as Joakim Noah, Jimmy Butler, Rose, and Taj Gibson.

While this year’s result is clearly not what the Bulls wanted, they shouldn’t fire Thibs because of it.  They ultimately will fire him, only because it is apparent that he has absolutely no relationship with the higher-ups in Bulls management.  Their performance against the Cavs last night was not exactly killer, but management should not overreact to that either; the Cavs are much better without Kevin Love than I think we all thought they were. However, it’s a shame for the Bulls organization, as they will be missing out on one of the best head coaches in the NBA for at least the next two years.  If and when Thibodeau is canned, it is likely either assistant coach Adrian Griffin, Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg, or Warriors assistant Alvin Gentry who will take his place.  Thibodeau could then either go to New Orleans or Orlando, and it is at least possible that the Bulls could trade Thibodeau for draft picks, as the Celtics did with Doc Rivers in 2013.  If he goes to the Pelicans, oh boy.  A young team, learning under one of the defensive masterminds of the game, a budding superstar and MVP in Anthony Davis, with all of that to learn?  Watch out, NBA.  That is the more likely scenario.  He could also wind up in Orlando, but that will be a much longer rebuilding process than with the Pelicans, who already made the playoffs this year.

However, he won’t be in Chicago.  That’s wrong.

My MLB Greatest Living Players

This year, Major League Baseball announced that, for the game’s 86th edition, they would have something known as a “Franchise Four” for each team; an opportunity for fans to vote for the four best players in each team franchise history.  There is also something that can be voted on that is known as “Greatest Living Players;”  the four best players in MLB history who are still alive.  To be honest, this was a fairly easy vote, as the candidates were Hank Aaron, Barry Bonds, Johnny Bench, Rickey Henderson, Sandy Koufax, Pedro Martinez, Willie Mays, and Tom Seaver.  Without further ado, here are my four greatest living players:

Hank Aaron

Sandy Koufax

Willie Mays

Tom Seaver

Let me know what you think.

Time to End Hack-a-Jordan

Last night saw the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers play in game 4 of the Western Conference Finals.  It also saw one of the worst-played, aggravating, least watchable games the NBA has seen in a long, long time.  Most, if not all of the game’s awfulness was due to the Rockets using the strategy that has come to be known as “Hack-A-Jordan”, the fouling of the Clippers’ worst free throw shooter DeAndre Jordan (40%) incessantly, so much so that he shot 28 free throws in the first half, an NBA playoff record.  The league rules state that once a team fouls the other five times, each defensive foul leads to two automatic free throws.  Every time the Clippers got into the bonus penalty situation, Houston and coach Kevin McHale would have one of its players (non-rotation bodies such as Clint Capela and Kostas Papanikolaou) foul Jordan, obviously, blatantly.

The history of fouling opposing players with poor free-throw percentages seemingly dates back to the late-1990s to the early-2000s, when coaches would foul Shaquille O’Neal (career 53% free-throw shooter) in hopes of stopping him and the Lakers’ offense.  In the video below, the Portland Trail Blazers, in the 2000 Western Conference Finals, try to come back by fouling Shaq over and over again in the fourth quarter, to mixed results.  While the Blazers were trailing Los Angeles by thirteen points going into the fourth quarter, they did get Shaq to shoot just 12-for-25 from the line in the quarter.  However, the Lakers outscored Portland by two in that quarter, and the Big Aristotle’s free throws accounted for half of their points in the fourth.

However, the strategy actually dates back to the days of Wilt Chamberlain, who only shot 51% in his career from the charity stripe.  Despite his pedestrian (at best) free-throw shooting, Chamberlain was possibly the most dominant basketball player of his generation, and it could be assured he would be on the floor in late-game situations.  This led to teams wishing to put Wilt on the line to try to mount a comeback in the late going.  As you can imagine, the game of attempting to foul Chamberlain turned into sheer ridiculousness and distracted from the game itself.  Reacting to this, the NBA decided that, in the last two minutes, a foul away from the ball (otherwise known as an intentional foul), would result in two free throws and possession of the ball for the team fouled.  With the perpetual fouling of Shaq and DeAndre, it is done before there is two minutes left in the game.  Often, between five and two minutes left in the game, teams ramp up the hacking, trying to get it all in before the two-minute mark.

So how should the rule be changed?  It’s simple: if a team fouls Jordan (or anyone else, for that matter), away from the ball, without the fouled player attempting to get to the ball, it should be deemed an intentional foul.  The fouled team should consequently get two free throws and the ball.  Want to really discourage “Hack-a…”?  Let the oppressed team choose which player it wants to shoot the free throws, just like technical fouls.  Personally, I am in favor of doing this as well.  Think about if Chris Paul (86% from the line) or J.J. Redick (89%) would have shot the free throws as a result of the Jordan fouls.  The game would have been over in the third quarter, which would not have made any difference in terms of the game’s watch-ability.  If anything, making the game a 50 or 60 point game due to the fouling would have saved us all from watching any more of that game than we would have had to.

Here’s my point: does watching a team foul the other’s worst free throw shooter time and time again make the game more enjoyable for the fan?  Sure, there are more strategic possibilities upon performing Hack-A-Jordan, but there is absolutely zero flow and rhythm to the game.  We often complained about the length, but more importantly, the pace of baseball games before this season saw the addition of clocks between innings to cut out dead time. The pace of games during the Rockets’ Jordan-hacking has been as bad, if not worse, than baseball was.  In a game that is growing exponentially and around the world, how can anyone on Earth stand to watch these “theatrics?”  And, especially considering that the Clippers play on the west coast and the Rockets play an hour behind in Houston, how can children who are just beginning to grasp the game of basketball bear to see this?  They actually should be thankful that they aren’t allowed to stay up late and watch the games, because they would be bored out of their minds and never watch basketball again.

As a final warning to the reader: don’t blame opposing teams for fouling Jordan.  It’s a smart strategy, especially if you are behind, as the Rockets were for most of the game last night.  Kevin McHale and Gregg Popovich are simply trying to create more possessions and interrupt the Clippers’ offensive rhythm.  It’s not their fault; it’s a strategy that dates back decades.  While Jordan isn’t the dominant player Wilt or Shaq was in their day, he wreaks havoc on the glass and is an enormous presence on defense.  However, he has not been discouraged by his results from the line, and it hasn’t affected other areas of his play.

If the Clippers win an NBA title this year on the legs of DeAndre Jordan’s free throws, then look for the rule to be changed.  If they lose out on a title due to DeAndre Jordan’s free throws, then look for the rule to be changed. History has shown that NBA commissioner Adam Silver is open to change (i.e. lengthening of the all-star break, talks of a mid-season tournament in Las Vegas) and will look at all options in regard to this story.  The rule will likely be changed, and it’s about time.

It’s time to put an end to repercussion-less Hack-A-Jordan.

A-Rod Should Get His Money

As you probably already know, Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez hit his 661st home run on Thursday night, passing Willie Mays for fourth all-time on the home run list.  However, the feat has now turned into a childish fight over whether A-Rod should get paid a $6 million bonus that was promised to him in 2007.  When he signed his contract then, it stated that he would be paid the bonus, as it is (or was then, anyway) a “marketing opportunity.” However, the Yankees’ organization does not plan to pay A-Rod the bonus because it is no longer a marketing opportunity, due to his repeated PED use and his hitting a good deal of good deal of those home runs while supposedly juiced.

First of all, I’ll tell you my opinion right now, straight up: I think he should get the money.  When an organization signs a player to a contract, it should at least have to fulfill the obligations of that contract.  If the player is forced to play out the contract for the team that signs him, the team should have to fulfill its end of the bargain as well. After all, this is an organization that is able to pay its players large sums of money to its players, especially those who are older and past their prime (Rodriguez is making $22 million this year, the product of the worst MLB contract of all time.)  They are far from financially constrained; they can give up $6 million for one of its players giving their organization publicity, good or bad.

Second, let me just say how ridiculous it is that a player’s organization is regarding an incredible accomplishment as nothing more than a “marketing opportunity.”  Sure, A-Rod cheated (a lot), but for a player to attain an accomplishment as impressive as this in pinstripes?  People will identify that moment forever with the Yankees. More that that, however, for Alex Rodriguez, at this point in his career, this achievement is one that will last a lifetime.  Can the same be said about “marketing opportunities?”  I don’t think so.  I look at this contract just like any other incentive-based deal: if the player reaches the milestone that is outlined in the contract, the team should just pay him the money.  It’s just like if there is a $1 million bonus for a pitcher to reach a certain number of strikeouts.  If the pitcher reaches that number, the team pays him, not for the “marketing opportunity”, but for the accomplishment attained.

Personally, I find this debate to be one of the stupider and more childish sports debates we’ve had in a long time.  It is also stupid and childish on the part of the Yankees to not pay him the money because of so-called “marketing opportunities.”  I wish that the organization would just do the right thing, fulfill its contractual obligations, and pay him his well-deserved money.  But that won’t happen; they won’t pay him voluntarily.

Long live “marketing opportunities.”

My MLB All-Star Game Ballot

The 2015 MLB All-Star Game is being held at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati on July 14th of this year.  The game is an exhibition of the game’s best talent (and worst rules), while much of the controversy gets pointed toward who does and doesn’t get chosen to play.  I know this is a little early, as the voting closes on July 2nd, but I filled out a ballot for the game based on the first four months of this year.  There will probably be more than one of these, so expect the ballot to change.  Here goes:

AL

1B: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers

2B: Jose Altuve, Astros

SS: Jed Lowrie, Astros

3B: Josh Donaldson, Blue Jays

C: Salvador Perez, Royals

DH: Nelson Cruz, Mariners

Outfielders: Mike Trout, Angels; Adam Jones, Orioles; Hanley Ramirez, Red Sox

NL

1B: Adrian Gonzalez, Dodgers

2B: Dee Gordon, Marlins

SS: Zack Cozart, Reds

3B: Matt Carpenter, Cardinals

C: Buster Posey, Giants

Outfielders: Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins; Matt Kemp, Padres; Justin Upton, Padres

Fire away in the comments section!

Why the Atlanta Hawks Should be Very Concerned for the Rest of the Playoffs

Last night, the Atlanta Hawks finally dispatched of the eight seed Brooklyn Nets in the first round of this year’s NBA playoffs.  It was by far their best game of the series, as they shot 51% from the field and made 13 three pointers. However, they should be very concerned for their next-round series against the Wizards.  Here’s why.

First, the Wizards present the problem of size.  The front line of Nene and Marcin Gortat, with their physicality and rebounding ability, will force Al Horford and Paul Millsap to pack it in in the paint and have to box out and give full effort on the glass for 48 minutes, every game.  I just don’t know if they can continually handle the physicality if the series gets to and 6th and 7th game.  Also, the Wizards have shooters on the perimeter as well, in Bradley Beal and Paul Pierce.  They will test the defensive mettle of guards Kyle Korver and Jeff Teague.  It remains to be seen who DeMarre Carroll guards, but it will most likely be Paul Pierce.

The Hawks like to hang their hat on their offense, and, in particular, their movement, passing, and team play in general.  However, Washington tied for ninth in opponent points scored in the regular season and only gave up 96.3 points per game in their four-game sweep over the Raptors.  This, again, is mainly due to the Wizards’ size in the paint and perimeter defense.  This may very well force the Hawks to live and die by the three pointer, which may be an ineffective strategy, considering that they average nearly 32 threes a game and have made only 11 per game. for a 35.4%  While this is tied for 6th in the playoffs, take a guess who has the #1 three point percentage in the postseason. It’s the Wizards.

As for those who would be more worried about the Hawks’ matchup with the Bulls or Cavailers, that’s probably accurate. However, the Hawks should be far more worried about the Wizards in this series.  Don’t worry about the Bulls or Cavaliers yet, Hawks fans, because you may not get that far.  Take the Wizards seriously.

5 College Football Coaches Who are on the Hot Seat This Season

We are still five months away from the beginning of the college football season.  However, it is never too early to think about which coaches will be receiving their pink slips after this season.  The next five coaches I am about to list should be taking a look over their shoulders, and if they don’t perform, could be shipped out.  What is important to understand about this article is that we should not celebrate firings in college sports, and while most of the coaches on this list are held to ridiculously unrealistic standards, that is simply the business that college football is.

#5: Les Miles, LSU

BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 29:  Head coach Les Miles of the LSU Tigers reacts during pre game before playing the Arkansas Razorbacks at Tiger Stadium on November 29, 2013 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

This is clearly the out-of-the-box “hot seat” choice.  However, when examined closely, it makes much more sense.  LSU raked in the #6 recruiting class this year, per Yahoo.com, and this included 5-star recruits such as running back Derrius Guice, wide receiver Tyron Johnson, offensive lineman Maea Teuhema, and defensive back Kevin Tolliver II.  None of those recruits play quarterback.  While Brandon Harris flashes potential, he has not yet reached the quarterback that many expected him to be.  Running back Leonard Fournette may very well win a Heisman this year, and it may be in vain.  This is a team that has also failed to make a BCS/NY6 bowl in the last three seasons.

#4: Larry Fedora, North Carolina

Larry Fedora

This team returns ten out of its eleven starters on offense.  They will be able to light up Saturdays and outscore many an opponent.  Also, it has brought in former Auburn head coach Gene Chizik to run its defense; but it shouldn’t make a difference.  The defense will continue to struggle as it did last season.  Last year, the Carolina team defense was, uh, not great (11th most total yards allowed in the country).  Consider these factors as well as an incredibly weak schedule as you look at this Carolina team.  If they underachieve, look for Fedora’s ouster.

#3: Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern

Pat Fitzgerald

This one is relatively simple: Northwestern has not reached a bowl game in the last two seasons.  While it did achieve quality wins over Notre Dame and Wisconsin last year, it 3-7 outside of those games  The big wins almost served as smokescreens for the rest of the team’s games.  Worst of all, the team won ten games but three years ago, and was 4-0 to start the 2013 season before falling apart after a tough home loss to Ohio State.

#2: Bob Stoops, Oklahoma

Bob Stoops

Virtually all of the team’s featured talent from last season is back from last year, including FBS single-game rushing record holder Samaje Perine and star wide receiver Sterling Shepard.  Also returning is enigmatic quarterback Trevor Knight, whose struggled last season before going down to a frightening spine injury.  While the running back position is deep with Perine and Joe Mixon, the defense, and, in particular, the secondary will struggle due to its being very thin/young.  This one largely depends on where the OU athletic department’s expectations lie for the upcoming season.  If they expect a NY6 bid and the team underachieves, Stoops is gone.  But if they don’t Stoops should be safe.

#1: Al Golden, Miami

Fear the Tie

This one is just too easy.  Golden is entering his fifth season at “The U” and has gone a mediocre 28-22 over his first four.  However, in fairness, he has put under strict recruiting restrictions due to the Nevin Shapiro scandal.  This is the make or break year, though.  With the amount of coaches who would love to coach in Miami (including late 90s-early 2000s Hurricanes’ savior Butch Davis), the expectations are naturally way too high here.  Quite a few of the team’s starters return from last season, including promising young quarterback Brad Kaaya.  Throw in the third-toughest schedule in the country, and underachievement is bound to happen.  The likeliest outcome here is Golden’s firing.

UPDATE: An earlier version of this article stated that the Miami Head Coach in the late 1990s-early 2000s was Butch Jones.  Obviously, it wasn’t; it was Butch Davis.  I sincerely apologize for the error.