Thursday, August 23, 2012

THE PURPLE PILL ANALYSIS


IN YOUR BLUE DREAMS

Temecula, CA – Several days ago in a LLWAP story, I dropped a purple pill consisting of a gel cap filled with cannabis extract. Though I have eaten pot edibles before, with varying degrees of getting baked from them, kind of a crap shoot as they say, this was the first time ingesting a pill containing liquid pot. In a way I wish my cousin Abby was still alive for we had several great debates over pot (ingestion) and Genesis 1:29-30. The demagoguery against cannabis is the devil’s second greatest trick [see Memoirs of Mr. Pete & Mary Jane Green, available soon on Amazon].

Awakening and with no breakfast, I swallowed one of the purple pills I had been given from Ryan at 7:45 AM. The following is my report and conclusions.


7:45 – dropped 1 pill. No aftertaste.
7:55 – thought maybe that I could feel a slight sensation.
8:15 – definitely feeling something
8:30 – internally baked :), no equilibrium problems but feel stoned from the inside out, a clear-cut dome stone. No stomach reactions and morning dump ruled as routine, not a reaction from the pill. I must also say as a matter of common sense that no pot was smoked before this experiment was started.
8:40 – general zoning out, stomach growling for breakfast.
9:04 – lost track of time, a time hiccup, but side project research going well. No drowsiness or laziness experienced. Concentration improved similar to smoking old school ‘red bud’ Columbian. Since this is a solitary experiment and not done with any enhancements, no social interaction or amusement data was collected. ‘Gotta save something for the sequel, Rocky.’ Also retaining information so no short term memory loss and experiencing insight.
9:12 – thinking of smoking a bong rip but decided to do something else. Just a bit restless in my endeavors. Stone is more intense rather than all cerebral as with smoking and not like a vapor bake either. Nice plateau. Hunger comes and goes like a cloud across the sky.
10:00 – eating; food is sooo good; yummy! No ‘impaired’ movement in fixing breakfast, no spacing. Not the usual munchies hunger but a deep thoroughly enjoyment of the meal. Still baked like the Pillsbury dough boy.
10:33 – still buzzed. Did not get drowsy after the meal as I normally do. Buzz is upper, not a downer. Aches and pains are gone and no ‘cotton mouth’ experienced at any time. With food and duration of cannabis in system, a very mellow backside of the ingested Mary Jane is exposed. If I were playing music, this is the time I would put on jazz, and smile. Also the desirability of having a ‘lab partner’ to share this experiment with is noted.
11:07 – settling in for nap but changed mind when I remembered tea steeping in the kitchen. Tired of researching and now am starting to watch movie (My Cousin Vinny) to relax.
11:13 – still stoney and have not smoked any pot.
12:33 – nap.
1:07 – Too restless to sleep but too bored to stay awake
2:45 – smoked first bong rip of the day. Experiment ended. Duration 7 hours

CONCLUSION
At the turn of the century, two centuries ago, marijuana was ingested as an edible rather than smoked like a cigarette or inhaled like incense. The overall experience of dropping a purple pill of reported Blue Dream extract [DBS Boy source] is seen as a welcome alternative to getting stoned. The use of cannabis in this fashion would be a ‘miracle drug’ for the infirmed, the downhearted, and the bored, in short, this purple pill should replace the med cup for most seniors in Seniorville.
For people who are not in a retirement village, one of these pills could replace the much touted ‘5-hour energy drink’ with no side effects. Productivity and focus are improved without the spaciness or zoning off. The usual cotton mouth and sweet cravings (munchies) side effects from smoking pot did not occur. The duration of being baked but not overdone was excellent, in my opinion. Also there was no coughing or expectorant aspects noted.
The use of a non-cultural delivery system, a pill, is not expected to overtake the widely used combustion of cannabis through various methods such as joints, pipes, bongs, anytime soon as we seem to be programmed for hand-to-mouth smoking.  

Monday, August 20, 2012

FFHL COLLEGE 10 day KICKOFF

PRE-SEASON RANKINGS AND NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP ODDS

Hello Football Fans,
There is not much fluff in the attached newsletter.
The college season is 10 days away, and there are some preseason rankings, rule changes, coaching changes, selected games for the first week starting August 30th, plus some minutia for your reading pleasure.
The Fugitive Commissioner of the FFHL, on the lam from the gambling police.
Following is the Preseason Top 25 according to the USAToday Coach’s Poll, with number of 1st place votes in parentheses (the Associated Press Poll – sportswriters – is not out yet).

In the 2nd column are projected rankings from www.CollegeFootballTalk.com .
In the 3rd column are projected rankings from Phil Steele’s magazine.
In the 4th column are the projected rankings from Lindy’s magazine.
In the 5th column are current (not sure exactly how current) odds to win the BCS title game from www.TheSpread.com
NR = not ranked      NE = not eligible

                                        USA                                 BCS
                                        Today CFT    Steele Lindy  Odds 
Coaches’ TOP 25:
LSU (18)                           1        4        3        1        5/1     Before CB T. Mathieu dismissal
Alabama (20)                    2        3        5        3        5.5/1
USC (19)                          3        1        4        2        3/1    
Oklahoma (1)                    4        2        2        4        10/1   
Oregon                             5        7        6        5        11/1
Georgia                            6        6        8        6        14/1
Florida State (1)                7        10      1        8        12/1
Michigan                           8        5        22      7        25/1
South Carolina                  9        11      23      11      30/1
Arkansas                          10      15      16      9        20/1
West Virginia                     11      8        25      10      30/1
Wisconsin                         12      9        9        17      50/1
Michigan State                  13      14      19      12      60/1
Clemson                           14      12      14      13      33/1
Texas                               15      13      7        19      28/1
Nebraska                          16      22      17      25      40/1
TCU                                 17      20      36      15      50/1
Stanford                           18      23      18      21      Field-40/1
Oklahoma State                19      NR     12      16      80/1
Virginia Tech                     20      16      24      18      30/1
Kansas State                              21      NR     37      22      75/1
Boise State                       22      21      26      24      65/1
Florida                              23      19      10      20      50/1
Notre Dame                      24      NR     21      33      28/1
Auburn                             25      NR     29      31      60/1

USA                                 BCS
                                        Today CFT    Steele Lindy  Odds
 SELECTED OTHERS:
Ohio State                        NE      17      11      14      NE
North Carolina                   NE      18      13      45      NE
Louisville                           NR     24      34      23      Field-40/1
Virginia                             NR     25      24      34      200/1
Central Florida                  NE      NR     15      38      NE

These preseason polls don’t mean much, since results on the field will shake up these initial thoughts.
Commentary will be deferred until after the season starts.
Keep in mind that college football is still under the BCS system for 2012 and 2013 (same formula as last year).  The new playoff system doesn’t start until 2014.

COLLEGE RULE CHANGES

The main college rules changes for 2012 are:

1.       The change in the NFL kickoff rules got quite a bit of press last year, and now college has adopted the same rule whereby kickoffs will be from the 35-yard line instead of the 30-yard line.  However, the new college rule will have the ball come out to the 25-yard line on a touchback (it had always been the 20-yard line, and still is in the NFL).  The exception will be when the ball rolls or is fumbled into the end zone, in which case the ball comes out only to the 20-yard line.  Also, I understand that punts that result in a touchback come out only to the 20-yard line.

2.       College has adopted NFL rule changes on blocking, such as the “defenseless player” rule being expanded to penalize crack-back blocks to the head and/or neck area (Hines Ward Rule) and also expanded the restrictions on blocking below the waist.  Also, players will be penalized for leaping over blockers in an attempt to block a kick/punt.

3.       Several rule changes have been implemented to reduce the chance of concussions, mainly on special teams’ plays.  For instance, if a player loses his helmet that is not caused by a penalty (e.g., facemask grabbing), it will be deemed an injury to the player and he must leave the game for one play.  And, if it happens inside the last two minutes of each half, 10 seconds will run off the clock.

CONFERENCE REALIGNMENT
This is quickie refresher, and let me focus just on 2012.

BIG XII
Still 10 teams this year, and no divisions and no conference title game.
TCU and West Virginia are in, Missouri and Texas A&M are out.

SEC
Expanded to 14 teams; two divisions of seven.
Texas A&M added to West Division, and Missouri added to East Division.
BIG 10
Still 12 teams in conference this year, but two are ineligible for post-season play.  Net =10.
Two divisions of six, with conference title game between Legends and Leaders winners.

ACC
Same as last year; two divisions of six.

PAC-12
Same as last year; two divisions of six.
Difference is that USC is now eligible to win the South Division and play in the conference title game.

BIG EAST
Still 8 teams, but there was a shuffle.
West Virginia is out; Temple is in.

MOUNTAIN WEST
The name of the conference changed from Mountain West Conference to Mountain West (not sure why).
The MW expands from 8 to 10 teams.
TCU is out, but the conference added Nevada, Fresno State, and Hawaii.

The conference tried to get “automatic qualifier” (AQ) status for the next two years, but was denied.  That means the winner of the MW will not automatically qualify for one of the BCS Bowl invitations.
There are six AQ conferences – Big 10, SEC, PAC-12, ACC, Big East, and Big XII.

CONFERENCE USA
Same as last year; two divisions of six.

INDEPENDENTS
Same as last year; ND, BYU, Army, Navy

MID-AMERICAN CONFERENCE
Still a 13-team conference with two divisions.
In the East division, Temple is out, but Massachusetts is in (a newcomer to FBS/Division 1-A).

WESTERN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE
The WAC was 8 teams, and is now a 7-team, watered-down conference. 
Nevada, Fresno State, and Hawaii exited; entering this year are FBS newcomers University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and Texas State (in San Marcos, TX).

This conference will be eliminated next year, currently leaving just Idaho and New Mexico State without a home for 2013.
Idaho will likely either become an independent for football or join the FCS Big Sky Athletic Conference.
NM State hasn’t announced plans yet.

SUN BELT
Expanded from 9 to 10 teams, adding FBS newcomer South Alabama (in Mobile, AL).
SELECTED GAMES FOR THE FIRST WEEK (42 lined games total)

Thursday      UTSA +5h at South Alabama       Two new FBS teams meet
Aug. 30th      WA State +13h at BYU                         
South Carolina -7 at Vanderbilt     SEC divisional game early
Texas A&M -7 vs. LA Tech                    at “neutral” Shreveport, LA
Massachusetts +24h at UConn

Friday           BIG GAME: Boise St +7 at Michigan State (Steele predicts: 30-20 MSU)      
Aug. 31st      Tennessee -3h vs. NC State in Atlanta
                    San Jose State +25h at Stanford

Saturday       BIG GAME: Michigan +12h vs. Alabama          in Cowboys Stadium
Sept 1st                                      (Steele predicts: 31-17 Roll Tide)
Notre Dame -16h vs. Navy           in Ireland (“Leprechaun” Stadium?)
Marshall +24h at West VA          
Miami.FL +1 at Boston College    Early ACC conference game
Iowa -8 vs. Northern Illinois                    at “neutral” Chicago’s Soldier Field
Colorado -6 vs. Colorado State    at neutral site in Denver
Clemson -3 vs. Auburn                at neutral site in Atlanta
Northern Iowa at Wisconsin         No line, UNI Panthers are FCS#15
Texas State +37 at Houston
Tulsa -1 at Iowa State                          
         
Sunday                   Kentucky +13h at Louisville         
Sept 2nd                 SMU +10h at Baylor

Monday                  Georgia Tech +7 at Virginia Tech
Sept 3rd

Wednesday   FIRST NFL REGULAR SEASON GAME
Sept 5th                  Dallas at NY Giants 8:30PM Eastern

COLLEGE STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE

One way to measure 2012 strength of schedule is to compare a team’s opponents based on their records from 2011.  But Phil Steele goes one step further and uses 2012 projected records instead of last year’s historical results.  Here is Steele’s partial listing of teams’ toughness of schedule for this year, based the expanded analysis and his projections:

#1      Notre Dame; includes road games vs. Oklahoma, USC, and Michigan State. Last year Irish had #20 toughest schedule
#2      Mississippi; Last year #5 toughest (Steele’s analysis based on 2011 actual results)
#3      Iowa State    Cyclones had the #1 toughest schedule last year
#4      Michigan       Last year #34 toughest
#5      Florida          Last year #19 toughest
#6      Washington
#7      Baylor           Last year #4 toughest
#8      Texas A&M             Welcome to the SEC
#9      Miami of Florida
#10     Kentucky
Others:
#14     Arizona                   Last year #6 toughest
#20     Oklahoma               Last year #8 toughest
#21     Michigan State        Last year #74 toughest
#25     Nebraska
#28     Alabama                 Last year #17 toughest
#29     LSU                        Last year #15 toughest
#30     USC                       Last year #22 toughest
#49     Clemson
#54     Illinois
#56     Wisconsin               Last year #88 toughest     
#68     Iowa                       Last year #72 toughest
#70     Florida State
#71     Boise State             Last year #56 toughest
#81     BYU                       Last year #102 toughest
#100   San Diego State
#114   Colorado State
Easiest Five:
#120   South Alabama
#121   Western Michigan
#122   Northern Illinois
#123   Ohio U
#124   UTSA

COLLEGE COACHING CHANGES

Copy-and-paste, ain’t it great.

Out                              Team                                In
Rob Ianello                  Akron                               Terry Bowden (from N. ALA)
Mike Stoops                Arizona                             Rich Rodriguez (from MICH)
Dennis Erickson           Arizona St                         Todd Graham (from PITT)
Hugh Freeze U MISS     Arkansas St                      Gus Malzahn
Steve Fairchild             Colorado St                      Jim McElwain
H. Schnellenberger       FAU                                 Carl Pellini
Pat Hill                         Fresno St                          Tim DeRuyter
Greg McMackin           Hawaii                              Norm Chow (lifetime OC )
Kevin Sumlin TX A&M   Houston                            Tony Levine
Ron Zook                     Illinois                               Tim Beckman
Turner Gill                    Kansas                              Charlie Weis (prior ND, NFL)
Larry Porter                 Memphis                            Justin Fuente
Kevin Morris               Massachusetts                    Charley Molnar
Houston Nutt               Mississippi                         Hugh Freeze (from ARK.St)
Mike Locksley             New Mexico                     Bob Davie (old ND coach)
Butch Davis                 North Carolina                   Larry Fedora
Luke Fickell interim      Ohio St                              Urban Meyer (prior Utah, FL)
Joe Paterno                 Penn St                              Bill O'Brien
Todd Graham AZ St     Pittsburgh                           Paul Chryst
Greg Schiano TB Bucs         Rutgers                               Kyle Flood
Larry Fedora              Southern Miss                    Ellis Johnson
Mike Sherman MIA Fins   Texas A&M                       Kevin Sumlin
Tim Beckman             Toledo                               Matt Campbell
Bob Toledo               Tulane                                 Curtis Johnson
Neil Callaway            UAB                                  Garrick McGee
Rick Neuheisel FFHL??   UCLA                                Jim Mora
Paul Wulff                 Washington St                     Mike Leach


COACHES ON THE “HOT SEAT”

Using the efforts of Phil Steele again, here is a quick list of coaches that are on the hot seat.  Coaches that have gotten on his list from 2008 through 2011 had an 83% chance of either being fired/let go or doing what they had to do (having to do mainly with the team’s performance) to keep their jobs for the next year.  This is a nasty list to publish, but Phil can do the dirty work.  Go to www.philsteele.com and then check out his “Blog Archives” for more details, but here is the quickie list (in order of likelihood):

ARKANSAS - John L. Smith. This was a stop-gap hire after Petrino firing
TENNESSEE - Derek Dooley. 19 starters back; should improve record and keep job
TEXAS TECH - Tommy Tuberville. 17 returning, but offense goes from spread to run-first
BOSTON COLLEGE - Frank Spaziani. 17 returning; last year was 1st losing season since 1998
RICE  - David Bailiff. 3 straight losing seasons; team needs at least 5 wins in 2012
KENTUCKY - Joker Phillips. Rebuilding year, but still need to avoid 3-9 or worse season
IDAHO - Robb Akey   Going independent next year, but still need 4 wins
OREGON STATE - Mike Riley. 15 returning starters; team needs to make bowl game
CALIFORNIA - Jeff Tedford. Not Top 25 since 2006; cannot have 3rd straight 6-or-more loss season, and should be able to avoid this in his 11th year
NOTRE DAME - Brian Kelly. Even with brutal schedule, a losing season could be doom
TEXAS - Mack Brown. Brown was on list last year, but produced 8 wins. Another 8-win season may not be enough this year.

Honorable Mention:
CENTRAL MICH     Dan Enos
CENTRAL FL          George O’Leary


FOOTBALL QUIZ QUESTIONS

QUESTION #1:  Who holds the all-time record for most wins as a head coach in NCAA Division I history?

QUESTION #2: Which sanctioned teams are not eligible for post-season play in 2012?
I’ve got to pose this question for a third time, as I left out one other team that is ineligible this year.
Ohio State, UNC, and Central Florida have already been identified in prior quizzes.  There is one more school (at least one to date), and maybe Miami of Florida later.
HINT:  Not sure why I drew a blank on this one, but it is fairly obvious if you follow college football.




ANSWER #1:
Grambling’s Eddie Robinson is now Division I’s winningest coach with 408 victories.
Bobby Bowden is back into the record books for Division I-A, after Joe Paterno was stripped of 111 victories in the wake of the Sandusky “scandal”.  Penn State was forced to vacate all 112 wins from 1998 through 2011, all but one which belonged to Paterno.  His 409 wins have been reduced to 298, putting him at 7th on the all-time list.
Bowden has 377 wins, as revised, after he was forced by the NCAA to vacate 12 wins from his total as part of the school’s sanctions in 2009.

85-year old John Gagliardi of St. John’s University in Minnesota holds the Division III record with 484 wins.  He is still the head coach, and could reach 500 wins during the 2014 season.

ANSWER #2:
Penn State, who got slapped with a four-year bowl ban and other stiff penalties.  What a mess.  The football team has lost some key players to transfer recently, including its best RB Silas Redd to USC and best WR Justin Brown to Oklahoma.  Another projected starting WR Devon Smith transferred to Marshall.

Penn State is trying to change its image in light of the Sandusky connection to the Nittany Lions’ football program. The no-frills uniforms with no names on the jerseys had long been a trademark for PSU football and symbolized the “plainness” and team concept portrayed during the Joe Paterno era. This year, players’ names are being added to the jerseys along with blue ribbons to show support for victims of child abuse.
 

FFHL NFL FOOTBALL SEASON KICKOFF

FROM THE DESK OF THE “FUGITIVE” COMMISSIONER

Hello Football Fans, The NFL preseason has started, so this letter is almost exclusively NFL news and minutia and other good stuff such as three quiz questions. I don't have the coaching changes listed yet (later), but a quickie summary of the rule changes is attached and may interest you. I'll be sending out a college football "kickoff" letter soon, as the season starts in a few short weeks.
Enjoy, The Fugitive Commissioner of the FFHL

Now that the 2012 Olympics are history, and with all due respect to those incredible athletes, I’m moving on to the 2012 football season… after this.  Here’s a brief summary of the medal count for the top countries (before “winning” athletes lose their medals after positive drug tests):
 

COUNTRY                 TOTAL           GOLDS
    USA                            104                 46
    China                            87                  38
    Russia                           82                  24
    Great Britain                 65                  29
    Germany                       44                  11
    Japan                            38                    7
    Australia                        35                    7
    France                           34                  11
    South Korea                  28                  13
    Italy                               28                    8
To put the competition into perspective:
                        Only 25 countries won double-digit medals, and
                        One-hundred twenty-three (123) countries won 0 medals.

If you follow projections going into the season, you probably have noticed that experts tend to use last year’s results as a predictor of success for this year, which is of course one factor in the analysis.  But, as the statistics bear out, it is not the overriding factor.  Since 1998, a team has repeated as division winner only 30% of the time, or less than 1 in 3.  In 2011 alone, only 1 of the 8 divisions had a repeat winner (NE Pats; they have won the AFC East 8 of the last 9 seasons).  

In 2002, realignment created 8 divisions of four teams each. In those ten years, the NFC South has never had a repeat winner, and each of the four teams in the division (NOR, ATL, CAR, TB) has won the division title at least TWICE in those ten years.  All four members of the AFC West and NFC West have also won at least one division title in those ten years.

“So, who’s going to win Super Bowl XLVII?”
(Speaking of Roman numerals, did anyone else notice that the 30th Olympics were XXX??!!?)

I’ll give my predictions below (and of course, since I am a lousy prognosticator, you may argue with my selections).
After my comments, I have summarized the gambling odds by NFL division from LUCKY’S as of April 25th and from TheSpread.com website as posted in the second half of July.  There really are not that many differences between the two sets of numbers [see “big” changes IN RED on the following pages].


As a refresher, this may help to interpret the odds numbers:
A positive number means that you have to bet $100 to win that “positive number” amount of money.  For example, +300 means that you wager $100 to win $300 [total payback $400].  This is the same as “3 to 1” odds, or 3/1 odds [that is, $300 win divided by $100 amount wagered].
A negative number means that you have to bet that amount of money to win $100.  For example, -250 means that you wager $250 to win $100 [total payback $350].  This is the same as “2 to 5” odds or 2/5 odds [that is, $100 win divided by $250 amount wagered].

PROJECTED DIVISION WINNERS (by “The Fugitive”, not very scientific)

AFC East:  New England looks like the solid favorite again, as long as Tom Brady is QB and Cheating Belichick is the coach), even with flaws in their #31-ranked defense (next-to-last in the league in 2011,  only ahead of #32-ranked Green Bay).

GAMBLING ODDS to win division:
“Lucky’s” in April: NE -300 (big favorite), NYJ +350, BUF +500, MIA +900
TheSpread.com in July: NE -350 (big favorite), NYJ +600, BUF +700, MIA +1200

AFC North: Three teams made the playoffs last year.  Baltimore and Pittsburgh were 12-4 and Cincinnati was 9-7, with Cleveland languishing in the cellar at 4-12.  I’ll go out on a limb and say that the top 3 teams will all have worse records this year, and the Browns with a rookie QB will not improve on their paltry 2011 record (especially if they go 0-6 in their division again this year).  Flip a coin – BAL or PIT; I’m taking Pittsburgh to win the division this year, although both teams have question marks.
Cincinnati is getting banged up in the preseason.

GAMBLING ODDS:
 “Lucky’s” in April: BAL+120, PIT +150 (a close 2nd), CIN +240, CLE +1100
TheSpread.com in July: PIT+120, BAL +130 (a close 2nd), CIN +400, CLE +2500

AFC South:  Last year, I picked Houston to finally come through, before Peyton Manning was declared out for the season.  The Texans won the division, but Indy was a non-factor, so we’ll never know if my prediction would have been accurate had Manning been able to play.
For 2012, The Fugitive is picking the HOU Texans again, as is everyone else with a pulse.

GAMBLING ODDS:
 “Lucky’s” in April: HOU -500, TEN +350, IND +1000, JAX +1000
TheSpread.com in July: HOU -400, TEN +450, IND +1200, JAX +1500


AFC West:  This division is wide open.  With QB Peyton Manning coming to the Broncos, Denver is widely considered the favorite to repeat.  Their 8-8 record last year was not that impressive, except for some miraculous fourth-quarter comebacks with Tebow (who is now a NY Jet).  Denver won the tie-breaker over SD & KC.  San Diego, Kansas City and Oakland all have a decent chance to win the division and make the playoffs.
For 2012, The Fugitive is taking San Diego, then KC followed by Denver and then Oakland.

GAMBLING ODDS to win the AFC West:
 “Lucky’s” in April: DEN+160, SD +220, KC+250, OAK+300
TheSpread.com in July: DEN+170, SD +180, KC+350, OAK+500

NFC East: Everyone projected the “Dream Team” PHI Eagles to run away with the division title last year, but they ended up only 8-8 and missed the playoffs.  Dallas also disappointed (again), posting an 8-8 record.  The NY Giants took advantage and won the division with a 9-7 record.  The WSH Redskins have a rookie QB and need at least one more year to seriously contend.  Although NYG is the defending Super Bowl champion, they aren’t getting that much respect.  And the sucker that I am, Philadelphia is my pick this year, with Dallas 2nd, followed by NYG and then WSH.

 GAMBLING ODDS:
 “Lucky’s” in April: PHI+140, NYG +160 (close 2nd), DAL +220, WSH +700
TheSpread.com in July: PHI+150, NYG +200 (close 2nd), DAL +250, WSH +750

NFC North:  After a 15-1 regular season last year, Green Bay is the overwhelming favorite in this division.  But Chicago and Detroit both have a shot and should be playoff contenders.  My Vikings have slim chances to contend, need to shore up the defense, and hope RB Adrian Peterson is back to 100% and is able to stay on the field.
For 2012, The Fugitive will take DA BEARS in an upset, with both the Pack and Lions making the playoffs.

GAMBLING ODDS:
 “Lucky’s” in April: GB -200 (big favorite), DET +250, CHI +350, MIN +1500
TheSpread.com in July: GB -250 (big favorite), CHI +350, DET +500, MIN +2500

NFC South:  With the shake-up in New Orleans, this division gets more interesting.  My gut tells me that the off-season distractions will take their toll on the Saints.  The Fugitive will take Atlanta to win the division, and win a playoff game.  Carolina has the potential to be in the race, but I think Tampa Bay will struggle for one more year with their new head coach.

GAMBLING ODDS:
 “Lucky’s” in April: NOR -180 (big favorite), ATL +200, CAR +400, TB +1500
TheSpread.com in July: NOR +130, ATL +140 (close 2nd), CAR +450, TB +1000

NFC West:  Last year San Francisco distinguished itself with new head coach Jim Harbaugh.  It’s hard to believe that one year ago the 49’ers were coming off a 6-10 season and were not considered the favorite to win the division title.  This year the Niners are clearly the favorite after a 13-3 season, and I will make the obvious choice in picking them to easily repeat as the division winner.  I’m thinking that Seattle will be around .500 and settle into 2nd place, with the STL Rams 3rdwith new coach Jeff Fisher, and the AZ Cards struggling for respectability with John Skelton at QB.

GAMBLING ODDS:
 “Lucky’s” in April: SF -260 (big favorite), AZ +350, SEA +400, STL +1000
TheSpread.com in July: SF -250 (big favorite), SEA +400, AZ +750, STL +1000

SUPER BOWL PROJECTIONS

Phil Steele’s advanced look has New England beating Green Bay in Super Bowl XLVII, 31-30.

www.PredictEm.comgives three different selections:
The most likely “short” bet:  Philadelphia (at 13/1) over Pittsburgh
Middle-range pick:                 Pittsburgh (at 17/1) over Philadelphia
Long-shot pick:                                  Chicago (at 29/1) over … not listed, maybe the Cubs (?)

THE FUGITIVE SUPER BOWL PROJECTION:  Philadelphia over New England

Odds for winning the Super Bowl as reported by www.sbnation.com on August 9th:
  GB 6/1, NE 6.5/1, SF 10/1, HOU 12/1, PHI 12/1, DEN 16/1, PIT 16/1, BAL 18/1

OVERALL

With all of that said, every year since 2003 there has been a last-place team in at least one of the divisions to win their division the next year.  Which team might that be in 2012?  Last year I posed that same question to you, and the answer was …… HOUSTON (10-6), and DENVER (8-8) tied with SD and OAK and won playoff tiebreaker.  Dallas seemed to be the obvious choice last year, but came up one game short.

For 2012, here are the eight choices: BUF and MIA, CLE, INDY, KC, WSH, MIN, TB, and STL.  Come on, man, you gotta pick one!!
In this category only, I’ll pick “Kansas City” to break out, win the division and make the playoffs as they did in 2010.  My second choice would be Buffalo (would love to see NE Pats fade), but that is a big reach given New England’s cupcake schedule this year.  I believe Washington is at least one year away from contention in the NFC East, but it’s possible if RG3 lights it up.


NFL RULE CHANGES

The new kickoff rules got quite a bit of press last year (college adopted similar kickoff rules this year).  Kickoffs are from the 35-yard line instead of the 30-yard line.
The main NFL rules changes for 2012 are:

1.               The overtime rule that was adopted for the playoffs last year will now be used also for regular season games.  Roughly, that means a team winning the coin flip in OT cannot win the game outright with a FG on their first drive.  The start of the “afternoon” games has been delayed by 10 minutes to accommodate this new rule.

2.               “Automatic” instant replay has been expanded to include all plays resulting in a turnover.  Last year all touchdown plays were subject to automatic replay booth review.

3.               The “defenseless player” rule is expanded to penalize crack-back blocks to the head and/or neck area (Hines Ward Rule).

4.               “Soft pads” are now mandatory, supposedly to help prevent injuries (mainly bruising, but not major injuries).  The required equipment is roughly hip/thigh/knee pads built into a one-piece, lower body suit (“NIKE integrated pads”).  Back in the 1960’s and 1970’s players had used foam pads that stuck out from all parts of their uniforms, but most skill position players jettisoned (NASA term) this bulk to increase their speed and quickness.

5.               The NFL delayed the trade deadline from Week #6 to Week #8.

OTHER CATCH-UP  and MINUTIA OF POTENTIAL INTEREST

Results of NFL Supplemental Draft

WR Josh Gordon (Baylor, Utah, drug suspensions) was the only player taken in this year’s Supplemental draft.  The CLE Browns grabbed this talented athlete (6’4”, 220 lbs, good speed) in the 2nd round.
The next best player available was RB Ed Wesley (TCU); he was not drafted, probably because he measured out at 5’8”, 196 lbs., and a 4.7 forty.
Undrafted LB Larry Lumpkin (Carson-Newman) was picked up by the IND Colts in free agency.

Green Bay Packers shareholders’ meeting

The GB Packers are the only publicly-owned NFL team.  Earlier this year, they had a stock sale that tripled the total number of shareholders.  Basically, the only benefit for owning this “stock” is a lifetime invitation to the team’s annual stockholders’ meeting.  This year’s meeting was held on July 23rd; the Packers got a preliminary count and more than 25,000 shareholders were expected.  In past years shareholders could bring up to 4 guests, but for fear the stadium would not hold all of the attendees, only shareholders were allowed this year.
Only 12,500 stockholders actually showed up; another 21,000 stockholders watched the event online, via a feed available only to shareholders.

Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio

The Pro Football HOF in Canton opened its doors on September 7, 1963.  Forty-nine years later on July 8, 2012, the Hall welcomed its 9 millionth visitor.  That’s an average of about 184,000 visitors per year.
Here’s a quickie summary of the progression:
1963 to 1973               Hit 1 million visitors              100,000 average per year for 10 years
1973 to 1991               Hit 5 million visitors              222,000 average per year for 18 years
1991 to 2012               Hit 9 million visitors              190,000 average per year for 21 years


Chad Ochocinco is history; he changed his name back to Chad Johnson.  He got married in early July.  In August, he was arrested for suspicion of domestic battery for an alleged head-butt to his wife’s skull, and was cut by the “Hard Knocks” Miami Dolphins soon thereafter (August 12, 2012).
He was a six-time Pro Bowler for Cincinnati, and for his career he has 766 receptions for 11,059 yards and 67 TD’s.  Chad was cut by the NE Patriots after last season before he signed with the ‘Fins.  Are his playing days over?  He’s 34 years old, but still may be picked up by some team desperate for WR help.

ARENA FOOTBALL – THE CHAMPION

The Arizona Rattlers, #2 seed in the National Conference, and the Philadelphia Soul, #1 seed in the American Conference, won two playoff games and met in ArenaBowl XXV on August 10th in New Orleans.  The AZ Rattlers beat the PHI Soul, 72-54, for the title.  It was the Rattlers’ third AFL championship (1994, 1997).  Arizona had lost in last year’s championship game to the Jacksonville Sharks, 73-70.


UNITED FOOTBALL LEAGUE (UFL) – REVIVED!

The UFL Commissioner had resigned in January of 2012, and it appeared as if the UFL was dead.  “Not so fast, my friends!”  The league has been revived and actually signed a TV contract with CBS Sports Network recently.  Starting September 19th, there will be two games broadcast per week, on every Wednesday and Friday night (the days not already taken by the NFL).
There will be four teams, with an 8-week regular season and a championship game in late November.

The four teams:
Las Vegas Locomotives         Coach Jim Fassel
Virginia Destroyers                Coach Marty Schottenheimer
Omaha Nighthawks                Coach Bart Andrus (promoted from offensive coordinator)
Sacramento Mountain Lions  Coach Turk Schonert (former NFL QB and assistant coach, replacing
Dennis Green, who sued the league for not paying his salary last year)
It appears that there will not be restrictions on players jumping to the NFL during the UFL season, as had been the case in prior years.
More later.

USFL
There is also a new league intending to play games from March through June of 2013, with 8 teams and a 14-game schedule.  More on that later.

SELECTED GAMES FOR WEEK ONE

Thursday        Kickoff 2012
Sept 5th                        Dallas +3 at NY Giants -3

Sunday                        Early Divisional Matchups:
Sept 8th                       Buffalo +5 at NY Jets                        
                                    Seattle +2 at Arizona
                                    Carolina -3 at Tampa Bay
                                    Other interesting matchups:
                                    Pittsburgh +2 at Denver (last year’s playoff rematch)
                                    San Francisco +6h at Green Bay (#2 & #1 seeds from last year’s playoffs)

Monday Double Header        Cincinnati +6h at Baltimore (7PM Eastern)
                        Sept 9th                       San Diego (Pick’em) at Oakland (10:15PM Eastern)
QUIZ QUESTIONS

QUESTION #1
Six former NFL players were inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame earlier this month – Jack Butler, Dermontti Dawson, Chris Doleman, Cortez Kennedy, Curtis Martin, and Willie Roaf.  How many total Super Bowl rings did these players win?

QUESTION #2
Which NCAA-sanctioned teams are not eligible for post-season play in 2012?
HINT:  I asked this question in my last newsletter in July; the answer has changed.


QUESTION #3
This question comes from “The Mudhen” of Fallbrook, CA:
What former NFL player holds the all-time record for highest QB rating (20 or more pass completions)?
HINT1:  He played in the NFL for Pittsburgh and Washington from 2002 through 2010, and announced plans to retire in July.
HINT2: It’s not Kordell Stewart, but think “slash”



ANSWER #1
NONE.  The last time this happened was in 1982, when four players were inducted – Doug Atkins, George Musso, Sam Huff, and Merlin Olsen.  None could boast of a Super Bowl victory.
In the 2012 group, Dawson and Martin did play in one Super Bowl each, but were on the losing end.

ANSWER #2
“Ohio State and North Carolina” was the answer on July 4th, but there has been an addition to that list.
The University of Central Florida will be ineligible for postseason play in both football and basketball for the 2012-2013 academic year (and 5-year probation, and 5-scholarship reduction for three years, and more).  The NCAA added this penalty to the school’s self-imposed penalties after major recruiting violations were uncovered last year.  UCF was also cited for “lack of institutional control”, and is considered a repeat offender after just getting off of NCAA probation in February after being cited for violations from 2007 to 2009.
Central Florida had been picked to win the Conference USA this year.  The team will be moving to the Big East Conference in 2013.

USC is bowl-eligible this year, after serving its two-year bowl ban.
Miami of Florida is still being investigated, but the hammer hasn’t come down yet on the Hurricanes’ program.  It doesn’t look good for “The U”.

ANSWER #3
Though remembered as a role player and for producing some great kick returns, it is Antwaan Randle El. He primarily played QB at Indiana University (also played basketball and baseball at the school), but was considered a WR and kick returner in the pros after being drafted by Pittsburgh in the 2nd round of the 2002 draft.
But he did throw some passes in the NFL and completed 22 of 27 passes for 323 yards with 6 TD’s and no interceptions.  He also had a career rushing mark of 5.5 yards per attempt on 79 total carries (0 TD’s).  He racked up 6 TD’s on kick returns, as well as 15 receiving TD’s.
Oh, the most important stat for this question:  his career QB rating all-time NFL record is 158.7.