Shibley’s NCAA Group of Five Conference Winners

While yes we had college football games this past Saturday, the fund really begins this week. College football is back and I love this time of year. It is time to make those picks that seem perfect right now, but will probably blow up by season’s end. Here are my picks for who will win all the group of five conferences and which one has the best chance to play in a New Year’s Six Bowl game.

American Athletic Conference

Champion: South Florida

Head Coach Charlie Strong comes from a situation at Texas where I do not believe he never got full support from everyone involved to Tampa where he inherits a team that went 11-2 last season and has a dark horse Heisman candidate in QB Quinton Flowers. With 17 other starters returning and a pretty light schedule (no Florida State) they have a great chance to go undefeated.

Best of the Rest: Navy

Navy still has the triple-option, and Ken Niumatalolo is still the head coach. Navy will always a challenge to opponents and have the experience and discipline to win the west division and challenge South Florida in the AAC Championship game.

Conference USA

Champion: Western Kentucky

The Hilltoppers have been the class of Conference USA the past two seasons under former head coach Jeff Brohm. Now with Brohm off to Purdue the Hilltoppers are breaking in a new head coach. Though that is nothing new to them with previous head coaches Willie Taggart and Bobby Petrino only staying for short tenures. Under new head coach Mike Sanford and experienced senior Quarterback Mike White, Western Kentucky will go for a three-peat on top of C-USA.

Best of the Rest: MTSU

The Blue Raiders have a great passing attack with Brent Stockstill throwing it to Richie James. That offensive firepower will get MTSU back to a bowl game, but unless the Blue Raiders can rebuild their front seven and win at Western Kentucky in November, they will just be section fiddle.

Mid-American Conference

Champion: Toledo

The Rockets return four all-conference players at the skill positions from a team that ranked seventh nationally in total offense. Led by first-team All-MAC Quarterback Logan Woodside, who threw 45 touchdown passes last season and has broken nearly every passing record at Toledo, the Rockets are ready to win their first conference championship since 2004.

Best of the Rest: Ohio

Head Coach Frank Solich is entering his 12th season at the helm with the Bobcats and they have been consistently good over that stretch. When you have an experienced offensive line and a solid defense you can win plenty.

Mountain West Conference

Champion: Wyoming

The Cowboys have a bonafide first round Quarterback prospect in Josh Allen which will make any team a contender to win their conference. Wyoming can get national attention quickly with a trip to Iowa to open the season, and the Oregon Ducks make a trip up to Laramie. If the Cowboys can replace their starting running back and tight end from last season, Allen will not have to carry the team by himself.

Best of the Rest: Boise State

As long as the winning attitude remains in Boise, the Broncos will always be in the mix. Head Coach Bryan Harsin has gone 31-9 in the three seasons since Chris Petersen left for Washington, though five of those losses have come from within their division, a place where the Broncos used to be untouchable.

Sun Belt Conference

Champion: Appalachian State

The Mountaineers were winners in the FCS, and they have remained winners since moving up to the FBS. They pushed Tennessee to overtime in the season opener last season and still won 10 games. They can definitely give Georgia fits in the season opener this season. They have the best depth in the conference and get advantage of great scheduling since they do not have to play top conference foes Troy or Arkansas State.

Best of the Rest: Arkansas State

So much of Arkansas State’s season rides on how they handle the beginning. Last season the Red Wolves started 0-4 with a tough schedule but then won eight out of their last seven. They start at Nebraska and somehow got Miami to come to Jonesboro, Arkansas the next week. If the Red Wolves survive again and rebuild the offensive line, they can contend.

Best Chance to Represent the Group of Five in a New Year’s Six Bowl: South Florida

The Bulls have the talent, coach, and schedule to go undefeated. Like Western Michigan last season, the strength of schedule will keep South Florida out of playoff consideration. However, Bulls will still be playing on New Year’s Day against someone big.

Be sure to catch the rest of my conference preview posts coming up this week!

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What’s in a Name?

Last night ESPN confirmed that they had moved their scheduled play-by-play announcer from the University of Virginia’s opening home football game against William and Mary. The announcer is Asian-American Robert Lee. Here is ESPN’s full statement on the issue:

“We collectively made the decision with Robert to switch games as the tragic events in Charlottesville were unfolding, simply because of the coincidence of his name. In that moment it felt right to all parties. It’s a shame that this is even a topic of conversation and we regret that who calls play by play for a football game has become an issue.”

ESPN apparently made this decision because they were worried people would be offended having an Asian-American with a name similar to the man who commanded the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia broadcast a football game in Charlottesville, Virginia.

For reference here are the two men in question:

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See any similarities besides the name? I did not think so. I am also pretty sure fans with a working brain would also be able to tell the difference as well.

Honestly, if ESPN had just kept Lee as the announcer there might have been a few memes or comments on Twitter about it during the game itself and that would have been the end of it. However, once ESPN decided to move Lee to another game and let news outlets get wind of it, this story became a much bigger deal than it otherwise would have been.

Furthermore, the University of Virginia vs. William and Mary game was scheduled to be streamed on ESPN’s digital networks, and not on any of ESPN’s television channels, so the vast majority of the people that would be watching the broadcast would be fans of the schools playing.

Just like a week ago when ESPN apologized for holding an auction draft (even though auction drafts have been a part of fantasy sports for years). ESPN is paying too much attention to a small fraction of its viewing audience that makes noise online but does not represent the vast majority of people who watch ESPN on a daily basis.

Hopefully this silliness does not become the norm.

One Dude’s Wedding Advice

You see their ads all over Knoxville. Twice a year, the Pink Bridal Show comes to the Knoxville Convention Center. Every time I see the billboards pop up I have flashbacks to January 12, 2014 when I went with my then fiancée, now wife, to that edition of the show. Along with us was her mother, one of her bridesmaids, her sister, and my sister. While we definitely made some big decisions there together, including the venue, and the photographer, I was mostly there for support. Of course among all the vendors my mind could not help but wander for a few reasons, The first being that is was my 31st birthday and the second was that the 49ers were playing the Panthers in the playoffs.

Anyway, with the next Pink Bridal Show coming up this Sunday and seeing a few friends and acquaintances getting engaged lately, I figured being two and a half years removed from my wedding day, I had enough time and experience to offer up some advice to the couples out there facing down the gauntlet of planning a wedding and reception. The main piece of advice I can give is this:

Focus on what really matters to the both of you the most.

The two of you are the ones getting married. Yes, family may be helping with costs but it is still your wedding and reception so it should include what is important to the both of you. Let me explain.

My wife and I met at a dance class learning a couples dance called zouk. It is a very sensual couples dance and I would recommend it to anyone wanting to try something new.  Anyway, we met at zouk and I proposed to her dancing zouk. So zouk and dancing in general was something very important to us and we wanted our first dance and the dancing thereafter to be a big focal point of the reception so we made sure everyone involved knew and understood that. Pictures was something else that was very important to my wife so we budgeted a little more money for some great pictures.

Meanwhile, My wife and I could not care less about flowers or the bouquet/garter toss. So while we still had flowers (fake) and still tossed the bouquet and garter, they were things not very high on our priorities.

So make all the plans you can, but focus on the things that matter to you the most, everything else is really just background noise. What matters to you is what you will remember on your special day.

But hey, that’s just one dude’s opinion.

Trump & The Boy Scouts

I earned my Eagle Scout ranking, the highest rank achieved in the Boy Scouts, in 2001. It was a source of pride for me when I finished, although it took me a little longer to get it than my parents would have wanted since I finished it about two weeks before I turned 18 (the cutoff age). However it is something I look back on happily and I am glad I achieved something that only about 2.5 million other boys have done, including my father, uncle, and cousins.

One of the best things I got to do during my time with the Boy Scouts was attend the 1997 National Boy Scout Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia. One of the highlights of the week was getting to hear a speech by then President Bill Clinton. President Clinton spent the bulk of his speech focused on Scouts adhering to the Boy Scout Slogan, “Do a good turn daily” and doing community service:

“If every young person in America would give back to their community in the way you do, just imagine what we could do,” he said. “Imagine how many fewer problems we could have. So many times I have wished that every young person in America had the chance to be a part of Scouting. And tonight I see why, more clearly than ever. So I hope you’ll go home and help others to serve and learn the joy that you share by the service you do.”

It has been a tradition for the sitting President or a surrogate to speak at the Jamboree since Franklin Delano Roosevelt spoke at the first one in 1937. All of the speakers stayed far, far away from partisan politics.

Not once during the speech did President Clinton talk about government policies or politics. Which of course was the exact opposite of what happened when President Donald Trump spoke at the National Boy Scout Jamboree yesterday in West Virginia.

President Trump (never a Scout himself) tried at adhere to that tradition. Starting the speech by saying,“Tonight we put aside all of the policy fights in Washington, D.C., you’ve been hearing about with the fake news. “Who the hell wants to speak about politics when I’m in front of the Boy Scouts?”

However, the speech he gave sounded more like one from one if his campaign rallies. He bashed President Barack Obama (who only sent a video message in 2010), criticized the “fake media,” trashed Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, and threatened to fire his health and human services secretary if he couldn’t persuade members of Congress to vote for the Republican health-care bill.

One thing was all try to learn as we grow up is there is a time and place for everything when you are trying to get your point across. It is something President Trump seems to not understand.

Sure the Boy Scouts are not perfect, they have had issues in the past with sexual assault cases and not allowing homosexuals. The Boy Scouts has always been a very conservative organization, but it has evolved over time.

With President Trump treating the Boy Scout Jamboree like one of his campaign rallies it does a disservice to an organization that prides itself on good values and serving the community.

I think the funniest thing about all of this is the fact that the vast majority of the 40,000 people in attendance are too young to vote.

Hopefully President Trump can do a better job at reading the room going forward.

Hand Out

So I was running errands today and I was behind a car when I noticed something a little off with the car in front of me.

The brake lights and turn signals must have been broken because the driver was using their hand to signal which way they were turning and if they were stopping.

Luckily I flashed back to my bike riding days and remembered what they meant. However, I am sure most drivers in East Tennessee do not remember any of those signals and what was happening. After a quick Google search I found that many states still have instructions on hand signals in their drivers manuals so it appears that these signals are still legal in most states.

Just something else drivers should be paying attention to while behind the wheel instead of being on their phone or having their stupid dog in their lap.

 

This is USA

The wife and I took a trip up to Washington D.C. last week and it was a wonderful time. Back in the 1990s I lived about 40 minutes from D.C. so our family always made trips to the Nation’s Capitol. I always loved riding the Metro into the Smithsonian station and getting to see all the sights. I had not been to D.C. in about nine years so it was fun to go up with my wife and see everything and also visit with some old friends. I also noticed something different this time while walking around.

Washington D.C. has always been a very diverse city. Being the Capitol of this great country has made it that way as people come from everywhere for politics, business, and tourism. I guess as I have gotten older and because of the political environment we have found ourselves in the past few years I finally started to see how truly diverse D.C. really is.

Walking around the National Mall last week Angela and I must have heard at least 30 different languages. Sitting on a bench waiting for a raid to start at a gym in Pokemon Go allowed Angela and I some time to just watch all the people from everywhere enjoy some beautiful days in Washington.

Another amazing thing we noticed, and something I have believed all along is that no one was a jackass to one another. Sometimes watching the news, or checking social media just makes someone think that everyone is in constant state of conflict with each other all around the country, when that really is not the case. I saw a woman wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat walking next to a woman in a hijab by the Lincoln Memorial and everyone just went about their day appreciating a monument to a great man who helped preserve this Union in one of its darkest hours. In fact the only person we saw being a jackass was being one to a building and not a person. Some guy decided to stand outside the Trump International Hotel and yell, “Impeach Trump!” to no one in particular, just at the building mostly.

So today, take a moment between the grilling, the pool, and the explosives to appreciate the wonderful diversity this great country of ours has to offer. Also remember, the words from the Declaration of Independence need to apply to all Americans. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Happy Independence Day everyone!

Woman Who Urged Friend to Kill Himself Found Guilty

While the Bill Cosby and Philandro Castile verdicts grabbed most of the headlines, I believe the verdict in this trial has far more ramifications for most people. Long story short, in 2014 Conrad Roy III was stepping out of his truck filled he had filled with lethal fumes in an attempt to take his own life. On the phone was Michelle Carter who told him to get back in the truck and finish the job. She then listened to him die without trying to help him.

On Friday she was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and could face up to 20 years in prison. This ruling brings up all kinds of questions about the scope of legal responsibility and where the line is now in terms of communication over the phone and social media.