History of the College Football Playoff

The College Football Playoff is now set, and Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, and Washington will compete for the National Championship. Having a 4 team playoff is very new in the world of College Football, and in honor of the final four rankings being released, here’s a sound piece exploring the history of College Football National Championships. It originally aired on Sports Power Talk, Sundays from 11 am – 1 pm on 88.1 WZIP. 

 

Zips Attendance Woes Continue

It’s no secret that attendance at University of Akron football games leaves much to be desired. The usual raucous crowds that accompany collegiate football contests that are filled with student sections swaying side to side with whatever tune the band is thunderously sounding are just flat not there at Akron Zip football games. In fact, the visiting sideline can usually be a bit louder and more passionate than the home stands and student section combined. But why? Well, let’s step back and look at this from a numbers standpoint.

For the 2015 campaign (2016 attendance numbers are yet to be calculated), the Zips saw a crowd increase of about 2.3 percent from the previous season per Ohio.com. However, that worked out to only 32,280 people over the course of six home games. This, broken down to a per game averaged, comes to 5,380 people walking through the gates each game. Obviously, for a stadium that holds 30,000 people and cost over $65 million to build, these are not good numbers for UA. The usual mass amount of money that comes from ticket sales just simply is not there, which leads to a drastic drop in sales in other departments. Food and beverage, merchandise, and more also suffer at the hands of poor attendance. Stock up the team store with all the cool jerseys and hoodies you want, it won’t matter if no one is there to buy it or even see it for that matter. This all, of course, coming in arguably the best season ever for the Zips which ended in a Famous Idaho Potato Bowl victory over Utah State.

To find some answers on how to fix this, I interviewed students and older fans alike to find out what both sides think can bring in more people to the games (see SoundCloud link below). One common answer found across the board? NO MORE WEEKDAY GAMES. The thought behind weekday games this is clear. Grabbing some quick, discounted ESPN time during the weekday to shed some national exposure onto the program. A lot of previous gimmicks mixed into these games have brought fans out as well. Just two years ago, a Tuesday night game against Bowling Green promised to send 6 kids home with free tuition at halftime. The first half had students and older fans alike going crazy and cheering on the Zips passionately since there were so many people there. After the winners of the tuition were announced, however… well let’s just say that stadium emptied rather quickly. When the team is not winning these games and the stadium is empty, the results are counterproductive to what this program wants to achieve. Many seem to believe that having weekday games can mess with some players’ psyche since it is not that usual “wake up on Saturday because it’s gameday” feel. The Zips finished this season on 4 consecutive weekday games, losing every single one of them. This is utter disaster for a program that, after getting its first bowl victory ever just a year ago, had lots of promise and potential coming into this season. A slew of injuries at the quarterback position left third stringer Tyrell Goodman to lead the offense down the stretch of the season. This tough finish to the season leaves the Zips at 5-7, missing out on bowl season yet again.

Maybe next season the Zips will muster up a winning record and get back into Bowl Season. And heck, while they’re at it, they might just come up with a way to get fans to come see it happen.

https://soundcloud.com/wzip/akron-football-attendance-2016

 

The Finish Line is in Sight

Image courtesy of Metro.
Image courtesy of Metro.

A U.S. Election Preview

It is important to note that I am in no way asserting that the following forecast will be indicative of what will happen on Election Day, as a Political Science student, the examination of polls is very important and that is what all the following assertions are based on.

 

On Tuesday, November 8th, Americans will go to the polls en masse to decide who will succeed President Obama as the 45th President of the United States. In an election season that many have labeled as “divisive”, “toxic” and “tedious”, the end of the election process will be a welcome one.

Former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton is holding a national lead of six points (based on an aggregate of polls) over her Republican rival, Donald Trump. However, Mr. Trump has made some gains in key battleground states like Ohio, Florida and North Carolina.

To quell fears on both sides, there are some states that can all but be declared won by each candidate. Sec. Clinton for instance will most likely win California, New York and Minnesota. In that same spirit, Mr. Trump will probably win Texas, Tennessee and Montana. When all the states that the two candidates are likely to win are tallied, Sec. Clinton has an edge going into Election Day with 201 electoral votes, with Mr. Trump garnering 164.

So, 13 states will decide who will win the presidency. They are Arizona, with 11 electoral votes, Colorado with nine, Florida with 29, Georgia with 16, Iowa with 6, Michigan with 16, Nevada with 6, New Hampshire with 4, North Carolina with 15, Ohio with 18, Pennsylvania with 20, Virginia with 13 and Wisconsin with 10.

Anything missing? Where do all the third party candidates fit into all of this? The three main ones are Dr. Jill Stein of the Green Party, former governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson and former Republican and CIA operative, Evan McMullin who might spoil the party for Donald Trump and actually win Utah, the heavily conservative Christian state. In an October Rasmussen poll, he was polling above Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton at 29%. However, a Monmouth University poll out today, shows Trump leading in the state at 42%.

Elections are won with what is called “ground game”; that is, going door-to-door talking to undecided voters, having candidates visit battleground states and investing heavily in a media campaign. Dr. Stein, Gov. Johnson and Mr. McMullin simply do not have the financial resources needed to dent the chances of Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump winning the election.

Although the Democrats have a chance for the first time since 1996 when President Clinton won the state to turn it blue, conservatives will rally behind Donald Trump and give him the 11 electoral votes Arizona has to offer.

Early voting usually favors Democrats and Latino voters have given Sec. Clinton an edge in the early voting numbers that have been released and because of that, Colorado’s nine electoral votes will go to her.

In every election since 2000, Florida has been a very tight race, with the winner of the state being decided by a few thousand votes (President Obama won the state by .9% in 2012). However, for the same reason Sec. Clinton will most likely win Colorado, the enthusiasm she has received from communities of color (African-Americans and Latinos), will give her the slight edge in winning the state’s 29 electoral votes.

Georgia is another state that has come into play for the Democrats, but will end up staying red for Donald Trump, with its 16 electoral votes.

Sec. Clinton will get Iowa’s six electoral votes. She will also get Michigan’s 16 votes because of her promise to keep that nation on the economic plan President Obama instituted when he took office in 2009, which included bailing out the auto-industry. Michigan’s economy depended heavily on the president’s bailout and rewarded him for it by giving him a win in both 2008 and 2012.

Nevada will go to Sec. Clinton with its six electoral votes; New Hampshire will also go in her column with its four electoral votes, even though a Boston Globe poll has her tied with Trump at 42%. The polls in North Carolina have Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton tied at 46%. Although the state is historically conservative, an aggressive campaign in the state by Democrats in recent years has turned it from a red state, to a purple state. For this reason, Hillary Clinton might just win the state’s 15 electoral votes.

The biggest surprise of this election season, in terms of the battleground states, is Ohio. Donald Trump has had incredible success in the state and is currently polling four points ahead of Hillary Clinton. This should be a troubling sign for the Clinton campaign, but Mr. Trump’s message of remedying trade deals and keeping factory jobs in the state is resonating with its rust belt workers. For that reason, he might win the state’s 18 electoral votes.

Pennsylvania will go in Clinton’s column with its 20 votes, Virginia (the home state of Democratic VP nominee, Tim Kaine), will go blue for Clinton with 13 votes and Wisconsin will give Sec. Clinton its 10 votes.

When all the above is tallied, Hillary Clinton, I predict, will win in an electoral landslide with 329 electoral votes, versus Donald Trump’s 209.

Hall of Fame Game Put to Shame?

CANTON – The NFL Hall of Fame Game is one that seems to diminish in meaning a little more each year, similar to that of the NFL Pro Bowl. However, if you were excited for this year’s game, you would be disappointed.

Shortly after the top of the seven o’clock hour, the NFL released on Twitter that the game had been cancelled due to poor field conditions.

This is not too unfamiliar, however, as last year’s game also faced much criticism over field condition. Even more talk was raised after Steelers kicker Shaun Suisham’s season was ended via a torn ACL at last year’s event.

The issue with the field was actually the paint in the end zones and at midfield. The paint was “congealing” which in layman’s terms basically means it took on a very rubbery texture, almost that of tar, and the players would not be able to grip the surface well.

Leaving the premises, I was able to catch a few comments from some fans. Many weren’t too shaken up over the ordeal. Others, however, were not as kind.

“That’s absolutely terrible” said one father of a Packer family that had made the trip from Wisconsin. “We travel all this way and they can’t play the game because someone messed up the paint? Absurd”.

Hall of Fame President David Baker was even booed shortly after 8 when he came out to address the fans on what had really went wrong with the field conditions.

So far, there have been no indicators on fan refunds for tickets or anything like that. However, it is safe to assume that the preparation of next year’s game will be under much tighter supervision.

The majority of fans seem to embrace the cancellation fairly well, acknowledging that there really is nothing at stake. Those that made the trip though…… well based on the Packer family from earlier and some other fans on Twitter, the NFL will have some explaining (or not) to do.

At the end of the day, losing money on a preseason ticket game can’t be too fun. However, if you asked a Packer fan if it would be worth losing Aaron Rodgers to injury in the Hall of Fame game, well, pretty easy answer to that one.

2016 NFL Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony

CANTON — The annual Hall of Fame weekend here in Canton is one of celebration, and that is exactly what the enshrinement ceremony Saturday night was all about.

The air was electric as many fans of the league (the majority of which were Packers fans sporting their own Brett Favre jersey) came to celebrate the accomplishments of a few greats. The sheer sight of a Brett Favre highlight playing on one of the three big screens surrounding the stage had fans in an uproar.

Marvin Harrison was the first to speak as the long time, record-breaking Indianapolis Colt had his blue and white faithful going crazy. He was not to leave out his teammates, however, as shout outs were given to future Hall of Famers Peyton Manning, Edgerrin James, and Reggie Wayne, who all played next to Harrison many years in Indy.

Next was the Ohio native Orlando Pace, which many fans went crazy for since Pace played his college ball just down the road at The Ohio State University. Pace’s brought tears to both his mother’s eyes and the eyes of many in attendance. Of course, this was not all without a quick O-H-I-O chant with the Buckeye natives prior to his speech.

Following this was the induction of the late Dick Stanfel, who was enshrined on behalf of his three sons. Stanfel was a long time right guard with the Detroit Lions and really helped revolutionize the position.

Of course, what is a hall of fame enshrinement ceremony without a Pittsburgh Steelers. Tough as nails Kevin Greene had the Terrible Towels waving in Canton.

“I’ve never experienced anything like being a Pittsburgh Steeler”, Greene said. “When I was playing here I felt like I was unblock-able”.

Greene, who is also a former member of the U.S. military, gave shout outs to all the men and women who serve our country and also to his very decorated military brother.

The late Ken Stabler was to follow, and if you didn’t believe Raiders fans were insane, the reaction to Stabler’s enshrinement would easily be enough to change your mind. “The Snake”, who led his Raiders to two Super Bowls and winning in 1977 in Super Bowl XI against the Minnesota Vikings, was enshrined on behalf of his grandsons, former Raider and hall of fame receiver Fred Biletnikoff, and other Raider greats.

Former San Francisco 49er owner Ed DeBartolo Jr. also had many interesting stories, many of which involved meeting his players directly after games and even staying with them for long periods of time in the hospital when an injury would occur.

DeBartolo chose to reflect on “The Catch” from the 1982 NFC Championship Game and where he was when it happened. Apparently, his view was actually blocked by an officer on a horse who gave him a thumbs up after the play happened. “That’s how I found out”, DeBartolo said. “My view was blocked by a horse’s a—“.

Tony Dungy was next to speak as his enshrinement was presented by his longtime friend and former Steelers great, Donnie Shell.

Dungy was the youngest African American defensive coordinator to enter the NFL and he was also the first African American head coach to win a Super Bowl when he led his Colts over the Bears in 2006. Dungy, much like Marvin Harrison, was sure to give love to his Colts fans.

“They made me feel like native Hoosiers”, Dungy said. “My family and I are forever grateful for that”.

Last (but certainly not least) was Brett Favre. The very sight of him walking on stage cued the Packer faithful into a “Go Pack Go!” chant that could be heard from McKinley High School.

“I was going to ask if I could play the first series here tomorrow night” Favre said. Based on how fans reacted to that sentiment, it’s safe to say no one would have an issue with it. And heck, he’s came out of retirement before, what’s once more?

Favre definitely wrapped up a remarkable night down at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, as the lessons and stories told from those NFL greats are ones that anyone could remember for a lifetime.