Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Purple Trojan has MOVED....

The time has now come to move. The Purple Trojan has

now moved to MVN. Follow my writing to the new site by clicking here:

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Why Mark Sanchez is a Bargain as the No. 1 Pick

Team Leader. Rocket Arm. Dead Accurate. The USC Quarterback.

These are the thoughts that come into my head when thinking about former USC QB, Mark Sanchez.

Sounds pretty good.

As Sanchez and many other college studs are preparing for the NFL Combine and working hard for the NFL Draft, there seem to be many questions looming about Sanchez and his potential.

With only one year as a true starter for USC, NFL executives are worried that he could have been a one-hit wonder at SC and concerned with the fact that they don’t have enough evidence on his game potential.

One person who spoke publicly about his disagreement with Sanchez leaving early was USC head coach Pete Carroll. He argued that the stats were out there – Sanchez would have a huge disadvantage.

But, I looked at it in a completely different way. With many factors leaning towards him, the biggest was the fact that he had the talent. He’s got the game.

Although he was only the starter for one year, I feel Mark Sanchez will be an instant NFL success for multiple reasons.

One of the benefits of playing at USC is that you get the familiarity of the “pro-style” offense. And there is no better pro-style offense than the one at USC.

By playing in that pro style offense throughout college, Sanchez is already a step ahead of many of the other quarterbacks in the draft. Although it seems like it wouldn’t be a huge factor, it is. Playing in a spread offense, or a certain system offense, leads to a steep learning curve for players once drafted in the NFL. (See Colt Brennan of Hawaii)

Because of his college system, Mark Sanchez won’t have to adjust as much to the team’s offense and style when making the transition.

However, we have seen some struggle in the NFL, even though they were brought up in the pro-style offense. Matt Leinart was drafted 10th in the 2006 NFL Draft, and has yet to show potential for success. But that can be attributed to other factors, like his s-l-o-w release and constant, stirring rumors of a lack of work ethic.

Mark Sanchez, on the other hand, has the qualities to succeed in the NFL.

Apart from his size, and a unique kind of leadership he brings, Sanchez will bring his rare arm qualities: a strong and extremely accurate arm -- while putting one of the nicest touches on the ball I’ve seen in years.

When in the pocket, Sanchez feels very comfortable and doesn’t panic. When in trouble, he has great pocket awareness and has decent mobility for his size, and has the ability to throw well on the run.

Perfect combination.

With the increased speed at the NFL level, not all of his game will transition equally. The defenses are faster, and the game is just at a higher speed. It’s a matter of adjusting the right way; and Mark Sanchez will do just that.

Upon arriving with a new team, Sanchez will be called upon to be the leader. With his instinctual leaderships skills, he will eventually develop chemistry with the players that will be needed for success.

Once Sanchez is able to garner some playing time, he will need to fix the inconsistency that he developed while at USC. We saw flashes of brilliance, but those flashes were encompassed among some poor efforts, as well.

Although Sanchez only started at USC for one season, he grew tenfold throughout the year. He had success in the first two games (Virginia, Ohio State) but had a frustrating loss at Oregon State, while finishing with a dominating effort in the Rose Bowl.

One can even argue that the loss was probably better for him in the long run. Because of it, we can see that he can “bounce-back” from negative situations with ease, as he was throwing strikes again the next week.

Mark Sanchez’s collegiate career culminated at the Rose Bowl. We all saw that performance in Pasadena against the Nittany Lions of Penn State.  


He was able to fork through the Top-10 defense of Penn State effortlessly, throwing for over 400 yards, four touchdowns, and getting honored with the Rose Bowl Offensive MVP award.

It seemed like in the biggest games and under the biggest spotlight, Sanchez looked most impressive.

That’s probably a pretty good quality to have throughout the drafting process.  

There’s no question that Mark Sanchez is very polished at this point of his career. Saying he had a successful season, while tearing up defenses week by week is an understatement. He destroyed them.

He is fresh off the single greatest game of his career.

His God-given attributes and size are at the pro level.

But most of all, he is committed. His work ethic is like nothing I have seen before. But at the same time, he always remains calm, cool, and relaxed.

Those qualities cannot be taught.

Mark Sanchez is ready to go. For a team that is looking for a franchise quarterback in this year’s draft -- and doesn’t want to pay the 15 million for Matt Cassell -- Mark Sanchez is your man.

To the executives of the Detroit Lions, Kansas City Chiefs, and San Francisco 49ers:

So what if he only played one full season of collegiate football. 

Mark Sanchez is the player you want. If you are looking for someone to turn around your franchise and someone you really want to invest your club in, Sanchez is the perfect man. 

He has the skills. And he has the mind. What else can you ask for?

Not much.

Yea, you can snag a star offensive tackle in Andre Smith or Eugene Monroe. They will probably not let you down. Or, you can grab a player that could be the cornerstone of your offense, the icon of your city, and the foundation of your team for the next 10-plus years.

So you’re on the clock, Detroit Lions. It’s your choice to take him. If I had any say in it, I would try to articulate in any way that he is worth every penny of that $70 million contract.

But, hold on. Maybe Sanchez doesn’t even want to go to the declining city of Detroit, and rather a city like San Francisco that has a lot of potential. But that’s an article for a different time…

Monday, February 9, 2009

Adding H-O-R-S-E to the All Star Game: Cool; but making it G-E-I-C-O? Not cool.

If you were born with a single cell of athletic ability – or at least have a slight interest in sports – you have probably played the classic basketball game of H-O-R-S-E.

 Everyone knows about it. Everyone plays it.

 From the shots that consist of going off the roof, banking off the tree, and shooting with your eyes closed to the simple lay-ups, H-O-R-S-E became undoubtedly the top backyard game for kids – and in all honesty, adults too.

 I know you are like me. When shooting around with some buddies or your brother, this game will always get some action.

 Some are too tired to play 1 on 1, so H-O-R-S-E is the next best option: a tireless sport of strategy where the term “clutch” has a completely new meaning.

 I sit here writing this, and I feel a little nostalgic. I want to go back to my house and play a game with my Dad and brother.

 I know what my first shot would be; I just can’t say.

 Each of you that are reading this knows exactly what I’m talking about. You don’t say it publicly, but you use the shot about every game (maybe more) and it could only be used on your court. The uniqueness of your court allows you to prepare a shot that can be seen nowhere else. That’s why it is yours.

 But getting back on topic.

 I’m sure you were as excited as I was when it was announced that H-O-R-S-E would be played in this year’s NBA All-Star Weekend, along with the popular Slam Dunk Contest and others.

I thought it would be great to see some of NBA’s stars do the same trick shots that I have performed. I wondered if they would go all out?

 Who would participate?

Who would go a step beyond?

And who, of course, would be the NBA’s  H-O-R-S-E champion?

 All was well until a few days ago…

 That’s when news came out that H-O-R-S-E would be changed to G-E-I-C-O.

 When I heard this, my stomach churned. I had to give it a double take. I couldn’t believe that sports sponsorships and organization’s marketing have gone this far.

 It has become pretty standard to see advertisements almost everywhere we go. Billboards, stadium scoreboards, websites, and even the use of ‘product placement’ in movies are some of the main ways we see marketing tactics everyday. I had thought we had seen it all.

 But no. Companies – here Geico Insurance Company – have resorted to new heights. They don’t care what it does to the “game” or history of it. If it means they can have their name advertised, they’re in. Whatever the cost.

 Once All Star weekend commences, we’ll see the Slam Dunk contest. We will watch the 3-point contest. All will seem like a pattern we’ve seen before:

 Electrifying dunks, like Dwight Howard’s sticker dunk and Nate Robinson’s high flying image. Steve Nash dominating in the skills challenge, and a newcomer drilling  threes like Robert Horry vs. the Kings.

 But something will be a little off. Not only will the H-O-R-S-E game be a new addition, but also with Geico being used as the letters. It just doesn’t seem natural. It seems more surreal than anything else.

 We’ve seen companies sponsor events, like the {Sprite} Skills Challenge in the All-Star game, but incorporating the advertisement into the actual affair is a whole, new low. Although I believe it will still be a hit – because it is still the classic game of

H-O-R-S-E – it will have a different effect; because it just won’t be the same.

 Coming from a guy who grew up playing H-O-R-S-E all the time as a kid with anyone he could find, I am not sure what to think about the All-Star game adopting it into it’s weekend activities.

 On one hand, it will be fun to watch the NBA stars take part in it, but on the other, I don’t like seeing the game turn into a scrolling advertisement. It’s the backyard game that has an unequivocal strategy of making up the rules as you go. It’s a game that cannot be matched by any other of its kind, and has expanded to many other varieties.

 But reality is reality. And we have to face it.

 H-O-R-S-E is now G-E-I-C-O in the business world. But only in the business world.

 Next week when I go back out to my court, I will go to my spot and release my shot. You know the drill. My brother will miss, giving him an H.

 Yes, we can still play H-O-R-S-E.

Friday, February 6, 2009

USC Recruiting is still on top; and not worrying about UCLA

USC Recruiting. 

One of the things that makes head coach Pete Carroll so good.

2009 brought another top class to USC. Most sources (ESPN, SI, Rivals) gave the Trojans the No. 3 top class, including the No. 1 overall player in QB Matt Barkely. 

However, with all the success Pete Carroll and his staff had with this years recruiting class, many people are critical of what happened last Wednesday -- National Singing Day. 

Before Wednesday, USC already had commitments from some of the best 5-star recruits in the country. 

They were also in the running for other top players that would decide on Wednesday. 

The news around the college football world is centered around USC not getting those top recruits -- i.e. Manti Te'o and Vontaze Burfict -- on Wednesday's big day.

It's also centered on UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel.

Being in his 1st year as coach for UCLA, Neuheisel has attempted to bring back a rivalry in LA between USC and UCLA, starting by saying last year "the football dynasty in LA is OVER"!

Bold prediction for a team that ended up going 4-8 that year, is it not? 

Today, he is getting a lot of praise for bringing in the 17th ranked class in the country, and for stealing three recruits from the Trojans, 2 who had committed to USC. 

Maybe the dynasty is over?


One of Pete Carroll's main philosophies -- and a big reason of the success as of late -- is being centered around competition: "It's all about the competition". Roster spots on the Trojans' team are never solidified, and constant competition is necessary for success. 

A lot of talk has also been surrounding USC regarding whether having too much talent is hurting them or helping. 

I'd say helping. 

Why there are probably some top blue chip recruits who are staying away from USC for the sole purpose of being a 'star' at another and playing as a freshmen, USC is just fine with that. They pride themselves on having competition on the field. USC wants athletes that will try. 

USC wants athletes who are humble.

USC wants athletes who will earn respect.

And USC wants the complete player. 

Not to say those certain players who dodged USC are not complete players and/or will be successful; I am just stating the facts. 

When looking at the complete players and the competitive atmosphere that Carroll has brought to USC, it is no wonder they have had seven consecutive: 11 win seasons, AP top-four finishes, and Pac-10 championships; not to mention three Heisman winners and two National Championships. 

That's pretty good.

That prowess will continue as long there is that competition that engulfs the Trojan Football team. 

That's why USC is doing alright after Wednesday. 

Not to mention, there is a good possibility that USC could beat UCLA the next four years and win a national championship. Or two. Or more. 

USC still turned in one of the better recruiting classes in the nation, and actually much better than last year's 10th rank. Also, point of reference: while USC had the 10th best last year, UCLA had the 13th. 

So, yes, the separation gap between the two "rivals" -- if you can even call them that -- got larger. That's an interesting fact when you look at the full perspective. 

By all means, it definitely hurts to lose out on the guys that USC did, but they're all for the same reason: lack of competitive spirit. 

And USC is just fine with that. I think they know they will be able to cope without a top recruit here and there. 

You have to level the playing field somehow, right?

One last thing.

Rick Neuheisel is really going after this "ending of a dynasty" goal. One tidbit of thought. The dynasty in LA won't end for a while. 

You will know it is beginning when USC gets continually out-recruited by UCLA and many of the other top programs in the country and they stop winning 11 games a year. 

That will probably take a while. 

So, if you are a UCLA fan, you can just take a hibernation for a while -- a few decades or so -- and when you wake up, maybe the dynasty will be over!

Again, probably not. Sorry. 

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Simply the greatest day in sports

There's the first day of March Madness. There's the NCAA BCS Championship Game. There's Game 7 of the NBA Finals or the World Series.

But nothing compares to what's in store for today.

When you wake up today -- regardless if you're team is there or not-- you are pumped. Today is the greatest single day in sports.

The Super Bowl has become much more than a game between the two best teams in the NFL. It's become a party, a business machine for marketing organizaitons, and the second biggest food consumption day in the year, behind only Thanksgiving. 

When you wake up today, you have your party to go to. You have your pick. You have your food. It's your typical all-American party.

The Super Bowl is one of the only sports events in the world that brings all people together. Non-sports fans watch it because it's the Super Bowl. It has turned into something you can't miss.

On a business side, organizations -- new and old ones --forked over $3 million for a 30 second slot in today's commercials. While that is a hefty amount of money, they're getting their viewers. About half the people (likely the "non-sports fans") now watch the game only to enjoy the commercials. 

For the sports fan, watching the pre-game, game, and post-game is electrifying. It's the championship game of the most lucrative sport in the world. We love it. We enjoy the atmosphere of the game -- the fireworks from the national anthem, the flash bulbs at the kickoff, and watching the players' reactions. We look for and await each year's surprising player who has that impact on the game. (See David Tyree from last year). There's nothing that compares to this one day.

On the social side, the Super Bowl brings the party to you -- or you to the party. The modern day Super Bowl has become one of the biggest celebrations of the year; some have said bigger than the 4th of July. All the friends come together, along with family, while everyone eats just plain junk food. Aside from the eating and socializing, everyone takes part in that little thing called gambling. 

While some people go the basic way by betting on the end result, others are a little more specific -- like naming the first credit card commercial or the first player to commit a penalty. Either way, each makes the game more fun to watch. 

Waking up today, I was ecstatic. The greatest day in sports is upon us, and we can only await the excitement once the opening kickoff commences. The party is there. The people are there. The food is there. The entertainment is there. This is no doubt the greatest sporting event in the country.

While waking up tomorrow morning will be the opposite, as the worst day in sports, we can't look that far. Today is today. And today is the Super Bowl. 

(If you want a pick from me, I guess I could give it to you. I am rooting for the Cardinals, but believe the Steelers defense will be too much to handle. PIT 24 - ARI 17)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

If you thought you understood courage, you ain't seen nothing yet

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Kenechi Udeze. Kenechi's experience in the NFL -- entering as an all-American from USC -- has been extremely different than most. 

That is a complete understatement.

Kenechi Udeze was a 1st round draft pick in the 2004 NFL Draft, by the Minnesota Vikings. He had an extremely successful first few years in the league, as a full time starter beginning his rookie year. He was every Vikings fan's favorite and was productive on the field -- and a star off the field. Everything had been going great for him.

Until February 11, 2008.
   *Udeze has been through a lot*

That date -- close to a year ago -- Udeze's life changed forever. He was diagnosed with a rare form of "acute leukemia" requiring a lot of treatment, including a bone marrow transplant from his brother. 

After working on regaining his health last offseason, he was put on Injured Reserve for this past season. 

He knew he wouldn't be playing in 2008, but hoped -- and vowed -- he'd be back in the Metrodome again. 

Now, after losing 50 pounds in the past year, January 26, has become another day Udeze and his loved ones will remember forever. Yesterday, he came out publicly by saying he hopes to --and plans -- on returning and playing football once again.                                                  

"My goal is when the team gets back together, I'll be in my jersey and on the sideline with them." 


He has a few months before offseason training begins to make sure his health is in perfect condition for football, and I know you're with me when I say I can't wait until September 6, 2009 -- opening weekend of the NFL. 

After getting back on the practice field and playing in the preseason, that date will be the next to have major significance for Kenechi Udeze -- and for anyone who has hope. 

Kenechi Udeze is a true hero for all. What he is in the process of doing gives hope and courage too all. He's just another example of someone who is "never giving up"; he is a strong believer in "getting anything he puts his heart into."

When this news came out, I was so excited for him. As a Vikings fan, I was ecstatic that he will play for us again. 

As a sports fan, I was happy that he was getting back to doing what he loved.

But as a person, I was truly touched with his story, admired with what he went through, and encouraged to do anything I wanted.

I think it's safe to say that I can comfortably announce Kenechi Udeze as the best representer of being the "Purple Trojan" -- truly a hero in all of our books.
             *He will play again!*

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Today's 5 most dynamic athletes

From time to time, I will now post galleries of some interesting topic. Today, I will start with a few of the greatest sports icons in today's world. These are younger (and newer) athletes who will one day (and already have) become the premier athlete in his sport. Enjoy:

LeBron James - One of the game's most exciting and productive players

Tiger Woods - On track to becoming the greatest golfer in history
Adrian Peterson - Changing the definition of running back: fast AND powerful
Michael Phelps - Enough said: 8 Golds

Usain Bolt - Fastest man alive